2007 Struggle

Summary

In 2007, a government official attacked SECMOL with false accusations. When the public came out to protest, the official, MK Dwivedi, misused his powers, banning public gatherings and specifically banned all SECMOL communication with the public. SECMOL withdrew from work on school system reform and collaboration with the government Education Department in Leh District.

In 2013, the court cleared all the charges.

The Full Story

In 2006, the newly arrived head of the local administration of Leh District, Deputy Commissioner (DC) or District Magistrate (DM) Mr MK Dwivedi, started attacking various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) of Ladakh. To his surprise, the NGOs united and fought back, starting a legal case against his unwarranted orders. He responded with further attacks, and several environmental and sustainable development projects fell victim.

In 2007, after a year-long struggle with local NGOS, Mr Dwivedi levelled a set of false allegations against SECMOL director Wangchuk. When we informed the public about it and they came out on the streets in protest, this official misused his powers and banned all our communication with the public, as if we were a terrorist outfit!

Although local supporters were prevented from protesting (after the first day) or expressing their support in any other way, friends accross India and the world came through. Newspapers and magazines at state and national level covered the issue, and the Asian Human Rights Commission took it up. SECMOL’s former students and volunteers, network partners, colleagues, resource persons, trainers, and participants in previous work sent letters to the President of India and other highly placed persons until Mr Dwivedi was removed from Leh.

Mr Dwivedi had accused SECMOL’s director of ‘anti-national connections in China,’ land-grabbing, and violation of FCRA norms. When he sent these wild allegations to the police to initiate action, SECMOL sent a video explaining our side of the story to all the Ladakhi villages. People started streaming in from villages to protest, and when the DC had one of our staff arrested for distributing it, our staff and student members protested as well.

At that point the DC imposed ‘Section 144’, prohibiting us from holding gatherings or even sending out material to the public. With the police waiting in Leh bazaar to stop protests, the public was intimidated and we learned of several groups that had intended to protest or deliver statements of support but turned back. Even the local All India Radio station refused to read statements in support of SECMOL, citing orders from the DC. Meanwhile certain people who were opposed to education reform and the accountability it had brought conducted vigorous campaigns to prevent teachers, Village Education Committee members, and other supporters from expressing their views.

Because of all this, we had to withdraw from our longstanding partnership in government school reform activities — even though the President of India, Dr APJ Kalam, had come here in the summer of 2006 to launch a new phase of education reform in Ladakh that was to be (again) a collaboration between the Hill Council (LAHDC Leh) and SECMOL.

For all the details, here are some articles about the case in newspapers and magazines, previous letters from various government bodies appreciating SECMOL’s collaboration in school reform, and the letters between Mr Dwivedi and the NGOs, including his accusations. (Need to add these links)

Taking up the issue, the Asian Human Rights Commission in Hong Kong put an appeal on their website, and people from all over India and the world who had worked with SECMOL or knew our work sent letters to the President of India and the governments of India and J&K. In June 2007, Mr Dwivedi was transferred prematurely out of his post as DC of Leh District.

After much discussion, the SECMOL Board decided for the time being to focus on SECMOL Alternative Institute campus at Phey and youth programmes.

In 2013, the court case was resolved, and the former director of SECMOL was acquitted of all charges.