|"Many energy companies have invested in closed or repressive countries -- arguing that their investment would help develop the local economy and thereby improve the human rights situation. But in this case, Enron has invested in a democratic country -- and human rights abuses there have increased. Enron hasn't made things better for human rights; it has made things worse."||
Ratnagiri: Violations of Human Rights 1997
Table of Contents
V. Ratnagiri: Violations of Human Rights 1997
Appendix A: Correspondence Between Human Rights Watch and the Export-Import Bank of the United States
Appendix D: Correspondence Between the Government of India and the World Bank
Abuse of the Indian Penal Code
As noted above, police have abused the Indian Penal Code to falsely charge villagers opposed to the Dabhol Power project with offences ranging from unlawful assembly to attempted murder in the cases of the April 1 attack in Katalwadi village. Cases investigated by Human Rights Watch and Indian human rights organizations reveal a consistent pattern of bias by police which is exhibited when DPC contractors property is damaged or when disputes arise between DPC contractors (who support the power project) and opponents of the Dabhol Power project. When damage occurs to the property of DPC contractors police vigorously pursue opponents of the project as primary suspects, irrespective of the facts. When a confrontation between contractors and villagers occurs, police retaliateagainst the villagers. When contractors threaten or attack individuals or their property, police refuse to investigate complaints or else file charges against the plaintiffs. Retaliation has included arbitrary arrests, beatings, and illegal detention of juveniles.
Regarding property damage
The police arrest people in local communities to harass and demoralize them from agitating against Enron. The police keep tabs on villages and hamlets against the project. Whenever something happens that warrants arrest, these villages are targeted.
Mentally, this whole event has put me completely off balance. It has affected my job, because every time there is a court date, I have to go to Chiplun, which is six hours away and costs 300 to 400 rupees per trip. Earlier the lawyers would take care of it, but now I have to go in person. My finances are affected: I lost work for a month when I had to report to the police station and have lost work for subsequent trips. I am maintaining my innocence, but one never knows. Before this I had never even been to a police station or the courts. Personally, it has cost us 10,000 rupees a person so far, and my monthly salary is only about 3,500 to 4,000 rupees.180
The charges filed against the men carry a maximum sentence of up to seven years imprisonment. The case came up for hearing on January 5, 1998 and was adjourned until March 1998. As of October 1998, the case was still pending.
Satoshe asked people who the village leaders were. He said that senior police officials from Ratnagiri have come to discuss something. When we asked them what this was in regard to, Satoshe said, You will know when you meet the officials.181
Because the police did not specify their reasons for summoning these people, the villagers refused to go meet with them. The police then arrested fifteen villagers and transported them to the Guhagar police station, where their names, addresses, addictions/vices, fingerprints, and any identifiable body marks were recorded.
The police are only out to harass us in some way or another, so that we stop our opposition to Enron. But we have lost everything. Everything other than our houses has been taken away. We already face a shortage of fuelwood and green material to fertilize our fields.182
Regarding disputes with DPC contractors and police
Enron worked to defuse accusations that the company deprived locals of land, and headed off the formation of a powerful lobby against it. It did so in part by involving locals in community activities meant to help people adversely affected by the project, even giving jobs to some. Mark denies the company bought off local people for the sake of peace. There are always ways to include people, to make them productive when they could be counterproductive. Thats not corruption, thats economic interest.183
According to the Center for Holistic Studies, this process began in late 1994 when Sanjeev Khandekar, the Dabhol Power Corporations vice president for community relations, began to offer opponents of the project labor contracts and development funding. A letter to Enron, written by the Center for Holistic Studies, detailed the situation:
Before the arrival of DPC in the region, there was only one organization engaged in some social work in the area, and that was Shramik Sahayog. It has always been opposed to the project. Others were formed with the efforts of DPC Vice President for Community Relations, Sanjeev Khandekar. According to the villagers, the NGOs are fronts for the Companys handful of supporters in every village.184
Sadanand Pawar told Human Rights Watch that from March through May 1997, he was repeatedly offered contracts by Sanjeev Khandekar, individual contractors, and even a local member of the Legislative Assembly (who had a contract of his own with DPC, a clear conflict of interest) as an inducement to stop demonstrating against the project. Pawar said:
[Sanjeev] Khandekar offered us contracts. I would get messages sent through contractors. They repeatedly offered me contracts throughout 1996-1997. They would call me and say, Take a contract, give work orders, and give up the agitation... Throughout the agitation, they constantly offered me contracts. One person, Vaishali Patil, was asked by Circle Inspector Desmukh to stop protesting and to take a contract. He [said he] would go with her to Khandekars and get a contract. This is how people defected... In December 1997, one man, a local Congress MLA [Member of the Legislative Assembly], approached me and said that if I go to Sanjeev Khandekar and take contracts, I will get whatever I want and he will give me contracts. DPC told people that whoever brings those people in [leaders of the DPC protests] will get contracts.185
Pawar also cited Vinay Natu, a BJP MLA as one who took DPC contracts following alleged prompting by the BJP to stop protesting once the project was renegotiated.
