HR News

Volume 16                                       No.50                                     October 20,  2014

HR NEWS: October 20, 2014

(From October 11 To October 20, 2014)

 DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

1. Govt opposed to Dalit status for converts (2)

NEW DELHI: The Centre believes that granting dalit status to converts from Islam and Christianity would encourage religious conversions, coming out against the demand that the list of Scheduled Castes be opened up beyond Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism. Union social justice minister Thavar Chand Gehlot told TOI, “Allowing SC status to converts would provide a fillip to religious conversions. The demand is not constitutional and we want to work within the parameters of the statute for the welfare of these communities.” The unequivocal stance indicates that the Centre may oppose the demand of dalit Christians in the Supreme Court. The issue has been hanging fire as the UPA government, in its affidavit, continuously dragged its feet in the Court. The call for extension of dalit status to Christianity and Islam is a sensitive subject that has resulted in divisions among social groups. While the dalit converts have long complained that stigma of caste-system exists in their new religions and they be clubbed with SCs, a section of existing dalits oppose it out of the fear that new members to the SC list would add more claimants for benefits like job reservations and cut into their share. Groups like Sangh Parivar apprehend if dalit status is opened to practitioners of Christianity and Islam, there would be nothing to stop dalits from changing faith. The ineligibility for welfare benefits is seen as a check against conversion. Speaking to TOI, Gehlot argued that opening the SC list would bring new claimants for benefits available to existing dalits. “It will encroach upon the facilities of SCs,” he said. On the other hand, he claimed the dalit converts are availing facilities extended to (backward) Christians and Muslims. “Now, if they get SC status, they will be eligible for dual benefits,” he added. According to the minister, the demand was unjustified because dalit-converts left the Hindu fold to escape the scourge of untouchability. “They converted to other religions because untouchability did not exist there. The conversion has solved the problems they faced as Hindus. So, they should not ask for SC status,” he argued. Coming out strongly against the campaign of dalit converts, the Union minister said the subject was debated in detail in the Constituent Assembly and has also been examined by government and the Supreme Court in the past. “They did not support it then and it should not be done now,” he insisted. Refusing to spell out the stand the government may take in the apex court, Gehlot said, “I am not aware of the affidavit the law ministry would file. But we are against opening dalit status to converts.” (Times of India 10/10/14)

2. Six Dalits raped in Bihar, Ranbir Sena man held (2)

Sikarhatta (bihar) : Six Dalit women, including two minor girls, were allegedly raped by a former gunman of a disbanded private army and two others in Bihar’s Bhojpur district on Wednesday night. The three men are now in police custody. The victims belong to the mushahar caste, who are at the bottom of the economically deprived Mahadalit communities in Bihar. The main accused, disbanded Ranbir Sena’s Neelnidhi Singh, is already facing 18 criminal cases and was on bail, said district police chief Rajesh Kumar. He said the police had yet to confirm the exact age of the victims, though based on primary inquiry, they are probably between ages 12 and 30. The medical test reports have confirmed rape.The incident took place in Kurmuri village under Sikarhatta police station of the district when nine rag-pickers from nearby Dumaria village reached a scrapyard called at Maa Saraswatiji Enterprises to sell the scrap they had collected. Scrapyard owner Neelnidhi Singh, his brother Jayprakash Singh and their associate Guddu Pandit allegedly kept the payment on hold on the excuse that it would take time to arrange the change. The total value of scrap sold by the nine was Rs 1000. As it was already past 6pm and the team had to walk 8km back to their village, the rag-pickers kept insisting on prompt payment. There were three married women, two girls, two minor girls and two minor boys in the group. Neelnidhi Singh allegedly flashed a gun at the mushahar women to terrorise them into staying back at the scrapyard on Wednesday night. Guddu Pandit is said to have brought pouches of country liquor and the three reportedly forced the women and girls to drink the alcohol. The two minor boys are reported to have been tied with ropes. Six women and girls, including two minors, were then allegedly raped at an orchard near the thatched scrapyard. The victims, who came to their full senses by midnight, jumped into a drain to reach an approach road and escape to the Dumaria village. One of the girls, aged around 7, was spared and returned with the victims. One of the victims later reported the matter to Sikarhatta police on Thursday. Bhojpur police arrested Jaiprakash Singh on Thursday evening. After an overnight search through paddy fields, Neelnidhi Singh and Guddu Pandit were arrested on Friday afternoon. The police have seized the clothes of the accused. A forensic team also went to the scrapyard to examine the scene. Kurmuri, a village of 4,000 people dominated by upper-caste Bhumihars, is just one of many villages in Bhojpur which has been witnessing recurring caste tension since the killing of former Ranbir Sena chief Barmeshwar Mukhiya in June 2012… (Indian Express 11/10/14)

