August 16 2011: Shehla
Masoos shot dead in Bhopal
(Then add this statement inviting signatures and ALSO put the FACTSHEET
that is attached below
Please send your endorsements with name,
organisational or professional affiliation, place and email address by
22nd August 2 O' clock. We will send this statement to the Cabinet
Committee on Economic Affairs and Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs
with copy to Union Environment Minister in the evening of 22nd August.
You may circulate this message for endorsement.
Joint Statement on Martyrdom of Shehla
Masood (for your endorsement)
16 August, 2011
"I am proud to be an Indian.Happy Independence Day."
15 August, 2011
Gandhi "the purpose of civil resistance is provocation".
Anna has succeeded in provoking the Govt and the Opposition. Hope he
wins us freedom from corruption. Meet at 2 pm Boat Club Bhopal"
Shehla Masood, 16
August, 2011 few minutes before her
Shehla Masood, a Madhya Pradesh based civil
rights and environmental rights activist was was shot dead by an
unidentified person in front of her residence in Koh-e-Fiza locality in
Bhopal around 11 AM on 16th August, 2011.
We the undersigned aghast at the irony that tigers, tribals, trees and
civil rights and environmental rights activists are being hunted and
killed in the same manner.
We demand that the possible connection
between her murder and her raising the issue of illegal Diamond mining
project in Chhattarpur district, Madhya Pradesh by Rio Tinto, a
transnational mining company headquartered in the UK, combining Rio
Tinto plc, a London and NYSE listed company, and Rio Tinto Limited,
which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange must be
investigated along with other suspicions by a high level probe team. (Factsheet
on Rio Tinto’s illegal mining activity attached)
She was active to save the watershed of the Panna Tiger Reserve and the
Shyamri River, one of the cleanest in the country from Rio Tinto’s
mining activity along with other activists.
We suspect that the considered timing of her elimination during the
ongoing anti-corruption campaign when she was on her way to support Anna
Hazare’s fast is meant to overshadow the issue of illegal Diamond mining
project in Chhattarpur district, Madhya Pradesh by Rio Tinto and the
The mining block is inside a forest which is
the northernmost tip of the best corridor of teak forests south of the
Gangetic plain. It is an established law that mining is non-forestry
activity. There is an immediate need for a probe to determine who
allowed the mining to take place in such an ecologically fragile area.
The Bunder mine project, near the city of
Chhatarpur in Madhya Pradesh, about 500 kilometres south-east of Delhi,
is likely to be one of the largest diamond reserves in the world. It is
estimated that there is a ''inferred resource'' of 27.4 million carats,
a diamonds resource seven times richer than the Panna mine, country's
only working diamond mine.
A statement dated March 22, 2011 was laid in
the Parliament (Lok Sabha) on “need to review the diamond mining project
in district Chhattarpur, Madhya Pradesh posing serious threat to
environment in the region".
We have learnt from senior journalists that
two Collectors have been transferred to facilitate the ongoing illegal
mining and the fact that the new Collector has allowed mining which came
to light when a PIL was filed stating that Rio Tinto has been carrying
on exploitation of mineral resources in Chattarpur district violating
the prescribed provisions.
Prior to the statement in the Lok Sabha, on March 10, 2011, the FOREST
ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEETING of Ministry of Environment & Forests listed
Agenda no. 6 on “ Prospecting of diamond at 143 additional locations in
2329.75 ha. forest land located in 18 compartments in Buxwaha Range in
Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh by M/s Rio Tinto Exploration India
Private Limited. [File No. 8-49/2006-FC-(Vol.)]” to discuss it but did
not do so stating, “Due to paucity of time the proposal could not be
discussed during the meeting”.
We had written to the Union Environment Minister and Parliamentary
Petitions Committee separately drawing its attention towards Madhya
Pradesh High Court’s notices to the Centre and the state government on
illegal mining of diamonds by international mining companies. The court
had asked both the governments to reply in this matter within four
weeks. Considering the act of illegal mining as a serious offence, a
double bench of Chief Justice Sayed Rafat Alam and Justice Sushil
Harkauli criticised the Forest Departments, Mining Secretaries of the
state as well as the Centre and issued notices against them in addition
to the Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board and Chattarpur Collector.
We take cognisance of the fact that Corporate Watch, a London based
group had chosen Rio Tinto to award it for its display of heinous,
misguided, and altogether anti-social behaviour over the last ten years
We take note of 'Rio Tinto: the Tainted Titan,' the Stakeholders Report,
1997, which states "It's (Rio Tinto's) activities in some of the wildest
and the most pristine places in the world and their impact on the
environment of those places, the people who live there, the life-style
of the indigenous people and also its corporate culture, are subjects of
We submit that Rio Tinto project is threatening unique forest resources
in the area affected by the mine in Chhattarpur, MP. In this context, it
may be noted that Roger Moody, a veteran journalist in his book Plunder,
describes Rio Tinto's activities as ranging from "brow-beating
opponents, leaning on governments and price-fixing, to violating
international law, union-busting and management of one of the world's
biggest commodity cartels". His book outlines numerous examples of its
It is germane to recollect what Sir Roderick Carnegie, as Chairman Rio
Tinto-Zinc (RTZ) had said at its 1984 shareholders' meeting: "The right
to land depends on the ability to defend it".
We salute the struggle and martyrdom of
Shehla Masood who defended our forests, rivers, land and wildlife in the
face of unscrupulous corporate assault in nexus with ruling political
Shehla Masood used to conclude her messages with a proud “Roarrrrr” that
cannot be silenced by the bullets of her assailants.
Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA),
New Delhi ([email protected])
Prakash K Ray, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Researchers Association (JNURA), New Delhi ([email protected])