HR News

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Volume 17                                               No. 22&23                                                 August 20, 2015

HR NEWS: August 20, 2015

 (From August 1 to 20 2015)

DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

1. Dalits attacked for deciding to boycott panchayat polls (2)

MUMBAI: Eleven Scheduled Caste Buddhist families at Ansurda village in Osmanabad district of Maharashtra have been attacked by upper caste men as they decided to boycott the August 4 gram panchayat elections in protest a social boycott on them. In a report headlined “Dalit families in Maharashtra want to relocate” in The Hindu, June 5, the families had demanded that they be relocated because of the social boycott and threat of physical violence. The social boycott started after they took out a procession to mark the birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar on April 28 and played songs dedicated to the Dalit icon. A few weeks after the police protection given to them was lifted, the Dalit households were attacked on Friday night. Six of the injured have been admitted to a hospital in Osmanabad for treatment. District Collector Prashant Narnaware and Superintendent of Police A.B. Trimukhe have sought a report on the attack. The police have registered a complaint against the upper caste villagers. The first information report, however, does not invoke sections of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. “I have asked for a detailed report and posted a special officer to see that social harmony remains intact in the village,” Mr. Narnaware said. The sarpanch’s post is reserved for the Scheduled Caste category, and each of the two panels contesting the elections has chosen a candidate from the Chambhar caste for the post. “Despite the police protection, the social boycott continued. As a mark of protest, we decided to boycott the gram panchayat election and that angered the upper caste households,” Babasaheb Gharbudwe of one of the families told The Hindu on the phone. Another person, Anita Humbe, said: “They started beating us without provocation. We were secure till a police van was parked in the village. Their [upper caste] activities have begun as the police left here,” she said. “We know that this is a sensitive village. We will ensure that no untoward incident takes place,” Mr. Trimukhe said. (The Hindu 2/8/15)

2. SCs to be allowed to sell small piece of land to non-Dalits (2)

LUCKNOW: In a major change in the land law in the state, the UP government is likely to allow members of scheduled caste to sell their land to non-Dalits even if their holding is less than 3.5 acre. According to highly placed sources, the state cabinet in its meeting on Tuesday is likely to accept a recommendation to this effect made by a committee set up to present the Revenue Code Bill 2015. This recommendation is a key feature of the bill. As per the existing rules, a Dalit can’t sell his land to a non-Dalit if his holding is less than 3.5 acre. If the cabinet accepts the recommendation made by the committee formed under additional advocate general RBS Yadav, members of scheduled caste with smaller holdings would be able to sell their land to non-dalits. Subsequent governments in the state have been trying to effect this change, but have not been able to do so. Even SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav as cooperative minister in 1977 had initiated this move couldn’t be successful. A fresh attempt in this regard was made in 2012 when the SP came to power with full majority and set up a committee under Yadav for presenting the revenue code bill having many provisions for land reforms in the state. The committee strongly recommended for repealing the existing provision in favour of the non-Dalits and had met the chief minister last month who had asked the members of the committee to take feedback from different political parties and other sections of the society. Speaking to TOI, RBS Yadav confirmed that he has recommended for the same on the ground that in many cases members of the SCs need money for urgent matters like treatment of deadly diseases, but they don’t get buyers as their choice is restricted to selling it to the members of their own community only. “So, they have to go for distress sale and get peanuts for their land which is an injustice for them,” he said, adding “that’s why the committee has asked that the SCs should be allowed to sell their land to anyone whenever needed.” When asked about taking opinion of the major political parties as desired by the chief minister, the he said except BSP, most of the parties have agreed to his recommendations. Speaking to TOI, Leader of Opposition and BSP leader Swami Prasad Maurya retaliated that it was an onslaught on the rights of the SCs who are already socially, economically and politically weak and depriving them of their land would amount to snatching their livelihood and weakening them further. (Time of India 4/8/15)

3.  ‘Chalo Pathapally’ by Dalits today (2)

HYDERABAD:  ‘Chalo Pathapally’, the agitation programme called by the Struggle Committee for Caste Annihilation, protesting against the ‘atrocities’ of a section of society against Dalits in Pathapally of Pebbair mandal in Mahbubnbagar district is on. On Thursday morning, Anand Teltumbde, the grandson of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the champion of the weaker sections, will reach the dharna camp that has been on for over three weeks now. He will be accompanied by social activists from the University of Hyderabad — Profs. K.Y. Ratnam and K. Lakshminarayana and General Secretary of the Struggle Committee, Bandari Laxmaiah. It all started this May 6, when members of the dominant ‘Boya’ community in the village forced themselves into the huts belonging to the minority ‘Madiga’ community and allegedly went on the rampage, throwing things out and pulling the huts down. The feeling among the Dalits is that the ‘Boyas’ did not like the scheduled castes being given land that was obviously prime, located as 16 plots are, in Survey No. 4 right next to the main road leading from Pebbair to Kollapur. Following this, the SCs were denied temple entry too and they stepped up the pressure launching an agitation, capping it off with a ‘Chalo Pathapally’ call. Efforts by the district administration to stave off the ‘Chalo Pathapally’ till late on Wednesday evening failed, with Mr. Laxmaiah and others unrelenting. On Tuesday evening, District Collector T.K. Sreedevi told them that having got a re-survey done nearby they would get them ‘pattas’ together with the 2 BHK houses announced by Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao. But Mr. Laxmaiah pointed out that part of the land that she promised to give them originally belonged to another dalit by name Parmanna, to whom 2 acres was allocated in the year 2007. When contacted, Superintendent of Police, P. Vishwa Prasad said they were all for an amicable solution to be thrashed out on Thursday, but added that they would be prepared if trouble broke out. “Additional SP D.V. Srinivasa Rao will be at the dharna camp,” he said. The district Collector Ms. Sreedevi later told The Hindu that she had imposed prohibitory order under Section 144 Cr. Pc. around the site of the dharna camp starting from the NH 44 at Pebbair and at the village too. (The Hindu 6/8/15)

4. Dalit families on dharna ‘convert’ to Islam, VHP protests (2)

New Delhi: Families from Hisar’s Bhagana village, who have been protesting at Jantar Mantar for the past two years over alleged atrocities and rapes by the upper-caste Jats, claimed to have converted to Islam at Jantar Mantar on Saturday. However, the VHP alleged that the conversion was an instance of “exploitation” of Dalit families and said they were able to “intervene in time” to stop it. The protesting families had been threatening to convert to Islam for the past week. “We have given up Hinduism. We are tired of waiting. We have met chief ministers and police and all we have received in return are empty promises. Not one person has done anything. What is the point of staying within this community when no one comes to you at the time of your need? We are treated like animals and that has not changed despite our protests,” said Jagdish Kajla, convener of Bhagana Kand Sangharsh Samiti. Countering the villagers’ claims, VHP Delhi spokesperson Vinod Bansal said, “Some of our workers reached Jantar Mantar after receiving information that certain individuals were exploiting the helplessness of these people and forcing them to convert to Islam. What is shocking is that this was happening virtually next to the Parliament. When our workers arrived at the spot and called police, they detained the workers. Later, more protesters arrived and we were able to intervene in time and stop the conversion.” The families explained that in February 2012, members of the Jat community had initially claimed a playground that the Dalit families used. This was followed by a period of routine sexual harassment and molestation. In May, Dalit families began protesting outside the district magistrate’s office in Hisar. In retaliation, the khap panchayat declared a social and economic boycott against the Dalits. On March 23, four girls were allegedly picked up and raped in the village, after which 80 Dalit families fled to the capital. Their conversion to Islam, the families said, was a mark of their protest. “We have been humiliated and tortured in ways which aren’t human. Our women have been raped and harassed. We no longer want to belong to this community. For two years, we have been waiting for and demanding justice, but to no avail,” said a woman, who claimed to have been molested. The VHP, however, maintained that the real issue at hand was the continued exploitation of the Dalit families by those who wanted to convert them. “The VHP demands action against the culprits, irrespective of who they are. But the real issue at hand is the fact that the agony of these suffering families is being exploited by those who want to make this a religious issue. The VHP will take action against this and ensure that at least in Delhi, this can’t happen,” said Bansal. A senior police officer of New Delhi district maintained that the protest was peaceful and no one was detained. “We have deployed adequate police personnel at Jantar Mantar as the organisers of the protest took prior permission. A PCR call was made, but we weren’t able to find anything,” the officer added. (Indian Express 9/8/15)

5. Dalit girl cremated, police arrest 3 more accused (2)

SANGRUR: The 16-year-old dalit girl, who had immolated herself after being harassed by four youths, was cremated on Wednesday after police nabbed the remaining three accused. The victim’s family had refused to cremate her earlier, demanding that all the accused youths be arrested. The victim’s body reached her village in Sangrur district around 11.30am and was taken for cremation soon after. However, once at the crematorium, some youths and representatives of several organizations carried the body outside to start a protest on the Lehra-Patran road. They demanded that police arrest all the accused in the case and threatened not to cremate the girl unless it was done. As her family remained firm on not cremating the body till police took action against the remaining three youths, Sangrur police announced their arrest around 2pm. The victim was cremated around an hour later. “We have arrested the other three accused on the basis of supplementary statement given by the victim’s brother. All of them are school students and have been charged under similar sections under which the first accused was arrested,” said Lehragaga deputy superintendent of police Bimal Sharma. The three accused were arrested and charged under sections 306 (abetment to suicide), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354D (follows a woman and contacts, or attempts to contact such woman) and 511 of the IPC, and Section 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012. Police had arrested one accused in the case on Tuesday, saying the victim had mentioned only his name in her statement to the magistrate. However, the victim’s brother had claimed that three other boys had also harassed her and demanded that they too should be arrested. In a video clip recorded by the victim’s family a day before the girl died, she had named four youths in her statement. Police took Sanjeev Mintu, president of Krantikari Pendu Mazdoor Union, the victim’s brother and some other protesters to the police station to show them the arrested three youths. Barring chief parliamentary secretary Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu, no other senior leader visited the family. Dr Sidhu and former MLA and senior CPI leader Hardev Arshi were present during the cremation. BJP leader Navjot Kaur, who joined the family in staging a protest, said she would urge the state government to install CCTV cameras in every police station so that there is a visual record of visitors and of police response to their complaint. She added that she would request the government to pay compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the victim’s family. “If the government fails to do so, I will provide financial help of Rs 10 lakh to the family from my MLA fund,” she added. If need be, she added, she would hold a protest in front of the office of the Punjab education minister to demand upgradation of the village school so that girls can pursue their studies easily. (Times of India 13/8/15)

6. Two Dalit habitations denied town bus facility (2)

NAGERCOIL: Two Dalit habitations – Kakkanpudur and Kattetri – situated 3 km from Parakkai panchayat in Rajakkamangalam Panchayat Union in Kanyakumari district were denied town bus facility for over three months, lamented the residents. Thanks to a big hole that has formed in a small culvert on the way to Kakkanpudur from Parakkai village three months ago. Repeated pleas fell on the deaf ears of the officials, the residents said. Due to this, the town bus operated by TNSTC on route 50 from Nagercoil to Kattetri was stopped for over three months forcing the students, officegoers to walk up to three km to catch a town bus to reach Nagercoil and other destinations. Over 300 dalit families residing in Kakkanpudur and Kattetri were depending on this bus service, as they have no other option of travel. The bus was operated on three return singles daily in the morning, afternoon and evening to cater to the needs of school going children, office goers and the general public. A road for a length of one km from Parakkai junction to Kakkanpudur was laid under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) at a cost of Rs. 69.96 in 2014. A hole had developed on the culvert near the Valikoli Amman temple and was left unattended by the officials, said a social activist. Farmers were unable to take their agriculture engineering equipment on this route. If the authorities set right the damage, buses can plied via Parakkai village, and it will benefit the students, he added. S. Sundar, President, Parakkai Panchayat could not be contacted for his comment. (The Hindu 16/8/15)

7. Tamil Nadu: Vanniyars attack Dalit procession, torch huts (2)

Chennai: At least 10 Dalit huts were torched and 15 people, including a SP and six other policemen, were injured when upper-caste Vanniyars attacked a procession of Dalits in Seshasamuthiram village of Tamil Nadu’s Villupuram district late on Saturday evening. Police said that the attack was a fallout of long-pending dispute over Dalits’ right to bring out a temple car procession through the village’s main road, which passes through a Vanniyar-dominated area. According to a police report, Seshasamuthiram has over 3,000 Vanniyars and only 400 Dalits.“The dispute has been pending for the past four years. Vanniyars had objected to the procession and the government, too, had been denying permission, citing law and order problems. But this year, the administration decided to allow Dalits to take out the procession. The Vanniyars responded by attacking the Dalits and torching the temple car. They set their huts on fire and also hurled petrol bombs at police,” said a senior police officer. Immediately after the violence broke out, large number of police teams rushed to the spot. “SP K S Narendran Nair rushed to the village with a police team, but they were not able to enter the area as the Vanniyars started pelting stones. The SP and six other policemen were injured. We had to fire several rounds in the air before we could enter the Dalit localities where huts had been set on fire. Even fire tenders were not allowed entry by the Vanniyar groups. They also disconnected power supply to the entire area,” said the officer. He added that tension is still prevailing in the area and over 400 armed personnel have been deployed to prevent untoward incidents. The officer further said that many of the attackers are supporters of the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and were returning from a demonstration organised by PMK leader and former Union minister Anbumani Ramadoss. Vanniyars are a core voter base of the PMK. (Indian Express 17/8/15)

8. Dalit girl sexually assaulted, her eyes and private parts stabbed in UP (2)

Hardoi: A day after Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav made shocking comments on rape, a 13-year-old Dalit girl was killed after being allegedly sexually assaulted, with the attackers brutally stabbing her eyes and private parts while she had gone out of her house here, police said on Thursday. The girl had stepped out of her house to buy medicine for her father when the incident happened, police said. Her body with stab marks on her eyes and private parts was found yesterday from a field under Sursa police station area, they said. The body has been sent for post-mortem examination, police added. The SP supremo had yesterday kicked a fresh controversy with his comments on rape, saying while one man commits rape, four are named to “settle scores” and that rape by four persons was not “practical”.This was not the first time that the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister has made shocking comments on rape. While opposing capital punishment for rape last year, he had sparked outrage by saying “ladke, ladke hain…Galti ho jati hai (boys will be boys…They commit mistakes).” Speaking on the law and order situation in the state at a function here, Yadav had said considering UP’s population, the crime rate was “very low”. (Zee News 20/8/15)

TRIBALS

9. ‘Allow tribal people to cultivate forest lands’ (6)

WARANGAL : The State and Central governments should implement the Forest Act-2005 and allow tribal people to cultivate forest lands, which they have been doing so for over a decade, said retired High Court Judge B. Chandra Kumar. Addressing a convention organised by the Podu Land Farmers’ Samithi here on Friday, the retired judge said it was not proper to evict the tribal people from the forest lands in the name of ‘Haritha Haram’. The State government could promote greenery on either side of road, encroached lands and private lands. Former Minister D. Sridhar Babu said with a view to protect the interests of poor tribal people, the Congress regime brought the Forest Act. The present State and Central governments were not implementing the law and working against the interests of tribal people in the name of development. “As a responsible Opposition party, we will continue to play our role in support of tribal people,” he said. Samithi advisor Prof. K. Venkatanarayana, leader K. Lachanna, Azmeera Jampaiah and Peerla Srinivas said the State government had promised that it would distribute lands to poor tribal people in every district. According to government estimates, it was decided to allocate 80,000 hectares of forest land to poor in Karimnagar district, 1.20 lakh hectares in Khammam district and 17,000 hectares in Warangal district. However, it was not implemented so far. Congress leader G. Vivek, G. Venkata Ramana Reddy and others attended the convention. (The Hindu 1/8/15)

10. Tribal leaders oppose ST status for Dhangars (6)

MUMBAI: Tribal leaders and the Dhangar (shepherd) community in Maharashtra are locked in a fight over the latter’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.The Dhangar community is currently included in the OBC category in the State. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), prior to the Assembly elections, had promised to fulfil the community’s demand for inclusion in the ST category. However, nine months into assuming power, the BJP has not acted on the demand and is now coming under fire from the community which stood behind the party and its allies during the elections. Meanwhile, tribal leaders of the State, cutting across party lines have written a letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, reminding him that inclusion of Dhangars in the ST category would go against the Constitution. “Dhangar is a caste and not a tribe. Some of their leaders are falsely claiming that Dhangad tribe and Dhangar are similar. This claim has not been proved since Independence,” said advocate K.C. Padvi, also a Congress MLA from Nandurbar district, in a letter to the Chief Minister. The letter is signed by all tribal MLAs belonging to the BJP, the Congress, the NCP, the Shiv Sena and the CPI(M). Dhangar representatives do not buy the argument. “A small mistake in nomenclature has deprived us of benefits given to the STs. We supported the BJP as it promised to fulfil our demand. We are confident that it will do it,” said Mahadev Janakr, a Dhangar leader and MLC from Rashtriya Samaj Paksha, an ally of the BJP. (The Hindu 3/8/15)

11. Tribals charge Modi with supporting corporate (6)

NEW DELHI: About 1,000 Adivasis (tribals) from across the country converged here on Wednesday to launch a unified campaign — Adivasi Adhikar Sangharsh Sammelan — against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pro-industry policies. The general sense in the crowd was that since Mr. Modi came to power last year, they have been losing their land and legal entitlements at a faster pace. According to them, Mr. Modi was muscling through a constitutional amendment that will help private companies take over their land and resources and eventually push them into a social apartheid. Several Adivasi activists shared anecdotes about how private companies had already “captured” large swathes of their land. An 11-member delegation of Adivasi activists also met President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday. The delegation led by Brinda Karat, a senior leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), told the President that all the State Governors, who are constitutionally obligated to safeguard tribal rights, are instead “conniving” with the private companies. Mr. Mukherjee, according to Ms. Karat, recognised the significance of all the constitutional entitlements that shield the land and resources of India’s tribal population from harmful business interests and “promised” the delegation that he would shortly call a meeting of all the Governors to address the issue. Before meeting Mr. Mukherjee, Ms. Karat spoke at the convention, criticising the BJP-led Union government for “crudely eliminating” the legally-guaranteed role of gram sabhas. “The Modi government is destroying the Gram Sabha,” Ms. Karat told The Hindu on the sidelines of the convention. “PESA, 5th and 6th Schedule and Service Rights Act, all say that you have to get the consent of the gram sabha for any project in tribal-dominated areas.” Dr. Hrushikesh Panda, former secretary at the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, a whistleblower who vehemently criticised the UPA government’s attempts to tamper with the tribal rights, appealed to the Adivasi community to attend workshops that will inform them about their rights and prepare them to deal with the government’s land-grabbing moves. Several speakers criticised the budget cuts and said the lack of funds has resulted in failure of public infrastructure and led to high dropout rates in schools. “The student hostels are in a bad shape,” said G. Selvan, an Advasi activist from Tirpur district of Tamil Nadu. “The stipend is meagre and there is no outside coaching available for the students who want to compete for professional colleges.” “As per the rules,” said Parse Ushindi, an Adivasi activist from Maharashtra, “Rs.40,000 crore should have been allocated to the Adivasi community, but we got only Rs. 20,536 crore.” (The Hindu 6/8/15)

12. Tribal people demand protection of their rights (6)

Ramanagaram: Urging the Union and all State governments to protect the constitutional rights of the tribal people, members of the tribal and indigenous communities passed a resolution listing out their various demands at Ramanagaram on Sunday. The Karnataka Adivasi Rakshana Parishad, a tribal welfare organisation, had organised a meet of tribals near the Government College on Bengaluru-Mysuru highway in the town in connection with 21st World Adivasi Day. Members of 50 tribal communities from across the State, owing allegiance to the parishad, attended the meet. The meet strongly opposed the alleged outright assault on the constitutional rights given to the tribal people, while it urged the State government to take measures to make the Western Ghats a naxal-free region. As per the 2011 Census, though at least 42.49 lakh tribal people are living in Karnataka, they are deprived of their constitutionally guaranteed rights. And, a majority of them are even today leading nomadic life, the speakers at the meet lamented. The State government should honour the achievers in the tribal communities with ‘Adivasi Siri’ award and constitute a board/corporation for the welfare of tribal people, was one of their demands. The others included launch of special schemes to uplift the primitive tribes ‘Jenu Kuruba’ and ‘Koraga’, announcing support price for forest goods, and construction of ‘Adivasi Bhavan’ in all the taluks and district centres. The meet also urged the Union government to accord the status of ‘Primitive Tribe’ to Chenchu (residing in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana), Irular (Tamil Nadu), Kathodi/Kathakari (Gujarat and Maharashtra), Kattunayakan (Kerala and Tamil Nadu), Thoda (Tamil Nadu) and some other tribes.One other major demand the participants put forward was that the government should establish a varsity at Kodagu or Chamarajanagar to study the tribal people and their lives. The government should withdraw all cases filed against tribal people, and issue them caste certificates, the participants added.Members of the Siddi, Jodugatte Irulaiga, Pardi, Malekudiya and some other communities mesmerised the audience with their scintillating performances of various forms of art. A rally depicting tribal culture was taken out from the KSRTC bus stand to the programme venue.Energy Minister D.K. Shivakumar inaugurated the meet and urged the tribal people to make use of the State government-sponsored programmes. The government is committed to working for the uplift of the tribal communities, he added. Malavalli MLA, P.M. Narendra Swamy, lauded Chief Minister Siddaramaiah for allocating Rs. 15,000 crore in the budget for the welfare of SC and ST communities. Professor K.M. Metry of Hampi Kannada University and parishad president M. Krishnaiah were among those present. (The Hindu 10/8/15)

13. Odisha inks MoU for sustainable livelihood of tribals (6)

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on Friday signed an agreement with the Asian Heritage Foundation (AHF) to initiate a project aimed at creating employment and sustainable livelihood opportunities for the unemployed and other marginalised sections of tribal communities. The state’s handloom, textiles and handicrafts department and the Asian Heritage Foundation, a Delhi-based organisation, signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the project which is aimed at creating employment and sustainable livelihood opportunities for reducing poverty amongst the unemployed people and other marginalised communities. Observing that the project would be implemented in Mayurbhanj and Koraput districts for a three-year period from 2015 to 2018, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said: “It will cover 1,600 vulnerable tribal artisan families, of which 70 percent will be women, and seek to improve their skill, earning capacity and number of days of employment.” The project would be implemented at an estimated cost of Rs.2.72 crore. He said the project would involve Primary Weavers Cooperative Societies, Primary Handicraft Cooperative and self-help groups in the process. It would set up clusters, conduct skill development workshops and train youth entrepreneurs to operate mobile kiosks while the government would provide all necessary support for the success of the project, said the chief minister. The project “Creating Inclusive Business Models for Marginalized Tribal Communities” is being implemented in the three tribal dominated states of Odisha, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh under a four-year World Bank and Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) -supported programme, said a release from the Chief Minister’s Office. The Asian Heritage Foundation is implementing the project. Earlier, the organisation successfully implemented similar projects for the rural poor in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. (Business Standard 14/8/15)

14. Maharashtra ST Bus Scrap to Serve as Classrooms in Tribal Areas (6)

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) will donate the scrap of its buses to be used as classrooms at schools in tribal areas. Not an ounce of scrap of ST buses will be wasted. The MSRTC will fulfil its social responsibility towards the society and transform the ST Bus Corporation into a responsible social centre, Transport Minister Diwakar Raote said here. The corporation till now used to sell its scrap that added to the coffers of the Corporation. Now, Raote has decided to donate or sell the scrap at cheap rates to tribals as a part of social responsibility. “When a bus has no use left and is converted into scrap, we will give it in remote areas to be used as classroom for tribal students,” Raote said. “The tyres will be removed from the bus, some facilities will be provided inside the bus to make it suitable to conduct a classroom and it will be given a look which does not make it look like scrap,” he said. The minister said at least two such buses will be provided for each school in tribal areas. The tyres of such buses can also be used to build walls of dams (nullah bandh), in place of cement walls, he said. “The tyres will be used in place of the cement wall of a dam by putting one tyre over the other and the gap will be filled by mud. Later, the whole wall be covered by plastic so that water does not leak from the wall,” the minister said. He said Minister of State for Finance Deepak Kesarkar was inspired by one such dam wall built by Dr Vikas Amte in Varora of Chandrapur district. “Kesarkar has himself got constructed such type of a bandh on a nullah. This scheme will be promoted across the Konkan region by providing number of tyres from MSRTC. This kind of bandh will be cheaper than cement walls,” Raote said. “The corporation is already delivering its social responsibility by allowing concessions in fare to freedom fighters, senior citizens, physically disabled, journalists and legislators,” he said elaborating on the initiatives taken by his department. The transport department is changing its face and becoming more commuter-friendly Raote said, adding that STbuses are the only reliable mode of transport that reach even the remote areas of the state and offer services 24X7. (New Indian Express 16/8/15)

15. ST status eludes this tribal community (6)

Tribal chieftain Chinnaraj of Chandramala located deep inside the plantation country of Nelliyampathy has reasons to believe that his Gods have stopped smiling on him.Now in his late seventies, Chinnaraj has been waging a unique kind of war for the last two decades by knocking at every possible door to get Scheduled Tribe status for all the 107 families who consider him as their respected leader. On their part, the State government and the Kerala Institute for Research Training and Development Studies of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (KIRTADS) have found his demand just and written to the Union government several years ago to provide them Scheduled Tribe status. But the files are gathering dust in New Delhi and the most backward Malayali community to which Chinnaraj belong remains deprived of all benefits meant for them. “It may be a paradox of sorts that our Tamil speaking community is known as Malayalis. We are landless poor living at the mercy of powerful estate lobbies in Nelliyampathy, where our forefathers were brought by British planters more than a century ago from Kolli Hills, Klavarayan Hills and Vattal Hills in Western Tamil Nadu,” says Palanivel Murugan, one among the community members. Interestingly, Tamil Nadu has granted them Scheduled Tribe status long ago following recommendations of tribal research centre of Tamil university, Thanjavur. “In the past, we worked in tea plantations of Nelliyampathy where we felt easiness as climate and topography looked similar to that of Kolli Hills. The estates have allowed us to live in their quarters though not allotted any land. To avoid eviction after retirement at the age of 58 from quarters, we discouraged our children from going for higher education and forced them to work in the same estates with meagre salaries. Now the estates are in crisis and our children wish to have better education availing benefits our community enjoy in Tamil Nadu,” explains S Geetha, mother of two Plus Two students. Chinnaraj holds a huge file comprising letters from the State government and KIRTADS saying that their request was just and it was under final scrutiny of the union government. Though KIRTADS gave them status of other eligible community (OEC), it fails to provide educational and employment benefits to community members. “Our children learnt Malayalam in schools and we have not even vague memories of Kolli Hills. We all have been born and brought up here. Only the Scheduled Tribe status and small patches of land to construct houses can help us survive in the changed situation. As a primitive tribal group, these are our rights,” says K. Kamaraj, a community member. It was the estate lobby that spoiled an earlier attempt of the community to occupy a stretch of vacant land in Nelliyampathy to build houses. (The Hindu 17/8/15)

16. NHRC team in Kandhamal to check FRA implementation (6)

BHUBANESWAR: With the forest dwellers, especially tribals, complaining about apathetic approach of government machinery in recognising their rights under the Forest Rights Act, two special rapporteurs of the National Human Rights Commission have begun their field visits in Odisha’s Kandhamal district . NHRC special rapporteur (tribal issues) P. P. Mathur and special rapporteur (West Bengal, Odisha and Andaman Nicobar Islands) Damodar Sarangi started interacting with villagers to get first hand information about FRA implementation. The team is also scheduled to meet district administration to know reason behind weak implementation of the FRA. The Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), which had spearheaded campaign for enactment of FRA, alleged that district level committees regularly ignored proposals forwarded by Gram Sahbas. As per the report of the State Level Monitoring Committee, by May 2015, as many as 60,346 Individual Forest Right (IFR) claims have been filed at the Gram Sabha level and 57,657 IFR titles issued over 87,227 acres of forest land. According to the CSD, Odisha, 49,096 IFR titles have been issued over revenue forest land and 8,561 have been issued over reserve forest land. “Most IFR titles have been distributed without proper demarcation of land,” alleged Manohar Chauhan, member of CSD, Odisha. In a serious violation of existing norm, massive teak plantation was taken up by forest department on 49 plots allotted to persons belonging to Kutia Kandh community at Burlubaru village in Kandhamal district, he said, adding it exhibited as to how people were made to suffer after distribution of final titles. “The Kandhamal district administration has failed to recognise habitat rights of Kutia Kandh, a particularly vulnerable tribal group. Moreover, 1,697 IFR titles were said to have been distributed to the PVTG without undertaking proper ground verification,” said CSD activist. (The Hindu 19/8/15)

17. Land for Tribal Folks of Attappadi in 3 Months (6)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said on Wednesday that the landless adivasis in Attappadi will get land within three months. The officials have been asked to expedite steps so that the land could be distributed on Kerala Piravi Day on November 1. The Chief Minister gave the directions at a meeting held here to discuss various issues related to the region. Applications will soon be invited from landless adivasis, he said. More staff, if needed, will also be provided to complete the proceedings at the earliest, he said. Meanwhile, Ottapalam sub-collector told the meeting that 2,700 acres of land was ready for distribution. Apart from the land issue,  education of adivasi children was also discussed at the meeting. Through a special government order, the Chief Minister gave directions to give admission to those students who failed to get admission to Plus One course. The meeting also decided to entrust a sub-committee to look into ‘Zero Hunger in Tribal Habitat’ project prepared by M S Swaminathan Research Foundation. Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Tribes P K Jayalakshmi, N Shamsudeen MLA, Planning board vice-chairman K M Chandrashekar and others were present at the meeting. (New Indian Express 20/8/15)

WOMEN

18. DCW to study ‘increasing’ crimes against women, writes to Bassi (8)

New Delhi: Stating that the law and order situation in Delhi is deteriorating at an alarming rate, new Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal on Saturday asked Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi to furnish information about increasing complaints of crimes against women.  In her two letters, Maliwal, who was handpicked by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for the post, raised the issue of the brutal murder of a teenager girl Meenakshi in Anand Parbat area last month and said the incident which has “shamed” Delhi is not just the murder of an individual but reflects on the failure of entire system and society. “In light of the Meenakshi murder case and the increasing rate of crime against women in the state, we wish to undertake a study on women safety in Delhi and come up with recommendations for the central, state governments and Delhi police. “For this we will be taking Anand Parbat as a pilot area and would request you to the provide us with the details of all complaints received by the police station here,” it said. Maliwal also sought information on the number of complaints of crime against women and girls including rape, molestation and sexual harassment the city. She also sought information on total strength (rank-wise) of the police force in Delhi, out of this, number of women in police and list of police stations in which highest number of complaints of crime against women were reported in 2014-15. “The law and order situation in Delhi is deteriorating at an alarming rate. According to the latest figures of the National Crime Records Bureau, everyday Delhi is witnessing over five cases of rape and 12 cases of molestation,” the DCW chief noted. “Women security has become one of the most important issues in today’s time,” she said and asked the Delhi police chief to furnish the list of spots in the city where highest number of complaints of crime against women were reported in 2014-15. “Out of these, list of spots which are near schools, colleges and Universities,” the letter said. “We are conducting a study on women safety in Delhi. This data is crucial for the same and will assist in fulfilling our statutory mandate of giving recommendations to the Central and State government on the issue of women safety,” said DCW chief Maliwal in her letter. The DSW Chairperson also stressed on the need for cooperation between DCW and Delhi Police on the various functions of DCW and said she hoped to have a strong working relationship with the Delhi Police. The missives by Maliwal came amid an ongoing war of words between Kejriwal and the Police Commissioner. The Delhi Police comes under the Union Home Ministry and the Kejriwal Government has been demanding that it should have control over the force as it was not working effectively to check crime in the national capital. (Asian Age 1/8/15)

19. Panel to probe Delhi police inaction in crimes against women (8)

New Delhi: The Delhi assembly on Monday adopted a resolution to set up a three-member panel to probe the alleged police inaction in cases of crime against women. The moves comes in the wake of the brutal murder of a 19-year-old girl, Meenakshi, in broad daylight in Anand Parbat area of the city. The AAP government accused Delhi Police of “inaction” in the case. The resolution was tabled by Delhi Women and Child Minister Sandeep Kumar. The commission of inquiry will be chaired by a retired judge. The resolution will add to the acrimony between the Delhi Police and the AAP government of Delhi. (New Kerala 3/8/15)

20. ‘Non-institution rehabs needed for women’ (8)

PANAJI: There is a need for non-institutional rehabs in the state and besides rescuing them, attention must be paid to empowering victims of sexual exploitation. The suggestion was made at a public panel discussion on violence against women – role and responses from state and the civil society that was co-organized by the International Centre Goa and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, India Office, held on Tuesday. “Most organisations are imposing their ideals on rescued victims,” said Arunendra Pandey, director, ARZ Goa. “Not all of those women wish to stay in an institution and follow a timetable,” he said. Pandey added that ARZ has drafted schemes for the rehabilitation of victims wherein they are entitled to a monthly allowance as soon as they exit commercial sexual exploitation. Thus, by being financially supported by the government, they are less likely to succumb to poverty or get lured into commercial sexual exploitation again. He further insisted that this scheme needs to be implemented so that the victims can live according to their own terms instead of following a hostel-like system. The panel comprised of experts from different walks of life who discussed crucial women’s issues. Bailancho Saad president Sabina Martins shed light on how despite various efforts to raise awareness, the Goa government has still not made any significant move to rectify violence and discrimination against women. “Till date, we are grappling to put sexual harassment committees in place,” she said.Vibhuti Patel, head of department, economics, SNDT women’s university, pointed out how cyber crime is also prevalent in rural areas of the country. She insisted that lack of awareness and social stigma associated with the repercussions often lead to victimisation in both, urban and rural India. Damyanty Sridharan, senior advisor, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, insisted how we need to look at all aspects of violence and not only how it is manifested. “We have to be open-minded and look at a much larger canvas if we have to address issues of violence against women,” she said. The panel resolved that the state can strengthen its justice delivery system by allocating resources towards the rehabilitation and empowerment of victims of violence and abuse. Funds that have been allocated should be judiciously used. The state needs to ensure that all its units designated to help abused women are actively functioning and protection officers, counsellors etc are emphatic towards the victim. (Times of India 5/8/15)

21. DDC seeks opinion on women’s rights Bill (8)

NEW DELHI: Delhi Dialogue Commission (DDC) on Wednesday released a draft Charter of Women’s Rights Bill, 2015 for public consultation. The draft incorporates recommendations made by Justice J S Verma committee in the wake of the Nirbhaya rape case and has identified specific areas for women’s safety and empowerment that will be given priority. DDC, an advisory body to the AAP government, also proposed to strengthen Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) by giving it more administrative and judicial powers. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal informed the assembly of the proposed bill during the special session held on Monday. The draft bill was uploaded on DDC’s website to get comments and suggestions from the public over the next four weeks. “People can also visit the DDC office to give suggestions and DDC will organize a round-table at the commission where each and every section of the proposed bill will be discussed,” DDC vice-chairman Ashish Khetan said. He added: “The bill was drafted after a round of consultations with all stakeholders. This is a first-of-its-kind law, which the state government will propose before the people intending that soon it will be made law. We have incorporated all the recommendations of Justice J S Verma committee, along with some expanded rights.” According to officials, the bill proposes to provide a comprehensive framework for women residing in Delhi to effectively enforce their fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution and various existing statutes, including protection against all forms of violence, the right to appropriate healthcare, the right to education, right to privacy and the right to equality. To enforce this bill, DDC also proposed that DCW will work as a single window to work and enforce women-related matters. “It is easy to frame a law but the government could not implement it. In the draft bill, we have identified 29 such acts for women’s security, which could not be implemented properly so we will have a public consultation on implementation of these,” Khetan said. DCW chief Swati Maliwal supported the initiative and said other governments could follow the module adopted by the Delhi government. “The bill guarantees implementation of rights of women. There are certain rights enshrined in the Constitution but in specific terms. This draft addresses the issue of implementation,” she said. DDC will take comments, suggestions from people, judiciary, civil society and government officials before completing and presenting the draft bill before the cabinet. “The draft bill enables a woman to seek redressal of legal grievances in a time-bound and effective manner against private individuals and the state,” Khetan added. (Times of India 6/8/15)

22. 28 arrested for harassing women at railway stations (8)

NEW DELHI: Mukesh, Ravi and Shiva had reached Delhi by train and while waiting at a platform at New Delhi railway station, they could not resist passing a lewd comment at a woman. They thought they would get away with it but were caught by Delhi Police on Saturday. The railway police have launched a massive drive against miscreants who indulge in sexual harassment on platforms and on trains. Flying squads have been formed to apprehend men ogling at women and passing lewd comments. In the past two days, 68 people have been detained and 28 arrested for groping and indulging in other cognizable offences. The drive has been intensified in all local and express trains, including Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains. DCP Sanjay Bhatia said most of the people arrested were found ogling at women at the railway stations or touching them in crowded trains. Police officials said these miscreants would usually stand near the exit doors of trains and grope women while deboarding. Some of them were caught red-handed during the drive. Two men arrested during the drive were found to be taxi drivers waiting at the Nizamuddin Railway station for passengers. Police said most of them were not even aware of their crimes as they had been doing it for a long time. They were detained under Section 65 of the DP Act and were counselled by religious leaders and experts after this. (Times of India 10/8/15)

23. Karnataka Panel Against Atrocities on Women Urged to Submit Report (8)

BENGALURU:  Members of an expert committee on sexual violence against women have complained to committee chairman V S Ugrappa about the delay in finalising the report. The panel was constituted in November 2014 by the Legislative Council to suggest measures for prevention of such atrocities. At its meeting held at Vikasa Soudha on Wednesday, at least three members said the committee has already taken a long time to study various facets of the issue. “We should not take any more time to visit schools, colleges or any other institutions. We have already taken enough time and we should submit our report without any further delay,” they said and urged Ugrappa to take an appropriate decision in this regard. Ugrappa, who assumed office after the committee’s earlier chairman M C Nanaiah quit the post three months ago, said the draft report was ready. A few members expressed displeasure at Ugrappa for taking the media along during his recent surprise visits to girls’ hostels to understand the plight of the inmates. The meeting decided not to conduct such visits under media glare in future. It would also take measures to ensure that the identity of the victim and the family is not revealed to the media whenever cases of sexual assault on students in schools or colleges are reported. (New Indian Express 13/8/15)

24. With trishul in hand, Radhe Maa turns up before police in dowry harassment case (8)

Mumbai: With a trishul in hand, self-styled godwoman Radhe Maa on Friday turned up at the Kandivali Police Station here in response to the summons issued by the Mumbai Police for questioning with regard to a dowry harassment case. Senior inspector Mukund Pawar said, “Presently I will not be able to tell anything with regard to the case and the statement of the accused as well as of Radhe Maa.” Her statement will be recorded today by police in response to allegations levelled by a 32-year-old woman that Radhe Maa instigated her in-laws, who are her followers, Radhe Maa instigated her in-laws, police said. The Kandivali police had last week issued summons to Radhe Maa and other six others in connection with the case filed on August 5 in which the woman alleged that she was physically and mentally harassed by her in-laws for dowry. A local court had yesterday denied pre-arrest bail to Sukhvinder Kaur alias Radhe Maa in connection with the case. Also, BJP MLA in Gujarat Vasan Ahir yesterday said he had written to the state Home department and demanded probe against the controversial godwoman in connection with a case where seven members of a family committed suicide in Anjar tehsil (Ahir’s constituency) of Kutch district in March 2014. Ahir alleged that the family had sold its entire land and given the godwoman Rs 1.35 crores because Radhe Maa had promised them place in heaven if they paid her the money and became her life-time disciples. After realising that they had been duped, they committed suicide, he alleged. Further in Mumbai, advocate Rajkumar Rajhans yesterday filed a complaint with the Airport police station, alleging that Radhe Maa had carried a trishul (trident) with her at an airport and on a flight during her recent travels. Police had not registered any case yet, however. In Thane, near Mumbai, an NGO called ‘Support’ claimed that the high-end car used by Radhe Maa during her recent visit to Aurangabad was purchased using fake documents. It demanded probe by the police (Asian Age 14/8/15)

25. Unsafe Abortions Killing a Woman Every Two Hours in AP (8)

HYDERABAD: Unsafe abortions are posing serious health problems among women, observe gynaecologists. All over the world about four crore women opt for abortions every year and half of them are unsafe abortions. As a result about 50,000 women are facing serious health problems while 68,000 women are dying. Though there is no specific data on abortions in India, the situation is no better as according to a study it is said that unsafe abortions are killing a woman every two hours here. ‘’I myself come across two to three unsafe abortions every week,’’ Dr D Padmavathi, a Hyderabad-based gynaecologist says. It is not just women from poor and uneducated background who are resorting to unsafe abortions but even well educated and working women are also falling prey to unsafe abortions. Lack of awareness and  social stigma associated with abortions is driving many women to go for unsafe abortions instead of approaching a qualified medical practitioner, observe gynaecologists. “Many women aged between 15 and 35 years opt for abortion either due to pregnancy before marriage or even unwanted pregnancy even after marriage. In spite of many advances and lot of cultural changes still a woman cannot assert that she wants an abortion openly,” opines Dr S Shantha Kumari, secretary, Obstetrics and Gynaecological Society of Hyderabad. The main health problems from unsafe abortions are reproductive health of woman will suffer drastically making her unable to bear a child again. In many cases where a woman uses a pill to terminate abortion, gynaecologist find that the pill may have terminated the foetus but some pieces might remain which might pose serious health problem in the future. (New Indian Express 16/8/15)

26. Government may set Rs 9,000 per month pay for full-time domestic help (8)

New Delhi: Hiring a full-time domestic help may soon be a costly affair, as they will have to be paid a minimum salary of Rs 9,000 per month, compulsory paid leave of 15 days annually and maternity leave for women. To safeguard domestic workers’ interests, the Centre is learnt to have drafted a national policy with these features, along with benefits like social security and provisions to check sexual harassment and bonded labour. The policy is likely to be presented before the Union Cabinet soon. The policy envisages the right of domestic helps to pursue education, enjoy a safe work environment and a means to redress grievances. Workers and employers will also have the right to form groups and engage in “collective bargaining”. (Asian Age 17/8/15)

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

27. 2270 cases of violation of child rights in 2015 (14)

PUNE: The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has reported 2404, 3281, 3340 and 2270 cases of violation of child rights in 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 (till 30.06.2015) respectively. The National Commission for Women has registered 16584, 22422, 32118 and 9786 cases of violation of rights of women in 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 (till date) respectively. The reasons for violation of child rights include violations under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 and violation under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. Child rights violations are also related to displacement, violence, trafficking, etc. The actions taken by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights include conduct of summon hearings and giving directions to concerned officials, giving recommendations to State Governments, etc. The government has also enacted several laws such as the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, the Prohibition of Child marriage Act, 2006 and is implementing schemes for the protection of children such as the Integrated Child Protection Scheme, etc. The reasons for violation of women rights include: domestic violence, outraging the modesty of women, dowry harassment, property dispute, rape, etc. (Times of India 1/8/15)

28. Govt plans to punish parents if children found engaged in child labour (14)

New Delhi: The government plans to put in place provisions to punish parents whose children are found to be engaged in child labour, which has been seeing a declining trend. Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya informed the Lok Sabha on Monday that the government has initiated multi-pronged action to eradicate child labour in the country. “The total number of working children in the age group of 5-14 years in the country has declined from 1.26 crore as per the Census 2001 to 43.53 lakh as per Census 2011,” the Minister of State for Labour and Employment said during Question Hour. Replying to supplementaries, he said a legal provision is going to be put in place whereby parents will be punished and penalised if their children are found to be engaged in child labour activities. Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act 1986 prohibits employment of children below 14 years of age in 18 occupations and 65 processes. To curb the menace, inspections are conducted both by the Centre and the states. “The total number of inspections in the central and state sphere under Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986 during the last three years — 2012, 2013 and 2014 were 1,89,018, 2,19,085 and 1,75,709, respectively,” he said. (Zee News 2/8/15)

29. Teenaged girl sold off for Rs. 2 lakh by dad, step-mom (14)

CHITTOOR: A 13-year-old girl, who was sold off by her father and stepmother to a thrice-married 40-year-old man for Rs. 2 lakh, was rescued from Gudipala mandal in the district, in a joint operation conducted by the Bangarupalem police and the Rural Organisation for Poverty Eradication Services (ROPES), here on Sunday. According to the police, the victim’s father Jayachandra, a farm labourer from Nallangadu village in Bangarupalem mandal got married to one Sumathi a few years ago, after his first wife had deserted him. Since then Sumathi had been harassing the girl and even forced her to quit school and take up menial jobs. Two months ago, Jayachandra and Sumathi struck a deal with one Krishnamurthy (40), a farmer from Gudipala mandal near Chittoor, and sold the girl to him for Rs. 2 lakh. The girl was handed over to Krishnamurthy on May 31 and he got married to her in a temple at Ratnagiri near Vellore in Tamil Nadu the same day. Police said Krishnamurthy, was married thrice in the past. His first wife had died, while the second one had deserted him. He was presently living with another woman, said to be his third wife. Meanwhile, the prolonged absence of the girl, who was studying in class VIII, from the school made her classmates suspicious and the neighbours too started inquiring about her from Sumathi. Sensing trouble, the neighbours alerted the police and the ROPES Childline, who rushed to Gudipala and rescued the girl. ROPES chairman K. Dhanasekhan said the girl would be handed over to the Children’s Home in Tirupati on Monday. She would be produced before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) and referred to a hospital for medical examination. The Bangarupalem police said that a criminal case was registered against Krishnamurthy and steps would be taken to book cases against Jayachandra and Sumathi. (The Hindu 3/8/15)

