Please refer to End note: 68, Page number: 132("The State of Human Rights in India in 2010": AHRC report). It goes like the following: "Starvation deaths of children in Uttar Pradesh were a campaign issue for Mayawati during the state assembly elections and at the same time for some NGOs in Uttar Pradesh. Mayawati won the election and like any other politician soon forgot it. Then came Mr. Rahul Gandhi who opposed Mayawati during the Parliamentary elections. With the help of a local NGO, which the NGO plentifully and happily provided for cheap publicity, Rahul Gandhi made use of a couple of cases reported by the AHRC as a political campaign tool against Mayawati. After the elections, the Congress that Rahul Gandhi leads forgot that children continue to die in Uttar Pradesh. So did the local NGO. This NGO is now interested in providing psychological help to victims of torture to recover from trauma, since the funding money is in it. Project driven and short sighted human rights activism, undertaken merely for fame and/or sheer survival or employment is a curse of India's Human Rights movement."[i]
The above mentioned end note is manipulation of facts, interpreted according to individual perception to malign myself, my organization and the NGOs of this country sitting in a foreign country, far away from the scene of action. It is an attempt to undermine the credibility of the organizations and the activists but also to derail the struggle for human rights of the dalits, tribals and others marginalized sections of the society.
Let me rebut your findings in the following way;
AHRC: Starvation deaths of children in Uttar Pradesh were a campaign issue for Mayawati during the state assembly elections
PVCHR: Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) led by Ms. Mayawati Bahan ji, who is presently the Chief Minister of the state did not published any manifesto during assembly election in 2007. The party under her leadership fought on the single issue to establish rule of law in the state. The issue of starvation death was nowhere in her agenda. In fact, the party never released its election manifesto in 2007.
Immediately after the election PVCHR and AHRC issued hunger alert on starvation of dalit boy Mukesh http://www.humanrights.asia/news/hunger-alerts/HA-014-2007. It followed by another hunger alert on starvation and malnutrition of Musahar (Rat eaters) dalit boy Jigar was released http://www.humanrights.asia/news/hunger-alerts/HA-015-2007.
AHRC: …."and at the same time for some NGOs in Uttar Pradesh.
PVCHR: Since 2000, and not since 2007, our organization has been fighting against hunger, malnutrition, starvation and raising the issue of weavers and mushars. In 2003, PVCHR filed the case against hunger death of 18 children in Raup village of Sonbhadra district, Uttar Pradesh. Shockingly, AHRC published this case in its website in the name of other NGO without mentioning PVCHR's intervention. We in PVCHR decided not to protest at all. To mark the struggle against hunger, we built a monument in the same village, which was inaugurated by none other than Mr. Basil Fernando, Executive Director, AHRC and child poet Tumul.
Please read an article written on the struggle against hunger in Uttar Pradesh. http://sapf.blogspot.com/2005/10/breif-history-of-struggle-against.html).
AHRC: "then came Mr. Rahul Gandhi who opposed Mayawati during the Parliamentary elections. With the help of a local NGO, which the NGO plentifully and happily provided for cheap publicity, Rahul Gandhi made use of a couple of cases reported by the AHRC as a political campaign tool against Mayawati. After the elections, the Congress that Rahul Gandhi leads forgot that children continue to die in Uttar Pradesh. So did the local NGO."
Assembly election to the State Assembly was held in 2007 and the election to the Lok Sabha was held in 2009.
In 2007, when AHRC issued hunger alert on the case of a malnourished dalit boy Mukesh based on information from PVCHR, NDTV had already highlighted the case. The office of Mr. Rahul Gandhi inquired about the case over mobile phone. This happened primarily because during that election, PVCHR was running awareness campaign for voter about the criminal background of the candidates on the information provided in their affidavit. This initiative of PVCHR was happening under the guidance of UP Election Watch and Association for Democratic Right (ADR). The UP Election Watch office was running from the office of PVCHR. I had also received calls from other very important political leaders, media persons and International NGOs. All these were shared with the team members.
In fact, when Mr. Gandhi took steps to provide medical support to Mukesh, one of our activists passed it on to NDTV. Seeing this Mr. Gandhis' office called me and asked to ensure that no propaganda is made out of this help.
