Jesuits settle NW abuse claims for $166 million

By DONNA GORDON BLANKINSHIP, Associated Press Sat Mar 26, 4:53 am ET

SEATTLE – Clarita Vargas was sent to an Indian boarding school some four decades ago to study her ABCs and learn to blend in with majority culture. She says she instead learned a nightmarish lesson — that children sometimes have no one to protect them from pedophiles.

On Friday, the 51-year-old had her “day of reckoning and justice,” when an order of Jesuit priests agreed to pay $166.1 million to hundreds of Native Americans and Alaskan Natives who were abused at its schools around the Pacific Northwest.

The settlement with victims like Vargas is one of the largest in the Catholic church’s sweeping sex abuse scandal.

Vargas alleges she and her two sisters were abused at St. Mary’s Mission and School, a former Jesuit-run boarding school on the reservation near Omak, Wash., in the late 1960s and 1970s.

She says the abuse began when they were as young as 6 or 7, and that she was told to obey the priest who was abusing her or forfeit the chance to go to heaven. “My spirit was wounded, and this makes it feel better.”

St. Mary’s now operates as Paschal Sherman Indian School and is run by the Colville Tribe.

The Jesuit order, called the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, has been accused of using its schools in remote villages and on reservations as dumping grounds for problem priests.

Attorneys representing the mostly Native American and Alaskan Native victims said the abuse added to the mistreatment already endured by these children, some of whom were forcibly removed from their homes to attend these schools.

The settlement between the more than 450 victims and the province also calls for a written apology to the victims and disclosure of documents to them, including their medical records.

The Jesuit order ran village and reservation schools in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. The claims are from victims who were students at schools in all five states.

The Very Rev. Patrick Lee, speaking for the Oregon Province, said the organization would not comment on the settlement announcement because of its ongoing bankruptcy proceedings, “as well as out of respect for the judicial process and all involved.”

He said the province hopes to conclude the bankruptcy process as quickly as possible.

The province previously settled another 200 claims. Then it filed for bankruptcy in 2009, claiming the payments depleted its treasury.

An issue that surfaced when the bankruptcy proceedings got under way was the relationship between the province and other Jesuit properties, such as Gonzaga University. Attorneys for the victims initially argued the province was wealthy because it controls and owns Gonzaga, along with Gonzaga Preparatory School, Seattle University and other schools and properties.

Both Gonzaga and the Jesuit order maintain they are separate entities, and victims’ attorneys did not pursue the issue during bankruptcy negotiations. Neither Gonzaga nor the other schools are contributing to the settlement announced Friday.

California attorney John Manly, who represented some of the abuse victims, contends the Jesuits knowingly put molesters in a position to abuse children.

“It wasn’t an accident. The evidence showed they did it on purpose and it was rape,” Manly said.

He added he was certain not all the victims have come forward, and he believes the pattern of abuse among Catholic priests continues.

Both the order and its insurers are paying into the settlement. About $6 million of the settlement is being set aside for future claims.

Attorney Blaine Tamaki said the priest who molested Vargas and about 100 other children has not been charged with a crime because the statute of limitations in Washington state is so restrictive. A bill before the state’s 2011 Legislature would remove that statute of limitations.

The settlement is believed to be the Catholic Church’s third-largest in the sex abuse cases, behind the Los Angeles Diocese, which agreed to pay $660 million to 508 victims, and the San Diego Diocese, which agreed to pay $198 million to 144 victims, according to the website



Dear Mr. Editor,

Over theyears, I have had occassion to point out with utmost respect to the Church management at different  levels that it is very necessory to adopt a democratic way  of functionin and more importantly to accept tht the over dominence of the clergy will have to be replaced by a realistic representation of the voice of the Laity at all levels. The reason for this is not only because of the need for transparency and a fairer method of functioning, particularly in the process of administration and decision making, but the fact that it is very essential from the angle of ensuring justice at all levels. For many centuries, the belief was extended all the way down the line and I shall illustrate how disastrous this can be. A  young girl gets  into an arranged marriage which ends in a disaster. She applies to the Civil Court and after years of torture and truma she obtains a dissolution. She cannot re-build her life or re-marry unless she gets a decree from the Ecclesiastical Court where the grounds are very rigorous, the procedures are also very strict and the chances of obtaining a relief extremely slim. More importantly my experience has shown that by the time all these formalities are completed the girl herself would have given up any idea of getting married. If she were to re-marry before civil authority she gets castigated on the ground that she is living in sin and the children,if any, are treated as having been “born out of concubinage” touse a Cannon Law expression.matrimonial break-ups occur with a degree of regularity. There is a fervent plea from the affected parties that the entire procedure should be overhauled but apart from minor cosmetic changes, nothing really worthwhile by way of improvement has taken place.


Two other areas require to be illustrated. All Catholics in matters of marriage are bound by the Indian Divorce Act of 1868 which is one of the most retrograde antiquated and impractical pieces of matriminial legislation. For over 50 years in this country the Christian Community has been pressing and persuading the Government to repeal this piece of legislation which makes it almost impossible for an aggrieved party to get a relief. On as many as 5 occasions, the Government did respond but nothing emerged only because when the reference was made to the Church it was totally opposed on the ground that the chuch does not recognise divorce nor does it subscribe to the view taht dissolution of marriage should be made simpler, easier and quicker. At one of the Seminars, a lady who had been unsuccessfully trying to extricate herself from a broken marriage wherein it was in evidence that the husband was a gambler, a drunkard and given t violence, the lady very bitterly remarked that “the attitude and decisions of the Church in many of these areas are traceable to te fact that the persons responsible for these decisions and those who cling to concepts and procedures which are centuries old and decide policies in these imporatant areas of human affairs which concern a major cross section of the Community and even minor children and unborn children, are themselves not really equipped to sit in Judgement over these matters of which they have zero;personal experience because the clergy are all celibate”. Recently a senior lawyer from Mangalore took up the issue relating to the payment of huge amounts by way of estate duty in cases relating to the property of Christians who have died. This was a provision which was draconian and which had the most disastrous effect on every case relating to Christians. It was a provision which was highly discriminatory because it applied only to Christians and despite all of these considerations, the Church did nothing about it and it goes to the credit of Mr. Clarence Pais a Senior Lawyer from Mangalore that he was ultimately successful in getting the provision repealed. The angle that I am focusing here on is that Wills and Probate proceedings seriously affect the Laity and not the clergy and despite the extremely oppressive nature of the provisions, the Church did nothing in the matter and I venture to add that had the Church seriously agitated the matter with a public forum or with the Government, that the corrective would have come decades ago.


There has been a very disturbing trend witnessed in different parts of the country and here in our own city of Bangalore wherein the clergy have been disposing off Church properties. I was very pleased recently to find out from one of the documents relating to the building in which I reside that this property belonged to the Church, it was sold to a businessman who ultimately ended up making a huge profit out  of the project. I am all in favour of ensuring that the Church is financially secure and that whatever feasible, necessary schemes be undertaken to enhance the viability of our institutions. I am totally opposed to situations whern these sort of deals take place  and the Laity are told that the clergy has no bargaining power   and that therefore, some third party ends up with all the profits. The most question is, why was the scheme not intelligently executed so as to ensure that the Christian community to whom the asset belonged was the ultimately beneficiary. If the Agha Khan Trust can achieve this, there is no reason why the Church cannot do it. Instead we are confronted with the so called committees and councils of psychopants all of whom work is tandem and obviously share the spoils under the guise of projecting the view that certain representatives of the Laity were also involved. I refuse to accept the plea that in all these land deals the pittance that has been reflected in the documents as being the price of the land represents the true value of what was realised and the big question mark is whether such situations should be allowed to continue.