3. Two Booked for Abusing Dalit Man (2)

MADURAI: Two caste Hindus were booked on Saturday for allegedly verbally abusing a Dalit resident of Thaniyamangalam village near Keelavalavu after a peace meeting conducted by the Revenue Divisional Officer following a dispute over organising a temple festival. Sources said that of late the Dalits of the village had been demanding greater role in organising the festival at a local Amman Temple. This had triggered tension between the caste Hindus and Dalits, prompting the officials to intervene. Meanwhile, on Friday, the Melur Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) organised a peace meeting between the Dalits and caste Hindus. During the meeting, both the communities purportedly reached at an amicable solution and left on good terms. However, according to the complaint lodged by one P Dharmalingam (38), a Dalit, he was intercepted by two persons after the meeting. The duo, including a woman, allegedly abused him for demanding rights to conduct temple festivities. They also threatened that if the Dalits did not retract their demands, the village would be engulfed in caste violence, the complainant further alleged. (New Indian Express 13/10/14)

4. Dark days of violence on Dalits return to haunt Bihar (2)

The Dalits who mobbed Bihar minister Ramai Ram in Sasaram on Wednesday do not have knowledge of the state’s latest crime statistics but their anger is backed by numbers. There has been a remarkable spurt in violent crimes against Dalit communities in Bihar this year. The numbers since 2005 are bad enough — 32,395 cases of atrocities till this August — but it’s the 10,681 cases in the past 20 months that point to an alarming uptrend. It gets worse from this January to August: 4,322 cases, including 361 cases under the Prevention of Atrocities against SC/ST, the highest in the past nine years. Fingers are being pointed at state Chief Minister Jeetan Ram Manjhi, himself a Mahadalit, for lack of a proper response but observers see reasons beyond inept running of the police machinery. A state with a dark history of oppression of its lowest-caste poor may be seeing a fragmentation of the “social coalition” of Dalits and upper castes after the split in the governing NDA in June 2013. Veteran Dalit leader Ramai Ram was in Mohanpur village of Rohtas district to hand over a compensation cheque of Rs 2.8 lakh for the death of Sai Ram, 15, who was burnt alive, allegedly by upper caste men on Wednesday. But there was no gratitude, only angry words. “We have been at the receiving end even after Manjhi became CM. A leader like you (Ram) has been a lackey of Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar for 25 years but done little for our empowerment,” a resentful villager told Ramai Ram. “There are no toilets for us. Our women suffer humiliation when they go to upper-caste people’s fields.” When a villager tried to praise the visiting minister, an angry protester slapped him. A sobered Ram said: “I can understand their anger. They have real issues we need to address.” The rising crime numbers since January last year have been brought in sharp focus by three big back-to-back anti-Dalit incidents in the month: rape of six Dalit women and minors in Bhojpur earlier this month; over 150 in Gaya being forced to leave their village after clashes with dominant upper castes in September-end; and Manjhi’s highly publicised accusation that a Madhubani temple was cleansed after his visit. The main accused in the Bhojpur rapes, for example, was a member of the disbanded landlord army Ranbir Sena and all three belonged to upper castes…. (Indian Express 19/10/14)

5. Dalit’s attempt to ply auto invites wrath of caste Hindus (2)

BHAYLA (AHMEDABAD DISTRICT): For Mehul Kabira, a Dalit youth in Ahmedabad district, life could have taken a different turn. An auto-rickshaw rented by his father could have freed him from his traditional caste occupation. However caste Hindu interests in the village ensured against it. Residing in Bhayla village in Bavla block, about 40 km from Ahmedabad city, Mehul belongs to the Valmiki community — historically restricted to cleaning, sweeping and scavenging jobs. In 2012, Vinubhai Kabira, Mehul’s father, rented an auto with the hope that his son would earn a living as an auto driver. In a matter of a few days, Mehul was attacked by a group of youths from the Darbar community, who beat him up so badly that he had to be hospitalised and the family had to flee the village. “They objected to my riding the auto. They forbade people from sitting in it. Their harassment continued for five days after which they vandalised my auto and beat me up. Out of fear, we fled the village,” said Mehul, whose family mustered the courage to return four months ago. “They said ‘Bhangdas’ should not ride an auto. They did not even allow us to park it at the auto stand. They said we were fit only to clean gobar [cattle faeces] and work in their fields,” his father Vinubhai said. After the incident, Mehul filed a case under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. But with no strong police action, his fears remained. The auto, covered with a tarpaulin, stands outside his house. But the means of livelihood has become a white elephant for the Kabira family. Mehul briefly got a cleaning job in a private company. However, all of his monthly earnings of Rs. 4,000 went towards paying the monthly rent of Rs. 4,400 for the auto. “About nine payments to the tune of Rs. 45,000 are still pending,” he said, having no clue about what he should do about the abandoned vehicle. To make matters worse, the family’s return to the village has been frowned upon by the numerically large Darbar community, according to the residents of the Valmiki colony of 20 houses. Early this month, an incident of stone pelting and assault left several people injured, resulting in another case of atrocity. Mehul has been named as one of the accused in a counter-FIR filed by the Darbar youth. Inquiries at the houses of the Darbar youth were met with a stony silence and evasive replies by several residents of the caste Hindu locality. “They behave that way with the police too,” remarked J.D. Zala, sub-inspector, in charge of the Bavla police station. In the last five years, three atrocity cases have been filed from Bhayla village alone. (The Hindu 20/10/14)