30. Rights panel chalks out plan for child beggars (14)

CHANDIGARH: The Chandigarh Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CCPCR) has drawn an action plan for the city administration that includes guidelines for street children like creation of a special police team to rescue child beggars, more special homes for them, and de-addiction provisions to be made. The plan has been chalked out on the basis of mapping and survey of street children carried out by the commission. “After the survey, an analytical study on the subject has been done by the panel as presented in the report and the commission has made recommendations to the administration providing an action plan to make Chandigarh a smart city in its true perspective,” CCPCR chairperson Devi Sirohi said. The survey on child beggars was conducted by the students of Panjab University under the internship programme of CCPCR on the theme “eradicate child beggary in Chandigarh”. The students, who were divided into five teams, encountered 1,224 child beggars, with 793 males and 431 females, in the 10-day survey. The teams interviewed 455 child beggars, of which 275 were males and 180 were females. The CCPCR also stated in the action plan that the administration should organize health camps and night shelter homes for street children. It has suggested that police personnel should be sensitized on the provision of law for child beggars, action to be taken against adults instigating child begging and procedures required rescuing a child. The rights body has also given action plans for religious places and market committees as these are the places where maximum child beggars are found. The plan also includes meeting of all religious leaders and market committees on the issues of child begging, a sustained campaign to discourage child beggars in the identified places as per mapping, a social awareness campaign and drives against child labour. (Times of India 6/8/15)

31. Centre pushing for amendment to child labour laws (14)

New Delhi: The government on Monday said it was pushing forward an amendment to the country’s child labour laws, aimed at prohibiting children between 14 and 18 years of age to be employed in any hazardous occupation. “The government has introduced a bill in the Rajya Sabha to amend the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 which along with the proposed Official amendments, inter alia, covers prohibition of employment of adolescent (14-18 years) in hazardous occupations and processes,” union Labour and Employment Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha on Monday. He was responding to a question raised by Congress member Shashi Tharoor over a report by the International Labour Organisation which claimed India to be employing 2.4 million adolescents — the highest in the world — in hazardous jobs. The minister said the bill has provisions for punishment for employing adolescents in contravention of the act’s provisions. Creation of a Child and Adolescent Labour Rehabilitation Fund has also been proposed. (Business Standard 10/8/15)

32. 356 children in distress rescued in two years (14)

Hubballi: Girls outnumbered boys in the list of children who were in distress and rescued by the District Child Protection Unit. Of the 356 children protected by the district child protection unit officials in last two years, 180 are girls, and 176 boys. The unit has protected 169 girls and 165 boys in 2013-14 and 11 each in 2014-15 till date, stated a release. Most of such children fall under the category of migrated children (116 girls and 125 boys) followed by rag pickers (19 girls and 15 boys) and children engaged in beggary (12 each). Besides, seven girls and four boys engaged as child labourers, eight boys addicted to drugs were also rescued. The officials had rescued 27 children (23 girls and four boys) from the Hubballi railway station last year and one girl and seven boys from Dharwad railway station this year, the release added. (The Hindu 12/8/15)

33. Bring children up to age of 18 years under RTE Act: Activists (14)

MUMBAI: Bringing children up to the age of 18 years under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, was one of the main suggestions that has come up in a meeting organised by city-based NGOs working for child rights. The meeting was organised to discuss the provisions that need to be included in the Child Labour Amendment Bill that is under consideration at the centre. The activists plan to draw a charter of their demands and submit it to the government of India. “The main point that we all agreed upon was that children up to the age of 18 years should be in schools and nowhere else. While there is a debate that children up to the age of 14 years can work in family enterprises we are opposed to that. Children are also exploited in domestic work,” said child rights’ activist Santosh Shinde. He added that rescue and rehabilitation work should be clarified in the act. NGOs like Pratham, Yuva, Committed Communities Development Trust (CCDT), Child Rights and You (CRY), Childline, Save The Children participated in the discussion and have come up with suggestions that will strengthen the Act. (Times of India 13/8/15)

34. Six corporation schools to be home to street children (14)

CHENNAI: For generations, these children have lived on streets, with their families. While their parents find a livelihood in the vicinity, they go to a nearby school. But when they reach high school, reality hits. The academic burden and the state of being homeless come as a double whammy, and many of them drop out of school. To tackle the situation, Chennai Corporation is setting up six shelters for such children, within its schools. This decision was taken after a Chennai-based survey reported that while most street children attend primary and middle school, only 58% of them go to a high school. The survey released in July by NGO Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities (IRCDUC) studied six zones in Chennai that are hotspots for the homeless. It found that while there was a 19% of children dropped out between the age of six and 14, the rate went up to 42% in the case of children in the age group of 15-18 years. Street life was definitely not conducive for children to continue in school, the report said. The city corporation is responsible for providing shelters for the urban homeless under the National Urban Livelihood Mission. Chennai Corporation is planning to follow a model under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan that manages homes for out-of-school children. “We have begun the process of refurbishing the buildings. We have collaborated with six NGOs to maintain the shelters,” said a senior corporation official. In the first phase, four schools – two each for boys and girls – will come up in the zones of Royapuram, Anna Nagar and Teynampet. Once the corporation builds kitchens and toilets and sources study material and beds, the NGOs will frame rules for the administration of the shelters, tuition, appointment of wardens, food, and social activities. “The idea is to run the schools and keep the children happy,” the official said. The first batch of such residential schools will open this academic year. IRCDUC will help the corporation identify out-of-school children. “A residential school set up for urban homeless children will provide a school ambiance that motivates children to embrace education,” says Vanessa Peter, a policy researcher at IRCDU. “It costs less, and involves school headmasters, teachers, government departments and civil society. Participation of several stakeholders ensure transparency and guards against child abuse.” The corporation, meanwhile, is awaiting the chief minister’s appointment to open two residential facilities at its schools in Saidapet and Teynampet, where 60 boys and 60 girls of Classes 11 and 12 would live and study on the school premises. (Times of India 16/8/15)

35. NGO frees children from shackles of labour, leads them onto path of education (14)

MUMBAI: ” I was admitted to Class I six years ago, but just a few months later, I had to stop going to school because some other students stole the money my mother would give me,” recalled 13 year-old Nisha Pawar. Now a student of Class V at Colaba municipal school, she aspires to become a police officer in the future. Pawar was among the 132 children felicitated on Tuesday by Pratham, an NGO, to encourage them to continue schooling. The children, who were forced into child labour and found at traffic signals and railway platforms, were rescued by the Pratham Council for Vulnerable Children (PCVC) this year. Of the children being felicitated, many were rescued from places like Kurla station, Mankhurd and Malad. ” We started 20 years ago, with a vision to let every child go to school but we wanted to function with the government, not as an independent NGO. The authorities and government have done a wonderful job. School principals have cooperated whenever we went to them to seek admission for these children,” said Farida Lambe, co-founder, Pratham. A first year BCom student, Mohsin Shaikh, who learnt music and has earlier performed in Australia, had been rescued by the NGO at the age of 9. State education minister Vinod Tawde, also present at the ceremony, said, ” The work that is supposed to be done by the government is done by NGOs like Pratham. This is the first step towards a better society. There is a need to adopt methods to track students’ attendance to ensure they stay in school.” ” In 2014, the Mumbai police force rescued over 12,000 children. Many who fail exams turn to drugs, which can be curbed if these incidents are reported to us,” said Pravinkumar Patil, deputy commissioner of police (enforcement), who was also present at the function. (Times of India 19/8/15)

MINORITIES – GENERAL

36. National body praises TN’s role in minority education (7)

TRICHY: As awareness about minority status and seeking the necessary funds is less among individuals across the country and also a need to address the issues of the members, a nationwide awareness on the minority affairs board is currently being created by the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions. In an effort to improve awareness about the status of minority, the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) is currently conducting a nationwide awareness programme on the minority affairs board. Zafar Agha, acting chairman of NCMEI is on a country-wide trip, speaking to each of the state panel members on minority education. Speaking about the educational rights of minorities in India, the chairman said the country allocates a lot of money on minority education, but it is the people who should frame the right policies to obtain the necessary funds for the growth of the institution. Several states in the country have not come up with any procedure for the minority institutions to address their grievances. When asked about Tamil Nadu, Agha said with the formation of state minority commission to keep tab on all the educational institutions across the state, Tamil Nadu is faring well when compared to other states. He further said since 2004, the awareness programme has been providing fruitful results as over 35 applications seeking approval are coming in a day. Addressing the media, Agha said minority institutions that were established during the 18th century need to be renewed under the Amendment Act 2006. The chairman added several educational institutions in the country are using the minority status to their advantage and sell their seats for large sums. The Supreme Court had recently issued an order to check such institutions and the board has been keeping tab on such manipulations, he explained. Several institutions from the state participated in the event and an interactive session was held for them. (Times of India 2/8/15)

37.  “Implement Ranganath Misra panel recommendations” (7)

Dindigul: The Minorities Welfare Committee has appealed to the government to implement the recommendations of the Justice Ranganath Misra Committee for the uplift of poor minorities, according to Committee’s State deputy organiser Moosa. Addressing committee’s first district-level conference here on Sunday, Mr. Moosa said that employment and educational opportunities were denied to a large number of Christians and Muslims even now. Even as the committee recommended 10 per cent reservation for the minorities, only three per cent of reservation was implemented. Proper implementation of the Ranganth Misra Committee recommendations would help minorities get admission to educational institutions and get government jobs. Now schools and colleges did not follow reservations for minorities properly, he charged. Mr. Moosa also demanded abolition of capital punishment as it was against mankind. He strongly condemned both the successive Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party governments for not taking any initiative to abolish it. Even former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam wanted abolition of capital punishment. All other political parties too supported its abolition, he noted. The banks should offer loans to minorities for trade and business activities without imposing stringent conditions. The district administration should expedite construction of a memorial for Tipu Sultan in Dindigul, he added. The conference demanded inclusion of Dalit Christians in the Scheduled Castes list and opening of a unit of Aligarh Muslim University. (The Hindu 3/8/15)

38. Citizenship soon for those who fled religious persecution (13)

NEW DELHI: In a move that will have far-reaching implications in Assam and some parts of north-west India, the Union Home Ministry will amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant citizenship to undocumented migrants who fled religious persecution in Pakistan and Bangladesh. The migrants include not just Hindus but also Buddhists, Christians, Zoroastrians, Sikhs and Jains. Top Home Ministry sources have confirmed that a Bill is in the works to amend the Act and make changes to some provisions in the Foreigners Act, 1946, the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920, and the Passport (Entry into India) Rules, 1950. The Law Ministry has vetted the amendments. “This is an idea floated right after the Modi government came to power, but it was found that many people who fled into India fearing religious persecution do not have valid documents, or have their visas expired. Therefore, these people are illegal migrants and ineligible for citizenship,” a top official said. Several high-level meetings were held by the Ministry with the Law Minister, the Law Secretary and the Home Secretary to remedy the situation. “Basically, two changes need to be made to the Passport Act, 1920, and Passport Rules, 1950, to exempt people who fled religious persecution from Pakistan or Bangladesh from being termed illegal migrants and offer them long-term visas while their case for citizenship is being considered,” a source said. Citizenship issue can affect relations with neighboursThe cut-off date proposed for victims of religious persecution from Pakistan and Bangladesh who can apply for citizenship is December 31, 2014. Citizenship by registration (a minimum stay of seven years) and naturalisation (a minimum of 12 years) will be the two routes. The External Affairs Ministry has cautioned the Home Ministry that the move could hurt India’s relations with its neighbours. Nevertheless, the political call has been taken. The Citizenship Act, 1955, would have to be amended to reflect the exemption from the status of illegal migrant. “Section 2, sub-section 1’s clause (b) will have a proviso which will reflect this exemption,” a source said. The amendment to the Passports Act, 1920, and Passport Rules, 1950, will have to be notified and tabled in Parliament for two months to allow for objections, if any, before being deemed clear. The amendments to the Citizenship Act, 1950, will be cleared as a Bill after being debated in Parliament. On Monday, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said in Silchar: “No person who came from Bangladesh because of persecution or harassment will have to leave Assam or India. The NDA government will soon bring in necessary amendments to the Citizenship Act.” “At his first public rally in Assam during the 2014 election campaign, Narendra Modi had said Hindu Bangladeshis would be removed from camps and given citizenship,” a senior BJP leader said. (The Hindu 5/8/15)

39. Scheme for skill devpt among minorities (7)

Patna: Union minority affairs minister Najma Heptulla on Saturday launched her ministry’s new ‘Nai Manzil’ programme aimed at skill development among minorities, at a function held at the convention hall on the campus of Sinchai Bhawan. Speaking on the occasion, she said, “Nai Manzil is truly a new direction and new goal for all out-of-school/dropped-out (minority) students as well as those who are studying in madrasas, where they will not be getting formal Class XII and Class X certificates, rendering them largely unemployed in the organized sector.” “The programme is aimed at this large group as an integrated intervention in terms of providing education as well as skill development,” she said, adding that the scheme would cover people in the age-group of 17-35 years from all minority communities. She said the scheme envisages educational intervention by giving bridge courses to the trainees and getting them certificates for Class XII and Class X through distance education. At the same time, it would provide them trade skills in four courses – manufacturing, engineering, services, and soft skills. “The new skill development scheme would benefit minority sections in Bihar in a big way, because the state, like Uttar Pradesh, has a large number of madrasas,” she said after the launch function of the ‘Nai Manzil’ scheme, adding that a large number of madrasas in Bihar have shown willingness to get benefits from the scheme. Heptulla said her ministry would provide equipment like computers and other accessories required under the scheme. She said her ministry has implemented the promises made by the BJP in its poll manifesto for the 2014 parliamentary election. As to the minority communities, the manifesto had seven promises, of which six were directly related to her ministry, Heptulla said, adding her guide for work on the schemes were the poll manifesto and the speeches of PM Narendra Modi. She also said she chose Patna to launch the ‘Nai Manzil’ programme, because it was here at Gandhi Maidan that Modi in his speech, delivered amid bomb blasts at Gandhi Maidan on October 27, 2013, had announced to take up programmes for the uplift of poor Muslims. (Times of India 8/8/15)

40. Only 6 pc students from minorities in technical education (7)

NEW DELHI:  Just a little over six per cent students belonging to minority communities were enrolled in various technical education programmes in 2014-15, notwithstanding the government implementing various schemes to increase their participation in the higher education. A comparison of the latest government data indicates that only a fraction of women (1.55%) belonging to minority communities were enrolled to the various technical education programmes across the country. Women, however, constituted a little over 23 per cent among all minority community students pursing technical education, according to data with the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry. Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Parsis and Jains have been notified by the government as minority communities under Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992. Out of a total 20,81,210 students enrolled to technical and professional programmes at higher educational institutions during 2014-15, only 1,36,765 students are from minority communities. The flash statistics on minority students in technical education indicate that majority of them preferred to take up engineering programmes over other technical and professional programmes like management, pharmacy, architecture and hotel management. Tamil Nadu witnessed the highest number of minority students (19,315) enrolling to engineering programmes, followed by Kerala (15,050), Telangana (12,149), Karnataka (12,014), Maharashtra (11,882) and Andhra Pradesh (5,819). According to the data, the percentage of literacy is lowest among Muslims though their population is highest when compared to Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis. The percentage of literacy among Muslims is 59. 1, Sikhs 69.4, Buddhists 72.7, Christians 80.3 and Parsis 97.9. “Participation of Muslims in education is lowest because first their dropout rate is very high at secondary school level itself. They do not pursue their studies further because they cannot afford. Education loan is also not easy to get from banks,” M M Ansari, an economist and member of the University Grants Commission, told Deccan Herald. He also charged the government of having a biased approach towards educational development of minority community. “You have reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, but nothing no similar measures for minorities. The government must have a scheme to offer financial assistance to those from economically weaker section to promote education among minorities, especially Muslims in view of their socio economic conditions,” Ansari added. (Deccan Herald 11/8/15)

41. Minority Report: Karnataka Tops in Higher Education (7)

BENGALURU: Karnataka tops the country in admitting students from the minorities to various professional courses. A report just released by the Union Ministry for Human Resource Development (MHRD) shows that more students from the minority communities enrolled for courses in Karnataka than in any other state. Karnataka institutions of higher learning have admitted more than 20 per cent from the minorities in all courses barring one — applied arts and crafts — for 2014-15. The highest number is in engineering, with students from the minorities bagging 15,050, or 24.9 per cent of the total seats. Of them, 5,314 are girls and 9,736 boys. The second highest enrolment is for management courses, with 1,026 students. That number comes to 22.8 per cent of all admissions. This trend continues in other courses as well. In pharmacy, the enrolment of minorities is 26.9 per cent while in MCA it is 29.2 per cent, hotel management and catering 27.6 per cent and architecture and town planning 21.2 per cent. The only course with less than 10 per cent is applied arts and crafts, with just 8 per cent of students coming from the minorities. The picture in other states offers a curious contrast. The minorities get the highest percentage of seats in hotel management and catering in Delhi (59.9), in pharmacy in Daman and Diu (31.6), and in architecture in Bihar (36.8). With these exceptions, Karnataka tops the country in all other courses. Experts attribute the numbers to strict monitoring and enforcement in Karnataka. Dr M S Thimmappa, former vice-chancellor of Bangalore University, told Express, “In some states, even if candidates apply under the minority quota, they are denied seats. But in Karnataka, the monitoring and enforcement is good and this attracts more students from the minorities to higher education.” Prof Abdul Azeez, noted academic, said, “My guess is that the minorities have realised the need to educate their children and take up courses with good job market. They have realised that education is the only way to survive, both in urban and rural areas.” Zero Admission StatesSome states show zero admissions in several courses. For example, in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, engineering and technology, applied arts and crafts and hotel management have no students from the minorities. A similar situation prevails in Arunachal Pradesh, where no student from the minorities was admitted to architecture and town planning, applied arts and crafts and hotel management courses. Manipur, Meghalaya and Mizoram have not enrolled even a single such student for any professional course. (New Indian Express 12/8/15)

42. Minority panel gives Gujarat a reminder (7)

New Delhi, Aug. 14: The National Commission for Minorities has issued its latest reminder to Gujarat to set up a state minority commission to redress the grievances of its minorities, who sources said are flooding the apex panel with complaints of harassment. Similar letters have been sent to the handful of other states that too lack their own minority panels, sources in the national commission said. “Every month we receive a large number of complaints from minority communities in Gujarat,” a senior official said. “A letter was sent to the Gujarat chief secretary last month asking him to speed up the process of establishing the state panel.” Among the other laggards are Goa, Haryana and some northeastern states (Assam and Tripura have state minority panels). A national commission official said that many of the complaints from Gujarat involved alleged discrimination, threats to life and irregularities in relief distribution among the 2002 riot survivors. Some Muslim traders from the state too have alleged harassment. Another official said that 10 Muslim hoteliers from Gujarat had last year complained that local politicians had forced them to close their businesses, with police failing to act despite court orders. “During my tenure I had written several times to the Gujarat government but they failed to set up a minority commission for unknown reasons,” former national commission chairperson Wajahat Habibullah told The Telegraph. “The existence of a state panel gives a lot of confidence to the minorities.” Habibullah said the national panel could “only request the states to constitute such a commission but the final decision lies with them”.The commission is a quasi-judicial body that can take cognisance of matters relating to minorities on its own and send a team to carry out an independent probe. Its recommendations to the government, however, are not binding. A commission official cited how the Narendra Modi government had ignored the panel’s recommendation for FIRs against BJP parliamentarians Sakshi Maharaj and Yogi Adityanath for their inflammatory speeches last year. Father Cedric Prakash, an Ahmedabad-based rights activist, said the Gujarat government had resisted demands to set up a minority panel even when Modi was chief minister. “We have been demanding a commission since the attacks on Christians in 2000 and the 2002 riots,” he said. “But the state government always said it did not believe in minority appeasement.” Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Parsis and Buddhists are the six notified minority communities in India. (The Telgraph 15/8/15)

43. Notice to Haryana over removal of minorities panel chief (7)

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday issued a notice to the Haryana government on following a plea against its decision to remove the chairman and members of the state commission for minorities. The matter reached the high court through a petition filed by Tarlochan Singh, who was sacked from the post of the chairman of the commission . Terming his removal as illegal and arbitrary, the petitioner submitted that terms and conditions of the commission members stipulated the procedure of removal, but they were sacked by the state government without following any such process. Tarlochan sought directions to set aside the Haryana government’s order for his removal. He also accused the Haryana government for not even issuing them any notice before proceeding against them. In July 2014, the then state government had constituted Haryana State Commission for Minorities to safeguard the interests of minority communities of the state. Tarlochan, was appointed as chairman of the commission while advocate and local Congress leader from Mewat Ishaq Mohammed and two Congress leaders from Rohtak, Dr Stella Portar and Harbhajan Singh Khera, were appointed as members of the commission. The commission was authorized to examine, investigate and monitor all matters relating to the safeguards for the minority communities under the constitution. In March, the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government had rescinded the commission. (Times of India 18/8/15)

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

44. India home to 180 million Muslims: Indian official (7)

Muslims account for 180 million of India’s 1.1 billion people, Indian Deputy National Security Advidor Arvind Gupta announced  on Saturday. The number was revealed in a meeting between Gupta and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Egyptian grand Imam of al-Azhar and a prominent figure in the Muslim world. “Al-Azhar is an international institution, respected by the whole world, and we are interested to cooperate with it and to learn about its vision to counter extremism and terrorism,” Gupta was quoted as saying by the International Islamic News Agency. Similar figures for the number of Indian Muslims were revealed during last year’s general elections, leaving India to stand as the world’s third-largest Muslim population after Indonesia and Pakistan. Official figures indicate that Muslims, who make up around 13% of India’s population, are lagging behind in literacy and have complained about job discrimination. They account for less than 7% of public service employees, only 5% of railways workers, around 4% of banking employees, and there are only 29,000 Muslims in India’s 1.3 million-strong military. Conditions of the Muslim world and Al-Azhar’s role in dealing with the course of variable events in the Muslim world, came under discussion during the meeting. Gupta was said to be all praise for Al-Azhar and his efforts in fighting the Islamic State. (The Express Tribune 1/8/15)

45. Cong Muslim workers to run ‘Kanwar Sewa’ camps on highway (7)

MEERUT: In a confidence-building measure, the Youth Congress will post its Muslim workers at ‘Kanwar Sewa’ camps on highways in western UP. The camps will provide services such as food, water and first aid to devotees. Youth Congress national secretary Sitaram Lamba told TOI that the party is trying to “repair the secular fabric” of western UP. “Right now, only a few small camps have been set up at some locations but we are planning to set up many more camps along the highway. These will provide food, water, rest and first aid to devotees who are undertaking the Kanwar Yatra. The workers who will run these Kanwar Sewa camps will primarily be Muslims,” Lamba said. Lamba said the aim of these camps is to bridge the gap between the two communities that developed after the communal riots of 2013 in Muzaffarnagar. “The secular fabric of the region was ruptured in 2013 and we are trying to repair it. We know that communal forces will try to widen this gap for political gain considering the impending the state assembly elections. We are trying to pre emptively counter any such move. ,” he said. Speaking about the other major issue that the Congress has on agenda for the region, he said that reservation for Jats and communal harmony would be the two linchpins of our campaigns. “The way I see it, the two issues are linked very closely to each other. Jats were never supporters of the BJP. It was only after the Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013 that the saffron party started to gain some ground with the community. There was a simple divide and rule policy at play. Jats and Muslims, two communities who had hitherto co-existed in peace, were pitted against each other. This was an attempt by the BJP to make inroads with the Jats. Seemingly, they were successful at first till the Jats started to see their betrayal. The NDA government has completely forgotten about them but the Congress still stands with them.” Lamba said Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is likely to visit western UP soon. “We don’t have a fixed schedule or itinerary yet but he plans to visit west UP while campaigning for the panchayat polls. If we notice, incidents of communal violence in the region rise as elections come closer. In a vulnerable time, a leader of Rahul Gandhi’s stature needs to go to the people and spread the message of communal peace. We will carry out our two-fold campaign under his leadership,” he said. (Times of India 5/8/15)

46. Modi govt giving ‘roti’ to minorities in place of ‘topi’: Najma Heptulla (7)

Patna: Prime Minister Narendra Modi might not be wearing skull cap and skipping ‘Iftar’ parties but his government, unlike others in the past, was “sincerely” doing work to provide livelihood to minority communities, Union minister Najma Heptulla on Saturday claimed. “Everybody in the past wore ‘topi’ but Prime Minister Narendra Modi government is the first which in place of ‘topi’ is working sincerely to provide ‘roti’ to minority communities,” she told reporters. The Union Minority Affairs Minister launched ‘Nai Manzil’ scheme in poll-bound Bihar today in a bid to reach out to minority Muslims in the election. She did not give much credence to the Prime Minister not attending an Iftar party recently hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee. “In truth the ‘Iftar’ parties hosted by the rich are mostly photo-op events. Does anybody organise such ‘Iftar’ parties in ‘garibo ki basti’ (areas of poor)”, she asked. In an apparent dig at the Congress, Heptulla said its leaders “wore” ‘topi’ and gave “Sachar committee report” but “none of its recommendations were sincerely implemented” to improve the lot of the minorities. On the other hand, Narendra Modi government had made seven promises to minorities on coming to power and six of them which involves Minority Affairs ministry were “achieved”, the senior BJP leader said. The Minority Affairs minister said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD president Lalu Prasad claimed themselves as champions of Muslim causes but in reality they “paid only lip service” to their upliftment. “Truth is that Muslims in Bihar today are economically worse than dalits,” she claimed. On the ‘Nai Manzil’ scheme, one of the promises of the Prime Minister, and which was announced by Union Finance Minister in his budgetary speech, she said, this scheme will help out-of-school or drop-out students of schools and madrasas get formal class 12 and class 10 certificates so that they get jobs. Such students would be offered bridge courses and the given certificates for class 12 and class 10 from distance education system. At the same time, they will also be provided basic training in manufacturing, engineering, services and soft skills. Heptulla said her ministry took pioneering initiative and helped a “large number” of Muslims open bank account to avail the Prime Minister’s ambitious ‘Jan Dhan’ yojna. The Union government provided 86 lakh students of minority communities scholarship for pre-matric and matric level, she said. (Zee news 8/8/15)

47. ‘Just 4 of 26 hanged since ’91 Muslims’ (7)

NEW DELHI: Just four of the 26 persons executed in India since 1991 belonged to the Muslim community, and yet a perception has been created by some media channels in the aftermath of the hanging of Yakub Memon that members of the minority community are being targeted, said government sources. An internal report by the I&B ministry has taken exception to the “tenor of discussion” in the four channels — Aaj Tak, ABP News, NDTV India and NDTV 24X7 — and argued it was a “serious threat to national security” and had “sown seeds of distrust between communities.” The common thread in their reporting was that Supreme Court had been unfair to Memon. The ministry feels that, at the very least, an explanation should be demanded from these channels. “Repeated examples of the death sentence of Beant Singh being commuted are being cited. Truth is both of them are on death row. Similarly in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, it was the Congress government that delayed consideration of the mercy petition that led to SC converting their death sentence to life imprisonment,” said a source who had reviewed the report.The channels have been charged with telecasting content that was denigrating to the President, judiciary, could incite violence and against national security. The ministry has prepared grounds for justifying their action against the channels pointing out that two Hindi channels broadcast wanted gangster Chhota Shakeel’s interview without editing out comments that clearly suggested unleashing of communal violence and made disparaging comments on the judiciary.”The world has seen what you did with Yakub Memon… We don’t believe in your judiciary. This was justice based on revenge. You people took revenge from one person…” Chhota Shakeel told Aaj Tak. And he told ABP News: “The world has seen how you have executed an innocent man… After Babri Masjid people had taken action and many things had happened. For every action, there is a reaction… there are many people besides us (who can take action).”The anchor on NDTV India described the order to hang Memon as “unfortunate” and said that the courts only found merit in the prosecution’s case while NDTV 24X7 in an interview of lawyer Majeed Memon broadcast remarks against the Indian judicial system. Memon was quoted commenting on the pardon given to accused Usmann Jaan Khan saying, “If you show this pardon to any person outside India, UK authorities or US authorities or the best brains in the world as far as criminal law is concerned, they will laugh at you. They will laugh at you; they’ll say is this justice? Usmaan Jaan Khan has played a role in this whole operation 10 times more than Yakub.”The ministry has also pointed out that former Congress minister Manish Tewari’s claim that no notices were issued under UPA government was incorrect.,,, (Times of India 11/8/15)

48. Attempts being made to impose vedic culture on Muslims: AIMPLB (7)

Lucknow: Charging that efforts were being made to impose Hindu culture on other religions through introduction of yoga in schools, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board has sought support of other community leaders to launch a campaign against such attempts. The Board would decide its strategy in its convention to be held in Bhopal tomorrow. Working general secretary of AIMPLB Maulana Wali Rahmani charged that as part of a conspiracy an effort was being made to “imprint Hindu culture in the mindset of children of other religions, including Muslims”.He alleged that this was being done by making yoga mandatory in schools. Rahmani said AIMPLB would launch “Deen aur Dastoor Bachao Tahreek” against this attempt to force “vedic culture” in which religious leaders and followers of different religions, including Hindu, Sikh and Christian, would be associated. “We believe that by associating leaders of different religious this campaign will become successful. Special deliberation will be made on this issue at the AIMPLB meeting tomorrow,” he told PTI. Charging that Brahmin religion was being implemented on new generation, he said, this is a threat to both ‘Deen-e-Islam’ and the Constitution. “Under Article 28 of the Constitution any religion and its tradition could not be forced on others,” he said. Rehmani said that the board was of the clear view that every person should follow his religion strongly, but it should not be forced on others. He said Imams of different mosques, madrassas, teachers, students and those who agree with the objections and apprehensions of the board have been invited in the convention. Earlier the AIMPLB had accused the NDA government of violating the Constitution and implementing the RSS agenda by introducing practices such as yoga. Reaching out directly to Muslim organisations and Imams, the apex body representing Muslims in the country, had said that the community should remain “cautious” as there are organisations that are “attacking” Islamic beliefs. The AIMPLB had slammed the government’s move to push for yoga, saying its a violation of the Constitution, which does not allow promotion of religious activities by the government. “In the present scenario, the government and under its garb several organisations and individuals are today violating the Constitution,” Maulana Wali Rehmani, the working general secretary of the AIMPLB, had said in a letter sent to various Muslim bodies and individuals. He had alleged that the celebration of ‘Yoga Day’ and introduction of ‘Surya namaskar’ and Vande Matram in the schools were aimed at implementing the RSS agenda. (eccan Herald 16/8/15)

49. Panel to study status of Muslims in Telangana (7)

HYDERABAD: The recently constituted Commission of Inquiry (CoI) will look into social, economic and educational status of Muslims in Telangana, commission chairman G Sudhir said on Tuesday. Addressing the media, Sudhir, a retired bureaucrat, said that the nine Terms of Reference (ToR) entailed that the commission conduct a detailed study on the socio-economic status of Muslims. “We will have to do a see what kind of problems there are and the level of attainment,” he said. Explaining the methodology of data collation, Sudhir explained that information from the both agencies of the state and Centre would be taken. Relevant data with the Census of India, National Sample Survey Organisation, Centre for Economic and Social Studies will also be used, he added. The CoI will also invite suggestions from the public. The CoI will embark on a tour of the districts of the state in the first week of September to understand the level of implementation of schemes and to interact with government officials and others. Here, the commission will visit Muslim populated areas and study development vis-a-vis neighbourhoods populated by members of other communities. The CoI has been given a timeframe of six month to complete the study. Seeking to explain the need for carrying out the study by asking questions, commission member and development economist Amirullah Khan said, “Data suggests that urban facilities across the country have improved. But have they also improved in Muslim-dominated areas? Every community in the last 10 years has seen an increase in enrolment in primary education. Muslim beneficiaries are as good as any other community. But by the time they are 11 or 12 years old, there is a 70 percent dropout rate. Is this the case in Telangana? The drop out rate among boys is more than that in girls in the Muslim community. It would be interesting to see find out why this is happening,” he said. The CoI will also study the trends in healthcare and political representation in the Muslim community. “All over India, health is not good. But there has been meagre improvement. It is only in the health indicator that Muslim children are better. But they join levels of other communities as they grow up. What is the reason for this positive handicap and why is it lost,” Khan, who was also a member of the Kundu Committee, said. Taking questions from TOI on whether the commission’s recommendations would stand in courts of law as only a Backward Class Commission has the constitutional right to recommend reservations, Khan said that CoI would ensure that it presents a strong report which will support welfare measures. Commission members also cited the prevailing 69 percent reservations in education and employment for backward classes in Tamil Nadu as a precedent. Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao was intent on providing reservations to Muslims, he added. Other members who spoke were Tata Institute of Social Science professor Abdul Shaban, also a member of the Mahmood-ur-Rahman Committee in Maharashtra, secretary, tribal welfare GD Aruna and MA Bari. (Times of India 19/8/15)

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

50. Five arrested over Pakistan church bombings (7)

Islamabad: Five suspected terrorist were arrested over their involvement in the deadly attacks on two churches in Pakistan earlier this year which claimed 15 lives, officials said on Saturday. A total of 15 people were killed and over 70 injured on March 15, when two Taliban suicide bombers attacked two churches in Lahore’s Christian-dominated area of Youhanabad, Dawn online reported. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction claimed responsibility for the attack. Police said weapons, explosive material and detonators were also recovered from their possession. The arrested suspects had links with a banned organisation, police added. (New Kerasla 1/8/15)

51. Dalit Catholics continue to battle upper caste aggression (7)

New  Delhi: Why do Dalits convert to Christianity? To break out of the Hindu caste system, you might say. Not completely true, as we found out in Harobele, just 60 km from Bengaluru. Christianity entered the region centuries ago. The Catholic mission here, one of the oldest in Karnataka, was established in 1675; 980 of the 1,000 families here are Catholics. Catholicism, however, has offered no escape from untouchability for Dalits like Arogya Swamy (37), whose family left Hinduism and settled in Harobele three centuries ago. For proof, we enter an untidy little tea shop pretending as if we don’t know each other. I am  served in a steel tumbler like everybody else and offered a chair. Swamy is served his tea in a disposable plastic cup. He hesitates to sit along with the other customers; he stands outside. As we sip our tea in silence, he gestures toward the barber shop next door. The barber flings a tennis ball into the distance and shoos away a group of boys with a stick. “Those boys were Dalit Catholics. The barber didn’t want them to pollute his shop with their ball,” says Swamy later. The last time dalits tried to force their way into hotels and barber shops, he says, upper caste Catholics boycotted the establishments until the old order was restored. Caste hostilities in this village came to a boil this January when more than a hundred dalit Catholic families were forced to spend a night in the fields to hide from a rampaging mob of upper-caste Catholics. The issue made it to the news only in February when activists of the NGO, All India Human Rights Council (AIHRC) complained to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) that the police had not registered an FIR even a month after the well-orchestrated riot. Although the intervention of the activists has ensured the registration of a case under the SC/ST Atrocities Act, a senior policeman at the local station says, on condition of anonymity, “They (victims) are Catholic. How can they claim relief under the Atrocities Act? They lost their Scheduled Caste status when they converted,” he says. “The attackers were abusing the dalits using casteist slurs. They kept repeating that dalits had forgotten their place,” says local priest, Fr Chinnappa, recalling the riot with horror. A Dalit from Tamil Nadu, Fr Chinnappa was ordered to stay away by violent Catholic men from the Vokkaliga (Gowda) and Golla caste as they attacked Dalit men, women and children, and destroyed houses. “They didn’t even spare the cattle and the dogs,” says Naveen Kumar whose father Uppar Raju was one of the first to be attacked. Chinnaraju Sandhyagoppa – a resident Vokkaliga Catholic, local appointee of the powerful Vokkaliga leader and Karnataka energy minister DK Shivakumar and prime accused in the January violence against dalits – feels all the trouble in the village started when “outsiders” turned up. Denying his role in the riot, he says there was “no enmity between higher castes and lower castes in the village till these NGOs started entering the village. They teach them about Ambedkar and Communism and try to draw them away from the church. Why do we need Ambedkar when we have Jesus?” “I have built roads for them, helped get them get jobs and start businesses,” Sandhyagoppa adds. “Instead of showing gratitude, they betray the community and misuse the Atrocities Act against us.” “Some people here are considered untouchable because of their caste. The burial ground is divided according to caste, Dalits are forced to cook and eat separately during community feasts and festivals. They were attacked because of their caste. If all these atrocities are being committed because of caste, how can it not come under the Atrocities Act?” asks Y Mariswamy of the AIHRC who came along for HT’s first visit to the village on May 6. When HT revisited the village on May 27, residents at both ends of the caste ladder confirmed Mariswamy’s claims about the barriers to common burial and inter-caste dining. The visit showed that the trouble in the village started generations before the so-called ‘outsiders’ entered…. (Hndustan Times 2/8/15)

52. IS releases 22 abducted Christians (7)

Damascus: A total of 22 abducted Syrian Assyrians were released by the Islamic State (IS) militants, who kidnapped them along with tens of Assyrians last February, Assyrian activists said. The released Assyrians reached on Tuesday the northern city of Hasakah and were in good shape, following their release, which came after strenuous negotiations conducted by the Hasakah-based Assyrian Church of the East, according to the Assyrian Monitor for Human Rights, Xinhua reported. The 22 Assyrians were kidnapped on February 23 this year when the IS stormed predominantly-Assyrian towns in the Hasaka province. According to the statistics, the IS is still capturing another 187 Assyrians, including women and children. The IS unleashed attacks on tens of predominantly Assyrian villages earlier this year, including Tal Hurmoz, Tal Shamiram, Tal Rumman, Tal Nasra and many more towns in the countryside of the Hasaka province, deprived many lives and kidnapped over 200 civilians. The attacks also displaced 690 families, not to mention the desecration of worship places and churches. (Business Standard 12/8/15)

53. Pope prays for victims of Tianjin fire disaster (7)

Vatican City : The Pope offered prayers on Saturday for the Chinese port of Tianjin, where a giant chemical explosion has left at least 85 people dead. “Those who have lost their lives as well as all those touched by this catastrophe are in my prayers,” Francis said during angelus prayers at St Peter’s in Rome during the Catholic Feast of the Assumption, which marks Christ’s mother Mary’s ascent to heaven. The gigantic series of explosions began after a fire in a warehouse in the northeastern city on Thursday, with more residents being evacuated Saturday over fears that highly-poisonous sodium cyanide had been released. The fire intensified at the hazardous goods storage facility on Saturday and a series of new explosions sent a thick black column of smoke into the air, the official Xinhua news agency said. (DNA 15/8/15)

54. Latin Church Softens Stand, Adani Project Set to Check into Vizhinjam (7)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:With the Latin Catholic Church softening their rigid stand against the proposed seaport project, the quarter-century-old Vizhinjam dream is all set to call on the state. The state government will sign the concession agreement for the `7,525 crore port project with the Adani Group on Monday. Ports Minister K Babu on Sunday termed it the next big project after the Idukki dam and the Cochin International Airport that was hapenning in the state. The LDF would stay away from the signing ceremony, protesting the terms and conditions of the concession agreement. The ceremony is scheduled to be held at the Durbar Hall, Secretariat at 5 p.m. James Varghese, Principal Secretary (Ports), will sign the agreement on behalf of the state government and Santosh Mohapatra, CEO, Adani Vizhinjam Ports Pvt Ltd, will sign on behalf of the Adani Group. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, ministers and top officials including the Chief Secretary will be present on the occasion. The Adani Group will be represented by a team led by group chairman Gautam Adani. The group will have a concession on the port for 40 years, after which there is an option for extending it for another 20. According to the agreement, the construction is to be completed in four years, but the Adani Group has announced that it can be completed in two years. Construction, according to the state government, would begin on November 1, Keralappiravi Day.  The Vizhinjam port is designed to handle cargo vessels of 18,000 TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent or the approximate size of a cargo container). The government will sign the agreement with the Adani Group despite stiff Opposition from the LDF, which has decided to boycott Monday’s ceremony.  An-all-party meeting convened by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to iron out differences had proven inconclusive. The LDF leaders have stuck to their stand that the terms and conditions of the agreement are detrimental to the state’s interests. Opposition Leader V S Achuthanandan said on Sunday that it was essentially a real estate deal and port development enjoyed only secondary importance. (New Indian Express 17/8/15)

55. No more conversion by 2020: affiliate sets target (7)

New Delhi: Dharm Jagran Samanway Samtiti, an RSS affiliate, has resolved to stop conversion by 2020 and continue ghar wapsi (reconversion) so that the Hindu population increases by the next census in 2021. DJRS has pledged to reach in the next five years all areas that have seen people being converted, particularly to Christianity. This target was given to all DJRS state chiefs at a meeting in Mumbai from August 7 to 9, sources said. The sources quoted their national chief Mukund Rao Pansikar as saying that “we must fulfil our target of stopping all type of conversion activities and increasing efforts of ghar wapsi by 2020.” Pansikar could not be contacted by The Indian Express. The sources said many of the 100-odd delegates at the meeting expressed the view that ghar wapsi is more difficult in Muslim-dominated areas than it is among Christians, hence the focus on the latter areas. Also, they felt, most of those converted are from the lower castes and acceptability would not be a problem if they are “reconverted”. The meeting saw a PowerPoint presentation that compared the growth rates of Muslims and Christians with that of Hindus. The 40 state chiefs — the RSS breaks the country into that many states for convenience — spelt out their individual targets for preventing conversion. The DJRS is a core affiliate in which the RSS deploys 57 pracharaks, the highest for any RSS-related activity other than its own shakhas. It has many more whole-timers, who unlike pracharaks are paid an honorarium. The highest numbers of whole-timers, over 100, are posted in Chhattisgarh, where DJRS believes conversion among tribals to Christianity is the most rampant. (Indian Express  17/8/15)

56. ‘RPOs have stopped accepting marriage certificates issued by pastors’ (7)

JALANDHAR: All Pastors Association Punjab and Christian National Front have submitted a memorandum addressed to Prime Minister Modi alleging that regional passport offices (RPOs) had stopped accepting marriage certificates issued by pastors for issuing passports. The memorandum was submitted through deputy commissioner seeking directions for the Union ministry of external affairs. The memorandum stated that pastors issue the marriage certificates only after performing all the religious ceremonies and marriage certificate registers issued by the government were also being maintained by them. “The passport offices have refused to accept these marriage certificates even when they are countersigned by the concerned deputy commissioners of the district,” the memo said. “In such a situation, Christians have been facing inconvenience. According to the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872, the pastors have been issued the marriage certificate register by the concerned governments. The certificates issued by these pastors from the marriage certificate register are considered valid by the government of India, external affairs minister, and the state governments,” said the memorandum submitted by pastors led by Christian National Front president Lawrence Chaudhary. (Times of India 20/8/15)

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

57. Cry for Indian Citizenship (13)

Silchar, July 31: A human rights body will impress upon members of Parliament to pass a legislation to grant citizenship to the victims of Partition. A team of Citizens’ Rights Preservation Committee will soon go to Delhi to meet MPs of various political parties and urge them to draft a legislation to safeguard the citizenship status, rights and privileges of the people who migrated to Assam from Bangladesh (erstwhile East Pakistan) because of civil disturbances and religious persecution. The secretary-general of the committee, Sadhan Purkayastha, told reporters here today that they would continue their fight till the victims of Partition who came to Assam from East Pakistan after being harassed and tortured, were given citizenship. “We will not accept refugee status to these people as prescribed by the BJP. They should be granted citizenship status,” he added. Purkayastha said Jawaharlal Nehru, in his message to his countrymen on August 15, 1947, had clearly said that “there is no doubt, of course, that those d#isplaced p#ersons who have come to settle in India are bound to have their c#itizenship. If the law is inadequate in this respect, the law should be changed”. “Not only Nehru, even leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and others had made the commitment to the people during Partition that the victims would be given proper citizenship status and rehabilitation in free India,” he added. Mujamil Ali Laskar, an advocate, said with the Centre granting citizenship even today to the people who came from Pakistan, “why can’t it give the same status to the people who came to India from East Pakistan following civil disturbances?” “Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his rally last year at Ramnagar here, promised to close down all detention camps if the BJP came to power. But the Modi government which has already completed one year continues to maintain silence on the issue,” he added. “The Vajpayee government took the decision to give citizenship to the Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan and Afghanistan. But, it maintained silence on granting citizenship to the people who came to India from Bangladesh. It shows the apathy of the BJP towards Bengali-speaking people,” Laskar added. Swadesh Biswas, an adviser to the committee, said that if BJP came to power in Assam in 2016, the life of Bengalis would become more miserable. (The Telegraph 1/8/15)