This are is particularly distressing because there have been occasions even in the very recent past when the Community has protested and it has been extremely sad that the Church uses the medium of powerful builders who have all the equipment  from muscle power to money power not to mention unholy influences, to fight back the Members of the Church who disapprove of these transactions. It is true that the Church has always won and it is true that it has always got away, which is all the more reason why sreps should be taken to reverse the trend which is getting totally out of control.

Recently, I received a complaint that the huge part of the Church compound in the centre of Bangalore has been sold to some influential builders. The school that catered to the cause of Christian education has been demolished, the parish hall has been demolished and a shopping complex is being constructed in sucha way that it almost touches the Church. It will disfigure the area and interfere seriously with whatever services are conducted in the Church and it is my grave apprehension that when this happens, the Church building itself would be sold on the ground that it is impracticle to continue with services there.


All this has been happening through default because hitherto we have always been told that all property vests in the Church and that whatever the clergy has decided to do with it, is a decision that is sacred and cannot be questioned. Unfortunately, the fundamental point that is over-looked is that all this property has been gifted or donated to the Church  or acquired through the contributions from the Laity. The clergy are only the trustees of the property and in keeping with the well settled principles of law they cannot abuse the trust or for the matter dispose of the property to the prejudice of the instituion or the memebrs who form part and parcel of the Church.


It is in this background that I welcome the concept of a Journal that will effectively project the voice of the Christian Laity or in other words, become a medium of safe-guarding their rights. Equally important is the welfare aspect that I have dealt with earlier which is required to be not only safe-guarded but fostered and lastly the most important facet viz.that hitherto at all times the voice of the Community was considered to be what the clergy represented. Atrocities have taken place with disturbng regularity and these have increased only because of the fact that there has been silence from the side of the affected, irrespective of what  has happened. Whereas any other minority community would  have raised hell, there has not even been a whimper of a protest or an anticipatory action or steps taken to ensure that there is no recurrence of such atrocities. All of these will form the mandate of this journal which to mind was long overdue. I am confident that it will live up to its expectations and even exceed them!

With very good wish,

Yours sincerely,

Justice M.F.Saldanha


10th Oct., 2002

Roman Fascists Regime in India

Roman Fascists Regime in India

I have been in Human Rights movement in India since 40 years. During the course of these 40 years I have found different types of communal fanatics who are also fascists. But I never realized that Roman Catholics are also fascists of the worst order. RSS is a strong fascist organisation of which BJP(Bharatiya Janata Party)  is the Political wing. For long we have fought against the fascists tendencies of BJP without realizing that we are oueselves living in a house which is a fountain head of fascism. Roman Catholic Church does not believe in democracy and practices dictatorship which is against democracy. Catholics Cannon law is an abuse of Indian Constitution which is one of the best democratic Constitutions of the world.  A fascist consitution which concentrates all power with the Bishops and the Pope is a negation of democratic values and democratic way of life. Sooner we reject it and reframe Cannon law the better itis both for clergy and the laymen.

The entire world  is in the throes of getting democratised. See Egypt watch Libya, also watch some signs of democracy in Arab countries. Start thinking seriously. A peaceful revolution is required in Indian Christian scenario. Cannon law may have to be amended drastically.

Recently United Christian Association of Mangalore filled a suit challenging fascist Constitution of the Diocese of Mangalore. By heavy bribing and pressure the Bishop has won the first battle. But the war is not over. There are appellate courts upto the Supreme Court. We must go up to the Supreme  Court and destroy the Catholic fascist set up and also other set ups  amongst Christians which abuse democracy and follow fascist ways. We may have to get down to the streets to achieve our goals through peaceful agitations and demonstrations.

Please get ready for a long drawn fight .Cheer up freinds. You may lose your battles but you win the final war.

Yours faithfully


Today’s crucified Catholics!

Today’s crucified Catholics!

Just as India is a country of many hues, so is the Catholic community that is spread out from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, and Gujarat to Arunachal. There is not true unity in the Catholic community which every catholic knows. First there is the clergy-laity divide, which is widening by the day. Then there is the ethnic divide—the Malayalees are separate, the English speaking don’t mingle with the local folks, and so on. This is why, in many urban areas, there are strong associations of Malayalees who have more members and better finances than the cosmopolitan and heterogeneous Catholic as sociations.

The Catholic Church has undertaken multifarious welfare activities in both rural and urban areas. It has also been alert to the need for disaster relief—as caused by floods or earthquakes. When compared to Government agencies, Catholic social welfare services have been sincere and impartial. It’s a different matter that the Catholic Church, catholic mission Aries, caritas, catholic relief services, etc are not catering to the needs of poor and deprived Catholics instead they are catering to the needs of poor and deprived non-Catholic’s [shy our own poor Catholics are not catered first ?). The poor Catholics are facing severe economic problems because of religious discrimination in India.   The Church should instead promote multi-culturalism and inter-faith dialogue. Evangelism cannot be a measurement of a society’s socioeconomic development. Rather, the evangelism programme funds should be utilized for the welfare of poor Catholics.

There should be a 30% reservation of seats for Catholics, in Church-run schools, colleges, technical institutions and other vocational organizations. Those catholic institutions which fail to reserve 30% seats for Catholics should be de-classified as minority educational institution and should be taxed as commercial ventures.

A handful of religious people are monopolizing Church, religious funds and property in the country. They control Church-religious estates and treating it as their own property and are indulging in its sale-purchase without the consent of the catholic laity. The Government of India should introduce special laws to protect Church property and land that is currently being misused and sold by   them.

A few rogue elements that have infiltrated the Catholic religious orders have destroyed centuries of sweat, tears, sacrifice and blood by hundreds of thousands of Catholic priests and nuns. The silent inaction by those in charge left ALL priests suspect. Which priest could now be trusted? Fortunately for the Church, the vast majority of uninvolved priests bore the cross and pain with patience and humility. They knew that “This too shall come to pass”.

Catholic associations and Sabhas must become the public face and spokesperson of the catholic laity in all socioeconomic and political affairs and not the bishops. The catholic associations and Sabhas must become more active and representative of the catholic people. Bishops and clergy must “let go” of domination in temporal affairs. It is not enough to pay lip service to the role of the laity.  The hierarchy must humble itself to actively encourage the leadership of the laity. The Catholic Church has to create a culture of partnership by giving the lay Catholics prominence in the official decision-making bodies and assisting them in their political involvement.

Rather than merely expecting catholic students to complete the minimum basic exams [S.S.C, H.S.C etc.], we must train them for professions that will make a mark in civil society; for instance, IAS, IPS, UPSC, Law Medicine, Engineering, Politics. In addition, they should be made aware of larger issues of national and global interest through introducing them to other cultures, other faiths, social and political awareness.

In Mumbai it is extremely difficult for Catholics to get government jobs, loans, housing and other govt. facilities. This is the reason why the East-Indians were agitating for the OBC status.

The SEZ file may have temporarily gone in the cold storage but the East-Indians in Gorai-Manori-Uttan very well know that the land sharks, politician’s builders, corporate, Maharashtra state will not rest till every inch of land in Gorai-Manori-Uttan is gobbled up. East-Indians in Vasai are also loosing land.