TRIBALS

6. Forest Rights Rejection in LWE-affected Areas Reviewed (6)

CHENNAI: Concerned over the high rate of rejection of claims under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) in the Left-wing Extremism (LWE) areas, the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs has reviewed its implementation and has asked the states to take proactive steps to mobilise maximum number of claims so that the forest dwellers get ownership of forest land in the 117 affected districts. In a letter to all Principal Secretaries, the ministry mentioned that Community Forest Rights (CFR) titles have been awarded to Joint Forest Management Committees in the LWE states, which is not in accordance with the FRA procedure and not permissible under the FRA. Earlier, the matter was also raised by the Cabinet Secretariat,which had asked the ministry to look into it. A brief study was commissioned under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) – UNDP Project to study the reasons of the high rate of rejections in the LWE areas. “It was found that the appropriate procedure for filing was not followed due to lack of awareness at the Gram Sabha- level. Documentary evidences were not available with the claimants and joint verification process has often not been appropriate, due to lack of coordination between the Revenue and Forest Departments,” the letter sent in September said, adding, the duplicate claims led to inflated number of claims received and number of rejections. The ministry has now directed the states and District Collectors to take proactive steps to mobilise maximum number of claims from the LWE affected states and issue directives and guidelines to frontline staff to address the local issues and challenges for better implementation of the FRA on the ground.It said that the process should not simply end with the recognition of rights, that the record of rights (ROR) need to be created in the revenue code of law as well. Besides, the reasons for rejection of claims must be communicated to the claimant in writing and the claimant should be given a chance of appeal.The states have been asked to send data to the MoTA, clearly mentioning the   district-wise status on rejection along with the reasons for monitoring and review, as this will help in reviewing the wrongly rejected claims. (New Indian Express 10/10/14)

7. Bonda tribals move to safe haven (6)

BERHAMPUR:  The evacuation of primitive Bonda tribals living in remote hamlets of Bonda hills in Malkangiri district of Odisha started on Saturday ahead of the Hudhud cyclone expected to hit Odisha on October 12. Speaking to The Hindu , Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC) Bikash Moahapatra, said that unlike cyclone Phailin last year, the hilly districts of Malkangiri and Koraput would be effected by Hudhud. The four districts of south Odisha which will face maximum impact of the cyclone are Ganjam, Gajapati, Malkangiri and Koraput. Out of these districts, people in Malkangiri and Koraput districts have not been affected by any major cyclone in the past. There are no permanent cyclone shelters in tribal-dominated districts of Malkangiri and Koraput, where people are staying in kutcha houses. So, in these two districts as well as Gajapati district, the administration has identified pucca houses to be used as shelters. Till Saturday evening, around 400 Bonda tribals living in hamlets of the Bonda hill area in Khairaput block were evacuated to the Government High School building at Mudulipada. It may be noted that during heavy rains, the Bonda hill area gets cut off from the outside world. A team of Odisha Disaster Response Forum (ODRAF) has already reached Mudulipada. A 45-member NDRF team has also reached the district. The areas of Malkangiri district bordering Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh, where Hudhud is expected to make landfall, are under strict vigil. According to Malkangiri collector, D.Prasant Kumar Reddy, the cut off area of Balimela reservoir is another thrust area. The motor launch service to the cut off area has been stopped. But adequate amount of food stock, has been sent to the six cyclone-vulnerable Maoist prone panchayats of the cut off region. In the Koraput district, we are evacuating people living in kutcha houses on the banks of rivers and reservoirs to identified pucca shelters, said the RDC. According to Mr Mohapatra, the administration is keeping tabs on the path the Hudhud cyclone will take because after making landfall near Visakhapatnam, it is likely to storm the Malkangiri and Koraput districts. People from these villages in the two districts, which would fall in the path of the Hudhud after landfall, are being evacuated as precautionary measure. (The Hindu 12/10/14)

8. Tribals to Construct Homes on Their Own (6)

KALPETTA: In a bid to end the rampant corruption in tribal housing projects, Adivasi societies will be formed across the State to assign the task of constructing houses allotted under various State and Central government schemes. The first such society in the State has been set up in Vellamunda panchayat in Wayanad. The society, registered under the Kerala Cooperative Societies Act, comprises 75  skilled tribal construction workers hailing from the panchayat. “This project is part of the government’s efforts to end rampant irregularities in the execution of tribal housing projects. The project would be extended to the remaining districts, if found successful,” said Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Tribes P K Jayalakshmi. The path-breaking initiative will be implemented on an experimental basis in 21 wards in the panchayat and it will be gradually extended to other parts of the district, said officials with the Scheduled Tribes Development Department. Initially, the society will take up the construction of 16 houses in the panchayat. The 75 members are being divided into four area-specific groups to execute the project. The houses which are currently being constructed are those allotted under the Centre-sponsored Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) and the special State government housing package programmes for primitive tribal groups. Each house with an area of 650 sq ft consists of two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and an outdoor toilet. In the next phase, the society would be assigned to complete the construction works of the partially-built houses in Wayanad, she added. (New Indian Express 13/10/14)