58. Citizenship soon for those who fled religious persecution (13)

NEW DELHI: In a move that will have far-reaching implications in Assam and some parts of north-west India, the Union Home Ministry will amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant citizenship to undocumented migrants who fled religious persecution in Pakistan and Bangladesh. The migrants include not just Hindus but also Buddhists, Christians, Zoroastrians, Sikhs and Jains. Top Home Ministry sources have confirmed that a Bill is in the works to amend the Act and make changes to some provisions in the Foreigners Act, 1946, the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920, and the Passport (Entry into India) Rules, 1950. The Law Ministry has vetted the amendments. “This is an idea floated right after the Modi government came to power, but it was found that many people who fled into India fearing religious persecution do not have valid documents, or have their visas expired. Therefore, these people are illegal migrants and ineligible for citizenship,” a top official said. Several high-level meetings were held by the Ministry with the Law Minister, the Law Secretary and the Home Secretary to remedy the situation. “Basically, two changes need to be made to the Passport Act, 1920, and Passport Rules, 1950, to exempt people who fled religious persecution from Pakistan or Bangladesh from being termed illegal migrants and offer them long-term visas while their case for citizenship is being considered,” a source said. Citizenship issue can affect relations with neighboursThe cut-off date proposed for victims of religious persecution from Pakistan and Bangladesh who can apply for citizenship is December 31, 2014. Citizenship by registration (a minimum stay of seven years) and naturalisation (a minimum of 12 years) will be the two routes. The External Affairs Ministry has cautioned the Home Ministry that the move could hurt India’s relations with its neighbours. Nevertheless, the political call has been taken. The Citizenship Act, 1955, would have to be amended to reflect the exemption from the status of illegal migrant. “Section 2, sub-section 1’s clause (b) will have a proviso which will reflect this exemption,” a source said. The amendment to the Passports Act, 1920, and Passport Rules, 1950, will have to be notified and tabled in Parliament for two months to allow for objections, if any, before being deemed clear. The amendments to the Citizenship Act, 1950, will be cleared as a Bill after being debated in Parliament. On Monday, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said in Silchar: “No person who came from Bangladesh because of persecution or harassment will have to leave Assam or India. The NDA government will soon bring in necessary amendments to the Citizenship Act.” “At his first public rally in Assam during the 2014 election campaign, Narendra Modi had said Hindu Bangladeshis would be removed from camps and given citizenship,” a senior BJP leader said. (The Hindu 5/8/15)

59. Refugees as citizens (13)

None can object to the Union government’s move to grant citizenship to undocumented migrants who have come to India fleeing religious persecution in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Not just Hindus but also Buddhists, Christians, Zoroastrians, Sikhs and Jains are eligible for citizenship under the proposed amendment to the Citizenship Act. But ideally, so long as those seeking citizenship are able to prove they are victims of religious persecution in the neighbouring country, their religious persuasion should not be a criterion for grant of citizenship. Minority sects within Islam too face persecution, especially in Pakistan. The real difficulty, however, would be to distinguish between illegal migrants who came to India seeking work opportunities and a better life, and those who fled Pakistan or Bangladesh fearing persecution. In a situation where the Narendra Modi government continues to push for a tough stand against “infiltration” and illegal migration, the religious identity of the migrants should not be the basis for deciding their eligibility for citizenship. Given the past rhetoric of the BJP, which in the 2014 election manifesto described India as the “natural home of persecuted Hindus”, and the election speeches of Mr. Modi himself, in which he asked Bangladeshis to be ready to pack up and leave, the initial fears were that only Hindus, or at the most those adhering to Indian-origin religions, would be chosen for citizenship. That there has been some rethinking is a welcome sign. The government ought to make this religion-neutral. However, what needs to change more urgently is India’s attitude to refugees in general. India must remain open to all those seeking refuge, and not just those fleeing religious persecution. Although not a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, under which it would have been obliged not to send refugees back to a territory against their will if they fear threats to life or freedom, India cannot escape its responsibilities under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to respect the rights and freedoms of all people in its territories. Article 14(1) is categorical in stating that “everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” Any well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a social group, or political opinion qualifies for refugee status. Worries about the impact this would have on relations with Bangladesh at a time when a friendly government is in place are misplaced. In any case, India cannot compromise on its commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms. If there is a problem with the proposals, it is that they do not go far enough. (The Hindu 6/8/15)

60. Gaza infant mortality rises for first time in 53 years: UN (13)

Jerusalem: The infant mortality rate in Gaza has risen for the first time in more than half a century, a new study by the UN aid agency for Palestinian refugees says. “The number of babies dying before the age of one has consistently gone down over the last decades in Gaza, from 127 per 1,000 live births in 1960 to 20.2 in 2008. At the last count, in 2013, it had risen to 22.4 per 1,000 live births,” a statement from the UNRWA relief agency released at the weekend said. “Every five years UNRWA conducts a survey of infant mortality across the region, and the 2013 results were released this week,” it said, adding that because of the data it would conduct a new Gaza-specific survey this year. It said that neonatal mortality in Gaza, the number of babies who die before four weeks old, rose from 12 per 1,000 live births in 2008 to 20.3 in 2013. The statement quoted Akihiro Seita, director of the agency`s health programme, as saying that the sudden upswing was unprecedented in the Middle East. “When the 2013 results from Gaza were first uncovered, UNRWA was alarmed by the apparent increase. So we worked with external independent research groups to examine the data, to ensure the increase could be confirmed,” he said. “That is why it took us so long to release these latest figures.” He suggested that Israel`s blockade of the coastal strip, where close to 45 percent of the population is under 14 years old, could be a contributing factor. “It is hard to know the exact causes behind the increase in both neonatal and infant mortality rates, but I fear it is part of a wider trend,” he said. “We are very concerned about the impact of the long-term blockade; on health facilities, supplies of medicines and bringing equipment in to Gaza.” Israel imposed its blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2006 after the Islamist militant group Hamas captured an Israeli soldier. It further tightened controls a year later when Hamas consolidated its rule there. A 50-day war between Israel and Hamas in July-August 2014 killed about 2,200 Palestinians and 73 on the Israeli side, and destroyed or damaged tens of thousands of homes in the impoverished coastal territory. Among the Gaza dead were more than 500 children. (Zee News 9/8/15)

61. Assam governor concerned over NRC update process (3)

Guwahati: Assam Governor PB Acharya on Thursday expressed his deep concern about the slow process of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the state. In a statement, Acharya appealed to all Indian citizens to expedite and without fail complete the application process for the NRC before the August 31 deadline. The governor said no Indian citizen will be left out of NRC for any reason. The updating of the NRC is being done under the direct supervision of the Supreme Court. “All tea tribes, Bengali Hindu refugees, orphanage inhabitants, jailed prisoners, Indians from neighbouring states, especially from Tripura, Indians from other states of our mainland who have migrated to Assam by marriage, jobs, business etc. are eligible to enter in NRC as per the Supreme Court judgment,” Acharya said. The governor met Pratik Hajela, state coordinator of the NRC, and discussed about the progresses and hindrances in the updating process. He strictly ordered that no foreigners should be allowed to get into NRC, either because of corrupt officials giving false birth certificates or by any fraud. Acharya stressed the need for all NRC Seva Kendras in the state to be very careful and not succumb under any pressure or fear. “The integrity and security of not only the northeast, but of India is very important and the patriotic citizens of Assam should take special care in this regard,” he said. He appealed to all political parties, student organisations, universities, Sahitya Sabhas, merchant chambers, NGOs, tribal and non-tribal social organisations to be in the forefront to assist and correctly complete the NRC process by August 31. “We have only seventeen days left for the last date for submission of applications,” he reminded. “Let all the patriotic Indian citizens take the pledge to safeguard the integrity and security of India. The first and the right step is the correct NRC.” (Zee News 13/8/15)

62. Illegal immigrants make city their home (13)

HYDERABAD: The arrest of illegal immigrants from Pakistan, Myanmar and Bangladesh in the city has revealed that several such foreign nationals have made Hyderabad their home and even obtained identity proofs. To put an end to this issue, Cyberabad police have begun recording the details of all Rohingya Muslim immigrants from Myanmar staying in Hyderabad. As per the data provided to Cyberabad police by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), till August 6, there are 1,761 refugees of various countries residing in the common capital of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Among the 1,761 refugees, 1,518 are Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, five are non-Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, one is from Afghanistan, nine are from Greece, two from Iran, 31 from Iraq, three from Palestine, 168 from Somalia, 28 from Sudan and two are from Syria. All these refugees are staying in the city and doing various jobs to eke out their livelihood. But during a routine checking, Cyberabad police realized that there are several Rohingya Muslim families and individuals living in the city illegally, without registering themselves with the UNHCR. “To solve this problem, we have started collecting information about all the immigrants staying in the Cyberabad with the help of NGOs,” Cyberabad commissioner CV Anand said. As the population of Rohingyas comprise major share in immigrant population of city, Cyberabad cops began gathering their details with the assistance of NGO COVA, an implementing partner of UNHCR refugee project in the city. “We are preparing a database with all the details of the members of all Rohingya families, both registered with UNHCR and the illegal immigrants residing in city with their photographs and ID proofs. We will then issue an ID cards to them,” Shamshabad DCP AR Srinivas said. According to police, there are about 300 illegal Rohingya immigrants in the city and the registration work has started on July 31. Majority of the Rohingya refugees and the illegal immigrants stay in the Old City at Balapur, Babangar, Barkas, Royal Colony, Shaeen Nagar, Jalpally, Kishanbagh and work as daily wage labourers. Police said that the refugees from African countries are mostly those who arrived here on student visas and later sought refuge citing precarious living conditions back home. But unlike with Rohingyas, neither the police, nor the NGOs have much information about these refugees from African countries. As on August 13, there are 318 Pakistani nationals and 18 Bangladeshis staying in city on long term, short term and student visas. The dispute over illegal stay pertaining to three Pakistani nationals is pending in the high court. (Times of India 16/8/15)

63. ‘BJP committed to granting citizenship to Hindus’(13)

Guwahati: BJP MP from Assam Ramen Deka said granting citizenship to Hindus, who have taken shelter in Assam and other parts of the country following religious persecution in Bangladesh, is BJP’s national commitment and the party would fulfill it. Deka, who represents Mangaldoi constituency, said the Centre was seriously pursuing its commitment to give citizenship to Hindus who had suffered religious persecution in the neighbouring country. Several BJP central leaders including national president Amit Shah on April this year has promised that Hindus who had migrated to Assam would be granted citizenship. Shah had also reiterated Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurance in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls that other states would share the burden of sheltering Hindu refugees who migrated to Assam due to religious persecution in Bangladesh. While BJP has been espousing the cause of citizenship to Hindu refugees in Assam, Congress is also advocating granting citizenship to the community. The Congress executive meeting in June this year had also decided to ask the Centre to grant citizenship to Hindus, Christians, Buddhists and other religious groups who came to Assam following religious persecution. With less than a year left for the assembly polls, Congress and BJP are both pitching their demand for citizenship for Hindu refugees. Deka, however, accused the ruling Congress of using the citizenship issue for Hindus as a tool for getting votes. “Chief minister Tarun Gogoi has made the issue of citizenship for Hindus a tool to get votes. For BJP, it is a national commitment and we will fulfill it,” Deka said. Deka, who is former BJP state president, also demanded a CBI probe into the bribery scam in the city’s water supply scheme involving US-based construction management firm Louis Berger Group. “If the government of Goa could promptly hand over the investigation to the CBI, what is preventing the Assam government from engaging the investigation agency for probe the scam in the state?” Deka asked. (Times of India 17/8/15)

64. Germany expects refugee numbers to increase four times to record 800,000 (13)

Berlin: The number of asylum-seekers and refugees to Germany will quadruple to a record 800,000 this year compared with last, more than twice as many as the 300,000 new arrivals forecast in January, the government said on Wednesday. Germany, which has become a magnet for refugees fleeing war, violence and poverty in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, has criticised European Union partners for not doing more as 218,221 people arrived seeking asylum in the first six months alone. “We’ve got to reckon there will be 800,000 people coming to Germany as refugees or seeking asylum,” said Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere who only three months ago raised the original 300,000 forecast to 450,000. “It will be the largest influx in the country’s post-war history,” de Maiziere told a news conference in Berlin, adding that Germany should expect high numbers for years to come. “It’s a challenge for all of us at the state, federal and local levels,” he said. “We can master this challenge. I don’t think this will overwhelm Germany. We can handle this.” Migrant numbers across the EU have shot up in recent months. Many undertake dangerous sea voyages to reach southern Europe, then make their way across the continent to countries where they hope to make a life for themselves. Germany has a long tradition of welcoming refugees, in part a response to its Nazi past when 500,000 Jews and opponents of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich fled. Many found shelter in 80 countries, including former West German chancellor Willy Brandt. After World War Two, Germany took in some 13 million displaced persons and refugees fleeing west from Eastern Europe when the region came under Soviet domination. United Germany’s previous biggest annual intake was 438,191, in 1992, when it received large numbers of refugees fleeing conflicts resulting from the break-up of the former Yugoslavia. A year later, the German parliament changed the constitution to impose stricter rules on asylum. Numbers sank to a low of 28,000 in 2008 before they started climbing again. Along with a shortage of lodgings in cities including Berlin, Munich and Hamburg, Germany also struggles to process applications, which can take over a year. After Germany, Sweden takes in the most asylum-seekers in Europe. There have been arson attacks and unruly protests in Germany against the rising numbers of migrants. As well as refugees fleeing war in Syria and Iraq and elsewhere, there has been an influx of asylum-seekers from nations such as Albania and Serbia. Almost half of those who reached Germany in the first half of the year came from the Balkans — many of whom will be sent back. (DNA 20/8/15)

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

65. ‘RTI Act not for stalling govt’s work’ (1)

LUCKNOW: Contending that the RTI Act is meant to ensure transparency and accountability by allowing common man to have information in larger public interest and no way it should create a stumbling block in the functioning of the government, the state information commission disposed a bunch of cases filed by a research scholar against Lucknow University authorities. Information commissioner Arvind Singh Bisht said in his order that the applicant, Saurabh Gupta, filed as many as 41 RTI applications seeking mostly information about PhD admissions, nominations and upgradations. The commission clubbed all the applications to take a holistic view and avoid issuing different orders on appeals which were of similar nature. The commission observed that Gupta went on filing a barrage of RTI applications after the LU authorities refused to grant him upgrdation from a junior research fellow to senior research fellow citing anomalies in his papers. Citing a Supreme Court that ‘impractical demands of directions under the RTI Act for disclosure of all and sundry information would be counter-productive’, the commission said “while the university had a settled view that the applicant could not be granted the SRF upgradation, the applicant apparently appeared to have taken offence and nursed its grudge against it…this was neither ethically correct nor permissible under the provisions of the RTI Act.” (Times of India 3/8/15)

66. Can’t disclose infomation on Delhi notification, says MHA (1)

New Delhi: The Union home ministry has refused to give records related to notification issued by it on the jurisdiction of the Delhi lieutenant-governor saying the matter is sub-judice. Under the Right to Information Act, information of a sub-judice matter can only be denied if it is “expressly forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court”. RTI Activist Subhash Agrawal had sought from the home ministry all the records related to notification issued on May 21 besides rules about officers in the Delhi government for making complaints against chief minister, council of ministers or any individual minister of the Delhi government to lieutenant-governor of Delhi. “In this regard, it is stated that the matter is presently sub-judice and details cannot be discussed at this stage,” the ministry said. In a gazette notification, the Union home ministry had said that the L-G will have jurisdiction over matters connected with services, public order, police and land and he may consult with the chief minister whenever he thinks necessary in issues of services using his own “discretion”. It is well established that where there is no legislative power, there is no executive power since executive power is co-extensive within legislative power, it had said. “Public order, police, land and services fall outside purview of Legislative Assembly of the NCT of Delhi and consequently the Government of NCT of Delhi will have no executive power” on such matters, according to the notification. It had also said that the ACB police station shall not take cognisance of offences against officials, employees and functionaries of these central government services. (Asian Age 4/8/15)

67. File online RTI applications with 431 public authorities: Govt (1)

New Delhi: People can now file RTI applications online with 431 public authorities, the government said on Wednesday. A RTI web portal has been started for easy filing of applications by Indian citizens, including those who are living abroad. An Indian citizen can file RTI application online through www.rtionline.gov.in. The prescribed fee for RTI application can also be paid online through a payment gateway of State Bank of India by way of internet banking of State Bank of India and its associate banks and by using Rupay card, debit or credit cards of Master and Visa. “This facility at present is available for 431 public authorities of Government of India,” Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh said in a written reply in Lok Sabha. All the states have also been requested to explore the feasibility of implementing online RTI in their respective states. “National Informatics Centre has been requested to provide technical support such as software and source code to the state governments who desire to replicate the web portal for online filing of RTI applications at state level,” the Minister said. Singh said the government is committed to bring the benefits of the government’s pro-poor schemes and development plans to the doorstep of each and every citizen of this country and to offer them the right of demanding accountability. The Right to Information Act, which was enacted in 2005, mandates timely response to citizens’ request for government information. One has to pay a fee of Rs 10 for seeking information. (Zee News 5/8/15)

68. RTI plea seeks details of Naga pact from ‘clueless’ (1)

NEW DELHI: As the Congress and chief ministers of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh question the ‘shroud of secrecy’ over the Centre-NSCN (IM) accord signed last Monday, an RTI application has been moved from Assam asking the Union home ministry for details of the “historic” agreement. Assam Pradesh Congress Committee secretary Bibhuti Bhushan Borthakur on Thursday sent a letter to the home secretary seeking details of the agreement signed between interlocutor for Naga talks RN Ravi and NSCN (IM) general secretary T Muivah. The letter sought to know why the signed agreement was not made public so far. Though sources indicated that such requests can always be turned down as the Right to Information Act exempts the government from making disclosures that can impinge upon national security, the home ministry may have to perforce reject this as it knows little about the terms of the “framework agreement” signed on Monday. Though Ravi did brief home minister Rajnath Singh and home secretary LC Goyal on the Naga accord on Thursday, explaining that it was only a “framework” to proceed with further negotiations on the terms of a final ‘accord’, this has done little to dispel confusion within the home ministry brass on the “agreed way forward”.In fact, its limited knowledge of contents of the Naga pact forced the home ministry to write to the interlocutor on Friday, seeking details of the accord and its impact on the ceasefire ground rules in force in Nagaland. This was after the Indian Army approached the home ministry for clarifications. As the home ministry deals with requests from the Army and even the affected states on details of the Naga accord, it would obviously like to know whether there is any change in the government’s or NSCN (IM)’s stand on some of the latter’s contentious demands. In 2011, negotiations had come unstuck primarily over two controversial issues: the NSCN (IM) demand that postings of officers within the Naga-inhabited autonomous areas be decided by the state governor and another seeking an integrated body to decide on issues like culture and language of the Naga tribes living in other states.Both these demands ran into opposition from states having Naga-inhabited areas, like Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Manipur chief minister O Ibobi Singh was livid at the thought of ceding his government’s right on postings and transfers, calling this a ploy to “create a state within a state”. The states also resisted the demand for an integrated body for Naga tribes, arguing that it would open a Pandora’s box with other non-Naga tribes also seeking a similar arrangement. Though the NSCN (IM) has dropped its demand for sovereignty and even ‘Nagalim’ (Greater Nagaland) comprising Naga-inhabited areas of states other than Nagaland, the home ministry would be curious to know if the latest ‘accord’ signed by Ravi and Muivah raises the aforesaid contentious demands or has agreed to set them aside. In case of the former, it also remains to be seen if Manipur and other states will show the magnanimity to accommodate the very demands that held up a settlement after an understanding was reached in 2011 between then interlocutor R S Pande and NSCN (IM). (Times of India 10/8/15)

69. 2010 exam done, Vyapam again printed 200,000 answer sheets (1)

New Delhi: Two months after the Women and Child Development Examination was conducted, the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board, or Vyapam as it is popularly known, ordered the printing of another 200,000 answer sheets for the same examination, causing a loss of Rs.262,350, an RTI query has revealed. The reply to whistleblower Ajay Dubey from the Directorate of Local Fund Audit in July revealed that even though the examination was conducted on January 31, 2010, the Board asked Ruchi Security Printers on March 31, 2010, for another set of answer sheets for the examination. Moreover, it also revealed that the Board ordered that 200,000 answer sheets be printed for 94,139 candidates, to which the Local Fund Audit raised an objection – and also frowned on the additional 200,000 answer sheets being printed after the examination, leading to a huge loss to Vyapam. According to the audit, the board incurred a loss of Rs.262,350 for printing the answer sheets for the second time. “This is just the tip of the iceberg. Printing of the answer sheets for the same examination, which was already conducted, is testimony to the huge scam that followed in Madhya Pradesh. The exam was conducted for the Class III employees of the state’s women and child development department,” Dubey told IANS. Meanwhile, a comprehensive study in 2009 of the examination and evaluation systems of the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board by the state’s School of Good Governance and Policy Analysis had given a good report to the now scam-tainted board. “In order to maintain the sanctity, effectiveness and transparency of admission procedures to various academic and professional courses in different institutions in the state of Madhya Pradesh and for ensuring fairness and equity in the recruitment process for different professional jobs in the state, the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board has been conducting a variety of tests. “This process has been seen as a screening procedure to ensure that the basic competitive and competence threshold level is certified in the case of applicants in terms of their eligibility, suitability to the professional courses, jobs applied for and in the order of their performance and merit. The Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board has gained maturity, experience and confidence in the course of time,” the 2009 report stated. The MP Board, also known as Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal or Vyapam, conducts examinations to recruit government employees and holds admission tests for medical courses. It has been mired in controversies for years, but the scams eventually came to light when 20 people were arrested in 2013 for impersonating candidates appearing for the 2009 medical entrance examination. Forty-five people associated with the Vyapam scam have died — mostly unnaturally or under mysterious circumstances. The CBI has already registered 55 FIRs and launched 11 preliminary inquiries into the scam. (Business Standard 11/8/15)

70. Mutilated body of RTI activist found (1)

Muzaffarpur: The mutilated body of an RTI and JP Movement activist Jawahar Tiwary of Bangara Nizamjat village under Sahebganj PS in Muzaffarpur district, who had been kidnapped four days ago, was found in the diara belt of Gandak river in Sohasa village under Deoria PS on Friday morning. It is believed that he was killed for exposing a huge bungling in the distribution of flood relief cash in Bangara Nizamat panchayat under Sahebganj block last year. He had organized a long-drawn dharna and ‘satyagraha’ on Sahebganj block office premises last year under the banner of Sahebganj Vikas Manch. The then DM Anupam Kumar had ordered a magisterial inquiry into the allegations. His house had been attacked by some goons and some shots too had been fired. Tiwary was returning from Paroo block to his village home on August 10 when he was kidnapped. According to Paru police, the body was found in five parts on Friday. Parts of the body had been strewn at different places and the head portion had been covered under sand. Locating and collecting parts of the body was a tough task for the police. Braj Kishore Singh, husband of Bangara Nizamat panchayat’s mukhiya , their kin Raj Kishore Singh, Satyendra Singh and others have been made named accused in the FIR lodged on the statement of Tiwary’s family members. But no arrest had been made till Friday. SSP Ranjeet Kumar Mishra said Braj Kishore Singh had earlier lodged a case of murder of his brother against Jawahar Tiwary. Meanwhile, in the connection with the murder of Md. Sarfaraj of Pankaj Market area in Sikandarpur on Wednesday night, the SSP said the Town police have arrested four of the seven named a0ccused so far and assured to nab the rest three also soon. (Timesa of India 14/8/15)

71. Madhya Pradesh CM spent Rs 3 crore on five-day US trip: RTI reply (1)

New Delhi: An eight-member delegation led by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan spent close to Rs.3 crore ($465,000/$58,000 per head) on a five-day US trip in February, which included giving expensive gifts to investors, the reply to an RTI querry has revealed. The reply, received from the Madhya Pradesh Trade and Investment Facilitation Corporation Limited by whistle blower Ajay Dubey in July, revealed that on its visit to the US to meet American business leaders and potential investors, the delegation spent Rs.198,421 on gifts. It also mentioned that 10 woollen shawls worth Rs.119,990 (Rs.11,999 each) were gifted to the guests, apart from ties and silver idols worth Rs.78,431. The visit was from January 31 to February 4 on the invitation of the US-India Business Council to meet business community leaders and investors. The RTI reply also revealed that the expenditure for hotel rooms and air travel was Rs.30 lakh ($46,000) each ($5,750 per head), while Rs.25 lakh was spent on taxi rides, Rs.6 lakh went for daily perks and Rs.1.30 crore in rental for the ‘Friends of MP Conclave’ venue. Another Rs.75 lakh was spent on other promotional and miscellaneous charges. The total expenditure was Rs.2.96 crore over five days. Among the others who accompanied the chief minister were Yashodhara Raje Scindia, the minister for commerce, industry and employment, Mohammed Suleman, principal secretary, department of commerce, industry & employment; S.K. Mishra, principal secretary to the chief minister; Vivek Aggarwal, secretary to the chief minister; Anupam Rajan, MD, of the MP Laghu Udyog Nigam Ltd. (MP Small Scale Industries Corporation); Manish Singh, MD, Madhya Pradesh Audyogik Kendra Vikas Nigam (Indore) Limited; and Devhuti Bakshi of Ernst & Young. “The chief minister was planning another foreign tour to Sweden recently, but this was cancelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. To spend almost Rs.3 crore on a five-day tour to the US is huge. It is a lot of money for a state like Madhya Pradesh. Moreover, making a foreign tour to meet potential investors when Vyapam scam was at its peak is not acceptable,” Dubey told IANS. Madhya Pradesh has been mired in the Vyapam scam for years but the irregularities eventually came to light when 20 people were arrested in 2013 for impersonating candidates appearing for the 2009 medical entrance examination. Forty-five people associated with the Vyapam scam have died – mostly unnaturally or under mysterious circumstances. The CBI has already registered 67 FIRs and launched 12 preliminary inquiries into the Vyapam scam. (Busines Standard 17/8/15

72. Release information on judges’ plots: SIC (1)

AHMEDABAD: The State Information Commission (SIC) has issued an order to the ‘chitnis’ — revenue record-keepers — at the Ahmedabad collectorate to provide all details regarding plots allotted to judges to an RTI activist Mohit Soni from Devgadh Baria. The panel also issued a show-cause notice to chitnis officer Harshad Patel of the Ahmedabad district collectorate, seeking explanation as to why a fine of Rs 25,000 should not be imposed on him. The order was issued by information commissioner V S Gadhvi in connection with an RTI application filed by Soni. Soni had filed an application in August 2013 seeking details, including information regarding any payments made by the beneficiary judges. Controversy had recently erupted in the high court over allotment of plots to 27 judges with former acting CJ V M Sahai issuing notices to the beneficiary judges and the state government. Gadhavi held a special hearing on July 2 on the issue and was critical of the fact that despite two appeals filed before the collector, Soni was not provided the information in the last two years. “I had sought copies of applications made by the HC judges for the plots from the government, details regarding any payments made by the judges and subsequent allotment of the plots,” says Soni. The acting chief justice last week also directed the Ahmedabad district collector to supply copies of documents to whosoever desired to get the copies after applying for the same. This happened after a couple of litigants, who joined in the case as party-in-person, requested the court for related documents regarding plot allotment to HC judges. “The district collectorate took two years to act on my application. I am yet to receive a copy of the details,” says Soni. (Times of India 18/8/15)

73. 136 ‘fake degree’ cases registered in first quarter (1)

Mumbai: An RTI query by an activist from Pune has revealed that the number of enquiries for fake degree cases in the University of Mumbai has increased substantially in the current year when compared to the number of queries received by the university in the past three years. According to activist Vihar Durve, despite the process of procurement of fake degrees being an open secret, authorities have been turning a blind eye as a result of which it has been flourishing. Speaking about the responses to his RTI query from the Certificates Unit of the Examination section of the MU, Mr Durve said the number of such cases has risen sharply to 136 in the first four months of academic year 2015-16. “When compared with previous years, the number of such cases in 2014-15 was 274 and in 2013-14, 242 cases and 2012-13 was 252, which indicate that there is a higher number of fake degree cases being unearthed now as compared to previous years,” said Mr Durve. The RTI response also stated that the number of fake degree cases queries per month has also gone up to 34 against the 21 cases in 2012-13. The fake degrees cases were reported to MU through police complaints, correspondence and letters including e-mails from different offices, courts, police departments, other universities and citizens between 2012 and 2015. Mr Durve also said the MU department had replied in the RTI query that all the cases have been further reported to Bandra Kurla police station for further action. (Asian Age 19/8/15)

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

74. TN Ranks 2nd in Enrolment of SC Kids in KVs (11)

COIMBATORE: Enrolment of Scheduled Caste students in Kendriya Vidyalayas in Tamil Nadu is high compared with other States. Tamil Nadu has the second highest percentage of SC students studying in KVs. It next only to Punjab. In the 41 KVs in Tamil Nadu, there are 49,640 students, of whom 11,834 (23.84 percent) belong to the SC category. In KVs in Punjab, SC students account for 26.64 percent. It is 18.24 percent at the national level. In Tamil Nadu, there has been an increase from 23.51 percent in 2014 to 23.84 percent this year. Commenting on this, KV Coimbatore Principal Savithri T Rajan said, “Awareness about quota seats available under various categories is high among the public and people have started to utilise these quotas. Another reason could be admissions done under the Right to Education Act, where 25 percent free seats is allocated to SC/ST, economically weaker sections, those below poverty line and the non-creamy layer OBC students.” The performance of these students who join the KVs is also good, she added. However, enrolment of ST students and physically challenged students lower than the number of seats earmarked for them. While only 5.38 percent of KV students at the national level belong to the ST category, just 0.25 percent of them belong to the physically challenged category. This is even less in the case of Kendriya Vidyalayas in Tamil Nadu. Only 2.12 percent of KV students in Tamil Nadu belong to ST category and only 0.22 percent of them belong to the physically challenged category. According to admission norms followed in KVs, 15 percent of seats are earmarked for SC students and 7.5 percent for ST students. There are 1,778 Muslim students in Tamil Nadu KVs and 3,500 from other minority communities. (New Indian Express 1/8/15)

75. 99% of private schools not implementing RTE Act: panel (11)

SALEM: The Tamil Nadu State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (TNSCPCR) has found out that 99 per cent schools have not filled the 25 per cent quota for weaker sections as mandated by the Act. The violations were noticed during the random inspection of private schools by several teams of the commission to verify admissions under the RTE Act as per the directions of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). TNSCPCR sources told The Hindu that during the inspection many lacunae and irregularities of serious nature in the implementation of the Act   came to light. Ninety nine per cent of the private schools inspected in the State have not filled the 25 per cent quota with students under the RTE Act as per the norms.    What has shocked the TNSCPCR member teams is that these schools also seemed to have least respect for the Act. There have been many violations in the form of discrepancy in the income certificates of the beneficiaries and acts of some schools enriching themselves in the guise of implementing this scheme have come to light. Some of the schools are found to be running more sections than stipulated in the elementary classes without government permission. Cases of schools getting the reimbursement from the government under the 25 per cent category and at the same time collecting the regular fee from the beneficiaries too has also come to light, the sources said. All the violations noticed in the inspected schools are glaring and were discussed with the Collectors of these districts.The direction from the national commission came following serious allegation of malpractices in private schools in the State over RTE admission. An interim report will be submitted in a day or two, sources in the commission said. A team comprising T. Jayanthi Rani and S. Mowleesaran, both members of TNSCPCR, visited a few well renowned private schools in Salem district recently and verified the records connected with the admission under the above Act during the last three academic years. The Commission members inspected a number of private schools in 19 districts so far, including Salem, Tiruchi, Thanjavur, Madurai and Kancheepuram in the last couple of months. Education Department and District Child Protection Unit officials accompanied them during the inspection. The team visited the schools in Tiruchi, Thanjavur, Kancheepuram and Madurai districts too. Similar teams have completed random inspection of private schools in about 19 districts in the state so far. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 requires all private schools to reserve 25 per cent of the seats for students belonging to the poor, disadvantaged and marginalised sections up to class VIII. The government reimburses the expenditure incurred for the education of these children. (The Hindu 2/8/15)

76. Education parliament protests ‘WTO offers’ (11)

NEW DELHI: There are many universities faring much worse than Delhi University. An Education Parliament, organized at Jantar Mantar by JNU students’ union, has brought together hundreds of students and teachers from as far as Pune, Patna, Allahabad and Lucknow. It’s much the same story everywhere —vacant teaching posts, insufficient infrastructure, dodgy appointments and a general curtailing of democratic spaces. But the main bone of contention right now is the “offers in market access” to higher education that the government has made to World Trade Organization. This coming-together, said Sucheta De of All India Students’ Association, is the beginning of a movement against the WTO offers that will run right till the meeting in Nairobi , Kenya in December. The meeting had representation from Lalit Narayan Mithila, Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur, Patna, Savitri Bai Phule Pune, Panjab, Haryana Central and Andhra universities. University reforms, argue students and teachers, are being pushed through after and along with a systematic dismantling of students’ and teachers’ movements on campuses. The Lyngdoh committee recommendations have filled students’ unions with relatively inexperienced leaders; at many campuses, including Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University and Varanasi’s Banaras Hindu University, there’s no union at all. The centralization of control—through a common syllabus—has raised fears of “saffronization”. Historian Harbans Mukhiya said the government and its supporters were encouraging a return to a form of historiography that was abandoned years ago—the practice of regarding history through the lens of religion. But the chief fight now is against the “offers” to WTO. “It means to make any law for the country, we’ll need permission from them; it means there’ll be an Independent Regulatory Authority—a single window clearance—for higher education that’ll be answerable only to the PM and finally, natural treatment,” said educationist Anil Sadgopal. (Times of India 6/8/15)

77. SFI protests against WTO entry into education sector (11)

Hassan: The Hassan district wing of the Students Federation of India (SFI) marked the anniversary of the launch of the Quit India movement here on Sunday, by staging a protest opposing the Union government’s decision to allow 160 member nations of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) enter the higher education sector in India. The protesters said the Union government had submitted its offer to open the education sector for WTO members in 2005. The proposal would be discussed during the 10th WTO ministerial conference to be held in Nairobi in December this year. The protesters said the government should withdraw its offer well in advance to safeguard the education sector from the WTO. Pradeep Kumar, district secretary of the SFI, said that if the country allowed foreign investment, it would dismantle the idea of Right to Education, and the WTO would decide all the aspects of the education sector. The number of foreign universities would increase, leaving the local education institutions to suffer. “We are appealing to the WTO to quit the Indian education sector, as our freedom fighters appealed to the British to quit India on this day in 1942,” Mr. Pradeep Kumar said. (The Hindu 10/8/15)

78. Bring children up to age of 18 years under RTE Act: Activists (11)

MUMBAI: Bringing children up to the age of 18 years under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, was one of the main suggestions that has come up in a meeting organised by city-based NGOs working for child rights. The meeting was organised to discuss the provisions that need to be included in the Child Labour Amendment Bill that is under consideration at the centre. The activists plan to draw a charter of their demands and submit it to the government of India. “The main point that we all agreed upon was that children up to the age of 18 years should be in schools and nowhere else. While there is a debate that children up to the age of 14 years can work in family enterprises we are opposed to that. Children are also exploited in domestic work,” said child rights’ activist Santosh Shinde. He added that rescue and rehabilitation work should be clarified in the act. NGOs like Pratham, Yuva, Committed Communities Development Trust (CCDT), Child Rights and You (CRY), Childline, Save The Children participated in the discussion and have come up with suggestions that will strengthen the Act. (Times of India 13/8/15)

79. RTE may span school education from nursery to grade X (11)

NEW DELHI: The right of children to free and compulsory education may encompass school education from nursery to class X, if CABE, a top body advising the Centre and states on education sector reforms, accepts a proposal in this regard. The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) will consider the report of its sub-committee on extension of the RTE Act and the controversial no-detention policy at a meeting to be chaired by human resource development minister Smriti Irani on August 19, official sources said. The meeting, which will engage in an “exhaustive deliberation” on the two issues, will be attended by education ministers from states besides academicians and distinguished people from several fields. The Act currently applies to children between six and 14 years studying from Class I to VIII. The CABE sub-committee in its report submitted in 2012, when UPA was in power, had identified issues such as entry age for pre-school under the extended framework, qualification and capacity building of teachers at the pre-primary level, age of children in secondary education and duration of secondary education. Chairing the last CABE meeting on the issue, the then HRD minister M M Pallam Raju had said it needed comprehensive discussion before a decision on extending RTE’s purview was arrived at. On its extension to the pre-primary level, the panel had suggested ensuring child-centered pedagogy, play-way method and holistic development as critical elements of pre-school education and stressed on the need for effective coordination with Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS). For RTE’s extension up to the secondary level, the sub-committee had suggested assessment of existing infrastructure, appointment of additional teachers and recommended consultations with all stakeholders including the state governments. The role and regulatory mechanism of the private sector and sharing of financial responsibility between the Centre and states were some of the other issues highlighted by the panel for detailed discussion.CABE would also deliberate on the report of another sub-committee on no-detention policy up to class VIII. The committee headed by the then education minister of Haryana Geeta Bukkal had recommended doing away with it as automatic promotion affected learning outcomes. A few states have already repealed the policy, which had come into effect with the implementation of RTE by bringing in necessary amendments to the state rules. The RTE Act, which makes education a fundamental right of every child between the age of 6 and 14, came into effect on April 1, 2010. It requires all private schools, except for minority institutions, to reserve 25% of seats for underprivileged children. (Times of India 16/8/15)

80. Panel for phased implementation of no-detention policy in schools (11)

NEW DELHI: Armed with a growing chorus against the no-detention policy at the elementary school level (up to Class VIII), the Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry is likely to make a case for reconsidering – if not reversing — this provision of the Right to Education Act (RTE), 2009, at the first meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) under the Modi government’s watch this Wednesday. The report of the ‘CABE Committee on Assessment and Implementation of CCE [Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation] in the context of the No-Detention Provision under the RTE Act’ is one of the items on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting. Headed by the then Education Minister of Haryana, the Committee had flagged certain issues with the provision and sought to draw linkages with the declining levels of learning. This sub-committee of CABE is learnt to have recommended that the no-detention policy be implemented in a phased manner so that all stakeholders understand what it entails instead of interpreting it as zero assessment. Further, the CABE Committee was of the view that it should be applied only till Class V instead of all the way up to Class VIII. Since the report was finalised in the last year of the UPA government, no action was taken then. But after Smriti Irani took over as HRD Minister, she has held a series of meetings including with school children in which the general opinion favoured – to the surprise of many – examinations; not just at the lower levels but also in Class X where the once dreaded Board exams had been made optional during the UPA regime. The main complaint against CCE was that it did not prepare students well for competitive examinations including school-leaving Boards. Alarmed by the growing demand for reversal of the provision – even from several State governments – educationists claim that the law should not be blamed for poor implementation.“The RTE Act clearly spelt out how CCE should be implemented. Just by failing children, you do not make them good learners,’’ said Anita Rampal, Professor of Education at Delhi University. Pointing to the manner in which “corporatised organisations’’ working in education are also pushing for a testing system – with some even offering to conduct the tests – she said there also appeared to be a corporate agenda at work. Also on CABE’s agenda will be RTE’s extension to cover education from pre-school to Class X; instead of just six-to-14 year-olds. Though not averse to extended RTE coverage, Madhu Prasad of RTE Forum wondered whether this was simply more posturing by a government that has already pared down the education budget. (The Hindu 18/8/15)

81. Govt meet fails to decide on revival of class X exams (11)

NEW DELHI: Despite a broad consensus to bring back class X board examination and revoke the ” no detention” policy, no decision could be taken in the 63rd meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education on Wednesday. Though states wanted the no-detention policy to be scrapped in one go, Centre has asked states to formally provide their view in writing within a fortnight for the next course of action. Though HRD minister Smriti Irani refused to speculate on the future outcome, revoking of the no-detention policy will require amendment in the Right to Education Act. But class X board examination can be brought back through an executive order. Irani said the CABE sub-committee headed by Geeta Bhukkal, the then Haryana education minister, had looked into the issue of no-detention. Bihar education minister P K Shahi who was part of the committee told the meeting that during their interaction with students, teachers and parents the unanimous view was that no-detention till class 8th standard be scrapped. ” Today also they appealed that it be removed. Education minister of 19 states said no-detention has affected learning outcomes. We want states to give their views in writing,” she said. Asked about allegations of saffronisation of education, Irani said she has only received cooperation from states and there should be no politicization of education. CABE also decided to set up three sub-committees. The first to be headed by Upendra Kushwaha, minister of state, HRD, will look into out of school children and devise ways to enroll these children to schools. The sub-committee will consist of education ministers of Tripura, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and senior officials of HRD ministry. Another sub-committee will look into improving infrastructure and performance of government schools. It will be headed by education minister of Punjab and will consist of education ministers of UP, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Bihar and few CABE members. Third sub-committee will deliberate on measures to improve and enhance skilling and technical education in the school and higher education systems. All sub-committees will submit their report within a year. (Times of India 20/8/15)

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

82. India census exposes extent of poverty (21)

New Delhi (CNN)India’s latest Socioeconomic and Caste Census (SECC) paints a stark picture of widespread rural poverty and deprivation. Of the 300 million households surveyed, an overwhelming majority (73%) live in villages. Of this rural population, less than 5% earn enough to pay taxes, only 2.5% own a 4-wheeler vehicle and less than 10% have salaried jobs. Not only does rural India have miserable statistics on income and asset ownership, its literacy rates are low. Only 3.5% of students graduate and around 35.7% of residents can’t read or write. It comes as no surprise that the bulk of the Indian population is still overwhelmingly poor. Past surveys and experts have continued to emphasize the chasm between the two disparate pictures of India — one that owns ambitious space and nuclear programs, and boasts of billionaires and information technology prowess, and the one in the villages, of which 92 million households (51%) earn their living by manual labor. The self-reported data from the SECC survey will be used for targeting new and existing welfare schemes. Toeing the line taken by the previous administration, the government refrained from making caste data public…. (CNN 3/8/15)

83. NSSO: 73% of rural Bihar use kerosene for lighting (21)

NEW DELHI: For all the subsidy flowing towards selling kerosene through the public distribution system, it now emerges that the fuel is hardly being used in kitchens across India – in towns as well as villages – but remains a key source for lighting lamps and lanterns in rural areas, which either lack power connections or don’t get adequate supply. The latest survey released by the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) has revealed that in rural areas, subsidized kerosene was used in less than 1% of kitchens, which relied largely on firewood and chips as the primary source of energy for cooking during 2011-12. After firewood (67% share), cooking gas cylinders have emerged as the second most preferred kitchen fuel in rural areas, with a share of 15%. In urban areas, of course, they now fire over 68% of the stoves, while the share of kerosene is estimated at 5.7%, lower than firewood (14%).But when it comes to lighting homes in villages, the share of kerosene is estimated at 26.5%, with electricity’s share estimated at 72.7%. In urban India, 3.2% of households uses kerosene for lighting while the share of electricity is 96%.The data points to what several economists have argued for years: there is reduced dependence on kerosene despite the government doling out subsidized fuel, which is suspected to be used in large quantities for adulteration or finds its way into the open market, where there is no subsidy. Currently, the government pays Rs 18.51 as subsidy for every litre of kerosene sold through the public distribution system. The under-recovery on the sale of kitchen fuel by the oil marketing companies added up to Rs 24,800 crore during the last financial year, with the government taking over around Rs 5,000 crore of the burden and forcing the state-run companies to bear the additional burden. The government has been talking of reforming the subsidy delivery mechanism for several years and is contemplating extending the direct benefit transfer scheme to kerosene to check leakages. But the findings of the NSSO survey showed wide divergence in fuel used across states with those such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh still relying on dung cake and firewood to a large extent. The use of firewood and chips for cooking has declined but slowly over the years in rural India. It declined from 78.2% of all rural households in 1993-94 to 67.3% in 2011-12. LPG use in rural households has grown relatively fast, from fewer than 2% of rural households two decades ago to 15% in 2011-12. Cow-dung cake remained one of the major fuels for cooking for rural households in Uttar Pradesh (33.4%) followed by Punjab (30.3%), Haryana (24%) and Bihar (20.8%).Tamil Nadu had the highest use of LPG among rural households, with over a third using it for cooking, followed by Kerala and Punjab. The use of LPG was least in Chhattisgarh (1.5%) followed by Jharkhand (2.9%) and Odisha (3.9%).When it comes to lighting, 73.5% of rural households in Bihar still use kerosene as primary source of energy for lighting, followed by Uttar Pradesh (58.5%) and Assam (36.8%).Bihar also tops the chart when it comes to use of kerosene for lighting in urban areas with 17.2% of households still depending on kerosene. Followed by Bihar were Uttar Pradesh (10.8%), Assam (7.9%), Gujarat (5.2%) and West Bengal (5%).However, over the past decade, the proportion of households using kerosene to light their houses has halved in rural India. The use of electricity was the highest in rural Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, where nearly all rural households used electricity to light their homes. In contrast, just 25.8% of rural Bihar and 40.4% of rural Uttar Pradesh households had electricity. (Times of India 3/8/15)