According to Pawar and others, the flip-side of contract offers was strong-arm tactics. Pawar told Human Rights Watch:
When we refused [to accept contracts], the police started their crackdown. Starting in March 1997, whenever there was a police crackdown, four people, including a local MLA would say Give up the agitation, take a contract, whatever you want well give you. If you dont listen, you will face the consequences.
Any person who honestly opposed the project was destined for jail... They [the police] never harassed contractors, only local workers...Whenever the agitation was in full swing, one leader would defect. For example, Vinay Natu, a BJP MLA, Sushil Velhal, and others would defect and take DPC contracts. Because the BJP controlled them, they could be manipulated. These people were never harassed by the police.186
Sushil Velhal, a member of the BJP and a former participant in demonstrations against the project, was one person many individuals cited as anexample of the relationship between the company and its contractors. Velhal received contracts as well as development funds from DPC. According to Mangesh Chavan:
They [DPC] have fronted what are local NGOs/contractors who have dubious records as their public examples of community development and working with NGOs... Velhal was boycotted by the local community, he was a known bootlegger and smuggler. Following the Bombay blasts, he was arrested under TADA.187 He was alleged to have smuggled the RDX [explosives] used in the blasts into the country. All his associates are in jail, and he was heavily surveilled by Customs because of his smuggling activities. In 1995, he started the Guhagar Parishad Vikas Manch, an NGO that he used as a front for his contracting (and possibly illicit activities). Enron associated with him to show they were working with NGOs and had community support; they gave him an ambulance to show they were involved in community development. Enron gave him other civil contracts as well.188
Reputational issues notwithstanding, publications issued by the Dabhol Power Corporation and newspaper reports confirm what many people reportedthat Velhal associated with senior officials of the Dabhol Power Corporation and was portrayed as an NGO working with the company. In one case he was photographed with Sanjiv Khandekar, a vice president of DPC, as they inaugurated the Guhagar-Khandwadi bus service.189 The company also reported that it supported medical check-ups for women on April 27, 1997, which were co-sponsored by the Guhagar Parisar Vikas Manch, Velhals NGO.190
The DPC Vice-President [Sanjeev Khandekar], his secretary, and the Project Development Officer were badly beaten and their faces blackened by one such social worker, Sushil Velhal, who heads a DPC-promoted NGO, Guhagar Parisar Vikas Manch... The NGO was formed in late 1994 after Velhal officially announced that he was quitting the anti-Enron agitation and joining hands with DPC. This was after the land acquisition was completed and DPC was desperate to cultivate elements who would support the project in Guhagar taluka, attract people from far away villages to join as laborers and make DPC look more respectable.192
Velhals assault on Khandekar is unique for two reasons: it is the only known case of a contractor attacking a DPC representative, and it is the only case in which a contractor has, to our knowledge, been prosecuted for a criminal assault.
Criminal activity, however, was not unique to Velhal. In fact, in a series of incidents going back to 1996, contractors have threatened or assaulted villagers opposed to the project, or damaged their property. The police, in turn, refused to entertain complaints by the victims. Similarly, following disputes between contractors and villagers, police arrested, beat, and detained villagers in retaliation.