9. Three tribal Odisha districts badly affected (6)

Nhubaneswar: Hudhud inflicted considerable damage to the three tribal-dominated districts of Koraput, Gajapati and Malkangiri in southernmost part of Orissa while moving to Chhattisgarh late on Sunday night.  However,  it spared a majority of Odisha districts. Two other neighbouring tribal-dominated districts—Rayagara and Nowrangpur—witnessed limited damage. The storm crossed the Odisha border over Patangi in Koraput district around 11:30 pm on Sunday. By then, it had already weakened from a very severe cyclonic storm to a severe cyclonic storm. But it still caused considerable damage. According to preliminary estimates by the office of the special relief commissioner (SRC), about 25,000 houses were damaged in the Koraput district alone, followed by 15,000 in Gajapati. Nearly 50,000 houses have been destroyed across the five districts. A majority of them were thatched houses of tribals.  Power supply infrastructure also sustained considerable damage in these districts. According to Energy Secretary Suresh Mohapatra, the storm damaged 24 transformers and uprooted 600 electric poles in the five districts. Efforts were on to fully restore electricity supply by late Monday night or Tuesday morning. The state administration has diverted personnel from other places to the five affected districts for quick restoration of services. “Efforts are on to normalise the situation in the affected southern districts on a war footing,” said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik after a review meeting. Significantly, no casualty has been reported from any of these districts, primarily owing to large-scale evacuation from vulnerable points. According figures available with the SRC’s office, 2,47,829 people had been evacuated before the arrival of the cyclone from various districts across the state, and housed in 2,197 relief camps. People had started returning homes on Monday afternoon. (Deccan Herald 14/10/14)

10. Tribal people seek fishing rights (6)

ONGOLE: Yenadi tribals from Kukatlapalle near Ballikurava under the banner of the Kula Vivaksha Porata Sangam staged a demonstration in-front of the Prakasam Bhavan here on Wednesday, seeking restoration of their fishing rights. The tribals led by Saparpanch K. Narasimha Rao complained that they were being attacked by farmers in the village and demanded security and identity cards for them. KVPS State Secretary A. Malyadri wanted the district administration to allow fishing up to 20 km in the Gundlakamma reservoir instead of the 10 km at present. (The Hindu 16/10/14)

11. Policy on Maoists also focuses on welfare of tribals (6)

New Delhi: The Centre’s first cut of the policy on dealing with the Maoist challenge gives it the right to use all necessary force against the Maoists but balances the hardline approach by focusing on tribal welfare. “The state is duty-bound to resolutely deal with the Maoist violence and reserves the right to use any element of its national power against the outfit,” the draft policy cleared by home minister Rajnath Singh said. The policy is the first attempt to coherently, and comprehensively spell out the national policy against Maoists. While it was in the opposition, the BJP had often targeted the previous UPA government for the absence of a central policy. A source conceded the policy — to be circulated in all Maoist-affected states and central ministries — was as much of a strategy vision as a political document. The draft policy asks states and district SPs to take the lead in the counter-insurgency campaign with support from the Central Armed Police Forces. “The CAPFs have the responsibility of holding the counter-insurgency grid together, operating seamlessly across state borders in coordination with the state police forces,” the Centre’s counter-insurgency policy said. The policy counts on government interventions in four areas, namely security, development, ensuring rights and entitlements of local communities and public perception management. In the new format, the Centre intends to extensively focus on 23 districts that account for 80% of Maoist violence. The primary response in these districts will be a security approach. In moderately-affected districts, on the other hand, the security and development response will go hand in hand. Government sources said many elements of the new policy were already under implementation. For instance, the policy recognises that the first step towards checking Maoist violence was reviving, strengthening or starting new police stations. (Hindustan Times 18/10/14)

