Gujarat snooping: Modi govt sets up panel toprobe scandal
GANDHINAGAR: Under fire for using the state machinery to illegally snoop on a woman, the Gujarat government formed a two-member commission of inquiry to investigate the charge on Monday. The snooping was allegedly supervised in 2009 by then junior home ministerAmit Shah at the behest of his ‘saheb’.
The two-member commission includes retired Gujarat high court judge, Justice Sugunaben Bhatt, and retired bureaucrat KC Kapoor. “The commission has been asked tosubmit its report within three months,” said government spokesman and cabinet minister Nitin Patel. However, he did not clarify the terms of reference of the inquiry.
Justice Bhatt is also the chairperson of the socially and economically backward classes commission of Gujarat while Kapoor was state election commissioner before he retired in 2012. He has also served as additional chief secretary, home.
Congress slams panel
Since the revelations, the Congress has launched an all-out attack on Modi, questioning his silence on the controversy.
“The outcome of this commission is a forgone conclusion,” said Arjun Modhwadia,Gujarat Congress leader. “It’s an eyewash. Nothing has come out of previous commissions, like the MB Shah commission to inquire into corruption charges. Illegal surveillance is a criminal offence and an FIR should be filed in the case.”
The National Commission for Women has asked the government to inquire into thesnooping allegations. The pressure on the Modi government increased after suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma filed a petition in the Supreme Court demanding an inquiry into the allegations. Sharma has accused the Gujarat government of victimizing him because of his acquaintance with the woman who was snooped upon.
Two investigative portals, Cobrapost and Gulail, had claimed on November 15 that Modi’s trusted lieutenant Shah, who was the junior home minister in 2009, had ordered the illegal surveillance on the woman at the behest of ‘saheb’. They had released tapes of purported conversations between Shah and IPS officer GL Singhal to back their claim. Singhal is accused in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case and is out on bail at present.
Who is responsible for Makhlie’s death?
“A young woman died because of cotton. Who is responsible for her death?” – witness to Makhlie’s death1
Makhlie should have been in a classroom days ago when the Uzbek school year began. Instead, she and her classmates were working in the cotton harvest in the fields of Uzbekistan where an accidental brush with a live electrical wire stopped her heart. She was only 16.
Makhlie should never have been in that field picking cotton, but the Uzbek government had “drafted” her, her classmates and citizens all over Uzbekistan to harvest cotton to fill quotas for suppliers like Daewoo International who then supply companies like the Target Corporation2.
It’s appalling that Target continues to do business with Daewoo, a company that accounts for about 20% of all cotton from Uzbekistan, creating much of the demand that drives modern slavery in the Uzbek cotton fields. Target needs to take responsibility and ensure that none of its revenue goes to a company that knowingly profits from slave labour.
Makhlie’s classmates are still in the cotton fields – alongside doctors, teachers, students and other Uzbek citizens forced by their own government to pick the cotton that may end up in products in our neighbourhood stores. They are not only at risk of accidents like Makhlie’s, they’re often threatened and beaten if they fall behind. Last year, 18-year-old Navruz Muyzinov died after reportedly being beaten to death by police officers when he left his assigned cotton field before meeting his quota.
Over 100 apparel companies (including Target) from all over the world have taken a stand against slavery in Uzbekistan, pledging to not buy slave-picked Uzbek cotton in an effort to push the Uzbek government to end the enslavement of its people. Now, they’re being called upon to follow up on their pledge by following the Daewoo Protocol – a series of steps companies need to take to eliminate slave-picked cotton from their supply chains.
We expect more from Target, a company that takes pride in holding the highest ethical standards for itself and for its business partners. So we called and asked them to sign on to the Daewoo Protocol. Target said they didn’t need to follow the Daewoo Protocol because they have a “No Uzbek Cotton” policy. But such a policy only works if you’re willing to enforce it.
If Target is truly serious about keeping slavery out of its stores, it needs to stop doing business with Daewoo by agreeing to implement the Daewoo Protocol and decline to do business with Daewoo until it takes serious steps to stop sourcing slave-picked Uzbek cotton.
Target needs to hear from as many people as possible – after you’ve taken action, will you take a moment and forward this email to 3 of your friends?
Thank you in advance for your help.
Debra, Nick, Mika, Jayde, Mich, Kyle, Sarah, Kamini, Kate, Jess and the Walk Free campaigns team