“PAULINE”, Father Muller Road, Valencia, Mangalore – 575 002, Phone: 4252170

Date: 07-August-2009


Law to govern Church Properties in India

Ours is an association formed in 2001 to empower laymen in church affairs and to reform and restructure the Indian Christian Church. Catholics of Goa headed by Eduardo Faleiro, former Union State Minister for External Affairs have demanded a law in India to run and regulate church properties. We add our voice to this demand from Mangalore for immediate law to run and regulate all properties and all businesses, schools, colleges, Halls and Hospitals run by the church as there is rampant misuse of all properties and assets by the Clergy(Priests) in the name of religion. In spite of the Pope directing these priests to hand over all Temporal(Earthly) matters to the Laity(Laymen) and confine themselves to prayers and religious matters, these human beings in white frocks(known as cassocks) are doing everything else other than religious matters and misusing them. There is no transparency at all in money and property matters. People are told how much they collect every Sunday, but they are never told where this money goes, and how they spend it recent exposure of the Mulky Priest with an 8 year old child born to him and murder of a Malayali Priest from Kadaba, Belthangady is a indictor of where they spend our money. The priest was known to have love affairs.

The control and regulation should cover all Christian Institutions, of all denominations and not just Catholic Institutions.

Church is not only the biggest land holder in India, after the government, it is also the biggest business house without paying any taxes to the government. This amounts to anti-national act. In South Kanara which includes both Mangalore and Udupi Districts, the church possesses thousands of acres of land under a defunct Mulgeni and Chalgeni law and the Church misuses this law and refuses to bestow free hold rights on owners possessing these lands for more to 20 generations, though land for the tiller law was executed in Karnataka by Devraj Urs in the year 1975. We demand an act to bestow free hold right on such tenants, whose progress is blocked because of this menace. The bishop who claims ownership of this land(illegally) demands 1/3 of the market value from the tenants(interestingly he refuses to issue receipts for this amount). He demands this amount in black. Just see how men of God indulge in anti-national acts.

This Association demands from the church transfer of all properties in favors of occupiers, without any payment, as Bishop is not the owner of these lands but the church owns this land and church consists of 98% laity. This demand is repeatedly made since 10 years but the Priests are dodging the laymen their basic human right to property. 2% priest are illegally controlling 100% of church properties, though they have not bought them or inherited them from their parents. Priests were entrusted to safely manage the property, honestly and in good faith as Trustees of the Property and not as owners. They are expected to be faithful to the beneficiaries, i.e. 98% laymen belonging to Christian Church.

The other demands from us are for the Bishop to hand over all their Hospitals, Halls and other businesses to Laymen as also all monetary matters and confine themselves to godly matters. The truth is that priests have not contributed a paise to create or buy the assets that we have. They only know to receive and know not to give.

P.B. D’Sa

Related websites:

New debate centers on Church properties

Catholics want law to govern church properties

‘A law should govern church properties’

Church funds equal Indian Navy’s annual budget

‘A law should govern church properties’

Catholics want law to govern church properties

Existing law in Goa should be modified: Eduardo Faleiro

Catholics want law to govern church properties

Protecting Church Properties by Law

Christians want state laws to govern assets of churches

‘A law should govern church properties’,prtpage-1.cms

Catholics Seek Law To Govern Church Properties

Catholics Seek Law To Govern Church Properties… (SAR News)

Church rejects govt intervention in its properties: Dayal

Debate rages on over Catholic Church properties

Christian group wants independent audit of church property

Christian group wants audit of church property,+Roman+Catholic+Church,+christians&SectionName=pWehHe7IsSU=

Govt control on Church properties raises hornet’s nest in Catholic dominated States

Monday, October 29, 2007
John Dayal bleats “persecution” to tarnish India abroad

New debate centers on Church properties

‘No question of govt control on church, community properties’

Church Properties, Eduardo Faleiro


Conducted at the instance of the
People’s Union for Civil Liberties, South Kanara
The Catholic Association of South Kanara
Transparency International India, Karnataka Chapter
Justice Michael F. Saldanha,
Retired Judge, Karnataka High Court.
President, The Catholic Association of South Kanara.
Chairman, Transparency International India, Karnataka Chapter
Publisher : People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Karnataka
First edition : July 2010
Copies : 2000
Contribution : Rs.15/-
Printer : Prasad Printers, Kulshekar, Mangalore-5
For Copies Contact :
P.B.D’Sa Justice M.F. Saldanha
Working President 401, Sillver Crest
PUCL Karnataka 13, Rest House Road
“Pauline” Valencia Bangalore-560001
Mangalore-575002 Tel:25596713/9844028695
Tel: 0824-4252170/9008820186
Suresh Bhat Mr. B.G. Kosky
President Vice-Chairman,
Komu Souharda Vedike Transparency International India
Eesha Vasyam, 2-10-776, 101-A, M.B. Centre,
Near Mangala Gas Godown, 134, Infantry Road,
Bejai Mangalore-575004 Bangalore-560001
Tel: 2225652 Tel:91-80-22868800
Dr.V.N. Laxmi Narayana Dr. Ramdas Rao
General Secretary PUCL Karnataka Secretary PUCL Karnataka
#5598. 5th Cross, Vijayanagara 2 stage, #59, Shivaji Road,
Mysore-570017 Shivajinagar, Bangalore-560051
Tel: 0821-2513121/9480326622 Tel:9449399729
Prof. Y.J.Rajendra Mr. Walter Pinto
Vice president PUCL Karnataka President Catholic Sabha
#40, 8th cross, 5th main, Vishnu Prakash
Sampangi Ramanagar Court Road, Udupi- 575101
Bangalore-560027 Tel:0820/2529063/2630503
Tel: 9449011530 /9845406817
Prof. N Babiah [PDF] Secretary
76, III Stage, Vinayaka Layout Catholic Association of
Vijayanagar, South Canara, Catholic Centre
Bangalore-560040. Hampankatta, Mangalore-575001
Tel:9449904487 Tel:0824-2422059
Pastor Walter Mabeen Catholic Sabha
Chairman, Karnataka Missions, Network, Mangalore Pradesh
‘ELIM’ Mercara Hill, Bishop’s House, Mangalore – 3
Mangalore-565002 Tel: 2427474
God grant me the
to accept the things
I cannot change…
Courage to
change the things I can
and Wisdom to
know the difference…