I got threats. Even in December 1997, I got a phone call and an unknown person said Give up the anti-Enron agitation or you will be killed. This happened around 11:00 p.m. It came from Bombay or outside because the long distance ring is different than the local ring. Before, on three separate occasions, in October , when I was not around, my wife received similar calls.195
Pawar told us that he continued to receive anonymous death threats over the phone in the first two months of 1998.196
Katalwadi Village: April 1997
They knew fully well that situation was not possible because of the social boycott imposed on them by the entire village because they support Enron. People... said that if they still wanted to participate, they should ask the whole village and let it be a collective decision on whether they could participate.201
Following the exchange, the Banes and their associates attacked two of the villagers, Ashok Padyal and his uncle Harishchandra Devale, with their weapons. Padyal told us:
They knew the village would not allow them to comply, so they started attacking people. When the talking stopped, Ashok, Dilip, and Chandrakant Bane came forward and signaled the others to approach.202
The men began by beating Ashok Padyals uncle, Harishchandra Devale, with bamboo sticks and knocking him to the ground. Then Ashok Bane took a swing at Devale with a sword, missing him. At this point, Ashok Padyal intervened. The missed sword blow at Devale hit Padyal on the neck and elbow. Padyal fell downand was then beaten with bamboo sticks. The assailants went to Devales house and returned with more acid-bulbs and soda bottles which they threw at villagers in the procession.203 According to Padyal:
The distance from where I was beaten to Banes house is about fifty meters. People started chasing them [the assailants] and then they started throwing soda bottles and acid-bulbs at those in pursuit. The ground is hard, so the impact of soda bottles and acid-bulbs is explosive. This kept people from chasing them. It caused injuries to women, primarily their legs and burned saris. Because they were wearing saris, it was harder for them to avoid the explosions. Lata Pate, Kunda Bane, Rukmini Bagwe, and another woman were injured. I was writhing in pain at the time.204
After the attack, as another villager, Anand Arjun Bhuvad, described it:
The villagers gathered, and the Enron supporters ran into the forest. While they fled, they threw soda-water bottles at people. They also threw acid-bulbs. There were a few injuries for those chasing them. They escaped, though, through the forest to Enrons fuel jetty complex and Konvel.205
In anticipation of another attack, some of the residents moved their families into the center of the village. Later, people apprehended another pro-Enron villager, Shankar Bhuvad, an elderly resident whose family was subject to the social boycott. Although his entire family was at home and he did not participate in the attack, villagers yelled and pushed him. Bhuvad told us that he protested to the hostile villagers that the perpetrators knew he would not have approved of the attack, so they had not informed him in advance.206
[Circle Inspector] Desmukh agreed to take them to the government hospital for an examination. [But] instead of a medical check-up, the women were charged with criminal offences, including attempted murder. They used the incident against Shankar Bhuvad as the reason to charge people with attempted murder. We were taken around noon on April 2 to the Guhagar police station. The four women were put in the lockup as well.209
Once he left the hospital, Padyal went to the Guhagar police station to submit the complaint he had drafted earlier in the day. There he learned that villagers had been arrested and that police were skeptical of his complaint. He told us:
I gave my written complaint to the police, but the police refused to accept it. Instead, they asked me to narrate the whole incident and how it took place, with every minute detail. After the police took the complaint, I was supposed to sign it. When I read it, I saw that the police had taken a rough sketch of the incident and most of the crucial details were missing. There was no mention of the soda bottles and acid- bulbs, no mention of injuries to women, and no mention of swords or other weapons.210
Although Padyal was in a great deal of pain because of his injuries, he chose to wait for Circle Inspector Desmukh to amend the complaint.211 While he waited, police lectured Padyal about the project and their opinion of villagers opposition, encouraging him to stop protesting. Padyal told us:
They said, Why are you opposing the projectit wont be of any benefit to you or any use. Its no use going against the government, they will complete the project by force. You should accept compensation for your land and take whatever benefits the company and government give you. You could get jobs in the project... Just take the jobs.