12. KCR Peeved over Poor Literacy Rate among Tribals (6)

HYDERABAD: What is making the tribal community lag behind in academics? This is the poser put by Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao to the officials at the meeting of the Tribal Advisory Council held here on Saturday. Chandrasekhar Rao, who chaired the council meeting held at the Secretariat, was peeved over the lack of any substantial increase in the literacy rate among the tribals. “There are Integrated Tribal Development Agencies (ITDAs) and other government schools in tribal areas but unfortunately, the literacy rate among the tribals is not showing any improvement,’’ he observed. Taking a strong note of this aspect, Chandrasekhar Rao asked the officials the reasons for it. He sought to know the situation of educational facilities in tribal areas, the vacancies in these institutions and others. Officials reportedly told the chief minister that there was a dearth of teaching staff in the schools in tribal and agency areas and they are making efforts to fill them. He also wanted a report on the conditions in ST Residential Junior Colleges in the state. The other issues which came up for discussion include relief and rehabilitation package to the oustees of irrigation and other development projects in the state. “We will extend more compensation to tribals that no other state would have extended during rehabilitation of tribals during execution of projects,’’ Chandrasekhar Rao said adding that the tribals, who will lose lands in Pranahita-Chevella project will get the ‘best’ package. “We will extend compensation twice the amount of the registration value of the land that a tribal loses in the project,’’ he announced. This means a person who loses an acre of land worth ` one lakh will get Rs four lakh, the chief minister said adding this would be more than compensation packages being extended by neighbouring AP or even the Centre. Officials explained to the CM that under the Pranahita-Chevella project, seven reservoirs and nine villages will be submerged. A total of 696 tribal families will lose their land. On the issue of upgrading tribal hamlets into gram panchayats, the chief minister said they will fulfill the promise which was included in the manifesto. Asking the elected representatives to give their opinion on the issue, Chandrasekhar Rao said special gram panchayats can be carved out including hamlets three kilometres outside a village. “There is no need to abide by the rule that a gram panchayat can be carved out when there is more than 500 population in a village. Three to four tandas (hamlets) can be made into a gram panchayat,’’ he said. Some elected representatives suggested that tribal hamlets with less than 500 population and away from any other village should also be made into a gram panchayat. (New Indian Express 19/10/14)

WOMEN

13. Women helpline to be made more effective (8)

New Delhi: The city administration’s 181 helpline for women in distress is in the process of preparing a policy document to make effective changes in the existing rules to check crimes against women in the national capital. The helpline is likely to hold a series of consultations with the station house officers (SHOs) of the areas that have registered most cases of violence against women in the city. The helpline also plans to hold a mega-meet of the survivors on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25. “We are going to hold meetings with the police officers, lawmakers, women’s rights’ activists and other experts to see what changes can be effected in our policies to provide a secure environment for the women in the city,” rights’ activist and 181 chief Khadijah Faruqui told this newspaper. She said that an analysis the 181 helpline on the basis of FIRs filed and on the calls received between December 31, 2012 and July 15, 2014, showed that certain areas were more prone to sexual assaults, domestic violence and abductions. Ms Faruqui said the maximum cases of violence against women were reported in the border areas, resettlement colonies and traditional villages of the national capital. “Once we hold discussions with the experts, we will be able to find out the remedy as well. We will also prepare a comprehensive policy document for active consideration of the city administration.” In all, as many as 14,318 FIRs were lodged on the basis of the calls received by 181. The number of FIRs ranged between 100 and 200 in 37 police stations. Uttam Nagar topped the list with 454 cases and was followed by Sultanpuri with 333 cases. The police stations where more than 200 cases were registered, included Gokulpuri and Sangam Vihar (both 201), Tilak Nagar (202), Burari (211), Najafgarh (214), Dabri (215), Mangolpuri (242), Aman Vihar (252), Jehangirpuri (252), Narela (253) and Nangloi (268). As far as domestic violence against women was concerned, the police had registered 9,273 cases in the same time period. Dabri topped the list with 499 cases. (Asian Age 11/10/14)

14. Harassment of women for dowry is increasing, observes Court (8)

New Delhi: A court here has observed that harassment of women for dowry is increasing while awarding a three-year jail term to a victim’s husband and two others for harassing her for 14 years. Metropolitan Magistrate Ekta Gauba said: “…the harassment of women for demand of dowry is increasing in today’s scenario.” The court awarded the jail term to victim Anuradha’s husband Mukesh Kumar, her sister-in-law Guddi and brother-in-law Virender Singh after convicting them under various charges dealing with enticing or taking away or detaining a married woman with criminal intent. The court also directed the three to pay a compensation of Rs.5,000 each to her. The court noted: “Kumar being the husband of complainant along with convict Virender Singh and convict Guddi being the relatives of the husband of the complainant subjected the complainant to mental and physical cruelty in order to compel the complainant to meet their unlawful demand for dowry.” According to the prosecution, the three were harassing her physically and mentally and compelled her to meet their demands for dowry. —IANS (The Hindu 12/10/14)