I have often been asked as to why the SEZ issue finds place in an
incisive report on communal attacks. Obviously, the basis for the
question emanates from the fact that SEZs are related to economic
and industrial development and are far distanced from communal
overtones and sociological issues such as class war not to mention
religious issues. The few of my friends who have read this chapter
raise their eyebrows in shock and disbelief when they found that in
the Indian context and more importantly, under the present
Government in Karnataka, and the religious persecution that has been
let lose in Dakshina Kannada that the euphemism of the term SEZ
turned out to be a horrifying genocide. True, the dominant forces
and the State Machinery did not physically hack the Christians and
the poor tribals to pieces but what they did was even worse. To my
mind, an instant death howsoever horrifying would have been far
more merciful to a horrifying fate ahead.
In Judgment after Judgment, I had struck down the misuse of
acquisition powers by the State Machinery through coercive steps
for the benefit of the richest of the rich and the most powerful in the
land. It is this fattest class who are given prime land at insane prices
and all the possible tax concessions even to the extent of feeding
them lavishly with scarce commodities such as power and water by
physically throwing out lakhs of tribals and farmers from their little
holdings because they have no power to resist. We are told that the
Central and State Governments have strictly instructed the SEZ to
concentrate on barren land and not to touch green areas such as
paddy fields, farm lands, forests, lakes, rivers, wells and the like. The
authorities contend that they have not touched any such areas. The
truth of the matter is that the Mangalore SEZ does not cover even
one square centimeter of barren land. Every single piece of land had
paddy fields, vegetable and fruit gardens, fruit trees, small farms, lakes,
rivers and wells. The Lokayukta has convicted the Land Acquisition
Officer and several of the Revenue Officials all of whom were heavily
bribed by the SEZ Authorities to forge and fabricate the revenue
records and convert them to read that paddy fields and farm lands
were barren areas. When I visited Mangalore, in connection with the
Church attacks, I was informed that the entire area covered by the
SEZ consisted of over 70% Catholics, all of whom grew paddy, organic
vegetables, they owned fruit trees and this fertile belt was well irrigated
by little rivers and thousands of wells have provided the highest quality
of water. All these little hamlets had virtually hundreds of chapels,
grottos and little prayer centres, all of which have been bulldozed by
the SEZ authorities. It was this complaint which took me to the area
after visiting Bajpe.
The villagers themselves met me and requested me to come and
see for myself as to whether the horror story was true and I found
that the reports were a gross understatement. On 8th November
2008, I personally witnessed the SEZ Officers led by a barbarian by
the name of Raghavendra Holla who was strutting around like a badshah,
a bunch of dangerous looking thugs who were designated as
the SEZ Contractors and a whole lot of earth moving machinery all
of which was being protected by the local police. The paddy fields
that were ready for harvesting were being covered with two feet of
soil and thereafter levelled out and photographed to give the
impression that it was barren land. The vegetable gardens which
provided Mangalore with the choicest of organic vegetables were
first bulldozed and then levelled under several feet of mud and again
photographed to give the impression that this was a barren area. I
told Holla and the Contractors that the wells, the streams and the
little lakes were precious and that they should not be destroyed.
Holla who claimed that he was the full brother of the then State
Advocate General – Mr. Udaya Holla, a Senior Counsel of considerable
merit, displayed his arrogance and if I may add, contempt for the
High Court because I had told him that the Judges would take a
serious view of what he and his hire links were doing there, ordered
the machinery to be brought out again, all the wells, the streams and
the two small lakes were filled with debris and levelled and
photographed and he told me that nobody will believe that they ever
existed. An elderly Christian lady who was a neighbor and outside
the SEZs designated zone told Swamiji and me that on the previous
night, the Contractors led by one Kotian who was an extremely
dangerous looking man and threatened to kill me if I opened my
mouth, had encroached into her little farm and taken away the cows,
goats, four pigs and all the poultry and sold them to the butchers
there itself. Merely because she came to complain, Holla sent the
Machinery to her farm and within 15 minutes, all the fruit trees and
vegetable gardens were destroyed and she was told that she should
move her belongings out before afternoon as the house was going to
be leveled down. All these under protection from the Police Officers
of the Bajpe Police Station who were also armed. Holla and his mafia
got the police to threaten the media persons and all of us including
Swamiji who was present that we would be arrested on the spot,
taken to the police station and beaten unconscious if we did not
leave. This is the summary of how the SEZ claimed to have acquired
the barren land.
This particular spot was farmed by tribals who formed the
poorest of the poor. In their own small way, they had set up a small
prayer shed which was like a chapel and some grottos which had
statues in them. There were also two or three similar religious
structures put up by persons professing the Hindu faith. These were
raised to the ground in our presence and Holla instructed the
demolition squad to drive the earth movers over the debris, so that
it was completely crushed and could never be recognized as being
the remnants of religious structures. What almost created a riot was
the fact that one small area was apparently used by the Christians as
a burial ground and there were several graves and crosses there.
When Holla had these demolished, sentiments ran high and the
persons present reacted violently. There was a joint operation by
the mafia and the police, I would equate one with the other who
mercilessly beat the poor villagers and drove them away. This is the
kind of respect that the BJP Government in Karnataka has for places
of worship and even for sacred spots like burial grounds. Not only is
it deplorable, unpardonable, but shameful to the worst degree. All of
this has been recorded by me in my letters to the SEZ Authorities, to
the Chief Justice of the High Court and to the Human Rights
What I need to highlight is the fact that when arrogance reaches
demonic levels, public servants such as Holla rise to horrifying heights
or rather, sink to disgusting depths. This man who was dressed like a
cowboy wearing Rayban glasses with a string of gold chains dangling
from his neck and sporting a two lakhs rupee watch, had four mobile
phones with him which were being used constantly. For our benefit,
these were kept on the speaker mode, so that, all could hear his
conversations with two of his top officers by the name of Prasad and
Pai, as I understand, these two fellows were the SEZ’s big bosses.
Holla was reporting his every movement to them and they were
actively encouraging the fellow even to the extent of telling him that
money is no consideration and that he should call in additional
machinery and level the whole hamlet to the ground within the next
three hours. They also told him to get the police and the revenue
authorities to make an inventory that it was a completely barren
area, devoid of human habitation and even any water source.
Not one of my letters to the SEZ Authorities was either replied
nor have any of the above facts been disputed. The Judiciary of-course
is so very busy that even when I reported atrocities of these horrifying
dimensions to the Hon’ble Chief Justice, was any cognizance taken.
Essentially, the atrocities was part of the SEZ mafia in collaboration
with the police and the revenue authorities all of whom would have
normally come in for severe action had the High Court taken
cognizance, but this did not happen. It pained me to read in the papers
that the High Court was celebrating some kind of Centenary for
which the State Government had sanctioned over a Crore of rupees
which excluded a Centenary Arch costing Rs.68.00 Lakhs which to
my mind has disfigured the period building. The State Government
was also kind enough to make a gift to the High Court of a fleet of
expensive new cars. I did not feel sad because I spent fifteen long
years using a broken down Ambassador Car that was sent to the
garage on every working day. In my last year, I was thrilled to receive
a substandard brand new Ambassador Nova which I used for six
months and the log book showed that it had made 100 trips to the
Dealers in 180 days and the cost of replacements exceeded the value
of the car. When I took up the issue with the Vehicle Department, I
realized that the purchase of these vehicles is intended to feed a
large number of parasites starting from the High Court Department
to the State Government and the Dealers.
Later on, in this Chapter, I have dealt with the human trauma
and what has happened to the human beings who occupied this area
and what is to be done with that part of the District which is being
turned into a new Hiroshima. The irony of the matter is that the
media by and large fully supports the SEZs which regularly hold cocktail
parties and other enjoyable functions for them apart from which, ads