I asked them how many jobs were there. They said about 200 to 250. I told them that the number of people who will lose land is much more than 200 to 250. I said, What is the use of all that? If we have land, we can grow crops, graze, implement horticulture. Without land, we can do nothing. They told me, Whats the use? The government will forcibly help Enron complete the project...
Where was the need of policemen to lecture us about Enron? They must have come to know that the fight in the village was related to Enron. The police were government servants, why did they not lecture the pro-Enron people for attacking us? It is not their job. From what I can tell, there is clear connivance between the police and Enron, and the police are paid to take sides.212
Padyal waited until 4:30 p.m. for Desmukh, but he never arrived. Because he was in pain and had missed the bus to his village, Padyal signed the incomplete complaint and managed to obtain a private vehicle to return home.
Sanjay Pawar: February 1997
I dont want Enron because of the pollution and the cost escalations of essential commodities, like electricity. There is also the way they take land. Our village could face displacement because of Phase II.215
According to Pawar, the incident began over a dispute not overtly linked to opposition against the power project. At approximately 10:00 a.m. on February 17, 1997, while Pawar was working for a road construction firm that is building roads from Guhagar village to the Dabhol Power project site, three or four tankers carrying water, followed by a truck containing officers from the State Reserve Police (SRP), drove past the workers. Pawar flagged down the tankers and asked them to slow down and to leave some water on the road. Since Pawar and others were digging up hard dirt, the water would have softened the ground and made their work easier. The drivers disagreed, told Pawar that he was obstructing them and slowing them down on purpose, and said they could drive as they pleased.
I collapsed, and the SRP continued to beat me with their fists and boots. They put me in the SRP van, and the SRP in charge kicked me. About twenty-five to thirty of my coworkers tried to intervene to keep them from putting me in the van, but the police told them to leave or they would deal with them.216
The police took Pawar to the infirmary at the DPC project site. His head wound, which required stitches, was treated by the company doctor. Within an hour of the assault, news of Pawars beating had spread around the community; approximately 200 villagers blocked the road near the project and demanded his release. Concerned about his being on company premises in police hands, villagers wanted him treated at a government hospital and not at the companys infirmary.
I was on leave from February 17 to 20 because of my injuries. On the 28th, I was back at work when Circle Inspector Desmukh arrested me around 8:30. He didnt tell me anything, just took me to the lockup at Guhagar. I had no idea why I was grabbed. I was in the lockup for over an hour; Judge Kolse-Patil was there as well. We were taken to [the court at] Chiplun. Kolse-Patil was charged for violating prohibitory orders and causing obstruction.218
Commenting on his experience, Pawar said, Security is given only to the companynever to the people.219
I was arrested on February 28, 1997. This was during a fast with Medha Patkar to protest at the police station with about 500 other people. Around 11:30 a.m., the police arrested about 225 people. We were shouting slogans, singing songs, and giving speeches when they arrested us. We were going to leave around 4:00 p.m., but they arrested us instead. They beat people with lathis and threw people in police vans, very brutal. Then they took them to Chiplun and presented them beforethe magistrate. In protest, people refused to post a personal bond and were jailed.220
The cases against protesters were still pending as of October 1998.