15. Making the Girl Child Feel Safe Wherever She is (8)

CHENNAI: On the International Day of the Girl Child, Chennai woke up to newspapers splashed with  stories after news stories on everything from missing girls to abuse of girl children on the road. But experts point out that the cycle of violence might actually go beyond what one sees on the roads or in the papers. “Child marriage for instance has its roots in violence against the girl children, though we do not associate it that way. One of the reasons why many of the parents take to child marriages is safety. The idea is that when the girl child is married of she is safe thereafter,” says Varsha Pillay of CRY. Child rights activists point out that ensuring that children are at school is one of the effective ways to ensure the safety of the girl child, as it brings out more awareness among the children about their rights and reduces exposure to high risk areas like child labour. Meanwhile, under reporting of violence and crime owing to stigma is another area of concern. As per the last year’s National Crime Records Statistics, Tamil Nadu reported one of the lowest number of incest rape cases with just six cases reported through the state in the while year and Chennai reported no incest rape case at all. It is to be noted that even among the 6, five were below 18 years of age. “The fact is that the largest incidence of rape against children happens with families or in close neighbhourhood. But much of this seems to go unreported,” says Sherin Bosko of Nakshatra Rape Crisis Centre. The skewed child sex ratio is another important area of concern. “The general sex ratio of the state is not an area of concern. But what is problematic is the child sex ratios. In some of the districts especially in rural areas we are seeing a decline in the child sex ratio,” says R Vidyasagar, Child Protection Specialist at the UNICEF. While the girl child today has increasing opportunities in educational and better health conditions, new problems have come to haunt them. “One of them is the preference for a single child. When families go for a single child, they want that child to be a boy. This was not the case when families had 2-3 children. Similarly technology has also become a threat. Sex selection technologies have led to the reduction of child sex ratio,” he said. Interestingly, Chennai’s sex ratio is below the state average even while a district like the Nilgiris which is less developed has the highest sex ratio. But experts point out low sex ratio is a city like Chennai might have more complicated reasons behind it than a neglect of the girl child. “Among all the districts Chennai has the highest number of migrants coming in. So in a city like this one really does not know where exactly is the low sex ratio coming from,” he said. (New Indian Express 13/10/14)

16. Accused in Crimes against Women Known to Victim: HC Told (8)

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court was Wednesday informed by the city police that there has been a “steep rise” in incidents of rape, molestation and eveteasing in national capital since the December 16 gangrape case and most of these occur inside the victim’s house and the accused in majority of the cases is a relative or an acquaintance. The submission was made in an affidavit placed before a bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Siddharth Mridul who listed the matter for hearing on October 29 after senior advocate Neeraj Kishen Kaul, appearing for Delhi police, sought an adjournment. “There is a steep rise in incidents of rape, molestation and eveteasing after the Nirbhaya case (December 16, 2012 gangrape). “There were a total of 2276 incidents of rape, molestation and eveteasing in 2014 up to September 15 as against 2070 incidents during the same period in 2013.  “1375 out of the 2276 incidents took place inside the house and its difficult to anticipate or prevent such incidents … In 1767 out of the 2276 incidents, the accused turned out to be relatives or acquaintances…,” the affidavit submitted by Delhi Police, through advocate Zubeda Begum, said.  According to the affidavit, there is around 125 per cent increase in rape cases as compared to 2013 for the period from January to September 15, while the rise in molestation and eve-teasing cases is around 448 per cent and 478 per cent, respectively.  These figures pertained to the crimes against women reported in 44 red-flagged areas or police stations of the capital from January 1, 2014 to September 15, 2014 and were submitted pursuant to the court’s direction of September 24 when it had directed Delhi police to file a better affidavit. The police, in its affidavit, answered the queries raised on the last date by the court which had also wanted to know specific details regarding measures implemented to curb crimes against women in four police stations – Mehrauli, Govindpuri, Hauz Khas and Safdarjung Enclave.   The court had also raised queries regarding scientific techniques employed by the investigating officers (IOs) while probing the crimes, especially those against women.   Answering these queries, Delhi Police has said that in the areas falling under the four police stations the measures undertaken include identification of affected or sensitive spots, increase in patrolling, deployment of anti-stalking and anti-eveteasing pickets, deployment of women police officers and conducting seminars and training programmes on gender sensitisation.  Deployment of pickets and patrolling is primarily at the bus stops as well as near the colleges and schools and NGOs have been roped in to spread awareness, police has said.  It has also submitted that meetings have been organised with RWAs of these areas to create awareness about such incidents. On the scientific techniques employed to probe crimes against women, Delhi Police has said that depending upon circumstances of each case, its IOs employ a number of methods which include, ensuring that medical examination of victim as quickly as possible, especially in rape cases. Spot inspection by forensic and crime team, seizure and examination of biological evidences like blood, bodily discharge, etc as well as analysis of CCTV footage (if available), call details and mobile locations are the other scientific techniques that are employed, police has said.  The court was hearing a plea filed by social activist Nandita Dhar through advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal against increasing incidents of eveteasing in the capital.  On September 24, the high court had come down heavily on police for its “shoddy” probe into rising cases of crime against women in the national capital and had said that it has led to lack of fear for law in the minds of the perpetrators. It had also slammed Delhi police for its “downhill” crime investigation and had asked it to shape up. The court had also expressed dissatisfaction over the Delhi Police affidavit containing the comparative chart of crimes against women reported in 44 red-flagged areas of the capital from January 1 to April 15 and from April 16 to July 31. The bench had said comparison of crimes committed in the two periods is like “comparing apples with oranges” and directed the police to present a more “detailed, correct and complete picture” of the status of offences against women in those areas, specifically in Mehrauli, Govindpuri, Hauz Khas and Safdarjung Enclave, and measures taken to curb the same.  The court had also directed the police to also deal with the points in the report of Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) with respect to the hotspots and reasons for crime in the red-flagged areas. (New Indian Exprerss 15/10/14)