worth Crores of rupees are released. The entire population of the
area as also the State and the country have been indoctrinated with
the cheerful news that huge chemical complexes will generate
immense wealth and employment and prosperity to the region and
that even if it is at the cost of raping the earth, it is still worthwhile. I
would like the population of the sub-continent and of the earth to
whom thousands of acres of prime, fertile agricultural land has been
gifted for one thousandth the market value to know who the stake
holders in these SEZs are and how poor they are that the Central
and State Government should be kind and charitable to them. One
of the stake holders is the Oil and Natural Gas Commission, among
the biggest and richest Corporations in the sub-continent to whom
these concessions are being extended. I wrote to the Chairman of
the Commission recording the atrocities, the man probably threw
the letter into his waste paper basket, never even acknowledged it,
but obviously could not dispute one syllable of the horror story.
The most unpardonable and utterly disgusting fallout of the
SEZ Operation is that it has become a REAL ESTATE
In terms of sociological consequences, approximately 3.00 Lakh
tribals and subsistence level farmers aged between 1 month and 80
years have been physically uprooted and thrown out of their lands
and homes. The Law requires that if any such person is required to
be uprooted, that they have to be rehabilitated. When I was Advocate
General of Maharashtra, in the famous Nhavaseva Port Trust case,
where thousands of acres of lands were acquired to set up a multi
billion dollar port, it was at my instance and for the first time ever in
this country that the Central and State Governments followed a broad
formula that is set out below:
(a) That every single family who was required to move because
of acquisition of their lands was shifted into permanent
alternate accommodation that was made available before
they were divested of their possession. This was because
citizens at this economic level would be forced to migrate
to the closest city to die on the footpaths and the
compensations would be pocketed by the Project Officers
and the other officials after fabricating bogus documents. It
was therefore necessary that they be around and available
to receive their compensation. Several safeguards were
observed to ensure that the compensation does not get
diverted to Government Officers, Activists, Social Workers
and Lawyers.
(b) That at-least one member from each family was given
permanent employment in the new project, so that, they
did not have to starve. (irrespective of when the project
was completed, they would receive an equivalent of
subsistence allowance till their salary commence).
(c) Steps were taken to ensure that in not a single case, was the
education of the children disrupted even for a day.
(d) More importantly, the principles of the Land Acquition Act
were not followed and the concept which later years as a
High Court Judge, I incorporated in 17 of my Judgments was
used for purposes of fixing the scale of compensation. The
market value of the land at current rates in the hands of the
new project was the barometer and this amount was
computed. Undoubtedly, it came to much much more than
the stingy impractical and disgusting levels fixed a hundred
years back under the Land Acquisition Act (where the value
of a yielding mango tree is Rs.18/-) and the bulk of this amount
was really invested under a deferred payment scheme so
that the beneficiaries did not blow up the money nor were
they deprived of it by unscrupulous elements as always
happens and it was equally convenient for the project
authorities to pay the higher amount on a deferred payment
scheme over a prescribed period of time.
In the case of the Mangalore SEZ, none of this has happened.
Under the so-called rehabilitation scheme, the SEZ Officers have sold
the plots for payment in cash to the highest bidders, as a result of
which, these colonies have been fully populated by outsiders and the
Officers of the SEZ have become Crorepathis overnight. One of the
very convincing methods used by these corrupt officers is to arm
each of the occupants with a false affidavit which can be executed for
a hundred rupees stating that the person concerned was earlier
residing at so and so place and has been rehabilitated. We cross
checked 93 such cases and found that the results were 100% in that
the documents were fabricated and the persons were total outsiders.
As far as the Padav area is concerned, the position is even worse
because the fields in question were sought to be converted into a
kind of a temple colony. A large number of extremely suspicious
looking thugs were present there and they stated that they were
reconstructing temples belonging to family gods that were shifted
from elsewhere and each of these institutions is an extremely lucrative
money centre.
What is the impact on the women and children? All those who
were earning their livelihood by growing healthy crops, organic
vegetables, fruit and farm products have had to work as coolies and
construction labourers and sleep on the footpaths or slums of the
cities. Not a single one of over one lakh children has been able to go
back to schools and they will go back as beggars, criminals and drug
addicts. The men who cannot work as construction workers will
turn into beggars, petty criminals, alcoholics and die a quick death.
The very worst consequence of these SEZ operations is that
since the nearby towns and cities cannot absorb the uprooted human
beings as every field right down to prostitution, crime and drug
addiction is beautifully saturated in the sub-continent. They are
required to migrate into the hills, forests and barren areas and live
like wild animals. This is the transformation that the SEZs have achieved
by converting a sizeable part of the population into so-called Naxalites
and Maoists. They are desperate human beings, their days are
numbered and their lives mean nothing and all they want is to settle
score with the forces that reduce them to this position and that is
why they are driven to violence. Once the situation gets as bad as
this, the Law Enforcement Agencies brand them as Terrorists and
are heavily rewarded and complimented for shooting them down.
Unfortunately, the sociological problem has not been understood
and is worsening and the Mangalore SEZ is one of the most shameful
and horrifying examples of precisely this.
(Justice M. F. Saldanha)
If any state can lay claim to be “Gandhi’s own country” it is
India, and sadly enough instead of venerating and perpetuating his
sacred principle of ahimsa, on his death anniversary this year, the
Home Minister of the country announced that every Maoist and
Naxalite will be shot dead. Nobody protested – these human beings
are regarded as dreaded terrorists and we are all led to believe that
they are “anti-social, a menace and a danger”. Would Gandhiji
have categorised them as pests to be eliminated at sight, but more
importantly, would he have approved of the violence on either side?
Many a time, he was quick to point out that an eye for an eye would
leave the whole world blind! The real tragedy is that he is not here to
stop these State atrocities.
The very Politicians who go around in Khadi and precariously
climb ladders to garland statutes of the Mahatma are totally committed
to the so-called policy of development which sanctions Industrial Areas
and Special Economic Zones. Nothing wrong in the policy as long as
it is properly executed- not the way a lethal gas plant was located in
the midst of the city- in the USA Union Carbide had to observe a 90
mile radius of a “no habitation zone” as the gas was so lethal- in India
life is cheap and happily NO POLITICIAN OR BUSINESSMAN DIED
OR WAS MAIMED! There is a mad rush to create the show-pieces
called SEZ’s on the graves of the villagers and by turning all the fertile
green areas into disgusting concrete jungles and factories. My
research indicates that not even one single SEZ in this
country has observed the basic norm that no green areas
such as forests, no water bodies such as lakes and rivers and
no human habitations such as villages and hamlets can be
touched and that all these SEZs must be set up in the area
comprising of the country’s 39.68% of barren areas. The truth
is that on an average 93% of the land that is forcibly acquired
using muscle power and the state machinery riddled with
corruption comprises of villages and green areas as also
Shamefully enough, we have the country’s so-called richest and finest
corporate bodies such as ONGC involved in the Mangalore SEZ – in
West Bengal, it was the Tatas who were beaten back for the first
time, but were welcomed in Gujarat. The wild life has been annihilated,
the cattle has been butchered, the livestock has been eliminated, the
villages have been bulldozed, the water bodies have disappeared and
above all, the whole of the population has either been killed or driven
into the barren hills and what is left of the forests. It is these
desperate human beings who are labeled as Maoists and
Naxalites because, like the proverbial wounded serpent, they
have decided to hit back at the very forces that reduced
them to this condition. Recently, when Arundati Roy told the
Central Government that the Adivasis and Tribals and the poorest of
the poor who have been consigned to the wilderness and whose
homes have been given to the industrialists and the richest of the
rich are not to blame for this human tragedy, that there must be a
stop to the insanity of locating SEZs in the wrong areas and that
rehabilitation and welfare measures required to be undertaken for
these desperate human beings, instead of shooting them, she received