Veldur raid: June 1997
On June 2, there was a skirmish over the Enron issue. The next day, I was standing near a shop. The sudden action police took against us was surprising. I was beaten by a lathi on my wrist and fell to the ground. They came down and just started beating people. I have a small two-cylinder boat and use it as a fisherman. I am sixty-five years old and watched them beat people.225
One villager, Vithal Padyal, watched the police enter his home, beat his family, and arrest two of his children. Ironically, the young people who were arrested worked for DPC. His account underscores the arbitrariness and brutality of the police. He told Human Rights Watch:
On the other side of the village, there was a skirmish [on June 2]. The next day, at six in the morning, the police came in vans. They started going around to houses. They came in and first hit my daughter, Madhuri Madhukar Batokar, who was nine months pregnant at the time. She was hit on the back with a lathi. The police tried to hit me, but I said, Look at my hair because it is gray and I am old, and they didnt hit me. Then they caught hold of my son Laloo and his brother Ankhosh. They are twenty-one and twins. Both of them worked at the DPC site, so they showed the police their ID cards. In spite of showing them the ID cards, the police beat them with lathis.226
The twins were taken into custody by the State Reserve Police. According to their father, Circle Inspector Desmukh kept them in custody for six days without producing them for the court. Desmukh asked the young men to give the names of people involved in the skirmish and protests. They were unable to provide this information to police, since they had not been involved in the protests. After sixdays, they were transferred to the jail at Chiplun and then transferred again to Yerewada jail, where they were imprisoned for another six days.227
They just entered my house, hit my husband with lathis. He works in Bombay and had come home to attend a marriage. They woke up my fourteen-year-old son and told him that he had to come with them... They kept him in custody for thirteen days. They never said what law they had arrested him under, and he was never associated in the protests against the project.229
The Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), a respected Indian human rights organization, investigated the incidents at Veldur and reported that several other juveniles had been arrested and detained: among them, sixteen-year-old Sugandha Vasudev Balekar (who had been assaulted by a female police officer the previous day), two sisters, fourteen-year-old Vanita and fifteen-year-old Sanita Patekar, and fifteen-year-old Rakha Kishore Padyal. Police falsely recorded the ages of these minors so that they would be considered adults, and neither the court nor the police attempted to verify their status as juveniles.230
While I was being taken forcibly out of the house to the police van, my one and a half year old daughter held on to me but the police kicked her away. My sisters-in-law, Mrs. Indira Pandurang Medhekar and Mrs. Supriya Chandrakant Padyal had come to their maternal home. Of these, Supriya Chandrakant Padyal was thrown off the loft on to the ground and was beaten with batons and forced into the van. Indira Pandurang Medhekar too was beaten and forced into the van.234
Other villagers were similarly beaten. Ambaji Dabholkar told the CPDR fact-finding team that two daughters of Viju Bhalokar were beaten so severely that they began to urinate.235
187 The Bombay serial bomb blasts took place in 1992 when a series of explosions killed several hundred people. The blasts were attributed to underworld figures in Bombay. TADA was the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities law that imposed draconian anti-terrorism legislation throughout the country.
193 This offence is classified as voluntary hurt under Section 324 of the Indian Penal Code and carries a sentence of up to three years imprisonment. Section 324 of the Indian Penal Code states: Whoever, except in the case provided for by section 334, voluntarily causes hurt by means of any instrument for shooting, stabbing, or cutting, or any instrumentwhich, used as a weapon of offence, is likely to cause death, or by means of fire or any means of any explosive substance, or by means of any substance which is deleterious to the human body to inhale, to swallow or to receive into the blood, or by means of any animal, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or both.
194 In the Service of a Multinational..., pp. 17-18. A death threat is defined as criminal intimidation under Section 503 of the Indian Penal Code and is punishable with up to two years imprisonment.
196 An anonymous death threat is considered criminal intimidation under sections 506 and 507 of the Indian Penal Code and is punishable with up to nine years imprisonment. Section 507 is prosecuted with Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code, which provides up to seven years imprisonment for committing criminal intimidation. Section 507 of the Indian Penal Code states: Whoever commits the offence of criminal intimidation by an anonymouscommunication, or having taken precaution to conceal the name or abode of the person from whom the threat comes, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, in addition to the punishment provided for the offence by Section 506.
200 According to villagers, the other men with Ashok Bane were, his brother, Dilip Bane, an Enron labor contractor; Chandrakant Bane, a relative of theirs; Ashok Bait; Rajendra Durogoli; Sandeep Bagwe; Dinesh Bait, Hari Kansare, Gorakh Bagawe, and Santosh Bhuvad all came out of Devales house around the same time. Chandrakant Bane was recognized by DPC as a local Shiv Sena leader and is pictured with Sanjeev Khandekar in the May 1997 issue of Dabhol Samvad: the Monthly Bulletin of the Dabhol Power Company.