17. Wife’s cruelty towards in-laws ground for divorce, says HC (8)

LUCKNOW: The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court has ruled that a man can seek divorce if his wife pressurizes him for abandoning his parents and demands a fixed sum every month for personal expenses. Terming such behaviour as ‘cruelty upon the husband’, the court also ruled that a woman who makes these demands while earning more than her husband will not be entitled for permanent alimony. The court made these observations while upholding the judgment of a family court which granted divorce to a man on the above grounds and also declined permanent alimony to his wife under Section 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act. Expressing concern over the case which dragged for over 23 years, a division bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Mahendra Dayal said, “The worst sufferer of this long litigation is the child who was born out of the wedlock and the parties are still not ready to reconcile or settle their dispute amicably.” Radhika and Ashok (names changed) got married in Lucknow on February 5, 1991. Immediately after marriage, Radhika demanded eviction of her in-laws from the house and Rs 3,000 for her monthly expense on cosmetics and outings. When Ashok failed to meet her demands Radhika started harassing her in-laws and husband physically and mentally. Ashok then lodged a police complaint on June 14, 1991, and got his injuries examined in the government hospital. He also complained to Radhika’s mother and two brothers but to no avail. A miffed Radhika then threatened to frame her husband and in-laws in dowry harassment case. Ashok then took a rented accommodation in Rajajipuram. In September 1991, he was transferred to Bulandshahr. When his wife came to know about his transfer, she along with her family members detained him in the house and threatened him with dire consequences if he left. But he managed to escape and joined his new posting. He filed a divorce petition in the family court in October 1991. In retaliation, Radhika filed a dowry harassment case against her in-laws and husband (they were acquitted later). Ashok requested the family court to hear his plea before the completion of one year – the minimum period before such a petition can be heard – alleging mental harassment by his wife. The family court took up the case issued summons to Radhika. The case prolonged for 13 years till Ashok obtained a high court order telling family court to decide the case within three months. On September 30, 2004, the family court granted divorce to Ashok and declined any permanent alimony to his wife. (Times of India 20/10/14)

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

18. 1.5 lakh kids toil as labour in Bangalore, say activists (14)

BANGALORE: “India has touched Mars, but we’ve not been able to touch our children’s hearts,” a Bangalore-based child rights activist says. It couldn’t be truer when one looks at the extent of child labour in Karnataka. Union labour department statistics point to 2,49,432 child labourers in Karnataka as per the 2011 census. But actual figures are much more, say child rights activists, pegging the number in Bangalore itself to be a little more than 1.5 lakh. Add to this the north Karnataka region where child labour is rampant, and you’ll see systemic paralysis. Next month, the world will observe 25 years of signing of the UN resolution against child labour. But the situation in Karnataka remains disturbing. India had enacted The Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986 three years before the UN resolution and Karnataka borrowed the same. It lists 58 occupations that children shouldn’t be doing. But the law is hardly implemented. Karnataka then came up with a plan that envisaged ridding the state of child labour at the end of the plan period (2002-2007). That policy paper lies buried in Vidhana Soudha’s archives as children continue to work in bars and hotels, workshops and sweatshops, in hazardous sectors like illegal e-waste, construction sites, brick kilns, silk industry, and so on. Labour officials say they are cracking the whip. In three years (2011-2013) the department found 428 violations, prosecuted 458 people and convicted 117 people, who’d wrongfully employed children below the age of 14. And therein lies the crux of the problem, say child rights activists. Kavita Ratna of Concerned for Working Children says: “The issue is how we view child labour. Our policies criminalize those below 14 and ignore those above 15 but below 18. There is zero attention to prevention of the problem. Child labour will never go as long as there is largescale deprivation, and the number of homeless and landless people increase.” We cannot simply follow the international method of “ban and boycott,” she says, calling to provide alternatives for children, as many are breadwinners. The Apprenticeship Act is never thought of for these children. That has better means to deal with the problem as it allows children to work in a regulated environment and also go to school. “But there’s not a single evening school. We’re not serious,” Kavita says. Umesh Aradhya, chairperson, Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, says all the departments must work together. “There are some wonderful schemes conceived by the government, but we’re failing to deliver the same to these kids. There needs to be a convergence.” One such scheme is the Child Labour Project. Under this, 7,074 children have been sent to school after being rescued from child labour since 2011. But the efforts seem isolated with children continuing to be denied education, food, shelter and other rights. It’s time we revisit our policies. ( Times of India  11/10/14)

19. 60 child workers rescued from Mumbai (14)