84. Over 7,000 face starvation in South Sudan (21)

Approximately 7,600 displaced families in South Sudan face starvation after humanitarian assistance ran out last May. “Individuals affected by the conflict subsist on leaves to stay alive in the Melut county of South Sudan, as humanitarian conditions have worsened for over 7,600 families,” Xinhua quoted Deng Kiir, head of the Dethoma camp, as saying on Tuesday. Kiir said humanitarian assistance ceased arriving as aid organisations suspended their activities after fighting erupted between government troops and opposition fighters last May. He called on the government and humanitarian organisations to provide urgent assistance to the displaced families. According to United Nations statistics, two-thirds of South Sudan’s 12 million people are in dire need of aid and 4.5 million face severe food shortages. The recent military clashes forced thousands of civilians to flee to safe areas and United Nations bases for protection. South Sudan secured its independence in 2011. However, it plunged into violent clashes in December 2013 as fighting erupted between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and defectors led by his former deputy Riek Machar. The conflict soon grew into an all-out war, with violence taking on an ethnic aspect, pitting the president Dinka’s tribe against Machar’s ethnic faction. The warfare killed thousands of South Sudanese and forced 1.9 million individuals to flee their homes. (Business Standard 5/8/15)

85. Thousands of villagers face starvation; landslides cut off 25 villages in Chandel (21)

Kakching: : Thousands of villagers are on the brink of starvation as over 25 villages under Machi Sub-Division in Chandel District are totally cut off and remained inaccessible since the last one week due to the multiple landslides. To assess the situation of landslide affected area, a team of Kuki Chiefs’ Association (KCA) Machi Block, KSO Machi Block and Rural People’s development Federation (RPDF) along with media persons visited the spots on Friday. During the visit, the team found that landslides occurred at several places and many cracks developed along the stretch between Machi and Tengnoupal Sangshak road junction. Apart from washing away the portion of Tengnoupal-Sangshak Road in between Phalbung and Chehlep junction, two major landslides measuring about 2 kms in length also occurred near Simang Villages along the road.There were also landslide in the Inter Village Roads of Bongmol to Bongli, Kuljang to Sairel, Machi Lamkai to Samukom, Khoibu Centre to Parengtong/Charawanpham. Briefing media persons, Chief of Molpi (Nungtak) Village M.Letkhosei Haokip, who is also the Advisor of KCA Machi Block said that around 25 Villages of Bongli area were totally cut off from the rest of the State due multiple landslides which occurred on July 31 . Since then, the villages of that area remained inaccessible till date and the villagers were on the brink of starvation. Haokip further maintained that there is also a problem of electricity and safe potable water as many electric poles and water sources were recently washed away by landslides. Besides the need for clearing the mud and slush and reopening of all the roads, provision of essential commodities, medicines, drinking water and electricity is also the need of the villagers, added the Village Chief. However, the State Government and the elected representatives of the area have no concern for the villagers of the area till date and the authority failed to take up necessary action for reopening of the roads, said the Village Chief. While appealing to address the grievances of the villagers of the area, Letkhosei Haokip, Chief of Molpi Village drew the immediate attention of the State Government and authority for reopening of the cut off routes at the earliest. Khaineo Lupho, Co-ordinator of RPDF also said that most of the villagers of the area were living from hand to mouth as their primary occupation was selling of forest products besides engaging in shifting cultivation. He also maintained that even though the authority failed to provide the Public Distribution System (PDS) items earlier, at least they could make necessary arrangement to dispatch the essential commodities under the PDS during such time of natural calamities. Senpu Haokip, General Secretary of Kuki Chiefs’ Association (KCA) Machi Block and John Haokip, Secretary of Kuki Students’ Organisation (KSO) Machi Block also accompanied the team during the visit. (Manipur: E-Pao 8/8/15

86. ‘MGNREGS reduced poverty, empowered women’ (21)

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) reduced poverty by up to a third and gave a large number of women their first opportunity to earn cash income, a new research has found. Officials from the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) and the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) released a new report Wednesday evening which used data from two rounds of the India Human Development Survey (IHDS) – 2004-5 and 2011-12. The survey was conducted by the NCAER and University of Maryland, involving over 26,000 rural households across the country. Comparisons between the two survey rounds found that the programme reduced poverty overall by up to 32 per cent and prevented 14 million people from falling into poverty. “Economic growth contributed to overall poverty reduction during this period, but we found that the MGNREGS also played a significant role,” Sonalde Desai, principal author of the study, said. The numbers show that the MGNREGS is likely to have had a much smaller impact on the rural job market and on rural wages than is commonly believed. At an all-India level, the average days worked under the MGNREGS is less than four, pointing to the relatively small impact of the scheme to the overall rural job market. “On the surface, MGNREGS has virtually no impact on rural employment patterns since it fails to add to the number of days that individuals work. But it seems to attract individuals who were previously employed in less productive work, thereby raising their incomes,” the report notes. Overall, while the period of 2004-5 to 2011-12 saw a sharp rise in rural wages, MGNREGS plays only a modest role in wage increases, the report notes. The United Nations Development Programme on Wednesday also released a review of recent research studies on the MGNREGS which found similarly, and found that the scheme’s uptake is far greater in the lean season that in the peak agricultural season. The part of the rural job market that the MGNREGS did seem to have a more significant impact on was for female work. About 45% of female MGNREGS workers were either not working or worked only on a family farm in 2004–05, indicating that the MGNREGS “may well be the first opportunity many women have to earn cash income”. As a result, there was a substantial increase in women’s control over resources — including cash in hand and the likelihood of having a bank account — and improvement in women’s ability to make independent decisions about their health, the report found. Children from MGNREGS households were likely to obtain higher levels of educational attainment than their non-MGNREGS peers, the report found, and were less likely to be working. While financial inclusion rose in general during this period and reliance of moneylenders declined, the effect was much greater for MGNREGS households, as was the decrease in the overall interest paid by the household. Simultaneously, accessing of formal credit grew. What holds the MGNREGS back is “work rationing” — the inability of all interested households to get 100 days of work — as a result of mismanagement or pressures, and affects the poorest the most, the report finds. “These findings clearly show that there is a large unmet demand for MGNREGS work,” Jugal Kishore Mohapatra, secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, said, adding that a paucity of funds at the level of implementations and erratic fund flows, particularly in 2014-15 had affected both demand and supply. “For the last four months, our job has been convincing everyone that the scheme is not going away and rebooting demand,” Mr. Mohapatra said. (The Hindu 12/8/15)

87. PM Modi’s Independence Day speech: 10 big quotes (21)

New Delhi: In his 90-minute Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t announce any major scheme for the country rather he focussed on presenting a report card of the schemes that he had announced last year from the ramparts of Red Fort. Here are the 10 big quotes from the PM’s speech: 1. This is a morning of hope of the dreams and aspirations of 125 crore Indians. This Team India is a team of 125 crore Indians. 2. Simplicity and unity are India’s strength, it should never be tainted or hurt. There is no place for casteism, communalism in the country. 3. Nobody wants to remain poor. Those who are poor want to move away from poverty. That is why, all our programmes must be for the poor. All our schemes must serve the poor. Be it MyGov, letters from citizens, Mann Ki Baat, communication with people ‘Jan Bhagidari’ is increasing on a daily basis. 4. Last time from the Red Fort I spoke about toilets and cleanliness. If there is something that has touched every person, it is the movement towards cleanliness. The children of this country are the biggest mascots of Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan. 5. We have change the way we look at workers in India and for that the government has introduced Shrameva Jayate Yojana. 6.I proudly say that the ‘give it up’ campaign for gas subsidy has been successful, 20 lakh people have given subsidy up. 7. There has been no accusation of even Re 1 corruption in the 15 months since this government was formed. 8. We must be Number 1 in startups. ‘Start-up India’ and ‘Stand up India’. A new start up should begin in every part of the country. Every bank should ensure that its every branch must give loan for start ups to at least one Dalit or tribal seeking to establish a start up. 9. Even after so many decades of independence there are nearly 18,500 villages that do not have electricity. We affirm our commitment to provide electricity to these 18,500 villages in next 1000 days. 10. The government has agreed in-principle to One Rank One Pension (OROP) for ex-servicemen. There are some issues which would be resolved soon. (India Today  16/8/15)

88. Telangana launches new scheme for village development (21)

Hyderabad: The Telangana government on Monday launched ‘Grama Jyothi’, a new scheme for empowering villages. Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao formally launched the scheme at Gangadevipally, a village in Warangal district. The state government plans to spend Rs.25,000 crore for the development of villages over the next four years under this ambitious project.Different ministers and officials simultaneously launched the programme in other districts.Grama Jyothi is aimed at strengthening villages in areas like water and sanitation, health and nutrition, education, social security and poverty eradication, natural resources management, agriculture and infrastructure.It will ensure inclusive and holistic development of villages through people’s participation in planning and collective decision-making. Officials said the development would be achieved through transparency, accountability and incentivsation. Addressing a public meeting at Gangadevipally, the chief minister said the model village had proved what people could achieve by working together for the development of their village.He announced Rs.10 crore for undertaking various development programmes in the village. The chief minister said the scheme would strengthen panchayat raj system as gram panchayats would formulate development plans. Each village will be allocated Rs.2 crore to Rs.6 crore depending on their population. (New Kerala 17/8/15)

89. Digitization of ration cards in 26 states to plug PDS leakage (21)

NEW DELHI: In significant progress made by states to check leakage of foodgrains under the public distribution system (PDS), 26 states and Union Territories have completed 100% digitization of ration cards in the past one year. Six states have digitized the supply chain for better monitoring of grain moving from godowns to the doorstep of consumers. According to food ministry sources, the overall digitization of ration cards across the country is about 92% and they expect the process to be completed in the next 6-7 months. The states that have achieved 100% progress include Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh. They added Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have recorded 98% progress in linking Aadhar while Delhi has completed 100%. The achievement is more than 80% in the case of Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Puducherry and Kerala. “Once we have the complete digitization and beneficiaries’ Aadhar numbers are linked, it will plug the leakage of highly subsidized grains that are meant for the needy. Completing these tasks will also ensure better implementation of the National Food Security Scheme (NFSA),” said a ministry official. (Times of India 19/8/15)

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

90. Modify Provisions to Meet Aim of Labour Legislations (14)

Outdated labour laws are major roadblocks for economic growth. The compliance systems as per Indian labour laws are more inclined towards encouraging inspector raj rather than serving the intent of legal provisions. Organised sectors, bigger companies, and multinationals usually do not succumb to illegal pressure of labour authorities. But some establishments are forced to meet extortionist demands, since it makes economic sense to compromise rather than comply with unreasonable show cause notices. Considering the population, literacy and other economic conditions, it is not advisable to completely bypass the checks and compliances in the garb of industrialisation. Rather, the provisions need to be modified so that the intent of legislation is met. Compliances with respect to regular employees in organised sectors, and big and medium-level companies are generally in order. Issues arise more with respect to contract labour, casual, daily wage, temporary workers, smaller establishments, etc. Various enactments under which monetary depositions are required are Provident Fund, Employees’ State Insurance, cess under building and construction workers, labour welfare fund, etc. Further, there are compliances with respect to contract labour, minimum wages, the Factories Act, the Shops and Establishments Act, and the like. These laws have innumerable provisions with respect to registration, licences, working conditions, maintenance of workplace, statutory payments, registers, records, service conditions, contractual obligations, etc. Though the intent of the provisions is incumbent to be met, the procedure and number of compliances as well as ambiguous interpretations needs to be simplified. Mala fide show cause notices include exorbitant demands for highly belated time periods, inconsequential compliances and misinterpretation of ambiguous provisions. Many a time, labour authorities grossly misuse criminal and penal provisions. The proceedings involve criminal prosecution of directors/CEOs, imposition of heavy damages and interests. Further, as per PF and ESI laws, even for filing an appeal against an adverse order, deposition of a percentage of liability imposed is statutorily required. In view of such provisions, companies are forced to either spend huge amounts on litigation or come down to paying under the counter. Contesting litigations takes years, and paying under the table only encourages illegitimate demands. None of the routes fulfil the intent of legislation. Scrapping these provisions in the name of economic growth will also only lead to mass contravention of provisions leading to exploitation of labour, especially in remote areas. We need amendments that can serve the purpose of provisions. For instance, managers responsible for compliances should also be made liable as per provisions. They should be trained in compliances, with set criteria for their appointment. This can be done for companies having a minimum number of employees. Further, though e-portals are being introduced, statutory compliances should be made electronic and website-based. Area labour inspectors should also be made responsible for ensuring regular checking of company records, giving reports. While raising a statutory demand, the inspector should be required to issue a reasoned and specific show cause notice, not casual notices on the basis of account books entries. For this, it should be made mandatory that records of all kinds of employees along with employee number, Aadhaar card details, etc. are made available electronically. Most importantly, statutory provisions need to be simplified. Crores of rupees stand collected in the coffers of labour authorities, while millions still fight for survival. Besides amendments, it should be ensured that depositions are utlised for the purpose they are made, rather than lying in cold storage. Proper application of labour laws can aid in escaping the clutches of poverty to a large extent. (New Indian Express 1/8/15)

91. Call to enforce labour laws (14)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Trivandrum District Shops and Commercial Establishment Employees Union, affiliated to the AITUC, has called for steps to enforce the implementation of labour laws in commercial establishments. Inaugurating the district convention of the union here on Monday, AITUC State secretary K.P. Sankaradas said that the government should adopt effective steps to ensure job security for workers. (The Hindu 4/8/15)

92. Direct release of wages to MGNREGA workers okayed (14)

New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved release of wages directly to the accounts of the workers engaged under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the scheme for better implementation of the MNREGA and provide empowerment of states, sources said. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley last week allocated Rs 7,000 crore for direct benefit transfer under MGNREGA, while seeking Parliament approval for supplementary demand for grants. According to the scheme, the wage component of MGNREGA will be released following the State Employment Guarantee Fund window direct to the workers’ accounts based on a fund transfer order to be generated by states’ implementing agencies in accordance with procedures prescribed by rural development ministry. The proposed system would benefit all stakeholders and improve overall efficiency of implementation, and workers would be assured of payment of wages in the second day of the pay order generation, official sources said. Officials said while state governments would be able to spend more time in planning and improving the process efficiency without bothering to manage funds for implementation, the Central government would gain by releasing what is actually expendable. The gram panchayats would also be empowered to take up work according to the agreed labour budget, without struggling for release of funds. Sources say that despite implementation of the electronic fund management system (e-FMS), delays in payments have been increasing due to delays in release of funds by the central government, multi-level release system, continued parking of funds at various levels and inability of implementation agencies to get funds in time for payment. This, they added, called for further steps to improve the system to assure timely availability of funds according to demand. (Business Standard 6/8/15)

93. State focuses on converging NREGA and NRLM in four districts (14)

RANCHI: With an objective to bring economic prosperity in rural parts of the country, using the already existing infrastructure of NREGA, Jharkhand is all geared to toe the central line of converging rural schemes with the employment guarantee scheme. Supported by UNDP’s governance and accelerated livelihood support (Goals), rural development department of the state held a day long workshop to train officials with the objective of converging various schemes with NREGA. The convergence of MNREGA and National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) aims at creating awareness and demand generation, identification and planning for works that converge with the livelihood plans, worksite execution and measurement, advance payment of wages to NREGA workers through funds devolved to CBOs, provision of capacity building and training for all stakeholders involved including PRIs, besides creation of Cluster Facilitation Teams (CFTs). Inaugurating the make plans for financial year 2015-16, rural development minister Neelkant Singh Munda said that executing constructive work under NREGA is a big challenge. “We are spending Rs.1800 crore under the scheme in state and if time bound initiatives are taken, Jharkhand would be among the developed states of the country,” he said. Additional secretary to government of India in the department of ministry for rural development Amarjit Sinha said that Goals scheme has been launched in four districts of the state Gumla, Palamu, Latehar and West Singhbhum as a pilot project. “Goals have been designed with a view to eradicate rural poverty and the villagers should be encouraged to draw their own plans so that the livelihood schemes do not fail, as it happens when imposed from outside,” he said. Sinha said that the NREGA infrastructure would help in disbursing money to the accounts of beneficiaries of various schemes directly which also includes the livelihood mission schemes of NRLM. Principal secretary, rural development department in Jharkhand government NN Sinha welcomed the guests and introduced to them the status of various rural development schemes like Indira Awas Yojna, water harvesting, NREGA and NRLM. He said that there has been a substantial progress in NREGA over the last year. “The districts which achieved 10-15% fund utilisation last year have performed satisfactorily this time but there remains huge scope for training and capacity building of the rural youth which can be achieved through convergence of the schemes,” he said. (Times of India 8/8/15)

94. ‘MGNREGS reduced poverty, empowered women’ (14)

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) reduced poverty by up to a third and gave a large number of women their first opportunity to earn cash income, a new research has found. Officials from the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) and the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) released a new report Wednesday evening which used data from two rounds of the India Human Development Survey (IHDS) – 2004-5 and 2011-12. The survey was conducted by the NCAER and University of Maryland, involving over 26,000 rural households across the country. Comparisons between the two survey rounds found that the programme reduced poverty overall by up to 32 per cent and prevented 14 million people from falling into poverty. “Economic growth contributed to overall poverty reduction during this period, but we found that the MGNREGS also played a significant role,” Sonalde Desai, principal author of the study, said. The numbers show that the MGNREGS is likely to have had a much smaller impact on the rural job market and on rural wages than is commonly believed. At an all-India level, the average days worked under the MGNREGS is less than four, pointing to the relatively small impact of the scheme to the overall rural job market. “On the surface, MGNREGS has virtually no impact on rural employment patterns since it fails to add to the number of days that individuals work. But it seems to attract individuals who were previously employed in less productive work, thereby raising their incomes,” the report notes. Overall, while the period of 2004-5 to 2011-12 saw a sharp rise in rural wages, MGNREGS plays only a modest role in wage increases, the report notes. The United Nations Development Programme on Wednesday also released a review of recent research studies on the MGNREGS which found similarly, and found that the scheme’s uptake is far greater in the lean season that in the peak agricultural season. The part of the rural job market that the MGNREGS did seem to have a more significant impact on was for female work. About 45% of female MGNREGS workers were either not working or worked only on a family farm in 2004–05, indicating that the MGNREGS “may well be the first opportunity many women have to earn cash income”. As a result, there was a substantial increase in women’s control over resources — including cash in hand and the likelihood of having a bank account — and improvement in women’s ability to make independent decisions about their health, the report found. Children from MGNREGS households were likely to obtain higher levels of educational attainment than their non-MGNREGS peers, the report found, and were less likely to be working. While financial inclusion rose in general during this period and reliance of moneylenders declined, the effect was much greater for MGNREGS households, as was the decrease in the overall interest paid by the household. Simultaneously, accessing of formal credit grew. What holds the MGNREGS back is “work rationing” — the inability of all interested households to get 100 days of work — as a result of mismanagement or pressures, and affects the poorest the most, the report finds. “These findings clearly show that there is a large unmet demand for MGNREGS work,” Jugal Kishore Mohapatra, secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, said, adding that a paucity of funds at the level of implementations and erratic fund flows, particularly in 2014-15 had affected both demand and supply. “For the last four months, our job has been convincing everyone that the scheme is not going away and rebooting demand,” Mr. Mohapatra said. (The Hindu 12/8/15)

95. Haryana pays highest wage under job scheme (14)

Chandigarh: Unskilled workers in Haryana get the highest wage, under MGNREGA, in the country while those from Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are the least paid. “Haryana is the only state to give the highest wage rate of Rs 251 per day to unskilled manual workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005,” a spokesman of the government said here on Wednesday. A notification to this effect has been issued by the Union Ministry of Rural Development, according to which, unskilled workers in Nicobar are the second highest paid labourers among the states and union territories (UT) where they get Rs 241 per day, while in Chandigarh they get Rs 239 per day. The other states and UTs where a labourer was getting more than Rs 200 per day are Kerala (Rs 229 per day), Andaman (Rs 228), Punjab and Lakshdweep (Rs 210), Goa (Rs 208), Karnataka (Rs 204) and Scheduled Areas of Himachal Pradesh (Rs 203). Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh were among the states that were paying least to an unskilled labourer. They pay Rs 159 per day while Uttarakhand and Uttar Pardesh were paying Rs 161. Unskilled workers in Bihar, Jharkhand and unscheduled areas of Himachal Pradesh were getting Rs 162 per day, in Meghalaya they were getting Rs 163 per day. The wage rate of other states and UTs were Rs 164 per day in Jammu and Kashmir; Rs 167 in Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh; Rs 173 in Rajasthan; Rs 174 in Odisha and West Bengal; Rs 178 in Gujarat; Rs 179 in Assam; Rs 180 in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana; Rs 181 in Maharashtra and Daman and Diu; Rs 183 in Mizoram, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry; Rs 190 in Manipur; and Rs 196 in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, the spokesperson said. – PTI (The Hindu 13/8/15)

96. Modi: Govt. to simplify 44 labour laws (14)

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the government is converting 44 labour laws into four simplified codes. In his address to the nation on the occasion of the 69th Independence Day, Mr. Modi said Rs 27,000 crore is lying as unclaimed amount in the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), which will be utilised for the welfare of the workers. “Laws should be clear and precise. It is only then that the society progresses. There are 44 different types of labour laws in the country, which confuses the labourers on where to look for. “We have brought a change in them. We are converting 44 labour laws into 4 simplified codes, which will be easy to follow for the poor as well as the illiterate labourers to follow,” he added. The codes will relate to industrial relations, wages, social security and safety. “We are making special identity cards for labourers in the unorganised sector so that where ever they go, whichever factory they work, we will have their identity and details and we will utilise this Rs 27,000 crore for their welfare,” (The Hindu 15/8/15)

97. ISF to host world employment conference in India in 2016 (14)

MUMBAI: For the first time, the 49th Ciett World Employment Conference (WEC) will be held in India. Indian Staffing Federation (ISF), an apex body of flexi staffing industry in India, will be hosting WEC in May 2016, thus creating a ‘window of opportunity’ to showcase India in front of the global employment industry. Indian workforce has increased to 397.4 million in 2013 with 3 million erstwhile informal sector workers entering the formal sector employment, aiding in a significant surge of 7.2 million in the formal sector workforce. Nearly 12 million people enter the labour market every year but less than 10% land jobs; a large potential group of trained school students, who currently translate into 90% of the population are waiting outside the ambit of formal structured learning, to be available for employment and 2.5 mn graduates passing out of colleges each year, currently without adequate skills need to be trained. Through this global platform, ISF is bringing the global employment organisations to witness the talent and benefit from the unique advantages. Rituparna Chakraborty, President, ISF, said, “Around the globe companies see a lot of potential in India where they have seen a 20% growth in the Indian staffing market over the last 3 years. In spite of this potential, the biggest challenge for staffing companies remains finding the right talent for the client companies. This event is a great means to showcase India as an emerging talent powerhouse, building the confidence of investors across the globe who are waiting to reap dividends in the country through their investments here.” ISF said it is committed towards the enhancement of the labour industry. With a penetration of just 2%, ISF is championing this industry with 5 million jobs in last 10 years in formal sector with suitable and supporting regulation. The federation has also submitted a representation with 20 minimum provisions at the ILC 2015 to be included into national regulatory framework in order to develop decent work via contract staffing companies. (Times of India 19/8/15)

98. Stir by trade unions against labour official (14)

NAGERCOIL: Members of Construction Workers’ Association, General Workers’ Association, Tailoring Workers’ Association and a few other associations, affiliated to the CITU, staged an agitation against alleged anti-labour attitude of the Labour Welfare Officer in Nagercoil on Wednesday. The agitators alleged that Labour Welfare Officer D. Lakshminarayanan, who was handling social security schemes, failed to invite the CITU for the district-level monitoring committee meeting, and that he refused monetary benefits to the labourers for not filing their Aadhaar card, restricted entry of office-bearers of trade unions into the Labour Welfare Office (SSS) and threatened to foist criminal cases against them in case of violation of his orders. When contacted, Mr. Lakshminarayanan denied the allegations made against him, and said that some issues were pending before Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court. Over 200 members of various associations took part in the agitation. Former MP A.V. Bellarmin inaugurated the agitation. K. Chellappan of Construction Workers’ Association presided. CPI (M) district secretary N. Murugesan and office-bearers of various associations spoke. (The Hindu 20/8/15)

RESERVATION

99. HC Stays Order on Quota for SC/STs by All the Varsities (25)

KOCHI: A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Friday stayed a Single Bench order directing that all the universities should make necessary amendments in the statute or frame statutes to ensure that appropriate reservation was made to SC/ST candidates for appointment to the post of teaching as well as non-teaching staff in aided non-minority institutes. A Division Bench comprising Justice Antony Dominic and Justice Shaji P. Chaly issued the order on the petition filed by the NSS college central committee challenging the single bench order. The Single Judge also held that no appointment should be made in the aided colleges until amendments are made to fulfil the SC/ST reservation for appointment of teaching and non-teaching staff. Counsel for the petitioner N Nandakumara Menon submitted that the reservation being an enabling provision under Article 16 in service of state alone, it cannot be implemented in a private aided educational institution whose service is not the service of the state. The government itself can implement reservation for SC/STs in the service of  state and other instrumentalities of state. Therefor an University by virtue of delegated legislation cannot implement reservation to SC/STs in the appointment of staff.  According to petitioner, the Constitution recognises private aided educational institutions as a separate species pursuant to TMA Pai case where the only reservation permissible is with regard to admission of students. (New Indian Express 1/8/15)

 100. “Implement Ranganath Misra panel recommendations” (7)

Dindigul: The Minorities Welfare Committee has appealed to the government to implement the recommendations of the Justice Ranganath Misra Committee for the uplift of poor minorities, according to Committee’s State deputy organiser Moosa. Addressing committee’s first district-level conference here on Sunday, Mr. Moosa said that employment and educational opportunities were denied to a large number of Christians and Muslims even now. Even as the committee recommended 10 per cent reservation for the minorities, only three per cent of reservation was implemented. Proper implementation of the Ranganth Misra Committee recommendations would help minorities get admission to educational institutions and get government jobs. Now schools and colleges did not follow reservations for minorities properly, he charged. Mr. Moosa also demanded abolition of capital punishment as it was against mankind. He strongly condemned both the successive Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party governments for not taking any initiative to abolish it. Even former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam wanted abolition of capital punishment. All other political parties too supported its abolition, he noted. The banks should offer loans to minorities for trade and business activities without imposing stringent conditions. The district administration should expedite construction of a memorial for Tipu Sultan in Dindigul, he added. The conference demanded inclusion of Dalit Christians in the Scheduled Castes list and opening of a unit of Aligarh Muslim University. (The Hindu 3/8/15)

101. STs demand hike in quota (25)

VISAKHAPATNAM: The Government should increase the reservation quota for the Scheduled Tribes in tune with the increase in population and also enforce reservations in private sector as the Government is in favour of privatisation. Addressing media on the programmes lined up for the International Day of World’s Indigenous People being celebrated by the ST welfare associations under the umbrella of Girijana Aikya Karyacharana Samiti (GAKS) at Girijan Bhavan here, the representatives of tribes of Visakhapatnam district were keen that the Government address the genuine grievances of the tribal people at least on the occasion. Last year, Chief Minister visited the city and attended a Government programme which eclipsed the celebrations organised by the tribal people. With the Government not planning any official celebration here the tribal people were hoping they would be able to organise a proper celebration that highlights the rich tribal culture of the region with activities for all family members. The GAKS wanted the Government to strictly implement all the laws like 1 of 70, PESA and Forest Rights Act, among others, enacted to protect the rights of the Scheduled Tribes and appoint a knowledgeable tribal as chairman of the ITDA. They demanded that the Government immediately constitute the statutory Tribal Advisory Council. Charging the political parties with trying to undermine the tribal people, they wanted a stop to ‘political reservation’ for non-tribal people in the tribal areas. The representatives of tribal welfare association wanted the Government to allocate housing plots in the city for the tribal people working in different organisations here. They also demanded a special health package for them in the Agency area. L. Chitti Babu of Girijana Aikya Vedika, R.S. Dora of Adivasi Reservation Samrakshana Seva Sangam, representatives of Girijana Vidyardhi Samakhya and others were present. (The Hindu 6/8/15)

102. With 50 pc quota, it’s scramble among women for tickets (25)

Bengaluru: : This is for the first time the State government has mandated 50 per cent reservation for women in the BBMP Council. And, not many former male corporators are happy because many have lost an opportunity to contest the polls this time. All the three major political parties – the Congress, BJP and JD (S) are claiming that there are too many women aspiring for tickets. Among the 198 seats in the Palike council, 99  are for women. Till now, the reservation for women was 33 pc. Though political parties are claiming that there is no dearth for women candidates, it is men who are deciding who should decide from where. The scene is the same in all the three parties. KPCC women’s wing chief Laxmi Hebbalkar, when contacted by this newspaper, said that she became the president just 45 days ago, and hence requires more time to get involved in selection process of candidates. However, she said she would be involved in campaigning.“There were more than 2,000 women ticket aspirants. Candidates, be it men or women, are selected based on their winning ability. The selections are done based on the recommendations made by the seniors,” she said. One aggrieved former corporator is Rajendran R, who was Congress corporator from MS Nagar. The ward was reserved for the Scheduled Castes last time. Now, the seat has been reserved for women (B category). Rajendra has been forced to make way for a woman from his party. In all probability, Bhuvana, who is new to electoral politics, could be the choice of the Congress, according to Rajendran.How does he feel about the increase in reservation for women? Rajendra said: “I had nurtured the ward so well that I won four awards for my performance. One needs experience to function as a corporator because understanding the KMC Act and rules is very important. There is a vast difference between taking care of a single house and 5,000 houses, isn’t it?” “Whoever may become corporator from MS Nagar, I will have to keep a tab on developments because I belong to this ward,” he added. Like Rajendran, Pillappa, former BJP corporator from Doddabommasandra is not able to contest because the ward is reserved for women. He has sought ticket for his wife. “There was no need for such high percentage of reservation for women. Candidates should be selected on the basis of their merit. I hardly saw women corporators performing effectively in the last Council. Neither they did field work or nor participated in the meetings. Their work is done by their husbands. Of course, a handful were exception,” he said…..  (Deccan Herald 8/8/15)

103. Quota sought for Dalit Christians (25)

WARANGAL: Members of All India Christian Council led by Bishop Udumula Bala took out a rally and staged a demonstration at Ambedkar statue to observe ‘Black Day’. They demanded reservations for Dalit Christians which they say were denied by the 1950 Presidential Order. The Dalits, who were converted into other religions were denied privileges and rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Public interest litigation was filed in the Supreme Court, which was pending. Meanwhile, the successive governments agreed to extend reservations to Dalits, who were converted into other religions, but it remained a mere promise over the decades, said council secretary Franklin Sudhakar. (The Hindu 11/8/15)

104. Gujarat on verge of caste war: OBC panel advisor (25)

GANDHINAGAR: The thorny issue of reservation threatens to shred to ribbons the social fabric of the state. If Patidars (Patels) gave a clarion call for a maha-rally in Ahmedabad on August 25 as a show of strength, the Thakor, Chaudhary and other communities presently in the OBC category have declared major rallies of their own on August 27 and 30, to oppose the demand by the affluent Patidars for OBC status. These OBC social groups have also scheduled another major rally on September 17 — PM Narendra Modi’s birthday — in Ahmedabad. Experts say if the government doesn’t put a leash on this mass movement soon, a full-blown caste war is likely to break out in Gujarat in the coming months. Gaurang Jani, who is advisor to state’s OBC commission, said: “The rapidly growing demands of the Patidar community for OBC reservations and the wide opposition to it by OBC communities like Chuadhary, Thakor, Koli, Prajapati among others, along with and the ongoing war of words, are likely to convert in a violent caste war in the coming days if the state government doesn’t act now.”"Caste clashes of Patidars against Chaudhary, Thakor, Rabari or Koli communities are often seen at village or micro level and sometimes in cities, like the serious clashes between Patels and Rabaris in chief minister’s Ghatlodia constituency in Ahmedabad. In the coming days it seems the rhetoric for and opposition to Patidar OBC reservations will increase, as Patidars are likely to continue their stir and other communities will oppose them more aggressively. Villages will see caste wars and violent clashes like in 1981 and 1985. In 1981, it was mainly Patels versus dalits and scheduled tribes, while in 1985 it was Patels and other upper caste against OBC communities. “Cities will also face the impact of conflict between various castes after the Patidar stir. Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, Vadodara and others will see increased caste identity clashes,” Jani added. (Times of India 14/8/15)

105. CBI should probe MP private medical college admissions: Supreme Court (25)

NEW DELHI: After being handed over investigations into the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh, the central agency could soon be probing alleged massive irregularities in admissions to private dental and medical colleges in the state. Last month, the Supreme Court had ordered CBI probe into the Vyapam scam and over 40 deaths relating to it after the MP government requested the SC to refer the case to the central agency. The state was finding it difficult to douse the political fire ignited by the simmering controversy over massive irregularities in recruitments to government jobs. Appearing for the state, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi on Friday told the court the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government had no objection to any agency probing the dental and medical admission test (DMAT) scam. He said DMAT was conducted by a private body for filling 50% seats in private medical colleges and there was no involvement of the government or its officials. “It would be difficult to invoke Prevention of Corruption Act. In the absence of PC Act offence, the CBI could find it difficult to exercise jurisdiction to investigate the case. There is no FIR till date in DMAT scam. Let it be investigated by the state police. The CBI probe into Vyapam scam would cover admissions to 50% of the seats in private medical colleges which are filled from government conducted admission test,” he said. But the dice had been cast by none other than the CBI. It had intended to convey to the court that it was woefully short of manpower to take up the DMAT scam which the petitioners said was larger than Vyapam. It had wanted to tell the court that Vyapam scam probe would severely drain its human resources making it impossible for the agency to take up investigation of another big scam. In contrast, its counter affidavit in the petition filed by Dr Anand Rai conveyed that DMAT scam was much bigger than the Vyapam scandal, a point that was lapped up by a seasoned counsel like Kapil Sibal, who appeared for the petitioner and who had also appeared for different petitioners seeking CBI probe into Vyapam scam. Additional solicitor general Maninder Singh valiantly attempted to dispel the wrong notion created by the affidavit and said the agency had only quoted the petitioner’s version to convey to the court that it was not in a position to take up investigations into big cases as it was already saddled with huge scams like Vyapam and Saradha….. (Times of India 15/8/15)

106. SC Welfare Samithi to Stage Protest (25)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Raising various demands, Pattikajathi Kshema Samithi(PKS) will stage a Secretariat march on Tuesday. Workers representing the committees from all the districts will participate in the march. CPM former general secretary and polit bureau member Prakash Karat will inaugurate the protest march, which will begin from Nanadavanam junction and end at the Secretariat at 10 am. The protest march is being taken out to pressure the government to implement three major demands. The demands include passing a new law for job reservation in private sector, drawing up a proposal to provide land and shelter for all the destitute belonging to the community and better educational benefits for SC. Addressing a press conference, the state committee secretary of PKS, K Somaprasad said that the committee is planning to hold the march to highlight government’s apathy towards fulfilling their long standing demands. “Though we had met the Chief Minister and other Cabinet Ministers several times seeking a redress to our problems, no positive actions have been taken by them. The welfare of the schedule castes and tribes is often getting ignored during the privatisation process taking place in the public sector since the past two decades. The employment opportunities for the backward communities has also taken a backseat if the volume of opportunities in private sector is considered now,” he said. In the press statement issued by the panel, the committee also raised apprehensions over the government’s refusal to disburse benefits in education sector. In aided schools across the state, of 1,01,965 teachers, only 355 teachers are from Schedule Castes and 51 are from Scheduled Tribe respectively. Hence, the government should enforce the High Court order on implementing reservation in the education sector at the earliest, the press statement said. The state secretary also added that the government should revive the EMS housing scheme or they should formulate a new package to provide shelter to the needy in the Scheduled Caste and Tribes. As part of the protest, PKS state committee began a campaign march to the Secretariat from Kasargod. The march was inaugurated by CPM central committee member and former minister A K Balan. CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan will also address the march. (New Indian Expressd 18/8/15)

107. Patel community leaders start indefinite hunger strike in Gujarat (25)

Ahmedabad: Gujarat’s Patel community leaders, who are demanding reservations under the Other Backward Caste (OBC) quota, on Wednesday started an indefinite hunger strike at the Sabarmati riverfront, a day after the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) denied permission for a rally by them on August 25. Community leader Ketan Patel alleged that the denial of permission to hold the rally came at the behest of some political leaders, who did not want Patels to do so since more than 20 lakh Patels were expected to attend the event. “The AMC denied us permission claiming that the riverfront ground can’t be used to hold rallies, but we are firm that we will hold our mega rally by any means at the venue. Since we were denied permission, Patel leaders including me, sat on an indefinite hunger strike at the ground from this evening,” said Patel, who was accompanied by 10 other Patel community leaders. However, Gujarat Minister of State for Home Rajni Patel claimed that the administration never denied permission for the rally on August 25. “The civic body merely said that the rally can’t be organised at the riverfront. This does not mean that we have denied them to hold the rally at all. The permission may have been denied looking at the capacity of that venue or keeping in mind the law and order situation,” the minister said. “To find a solution, the government will hold a meeting with Patel leaders. We will make all efforts to arrange an alternate venue for their rally,” the minister said. Meanwhile, a seven-member committee formed to look into claims by different communities demanding reservations held separate meetings with Patel leaders of Surat and Saurashtra region. The committee, formed to consider representations from different communities demanding reservations, also met Kshatriya community leaders at Gandhinagar today. (Zee News 20/8/15)

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

108. Govt, civil societies agree on Naga issue (1)

DIMAPUR, Aug 1 – The Nagaland government and the Naga civil society groups have resolved to work together for an early solution of the Naga political issue and also endorsed the Nagaland Assembly resolution of July 27 on the issue. Briefing media persons after a day-long consultative meet among the state government, civil society groups and tribal hohos at Jotsoma near Kohima on Friday, Chief Minister TR Zeliang informed that the consultative meet was held against the backdrop of the July 27 House resolution urging the government of India for an early settlement of the Naga political issue. Assembly Speaker Chotisuh Sazo was also present in the press briefing. On the concluding day of the 9th session of the 12th Nagaland Legislative Assembly on July 27, the House unanimously resolved to reaffirm its resolutions on December 12, 1964, August 28, 1970, September 1994 and December 2003 on integration of all Naga contiguous areas under one administrative umbrella and urge upon the government of India and the NSCN(K) to resume the ceasefire agreement to create a conducive atmosphere for political negotiations. It was also resolved to urge the Centre for withdrawal of the Disturbed Area Act under AFSPA from the state, to appeal to all Naga political groups and civil societies to unite and work for an early settlement of the Naga political issue and permanent peace and to urge upon the government of India to expedite the Naga political dialogue so as to bring an early resolution to the Naga political issue. Zeliang said the government of India was apprehensive that the Naga people might turn down its offer that may result in a deadlock. So in order to remove such misgivings, another consultative meet was mooted with Nagas living outside Nagaland, he added. He said Assembly Speaker Chotisuh Sazo would fix a date after convening a meeting of the Political Affairs Committee. The chief minister said the Naga people deeply desire an early solution for peace and development and therefore Friday’s endorsement of the House resolution was unanimous where none of the tribal hohos or civil society groups disagreed with the House resolution. He said the endorsement of the government resolution by the tribal hohos and civil society groups would send a good message to the people of Nagaland including the government of India. Such interface meetings will have the Interlocutor and the Naga political groups to understand the minds of the people and that unity and solution should go together so that Naga people can achieve peace and economic independence. Zeliang asserted that “the Centre understood the whole Naga problem and was ready to solve the issue”. He said the Naga Legislators Forum would pursue the objective of getting all on board so that the government Interlocutor RN Ravi and the Naga political groups holding negotiations could understand the thinking of the Nagas . “We strongly believe that if we move on this path, solution will be achieved,” he said. “We will work for unity while the process for solution will also continue.” When queried about what was being negotiated by the NSCN(IM) with the government of India, Zeliang said there was no doubt that the leaders were for political solution and expressed optimism that the Naga leaders would do what is best for the people. Zeliang also said before finalisation of an agreement, consultations would be held with the Naga people on any offer made by the government of India. Asked whether sovereignty and integration were not on the agenda, he reiterated that could be the stand of the government of India but they remained as talking points. Zeliang reminded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that if 100 percent was not possible today, the doors will still be open for the remaining 10 percent or 20 percent in future. On the stand of the Eastern Naga People’s Organisation that unity precede solution, Zeliang said the former at Friday’s meet had reiterated that all should unite to pursue solution. (The Assam Tribune 1/8/15)

109. Delhi to get human rights commission (1)

NEW DELHI: The capital is set to get a State Human Rights Commission with the government having initiated the process for its establishment. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday announced that the home department had forwarded the file to the CM’s office and work was on in full speed to establish the commission as soon as possible. The CM made the announcement during a special session on women’s safety while he was listing out initiatives taken by the government to makethe capital a safer place. “The Supreme Court had on July 24 expressed concern over the fact that there has been no State Human Rights Commission in Delhi since the past 22 years, after the Parliament enacted the Protection of Human Rights Act in 1993. Out of the 94,985 human rights violations reported in the country, Delhi recorded the most number of cases after UP. (Times of India 4/8/15)

110. NHRC notice on health centres (3)

NEW DELHI: National Human Rights Commission on Wednesday issued a notice to the city government over its alleged failure to revive 228 existing primary health centres and proposing 1,000 new “Aam Aadmi clinics” instead. TOI had highlighted the issue in a report titled “228 health centres in shambles” that had appeared on July 22. NHRC observed the existing primary health centres, 79 of which were operating from rented premises, are “struggling” to provide basic health services due to shortage of doctors, paramedical staff, medicines and lab facilities. The notice, returnable in four weeks, was issued to the principal secretary of the health department. “The proposed plan to set up new clinics is a gradual process which has to be welcomed. At the same time, it is of paramount importance that the existing healthcare infrastructure is made functional in all respects,” it said. TOI visited the health clinic in Valmiki Basti in ITO. The doctor on duty said they do not get more than 15 patients daily. “We do not have blood pressure medicines, antibiotics and many essential drugs. Why should the patients come here?” he said. (Times of India 6/8/15)

111. Militants killed 319 people in over 4 years in Assam: Minister (1)

Guwahati: At least 319 civil society members were killed by militants and 336 extremists during anti- insurgency operation in Assam from 2011 to July 31 last, the state Assembly was informed today. Since the NDFB (Songbijit) sponsored violence on December 23 last year, police, army and paramilitary forces killed 15 insurgents of the underground outfit and arrested 448 of them till July 31 last, Agriculture Minister Rockybul Hussain said on behalf of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi in reply to a query in the Assembly. Stating there are eight active militant outfits in Assam, Hussain said 13 underground groups were in talks with the government. He was replying to a question by AGP member Kesab Mahanta. To another question, the minister said that during the last four and a half years 6,098 persons were killed in several other incidents, there were 8164 cases of rape, 20,441 kidnappings, 5230 instances of extortion demands, 45615 theft cases, 1188 dacoity cases, 15557 car theft cases and 54 witch hunting killings. There were 346 police stations and 220 police outposts across the state, he said, adding, there were 60,244 serving police personnel and 75503 sanctioned posts with 15259 posts remaining vacant. (Zee News 10/8/15)

112. Civil Society Forum releases people’s manifesto (1)

Bengaluru: A number of civil society organisations, under the banner of Civil Society Forum, on Friday released a people’s manifesto for the upcoming BBMP polls. The manifesto highlights a number of issues ranging from the contentious splitting of the BBMP to ensuring proper waste management in the City. “The BBMP should be restructured and not split,” the manifesto reads. Other recommendations on this issue talks about a three-tier structure on the lines of Panchayat Raj bodies comprising Greater Bengaluru Authority, zonal councils and ward committees, to name a few. With more than 60,000 children in the State suffering from the malnourishment, the manifesto further states that there is a need to strengthen all services of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme under the Department of Women and Child Development.  Anita, a member of Association for Promoting Social Action (APSA) said: “We need to make our wards more child-friendly and corporators should ensure that this goal is achieved.” Representatives of various political parties discussed a number of points mentioned in the manifesto. One of the points raised during the discussion was provision to invoke ‘Right to Recall’ for non-performing corporators. Veteran freedom fighter H Doreswamy acted as the moderator of the discussion. As many as 19 organisations such as Citizens Voluntary Initiative for the City (Civic), Center for Amenities, Rehabilitation and Education (CARE) and 17 others, under the umbrella of the Civil Society Forum, have played their part in drafting the manifesto. (Deccan Herald 15/8/15)

113. NHRC for debate on human rights versus animal rights (1)

NEW DELHI: Taking suo motu cognisance of reports on the stray dog menace in Delhi, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has called for a debate by the civil society on whether the human rights should weigh above animal rights in a situation where human lives are at risk due to attack by animals. The Commission has issued notices to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Delhi Chief Secretary calling for reports within four weeks to ascertain their views on the issue as well as on a recent incident when a five-year-old child was mauled by five stray dogs in Jamia Nagar here. The NHRC’s observations have also come in the light of other reports on the efforts of the Capital’s municipal bodies to deal with the menace of stray dogs. Municipal corporations, with the help of non-government organisations, catch the dogs, sterilise them and drop them back from where they are caught. Even in this job, the municipal bodies are reportedly struggling to cope up. The Commission said while the measure of sterilisation might help contain the increase in the dog population, it did not save or shield people from the bites of existing dogs. “It looks like human rights versus animal rights battle. This is not a problem of Delhi alone,” observed the Commission. As the NHRC has come across similar incidents in several other parts of the country, it said the situation assumes alarming proportions if the stray dogs were linked with their contribution to rabies disease. “According to some estimates, more than 50,000 deaths take place in India annually due to rabies. Most of the victims are children. According to some reports, the scarcity and exorbitant cost of anti-rabies serum also are serious issues,” observed the Commission. The Commission has issued notices to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Delhi Chief Secretary, callingfor reports within four weeks to ascertain their views on the issue (The Hindu 16/8/15)