strong criticism from the Media for “siding with the Terrorists.”
I revere Gandhiji for many reasons, the most important of which
was that he had compassion for the weak, he took up the cause of
the underdog and he had his sense of values well grounded. We were
brought up to believe in survival of the fittest- I ask, what about the
survival of the weakest? When he spoke of wiping every tear from
every eye, he referred to this strata of human beings and not to the
political class or the rich and famous who do not know what it is to
shed a tear, but who reduce the lives of the poorest of the poor to
an unending saga of endless misery and tears. Though he left us more
than six decades ago, his ideals are good for all time and if the insanity
of SEZs which he would never have approved of, is to be at all
curtailed, it will be through a return to the Mahatma. Below is an
extract from an inspiring publication “Gandhi’s Outstanding
Leadership” authored by my esteemed and exceptionally brilliant
friend Allan P. Nazareth, which I consider to be most appropriate:
“Because we are “The finite created for the infinite”, the
leadership we need, and deserve, has to be rooted in immortal
values. In the final analysis good and trustworthy Leadership
calls for moral judgments on what is right action, because history
has amply demonstrated that in the long run Truth alone
triumphs. Decisions based solely on technical knowledge do
not require leadership. To make right choices leaders need to
have deep understanding of the lives and ideas of the world’s
great moral philosophers and of those who have applied them
to solve some of its most difficult problems.
Leaders who inspire, and command universal respect, are those
who espoused Right rather than Might, and truth, justice and
non-violent conflict rather than hate, violence and war. Lincoln’s
words “Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith
let us to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it” are
still as powerfully inspiring as they were a hundred and forty
years ago when they were spoken. Napoleon’s words, uttered
at his remote St. Helena prison are significant. “Glory is fleeting,
obscurity is forever …. There are only two powers in the world
– the spirit and the sword. In the long run the sword will always
be conquered by the spirit.”
I would recommend the book to every right thinking Indian or
for that matter human being, but it would be difficult to put its contents
across to the political and business community neither of whom is
amenable to the art of reading. To those who receive this booklet,
another extract from the same book is worth reproducing:
“The prime component of Gandhi’s leadership was his elevated
vision that humans, the highest manifestation of God’s creation,
can and would live in harmony and peace, firmly adhering to
Truth, Justice, Love and Non-Violence. “Non-violence is the law
of our species as violence is the law of brute. The spirit lies
dormant in the brute and he knows no law but that of physical
might. The dignity of man requires obedience to a higher law –
that of the spirit… It is the law of love that rules mankind. Had
violence i.e. hate rules us, we should have become extinct long
ago. Mankind has to get out of violence only through non-violence.
Hatred can only be overcome by love.
In his historical perspective, he saw dictators and tyrants
maintaining their fearful sway only temporarily. All empires built
with the sword end up in the dustbin of history; only those built
on the spirit with Truth, love and self-sacrifice by the great seers
and prophets have survived and flourished. Since humans are
created “in the image of God” and are imbued with the “Divine
Spark” they have to be led by Truth and love, not by fear and
hate. One has to live, and if necessary to die for Truth, but never
to hurt or kill anyone.
For Gandhi, Truth (Satya) was as real and omnipotent as God
himself. In fact, Truth is God, as Truth is what is and God is the
only reality that always is. “The world rests upon the bedrock of
Satya… which being what it is it can never be destroyed. This is
the doctrine of Satyagraha in a nutshell.” Truth is the ‘Right Path’
and it is ‘Right that is Might’ not its opposite. He often quoted the
Bhagwad Gita’s core philosophical assertion ‘Satyanasti pao
Dharma’ (There is no greater duty than adherence to Truth).
Truth implies Justice, and both are essential requisites for the
attainment of peace. “Peace will come when Truth is pursued,
and Truth implies Justice”. Justice requires that the adversary’s
views and requirements be given due consideration. “Three fourths
of the miseries and misunderstandings in the world would disappear
if we step into the shoes of our adversaries and understand their
standpoint”. Justice also requires that the final agreement made
be acceptable to all concerned.
Whereas Gandhi was passionately dedicated to Truth even as a
youth, particularly after he learnt about Harishchandra’s
unshakeable adherence to it despite innumerable hardships, his
deep commitment to non-violence came only in his early thirties
after he read Christ’s Sermon on the Mount and Tolstoy’s The
Kingdom of God is within you. The strong non-violent traditions
of the Jain community of his native Gujarat had of course mentally
prepared him for this. Non-violence thus became his immutable
path for realization of Truth. For him it meant complete abstention
not only from all physical, mental and emotional injury to others
but also cleansing oneself of all hatred and desire for revenge.
One had to hate and confront evil but nonetheless love the evil
doer because even he is endowed with the Divine spark which
love can ignite and induce his conversion. “Non-violence is based
on the assumption that human nature in its essence is one and
therefore unfailingly responds to the advances of love… The
hardest metal yields to sufficient heat. Even so, the hardest heart
must melt before the heat of non-violence and there is no limit to
the capacity of non-violence to generate heat.
For him: “The objective of all non-violent activity is always a mutually
acceptable agreement, never the defeat, much less the humiliation
of the opponent” and “A non-violent revolution is not a programme
for seizure of power. It is a programme for transformation of
relationships ending in a peaceful transfer of power.”
Gandhi’s vision, though considered utopian by some and arcadian
by others, was actually an elevated, wide spectrum, deeply spiritual
yet practical one. Like the tall redwood tree, which views the
farthermost horizon, yet is fully aware of every environmental
nuance around its sumptuous girth and at its deepest root, Gandhi
perceived the macro and micro effects of human behaviour in
diverse fields. His vision can justifiably therefore be described as
Ultimately, the return to sanity and Gandhiji’s principles is the
only answer to the problem. As the subsequent events in Central
India have indicated, state violence has resulted in a backlash and the
consequences will be horrifying if it spreads. The Mangalore SEZ is a
horror story to beat all others and that is why, it is necessary to let
the world know the truth. It does not make pleasant reading but like
the bitter pill, if we are aiming at saving the sub-continent, it is a
Justice Michael F. Saldanha
The greatest legal fraud and the social atrocity that has taken
place in the last decade has been the setting up of Special Economic
Zones by the Government of India and the State Governments, both
shamelessly acting as the agents of the vested interests. A large amount
of publicity is done creating the impression that the SEZ in question
is an unmixed blessing because it will provide jobs and economic
prosperity to the entire region. All the big and small businesses pour
money into the SEZ Company which in turn does high power publicity
and the first casualty is the Media. Huge unnecessary expenditure on
meaningless advertisements is undertaken and the whole of the media
regularly invited for so-called briefings at Five Star Hotels, after which,
the region is brain-washed into believing that the SEZ will create a
paradise on earth in that region. WE HAVE THE CLASSIC
The SEZ story has been a uniform social disaster all over the
country because the first thing that the vested interests do is to ask
for land which is extremely well situated i.e. close to all the facilities
and further more, where there is the best infrastructure such as
rivers, water supply and the like. The Central and State Govts. provide
prime land belonging to the poorest of the poor to the richest of the
rich as an INCENTIVE at 1868 acquisition rates in 2010 and all of
these end up as Corporate Assets worth thousands of Crores of
Rupees. To compound it all, the public are told that they will provide
Revenue whereas the fraud is that they are given TAX HOLIDAYS!
Next comes the Mega Fraud of providing jobs responsible research
evidences that not even 1% if those who have LOST THEIR
EVERYTHING get employed! The harsh truth is that these
so called SEZs are the biggest real estate scam of the
Century. Judging from the dangerous Chemical units
proposed for the Mangalore SEZ, this is another MEGABHOPAL
in the making.
All these prime lands in this sub-continent are occupied by
villagers and they are all under cultivation producing different types
of ORGANIC crops, fruits and vegetables and other farm products
like milk, eggs, chicken, sheep and goats, pigs, cattle and the like. This
is the normal structure all over the country. Whereas prior to the
Mangalore SEZ the satellite images of the area reflect a total canopy
of dense green resembling a rain forest area, after the butchering of
over 30,000 trees by the kind-hearted officers of the SEZ today it
