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Published in the 1-15 July 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

VHP/Bajrang disrupt Orissa tribunal

The Milli Gazette Online

The Indian People's Tribunal on Communalism in Orissa organized by the Indian People's Tribunal on Environment and Human Rights (IPT) held primary investigations during June 11-14, 2005. Persons from Hindutva organizations, like the Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Rashtriya Sevika Samiti (RSS-W), the women's wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, and the Bharatiya Janata Party, disrupted and wrought havoc at a meeting held by the Tribunal on 14 June. These elements threatened to rape, and parade naked, women associated with the Tribunal, jeopardising the safety and security of women members. 

The Indian People's Tribunal was founded on 5 June 1993, based on a people's mandate, to conduct principled investigations that focus on issues of human rights and social and environmental justice. Hindutva organizations have maligned and targeted the Tribunal and its members. They have threatened Justice K. K. Usha, Former Chief Justice, Kerala High Court, and Justice R. A. Mehta, former Acting Chief Justice, Gujarat High Court, and former Director, Gujarat Judicial Academy, who are heading the Tribunal. They have also threatened other women members, and IPT staff. They have continued to directly intimidate and verbally attack Dr. Angana Chatterji, Associate Professor, Social and Cultural Anthropology, California Institute of Integral Studies since the incident as she remained in Orissa for a few days to continue the Tribunal's work. 

After the incident, on the evening of 16 June 2005, the Bajrang Dal held a press conference at Hotel Kesari in Bhubaneswar in which Subash Chouhan, the State Convenor of the Bajrang Dal, threatened Prof Chatterji saying that if she continues in Orissa they will “strongly challenge and repress her”. 

The All India Democratic Women's Association-Orissa (AIDWA-Orissa) held a protest outside the Superintendent's Office on the morning of 16 June 2005 demanding that an investigation be conducted into the incident against the Indian People's Tribunal and these perpetrators be brought to justice. In addition, thus far the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India and the Samajwadi Party (Women's Wing) have condemned the incident. 

This incident and its aftermath compromise the basic safety of citizens and endanger the law and order situation in the state. «

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