114. Provisions in Police Bill arbitrary, say activists (1)

BERHAMPUR: Human rights activists demanded Odisha Police Bill 2015 to be referred to Select Committee of the Assembly. The demand was made during a seminar organized by Civil Society Forum on Human Rights (CSFHR) in Berhampur on Sunday. It was attended by state convener of the Forum Chandranath Dani, human rights activists Prafulla Samantra, Bhagaban Sahu, B.C.Sadangi of CPI-ML (New Democracy), Prakash Patra of CPI, Kailash Sadangi of CPI (M), Pitabas Panda of Congress, and P. Mohanty of AAP among others. The Bill was placed in the Assembly in March. All speakers opposed the Bill in its present form alleging that it did not match with the directives of the Supreme Court and accepted norms of human rights. It was alleged that there was no transparency in drafting the Bill. They demanded the Bill to be modified through consultative processes and collection of inputs from legal experts, police officials and other sections. They objected to the provision in the new Bill that even a police officer of the rank of inspector would have power to prohibit any assembly or procession. Sub-clause 63(2) of the Bill permits any police officer to take anyone who commits any of the listed offences into custody without a warrant. This provision authorizes police to arrest any person without assigning any reason, and there is no safeguard against misuse of this power by the police, they said. Human Rights activists feel the Police Complaint Authority would become a government nominated body, without having a reasonable scope for enquiring into complaints against Police. The Bill must have clear-cut provisions to ensure independent, impartial and fair procedures to consider complaints against Police officials, they said. Clause 30(1) of the Bill requires the state government to establish a State Security Commission within six months of imposition of this legislation. Mr Dani alleged that composition of State Security Commission under the new Bill does not fully adhere to any of the three suggested models of the Supreme Court. The Leader of the Opposition in Assembly and retired judges have not been included in the Commission. He added that the State Security Commission in its present form is dominated by government officials. (The Hindu 17/8/15)

115. NHRC team in Kandhamal to check FRA implementation (1)

BHUBANESWAR: With the forest dwellers, especially tribals, complaining about apathetic approach of government machinery in recognising their rights under the Forest Rights Act, two special rapporteurs of the National Human Rights Commission have begun their field visits in Odisha’s Kandhamal district . NHRC special rapporteur (tribal issues) P. P. Mathur and special rapporteur (West Bengal, Odisha and Andaman Nicobar Islands) Damodar Sarangi started interacting with villagers to get first hand information about FRA implementation. The team is also scheduled to meet district administration to know reason behind weak implementation of the FRA. The Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), which had spearheaded campaign for enactment of FRA, alleged that district level committees regularly ignored proposals forwarded by Gram Sahbas. As per the report of the State Level Monitoring Committee, by May 2015, as many as 60,346 Individual Forest Right (IFR) claims have been filed at the Gram Sabha level and 57,657 IFR titles issued over 87,227 acres of forest land. According to the CSD, Odisha, 49,096 IFR titles have been issued over revenue forest land and 8,561 have been issued over reserve forest land. “Most IFR titles have been distributed without proper demarcation of land,” alleged Manohar Chauhan, member of CSD, Odisha. In a serious violation of existing norm, massive teak plantation was taken up by forest department on 49 plots allotted to persons belonging to Kutia Kandh community at Burlubaru village in Kandhamal district, he said, adding it exhibited as to how people were made to suffer after distribution of final titles. “The Kandhamal district administration has failed to recognise habitat rights of Kutia Kandh, a particularly vulnerable tribal group. Moreover, 1,697 IFR titles were said to have been distributed to the PVTG without undertaking proper ground verification,” said CSD activist. (The Hindu 19/8/15)

JUDICIARY/ LAW

116. Rape violates human rights of victim: Supreme Court (19)

NEW DELHI: Terming rape as an assault on human rights and personal sovereignty of a woman, the Supreme Court has said that no sympathy should be shown to persons committing such heinous crime. A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant awarded 10-year imprisonment to two convicts for raping their 14-year niece in Sirsa in Haryana. It said that case depicts a sordid situation where the relatives betrayed the trust of a minor girl who was subjected to gang rape. “It has to be borne in mind that an offence of rape is basically an assault on the human rights of a victim. It is an attack on her individuality. It creates an incurable dent in her right and free will and personal sovereignty over the physical frame. Everyone in any civilized society has to show respect for the other individual and no individual has any right to invade on physical frame of another in any manner,” it said. The court that there is no justification for awarding lesser punishment as they had taken advantage of their social relationship with the victim who innocently trusted them. “It is not only an offence but such an act creates a scar in the marrows of the mind of the victim. Anyone who indulges in a crime of such nature not only does he violate the penal provision of the IPC but also right of equality, right of individual identity and in the ultimate eventuality an important aspect of rule of law which is a constitutional commitment,” it said. “The perpetrators of the crime must realize that when they indulge in such an offence, they really create a concavity in the dignity and bodily integrity of an individual which is recognized, assured and affirmed by the very essence of Article 21 of the Constitution,” it said. The court also turned down the plea of convicts who submitted that the victim was above 16-years of age and she consented to get into physical relation with them. “The mental and physical condition of a young girl under the dominion of two grown up males who had become slaves of their prurient attitude can be well imagined. The consent, apart from legal impressibility, cannot be conceived of,” it said. (Times of India 4/8/15)

117. Bombay High Court amends PIL filing rules (19)

The Bombay High Court has made an amendment to the Bombay High Court Public Interest Litigation Rules, 2010. The court may, at its discretion, direct the petitioner to deposit a sum, by way of security deposit, in the court, which shall be subject to final or interim order of the court. The notification, issued on July 10, also states that if the court finds that a petition is vexatious, motivated or not pro-bono-publico, the amount so deposited shall be forfeited and this shall be in addition to the exemplary costs, if any, which may be imposed by the court. It also said, “The court may, if it finds that petition was frivolous or filed with oblique or ulterior motive, in its discretion, direct that Public Interest Litigation filed by such petitioner/s shall not be entertained or registered by the registry for such time which the court may deem fit or proper. If the court finds that Public Interest litigation filed by such person/s raises an important issue of public interest, then, in that case, the court may appoint an amicus curiae to represent the petitioner/s and, after such amicus curiae is appointed, may entertain the petition.” (DNA 6/8/15)

118. Cabinet clears amendments to remove anomalies in HC judges’ pensions (19)

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared the proposal to amend the High Court Judges Act removing anomalies in pensionary benefits of HC judges. Once the Act is amended by Parliament, a HC judge elevated from the bar will have his 10 years of practice as advocate added to his service tenure for calculation of pensionary benefits. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley called the report ‘one-rank-one pension for judges’ as mischievous. It is only that 10 years deemed service will be added to those who are elevated from the Bar. Till now, a judge’s pension has been based on the number of his service years, thus putting those elevated from the Bar at a disadvantage compared to those from the judicial service. By moving the amendment, the government has also followed a Supreme Court judgment of last year which had asked the government to remove the anomalies. In the apex court had in its judgment also said that to remove arbitrariness in the matter of pension of HC judges elevated from the Bar, the relief should be reckoned from April 1, 2004. The government will bring a bill in Parliament amending the law relating to high court judges salaries and conditions in service. The Cabinet also cleared the amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act. The arbitration bill, to be tabled in Parliament in the current session, is intended to signal the international business community that prolonged arbitration proceedings in India will soon become a thing of the past. One of the proposed amendment provides for settlement of cases within nine months, with very less intervention from courts. Another amendment proposes that the fee structure of the presiding arbitrator will be decided in the first sitting itself. (Times of India 6/8/15)

119. MACT lawyers protest “victim-unfriendly” amendments to law (19)

MUMBAI: Office bearers of Bar Association of Motor Accident and Claims Tribunal recently submitted a representation to Sanjay Nirupam pointing out pitfalls of the proposed amendments to Motor Vehicles Act. Veteran accident claims advocate NS Pawar said that members representing Accident Victims before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal in Mumbai were concerned about the proposed Road Transport and Safety Bill 2015 on the Website of the Transport Ministry which is to be introduced before the Parliament in the ensuing Monsoon Session. “We have found several anomalies which we would like to point out by this representation,” said Pawar later to TOI who said some of the proposed amendments were “victim unfriendly”.. The Association had made several representations pointing out various anomalies in the proposed bill earlier but having received no response they finally approached Congress leader Nirupam. The amendments are “very harmful and against the interest of accident victims. This move of the Government has created resentment and unhappiness amongst the General public against the proposed Road Transport and Safety Bill,” they said seeking measures to safeguard the interest of accident victims. One of the flaws the association said concerned the no fault liability. “On verifying the provisions of proposed Bill it has been observed that the provisions about the No Fault Liability(Section 140 of M.V. Act 1988), has been deleted.” The provisions about no fault liability was introduced in 1982 as being essential by the Parliament so that accident victims get immediate relief to sustain their livelihood. The other contentious provisions concern third party definition and their rights. The Supreme Court in the case of Jayprakash v/s. National Insurance Co. Ltd. reported in 2010 had given a direction that a Third Party should be defined to cover any accident victims (other than the Owners) but in the proposed Bill under Section 225 (h) Third Party has not been defined as per the directions of the Apex Court. The advocates said the definition must be included to safe guard victims. (Times of India 10/8/15)

120. Verification of all lawyers soon, Sadananda Gowda says (19)

NEW DELHI: The Bar Council of India has introduced an exhaustive mechanism for ascertaining fake and non-practicing lawyers and with that purpose it has already framed the BCI certificate and Place of Practice (verification) Rules 2015, law minister Sadananda Gowda said on Thursday. The minister said the BCI has already formed state level committees with the help of state bar councils to implement the verification drive and has set a deadline of seven months to complete the process. “The BCI has informed that within a period of 6-7 months, the entire verification process will be completed and fake lawyers will be identified,” Gowda said in response to a question in Lok Sabha. The minister, however, clarified that since it has not yet been exactly verified how many lawyers are registered with a fake degree, their exact percentage cannot be given. The BCI chief had last month told a lawyers’ meet in Chennai that at least 30% of all lawyers in India are holding fake degrees. He asserted that there is a need to discipline these fake lawyers as 20% of practicing lawyers in courts are those who have fake degrees. He said these fake lawyers are degrading the profession and there is a need to filter them. The BCI rules have been framed in order “to check and stop the occurrence of the use of such fake degrees or to stop the non-practicing persons enrolled with the state Bar Councils from getting benefit or any welfare schemes.” The BCI has also proposed to set up its own Lawyers’ Academy on the lines of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India to bring in professionalism and maintain ethical standards among practicing advocates. The process of identifying fake lawyers began after the BCI received several complaints regarding fake degrees and unethical standards adopted by many of its practicing lawyers. During the recently-held advisory council meeting in the capital, chaired by the law minister, the Bar Council vice-chairman sought government’s financial assistance to set up such academies at the Centre and in states. The government has asked the BCI to send its proposal and assured assistance. The Lawyers’ Academy will be responsible for conducting mid-career training of advocates and ensuring that certain professional and ethical standards are maintained. The government has also extended its help in training of lawyers at the existing judicial academies where judges are trained for mid-career training. Meanwhile, the BCI has been asked to use the infrastructure of various judicial academies for training of advocates. (Times of India 14/8/15)

121. Modi: Govt. to simplify 44 labour laws (19)

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the government is converting 44 labour laws into four simplified codes. In his address to the nation on the occasion of the 69th Independence Day, Mr. Modi said Rs 27,000 crore is lying as unclaimed amount in the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), which will be utilised for the welfare of the workers. “Laws should be clear and precise. It is only then that the society progresses. There are 44 different types of labour laws in the country, which confuses the labourers on where to look for. “We have brought a change in them. We are converting 44 labour laws into 4 simplified codes, which will be easy to follow for the poor as well as the illiterate labourers to follow,” he added. The codes will relate to industrial relations, wages, social security and safety. “We are making special identity cards for labourers in the unorganised sector so that where ever they go, whichever factory they work, we will have their identity and details and we will utilise this Rs 27,000 crore for their welfare,” (The Hindu 15/8/15)

122. ‘Law such as Sec 66 (A) of IT Act not needed (19)

MUMBAI: A discussion held at St Xavier’s College on Saturday during its ongoing cultural festival, Malhar, focussed on the issue of an individual’s right to freedom of speech and expression. The ‘right’ was discussed in the context of the recent Supreme Court observation on the need for a new law to check the misuse of social media and internet. Malhar Conclave, in association with the Times Lit Fest, organized the discussion on ‘Post.Like.Share’ that was moderated by Anahita Mukherji, assistant editor with The Times of India. Shreya Singhal, student of faculty of law, Delhi University, the first to challenge Section 66(A) of the Information Technology Act in Supreme Court, which allowed arrests for offensive comments online, and Karuna Nundy, advocate at Supreme Court, participated in the conclave. Singhal said law such as section 66 (A) of the IT Act was not needed as there are many laws already that encompass such offences. Nundy said that 66A was only brought in in 2008 as an amendment to the IT Act and it was originally brought in to curb spam. “For no good reason, it became something that would send somebody to jail for three years for being annoying or inconvenient in their speech online.” She said when political leaders make controversial statements in public, there is no action against them. “But we see Shaheen Dhada, a young girl who had the courage to say something that was not even problematic, she has to go through all this,” said Nundy. (Times of India 16/8/15)

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

123. ’28 cases of alleged human rights violation against Army personnel in High Courts of North-Eastern states’ (1)

New Delhi: There are 28 cases of alleged human rights violation – rape, torture, killing, disappearance and custodial deaths – against defence personnel pending in High Courts of North-Eastern States pertaining to year 2012 to 2015, the government said on Friday. In a written reply to Lok Sabha, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said, during the last three years, only one Officer, three Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) and one Other Rank (OR) have been punished under departmental action for procedural lapses in Assam. He said that information related to cases filed in all the courts is not centrally maintained. “However, there are 28 cases of alleged human rights violation (such as rape/torture/killing/disappearance/ custodial deaths) against defence personnel pending in High-Courts of North-Eastern States pertaining to year 2012 to 2015, he said.  (Zee News 1/8/15)

124. Naga groups endorse Assembly views for lifting AFSPA, unifying Naga-inhabited areas (1)

Guwahati: “Representatives of all the civil society groups have unanimously endorsed the five-point resolution passed by the state assembly on July 27. This is a clear indication that Naga people by and large want peace and an early solution to the Naga political issue,” chief minister Zeliang said in Kohima. Zeliang described as “good sign” the civil society and tribal bodies’ endorsement of the Nagaland Assembly resolution and said it was a “good message” to the Naga people as a whole and also to the government of India. “The government of India wants to bring out a formula for a solution (to the NSCN issue) but they are apprehensive that Naga people may turn it down, resulting in a further deadlock including abrogation of ceasefire, thus letting in the armed forces,” Zeliang was quoted as having said. Keeping this in mind, Zeliang also suggested holding a series of consultations with people outside Nagaland too. Other civil society groups that took part in Friday’s consultation were Eastern Naga People’s Organization, Eastern Naga Women Organization, Angami Public Organization, Ao Senden, Chakhesang Public Organization, Chang Khulei Setshang, Khiamniungan Hoho, Konyak Union, Kyong Hoho, Phom People’s Council, Pochury Hoho, Rengma Hoho, Sangtam Likhum Pumji, Sumi Hoho, Yimchunger Tribal Council, Zeliangrong Baudi, Eastern Naga Students’ Federation and the Forum for Naga Reconciliation. (Indian Express 1/8/15)

125. ‘Reform Delhi Police or give us control’ (1)

New Delhi: Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal demanded the union government to either reform Delhi Police within six months or give the control over it to the Delhi government. Addressing a day-long special session of the Delhi Assembly on women safety, Kejriwal said: “Either reform Delhi Police within six months, else give us the control over Delhi Police.” During the special session, the Delhi Assembly passed a resolution to set up a Commission of Inquiry to probe into crimes against women in the national capital. The Resolution was tabled by Sandeep Kumar,  Women and Child Welfare Minister, and was adopted by a voice-vote. The commission would be set up as per the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, consisting of not more than three members, including a retired judge who will be its chairman and will be set up by the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi. The commission would receive unheeded complaints regarding crimes such as violence, sexual harassment, stalking, voyeurism, that are committed against women since February, 2013. It would recommend and suggest the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure) on the basis of recommendations made by the Justice Verma Committee and suggest action to the Government of NCT of Delhi and would also recommend welfare measures to improve the working conditions of the real foot soldiers in the law enforcing agencies. Earlier in the day during the assembly session, the opposition, including BJP MLAs Vijendra Gupta, Om Prakash Sharma and Jagdish Pradhan, walked out of the assembly in protest against the commission of inquiry and termed it ‘illegal’. “As per the 239(A) (A) of Constitution of India, Delhi Police cannot be divided with the state government. The assembly does not hold any legality to set up the commission of inquiry as it is beyond the jurisdiction of the assembly, and hence it is illegal,” Gupta said. “By setting up a commission is only a drama to mislead people and calling one-day special session is wastage of time and money,” Gupta added. Earlier, the session was scheduled to be held on July 28, but was postponed due to unexpected death of former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. DCW Chief Swati Maliwal attended the session. Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party’s(BJP) Delhi MLAs met Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung earlier in the day on women issues. (The Statesman 4/8/15)

126.  Man Found Hanging in Police Custody in Shillong (1)

SHILLONG: The body of a man arrested on the charge of burglary was found hanging inside the lock up of Jowai police station in Meghalaya’s West Jaintia Hills district, police said today. Cleophas Nongkhlaw (32) committed suicide using his vest inside lock-up of Jowai police station last evening, Superintendent of Police R Muthu said. Hailing from Iawmusiang locality in the district headquarters, Nongkhlaw was arrested on July 30 on charges of burglary and was under police remand. Muthu said when the accused was found hanging, his wife was present at the police station. A magisterial inquiry have been ordered to probe the incident. Nongkhlaw, a drug user, had been arrested on several occasions in the past, police said. (New Indian Express 5/8/15)

127. ‘Indian Civil Society to Launch Anti-AFSPA Campaign’ (1)

SRINAGAR: Indian Civil Society will launch an anti-AFSPA campaign from September 21 next month. Hindu scholar and renowned civil society member Swami Agnivesh told CNS that the campaign will be kicked off from Jantar Mantar in New Delhi and through India, the peace loving people and Indian civil society members will stage and organize a non-violent movement against the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act. “It is a bitter truth that despite being one of the greatest democracy in the country, India has been turning out to be a police state where the space for the common people especially civil society members has shrunk and they are being detained even for organizing peaceful protests, “Agnivesh said. He said that 90 per cent people in India oppose the invoking of AFSPA and yet the Government has implemented this act in Jammu and Kashmir and in North East States. “People are the ultimate source of power and government must respect the sentiments of the people. When people in Kashmir demand the revocation of AFSPA, then it must cease to exist,” he said. He added that the campaign that will be launched by civil society from New Delhi will be non-violent but an organized one. “We have started invited the like-minded peaceful people and we will go to every part of India to make people aware about the ugly face of AFSPA,” he said adding that the marches will be organized to generate public opinion for the withdrawal of the law from Jammu & Kashmir and the North East states. (Kashmir Life 10/8/15)

128. Girl’s custodial death sparks violence in U.P. (1)

LUCKNOW: The reported suicide by a girl in the Mahmudabad police station in Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh triggered violence, with a mob fighting pitched battles with the police on Monday, throwing stones and torching a police vehicle. The police used force to bring the situation under control. The police said the girl was found hanging in the toilet of the police station. But her family members said the police were floating the suicide theory to conceal the real crime. IG (Law and Order) A. Satish Ganesh told journalists that the girl, daughter of Maqbool Ahmed, was spotted by Amar Singh Chauhan, a sugar mill employee, on Monday morning when she was allegedly trying to jump into a canal. He handed her over to the nearest police picket around 6 a.m. Policemen at the picket reportedly took her to the Mahmudabad station. The girl wanted to go to the toilet; as there was no response after 10-15 minutes, the door was opened. “She was found hanging from the skylight with her dupatta,” Mr. Ganesh said. He said the girl’s family members were informed of the autopsy at Sitapur District Hospital. Instructions were given that the post-mortem should be video-graphed. On receiving the information, the family members and hundreds of people blocked traffic near the police station, throwing stones and setting a police vehicle ablaze. (The Hindu 11/8/15)

129. Mumbai hotel raid: State Human Rights Commission initiates probe against police conduct (1)

Mumbai: As Mumbai police faced more flak for its raids on hotels in which couples were allegedly harassed, the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission has initiated a probe into the conduct of the policemen and they could face action if any violation of law was found.As Mumbai police faced more flak for its raids on hotels in which couples were allegedly harassed, the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission has initiated a probe into the conduct of the policemen and they could face action if any violation of law was found. Police sources said today that if the policemen were found to have intruded into the privacy of people and violated laws they would face departmental action even as the Human Rights panel mulled registering a case. Slamming the act of moral policing as very “funny and stupid”, former Mumbai Police Commissioner Julio Ribeiro sought to know under which rules the hotel rooms were raided. The Mumbai Police, meanwhile, said a preliminary inquiry report into the raids conducted by Malwani Police at hotels, resorts and lodges in Madh Island and Aksa beach here on August 6 will be submitted in the next few days. Striking a different note, state Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said said there is “no moral policing” and that police must be encouraged for “good things.” Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria had on Sunday directed ACP (North) Fatehsingh Patil to carry out an inquiry into the raids. Maria issued the orders after the raids sparked public outrage with many raising questions as to why consenting adults cannot stay together. Taking suo motu cognisance of the police action, the Human Rights panel initiated a probe and promised action if innocent people were found to have been harrassed. “Yes, on the basis of a report published in a daily, we have initiated an inquiry into the conduct of police officials and would seek details of action (raids) from Police Commissioner,” MSHRC Chairmam Justice S R Bannurmath told PTI. “I have to make an inquiry and call for the report from the Police Commissioner. If we come to know that innocent persons were troubled unnecessarily, we will take further action,” he said. The MSHRC has received a few complaints through e-mails from some concerned citizens but not from the victims so far, Bannurmath said, adding “we are proposing to register a case and inquire into the incident.” Patil said he has started inquiring with the policemen who were involved in the raids. “Considering the magnitude of the raids by police, the scope of inquiry becomes very wide.” “I will also have to talk and inquire with managers or concerned staff of hotels, resorts and lodges where the raids took place,” he said. A preliminary report on the probe will be submitted in a few days, but the final report will take time, the ACP said while refusing to divulge further details of the inquiry. The raids were conducted by a team of Malwani police station officials led by DCP (Zone XI) Vikram Deshmane. Later, 61 people, including 13 couples, were arrested under section 110 (indecent behaviour in public) of Maharashtra Police Act. However, they were let off after being fined Rs 1,200 each with an undertaking that they will appear before the local magistrate when required. Police had also rescued three women under Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act and sent them to shelter home. (DNA 12/8/15)

130. Police lock-up suicide: Higher aid ordered (1)

HYDERABAD: The NHRC has taken up the suicide of a man in police lock-up in Kurnool and directed that Rs 1 lakh be paid to his family. Boya Mandala Srinivasulu hung himself in the bathroom of Nandyal One Town police station on May 7, 2010. The Kurnool district administration had paid Rs 20,000 to the family of Srinivasulu as compensation.NHRC found fault with the police, saying that there was no proper surveillance in the police station, thus making it possible for Srinivasulu to commit suicide. The AP state government has asked Kurnool district collector to disburse an additional Rs 80,000 to the family. (Times of India 13/8/15)

131. Notice to Mizoram government over student’s killing (1)

Aizawl: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked Mizoram to submit a report within four weeks on the reported killing of a student in police firing, an official said here on Monday. “The NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports about the student killing in police firing in Mizoram on August 4. The commission has asked the state Chief Secretary and state police chief to submit a detailed report within four weeks on the issue,” a home department official said. He said: “The NHRC has observed that the incident raises questions regarding violation of human rights of the young student victim.” According to media reports, over 300 protesters had gathered in front of Chawngte police station in southern Mizoram on August 4 to protest over alleged unfair recruitment of 100 employees in Chakma Autonomous District Council (CADC). In order to control the mob, police had to open fire, that resulted in the death of Agosh Chakma, 20, on the spot and injured 15 others. The members of Mizoram Chakma Students Union had organised the protest demonstration. After the death of the student, the agitating crowd ransacked and damaged many houses belonging to top politicians, including chief executive member of CADC Buddha Lal Chakma, executive members and elected members of the autonomous body. The CADC later provided Rs.10 lakh as an ex-gratia to the family of the student and conducting a fresh recruitment process. (New Kerala 17/8/5)

132. Chhattisgarh’s torture cells exposed (1)

NEW DELHI: No food and water for two days while being produced in courts, no doctor to treat sick inmates, no possibility of meeting or speaking to family members. These are some of the observations made by former National Commission for Women (NCW) member Shamina Shafiq on the condition of women prisoners lodged in Central Jail in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, in December 2012. The report, accessed exclusively by The Hindu , kept hidden from the public until recently, was released in response to RTI queries from women’s rights groups working in the State. Adivasi schoolteacher and political leader Soni Sori says that since nothing much has changed in Chhattisgarh’s prisons over the past few years, the findings of the NCW report remain relevant. The NCW team found a total of 140 women prisoners lodged in Central Jail, Raipur, against a capacity of 80. They also found no female doctor in the jail, no armed guards to accompany the undertrials to court leading to inordinate delays in settling cases, and poor access to legal aid for the mostly illiterate prisoners. The NCW report also notes with concern that in the absence of a magistrate, despite video conferencing facilities in Raipur prison, tribal women feared to depose before jail authorities, and that “such an atmosphere was not conducive for holding trials.” The women prisoners are not even provided soap or sanitary napkins, the report says. The statement of 22-year-old Kawasi Hidme, released from Jagdalpur prison in Chhattisgarh earlier this year, after a seven-year illegal detention, offers a glimpse into the lives of adivasi prisoners here. Narrating her experiences in Delhi on Tuesday, Hidme recalled being only 15 years old when she was picked up by the police on charges of being a “Naxal”. Beaten and raped by the police in custody, she developed severe abdomen pain and vaginal bleeding. But during her time in Jagdalpur prison, when she sought medical care for this, prison authorities denied it initially. She was later moved to a hospital and an operation was performed on her, although details of the nature of the surgery remain unknown, as per Hidme’s testimony. After being shunted between Jagdalpur and Raipur prisons, in March this year, the Sessions Court in Dantewada released her when no charges were found against her. The latest 2014 National Crime Records Bureau statistics puts Chhattisgarh among the States with the highest number of complaints – 3,105 — against the police for human rights abuses. However, only in 924 cases have judicial or magisterial inquiries been instituted. Eminent lawyer Vrinda Grover faults the systemic bias of the State police against the tribal poor in the Maoist insurgency-hit areas, which explains the large population of undertrials here. While conducting research in the southern regions of Chhattisgarh, she found that between 2009 and 2014, the prison population swelled rapidly, with overcrowding figures now standing at 261 per cent above capacity. In Jagdalpur prison last year, women inmates managed to get a community kitchen after negotiating hard with the jail supervisor. But these minor improvements don’t go a long way in improving their overall lives, as the harassment they suffer at the hands of both prison supervisors and the police leave them shattered for a lifetime, she says. “Look at Hidme. At the young age of 22, her health is so poor; she cannot do any work that a normal person of her age does. The multiple rapes she suffered at the hands of policemen during custody has devastated her, both physically and mentally,” she says. (The Hindu 20/8/15)

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

133. Journalist family to withdraw murder charges against Minister (1)

Meerut: The stage is being set to give a clean chit to Ram Murti Verma, Uttar Pradesh Backward Classes Welfare Minister, who was accused of getting the social-media journalist Jagendra Singh burnt to death for publishing reports against him. The Shahjahanpur police are in the process of giving the clean chit in its report to the DGP about the burning and subsequent death of the journalist, a reliable source told The Hindu . The report is likely to conclude that Singh had committed suicide, a theory which the police held as a likely possibility. “The report will be ready in a week. Analysis of all the evidence gathered from the spot point that Singh, in all likelihood, committed suicide,” said the source. The Senior Superintendent of Police, Shahjahanpur, Babloo Kumar, however, said reaching a conclusion about the police investigation would not be “appropriate.” “We will take about a week or so,” he said. The family has decided not to pursue the complaint. In fact, Rahul, Singh’s son, told The Hindu that they may move the local court to quash the first information report against the Minister. The Akhilesh Yadav government gave the family Rs. 30 lakh and promised jobs for the two sons of Singh. The government cleared the ancestral land of the family, running to several acres, of encroachment. Singh was set on fire allegedly by a group of policemen and goons allied with Mr. Verma on June 1 and died on June 8. In the dying declaration, Singh blamed Mr. Verma and the policemen for the incident. Four policemen were suspended and Mr. Verma was booked after Singh’s family filed a complaint. (The Hindu 2/8/15)

134. Bengal Journalist Goes Missing After College Corruption Story (1)

KOLKATA: Days after he reported about irregularities and corruption in the admission process in a college, a journalist with a Bengali daily in West Bengal’s Alipurduar district has gone missing. Chayan Sarkar, a correspondent with the Uttarbanga Sangbad, is missing since Sunday morning, days after he lodged a complaint with police in Alipurduar alleging that he was being threatened. While his family members filed a police complaint, the matter has now been handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). “We have launched a manhunt for him. We have questioned several people in this regard and we are looking for him. We cannot say at the moment if he has been abducted,” Deputy Inspector General (CID) Dilip Kumar Adak said on Monday.Confirming that Sarkar filed a police complaint alleging threats, another police officer said the journalist started getting threats after he reported about malpractices concerning admissions to Alipurduar College. While the Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri Press Club members alleged that Sarkar was abducted by those involved in the admission racket, the opposition Left Front and the BJP pointed fingers at the ruling Trinamool Congress. Members of the press clubs during the day took out a protest march before the police chief’s office in Alipurduar demanding action against the abductors while the family members of the journalist blocked a road demanding he be immediately traced. Leader of Opposition and Communist Party of India-Marxist state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra alleged involvement of a Trinamool leader. “The government should act and rescue Sarkar. The main culprit, a Trinamool leader, must be arrested,” Mishra said on a social networking site. Left Front chairman Biman Bose said those whose interest were hurt by Sarkar’s report were behind his abduction. “The administration should try to trace him in an urgent manner. It is possible that those whose interests have been hurt by the news done by the newspaper they may be behind this abduction,” said Bose. The Bharatiya Janata Party claimed that Sarkar’s house was attacked by ‘Trinamool goons’ after the story on the admission malpractices was published. (New Indian Express 3/8/15)

135. Banning entry of journalists and NGOs in prisons: Is India on the path of China? (1)

Ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power at the Centre, it has been embroiled in several controversies relating to bans imposed by it. Right from banning beef to curbing foreign funding for supposedly anti-national NGOs to blocking porn sites, the list is endless. However, among the most controversial was the banning of BBC documentary ‘India’s Daughter’, which led to a huge outcry in the country. While one section of the society advocated free speech, another strongly protested against allowing the documentary in India arguing that it maligned India’s image. Furthermore, there have been serious curbs on Indian as well as foreign journalists and researchers who wish to report on human rights violations and other issues. Priya Pillai, of Greenpeace India, was offloaded from her flight to London. She was on her way to address British parliamentarians on alleged human rights violations by Indian multinational Essar in the Mahan forest. The Ministry of Home Affairs also blocked Greenpeace’s bank accounts. It appears that the government is prepared to go to any extent to prevent any possibility of exposing injustice. Recently, the Home Ministry released a set of guidelines that effectively banned the entry of NGOs and journalists into prisons.No private individual/ Press/NGO/Company should ordinarily be allowed entry into the prison for the purposes of doing research, making documentaries, writing articles or interviews, etc. These guidelines shall be applicable to all the visitors, whether foreigner or Indian, including individuals, companies, press, researchers, filmmakers. However, the notification listed three provisions under which the state/UT government may consider giving permission. These included: The State/UT government feels that a particular documentary/article/research is for the purposes of creating positive social impact. The proposed work is relating to prison reforms. The State/UT government itself decides to invite press/filmmakers to cover a particular event. The nature of these provisions indicates that from now on, virtually no one would be allowed entry into prisons. However, it does not end here. There are many other rules and regulations that a visitor must adhere to, in the rarest of rare cases, if he is allowed entry.After the visit is complete, the visitors shall handover all their equipment like handycams, dictaphones, cameras, tape recorders or any other equipment to the Jail Superintendent for a period of three days. All precautions should be taken to ensure that the visitor does not leave the jail premises with the recordings……  (Yahoo News 6/8/15)

136. 3 channels get show-cause notice on coverage of Yakub Memon hanging (1)

NEW DELHI: Unhappy with the coverage related to hanging of 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yaqub Memon by three leading news broadcasters, information and broadcasting ministry has issued show-cause notice to them, asking why action should not be taken against them. Official sources said that it was felt that some parts of the coverage of these news channels were inappropriate following which they have been asked to explain how their coverage does not violate the sections of the Programme Code. Officials said that sections of the Programme Code lay down that no programme should be carried which contains anything obscene, defamatory, deliberate, false and suggestive innuendos and half-truths. As per other sections of the Code, no programme should be carried which is likely to encourage or incite violence or contains anything against maintenance of law and order or which promote anti-national attitudes. Another sections also tells channels not to carry anything which contains aspersions against the integrity of the President and judiciary. Officials said that in view of these provisions of the Programme Code, the ministry felt that there was a need to seek explanation from these channels. A unit under the I&B ministry, Electronic Media Monitoring Centre (EMMC), monitors the content of around 600 channels. Two of the broadcasters to whom notices have been sent had reportedly aired phone-in interviews of underworld figure Chhota Shakeel. Another channel is learnt to have telecast remarks of Memon’s lawyer. (Times of India 8/8/15)

137. The other side of right to freedom of speech (1)

Freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution has long been regarded as the second most important after the right to life of a citizen. In recent times, it appears to be the most misused right in India, especially on the internet. Take, for example, the Yakub Memon hanging case. Views expressed on the issue were sharply divided on merits and veered to religious lines. It led to clash of ideologies, open spats, painting those who favoured execution as ‘bloodthirsty’ and those who opposed it as ‘traitors’.Freedom of speech on the internet is scaling new heights every day with complete disregard for the restrictions specified under Article 19(2). Netizens are always in a rush. They post their views the moment they come across a statement. Mostly, it either gets a thumbs up or derisive criticism. The degree of controversy attached to an issue increases the severity of cuss words.If one advocates stay of hanging of a terrorist, he gets slammed as a left-leaning activist fed on foreign funds. If one argues for the hanging, the ‘activists’ slam him as a bloodthirsty right-winger. By indulging in such slanderous accusations, ostensibly in exercise of right to freedom of speech, are the two groups not infringing upon the right to life of each other? For, right to life includes a life with dignity. People may not agree with each other on a certain issue, but does it prevent them from being civil and secular while expressing their views? If a person has objection to such abuse on internet, does he have an effective legal remedy? Is it not cumbersome and a waste of time to go after those who use cuss words? And was this the intention of the Constitution-framers, and later the Supreme Court, to give such wide meaning and interpretation to freedom of expression? In Shreya Singhal case, the Supreme Court recognized the problem that could arise if every person aggrieved by abusive criticism of his view on the internet was to make a request directly to the service provider to take down the offending comments. It had read down Section 79(3)(b) of the Information and Technology Act contemplating action against service providers for abusive comments on websites hosted by them. It had said such action could be taken against the service provider only if it failed to comply with the court order directing it to take down the material which had been held to be abusive or offensive on the basis of a complaint. “This is for the reason that otherwise, it would be very difficult for intermediaries like Google, Facebook etc to act when millions of requests are made and the intermediary is then to judge as to which of such requests are legitimate and which are not,” it had said. But who will have the time and energy to pursue a case in a court of law by filing a complaint against persons who used abuses to criticize his view? The type and kinds of names under which comments are posted on websites these days would make it extremely difficult for a complainant to find out the actual name and address of the author who violated his dignity and reputation. And when there is a systematic group attack against a view, it is better for the person to silently stomach the abuse. The absence of protection against abuses, invectives and cuss words expressed freely to register dissenting view is the deterrent for many in society from using their real names to express views on the internet…..  (Times of India 10/8/15)

138. Veteran journalist hits out at commercialisation of media (1)

BELAGAVI: Veteran journalist and president of Patrakar Vikas Akadami, Belagavi Subhash Dhume took a dig at the rapid commercialisation of news media, particularly the print media, and called for introspection by both the owners and journalists. Speaking at a press meet convened to announce the annual awards of the Akadami here on Monday, he said the ghost of commercialisation had become omnipotent to the extent of eliminating the role of “Editor” in a newspaper. Nowadays, a newspaper could be run without an Editor and only by reporters, sub-editors and other workers engaged in production, publication, and circulation, he said. In sharp contrast with to ethical practices in the past, today there was great pressure on reporters to get advertisements for their respective newspapers. On the other hand, low wages for reporters working in district and taluk centres had forced them to explore additional avenues to make both the ends meet amid increasing cost of living. The Akadami announced that five Belagavi-based journalists would be honoured this year. The awards are not based on call for nominations; the Akadami forms a committee to undertake a thorough screening of works of journalists and photojournalists. The award carries cash reward and public felicitation. The recipients of the award this year are: Shamrao Deshpade of Veerdwani bi-weekly (Baburao Thakur Memorial Award), Bhimgouda Desai, Correspondent of Lokmat Marathi Daily and Yuvraj Patil (Budding Talented Journalists), and Chetan Kulkarni, Photographer with Deccan Herald, said secretary Prasad S. Prabhu. The Akadami, which has adopted various welfare measures for scribes, said it would include newspaper hawkers under its purview from this year. It selected five hawkers with low income and gave them bicycles worth Rs. 3,800 each. (The Hindu 11/8/15)

139. ‘Law such as Sec 66 (A) of IT Act not needed (1)

MUMBAI: A discussion held at St Xavier’s College on Saturday during its ongoing cultural festival, Malhar, focussed on the issue of an individual’s right to freedom of speech and expression. The ‘right’ was discussed in the context of the recent Supreme Court observation on the need for a new law to check the misuse of social media and internet. Malhar Conclave, in association with the Times Lit Fest, organized the discussion on ‘Post.Like.Share’ that was moderated by Anahita Mukherji, assistant editor with The Times of India. Shreya Singhal, student of faculty of law, Delhi University, the first to challenge Section 66(A) of the Information Technology Act in Supreme Court, which allowed arrests for offensive comments online, and Karuna Nundy, advocate at Supreme Court, participated in the conclave. Singhal said law such as section 66 (A) of the IT Act was not needed as there are many laws already that encompass such offences. Nundy said that 66A was only brought in in 2008 as an amendment to the IT Act and it was originally brought in to curb spam. “For no good reason, it became something that would send somebody to jail for three years for being annoying or inconvenient in their speech online.” She said when political leaders make controversial statements in public, there is no action against them. “But we see Shaheen Dhada, a young girl who had the courage to say something that was not even problematic, she has to go through all this,” said Nundy. (Times of India 16/8/15)

140. PCI for two-minute silence in newsrooms on November 2 (1)

NEW DELHI: To protest against states’ failure to bring to book perpetrators of violence against journalists, the Press Council of India (PCI) wants media to protest symbolically by blacking out news for two minutes on November 2 every year. “The PCI may proclaim November 2 as the National Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists and ask all newsrooms across the country to observe two-minute silence in newsrooms,” it said in an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court in the case of UP journalist Jagendra Singh’s murder. Requesting the SC to lay down guidelines on safety of journalists, the PCI said, “Journalists reporting sensitive stories are in the position of whistleblowers who are entitled to protection. Safety of journalists requires the highest priority to protect the freedom of speech as also the freedom of information available to every citizen under article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.” The print media regulatory body said around 80 journalists were killed in the last two decades but almost all cases were pending trial. “In states like Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Manipur, Jammu and Kashmir, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, not a single person was convicted for killing or attacking journalists. In these states, more than 60 journalists were killed in the last two decades,” it said. The PCI said it has recommended to the government for enacting a law to deal with crimes against journalists. It said in the absence of a specific law, cases relating to such offences keep pending in trial courts, which are already inundated under an avalanche of pending cases. After a four-year study, the PCI said, “Most of the journalists felt that whenever a journalist was killed, the state government concerned, including chief minister and political leaders, react and promise stringent action. After the din and noise die down, no further action is taken. Most state governments never come forward to compensate the families of the slain journalists.” Apart from using violence to silence the media, the PCI appeared worried by the recent trend of journalists threatened with character assassination using names of women. “Incidents of using names of women for character assassination of journalists and to pressurize them are increasing each day,” it said. The council said similar tactics was used by UP police in Jagendra Singh murder case. “Police repeatedly mentioned the presence of Anganwadi worker Shalini in Jagendra’s house but they did not care to find her and record her statement,” it said. It said the Shahjahanpur district administration has not shown seriousness to investigate the murder of the journalist. “In view of the seriousness of the case and the delay in conducting inquiry, the UP government should get this case thoroughly investigated by an impartial agency,” the PCI said. (Times of India 19/8/15)

COMMUNAL RIOTS

141. Communal violence increased in first half of 2015: Home ministry (7)

New Delhi: Incidents of communal violence in the country have increased in the first six months of 2015 according to data released by the Home ministry, with 330 total riots and a death toll of 51. According to Home ministry data, there were 330 incidents of communal violence between January and June, 2015 in comparison to 252 in the first six months of 2014. Altogether 51 people have lost their lives and 1,092 others injured in communal violence so far this year. As many as 33 people had lost their lives in first six months of last year. There were 644 riots during the entirety of 2014 in which 95 people were killed and 1,921 injured. Samajwadi Party-ruled Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of 68 such incidents in which 10 people were killed and 224 injured. There were 133 riots in UP in 2014 in which 26 people lost their lives and 374 wounded. JD(U)-ruled Bihar has witnessed 41 incidents till June 2015 in which 14 people lost their lives and 169 others were injured. There were 61 riots in Bihar in 2014 in which 5 people were killed and 294 others injured. BJP-ruled Gujarat has reported 25 incidents of communal violence between January and June 2015 in which 7 people were killed and 79 others wounded. In 2014, there were 74 incidents of riots in Gujarat in which 7 people lost their lives and 215 others were injured. Maharashtra, another BJP-ruled state, saw 59 incidents of communal violence in the first half of this year in which 4 people were killed and 196 injured. There were 97 riots in Maharashtra in 2014 in which 12 people were killed and 198 injured. Congress-ruled Karnataka saw 36 such incidents in which two people were killed and 123 others injured. In 2014, there were 73 cases of riots in Karnataka in which 6 people lost their lives while 177 were injured. (Hindustan Times 2.8.15)

142. 2002 Gujarat Riots: State’s job to repair masjids, Centre tells Supreme Court (7)

New Delhi: Narendra Modi, 2002 Gujarat Riots, Gujarat Riots, 2002 Godhra Riots, Godhra Riots damage, Godhra Riots masjids damage, masjids repairing, bjp government, gujarat govt, gujarat masjids repair, Supreme court, gujarat news, india news, nation news In its earlier hearings, the apex court gave an option to the Gujarat government for formulating a scheme for repairing religious places damaged during the riots. When Narendra Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat, the state government had appealed against a high court order, directing it to repair and restore mosques, dargahs and other religious sites damaged in the 2002 post-Godhra riots. Now, when he is the Prime Minister, the central government has told the Supreme Court that it has no obligation regarding restoration of religious places damaged in the communal riots and that the accountability has to be fixed with the state government. In its first affidavit into the matter, the Centre has said: “It is primarily the responsibility of the state government to maintain law and order in the state and to provide security, relief, rehabilitation and to compensate riot victims.” Putting the onus on the Gujarat government, the Ministry of Home Affairs has said that the ‘public order’ and ‘police’ are state subjects and hence the state government was answerable to the queries of the top court regarding repairs and restoration of mosques, dargahs, graveyards, khankahs and other religious sites. “The central government, however, has provided ex-gratia to the victims of Gujarat riots in cases of death, injury and damages to residential and uninsured commercial properties, on the pattern of the package announced for the victims of anti-Sikh riots of 1984,” it stated. The Home Ministry added that the report of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on the post-Godhra riots was forwarded to the Gujarat Chief Secretary for taking necessary action after placing it in the state legislature. “Hence, the main contesting respondent is the state of Gujarat,” it said. The affidavit has been filed by the Ministry in the appeal by Gujarat government against the 2012 High Court order, directing it to repair religious places damaged in the post-Godhra riots. While pulling up the state government for its “inaction and negligence” during the riots, the high court had also ordered compensation for over 500 places of worships in the state on a PIL by Islamic Relief Committee of Gujarat, an NGO. After the high court had criticised the state government for not tabling the NHRC report within six months of it being prepared, the 2002-03 report was tabled in Gujarat assembly in March 2012, nearly 10 years after the subsequent riots. In its report, the NHRC had censured the state. In its earlier hearings, the apex court gave an option to the Gujarat government for formulating a scheme for repairing religious places damaged during the riots on the lines of its earlier order where it had asked the Odisha government to formulate a scheme for repairing churches damaged during the 2009 Kandhamal riots. The  case will be heard next on August 19. (Indian Express 5/8/15)