compares with the SAHARA DESERT. The occupants are Adivasis,
Tribals, Dalits and the poorest of the poor. None of these people
have any fighting power and taking advantage of the situation, the
following pattern emerges:
(a) That the local leaders are bought over and they are asked
to get the consent letters from all the villagers which are
obtained virtually at knife point. The few who resist
DISAPPEAR. While the SEZ officials naturally do nor admit
that as many as 427 persons have been murdered, they
politely contend that they have LEFT. (for their heavenly
abode!) I am not impressed by their honesty. It defies logic
and human intelligence to contend that every villager would
give up their everything for a pittance of money- whom
are they fooling?
(b) That documents are fabricated showing the receipt of so
called payments which are usually in cash. In the case of
the Mangalore SEZ, in many of the cases, bank accounts
were created and the so-called compensation was
deposited without the villagers even knowing about it.
Thereafter, the same persons who created the Bank
Accounts have withdrawn the money.
(c) Documents evidencing surrender of possession were also
fabricated by the local mafia and a record created that the
villagers had not only agreed to give up their lands, that
they had been paid compensation and that they have
surrendered the possession VOLUNTARILY AND
WILLINGLY- the SEZ Officers forgot to add the word
HAPPILY! The whole operation virtually stinks.
(d) The same mafia provided the so-called contractors who
were a bunch of thugs accompanied by musclemen and
the local police all of whom are on the payroll of the SEZ.
Bulldozers are brought, the entire village is demolished
within an hour usually at night, trucks of soil and debris
are kept ready, all the fields, farms and vegetable gardens
are buried under two feet of soil, all the trees are cut and
by the next day, before anybody can even raise a protest,
the area looks exactly like a barren piece of land. I HAVE
fortunate to escape with our lives on that day
(e) What was even worse in this case was that all the land
records were destroyed and replaced with fabricated
documents to the effect that the area consisted of barren
land. The Government of India directions totally prohibit
paddy fields, vegetable gardens and farm lands being either
acquired or used for SEZs and in order to get over this,
the documents were fabricated. The matter was reported
to the Lokayukta because the local police had been
completely bought over and refused to register any
offences. The Upa-Lokayukta after holding an enquiry has
passed severe strictures against the State Government
and even directed a prosecution against the Government
Officers particularly the Land Acquisition Officer and the
Revenue Officers. Till today, nothing had happened. The
land in question was hurriedly allotted to some influential
persons who are supposed to have been rehabilitated and
they were told to hurriedly construct houses and temples
there to make it a fait accompli. THE HON’BLE HIGH
(f) The most shameful part of the entire SEZ operation is
that large and medium sized PRIVATE industry which
grabs this land which is a virtual goldmine, is misusing the
State powers under the Land Acquisition Act, These
powers are only permitted to be used in the case of
acquisition for public welfare projects like roads, dams
etc. I have in at least 10 Judgments struck down any
acquisitions of this type which entail public disaster and
do not cater exclusively to public welfare. The
compensation which is fixed at 18th century values never
ever reaches the beneficiary and the money- bags gets
these lands virtually free. In Judgment after Judgment, I
have pointed out that even if in a given instance, the
acquisition can be justified, nothing less than the current
market value has to be paid and this must reach
the beneficiary before they are dispossessed. In not
one case has this happened and it is shameful that the
Central Government and the State Governments are
functioning as agents of the vested interests.
(g) Every part of the country including Dakshina Kannada is
being ruined and devastated by these SEZs and the simple
results in terms of human misery are unthinkable. We are
then told that the country is facing a problem from
Naxalites and Maoists. These human beings have not
emerged from another planet nor have they come from
another part of the world. They are all peasants villagers
and farmers who have been forcibly thrown out of their
lands as happened in the case of the Mangalore SEZ, and
who have been driven into whatever is left of the hills and
forests. Earlier, they used to die on the footpaths of the
nearest city which is still happening but a few of them
who survived decide that they will put up a fight before
they are shot down by the police and the army. A 69
year old man Giriya Gowda, with tears in his eyes
told me that his paddy fields are gone, his vegetable
gardens are destroyed, his coconut trees and fruit
trees have disappeared, his cattle is finished, above
all, the bulldozer has destroyed his house, he and
his family are on the footpath and his grandchildren
are out of the village school. Despite his age, he
said that the Police and the Government Officers
assisted by the local mafia who represent the SEZ
and its Officers have done this to him and he had
resolved that he will take as many of them with
him before he dies. The Government will define
him as a Naxalite or a Maoist, the police will shoot
him down and the SEZ will come up over his dead
Why does this Chapter find place in this Report ? It is because
the incidents took place at the same time when the minorities were
attacked and it forms an integral part of the State terrorism that
Karnataka is facing. The victims consisted essentially of the members
of the Christian community. The rest of them were the poorest of the
poor, the KUNBI tribals. I have selected only one area, but this has
been the story of the Mangalore SEZ in respect of every inch of land
that they have illegally taken possession of. The elite of Mangalore, the
leaders of the Church, the businessmen and the Chambers of
Commerce who meet at the Five Star Hotels have commended the
Officers of the SEZ who are acting in tandem with them. The farm
lands that once produced organic vegetable for the full District, the
fruits, the coconuts, the poultry, the livestock and everything else that
was good for the region have been destroyed and we are told that
Toxic and hazardous chemical complexes of the same lethal character
as the Union Carbide Plant at Bhopal will come up in this region.
It is the same class of human beings i.e. those belonging to the
upper class who planned and executed the Church attacks, that
have used the muscle power in the SEZ operation. They would not
have targeted any village or any area or any person who came within
their social status but the oppressed classes are easy prey, as happened
in Orissa. The minorities i.e. the Christians and the tribals, adivasis
and the backward classes are all soft targets. This is one of the most
shameful CLASS-BASED attacks in the history of Dakshina Kannada
and it is not over, because the SEZ Officers have proudly proclaimed
that the next phase of the SEZ is now being taken up!
Apart from the violence and the muscle power used by the State
Machinery and the unlimited illegalities, what has characterised this
operation is the fact that in this instance again, it is the State Machinery
that has been 100% responsible for the human social and ecological
disaster. What I can never condone is the fact that whenever there
were protests or any resistance, that extreme form of violence was
used by the State and the SEZ to put it down. One of the forms of
State Terrorism is to register unlimited number of criminal cases
against the victims and more importantly, any of the citizens who
come to their assistance. Every one of the social activists and
volunteers has been beaten up, arrested, the courts joining in cheerfully
and refusing bail and each of them has 30 to 50 criminal cases filed
against them. Nobody has been spared- I HAVE TWO CRIMINAL
Raghavendra Holla who claimed to be the Major Domo of
the SEZ accompanied by a most dangerous and offensive
looking thug named Kotian were driving around the area in
an expensive SUV. Holla told me that he was the brother of
the State Advocare General (the AG subsequently denied
this and assured me that Holla would be dismissed from
service and prosecuted. Instead, he has become the General
Manager of the SEZ.) These were the two who threatened
to KILL us in the presence of the Police. When some of the
poor tribals begged that their standing crops be spared, rhey
were kicked by these two. One Marybai came to complain
that her house and vegetable garden which were outside
the designated area were being targeted. Holla and Kotian
sent the bull-dozers to destroy them immediately which was
done. The insolence was such that when I told them not to
destroy the fresh water wells, they filled them up with mud
in our presence. Shocking as it may sound, this is a sample
of the Human Rights violations in Karnataka’s Dakshina
Kannada! The next evening on my way to the Airport, I
stopped at the Bajpe Police Station as I was told that it had
been taken over by the SEZ. Holla and Kotian had thrown a
big victory party, liquor was flowing like water, everybody
was dead drunk and having a great time at the taxpayer’s
expense. I spent ten minutes there UNNOTICED and
discreetly left. So much for Karnataka’s Police under Home
Minister Acharya.
What is even more pathetic is that apart from all of this appearing
in the local TV and papers, right down to our being threatened, the