On this Mr. Bijo Francis, AHRC wrote an article in his publication "Ethics in Action". http://www.ethicsinaction.asia/archive/2008-ethics-in-action/vol.-2-no.-1-february-2008/can-human-rights-work-bring-change-the-story-of)
At the sametime, following AHRC Hunger alert on Jigar Mushar, Anei village, Varanasi District, Ms. Mayawati Bahan Ji, Chief Minister, Uttar Pradesh sent the Special Secretary, Revenue Dept to the Anei village. Seeing such a high level official the Mushars demand land from the state government. This angered the state administration and the Chief Minister herself addressed the press against anti – hunger initiative of PVCHR. Soon after, i.e., on 9th December, 2007, Mr. Rajendra Tiwari, a local criminal with huge political clout, lodged an FIR under 505 (B) IPC against five activists of PVCHR. The administration was prompt enough to file the charge sheet. But fortunately Honb'le High Court awarded stay on arrest and then stays on court proceeding of the case.
AHRC released urgent appeal and its update. Please refer to http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/UP-163-2007/?searchterm=PVCHR and http://sshirinkhan.blogspot.com/2010/01/update-india-human-rights-organisation_11.html
At this point, AHRC preferred to go silent on this case and withdrew from all communications with PVCHR. However, considering the degree of threat from the state, with support from many other national and International we stood to the ground. This was recognized by the Irish organization Frontline and the European Union. The former provided financial support for fighting the case. While the later has highlighted the issues of human rights defenders at risk all over.
Today, the same Anei village is known as "child centric model village". The state distributed land to the Mushars. The pre-primary school run by PVCHR has been upgraded to Primary School, which is now taken over by the state. The Mushars became the barefoot worker of PVCHR and fighting for the rights of Mushars of other villages.
AHRC: "This NGO is now interested in providing psychological help to victims of torture to recover from trauma, since the funding money is in it. Project driven and short sighted human rights activism, undertaken merely for fame and/or sheer survival or employment is a curse of India's Human Rights movement".
PVCHR: Since its establishment, in 1996, PVCHR is fighting against caste atrocities and torture. Between 2006-08, PVCHR was state partner of EU-FNF-PWTN initiated "National Project for Prevention of Torture" implemented in 47 districts across 9 states. In UP, the project covered 7 districts.
The collaboration with RCT is extension of EU project to provide psycho - legal support through testimonial therapy (TT). Is it wrong to work with the victim of torture? I think, AHRC also works on this subject with the RCT. Do you do it for the getting justice for the victims or for money and fame? Based on the outcome of TT, more than 50 organisations have come together to form National Alliance on Testimonial Therapy (NATT) for its promotion to strengthen rule of law in India.
On June 26, 2011 on the occasion of International Day against Torture the PVCHR and a network of over 70 organisations from 6 states organised a Regional Convention at Lucknow. More than 1200 victims and survivors of torture belonging to dalit and minorities joined the convention, which was also attended by the Chairperson, National Commission for scheduled caste and the focal point for the Human Rights defenders from National Human Rights Commission. In the convention Dynamic Action Group (DAG), Voice of People (VoP), National Alliance on Testimonial Therapy (NATT) and Right to Food and Work, Uttar Pradesh, Detention Watch played significant role. In which the issue of the food security came as main important issue in declaration. Please see the link: http://www.testimonialtherapy.org/2011/06/lucknow-declaration.html
PVCHR has been filling Public Interest litigations in Honorable High Court, Allahabad and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in the case of hunger of weavers and suicide of farmer in Bundelkhand.
In 2010-11 an anti – malnutrition campaign, called Voice of people (VOP) was launched in 17 districts of Uttar Pradesh and PVCHR launched in 200 Villages of Varanasi, Sonbhadra and Ambedkar Nager districts. Executive Director of PVCHR as a member of executive council of VOP brought the issue of Malnutrition in agenda of VOP. Dr Lenin Raghuvanshi is presently the campaign coordinator of VOP.
PVCHR without any financial support filed hundreds of petitions against human rights violation from various states of India. Please see www.petition-nhrc.blogspot.com and in the two years hundreds of bonded labour were rescued and did intervention in many cases of malnutrition.
You can have an understanding of our legitimate claims of our work of 2010-11 against hunger, malnutrition and starvation in the following links.