143. Communal violence higher in Jammu (7)

SRINAGAR: While Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed fewer  riots than the average national level, but around four to five cases of riots get reported on average daily in the state. A total of 72,126 cases of riots were reported in India in 2013, with Bihar reporting the maximum 11,931 cases. Kerala was second, reporting 10,042 riot cases followed by Maharashtra 9,610, Karnataka 7,237 and West Bengal 6,142. According to the official details of the police department available with The Kashmir Monitor, 1714 cases of riots were reported in 2013 in Jammu and Kashmir. During 2014, 1524 such cases were reported in the state. A riot is a form of civil disorder commonly characterized by a group lashing out in a violent public disturbance against authority, property or people. Riots involve vandalism and the destruction of property, public or private. Police sources said unlike states like Bihar, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh, less number of communal riot cases have been reported from the Muslims dominated Jammu and Kashmir. “In Valley, most of the rioting cases that have been reported are vandalization of shops, cars, offices, during anti-India protests,” a senior police official told The Kashmir Monitor.  He said some of the separatists are also facing charges of rioting. “These leaders have been found involved in destructing public and private property during protests in the Valley,” the police official said. However, he said barring few sectarian clashes, the Valley didn’t witness any sectarian or communal riots over the years. One such was the Budgam incident, where the sectarian clashes broke out following dispute between two sects over construction of a village road. Then there were incidents of arson during clashes prompting authorities to impose restrictions. “But maximum cases of communal riots have been reported from the Hindu dominated Jammu region,” the official said.  During 2013 and 2014, one major incident of communal riots was reported in Kishtwar district of the Jammu region. The communal riots sparked in Kishtwar on Eid Day after two communities started targeting to each other. The pro-Hindu groups had alleged that the then MoS Home Sajad Ahmad Kitchloo was behind these riots. However, the Muslim groups claimed that some pro-Hindu groups had targeted shops and houses of Muslims in the district during these clashes. (The Kashmir Monitor 6/8/15)

144. IFTU blames Hindutva forces for clash at Khajuri Khas (7)

New Delhi: Likening it to the communal clashes that erupted at Trilokpuri last year, and demanding a High Court-monitored probe into the incident, the Indian Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) has blamed “Hindutva forces with police collusion” for a clash between two communities at Khajuri Khas last Friday. On July 31, several local residents and some policemen had been injured during a mini riot at a spot just a stone’s throw away from the local police station. The police had attributed the incident to a gradual build up of tension between the two communities which was triggered in the aftermath of the interception of a vehicle transporting animal skins and meat products. “The workers (living in the locality where the incident took place) had left in the morning for their work place that day and returned only at night. However they told the IFTU team that some incident had occurred because people protested as the Muslims ’had cut up’ a cow. When asked if they had met anyone who had seen this, or whether this routinely happened, they retracted,” the report states. “The police is fully hand in glove with those Hindutva elements who attempted to provoke communal violence. With a police beat box, a PCR van present in the area, a crowd cannot unnoticed block a road and march up to the chowk and then beat up two Muslims and set two bikes on fire. The police chose not to intervene,” the report, penned by Rajesh, secretary, Jai Prakash, joint secretary and Raja, west Delhi IFTU, stated further. According to the IFTU fact-finding mission, the Aam Aadmi Party-led (AAP) Delhi government’s silence on the matter despite its willingness to “to take on the police and the Centre when AAP legislators or their appointees are involved” was also suspect. The IFTU demanded why the AAP government had not questioned “the veracity of the police story” attributing it to the party’s role in the Trilokpuri incident where the local MLA was missing in action. A senior Delhi Police official denied the allegations levelled against the force by the workers’ rights body. “Arrests of those found involved in the incident were made soon after and local police personnel went beyond their limited briefs to quell tension in the area – of any kind; further investigation is still underway and those found guilty of alleged hate-mongering will be brought t book as and when their role is established,” said a senior police officer. (The Hindu 6/8/15)

145. 1989 Bhagalpur riots: Inquiry report blames Congress, police (7)

New Delhi: In what could provide the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) much needed ammunition against the Congress ahead of Bihar Assembly polls, a report prepared by the inquiry commission probing the 1989 Bhagalpur riots has blamed the then Congress government and police for the massacre of nearly 1000 people. The 1989 communal riots in Bhagalpur had claimed nearly a thousand lives and left in its wake a trail of devastation. From the Archives: Bihar policemen go unpunished for role in Bhagalpur riots The Justice NN Singh Inquiry Commission report, which was tabled in the Bihar Legislative Assembly on Friday, holds the inaction by the Congress government led by Chief Minister Satyendra Narayan Sinha responsible for the deadly clashes. The 1000-page report also raised a question over the state police administration hinting towards a communal bias.More than 50,000 people were displaced as a result of the riots which started on 24 October 1989, and continued for next two months. The violence affected the Bhagalpur city and 250 villages around it. Soon after the report was introduced in the Bihar Assembly, BJP questioned chief minister Nitish Kumar’s decision to ally with RJD and Congress. Senior BJP leader and former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi asked Nitish Kumar to explain his ‘secularism.”Kumar must explain his secularism as well as his party – JD(U)’s alliance with RJD and Congress as Bhagalpur riots had taken place during Congress regime in which hundreds of Muslims were killed by the rioters, some of whom were absolved of all charges in police probe during RJD rule in late 1990s,” Kumar Modi told reporters. “Doesn’t Kumar’s secularism stand exposed as he finds himself aligned with a party during whose rule the sordid incident had taken place and another party which had given clean chit to some of the perpetrators,” he asked. Modi also questioned chief minister Nitish Kumar’s intent for tabling the judicial report on the riots case in the Assembly at the fag end of his term and claimed that the latter was trying to kill two birds with one stone, he said referring to the RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Congress, both of whom espoused secularism. …  (India Today 8/8/15)

146. Communal Tension in Jalalabad Town of Uttar Pradesh (7)

SHAHJAHANPUR (UP): A day after protests were held over teasing of a minor girl allegedly by two youths in Jalalabad town of the district, cousin of one of the accused was shot at by some unidentified men. Additional Superintendent of Police Rajesh Kumar said that the cousin brother of an accused was shot at by some persons from the other community. He said that the youth, who sustained bullet injury on his back, has been admitted to a hospital and the matter was being investigated. The police officer said that Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) continues to be deployed in the area. Yesterday, protests were witnessed in the town after the girl was allegedly teased and assaulted by two youths of a community. One of the accused was arrested and PAC was deployed in the area. The youths teased the girl, and later, when they failed to molest her they tore her cloths, police said. Agitated over the incident, members of a community assembled at Khandahar police outpost and held protest. The protestors also alleged that a police officer assaulted a youth of the agitating community, after which they blocked Bareilly-Kanpur highway. Later, senior district administration officials and police officers reached the spot and pacified protesters. (New Indian Express 13/8/15)

147. Low intensity bomb explodes in Jamshedpur, no damage reported (7)

Jamshedpur: A low intensity bomb exploded in a dustbin behind a temple in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand Sunday late evening causing panic in the steel city which recently saw a communal riot. The explosion ripped apart the iron walled dustbin scattering the garbage around a radius of 10 to 15 meters. “This seems handiwork of some uncouth element to disturb peace of the city,” said deputy superintendent of police Jacinta Kerketta. She said an explosive expert is collecting parts of the explosives. “A team of experts have also left from Ranchi and would be reaching here late night”,  she said. There has been no damage to life or property. Police said they will soon be able to locate the culprits. Jamshedpur had witnessed communal riots last month following clashes over some youth harrasing a girl from another community after which curfew had also been imposed in some parts of the city. (Hindustan Times 17/8/15)

COMMUNALISM

148. Day before ‘jalabhishek’ in Varanasi, chief of Hindu Mahasabha arrested (26)

Lucknow: To allegedly prevent pro-Hindu outfit Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM) from performing ‘Jalabhishek’ on Monday at Shringar Gauri — a religious place near Gyanvapi Masjid and Kashi Vishwanth Temple in Varanasi — its national president was arrested from his office in Lucknow’s Naka area on Sunday. While Kamlesh Tiwari was arrested, raids were also conducted in Gorakhpur to arrest ABHM state president Piyush Kant Verma, who was to lead the programme in Varanasi Monday. At Shringar Gauri, performing religious rituals is not allowed. The area remains barricaded for the public with CRPF personnel camping nearby. ABHM had given a call to its workers from across the country to reach Varanasi on August 3 and perform ‘Jalabhishek’ at Shringar Gauri, as part of its campaign — ‘Islam Mukt Bharat’ — and take a pledge for getting the mosque removed from Kashi Vishwanath Temple’s area. For the event, it had chosen August 3 — the first Monday of the month of Saavan. Several lakh devotees visits Kashi Vishwanath Temple on the day.  ABHM office-bearers had not sought permission from the Varanasi district administration for the programme, claiming they don’t need permission from any authority to offer prayers at a Hindu religious place. Before his arrest on Sunday, Tiwari told The Indian Express that ‘Jalabhishek’ was aimed at launching an agitation to “free Gyanvapi area from Muslims”. “Any illegal programme planned through any such call or propaganda will not be allowed. The police was keeping watch on ABHM workers,” said ADG (Law and Order) Daljeet Chaudhary. Superintendent of Police (Security), Kashi Vishwanth temple, Arun Kumar Pandey, said: “Nobody will be allowed to perform any ritual other than what is the tradition. If ABHM workers try to enter the temple area, necessary action will be taken against them.” Police personnel from other districts have been called in to take necessary steps to stop ABHM workers, said Varanasi SSP Jogendra Kumar. “Other preventive steps would also be taken if they reach Varanasi.” Naka police Station Officer Ram Pradeep said: “ABHM president Kamlesh Tiwari was arrested to stop him from reaching Varanasi to perform Jalabhishek. He will remain under arrest for at least 24 hours.” After Tiwari’s arrest, ABHM spokesperson Shishir Chaturvedi said while police have raided state president Piyush Kant Verma’s residence in Gorakhpur, he had escaped as he left home early in apprehension. “Several workers have been arrested in Gorakhpur but we are still firm on our decision. Workers from other districts will reach Varanasi on Monday to perform Jalabhishek,” he said. To seek the masses’ support, ABHM had prepared posters with various slogans — “Chalo Kashi, Islam mukt Bharat hamari zid hai, hamara adhikar hai”, “Kashi Vishwanath me namaz nahin, ab ghoonjega kewal Om Namah Shivay”, “Hindutva jai maan bharti, khoon se tilak karo goliyon se aarti,” among others. It also plans to contest the state Assembly elections in 2017. Meanwhile, Shiv Sena on Sunday announced that it will perform the ritual at the same site (in Shrigar Gauri temple in Varanasi) either on August 22 or 23. Its state president Anil Singh said party’s Aurangabad MP Chandrakant Khaire will lead the programme. “Shrigar Gauri is a religious place of Parvati but the administration does not allow Hindus to offer prayers there in Saavan month,” Singh said. (Indian Express 3/8/15)

149. IFTU blames Hindutva forces for clash at Khajuri Khas (26)

New Delhi: Likening it to the communal clashes that erupted at Trilokpuri last year, and demanding a High Court-monitored probe into the incident, the Indian Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) has blamed “Hindutva forces with police collusion” for a clash between two communities at Khajuri Khas last Friday. On July 31, several local residents and some policemen had been injured during a mini riot at a spot just a stone’s throw away from the local police station. The police had attributed the incident to a gradual build up of tension between the two communities which was triggered in the aftermath of the interception of a vehicle transporting animal skins and meat products. “The workers (living in the locality where the incident took place) had left in the morning for their work place that day and returned only at night. However they told the IFTU team that some incident had occurred because people protested as the Muslims ’had cut up’ a cow. When asked if they had met anyone who had seen this, or whether this routinely happened, they retracted,” the report states. “The police is fully hand in glove with those Hindutva elements who attempted to provoke communal violence. With a police beat box, a PCR van present in the area, a crowd cannot unnoticed block a road and march up to the chowk and then beat up two Muslims and set two bikes on fire. The police chose not to intervene,” the report, penned by Rajesh, secretary, Jai Prakash, joint secretary and Raja, west Delhi IFTU, stated further. According to the IFTU fact-finding mission, the Aam Aadmi Party-led (AAP) Delhi government’s silence on the matter despite its willingness to “to take on the police and the Centre when AAP legislators or their appointees are involved” was also suspect. The IFTU demanded why the AAP government had not questioned “the veracity of the police story” attributing it to the party’s role in the Trilokpuri incident where the local MLA was missing in action. A senior Delhi Police official denied the allegations levelled against the force by the workers’ rights body. “Arrests of those found involved in the incident were made soon after and local police personnel went beyond their limited briefs to quell tension in the area – of any kind; further investigation is still underway and those found guilty of alleged hate-mongering will be brought t book as and when their role is established,” said a senior police officer. (The Hindu 6/8/15)

150. There are 1-2 terrorists in Parliament’, says Sadhvi Prachi, stokes another controversy

ROORKEE: Firebrand VHP leader Sadhvi Prachi triggered another controversy on Thursday by alleging there are “one or two terrorists” in Parliament in remarks that appeared to be targeting MPs who were against hanging of 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon. Prachi’s controversial outburst that sparked an outrage also saw her asking the Centre to hand over the Pakistani terrorist Mohammed Naved Yakub arrested in Udhampur on Wednesday to Hindu organizations so that he is taught a “good lesson”.The saffron leader was speaking to mediapersons in Roorkee when asked about some opposition to death penalty for Memon who was hanged on July 30 in a Nagpur prison.”It is a big misfortune that in the Indian Parliament, we have one-two terrorists sitting there. I do not think there can be a bigger misfortune for India than this as they who, are disobeying the judgment of a court, because the court has proved that he(Yakub) is a terrorist. When the court has already proved so, those supporting the terrorist are terrorists themselves I believe,” she said. Shortly after Yakub’s execution, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said he was saddened by the hanging of the lone death row convict in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case and said that the “state-sponsored killing diminishes us all by reducing us to murderers too.” Tharoor also argued against the death penalty. “Yakub Memon hanged. Exemplary urgency and commitment has been shown by Govt and Judiciary in punishing an accused of Terror,” said another Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, a Rajya Sabha MP. Congress took on the sadhvi for her remarks against parliamentarians and demanded action against the Hindutva leader. “The Parliament belongs to all of us. The Constitution has said that Parliament is the temple of democracy. And if someone calls those sitting inside it, as terrorists, then it is not just an insult to the Parliament but also the Constitution. I think it is the right time that Speaker Sumitra Mahajan takes action,” Congress leader Pramod Tiwari said. The sadhvi also wanted the Pakistani terrorist captured yesterday to be handed over to Hindu organisations after questioning. “It is my humble request to the Centre that after the security agencies are through with their necessary investigations the arrested Pakistani terrorist should be handed over to Hindu outfits which alone can teach him a good lesson,” she added. Be it calling for a boycott of films starring Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan and Salman Khan and asking right-wing Hindu outfits to make a bonfire of posters of their films or calling Mahatma Gandhi a British agent, the sadhvi has been at the centre of a series of controversies. (Times of India 6/8/15)

151. Notice to VHP leader Sadhvi for ‘terrorist MPs’ remark (26)

New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha secretariat on Tuesday issued a notice to right-wing Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Sadhvi Prachi for her controversial remarks that there were “terrorists in Parliament”. The secretariat has sent a letter to Prachi asking her to explain the “terrorists in Parliament” remark after lawmakers in the Upper House moved a privilege notice against her. Several MPs had moved a privilege notice, asking chairman Hamid Ansari to proceed against her. The sources said the secretariat has sought her comments before proceeding further on the notice. Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, CPM MP Sitaram Yechury and TRS member K Keshav Rao were among 20 members who had given the privilege notice against Prachi saying her remarks had “violated the dignity” of Parliament and privilege of MPs. Prachi had last week said in Roorkee that there were “one or two terrorists” in Parliament, a jibe at MPs who opposed the hanging of 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon. (Hindustan Times 11/8/15)

152. No more conversion by 2020: affiliate sets target (26)

New Delhi: Dharm Jagran Samanway Samtiti, an RSS affiliate, has resolved to stop conversion by 2020 and continue ghar wapsi (reconversion) so that the Hindu population increases by the next census in 2021. DJRS has pledged to reach in the next five years all areas that have seen people being converted, particularly to Christianity. This target was given to all DJRS state chiefs at a meeting in Mumbai from August 7 to 9, sources said. The sources quoted their national chief Mukund Rao Pansikar as saying that “we must fulfil our target of stopping all type of conversion activities and increasing efforts of ghar wapsi by 2020.” Pansikar could not be contacted by The Indian Express. The sources said many of the 100-odd delegates at the meeting expressed the view that ghar wapsi is more difficult in Muslim-dominated areas than it is among Christians, hence the focus on the latter areas. Also, they felt, most of those converted are from the lower castes and acceptability would not be a problem if they are “reconverted”. The meeting saw a PowerPoint presentation that compared the growth rates of Muslims and Christians with that of Hindus. The 40 state chiefs — the RSS breaks the country into that many states for convenience — spelt out their individual targets for preventing conversion. The DJRS is a core affiliate in which the RSS deploys 57 pracharaks, the highest for any RSS-related activity other than its own shakhas. It has many more whole-timers, who unlike pracharaks are paid an honorarium. The highest numbers of whole-timers, over 100, are posted in Chhattisgarh, where DJRS believes conversion among tribals to Christianity is the most rampant. (Indian Express  17/8/15)

153. Sadhvi Prachi threatens dharna outside min’s office (26)

BAREILLY: VHP leader Sadhvi Prachi has threatened to stage a dharna at Union minister Santosh Gangwar’s office if the BJP fails to release her staff and supporters, who were arrested on July 27 in connection with the unsuccessful mahapanchayat at Shergarh. “Have I committed a crime by going to Bareilly in support of the 200 school girls who were being harassed by goons with no political party, including the local unit of BJP willing to take up their cause. My sole mission was justice for these girls and look what I have got in return. My supporters including my drivers are languishing in jail since July 27 when they were arrested by local police in false cases,” Prachi said. She added that the matter had been brought to the notice of BJP’s national organizational secretary Shiv Prakash, who she said has promised to take up the matter with party high command. Santosh Gangwar, on the other hand, said “I am not aware about her decision and would only be able to comment on the issue after ascertaining facts.” (Times of India 17/8/15)

154. Gender balance: RSS working to get more women in its ranks (26)

New Delhi: The RSS, which has so far kept women out of its shakhas, has of late been striving towards a gender balance. It has stepped up efforts to get more women enrolled in its affiliates and asked these to appoint women as office-bearers too. A series of four events with this objective began on Independence Day, with a two-day meeting of the Delhi units of prominent RSS affiliates in Vrindavan (Mathura). Delegates of various affiliates submitted details of the representation of women in their ranks. A meeting of six organisations — Akhil Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Yojana, Pragya Pravah, Sanskar Bharti, Vigyan Bharti, Sahitya Parishad and Adhivakta Parishad — called will be held on September 5-6 in Delhi. Each affiliate has been asked to try to send at least two women to the event, called Vichar Samooh, which is expected to have around 60 participants. RSS-menA special two-day conclave organised by Mahila Samanway will follow in Ahmedabad on September 12-13, with around 300 delegates (mostly women) expected from various affiliates. From December 24 to 26, Akhil Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Yojana (ABISY) will hold a three-day conference in Mysore, where around 1,000 delegates will discuss “Women in Indian culture: through the ages”. “We will discuss their strength and their importance in various phases of Indian history. Women in Rig Vedic times enjoyed a high status in society but due to several reasons their status began to decline,” said Balmukund, an RSS pracharak working with ABISY. Sources say an RSS meeting in Nainital discussed the gender ratio in RSS affiliates (see chart). “Representation of women is gradually increasing in our organisations. At the Ahmedabad conclave, we will discuss several aspects of women empowerment and their role in our organisations,” said Mahila Samanway  chief Geeta Tayi Gunde, who coordinates among the affiliates on women’s issues. Though RSS shakhas don’t allow women, a separate organisation called Rashtra Sevika Samiti holds women’s shakhas on the lines of RSS shakhas. (Indian Express 17/8/15)

155. VHP activists ‘worship’ live cobra despite HC ban (26)

KOLHAPUR: A group of Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Thursday conducted a pooja of a live cobra at Battis Shirala in Sangli district despite Union environment minister Prakash Javdekar’s appeal last month to avoid any public display of live cobras on Nag Panchami. Shirala was famous for Nag Panchami celebrations, where hundreds of live cobras once used to get displayed and exhibited in the festival procession. The tradition was banned by the Bombay high court a decade ago and strict implementation of the prohibition was started in 2013. But this year, around 15-20 VHP activists violated the ban and conducted the pooja at Ambabai temple in Shirala and vowed to face consequences. The activists claimed they revived the age-old tradition of worshiping cobras on Nag Panchami and said they would do it every year if the Centre government does not change the law. In July, a group from Shirala met Javdekar in Pune, demanding the minister to allow pooja of live cobras. During the meeting, Javdekar assured them that the Union government will make the necessary changes in the Act in a year so that Shirala’s tradition can be secured. He also appealed to the group not to exhibit the cobras in procession and appealed people not to violate the ban this year. Despite the violation of the HC order, no action was taken against the activists till late night by forest department. Instead, the local officers said they have not reported any such incident till evening. Some of the police personnel were at the temple, when the activists brought cobra in a bag and started pooja. But none objected to their action. Maharaj, the Kolhapur district working president of VHP, said he and his associates have conducted the pooja and were ready to face the consequences. “This pooja was part of our protests against the ban. The tradition of the pooja is banned for the last 12 years and we revived it today. Hindu religion worships everything in nature and our Constitution has given us right to perform pooja,” he told TOI. He added that if the Union government fails to change the act by next year, VHP will not hesitate to violate the ban again and again. “If they (forest department) files cases against us for today’s pooja, we are ready. It’s a proud moment for us to revive the tradition,” he said. The forest department had deployed 10 patrolling squads and over 100 forest employees were in Shirala on Thursday to make sure that ban was not being violated. Besides, more than 350 police personnel were deployed in the village. However, all of them claimed they were unaware of the incident. “We have not received any complaint from any person about the violation of ban. Our teams are on roads to avert any untoward incident. We have talked to every Nag Mandal and they assured us that they will not display live cobras. If anything has happened, we will inquire and act accordingly,” S B Chavan, the deputy forest conservator of Sangli, said. Nature-lovers have objected the pooja of live cobra and demanded the district administration and forest department to take immediate action. Ajit Patil, honorary wildlife warden and the petitioner of the public interest litigation (PIL 75/2011) filed in the high court, said the forest department must file cases under the Wildlife Protection Act against the people involved in the pooja of the live cobra. “The ban was strictly imposed in 2013 and 2014. Last year, none of the mandals exhibited live cobras in the procession. It was a positive sign. But this year,the strict imposition of act was missing. The department must act fast to make sure those who are guilty are charged,” he said. (Times of India 20/8/15)

TERRORISM

156. Police bust Hizbul Mujahideen sleeper cell in Jammu and Kashmir (12)

Srinagar: A sleeper cell of banned terror group Hizbul Mujahideen has been busted here with police arresting its chief, a UK-based Kashmiri physiotherapist. “Police have busted a sleeper cell of Hizbul Mujahideen functioning illegally under the command of self-styled commander Mohammad Shaheen Baba alias Zaid-bin Tariq,” a police spokesman said. Baba, a resident of Chadoora in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, along with other members of the cell had planned to carry out “sensational acts of terror by way of IED blasts”, the spokesman said. “One Chinese pistol with magazine, 25 live rounds, incriminating documents and a mobile phone were seized from the cell members,” he said. Giving details, the spokesman said Baba had been working in the UK as a physiotherapist and living in London since 2006. He married an American national of Pakistani origin and visited Pakistan, where he got in touch with commanders of Hizbul Mujahideen. “On their (commanders’) directions, (he) established the sleeper cell. The group was planning to carry out IED blasts in the Valley especially in Srinagar city,” he added. The other members of the group have been identified as Mudasir Ahmad Baba alias Auranzaib, Basharat Hussain Baba, Uqab Ahmad Wazir and Manzoor Ahmad, he said. The spokesman, however, did not specify if any other member of the cell other than Baba had been arrested. Further investigations are going on which may lead to more arrests, he said adding a case under section 13 of Unlawful Activities Act has been registered in Police station Sadder here, the spokesman said.  (Zee News 3/8/15)

157. NIA takes over probe of Udhampur terror strike (12)

Srinagar: The NIA on Thursday took over the case of Wednesday’s terror strike outside the garrison town of Udhampur in which two Border Security Force jawans were killed and 15 others wounded. One of the Pakistani militants involved in the attack was killed in retaliatory fire and the other was captured alive by villagers. Meanwhile, Pakistan on Thursday rejected the assertion that Naved was of Pakistani origin and asked India to refrain from making “accusations”. “We have also seen media reports and I will not offer any comment on that issue. We expect the Indian authorities to share information with us on the claims that are being made in the media,” Pakistan foreign office spokesperson Syed Qazi Khalilullah said on the LeT militant’s arrest. He added, “We have said many times that making immediate accusations on Pakistan is not correct. These things should be based on facts. We expect that whenever Pakistan is being accused of something, it will be accompanied with correct evidence,” He also said that the Indian claim was baseless. “We have repeatedly asked India to refrain from accusations.” Separately, a Pakistan government source was quoted by the Express Tribune newspaper as saying, “National Database and Registration Authority record shows Indian claims of an arrested person, Usman Khan (Muhammed Naved Yakub), originating from Pakistan are totally baseless.” An NIA team has been camping in winter capital Jammu since Wednesday. Headed by IG Sanjeev Kumar Singh, the team on Thursday visited Samruli-Narsu Nallah area in Udhampur-Kathua districts of Jammu and Kashmir, where the attack took place. Mr Singh has been dealing with several terror-related cases, including the Burdwan blast (in West Bengal). The NIA is empowered to deal with terror-related crime across India without special permission from the states. The NIA team later interrogated captured militant Muhammad Naved Yakub in two sittings at a joint interrogation centre in Jammu, official sources said. A case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Arms Act, the Foreigners Act and various sections of the Ranbir Penal Code, particularly Section 121 (waging war against the country), has been registered against him. The J&K government on Thursday gave sanction to prosecute Naved for waging war against the country. A formal prosecution order issued by the Udhampur district magistrate, Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, said, “It has been established beyond reasonable doubt that an offence of criminal conspiracy has been committed by the terrorist which attracts the provisions of Sections 121 and 121-A RPC.” It added, “Sanction is hereby accorded as per the provisions of Section 196 CrPC for prosecution in the court of law following due procedure established under law.” While RPC Section 121 deals with waging, or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against the government of India, Sec. 121-A concerns conspiracy to commit offences punishable by Sec. 121. CrPC Sec. 196 deals with prosecution for offences against the state and criminal conspiracy to commit such offence. The NIA team will also examine BSF personnel who were part of the convoy ambushed by the two militants along the Srinagar-Jammu highway, members of a CRPF road opening party which was in the area at the time of the attack and took part in the counter-attack against the militants, and the villagers, particularly those three who were taken hostage by the fleeing militant Naved but displayed exemplary bravery in overpowering him. The captured militant is learnt to have given the NIA and other security agencies, including the J&K police, which are interrogating him, a “vital” lead on his journey to Udhampur from Kashmir Valley’s southern Kulgam district. He has reportedly said that he and his slain accomplice, Noaman, were dropped at Samruli by a truck driver from Kulgam. He took them to Patnitop, a hill station along the 294-km Srinagar-Jammu highway, and after a night halt at Tamatar Mode, between Patnitop and Kud, they travelled to Samruli on Wednesday morning. The truck driver dropped the two at Narsu Nallah and returned to the Kashmir Valley, Naved has reportedly told his interrogators. He also said that at Narsu Nallah he and his accomplice had tea at a roadside dhaba before launching the attack. Official sources said a massive manhunt has been launched for the unnamed truck driver. The investigating authorities have also obtained CCTV footage of vehicular movement during the mentioned timings through Jawahar Tunnel — between Qazigund and Banihal on NH 1A. Sources said Naved seems to be an “extremely hardened and highly indoctrinated terrorist”. He has constantly changed his statements during interrogation. He was interrogated through Wednesday night and also on Thursday, during which he changed his name from Qasim Khan to Usman Khan to Muhammad Naved Yakub. He also made contradictory statements about his age and for how long he had been in J&K. The only detail consistent in his statements, so far, has been that he is from Ghulam Muhammadabad in Faisalabad, the third-largest city in Pakistan after Karachi and Lahore, and that he was imparted arms training by Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, the sources said. He has reportedly told his interrogators that he had undergone two training modules — “Daur-e-Aam (general period)” and “Daur-e-Khas (special or exclusive period)” — of the LeT. Officials involved in counter-insurgency said that while the first module teaches the LeT cadre physical fitness, mountaineering and use of small arms, in the second they are trained in the use of assault rifles and the manufacture of small explosives…. (Asian Age 7/8/15)

158. Wipe out extremist ideologies from state, Centre tells police (12)

Guwahati: The ministry of home affairs (MHA) has asked the Assam Police to launch a ‘counter-radicalization’ programme to eliminate fundamentalist extremist ideologies in the state. The directive came following a recent intelligence report that marked Assam as ‘vulnerable’ to radical extremism. Besides Assam, 11 other states were marked as vulnerable. A senior police official said, “Counter-radicalization efforts would include counselling of youths, convincing community elders to persuade the younger generation to not get influenced by any extremist ideology, monitoring social media sites and taking preventive steps.” Union home secretary LC Goyal has called a high-level meeting on August 1 to frame strategies to combat radical militancy with senior police and home department officials of all the sensitive states. The MHA instruction has asked the state police to create a mechanism for quickly responding to any report of youths planning to join terror groups like ISIS or other radical outfits. A home department official said the department has been working on a robust system to counter radicalization of local youths. “The presence of Jammat-ul-Mujahedeen of Bangladesh (JMB) in the state has triggered a huge concern. Now, the report of ISIS ideology spreading in the state is surely a matter of serious concern. The state police have been asked to alert all its forces to keep a sharp eye on any such activities,” the official said. The MHA has also directed the state police to constantly monitor the social media websites and create a list of suspicious account holders. (Times of India 7/8/15)

159. Bangladesh police asks bloggers not to ‘cross limit’ (12)

Dhaka: Bangladesh police have asked secular bloggers not to “cross the limit” while writing on religious issues, even as authorities failed to make any headway in the brutal murder of a fourth blogger who hacked to death by suspected al-Qaeda-linked Islamists. “Do not cross the limit. Do not hurt anyone’s religious belief,” Inspector General of Police AKM Shahidul Hoque said. The “freethinkers” should keep in mind that hurting someone’s religious sentiment is a criminal offence, Bdnews quoted Hoque as saying. On the killing of blogger Niloy Chakrabarty Neel, Hoque said police were investigating it “with top priority”.Neel was hacked to death by four assailants inside his flat in the capital’s Goran area on Friday. He is the fourth blogger to have been killed this year. Hours after the gruesome attack, Ansar-Al-Islam, the Bangladesh chapter of al-Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent, had claimed responsibility for killing 40-year-old Neel, terming him an enemy of Allah, but police said involvement of the banned outfit cannot be confirmed yet. Meanwhile, a team of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the US met detectives in Dhaka yesterday. The FBI team wanted to share their technical expertise with local detectives in the investigation, Deputy Commissioner (Detective Branch) Mahbub Alam of Dhaka Metropolitan Police told reporters after the meeting. They also talked about the progress of investigation into the murder of secular writer Avijit Roy, he added. Police had primarily ascertained that the email claiming responsibility for Niloy’s murder was sent from inside Bangladesh, Mahbub said. Replying to a query, Mahbub said the bloodstained T-shirt found at the crime scene was left behind by the killers. “It is a vital piece of evidence.” Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu yesterday said the blogger killings had political motive behind them. “We strongly believe that these are planned murders. Those who wanted to destabilise the country with violence are behind the killings,” said Amu. Apart from Neel, other bloggers killed this year are Avijit Roy, Washiqur Rahman and Ananta Bijoy Das. (Deccan Herald 10/8/15)

160. NIA shifts Udhampur terror accused to Delhi (12)

Jammu: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday shifted Udhampur terror attack accused Muhammad Naveed alias Usman to New Delhi from Jammu and Kashmir. “A special team of the NIA, headed by senior superintendent of police Atul Goel, shifted the accused today (Thursday) to New Delhi in a BSF helicopter,” police sources told IANS in Jammu. The NIA obtained a 14-day remand for the custodial interrogation of the accused from a special NIA designate court in Jammu on August 10. “NIA Director General Sharad Kumar reviewed the progress of the case during his two-day visit here. The DG was also present during one questioning session of the accused,” sources said. Naveed and another terrorist had attacked a BSF bus on August 5 at Narsu Nallah in Udhampur district, killing two troopers and injuring 11 others. While Naveed’s accomplice was killed in the gunfight with BSF troopers, he managed to escape to Samroli, 15 km from the attack site on the Jammu-Srinagar highway. He later took three people hostage in a house in Chirdi village. The Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist was, however, overpowered by his hostages and handed over to local police. The NIA team brought Naveed to the Valley last week to establish his terror links. The NIA rounded up around a dozen people who allegedly sheltered the terrorist and facilitated his passage from the Valley to the terror attack site. A local businessman, alleged to have given Rs.5 lakh to Abu Dujana, the LeT mastermind of the Udhampur attack, is still absconding.  (New Kerala 13/8/15)

161. Attempt to blow up rail track foiled, KLO ultra killed (12)

Kokrajhar: On the eve of Independence day, a joint Army and police team foiled an attempt by Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) militants to blow up a stretch of rail track between Korajhar and Guwahati railway stations in Assam. A KLO militant was killed in the subsequent encounter between security forces and ultras. Based on specific intelligence, the Army and the police had launched an operation at Rabha Para village late last night and spotted some KLO militants trying to plant an Improvised Explosive Device on the track, sources said. The militants opened fire and the security team retaliated, injuring a KLO militant who later died in hospital, the sources said. A 7 kg IED with detonator, a 7.65 mm pistol, a pistol magazine, some fired cases and live rounds and two hand grenades were recovered from the spot, the sources said. The ultras were planning to blow up the track which falls under North East Frontier Railway to disrupt Independence Day celebrations, the sources said. (Deccanm Herald 14/8/15)

162. Pakistan Punjab minister, 18 others killed in suicide hit (12)

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Punjab province’s home minister Shuja Khanzada, known for his tough anti-Taliban stance, was assassinated when two suicide bombers blew themselves up on Sunday at his ancestral house in Shadi Khan village of Attock district, killing at least 19 people and injuring several others, officials said. Seventy-one-year-old Khanzada and a senior police officer were among the 19 people killed when the suicide bombers attacked his political office in his native village. At least 23 others were also injured in the attack. Three critically injured people died later, increasing the toll to 19. The suicide bombers entered the house disguised as visitors and blew themselves up. Due to the blast, roof of the house caved in burying the minister and about 30 to 40 other people. Khanzada, a retired Army colonel, was holding a jirga (reconciliatory meeting with his area people) at his house. Deputy superintendent of police Shaukat Shah and Khanzada’s driver Ghareeb Nawaz were also among thise killed in the attack. The Punjab government revealed that Khanzada had been receiving threats over past few days. “The hall of the building where the meeting was underway collapsed in the blast and over three dozen people, including the minister, were trapped in the rubble,” Punjab province law minister Rana Sanaullah said. Inspector-general of the Punjab police Mushtaq Sukhera said the security personnel of the minister were with him, but the suicide bomber managed to enter the house of the minister. “There were two suicide bombers, one stood outside the boundary wall and the second one went inside and stood in front of the minister. The blast by the bomber standing outside ripped the wall which caused the roof to fall flat on the minister and people gathered there,” Mr Sukhera said. It is still not clear whether the suicide bomber inside the building also detonated a bomb. Rescue operations are still underway at the scene of the attack and there has been no official statement on the fate of the two suicide bombers as yet. There were rival claims for the suicide bombing — Lashkar-e-Islam and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed credit. Taliban-affiliated Lashkar-e-Islam is based mainly in the tribal areas along the Afghan border and it claimed the attack was retaliation for military operations again-st them. Banned outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi also claimed responsibility and linked it to the recent killing of its chief Malik Ishaq in July. It was unclear whether the attack was actually carried out by either outfit, or they were just taking credit for it. Khanzada was given cha-rge of the provincial home department in October last year. PM Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the blast. He said that such kind of acts cannot degrade the nation’s determination and its war against terrorism…. (Asian Age 17/8/15)

163. NIA hints at Maharashtra officials helping terror convicts leave jail, flee (12)

NEW DELHI: A terror financing convict, who was on the run after securing a furlough from Nashik Central Jail in Maharashtra, has been arrested by National Investigation Agency (NIA). The convict and one of his associates had escaped jail a few months ago after obtaining furlough even though rules do not allow furlough to terror convicts. Curiously, the convict was granted furlough a good seven months after his associate had absconded and an FIR lodged against him. The incident prompted NIA director general Sharad Kumar to write to Maharashtra chief secretary Swadhin Kshatriya last month where he asked the top bureaucrat to take strict action against officials who had facilitated the furlough. Hinting at complicity of certain officials, Kumar expressed surprise at how two convicts were granted furlough one after the other even after the first one had absconded after leaving jail. He wrote, “Convicts cannot be allowed to flee like this.” Ravi Dhiren Ghosh and Nuruddin Islam, along with four others, were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by an NIA special court last year on charges of terror financing under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The accused were arrested by Mumbai Police for smuggling 3.50 lakh fake Indian currency notes (FICN) in 2009. The NIA not only proved through scientific evidence that the notes were printed in government press in Pakistan, but also for the first time proved charges of terror financing in an FICN case. However, an allegedly lax administration in Maharashtra, through its divisional commissioner, granted a three-week furlough to Islam on June 23 last year. Islam never returned and an FIR was filed against him on September 23. Not having learnt any lesson, the divisional commissioner granted another three-week furlough on February 21 this year, this time to Islam’s associate Ravi Dhiren Ghosh, who followed his associate’s footsteps. An FIR was duly lodged against him on March 31. This, the NIA chief pointed out in his letter, was against the Bombay Furlough and Parole Rule, 1959 under Prisons Act, 1894. As per rule 4 (13), no furlough can be granted to convicts of dacoity, terrorism, kidnapping and drug smuggling. Ghosh was arrested by NIA from Gulabganj in Malda, West Bengal on Sunday. Sources in Maharashtra administration said his custody would now be taken by state police and he would be questioned on the whereabouts of his associate. …(Times of India 18/8/125)

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

164. Students urge Naxals to join mainstream (12)

Raipur: For the first time in one-and-a-half decades, local tribals, including school students, on Friday took out a huge rally in Chhattisgarh’s south Bastar zone of Konta, a Naxal stronghold, asking Maoists to leave their area. Virtually throwing a challenge to the Naxals in their own den, hundreds of tribals and school students, drawn from nearly a dozen surrounding villages, assembled at Konta in south Bastar district of Sukma and staged demonstration in protest against the martyrs’ week being observed by the ultras currently. The demonstrators were seen waving placards calling upon the Leftwing insurgents to either join the mainstream or leave their area to restore normalcy and peace in the region. The placards and banners dotting the rally read: “stop killing innocent tribals”, “stop demolishing bridges and schools in Bastar” and “we want development, not mindless violence”. “The rally was a manifestation of pent up anger among local tribals against Maoists. Adivasis from a dozen villages participated in the rally. The enthusiasm of the demonstrators can be known from the fact that school students came forward to join the rally,” Sukma district additional superintendent of police (Naxal operation), Santosh Singh, said. “This was the first time, local tribals, perhaps emboldened by waning Maoist influence, dared to take out rally against Naxals in Konta since Leftwing insurgency visited Bastar nearly two decades ago,” a police officer told this newspaper. “This clearly indicates erosion of base of Maoists in south Bastar. This was no doubt an encouraging development for security forces battling ultras in the region,” he added. Adequate security was provided to the rally to avert a possible attack by Maoists. (Asian Age 1/8/15)

165. Naxal, involved in attack on police party, arrested in Delhi (12)

NEW DELHI: A Naxal leader, who was allegedly involved in an attack on a police party in Jharkhand’s Chatra last December, has been arrested by Delhi Police’s special cell. A senior police officer on Monday said that the arrested Naxalite, Nagina, has been a ‘sub-divisional commander’ of Chatra area and was active in Aurangabad, Chatra and adjoining areas. On specific units, a team of special cell arrested him from South West Delhi Sunday night, he said. He was allegedly involved in a Maoist assault on a police party at Itkhori in Chatra district in which one constable was killed and two others were injured in December, 2014. An award of Rs 5 lakh was declared by Jharkhand Police on his arrest. (Times of India 3/8/15)

166. DG CRPF takes stock of Maoist situation in Balangir (12)

Bhubaneswar: Director General (DG) of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Prakash Mishra on Wednesday visited the Maoist-hit Balangir district in Odisha. Mishra visited a CRPF camp at Harishankar and discussed the Maoist issue with the field staff there and also with senior officers. The CRPF DG felt the need for additional deployment of jawans in Balangir district in view of its vulnerability. (Zee news 5/8/15)

167. Six Maoists including ‘area commander’ arrested (12)

Aurangabad: The Bihar Police have arrested six alleged Maoist operatives including an area commander from two different places in Aurangabad district and claimed they were trying to commit a big incident there on the occasion of their bandh call across three States on Thursday. Aurangabad Superintendent of Police Babu Ram said among the arrested Maoists, one identified as Vijay was arrested from Mali village, while five others were nabbed from Bamhauli village under Deo police station limits. “Vijay is the commander of Koel-Sone area and was involved in several incidents of Left-Wing Extremism. Among the other five arrested Maoists, three are from Palamu district in neighbouring Jharkhand, while two are from Aurangabad district,” Mr. Ram said. Mr. Ram said the six were suspected to have been planning to execute some big plan in the wake of Chhattisgarh-Jharkhand-Bihar bandh called by the CPI (Maoist) on Thursday to protest the death of their commander Dr. Shivanand Bhagat alias Sylvester Minz in an encounter with the security forces in Gumla district of Jharkhand. The SP added the arrested persons were being interrogated about their plans and involvement in the past incidents of violence. – PTI (The Hindu 7/8/15)

168. M.P. to raise special force to fight Naxals (12)

NEW DELHI: Madhya Pradesh has decided to form a Special Indian Reserve Battalion (SIRB), a force, that can be deployed across the country for maintaining law and order and fighting naxalism. A total of seven companies and 1,107 posts will be created in the special force. “The SIRB is being established in MP to combat the naxalites. Its headquarters will be at village Kanki of Balaghat district, neighbouring naxal-hit Chhattisgarh,” state Home Minister Babulal Gaur told reporters here. He said the force will be available for other states to help them in maintaining law and order related issues. “In this case, the reimbursement of the expenditure will be done by concerned state government,” Mr Gaur said. The central government will provide Rs 19 crore for arms and ammunition, among others, he said. Mr Gaur, however, refused to answer questions on Vyapam scam. “The CBI is probing the case. Then matter is also subjudice,” he said. Hesaid his department is also implementing a scheme to ensure on-the-spot registration of FIR. Dial 100, a project with total cost of Rs 632.94 crore, will be launched from November 1, this year with an aim to ensure quick response of police to help citizens in time of crisis. Under this scheme, 1,000 special vehicles will be deployed in all the 51 district of Madhya Pradesh. These vehicles will be deployed at the major public places in cities and rural areas, the Home Minister said. These vehicles will be on the road 24×7. “One vehicle will be given to every police station under the scheme. Thus 40 vehicles each to Bhopal, Indore and Gwalior, 20 each to Jabalpur and Ujjain will be given,” Gaur said. The vehicles will be equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS), first aid kit, accident extraction kit and fire extinguisher, among others, he said. – PTI (The Hindu 13/8/15)