kicking, bull-dozing and the drunken party, NOTHING HAPPENED.
I have elaborately recorded all of this in my letters to the State Human
Rights Commission Chairman, the C.M., Home Minister, D. G. Police,
Central Minister Kamal Nath, Chairman ONGC and to the CEO of
the SEZ- no replies, no denials, NO ACTION.
What did hurt me really was that I wrote to the Chief Justice
recording all the above horrors with supporting material and
requested the High Court to take Suo Moto Action in the case. NO
REPLY, NO ACTION. That Hon’ble C. J. is now in the Supreme
Court dispensing a higher form of justice. I ask myself the question –
would this have happened if Infosys or Reliance were the applicants?
Is it not true that the status of the victim definitely counts and makes
all the difference. When will our legal system make some time for the
98% of the Indian population who do not belong to the rich and
famous class?
Hundreds of futile complaints have been filed before the Human
Rights Commission on behalf of the victims. I must say that it has
tried to do its best but it is a powerless organization, the State
Government has deliberately deprived it of any worthwhile
infrastructure and it has not been able to prevent or redress even
one of these atrocities. The Karnataka High Court has provided
zero relief. That is not surprising because a battery of lawyers
representing the vested interests sees to it that nothing happens in
the Court(s) and the end result is just sad and horrifying. To crown
it all, every one of the women volunteers who tried to fight for these
helpless people, apart from arrests and criminal cases, were repeatedly
threatened that they would be molested and gang raped and that
they would be mutilated for life with acid thrown on them. This is the
proud track trcord of the Mangalore SEZ.
The last and equally serious area of damage and human misery,
but which is directly in line with this Report is the fact that the SEZ
and its Officers in the areas of which they had taken forcible
possession, have demolished as many as 123 Churches, Chapels,
Prayer Halls, Prayer Centers and Grottos belonging to the Catholic
community. Their explanation is that the allegation is false because
there are no records to show that they existed. For that matter,
there are no records (AFTER MANIPULATION) to show that
any villages, farm lands, wells or trees existed in that area. To think
that there is supposed to be a Rule of Law in the State of Karnataka,
that all of these atrocities have happened in this very State under the
present BJP Government, that zero relief is forthcoming and that
the injustice is continuing, shows that there is something very seriously
wrong with our justice dispensation system- it has been a disastrous
let-down, it has totally failed.
I now come to the most gory and blood curdling part of this
most sordid episode. In my letter to the Chairman of ONGC, one of
the country’s most prestigious Public Sector Units which is a partner
in the Mangalore SEZ, I had provided the Hon’ble Gentleman with
some statistics that nobody has looked at – the cost in terms of
human misery, devastation, destruction and raw blood that is the
price of this SEZ. The letter was also addressed to Mr. Kamalnath,
the Union Minister for this Project, to the Prime Minister, to the
Chief Minister and the Home Minister of Karnataka. It was duly
delivered to all of them. Nobody responded, which is understandable
because the facts are indefensible, but more importantly, nothing has
been disputed nor can it be disputed. The Central Government has
laid down an inflexible rule that SEZs can only be set up in barren
areas – more than 1/3rd of the sub-continent comes under this
category- and there is a clear prohibition against appropriating
agricultural land, farms, villages, hamlets and more importantly areas
inhabited by the weaker sections namely the poorest of the poor,
the tribals, the depressed classes and the adivasis. This rule has been
breached in the case of every SEZ set up in the country and the very
worst of the lot is the Mangalore SEZ. In other cases, the
agricultural and inhabited areas illegally appropriated vary
from 15 to 40%. In the case of Mangalore SEZ, the breach is
100%. The list of Casualties:
(a) Agricultural lands illegally appropriated 100%.
(b) Fresh water wells destroyed – 2415.
(c ) Streams, Tanks and Minor water bodies destroyed – 614.
(d) Senior citizens over 70 years virtually finished off for life- 704.
(e) Senior citizens over 60 years virtually finished off for life- 548.
(f) Children/School/College going virtually finished off for life– 2150.
(g) Farmers ( men and women) virtually finished off for life – 4611.
(h) Tribals, Backward Classes and Christians – 100%.
(i) Upper Class persons – 0%.
(j) Number of Small Farms destroyed – 1616.
(k) Number of coconut trees destroyed – 6450.
(l) Number of other fruit trees – Mango, Jackfruit etc. – 13,860.
(m) Poultry including Broiler Farms and Ducks over 2,00,000
(n) Sheep and Goats over 18,000.
(o) Buffaloes over 11,000.
(p) Cows and Bulls over 19,000
(q) Pigs over 7,000
This is the trail of blood that this Mangalore SEZ has started
with. The later part of the Casualty list consists of birds and animals
belonging to households and little farms all of which have ended up in
the slaughter houses. The entire area has been bulldozed and I recall
telling the SEZ Officers headed by one Raghavendra Holla and a bunch
of thugs who had threatened to kill Swamiji, myself, all those who
accompanied us and even the media persons that they should atleast
spare the fresh water wells which were being filled up with mud and
levelled. I then realized that when the vegetable gardens and paddy
fields were being bulldozed and covered with one meter of mud that
the idea was to falsely contend that only barren lands had been
acquired. This was the same reason why every tree in the area was
also destroyed. The SEZs Officers and their contractors might have
become crorepathis but there is such a thing as Nemisis and it will be
interesting to see how long this ill-gotten wealth (BLOOD MONEY)
lasts with them and whether or not the tears anguish and deaths of
all these forms of life which includes the trees which also have life
and are precious, will not catch up with all of these persons.
It was only in the Tata Case in West Bengal that the National
Media projected the very important fact that industry and big business
is built on the graves of the tribals, the backward classes and the
minorities. That is the story of the Mangalore SEZ. A checklist of
the names of the entire SEZ brigade throws up the fact that
they belong exclusively to the upper caste and the privileged
class. Next we come to their Partners in crime namely the
Contractors who come from the same category. A
microscopic examination of the victims will indicate that
they all come from the category of Tribals, Christians and
backward classes. If this is not a class war or to use a more
appropriate term, virtual class genocide, what else is it ?
These are angles at which polite society and the rest of the well to do
Indians have never looked. Appropriately enough, I have entitled this
report “State Terrorism – Tyranny”. The reasons are more than
obvious. I do hope that a reading of this Chapter which will also be
published separately, will work as a rude eye opener. One does not
have to go to Africa and other parts of the world to witness the most
horrifying transgressions of Human Rights, it has happened in the
State of Karnataka and more precisely in Dakshina Kannada under
the euphemistic and glorious banner entitled Mangalore SEZ.
Both these are extremely unpleasant terms and conjure up images
of violent human beings who spread death and destruction. The
Governments tell us that these persons should be shot at sight and
when this is done, the citizens rejoice. Has anybody ever tried to do
the elementary exercise of finding out as to who created them. None
of these human beings have come from another planet or from another
country. They are native Indians who have turned violent out of
desperation. Earlier, it was the powerful upper caste human beings in
the villages and the rural areas who threw them out of their lands
and their meagre possessions with the active assistance of the police
and the revenue officials and they were driven into what remained of
the forest or the barren hills. They resembled wounded animals driven
out of their habitat and forced to fight for their existence. I repeat
the words of 69 year old Giriya Gowda who wept when his house
was bulldozed, his vegetable gardens were destroyed, all his poultry
and cattle gone and even his wells filled up with mud and he was the
so called offender who had to be forcibly thrown out of his ancestral
land by the police, revenue authorities and the mafia hired by the
SEZ. He wept and told me that I have nothing left but before I go, I
will take a sizeable number of this lot with me. Can he be blamed for
this reaction?
The so-called Naxalites and Maoists are all the tribals, adivasis,
backward classes and the minorities who have been the victims of
terror and tyranny and who have no other language except to hit
back and try and get even. The Government produces SEZs for big
industry and this is the human price. This is the origin of these
movements and this is the reason why their ranks are increasing. It
was not very different in the Chambal ravines when women like
Phoolan Devi were tortured, humiliated, raped and subjected to
horrifying levels of tyranny and a few of them decided to fight back in
the same language and the Government classified them as Dacoits.
When the history of the Mangalore SEZ comes to be written, it
will be a horror story of an edifice built on graves.