169. Salwa judum’s death gives lease of life to village (14)

The decade-long desertion of Bhejji has now come to an end as its natives, who fled the village in the aftermath of salwa judum militia clash, have started returning and resettling in one of the worst Naxal-hit places in Chhattisgarh. Nearly 1,500 villagers had left their homes in Bhejji village of Sukma district in a state of shock and fear when the erstwhile anti-Naxal movement salwa judum was launched in 2005. The villagers were settled at the government-aided “relief camps” at Dornapal and Konta. “We always wanted to come back to our very own land. It’s like our dream come true,” Bhejji village sarpanch Guddu said. Guddu is among the 150 people — around 64 families — who have resettled in Bhejji in the last one month by erecting kuchcha houses (made of natural material like mud, grass, bamboo, thatch or sticks). Deriving its name from Goddess Bhejji Dai (mother) temple located in the village itself, Bhejji lies around 60 km away from the district headquarters. When salwa judum movement was launched in 2005, it was believed to be a ground-breaking solution to the intractable Maoist problem in the state, but contrary to the expectation it triggered an unending violence, Guddu said. “Leaving the ancestral land was never an easy task for us, but we had no option to go for the sake of our lives and see our children alive,” he said. “During ten years of exile, we suffered a lot. But, now gradually things are transforming. The climate of fear and violence is changing, thanks to security forces as well as administration,” the sarpanch said. So far we have succeeded in convincing nearly 150 people, but gradually all 1500 will be brought back to their native land, he said exuding confidence. Equally delighted with the move, villager Hunga said,“In camps, we had to survive on bare minimum food, little water and not much in the form of basic amenities. Those who have migrated to other states to escape the spiral of violence are in a miserable state.” “The resettlement will not only provide us shelter back in our place, but also provide us opportunity to take up farming and other activities for earning livelihood, he said. Remembering the village back then, he said, “Once there was a cooperative bank, a post office, two schools in the village, but everything crumbled in the crossfire. We have came back to the village with a ray of hope to get all those things back and even more than that,” he said. Considered a strategically important place in the Naxal hinterland of Sukma, Bhejji is located around 15 kms away from Injram, situated on Sukma-Konta road — a patch on NH-30 that connects Jagdalpur (district headquarters of Bastar) to Vijaywada in Andhra Pradesh. Three Central Reserve Police Force camps have been set up between Injram and Bhejji, in Etegatta, Gorkha and Kottacheru villages, besides a police station in Bhejji that was constructed long back. Meanwhile, the police sees the resettlement of villagers as their achievement. “With the new deployment of security forces, we have been able to win the confidence of people. Definitely it is our achievement that people from the camps are resettling in their villages braving Maoist threat,” Sukma additional superintendent of police Santosh Singh said. Thousands of tribals are living in camps in different districts of Bastar region since past several years. Now it’s our duty to ensure them a safe and peaceful environment at their native places which they had abandoned, he said. “We are gradually making efforts to motivate them to settle back on their own land and begin their life in a new way without any fear and shock,” the ASP said. (Asian Age 14/8/15)

170. Ranchi SSP, two others injured; 1 constable dead in Naxal encounter (12)

RANCHI: Ranchi SSP Prabhat Kumar and two other policemen were injured in a gunbattle with Left wing extremists at Dulmi village on the border of Ranchi and Khunti districts on Tuesday evening, DIG Ranchi Arun Kumar Singh said. According to reports, one police constable lost his life in the gunbattle. Kumar sustained bullet injuries in his armpit. “I had a talk with Kumar after he sustained bullet injuries. He is out of danger,” Singh said. An anti-Naxal operation was launched after police got intelligence inputs that Maoists were hiding in the border areas. The police officials have rushed the SSP and the injured officials to hospital in Ranchi. The policemen were not able to give official version of the encounter because most of them are occupied in the rescue operation. (Times of India 18/8/15)

171. Body of tribal found; allegedly killed by Maoists (12)

BERHAMPUR: Bullet-riddled body of a tribal allegedly killed by the Maoists was located on a village road near Telarai under Motu police station limits in Malkangiri district of Odisha on Monday morning. According to police sources, the deceased was identified as Gurumurthy Madhi, a resident of Telarai village. The area residents informed the police about the body after they found it. Family members of the deceased said Gurumurthy had been abducted from his home by a group of ultras at late night on Aug 15. The assailants had left behind handwritten posters in the name of outlawed Maoist organisation near the body. Through the posters the leftist extremists had alleged that Gurumurthy was a police informer and was involved in motivating Maoist supporters of his area to renounce violence and return to mainstream. It may be noted that in recent months there have been series of surrender of Maoist elements in Malkangiri district. Following this incident, security has been heightened in the area with increased combing operation to track down the assailants. Senior police officials denied about the links between the deceased and the police force. They claimed that the deceased was a soft target for the Naxalites, who had killed him only to terrorise the tribals living in remote areas. (The Hindu 18/8/15)

172. Maoist pamphlet warns Ministers, oil company (12)

NALGONDA: The Viplava Karmika Samkhya (VPS) of the CPI (Maoist) has sent a pamphlet to a newspaper office in Nalgonda warning the management of Oil Country Tubular Limited (OCTL) located at Narketpally, Ministers T. Harish Rao and Nayani Narasimha Reddy and Nakrekal MLA Vemula Veeresham on the issue of “removing about 500 employees from the company”. Signed by VPS Secretary Azad, the two-page pamphlet alleged that the TRS government had colluded with management of the OCTL. According to the pamphlet, the management had been exploiting the workers for e 30 years without following basic labour laws such as payment of minimum wages and holidays. The VPS alleged the OCTL had not even allowed the workers to form trade unions in the industry. About 25 officers working in six departments, belonging to high castes, were harassing the workers, the pamphlet said. When some workers had formed a trade union, the management had removed about 500 workers from the duties nine months ago, the pamphlet said. These workers had staged protest a number of times during these nine months and also met the Nakrekal MLA, the Irrigation Minister and the Home Minister, but they had refused to intervene in the matter, it said. The pamphlet warned Executive Chairman of OCTL Kamineni Suryanarayana and manager Venubabu saying that they would get the punishment of what the exploiters of workers had been given in the past. The VPS asked the newspaper to highlight “secret understanding of the TRS with industrialists from Andhra”. The pamphlet asked the management and the TRS leaders to be prepared to face the punishment in public court. The VPS called upon people to respond on the injustice done to poor workers. (The Hindu 20/8/15)

TRAFFICKING

173. Bastar police acts after ST/SC commission’s notice, 3 held for trafficking of Bijapur girl (1)

RAIPUR: Taking cognizance after notice issued by National Commission for Scheduled Tribes to Chhattisgarh police for delay in lodging FIR and furnishing details, Bijapur police in Bastar finally lodges FIR and arrested three persons, weeks after rescue of Bijapur tribal girl who was trafficked as minor to Delhi. TOI had prominently raised the issue soon after which notice was issued wherein no action was taken against the employers too, who had put the girl in confinement at Autromline in New Delhi. Talking to TOI, Bijapur SP KL Dhruve said that team of police personnel now plan to arrest the employers from Delhi soon after roads would open with end of Maoists’ martyrs week on August 3. Chhattisgarh police was issued notice by National Commission for Scheduled Tribes on June 26 soon after rescue of tribal girl from Bastar after eight years of confinement from a house in New Delhi, whom TOI had named Leela to seal her identity being minor. While the notice demanded police to furnish facts and figures about girl’s right age, reason for delay in lodging FIR and why the provisions of ST/SC Atrocities (Prevention) Act and Bonded Labour Act were not invoked against accused. Delhi-based NGO Shakti Vahini had also complained against the cops for not registering case of bonded labour, illegal confinement, forced labour and violation of provision of SC/ST Act 1989, despite the girl’s statement. SP said that immediately on June 27, FIR was lodged against employer Subhash Sharma, trafficker Vijay Lakda and his two aides in placement agencies in Delhi and a manhunt was launched. He explained that as the girl’s parents had died, police waited for her legal guardians to file FIR, as the cause of delay. Accused Vijay Lakda was arrested recently under Section 363, 370, 368 of the IPC, Section 17 of Bonded Labour Act and Section 9 (1), (2) of Chhattisgarh private placement agencies Act, 2013. Subsequently, Vijay Kullu of placement agency in Delhi who hailed from Odisha, along with Sebastian aleas Buddhu from Odisha were also arrested. However, FIR against Subhash Sharma and wife who had kept the 16-year-old girl in confinement for more than seven years in Delhi, was also lodged. SP said that while interrogating Lakda, it was found that traffickers like Lakda identify minor girls and boys who are poor and have weak family background and lure them to work in Delhi. Most of them never return, but Leela as she raised, she realised it was confined life she was leading, and alerted a neighbour. Meanwhile, officer on duty, CID child cell said that request has been sent to department of women and child to pay relief compensation to Leela of Rs 20000. Bastar has lately been emerging as hub of child trafficking from where children are enslaved not only for domestic work in metro cities but also forced into child labour in chilly picking, thread weaving, brick kiln and poultry farming in places including Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Goa. About 552 children were reported missing in last three years of which Jagdalpur, Kanker, Bastar, Kondagaon, Dantewada and Narayanpur are among most affected regions. However, data maintained by Anti-Human Trafficking Unit shows 159 children trafficked in Bastar division. According to police records, at least 79 children were rescued following a tip off in November 2014 from an egg factory in Tamil Nadu. Children were enslaved for picking eggs and were abused during night by senior contractors. In 2014 more than 300 children were rescued from factories in Goa, Bangalore in Karnataka, Badrachalam in Telangana, Erode, Namakkal in Tamil Nadu, Renukoot in Uttar Pradesh and Goa. (Times of India 1/8/15)

174. ‘Girl may have been trafficked to Pak’Kelly Kislaya,(1)

RANCHI: The 23-year-old Indian girl living in Pakistan for the past 10 years could be a trafficking victim from Jharkhand, social activists and experts. Rishi Kant, a social activist and member of Delhi-based NGO Shakti Vahini, said, “As Jharkhand is a trafficking prone state, if the girl is from Jharkhand then she was probably trafficked and she managed to escape from the clutches of placement agencies and landed in Pakistan. However, her citizenship should first be checked and the Government of India should investigate the matter thoroughly.” Giridhari Ram Gaunjhu, former head of tribal and regional languages department at Ranchi University and a tribal culture expert, feel the same way. “Jharkhand has always been a trafficking hub and if the girl really is from Jharkhand then probably she was trafficked to Delhi or Punjab from where she escaped and crossed the border,” he said. Geeta alias Guddi is staying at a shelter home in Pakistan run by NGO Edhi Foundation. Talking to TOI on phone from Pakistan, Faisal Edhi of Edhi foundation said, “She was found by Pakistan rangers when she crossed the border and as she was only 12-13 years old at the time, and as she was deaf and mute, the rangers handed her to us on humanitarian grounds.” The girl uses Devnagiri script but what she writes is not Hindi. CID IG Sampat Meena said the photographs of her writing would be circulated among SPs of all districts to find out if it is a local language or not. “First we need to make sure if she is from Jharkhand. I will be forwarding the images of her scripts to all SPs to know if it is a local language or not and if it is then we will at least get to know the area she belongs to,” she said. While the Pakistani NGO knew that the girl was from India, it was only three days ago that her Jharkhand connection was revealed. “One person came to visit her and showed her a map of India. She pointed at Jharkhand and Telangana. By her gestures she explained that her father is from Jharkhand and mother from Telangana. She points somewhere towards the south of Ranchi,” said Edhi. The NGO members also informed that Geeta wrote down a number 193, which is possibly the number of her house. Edhi said, “The girl gestures that there is a river and a railway station near her house. She is a devoted Hindu and in her room she keeps an Idol of Ganesh and a photograph of Shiva which she worships regularly.” Edhi claimed that in past they had contacted the Indian Embassy but as the girl carried no documents she was not sent to India. Meanwhile, Ansar Burney, a leading Pakistani human rights activist, has also launched a movement to reunite the girl with her parents and tweeted minister of external affairs, Sushma Swaraj about the search to which Swaraj had replied on twitter on Monday, “I have asked Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Dr TCA Raghavan to go to Karachi with Mrs Raghavan and meet this girl.” (Times of India 4/8/15)

175. 27 Nepalese trafficking victims return from India (1)

Kathmandu: Twenty-seven Nepalese women rescued in New Delhi when they were to be trafficked to Dubai have returned home. The women, who had been promised lucrative employment opportunities, were rescued by Indian police two weeks ago, reports Xinhua news agency. The women, aged between 20 and 35 years, were taken to New Delhi on different dates. Most of these women were from earthquake-hit districts of Nepal. (Business Standard 6/8/15)

176. Father among six held for child trafficking (1)

COIMBATORE: Police have arrested six persons in connection with the trafficking of a one-year-old girl of Sowripalayam in Coimbatore City. The arrested include the child’s father Raman (28) and couple from Thengapattinam in Kanyakumari district, to whom the child was sold. On Saturday, the Peelamedu Police and the Anti Human Trafficking Wing Police returned from Kanyakumari with the child who was handed over to her mother Meena. Shalini, who was reunited with her mother after a gap of 11-days, is the third daughter of the couple. Raman had lamented to Thangasamy and Kumarasamy from Kanyakumari that faced difficulty in managing the family. The duo had suggested that he give away his youngest daughter. Though Raman initially refused, he gave in after they offered him money. Meanwhile at Kanyakumari district, Vijayakumar (42) a mason and his wife Raniprabha (38) who did not have a child for more than 15 years approached a nurse Rita (35) – a friend of Thangasamy and Kumarasamy – for a child. After negotiations, Thangasamy, Kumarasamy and Rita plotted with Raman to take the child to Kanyakumari. The family of five went to Kanyakumari on July 27. There, Raman gave money to Meena and asked her to take the elder daughters for shopping and offered to take care of one-year-old Shalini. Raman later told Meena – who returned from shopping – that Shalini was missing. After searching for the child they returned to Coimbatore. Meena grew suspicions of her husband as he had a lot of money. Later Raman confessed to selling their daughter. Meena lodged a complaint with the city police who registered a case and launched a search for the missing child. Inquiries revealed that Thangasamy, Kumarasamy and Rita bought the baby for Rs. 65,000 from Raman and sold her to Vijayakumar and Raniprabha for Rs. 2.25 lakh. The police arrested Raman, Thangasamy, Kumarasamy, Rita, Vijayakumar and his wife Raniprabha and remanded them in judicial custody. (The Hindu 9/8/15)

177. Rescued trafficking victims to interact with Kailash Satyarthi (1)

RANCHI: Victims of human trafficking and child labour will soon get a chance to interact directly with the governor of Jharkhand Droupadi Murmu and Nobel Laureate and founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan NGO, Kailash Satyarthi. Jharkhand commission for protection of child rights (JSCPCR) will be organizing a Baal Jan Samvad in the first week of September in which the trafficking and child labour survivors will directly share their experience, problems and plans with the governor and Satyarthi. JSCPCR member Sanjay Mishra said, “We have been planning to call Satyarthi to Jharkhand for a long time but he has had a busy schedule. However, this time the programme is final and he will confirm us the date soon.” However, tracing down all survivors will be a challenge for the commission. “We have a list of addresses and contacts of 779 rescued children and they will all be called for the dialogue. This apart, we will include the children rescued during Operation Muskaan of CID. Also we will be contacting the other NGOs and also the child welfare committees of the state to provide us with the list of children who have survived trafficking and child labour,” Mishra said. Satyarthi will also be interacting with selected students from various institutes of the state like Xavier Institute of Social Service (XISS), XLRI and IIM Ranchi. Mishra said, “We will soon be contacting these institutes to shortlist the names of students who will participate in the programme. These students will discuss options to provide a better life to the rescued children and chalk out plans for the same.” (Times of India 12/8/15)

178. U.P. to form task force to check human trafficking (1)

Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh government has decided to constitute a task force to check human trafficking on the directive of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, official sources said on Thursday. It has also been decided to strengthen anti-human trafficking units and give a serious consideration to give them status of police stations, an official spokesman said here. The decisions were taken during State-level advisory committee held on Thursday. It was decided to study rules framed by the other States relating to placement agencies and migrant labour and frame a new rulebook for U.P. For better training of employees involved in checking human trafficking and maintain uniformity it was decided to follow standard operating procedure. It was directed to register complaints relating to missing child on priority basis. – PTI (The Hindu 13/8/15)

179. Gang which trafficking girls from Bengal busted (1)

NEW DELHI: A gang of traffickers who used to sell girls to be married off to men in Haryana has been busted by the crime branch. According to police, the gang used to drug the girls and bring them to Delhi from North Dinajpur district of West Bengal. They would be sold for about a lakh to the prospective groom. TOI had first reported about the gang after one of girls managed to call her relative in West Bengal and got a dealer arrested. However, the kingpin of the gang managed to evade police. Recently police got a tip-off that two girls would be brought to Delhi and offered for sale to a farmer in Haryana. The deal would take place at the house of a dealer named Ram Bhawan who was arrested earlier. “A team led by DCP D K Gupta was formed and trap was laid during which Raju, the kingpin, was arrested. He admitted that he had trafficked girls,” said Ravindra Yadav, joint commissioner, crime. During investigation, it was found that one of their victims were sold at Rewari through Ram Bhawan and his wife Laxmi. It was also found that the recent transaction took place 10 days ago where a man named Ashok who is a resident of Rewari had bought a minor girl for Rs 80,000 and married her at a court. Police said Raju (29) along with a woman Wasabi Barman (35) and Suraj had drugged both the victims and brought them to Delhi. They were first confined at Ram Bhavan where the grooms had to pay Rs 2500 to spend a day with the girls they wanted to buy and later pay the rest of the money to get married. Officers say that accused admitted that they used to take an advantage of the declining sex ratio of Haryana and sell the girls to the households where they would be treated as slaves. They would be forced into physical relationships with several men at a time, to bear children. Such circumstances have led to difficulties in finding matrimonial match for the landless and unskilled males. Therefore, they have been indulging in illegally procuring poor girls from other lesser developed states for marriage, said a police officer. (Times of India 19/8/15)

CORRUPTION

180. Vyapam scam: CBI files five more FIRs (5)

New Delhi: The CBI on Monday registered five new FIRs in connection with its ongoing probe into the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh. The first case was registered against two people on charges of cheating by impersonation in the constable recruitment examination 2013 (II). The second First Information Report was registered against some unknown people on the charge of leak of question paper in the patwari recruitment examination 2008 held under Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal (Vyapam), or the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB). The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered the third case for cheating by impersonation against 24 accused in the police constable recruitment examination conducted by Vyapam in 2012. The fourth case was registered against four people for impersonation in respect of three candidates in constable recruitment examination-2013. The fifth case was registered against two persons for impersonation by certain persons in respect of one candidate in constable recruitment examination-2012. The FIRs were registered on charges of cheating, criminal conspiracy, and under the Information Technology Act, Prevention of Corruption Act and the Madhya Pradesh Recognised Examination Act. The CBI has already registered 27 FIRs and launched 11 preliminary inquiries into the Vyapam scam. The Supreme Court on July 9 handed over the Vyapam cases to the central agency from July 13. Over 40 people linked with the scam have died under mysterious circumstances or committed suicide. (New Kerala 3/8/15)

181. Parliament logjam continues, LS Speaker Sumitra Mahajan suspends 25 MPs (5)

New Delhi: There seems no respite in the ongoing impasse in the Parliament as no work was carried out for the tenth day on Monday and as many as 25 Congress MPs of the Lok Sabha were suspended by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. Amid ruckus and continuous protests by the opposition, both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha were adjourned for the day without any work. Earlier in the day, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tried to defend herself over the allegations levelled against her for helping former Indian Premier League (IPL) commissioner Lalit Modi to procure travel papers to UK. I wanted to clarify this from the very beginning but the opposition is not ready for any discussion. They only resort to ruckus and chaos. I did not ever request UK government to arrange the travel papers for Lalit Modi, Swaraj said even as the oppositions created chaos in the Upper House. However, the Congress said that Sushma Swarajs statement should not be taken on record as it was done without notice. Retaliating back, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, I agree with Congress demand that anything spoken against permission of Chairperson should be removed from the records. Whatever was said against Sushma Swaraj in last few days should be removed from the record. Anand Sharma wants to put censorship on media coverage of House proceedings as the Minister is ready to respond, he accused in turn. Deputy Chairperson of Rajya Sabha PJ Kurien also asked the House to maintain order if they wanted a ruling, warning that the House shall be adjourned otherwise. He said, If a minister responds to the allegation being made by opposition, then nothing to take cognizance to it. The Opposition made allegation and the minister responded, why to worry. The Congress-led opposition parties continued to demand the resignation of Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje for their alleged help to disgraced cricket tycoon Lalit Modi and of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the Vyapam recruitment scam. However, the government ruled out the resignations stating that no FIR has been filed against any of their ministers. Ministers of UPA resigned not because BJP is demanding. There was an FIR in one case. PM believes in zero tolerance towards corruption. There is not an iota of charge against these ministers, said Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu. In Lok Sabha, similar kind of ruckus took place where at one point Speaker Sumitra Mahajan named Congress leaders who held placards and asked them to keep aside the posters and take their seats. Opposition members entered the well of the House. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh once again said the government was ready for a debate but ruled out any resignations. We are ready for discussion. Opposition cannot be ignored in democracy. I clarify that there is no FIR against any of our minister, nor any complaint with CVC, so there is no question of any resignation, said Singh. But with ruckus continuing, Mahajan suspended 25 Congress MPs, including Gaurav Gogoi, Deepender Singh Hooda, MK Raghavan, Venugopal amongst many others, for disrupting the House proceedings for five consecutive working days. Earlier, assailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi for being silent on scandals involving his party colleagues, Congress President Sonia Gandhion Mondaymade it clear that her party would continue protests in the Parliament until the ruling BJP agreed to remove its leaders caught in various controversies. We will fight against the brazen attitude of the government, she said at the Congress Parliamentary Party meeting. The PM has been very free with his promises yet he seems totally incapable of delivering on them – for its silence on acts of monumental corruption, its willful violations of law and gross misdemeanors on part of its leading lights, she said. The Mann ki baat man appears to retreat into a Maun Vrat whenever there is a scandal involving his colleagues, she said. Her sharp reaction came ahead of an all-party meeting that was scheduled to be held later in the day to discuss a way out of the deadlock that has stalled business in Parliament since the Monsoon session began. However, the Congress rejected the debate and said Swaraj should resign first. Sonia Gandhi said: Today, we have to listen to sermons on parliamentary behaviour from those who not only defended but also advocated disruption as a legitimate tactic when we they were in the opposition. (New Kerala 3/8/15)

182. Vyapam scam whistle-blower’s wife transferred again (5)

MUMBAI: There seems to be no end to the harassment of Vyapam whistle-blower Anand Rai and his family. Weeks after the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh shunted out doctor Anand Rai from Indore to Dhar, his wife, a gynaecologist, has now been transferred to the same district — her second transfer in one month. Gauri Rai was transferred from the civil hospital at Mhow in Indore to Ujjain district hospital in July. Dr. Rai said the persistent hounding of his family was to “demoralise and destabilise” him. It was also an attempt to influence the CBI probe into the recruitment scam. “The government is aware that the whistle-blowers are good resource for the CBI. To ensure that we play no part in the probe, we are being pressured and entangled in a legal battle to divert our resources and attention,” Dr. Rai told The Hindu. Dr. Gauri Rai, 33, was suspended in January for seeking childcare leave. Despite filing for a childcare leave she received no reply from her department for over six months. She moved the Indore High Court. Though she was reinstated, she was last month transferred to Ujjain even as four other doctors suspended along with her were promoted. On July 31, Dr. Gauri Rai was summoned by the Principal Secretary (Health), Gauri Singh, who asked her to withdraw her PIL in the childcare case. Dr. Rai, who has a young child to nurture, says the transfer would pose serious health and security issues for her. Dr. Rai is under police protection. The Rais have challenged the transfers in the Indore High Court. Mr. Rai, a former RSS office-bearer who has played a vital role in exposing the scam, was shunted to Dhar — a tribal belt — just days after he lodged a complaint against senior BJP leader and former Union Minister Vikram Verma. Dhar, in the Malwa region, is Mr. Verma’s home turf and Neena Verma, his wife, is the local MLA. “I feel unsafe. I can be attacked anytime. I will have no one to go to,” Mr. Rai said while lamenting the ineffectiveness of the Whistle-blowers Protection Act. In his complaint to the CBI on July 17, Mr. Rai alleged that the BJP leader used his power and influence to get his daughter, who was pursuing MBBS in a college in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad, transferred to the Gandhi Medical College in Bhopal. (The Hindu 4/8/15)

183. No HC reprieve for former KPT chairman in corruption case (5)

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat high court on Thursday rejected the discharge pleas filed by former chairman of Kandla Port Trust (KPT), A Janardan Rao and other officials in connection with the charges of cheating, criminal conspiracy and corruption leveled against them by the Central Bureau of Investigation in 2008. Justice J B Pardiwala turned down the petitions on the ground that only circumstantial evidence can establish conspiracy and for that the prosecution should be given enough chance. At the time of framing of charges, it is not necessary for CBI to establish beyond all reasonable doubt that the accusations are true. This stage is not expected to be dress-rehearsal of a trial. CBI had registered an FIR against Rao, two other KPT officials and two private firms as well on charge of irregularities in awarding contracts and in allotting lands. CBI alleged that the officials conspired with the private companies and concealed facts to change the purpose of land and transferred land at rates much lower than prescribed one. CBI filed chargesheet in 2011 and Rao and other accused sought discharge from the special CBI court in Mirzapur court campus in the city. When the special court rejected the discharge pleas, they moved the high court. The HC observed that Rao’s approval for transfer of lease hold rights in respect of plots by itself would not constitute an offence. At the same time, failure to recover transfer fees and ground rent keeping in mind the policy and guidelines issued by the Centre itself would also not constitute an offence. “But it is the conglomeration of all the circumstances which creates strong suspicion regarding a well hatched conspiracy,” the court observed. (Times of India 6/8/15)

184. Chhattisgarh PDS scam: Approach HC, SC tells petitioners (5)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked petitioners seeking a court-monitored CBI probe into the public distribution system (PDS) scam in Chhattisgarh to approach the high court as it was in a better position to address the issue. A bench of Justice T.S. Thakur, Justice V. Gopala Gowda and Justice R. Banumathi said “the high court will be in a better position to examine the matter and record the findings”.”If you have any difficulty, you can always come to us. It will not be right (for the apex court) to listen to everything, grab and not let the high court function,” the bench told the petitioners. At the outset of the hearing, when Justice Thakur asked counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for one of the petitioners, to go to the Chhattisgarh High Court, he replied: “In this case, top authorities are involved. You name them, they are there.” Telling the court “Why I said what I had said”, Sibal added that even the head of the Anti-Corruption Bureau has said in a video that some dimensions of the PDS scam reaches a place which they cannot investigate. When high dignitaries are involved, what investigation will take place, Sibal asked, and quoted the ACB chief as saying: “There are certain people we can’t reach.” The counsel said investigators have got a diary that contains all the names. As Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Chhattisgarh, sought to dispute what was being attributed to the Chhattisgarh ACB chief, Sibal took out a mobile phone, urging the apex court to listen to the video recording of what the ACB chief said. Sibal said the state corporation was purchasing paddy from farmers and giving it to rice mills, and they in turn were returning third rate rice which beneficiaries under PDS were refusing to take. The court witnessed some frayed tampers as the attorney general said the entire matter was “politically motivated”, while Sibal retaliated saying “politically motivated at your end”.As one of the lawyers told the court that in the FIR, 26 people were named but it came down to 16 in the charge sheet, Rohatgi said: “Go back to the special judge and tell him that these are the people.” (New Kerala 12/8/15)

185. Rs 6,500 crore disclosed so far under new black money law (5)

New Delhi: Vowing to make India corruption-free, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15 said Rs 6,500 crore of undeclared foreign assets have been brought to book since framing of a tough blackmoney law and the drive will continue despite ‘side-effects’. Another Rs 4,500 crore has come through action under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) during the last 10 months, he said outlining the series of steps taken by the government to tackle the menace of black money. In his address to the nation from ramparts of the Red Fort on the 69th Independence Day, Modi said several important steps including agreements with countries like the US for real time sharing of information on Indian nationals holding assets abroad, have been taken. The government has enacted a new foreign black money law with stringent punishments, which some have termed as too harsh that may lead to inspector raj. “Sometimes when disease is very dreadful, then injections are needed. When injection is administered, doctors say there may be side-effects. But, this bitter pill is the only cure for this ailment,” he said. Modi said Rs 10,000 crore was recovered in 10 years since framing of PMLA. Of this, “Rs 4,500 crore has come in the last 10 months,” he added. “We have not showed our commitment to fight corruption by holding a press conference, but by taking action on ground. And we have achieved results. We have tried to change system,” he said. Promising a “corruption-free” India, he said, “corruption is a termite” that continues to persist at lower levels. Modi said that immediately after coming to power in May last year, the BJP government constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money and later enacted a Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015. The new law provided for a 90-day compliance window ending September 30 to foreign assets holders to declare undisclosed assets, pay a total of 60 per cent tax and penalty to escape jail term of up to 10 years. The tax and penalty on income declared under the window has to be paid by December 31. Speaking on the response to one-time window provided to blackmoney hoarder to comply with the new law, he said, “people may not agree but it (compliance window) is working. People have declared undisclsoed income of about Rs 6,500 crore. This money will come into the treasury and will be used for betterment of the poor.” “The process to bring back blackmoney is long but the work is continuing… benefits have started to accrue. No one can now dare to send blackmoney abroad,” he said. (Asian Age 15/8/15)

186. CBI registers one more case in Vyapam; total cases 71 (5)

New Delhi: CBI on Monday registered one more case in connection with the alleged cheating, forgery and irregularities in the conduct of examinations by Vyapam in Madhya Pradesh, taking the total number of cases filed to 71. “A case has been registered u/s 120B r/w 417, 419, 420, 467, 468, 471 of IPC and Section 3(d)/4 of MP Recognised Examinations Act, 1937 against eight accused persons relating to an alleged illegalities committed in the Police Constable Recruitment Test 2013 conducted by Vyapam,” CBI Press Information Officer R K Gaur said. CBI is fast-tracking taking over of cases related to Vyapam after it was pulled up by Supreme Court which had also asked it to file a report by August 24. Allegations of rampant corruption surfaced in professional examinations conducted by Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB), also known as Vyapam, after RTI queries showed alleged involvement of top functionaries of state government offices. Former state Education Minister Laxmikant Sharma and several top bureaucrats are currently in jail in connection with the scam. (Zee News 17/8/15)

187. CBI registers DA case against A. Raja  (5)

New Delhi, Aug 19 (PTI): The Central Bureau of Investigation has registered a disproportionate assets case against former Telecom Minister A. Raja and 16 others, including his family members and friends. After registering the case in special CBI court, the agency on Wednesday carried out searches in Delhi, Chennai, Coimbatore, Tiruchirappalli and Perambalur. The sources said during the probe of 2G spectrum allocation scam against Raja they have come across assets which were disproportionate to the known sources of the former minister. The charges, they said, levelled against Raja in the present FIR are under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act Raja is already facing CBI investigations in the 2G telecom spectrum allocation scam of 2008, in which trial is going on. The Enforcement Directorate is also probing the case in this regard. Raja had declared assets worth Rs 1.45 crore in his election declaration in 2014, while that of his wife worth Rs 93.93 lakh. His daughter holds assets worth Rs 18.15 lakh. (The Telegraph 19/8/15)

188. Corruption taint on BJP in Gujarat, Goa (5)

AHMEDABAD: A special anti-corruption court in Gandhinagar on Wednesday ordered criminal prosecution of Gujarat minister for animal husbandry Purshottam Solanki, former minister Dilip Sanghani and five retired bureaucrats in connection with the alleged Rs 440-crore fisheries scam. The court order followed a complaint against Solanki and others by a businessman, Ishaq Maradia, who accused him of arbitrarily awarding fishing contracts for 58 reservoirs in 2008. The court got the case probed by the police and on the basis of the probe report submitted in May 2014 and material given by Maradia, additional sessions judge Rizwana Ghoghari concluded that there were sufficient grounds for a trial. She directed the court registry and criminal branch to launch criminal prosecution against the seven accused under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The bureaucrats who would be tried include then secretary of fisheries and co-operatives department Arun Sutaria and former deputy secretary Victor Kharadi. Complainant’s advocate Vikram Thakore said Maradia approached the Gujarat high court in 2008, alleging irregularities in awarding fishing contracts to certain groups by not following rules laid down by the state government in 2004. The rules make it mandatory for a department to invite tenders for awarding a contract to a private party. The high court concluded that there were real irregularities in the awarding of contracts by Solanki and cancelled them. Following the HC order, Maradia approached the trial court for initiating criminal prosecution against Solanki and Sanghani on corruption charges. But the then state government, led by under Narendra Modi, denied permission for prosecution. Subsequently, Maradia approached the high court again. (Times of India 20/8/15)

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

189. Activists launch agitation against GM mustard (9)

New Delhi: A group of activists and civil society outfits on Friday vowed to resist the entry of genetically modified (GM) mustard into India, a statement said. Pledging to work towards ensuring seed sovereignty, biodiversity conservation, protecting farm livelihoods and food safety in the country, the group launched the “Sarson Satyagraha (mustard agitation)” at Rajghat here. “The current opaqueness around GM mustard shows that they have something to hide,” the statement issued by the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture, one of the participating organisations said. “If the government does not keep the interests of citizens, their health and environment at the top of its decisions, citizens will be forced to intensify their satyagraha,” it added. While raising questions around the genuineness of the research claims around GM mustard, the experts cited data on the increased illnesses in countries like the US after the advent of GM foods. The group also sent a letter to Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar raising important concerns related to GM mustard while deciding to initiate a public debate on the issue through public awareness creation. The central government is yet to take a call on introduction of Genetically Modified (GM) crops in the country including GM mustard, first genetically engineered food crop in the country. The GM mustard ‘DMH 11 (Dhara Mustard Hybrid 11)’ has been developed by the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants, University of Delhi. (Business Standard 1/8/15)

190. Citing India, Obama unveils clean power plan (9)

Washington: President Barack Obama unveiled a plan to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants citing how global climate changes were affecting the world with more storms, droughts and floods and decimating crops from India to Africa. “This is our moment to get this right and leave something better for our kids,” he said calling his Clean Power Plan “the single most important step America has ever taken in the fight against global climate change.” “Climate change is no longer just about the future we’re predicting for our children or our grandchildren, it’s about the reality that we’re living with every day – right now,” said Obama pointing to stronger storms, deeper droughts and more frequent floods. The White House says the revised Clean Power Plan seeks to increase the required cuts in carbon emissions from the power sector, demanding they be slashed 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030-up from the 30 percent requirement in the original draft regulation. Obama said such a reduction means “we’ll be keeping 870 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution out of our atmosphere.” Earlier addressing the Young African Leaders Initiative Presidential Summit Town Hall, Obama said “Global climate change will affect everybody.” “And because the changes could be so severe, frankly, the countries that are most likely to be adversely affected are the poorer countries because they have less margin for error.” “So if you have changing weather patterns in, let’s say, the Indian Subcontinent, and the monsoon rains shift, suddenly you could have millions of people whose crops completely fail,” Obama said. “Well, the same is true in Africa-if rain patterns and drought starts changing, subsistence farmers are completely vulnerable,” he said. Asked how Obama’s Clean Power Plan relates to world climate summit in Paris in December, his press secretary Josh Earnest cited “lot of success” in getting significant commitments from several countries including India, China and Brazil. “We have had a lot of success in getting other countries to make significant commitments alongside the United States when we make important domestic commitments when it comes to reducing carbon pollution.” During Obama’s visit to China last November, China had made a significant commitment to “cap carbon emissions in China on or around 2030.” “We saw a similar dynamic when President (Dilma) Rousseff of Brazil visited the White House, where both Presidents made a commitment to reduce carbon emissions,” he said. “We saw commitments from India when it comes to the deployment of renewable energy technology.” (Business Standard 4/8/15)

191. Toxic air choked 35,000 to death in 10 years: Ministry (9)

NEW DELHI: Union environment ministry, which generally avoids sharing details of air pollution-linked deaths, made an exception on Thursday when it said in Parliament that more than 35,000 people had died due to acute respiratory infections (ARI) across India in close to 10 years. More than 2.6 crore cases were reported every year during the period. Although international studies have attributed far more deaths to air pollution in India, this was a rare official admission that pollution could be causing deaths on a large scale. The number of annual ARI cases reported by environment and forest minister Prakash Javadekar was high by any measure. “Air pollution is known to be one of the aggravating factors for many respiratory ailments and cardiovascular diseases,” Javadekar stated, sharing the data provided by the health and family welfare ministry. According to the data, 3.48 crore cases came to light in 2014, which means more than 95,000 Indians of all ages were reporting acute respiratory infection every day. Responding to a Parliament question on impact of air pollution, the minister in his written response in Rajya Sabha stated, “Asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic bronchitis etc are the diseases caused by exposure to increasing air pollution.”… (Times of India 7/8/15)

192. Govt brings in green policy to combat depleting rainfall (9)

Mumbai: Taking note of the depleting amount of rainfall in the state in recent years and the current dry spell, the government has come out with a new green city policy that has been operational since July 31. The policy lays emphasis on afforestation on private and land reserved for community purposes, protection and increasing of biodiversity. It places the responsibility of drawing up plans for afforestation on local self-governing bodies. As per the National Forest Policy, 1988, the state should have a forest cover over 33 per cent of its total land area. An official from the state forest department said that keeping the national forest policy in mind, the government has drawn up the concept of Green Maharashtra, wherein trees will be required to be planted on vacant land. However, the government did admit that finding vacant land in urban areas is difficult as there is 45 per cent urbanisation in the state due to rapid industrialisation, commerce and rise in employment opportunities. “The local self governing bodies will have to seek assistance from enviromentalists and ecology experts while formulating plans to planting trees in open spaces, in the vicinity of water bodies and along both the sides of the roads,” the official said. He also added that the civic bodies would have to implement this policy by utilising their existing manpower. “The civic bodies may also select from among Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM), non-governmental bodies and voluntary organisations working in forest and environment sector to help them in working out the green policy,” the official said. As per the guidelines, the civic bodies will have to take into account the local situation, climate, soil quality, rainfall, availability of water and other factors while selecting quality and sturdy plant species for plantation. “While planting trees care should be taken that there is a mix of fruit bearing trees, shade providing trees, trees of medicinal value and ornamental plants. After plantation of the trees in order to ensure that at least 80 to 90 per cent of it survives for the next five years and protect it from animals and damage. The civic body shall be permanently responsible for protecting and preserving it. To provide the plants with sufficient water and other measures,” the official said. He said that from next year, the civic bodies, in order to ensure availability of tree saplings, shall develop their own plant nurseries. For this, the civic bodies shall consult the social forestry and forest department for seeds, fertilisers, medicines and other aspects, he said. “The civic bodies are expected to raise funds for the programe through their budgets, district plans, MP and MLA local area funds, corporate social responsibility, national rural employment guarantee scheme and Maharashtra rural employment guarantee scheme and funds allocated by the urban development department,” the official said. (Asian Age 8/8/15)

193. ‘Violation of environment laws are increasing’ (9)

Keri: The Goa government has been involved in various violations of environmental laws and rules under the guise of development work. If citizens fail to restrain the increasing incidents of environmental violations, then they will have to pay a heavy price for it, said Norma Alvares, an environment lawyer. Alvares was the chief guest at a function held for the distribution of certificates to participants of trekking programmes at Menezes hall in Mapusa. She spoke of how Goans are not allowed to enjoy the beauty of its beaches as they are prevented entry. The government should take steps to get access to beaches without any interruption and obstacles. Work on an entertainment park and a wedding destination in Vagator is going on without necessary clearances and those fighting against illegalities have been threatened, she said. Durgadas Parab, one of the founders of Eco-Trek, said that while organizing trekking expeditions priority is always given to inculcating environmental values and ethics. (Times of India 12/8/15)

194. Consistent efforts made to tackle air pollution: Govt (9)

New Delhi: The Government has been making consistent efforts to address the issue of air pollution in Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR), an official statement said. Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar has adopted a consultative and cooperative approach to tackle the air pollution in and around Delhi. The Minister has taken three review meetings with the Environment Ministers of Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and with the concerned senior officers of municipal bodies and police from these States. The first meeting was held on April 6, 2015 at Vigyan Bhawan, while the second meeting was held on April 13, 2015 at Paryavaran Bhawan. The third meeting was held on July 24, 2015 at Parliament House. The pro-active approach adopted by the Ministry got a positive response from the States. It translated into the setting up of short-term prevention measures like stopping and burning of bio-wastes, initiating work for major up-gradation of Pollution Under Control (PUC) system, issuing challans of over-loaded goods vehicles, enhancing of parking slots availability, installation of waste to energy plants and strict monitoring of polluting industries, the statement claimed. At the meeting held on July 24, it was decided that all the States concerned will come out with an annual plan of initiatives to prevent air pollution and also come out with a long-term plan. As pollution cannot be tackled only through government efforts, the Centre will soon launch a massive people-oriented awareness campaign to check air pollution, it added. (New Kerala 13/8/15)

195. Concern over rapid warming of Indian Ocean (9)

Thiruvananthapuram: The rapid warming of the Indian Ocean could be responsible for the uncertainties of the Asian monsoon and the reduced rainfall over the Indian sub continent, according to monsoon meteorologists and ocean scientists participating in a national workshop on Climate Change and Sustainable Development. Director, Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) Dr .Satish Shenoi said the Indian Ocean was warming faster than other oceans. Latest studies had revealed that the excess heat sequestered by the Pacific Ocean from greenhouse gas emissions was transported to the Indian Ocean through an ocean current known as the Indonesian Throughflow. Consequently, upper ocean heat content had been slowly decreasing in the Pacific. The Indian Ocean, he said, was now home to 70 per cent of all the heat taken up by oceans across the globe. This unprecedented heat uptake since 2003 had the potential to change atmospheric circulation, affecting the Asian monsoon and impacting on the marine ecosystem. The rise in Sea Surface Temperature (SST) in the western Indian Ocean during the period from 1901 to 2012 coincided with a weak monsoon circulation and reduced rainfall over the Indian sub continent. The mean Sea Level Rise (SLR) recorded in oceans across the world rose from 1.5- 2 mm per year in the 20th century to 3.1 mm per year during the last decade. However, the rate of SLR in the Indian Ocean during the last decade was as high as 4.12 mm per year. Dr. Shenoi said the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) representing a warm phase was found to have a strong relationship with the lesser number of cyclones generated in the Bay of Bengal during the period from October to December. The decrease in the number of monsoon depressions over the Bay of Bengal translated into lesser rainfall for the sub continent. INCOIS, he said, was strengthening its network of tide gauges to quantify sea level rise along the Indian coast. He stressed the need for more studies on ocean acidification and increase in dissolved inorganic carbon in surface waters. Noted monsoon researcher P.V. Joseph said the uncertainties posed by climate change factors could have disturbed the cycle of dry and wet epochs dictated by the performance of the Asian monsoon. He said India faced multiple problems due to climate change issues like sea level rise, glacier melting, increased frequency of severe weather, decrease in rainfall, increased frequency and intensity of heat waves and pollution of air, water and food sources. The workshop was organised by the National Centre for Earth Science Studies (NCESS) in collaboration with the Centre for Climate Change Research (CCCR) under the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune. Dr.M. Sudhakar, Director, NCESS, Dr. M.Rajeevan, Director, IITM and Dr. R.Krishnan, Executive Director, CCCR were among those who led the sessions. (The Hindu 20/8/15)

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

196. ‘Adopt integrated farming system to avoid crop loss’ (20)

Mysuru: Expressing concern over farmers’ suicides even in the irrigated regions like Mandya district, A.B. Patil, Director of Extension, University of Horticultural Sciences, Bagalkot, has said that integrated farming is the only solution to avoid crop loss. He advised farmers to use special nutrients for banana crop and proper chemicals for ripening the fruit. Mr. Patil also mooted the idea of creating a farmers’ portal on banana so that growers can interact among themselves and know the present marketing trends besides benefitting from one another’s best farming practises. (The Hindu 2/8/15)

197. Six farmers commit suicide in Karnataka (20)

Bengaliri: Six farmers ended their lives in the State on Sunday. Two of them are from Mandya district.

Thirty-year-old Umesh committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree in Karalakatte village of Malavalli taluk in Mandya district. Umesh and his brother jointly owned four acres of land. He had taken up silk farming and planted banana on the said land, both of which did not fetch him remunerative price. He is said to be having loans to the tune of Rs four lakh. Devaraj alias Devu (24) hung himself to death from a tree at his land in Chikkabyadarahalli village of Pandavapura taluk in Mandya district. He had borrowed Rs 30,000 from a bank and more than Rs three lakh from private persons. According to the complaint lodged by his father, Devaraj ended life fearing inability to repay loans. Srinivas (42), a farmer from Chikkahonnavalli village in Tiptur taluk of Tumakuru district hung himself to death on Sunday. He owned three acres of land and had borrowed farm loans from banks in the name of his mother. He is also said to have taken loans from private persons. According to the complaint lodged by his wife, Srinivas ended his life owing to debt burden and crop loss. A 35-year-old woman farmer, who had consumed poison on Saturday, breathed last on her way to hospital on Sunday in Gujanur village of Yadgir taluk. Tayamma Gunjalappa, a resident of Babala village in Shahpur taluk, had obtained a lease of 24 acres of farmland in Gunjanur two years ago. She had taken loans of Rs five lakh for agricultural activities.  According to her family members, the crops failed due to paucity of rains because of which Tayamma was dejected and ended her life. Eshwarappa Doddappa Ammapura (57) of Mudanur K village in Surpur taluk of Yadgir district committed suicide by consuming poison. He owned 3.5 acres of land and had suffered losses by growing paddy for the last two years. He is said to have borrowed a total of Rs three lakh. A debt-ridden farmer ended his by life by consuming poison at Nidoni village in Vijayapura taluk. The deceased has been identified as Nagappa Agasara (40). Nagappa had grown sugar cane and grapes on his three acre land and is said to have loans to the tune of about Rs four lakh. As many as 32 farmers have committed suicide in the six districts of North Karnataka during the period April-July 2015. Prof Sangeetha Kattimani, an economist from Kalaburagi, says that, going by the media reports, a majority of these farmers had borrowed loans from private money lenders.  Most of these are small and marginal farmers and are in the 22-45 age group (Deccan Herald 3/8/15)

198. Over 5,600 farmers committed suicide in 2014 (20)

New Delhi:  Over 5,600 farmers committed suicide last year, Minister of State for Home Affairs Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary said on Wednesday. Replying to a question by Communist Party of India-Marxist member C.P. Narayanan in the Rajya Sabha, the minister said a total of 1,31,666 people committed suicide in 2014. “These included 5,650 farmers, 20,148 housewives, 8,068 students, 2,308 debt-ridden people and 7,104 mentally ill,” he said. He said major mental health problems like depression, schizophrenia, addiction to alcohol, affective disorders, drug dependence, adjustment disorders, mood and personality problems were identified as reasons among those who committed or attempted suicide. (Business Standard 5/8/15)

199. Meeting focuses on reasons for farmers’ suicides (20)

SANGAREDDY: Increasing input costs, farmers’ dependence on farming without going for dairy and backyard poultry, no insurance, lack of rainfall, inability to decide the cost of their produce from farms, psychological stress, distress due to crop loss and financial collapse were stated as some of the main reasons for suicides by farmers. Justice M. Kanakadurga, secretary, District Legal Services Authority (DLSA), held “All stakeholders meet on prevention of farmers’ suicides” on Wednesday. The meeting was attended by officials from revenue, agriculture, animal husbandry, lead bank, NABARD, DRDA, District panchayat office, horticulture departments, farmers, farmers’ organisations and NGOs. It elaborately discussed the problems being faced by farmers and the steps need to be taken to arrest the tendency. It was decided to hold some more meetings to discuss and decide on future course of action. Addressing the meeting, Justice Kanakadurga said, “A complaint on a small white paper is enough to move the concerned departments and see that the required help will reach you.” She was responding to the request presented by Salavva and Renuka, wives of two farmers from Elakapally, who informed that they did not get any compensation from the government. V.S. Prasad Sastry, president, Tenant Farmers’ Association, has alleged that GO 421 is not being implemented in letter and spirit and all the other benefits are not being extended to the families of farmers who committed suicide. Jayaraj, General Secretary, Rytu Sangham, suggested farming of Joint Liability Groups (JLB) to extend loans to tenant farmers as they were unable to get loans from banks. Dr. Phani Kumar, psychologist, said: “Identify farmers who are behaving abnormally and counsel them. Farmers’ suicides are becoming epidemic not only in Telangana but across the nation.” (The Hindu 6/8/15)

200. Mathura farmers want to commit suicide on I-Day (20)

Mathura: Farmers here, protesting against alleged official callousness, have urged President Pranab Mukherjee to permit them to commit mass suicide on Independence Day. The appeal has unnerved district officials who fear possible self-immolation by some farmers of Mahavan area whose land has been consumed by the Yamuna river in the Gokul Barrage catchment area. The farmers have been on a relay fast for the past two weeks to highlight their grievances. Kisan Sangh, a farmer leader, accused the district authorities of ignoring the interests of the affected farmers. The farmers want compensation for the land lost at four times the circle rate and immediate withdrawal of cases against farmers, many of whom are still in jail following protests in December on the Delhi-Agra highway. Said another farmer, Roop Singh: “We have lost all and want to end our lives. We want the president’s permission.” Officials have identified around 30 farmers who need to be compensated. The Allahabad High Court is seized of the matter, and a decision is likely in a few days, an official said. The farmers are demanding compensation for damage to standing crops which were submerged as a result of rising level of water in the barrage. “For more than 16 years now, we have not been compensated for the land acquired from us for the barrage,” another farmer said. (Business Standard 11/8/15)

201. Farmers’ suicides: association lodges complaint with national rights panel (20)

MYSURU: The issue of the unrelenting wave of farmers’ suicides in Karnataka has now reached the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in New Delhi. Accusing the State government and the Centre of doing nothing to stop farmers from resorting to the extreme step, the State Sugarcane Growers’ Association lodged a complaint with the commission seeking its intervention. Farmers’ leaders Raghunath R. Patil from Maharashtra, R.V. Giri from Tamil Nadu, and Satnam Singh from Punjab are the other signatories to the complaint. Claiming that 250 farmers had committed suicide in 50 days in the State, association president Kurubur Shanthakumar alleged that farmers’ suicides had not been taken seriously by the governments. Mr. Shanthakumar urged the commission to direct the State and Union governments to take immediate measures for the wellbeing of farmers. “Even Maharashtra and Punjab had reported farmers’ suicides. It has become a national issue,” he told The Hindu . “There has been gross neglect despite unremitting suicides in the last four months in Karnataka,” he said. In the complaint, it is alleged that the State had failed to prevail upon the sugar factories to pay dues to farmers. “In the absence of scientific pricing for farmers’ produce, farmers have resorted to this alarming path, Mr. Shanthakumar said in a press release. (The Hindu 14/8/15)

202. Sugarcane growers observe ‘Black Day’ (20)

KALABURAGI: The Karnataka State Sugarcane Growers’ Association on Saturday observed Independence Day as ‘Black Day’ protesting against the indifferent attitude of the State governments towards the farmers and the failure of the government to ensure that sugar factories cleared dues. Members of the association and sugarcane growers across the district took out a silent procession covering their mouths with a black cloth from Jagat Circle to the Deputy Commissioner’s office and submitted a memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister. District president of the association Jagadish Patil Rajapur criticised Sugar Minister H.S. Mahadev Prasad for slighting the issue of farmers’ suicides and demanded that the Chief Minister drop him. Referring to dues from sugar factories, he said that the State government should direct them to clear the dues. Demanding that the Union government announce a Vidharbha-model package to tackle the farm crisis in the State, Mr. Rajapur said that the Centre should release a package of Rs. 10, 000 crore to the State. The government should provide a package of Rs. 10 lakh as working capital to the families of the farmers who had committed suicide. He also wanted the State Administered Price for sugarcane for 2015-16 and the crushing schedule of different factories to be announced in advance. (The Hindu 16/8/15)

203. Five farmers with debts commit suicide (20)

KALABURAGI/Sirsi/Chitradurga/Hubballi: The unending saga of farmers committing suicide continued in the State with five fresh cases being reported. In Kalaburagi, two more debt-ridden farmers ended their life by consuming pesticide, taking the number of such suicides in the district to 15. While Shamrao Chavan (30) of Polakpalli Tanda in Chincholi taluk in the district, who consumed pesticide in his house on Sunday, died at the Government General Hospital on Sunday night after failing to respond to treatment, another farmer Sharanappa Bommanna Jogi (38) of Ballundigi village in Jewargi taluk in the district, who consumed pesticide on Saturday, died at a private hospital in Bijapur district on Monday. The reason for the suicide of both the farmers is attributed to mounting debts and failure of crop. Shamrao Chavan, who owned eight acres of land, had availed himself of a loan of Rs. 1 lakh from a nationalised bank. However, it was said, he was unable to repay the loan due to the failure of crops. Sharanappa Bommanna Jogi had taken loans, in all, Rs. 4 lakh, from private moneylenders to raise crops in his six acres of rain-fed land. He had also the burden of repaying another loan of Rs. 95,000 taken from a nationalised bank by his father who died two years ago. In Chitradurga. Unable to pay his debt, a farmer from Shivapur village in Holalkere taluk hanged himself to death at his farm on Monday morning. The police gave his name as Somshekhar (34), a resident of Shivapur village. According to police sources, the farmer had four acres of land and had borrowed Rs. 4 lakh loan, in all, from nationalised banks and Rs. 1 lakh from private moneylenders. In Uttara Kannada. Seetaram Belagu Ager (40), a farmer of Karlagadde near Hillur in Honnavar taluk of Uttara Kannada district, committed suicide on Saturday by consuming poison at his home, according to a report reaching here on Monday. He had taken a loan of Rs. 80,000 from a local bank. He was worried about repayment of loan as he had received recovery notice from the bank. He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter. Tahsildar Lanjekar and Circle Inspector of Police Arun Kumar visited the house. Honnavar police have registered case. In Hubballi, A farmer, Linganagouda Fakiragoudar (58) of Ballur village in Navalgund taluk, committed suicide allegedly due to financial distress on Sunday night. A small land holder, he had reportedly borrowed around Rs. 3 three lakh from private moneylenders and Rs. 60,000 from the local credit cooperative society. Navalgund MLA N.H. Konaraddi gave away Rs. 25,000 to the farmer’s family. (The Hindu 18/8/15)

204. Compensation alone will not end farmers’ suicides in the country: BSP (20)

Hassan: Members of the district unit of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) staged a protest here on Tuesday, urging the State government to waive farm loans to end farmers’ suicides. Members of the party, who staged a dharna outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office here, said that mere payment of compensation to families of farmers would not put an end to the continuing suicides. The root cause for farmers’ plight was the impact of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation. The changing economic scenario was ruining the agricultural economy and forcing the farmers to take the extreme step, the protesters said. B.C. Rajesh, president of the district unit of the party, said the State government had decided to celebrate the birth centenary of the former Chief Minister Devaraj Urs this year. “Celebrations will not carry any meaning if the government fails to respond to the problems of the downtrodden sections of society,” he said. Party’s State committee member Kumar Gowrav, leader A.P. Ahmed and others took part in the protest. (The Hindu 19/8/15)

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

205. Parliamentary Panel on Land Bill Agrees to Withdraw Six Amendments to Land Bill (4)

Parliamentary panel on land bill agrees to withdraw six key amendments including dealing with consent clause. After much protest over the controversial bill, it is believed that the government has accepted most of the clauses demanded by the Congress party. However, the government would debate relating retrospective, land return, review clauses. Until 2013, the land acquisition in India was governed by The Land Acquisition Act 1984. In 2013, the UPA government passed the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act to repeal the 19th century act. The UPA Act was aimed at ensuring the land is acquired strictly for public welfare projects and land owners are adequately compensated and rehabilitated. The protests and outrage began after the Modi government decided to brought in following amendments to the RFCTLARR Act . 1. Removal of ‘consent’ clause: As per the UPA law, land could be acquired only with approval of 70% of land owners for PPP projects and 80% for private entities. However, the amendment, brought in by the NDA removed this provision of ‘consent’ for acquiring lands for five purposes – Industrial corridors, Public Private Partnership projects, Rural Infrastructure, Affordable housing and Defence. This has drawn much of the criticism not only from political circle but also from activists like Anna Hazare who has launched a mass protest against the bill. 2. Return of unutilized land: According to the Act 2013, if the land remains unutilised for five years, then it needs to be returned to the owner. But according to the ordinance promulgated by the NDA government, the period after which unutilised land needs to be returned will be five years, or any period specified at the time of setting up the project. 3. According to the 2013 Act, land can be acquired by any private company. But according the recent ordinance, land can be acquired by any private entity. 4. As per the new law, if any government official commits an offence during the process of acquisition, he/she cannot be prosecuted without prior sanction from the government. 5. The amendments propose to include 13 legislations that are currently exempted under the purview of the Act in the compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement provisions. This is, however, seen as a pro-farmer move as there was no uniform central policy of rehabilitation and resettlement. Why NDA brought the amendments Ever since this government came to power, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been vigorously campaigning for the ‘Make in India’ vision which aims to boost the domestic manufacturing. Though Modi is wooing the foreign companies to invest in India, land acquisition is a major problem for these firms with many of them dropping their investment plan over the past few years. Though there are suggestions from some corners that the industrial enterprises should purchase land directly from farmers, it doesn’t seem feasible in India as the records of land holding cannot be easily verified in the country. This may open the possibility of disputes after the purchase. However, the government mediation in the transfer of land has not proved fully successful to compensate and rehabilitate the displace people. The draft of the government’s National Policy for Rehabilitation states that a figure around 75% of the displaced people since 1951 are still awaiting rehabilitation. According to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the ordinances were aimed at speeding up development in five areas: development of industrial corridors, social infrastructure such as education, rural infrastructure such as roads and power, housing for the poor, and the country’s defense capabilities. The ordinance makes land acquisition easier in these areas by exempting them from several provisions of current law. (New Indian Express 3/8/15)

206. Odisha government wants PM to review Posco (4)

BHUBANESWAR: In a delayed move, the Odisha government plans to approach the Centre for a review of the Posco project by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. State steel and mines minister Prafulla Mallick here on Monday said chief secretary (Gokul Chandra Pati) will soon write to Union mine secretary and the Prime Minister’s Office for a review at the highest level. “If not the PM, the cabinet secretary should hold discussions with the company,” he told reporters here. Stating that he is optimistic, Mallick said the project’s fate would be clear after the Centre’s evaluation. The state government’s initiative comes a fortnight after the South Korean steelmaker decided to put the project on hold, sparking speculation about its imminent withdrawal. Posco CEO Kwon Oh Joon had said until Indian PM “offers better deals” it would not resume. Amid increased uncertainty over the fate of the 12 million tonne per year project (which was later scaled down to 8 mtpa), several local residents recently started reconstructing their flattened betel vines in the proposed site in Jagatsinghpur district. The government filed FIRs against 18 villagers in Abhayachanapur police station last week. Prolonged delay in land acquisition and dispute over iron ore reserves kept the project uncertain ever since the state government signed a MOU with it in June 2005. Apart from the global steel market slump, the amended Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 2015, which ruled out preferential mining lease to the company, were hurdles added to the project taking off. The BJP described the state government’s latest move as too late. “The state government has already missed the bus by not acting for the past 10 years,” said BJP spokesperson Suresh Pujari. (Times of India 4/8/15)

207. Modi sees land bill freeze loss for east (4)

New Delhi, Aug. 6: Prime Minister Narendra Modi believes that the biggest losers of the deadlock over the Centre’s land acquisition bill would be Bengal, Odisha and Bihar, sources close to him have said. Whether the bill is blocked or passed in a watered-down version, it will hobble his ambitions of bringing the eastern states on a par economically with the western states, they explained. If the Modi government fails to evolve a consensus on its version of the land law, it plans to allow the states to enact their own land laws according to their own thinking that the Centre would green-light. In that case, the western and eastern states are expected to go their separate ways. Currently, the western states have BJP or BJP-led governments – a circumstance the Centre factored in while deciding to give the states pretty much a free hand. In Modi’s reckoning, the “gainers” will be the western swathe of Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa which, the sources said, are gearing to make land acquisition for industrial and commercial use easier. “The east is still hampered by an anti-industry and anti-land acquisition mindset,” a source remarked. A joint committee of Parliament on the land bill has reportedly advised a virtual switch-back to the UPA’s 2013 land law, now superseded by an NDA ordinance that the bill looks to ratify. Congress sources on the committee have said that even the BJP members agreed to the idea of withdrawing the partial relaxations of the provisions for a social impact assessment (SIA) and consent that the NDA had introduced in its bill. But nobody in the BJP would speak on the subject, privately or officially. Sources said Gujarat chief minister Anandi Patel had directed her revenue department to draft amendments to the state land law so that the certification of non-agricultural land became faster, transparent and time-bound instead of the buyer having to run to multiple agencies…. (Telegraph 7/8/15)

208. Land Bill panel meets today to finalise draft (4)

New Delhi: With the deadline closing, the parliamentary panel that is examining the contentious Land Acquisition Bill will meet on Monday to reach a consensus on key issues. It has already struck a consensus on six other contentious issues, included consent and social impact assessment. The panel will seek members’ views on returning acquired land back to owners if not used for five years. BJD leader Bhartruhari Mahatab had sought time till August 11 to submit the report, and it is likely to be presented to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Tuesday. Rural development minister Choudhary Birendra Singh has already said the government is open to the changes suggested by the panel. The ruling NDA appears to have developed cold feet over the aggressiveness to push the amendments to the Land Bill after coming across spirited opposition, including from RSS-affiliated organisations. The 30-member joint committee is headed by senior BJP member S.S. Ahluwalia. The panel must also take a view on the provision that the Land Acquisition Act 1894 will continue to apply where an award has already been made as well as in cases where an award was made five years or more before the enactment of The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Act 2013 and physical possession of land had not been taken or compensation not paid. The current amendment, as stated in the ordinance, spells out that in calculating this time, any period during which the proceedings of acquisition were held up due to a court stay order, or a period specified in the award of a tribunal for taking possession, or any period where possession has been taken but compensation is lying deposited in a court or any account, will not be counted. The panel will also form a view on the issue of acquisition of 1 km of land on both sides of industrial corridors as proposed in the bill. (Asian Age 10/8/15)

209. Sardar Sarovar: Right Livelihood Award Foundation urges UN to intervene (4)

INDORE: The Right Livelihood Award Foundation, on behalf of over 40 Laureates of Right Livelihood Award, appealed on Friday to the government of India, United Nations and its allies to review Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) and ensure human rights are protected. The appeal has come as a big support from international community for the dam oustees, who are on indefinite satyagraha for last three days at Barwani to oppose government decision to increase water level of Sardar Sarovar Dam from 122 metres to 138.68 metres, which is likely to submerge land and houses of thousands of people in 245 villages in Narmada valley. The foundation in its letter has urged the government of India to immediately halt the ongoing construction work to increase the height of the dam, and not to put up gates on Sardar Sarovar Dam. “A review is the need of the hour and it must involve all the government agencies concerned, the UNHRC, representatives of the people’s movement, member of the civil society, experts and independent social and other human rights bodies,” the letter stated. Laureates of Right Livelihood Award has said that they stand united in their opposition to the unlawful submergence of 245 villages and firmly uphold the inviolable human rights and environmental justice for thousands of families in the Narmada Valley. Highlighting the side effects of dam, foundation observed that project has disastrous implications for the sustenance of indigenous communities in the Narmada Valley and that of other riverine populations, which have, for centuries, built flourishing lives and livelihoods around the Narmada River. “The Indian government, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has always championed the dam height increase and never the cause of the displaced, has taken a decision to increase the height of dam posing grave threat to the lives and livelihoods of all these families,” the foundation stated. The appeal has come as a big support from international community for the dam oustees, who are on indefinite satyagraha for last three days at Barwani to oppose government decision to increase water level of Sardar Sarovar Dam from 122 metres to 138.68 metres (Times of India 15/8/15)

210. Naidu hints at land acquisition for remaining 2,500 acres (4)

VIJAYAWADA: Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu on Monday said he would explore options available for acquiring lands for the construction of the capital city in the wake of growing opposition to the Land Acquisition Act. Nearly 31,000 acres have already been parted by farmers voluntarily, and those owning 2,500 acres are against land pooling. “All efforts are being made to convince farmers to part with their lands under the land pooling scheme, and if they still resist, then alternative measures will be invoked,” Mr. Naidu said here. On Jana Sena Party president Pawan Kalyan’s suggestions to spare unwilling farmers, Mr. Naidu said: “We respect Mr. Kalyan’s opinions, but what can the government do? Ninety-five per cent farmers have agreed, and only 5 per cent are opposing due to political instigations.” Confirming his trip to New Delhi on Thursday, the Chief Minister said a meeting had been fixed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at 4 p.m. Several aspects, including special status to the State, are likely to be discussed at the meeting. On the controversy over the granting of special status, he said the Centre had extended support but not at the expected level. “Special status alone will not serve the purpose, the Centre should consider extending special assistance to AP. All these issues will be brought to the notice of Mr. Modi during the meeting,” he asserted. (The Hindu 18/8/15)

211. Project hit write to PM, demand review of rise in SSP dam height (4)

INDORE: Project affected people from Sardar Sarovar dam are continuing with their indefinite satyagraha in Barwani district to oppose increase in height of dam from 122 meters to 138.68 meters. With support from global community, villagers have written to PM urging him to review decision to submerge villages. Project affected are on a protest since August 12, but government has not taken any initiative to end the protest. Residents of affected villages — Aavli-Segawa, Nisarpur, Pichhodi, Avalda and Bhadal joined protesters on Sunday and alleged government is making false claims of rehabilitation. Urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to increase height of Sardar Sarovar dam, every village, which is going to get submerged, wrote letters to PM. Villagers in their letter highlighted hundreds of families engaged in fishing, labour work, farm work, small trade are yet to be rehabilitated as per law, but have already faced submergence in the previous years. “We shall fight for our rights till our last breath,” said dam hit from Aavli-Segawa village. During the protest a fishermen couple, Saava and Bharat from Pichhodi village, who fought for their rights and obtained an order from Grievance Redressal Authority for registering a “displaced people’s fishing co-operatives” shared their experience. Couple highlighted everyday fight and plight of thousands of fishermen, who were dependent on Narmada for their livelihood. “NVDA has been committing gross atrocities on adivasis,” alleged Gemtiya, a project affected. Medha Patkar of NBA said residents of villages, facing submergence, celebrated Azadi Utsav to call for real independence where villagers will have right to lead their life as they wish. (Times of India 19/8/15)

RIGHT TO HEALTH

212. ’75% of Indian population unaware of hepatitis’ (3)

New Delhi: With over 75 per cent of people in India being unaware about the existence of Hepatitis, the leading gastroenterologists of the country have decided to start an online data registry detailing the rising number of hepatitis patients. “The need of setting up a registry was felt as over 75 per cent of the people in India do not even know that a disease like hepatitis exists,” said a senior doctor at New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences. “The aim is to keep a record of the number of people suffering from hepatitis and other liver diseases caused by it in the country,” the doctor said. The registry will be part of the newly formed Indian National Association for Study of Liver and Current Perspective in Liver Disease constituted by the leading gastroenterologists of the country. The association will also disseminate information to the regional hospitals and help the health centres located in remote areas of the country get the medicine supply. Talking about lack of awareness about the deadly disease, the experts said that Hepatitis was 28 times more dangerous than AIDS due to the absence of symptoms, even as the disease spreads gradually in the patient. As many as 400,000 people die due to liver diseases, a result of hepatitis, in India every year. The states most affected by the disease are Punjab, Haryana, Odisha, Uttrakhand and Himachal Pradesh among few others, they said. “Seventy-five per cent of the hepatitis, may it be B or C, is curable at the initial stage. However, as the symptoms are not felt, the person gets to know about it only when the virus causes liver cancer,” said S K Acharya, head of gastroenterology at AIIMS. Through the registry, Acharya said, the hotspots of Hepatitis across the country can be brought into lime light and accordingly medical healthcare in those areas can be improved, precisely the treatment for liver diseases. Rakesh Agarwal noted that pregnant women are more likely to get Hepatitis E virus infection which may result in acute liver failure. (Business Standard 1/8/15)

213. ‘16 kids died every day from 2008 to 2012’ (3)

MUMBAI: In a shocking revelation by the state government, Mumbai has witnessed deaths of 16 children every day between 2008 and 2012. In his written reply during question hour in the assembly, health minister Deepak Sawant said around 16 child deaths were registered during the period. According to Sawant, these deaths were occurring due to non-availability of proper medication at a proper time. He said in Mumbai alone, 32,664 child deaths were registered between 2008 and 2012. An RTI by Chetan Kothari had revealed four SoBo wards alone had an infant mortality rate (IMR) worse than the national average. The RTI details on infant births and deaths for Mumbai between April last year and March this year have shown that wards C, G, E and M have fared the worst when it comes to newborns. In simple terms, there were 216 deaths in the area for 253 births. The overall city’s IMR has fallen to 28 from 29.5 in 2011, 33.5 in 2009 and 35 in 2005.— Chittaranjan Tembhekar (Times of India 1/8/15)

214. 2,573 dengue cases in State (3)

Bengaluru: As many as 2,573 positive cases of dengue have come to light in Karnataka so far, out of which 787 are from the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) limits, alone. So far, the department of Health and Family Welfare has confirmed four deaths in the State. As part of an awareness campaign on dengue and chikungunya, a walk was organised from the MG Road by the BBMP recently. The event saw participation of Justice Shubro Kamal Mukherjee and also the officials of the Health department. The State reports 916 cases of chikungunya, of which 237 are from the City. The Palike has been conducting a door-to-door survey in areas where most of the cases are reported. At least a 100 cases have been reported from Bengaluru South, 88 in Bengaluru West, 75 in Bengaluru East and 142 in the other zones, according to the BBMP officials. A case of suspected dengue death was reported from Madanayakanahalli in Nelamangala in the City on Tuesday. Praveen (18), an engineering student, is suspected to have died of dengue at a private hospital in the City. (Deccan Herald 5/8/15)

215. NHRC notice on health centres (3)

NEW DELHI: National Human Rights Commission on Wednesday issued a notice to the city government over its alleged failure to revive 228 existing primary health centres and proposing 1,000 new “Aam Aadmi clinics” instead. TOI had highlighted the issue in a report titled “228 health centres in shambles” that had appeared on July 22. NHRC observed the existing primary health centres, 79 of which were operating from rented premises, are “struggling” to provide basic health services due to shortage of doctors, paramedical staff, medicines and lab facilities. The notice, returnable in four weeks, was issued to the principal secretary of the health department. “The proposed plan to set up new clinics is a gradual process which has to be welcomed. At the same time, it is of paramount importance that the existing healthcare infrastructure is made functional in all respects,” it said. TOI visited the health clinic in Valmiki Basti in ITO. The doctor on duty said they do not get more than 15 patients daily. “We do not have blood pressure medicines, antibiotics and many essential drugs. Why should the patients come here?” he said. (Times of India 6/8/15)

216. UNICEF team studies nutrition scheme (3)

VISAKHAPATNAM: A nutrition scheme for pregnant and lactating women is being implemented in the district under 15 project units. While 11 projects cover the Agency mandals, four are for the rural mandals of Kasimkota, Narsipatnam, Kota Uratla, and V. Madugula. The scheme called ‘Amrita Hastam’ provides one nutritious meal a day and iron tablets to 28,774 pregnant and 29,428 lactating women. Additional Joint Collector D. Venkat Reddy shared details of the scheme to a UNICEF team from Bhopal that came to study its implementation. He said malnutrition was addressed, bringing down maternal and infant mortality rates to a large extent because of the implementation of the scheme. ICDS Project Director Chinmayidevi made presentation on the implementation of the scheme. The delegation later went for a visit to Araku and Anantagiri mandals. The delegation from Bhopal comprised Principal Secretary, Tribal Welfare, B.R. Naidu, Commissioner J.L. Malpani, Director Renu Tewari, UNICEF CFO Manish Madhur, communication specialist Anil Gulati, among others. (The Hindu 13/8/15)

217. 25% of Indians may die of lifestyle diseases before they are 70: Study (3)

NEW DELHI: With increasing prevalence of life-style diseases in India, one out of four Indians is at risk of dying from non-communicable diseases like diabetes, cardio-vascular ailments or cancer before the age of 70, according to estimates of various global and domestic organizations. The findings are part of a white paper released by the Confederation of Indian Industry and academia on Wednesday. “Every year, roughly 5.8 million Indians die from heart and lung diseases, stroke, cancer and diabetes. In other words, 1 in 4 Indians risks dying from an NCD before they reach the age of 70,” the white paper said.14-15% of people in India suffer from arthiritis, experts say Experts say the government needs to urgently build awareness programmes for NCDs in line with that for HIV and tuberculosis. “Prevalence of NCDs is a result of lifestyle patterns which have changed significantly over the last decade. The government’s programmes so far have been focused around HIV and tropical diseases. But with the increasing NCD burden, awareness needs to be created and ramped up from community level to across the country,” said Kevin L. Walker, Executive Director, Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, a global organization working towards raising awareness about how to counter diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disabilities. Many other global organisations including World Health Organisation and other agencies of the United Nations have now carved out specific strategies to tackle the rising disease burden due to changing lifestyle and eating habits. The government said it is set to roll out a preventive and promotive programme in six districts to spread awareness about the disease. (Times of India 14/8/15)

218. Over 3,400 Students Test Positive for Malaria in Odisha (3)

BERHAMPUR (Odisha): As many as 3,434 students of government-run residential schools in Kandhamal district of Odisha have tested positive for malaria. “The affected students have been administered drugs. The health officials are keeping a watch on their condition,” said Kandhamal District Collector Yamini Sarangi.  Blood samples of 19,767 students of 214 residential schools run by ST and SC development department in the tribal-dominated district were tested between July 6 and August 3.  The Collector directed the health officials to conduct the tests after 65 of 143 students of a primary residential school at Ranipathara were found suffering from the vector-borne disease last month.       The Collector launched a three-month malaria, dengue and diarrhoea awareness drive last week and said the focus will be on school children. “The accredited social health activists and other health workers will follow up the programme. They will immediately refer such cases to government hospitals,” said Chief District Medical Officer (CDMO) Sapaneswar Gadanayak.  The students will be sensitised on the causes of the vector-borne disease, he added.    The programme will start with indoor residual spraying (IRS) in all hostels and schools to check malaria outbreak. “We will provide medicated mosquito nets to the inmates and persuade them to use these,” said district consultant, National Vector Borne Diseases Control Programme, Kumuda Chandra Sahu.      Kandhamal has recorded two deaths due to malaria this year. Six persons had died of the vector-borne disease the previous year, while two persons had tested positive for dengue in 2014, sources said.   (New Indian Express 18/8/15)

219. 277 dengue cases reported in Capital (3)

NEW DELHI: Delhi has reported 277 cases of dengue till August 14, which include two deaths. This year, the city is up by 251 cases compared to what was recorded last year by this time. While the maximum number of cases have been reported in North Delhi Municipal Corporation (118 cases), South has recorded 82 cases, East has 19 cases, New Delhi Municipal Corporation has reported 31 cases, and 15 cases have come in from outside Delhi. While the health department has said that it is creating awareness of dengue prevention, the Mayor of South Delhi Municipal Corporation, Subhash Arya, claimed that he has instructed officials to work round the clock and implement all the guidelines for controlling dengue and malaria. The Mayor said emphasis has to be given for stepping up awareness. He appealed to RWAs and people to come forward and contribute in controlling dengue. He also asked the zonal officials to take strict action against defaulters. Officials said that institutions or individuals found violating for breeding of larva on their premises would be prosecuted. “Till now 81 prosecutions of government institutions and premises have been done, and this action will continue, ” said Mr. Arya. (The Hindu 18/8/15)

HIV/AIDS

220. Sharp increase in HIV-positive cases in Kapurthala Jail (3)

Jalandhar: The number of HIV-positive inmates at Kapurthala Central Jail has witnessed a sharp increase in the past three years. As per the information procured by Hindustan Times from the Kapurthala Central Jail superintendent under the Right to Information Act, the number of HIV-positive cases which were only seven in 2012, increased to 17 in the next year (2013). In 2014, the prisoners affected with HIV infection increased to an alarming level (118), and in 2015 till July 9, their numbers have already reached 56. The gloomy picture about the condition of inmates in the jail does not end here, as two other deadly diseases–Hepatitis C, and B–have also considerably increased among them. In 2013, there were 24 inmates affected with Hepatitis C which increased to 30 in 2014 and till July 9, their number was 10. Similarly, 18 inmates were diagnosed with Hepatitis B in 2013, and 15 were affected by the disease in 2014. The jail sources said prevalence of deadly HIV has been consistently increasing among drug addict inmates who were mostly injecting drug users (IDU). “The drug addict inmates prefer syringe to administer drug directly into the body, rather than inhaling. They get syringe from corrupt jail officials and share the same syringe to take a drug, which increases the risk of HIV and other diseases,” they added. The more shocking revelation which the jail authorities gave in writing was that the HIV patients (prisoners and undertrials) were being kept in separate cells called “security wards”, which was in violation of the specified guidelines and human rights laws. Sources said none of the prisoners came forward fearing that if they tested positive of HIV infection or any other disease, they would be sent into these cells and others would easily acknowledge him or her affected with this deadly disease. As per National AIDS Control Organisation, it prohibits discrimination of HIV/AIDS patients in public as well in private places. It prohibits discrimination of an HIV/AIDS patient in matters of employment, education, healthcare, travel, insurance, residence, and property, etc, based on their HIV status. In its reply, jail authorities claimed that special diet was being regularly provided to the patients in these wards by the jail staff. Further, HIV screening is conducted inside the jail by Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre (ICTC) mobile van from Kapurthala civil hospital on every Tuesday and after screening and diagnosis, the patients are being referred to Jalandhar Civil Hospital. It has been learnt that the jail authorities also do not send prisoners to the local anti-retroviral therapy (ART) centre on time, which leads to delay in treatment of such HIV-positive patients. When contacted, Jail minister Sohan Singh Thandal said he hasn’t got any such report and asked the correspondent to contact the jail superintendent. Hussan Lal, project director, Punjab State AIDS Control Society, said, “If HIV-positive inmates are being kept in separate cells in the jail, it is matter of concern.” He said he would personally look into this matter. When asked over the sharp increase in HIV positive cases in jails, he asked to contact the jail department. Jail superintendent Paramjit Singh was unavailable for comments despite repeated calls. (Hindustan Times 1/8/15)

221. Despite measures, AIDS spreads alarmingly in U’khand (3)

NAINITAL: In an illustration of how fast HIV is spreading in Uttarakhand despite the government spending crores in AIDS-control measures, a query by a Haldwani-based RTI activist has revealed that the state spent almost Rs 5 crore in curbing the disease and spreading awareness in last 10 years, while 652 deaths due to the dreaded virus were reported in the last 13 years. Meanwhile, despite government claims of success, the number of HIV-positive cases have continued to spiral, with a staggering 858 registered in 2014-15, against 37 in 2002-03. Officials of the Uttarakhand State AIDS Control Society (SACS) offered a reason behind the disturbing growth. Rajendra Pandey, additional project director, USACS said, “Diagnosis is possible now on a large scale, hence increased numbers of the infected. When we started 13 years ago, only a few centres were available throughout the state for diagnosis. Now we have more than 50. Also, there are screening facilities in every community health centre.” An RTI application filed by Gurvinder Singh Chaddha, a resident of Haldwani, has revealed the sorry state of affairs of failed preventive measures to check HIV infection in the state. The patients also include minors of less than 14 years and pregnant women, along with transgenders. The number of infected among minors less than 14-years of age and pregnant women has registered an alarming growth in the last 13 years. In 2002-03, only five such minors were infected by the lethal virus, whereas not a single pregnant woman was found infected throughout the state. In 2014-15, a total of 64 minors below 14 years of age and 51 pregnant women have been found infected. A total of 523 such minors and 381 pregnant women were infected over these years. Over the same period, 29 transgenders were found to have HIV. The infection was found only in two Uttarakhand districts in 2002-03 — Dehradun and Nainital. It has since spread to every other district. In the last decade, according to the RTI information, more than Rs 2.88 crore has been spent in care, support and treatment of HIV-positive people under low-cost AIDS care schemes by Uttarakhand SACS. The body has also spent more than Rs 1.8 crore in advertisements in newspapers and magazines for prevention and control of the virus in the last ten years. (Times of India 5/8/15)

222. HIV grows ‘silently’ despite treatment (3)

London: Casting doubts on finding a cure for HIV anytime soon, British researchers have found that the virus can grow ‘silently’ in patients who are thought to be responding well to treatment. Advances in anti-retroviral therapy given to HIV patients over the past 30 years mean that most patients can have their virus suppressed to almost undetectable levels and live a long and healthy life. It had been thought that after many years of successful treatment, the body would naturally purge itself of the virus. “This research shows that sadly, the HIV virus has found yet another way to escape our treatments,” said lead researcher Anna Maria Geretti, professor at University of Liverpool. For the study, the researchers followed patients undergoing uninterrupted treatment for up to 14 years. “The good news is that we did not see any worsening over time, but the bad news is that these findings really cast doubt over whether HIV can be ‘cured’ by increasing immune cell responses against it – a strategy that now looks like it will eventually fail,” Geretti noted. The researchers found that during treatment for HIV the virus hides in blood cells that are responsible for the patient’s immune response. The virus does this by inserting its own genetic information into the DNA of the blood cells, called CD4 Tlymphocytes. The study measured the levels of integrated HIV in the CD4 cells of patients undergoing uninterrupted treatment for up to 14 years, and compared patients receiving treatment for different lengths of time. The researchers discovered that the amount of HIV found to be integrated in the CD4 cells was undiminished from year one to year 14. The research demonstrates that whenever a CD4 cell multiplies to produce more cells, it copies itself and also copies the HIV genes. This process – a sort of silent HIV replication – means the virus does not need to copy itself, produce new virus particles, and infect new CD4 cells – but is automatically incorporated at the birth of the cell, the study noted. The findings were published in the journal ‘EbioMedicine’. (Business Standard 5/8/15)

223. New low-cost HIV drug launched in Uganda (3)

Kampala: Marking an advancement in its fight against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the Ugandan government on Sunday launched a cheaper one-pill-a-day drug for HIV treatment. The single-dose Trioday treatment, which costs only USD 13 per month, replaces the cumbersome 12-drug cocktails that used to be the only option for people with the fatal human immunodeficiency virus, Xinhua reported. “We are reaching the phase of the end of the HIV epidemic in Uganda and the region. We had never dreamed about this in 30 to 40 years back,” said Ugandan Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, who launched the drug on behalf of President Yoweri Museveni. The new drug, a triple cocktail anti-retroviral (ARV), is manufactured by Cipla Quality Chemical Industries, Ltd, in Uganda. Uganda still falls short of its goal of ensuring that 80 percent of people living with HIV receive ARVs by the end of 2015. At present, just half of the 1.5 million in need of HIV treatment in the country are on the life-prolonging ARVs, according to Uganda AIDS Commission statistics. At least 137,000 new HIV infections were recorded in Uganda in 2014, according to the Health Ministry. (New Kerala 10/8/15)

224. Police ‘afraid’ to deal with drug addicts (3)

New Delhi: Their caution stems from the belief that several of them are HIV positive While the Aam Aadmi Party questioned police’s integrity in dealing with drug addicts and dealers in Kashmere Gate area, policemen said they are cautious about taking on such elements. Their caution stems from their belief that several of the drug addicts living in the area are HIV positive. Since these addicts often share syringes to inject the Avil drug, an anti-allergy medicine taken for recreational purposes, the policemen suspect them of being AIDS-infected. “Whenever we catch anyone supplying or consuming drugs, the addicts threaten to pierce us with used syringes. So we generally keep away from them,” said a policeman. Officers in the area said there have been instances when addicts chased policemen with used syringes. “One such incident took place only three-four months ago. The policemen are scared of taking them on,” said an officer on condition of anonymity. In another incident, a drug addict had pierced himself with a needle and sprinkled it in the eyes of a constable who had approached him. The constable was left fearing for his life despite being aware about how HIV spreads. Police claimed that there is little role for drug dealers in these areas populated by thousands of homeless and poor persons. Homeless drug addicts in the area said they opt for cheap drugs such as the Avil injections and intoxicating inhalants which can be procured from chemists and hardware shops. The Kashmere Gate area in north Delhi is sought after by almost one-fourth of the city’s homeless due to availability of shelter homes, free food and vast open areas for defecation, says an NGO working for the homeless in the area. (The Hinmdu 10/8/15)

225. Global movement votes to adopt policy to protect human rights of sex workers (3)

MANGALURU: A crucial vote to protect the human rights of sex workers was passed on Wednesday in Dublin at Amnesty International’s decision-making forum, the International Council Meeting (ICM). Delegates from around the world adopted a resolution which authorized the International Board to develop and adopt a policy on the issue. “Sex workers are one of the most marginalized groups in the world who in most instances face constant risk of discrimination, violence and abuse. Our global movement paved the way for adopting a policy for the protection of the human rights of sex workers which will help shape Amnesty International’s future work on this important issue,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International in a press statement. Sex workers are one of the most marginalized groups in the world who in most instances face constant risk of discrimination, violence and abuse. The resolution recommends that Amnesty International develop a policy that supports the full decriminalization of all aspects of consensual sex work. The policy will also call on states to ensure that sex workers enjoy full and equal legal protection from exploitation, trafficking and violence. “We recognize that this critical human rights issue is hugely complex and that is why we have addressed this issue from the perspective of international human rights standards. We also consulted with our global movement to take on board different views from around the world,”said Salil Shetty in the release. The research and consultation carried out in the development of this policy in the past two years concluded that this was the best way to defend sex workers’ human rights and lessen the risk of abuse and violations they face, the release stated. The violations that sex workers can be exposed to include physical and sexual violence, arbitrary arrest and detention, extortion and harassment, human trafficking, forced HIV testing and medical interventions. They can also be excluded from health care and housing services and other social and legal protection. The policy has drawn from an extensive evidence base from sources including UN agencies, such as the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, UN Women and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health. We have also conducted research in four countries. The consultation included sex worker groups, groups representing survivors of prostitution, abolitionist organizations, feminist and other women’s rights representatives, LGBTI activists, anti- trafficking agencies and HIV/AIDS organizations. Amnesty International considers human trafficking abhorrent in all of its forms, including sexual exploitation, and should be criminalized as a matter of international law. This is explicit in this new policy and all of Amnesty International’s work. “This is a historic day for Amnesty International. It was not a decision that was reached easily or quickly and we thank all our members from around the world, as well as all the many groups we consulted, for their important contribution to this debate. They have helped us reach an important decision that will shape this area of our human rights work going forward,”added Salil Shetty in the release. (Times of India 12/8/15)

226. Drug shortage troubles HIV/AIDS patients (3)

CHENNAI: On Monday, when Krithika*, a resident of Ambattur when to the Tambaram sanatorium to pick up her second-line anti-retroviral therapy (ART) drugs, she was only given enough for a few days, and asked to come back on Friday for more. “I was told that they didn’t have any more drugs to give me,” said the 42-year-old. Her daughter, who also takes second-line ART drugs, said she too was given only enough for 10 days. For the last few weeks, people living with HIV/AIDS and activists have been complaining about a shortage of second-line ART drugs at some centres in the State, leading to drugs being provided for only a few days instead of a month. They have even alleged that some patients, on whom the first-line drugs have failed, are not being started on second-line drugs due to the stock-out position. A total of 88,168 patients are on ART drugs at the 52 centres in Tamil Nadu. Those who have failed first-line ART drugs are started on second-line drugs. Four nodal centres – in Chennai (Tambaram), Madurai, Tirunelveli and Salem — identify patients in need of second-line ART. The drugs are then given at the nodal centre or the patient’s own ART centre. In Tamabaram alone, 1,082 second-line cases have been identified. “We have raised the issue of drug stock-outs repeatedly but it continues to be a problem. Many patients go to the centres travelling long distances, taking a day off work, to get their medication. Going there more than once a month is extremely difficult for them, especially for daily wage workers. This can lead to problems with drug adherence,” said Daisy David, an advocacy officer with World Vision India, an NGO. It takes Jeyarani* an hour to travel from her home in Poonamallee to her centre at Government Kilpauk Hospital, where she was given her drugs for 15 days. “The last time I came, I was given only a week’s supply. I was told stocks have not yet come,” she said. The problem is acute at centres where a lot of patients go such as Tambaram and Palani, said A. Paulraj, president, Dindigul Network of Positive People. “In fact, in Palani, some patients were sent away without drugs. We have held meetings with officials and informed them about the problem and they assured us it would be taken care of,” he said. Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society officials however maintained that there was no problem now. “New stocks of the drugs have arrived on Tuesday and the allocation has already been done. In any case, if there is a problem at one centre, drugs are diverted there from centres that have excess,” an official said. The issue, another official explained, was that every month, there are new cases and the demand increases. This time, it was more than what was predicted. Drug supply problems have plagued the ART programme in several States across the country for over a year now, leading health experts to worry about the effect this will have on patients. In 1986, the first HIV positive case was detected in Tamil Nadu. In 1993, the State AIDS Cell was formed, which in 1994, became TANSACSTamil Nadu has 52 ART centres. Of these, 21 are in medical college Institutions, 27 in government hospitals and 1 in a private institution. There are also 105 link ART centres which function as drug dispensing units. On November 30, 2003, the government of India announced a plan to provide ART through public hospitals in the country from April 1, 2004. Second-line ART was launched in Tamil Nadu in January 2008 at the Government Hospital for Thoracic Medicine in Tambaram. Subsequently three other centres in Salem, Madurai and Tirunelveli too provided the treatment. At present, according to a TANSACS official, while patients are admitted and assessed at these four centres by an expert team to decide whether they need second-line ART, the drugs can be picked up by the patients at any one of the ART centres. A total of 88,168 patients are on ART drugs at 52 centres in Tamil Nadu. Those who have failed first-line ART drugs are started on second-line drugs. In Tamabaram alone, 1,082 second-line cases have been identified. (The Hindu 17/8/15)

227. Tourist spots more vulnerable to AIDS, says NACO official (3)

PANAJI: The States which attract more tourists, especially foreigners, are more vulnerable to AIDS infection, Naresh Goyal, Deputy Director-General of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), said here on Tuesday.  At a press conference organised by the AIDS Society of Goa and attended by Union Minister of State for Health Shripad Naik here, he said that though the entire country attracted tourists, places such as Goa, Jaipur and Delhi which attracted more foreign tourists were more vulnerable to the dreaded disease. “There are vulnerabilities such as drug-trafficking, excessive flow of migrants and alcoholism. Whether it is through taking drugs through injection or having unprotected sex, the root cause is same. Even border areas where drug trafficking is more are also vulnerable to the disease,” he said. He said 51 AIDS cases were detected in Goa in 2013, 47 in 2014 and only 19 in the first seven months of the year. He said though HIV infection was prevalent in all parts of Goa, a majority of the cases were reported in the coastal taluks of Salcete (14 per cent), Mormugao (12.5 per cent), Tiswadi (4.7 per cent) and Bardez (15.4 per cent) during 2014. He said that Goa has achieved zero per cent transmission of AIDS to infant from mother while the same continues to be 4-5 per cent in the country. (The Hindu 19/8/15)