PATNA: The state labour resources department (LRD) with the help of an NGO rescued 60 children from Mumbai and brought them back on Sunday by Rajendra Nagar-Mumbai Express. The LRD officials of the districts concerned took the children back to their native places. Surjeet Kumar, deputy labour commissioner, Muzaffarpur said the children were rescued from different industrial belts of Mumbai by the NGO. “We sent a team of GRP to bring back the children who belonged to Bihar. An inquiry team would be constituted to identify the middlemen sending them as child workers from every district. The department would ensure their rehabilitation, including allotment of a house to each under Indira Awas Yojana. The children were deployed in jobs which are strenuous for eyes.” The rescued children used to work in bangles and garment factories in Mumbai. They were moved out of the state in view of a police warning that threatened action if child workers in the state were not removed in 10 days. The rescued children belonged to Motihari (49), Sitamarhi (5), Sheohar (3), Madhubani (2) and Muzaffarpur (1). Sikandar (7) and Mohammed Alam (8) from Sitamarhi district went to Mumbai three months back. Sikandar said, “A neighbour took us along with him to Mumbai and gave us jobs. ‘Subah dus baje se raat egarah baje tak chimta se phool chipkate the churi per’ (We used to decorate bangles with minor details from 10am to 11pm).” Alam said, “We did not have any holiday and he used to pay us Rs 1,500 per month. But, instead of handing over the money to us, he used to send it to our parents.” (Times of India 12/10/14)

20. Activists hope Nobel win will help put focus on child rights (14)

New Delhi: Activists working for child rights hope that with Kailash Satyarthi winning a Nobel Peace prize for this cause, there will be a spotlight on the issue. NGOs claim it is mostly on their insistence that the police and the government conduct joint raids to rescue minor children working in inhuman conditions. “The award will certainly help in changing the mindset not only of the bureaucracy but the law-enforcement agencies. There is bound to be a wider impact of this award and it will definitely help in creating greater awareness about child rights. So far, a number of bills are pending related to trafficking and child rights —so it will put pressure on the government to act,” said Rishi Kant, an activist with NGO Shakti Vahini that works for the welfare of children. In Delhi, the labour department, the sub-divisional magistrates and Delhi Police have a big role to play in preventing trafficking and child labour but many a time the issue does not find prominence. The labour department is supposed to check construction sites, road side eateries and industrial areas to find if any minors have been employed there. However, NGOs claim the number of raids conducted is almost negligible. “Delhi is known for children working as domestic help,” said Shireen Vakil Miller, director advocacy and policy, Save the children. NGOs also hope that this will create more awareness among the public. “The issue of child labour and bonded labour is grave in India and Satyarthi and his organization have chartered difficult territories to develop standardized procedures in areas of rescue and rehabilitation of children in exploitative environments. This will further reinforce global efforts to uphold children’s rights,” said Komal Ganotra, director, policy and advocacy, CRY — Child Rights and You. Recently, the high court had summoned the Delhi government’s labour secretary to explain why its previous directions for regulating placement agencies through an executive order were not complied with. According to NGOs, over 10,000 illegal agencies were operating in the city. “When I had started my campaign, it was a non-issue but people started taking note of it. With this award I hope the mindset of people and government will change,” said Satyarthi of BBA. (Hindustan Times 12/10/14)

21. New Bill for total ban on child labour (14)

NEW DELHI: Among the bills up for consideration in the winter session of Parliament is the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment (CLPRA) Bill, pending since December 2012. The proposed amendments to the Act will for the first time ban employment of children below 14 years in any occupation, bringing the law in consistency with the Right to Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009. The Bill prohibits employment of adolescents aged 14-18 years in hazardous occupations. The Ministry had sought public comments on the CLPRA Bill 2012 this June. A majority of the changes in the proposed Bill are the same as those in the Bill introduced in the Rajya Sabha by UPA Minister for Labour and Employment Mallikarjun Kharge in December 2012. “The Bill will regulate conditions of work for adolescents, and of children working in audio-visual entertainment industry. In 1996, the Supreme Court had prescribed a penalty of Rs. 20,000 from employers and Rs. 5,000 from State government for every child worker rescued. This will now be introduced in law and indexed to price rise,” a senior official in the Ministry of Labour and Employment said. The 1986 law prohibits employing children only in certain occupations such as mines, work in hazardous process and with inflammable substances or explosives. Minors working in middle class homes as domestic workers and those employed at hotels, dhabas were included as a category of child labourers only after an amendment in 2006. The Standing Committee on Labour and Employment under D.S. Chauhan had in its report on CLPRA Bill, in December 2013, recommended that the Bill give details for regulation for prescribing the conditions of work for adolescents — criteria for wages, hours of work, settlement of disputes. This was incorporated. It had suggested that adolescents should have completed Class VIII before being allowed to join an occupation. It suggested the explicit exception in the Bill granted to children helping their family after school hours be deleted. Both suggestions were not accepted. Despite the amendment, different Acts continue to define “child” differently. While the RTE Act 2009 and CLPRA 2012 define a child as 14-year-old, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 considers this to be 18 years. “Richer parents would normally be so protective of their children even after they are in Class XII. Why have a different standard for children from poor families?” said social activist Rishikant of Shakti Vahini. (The Hindu 15/10/14)

22. Farmers to be booked under Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act (14)

SALEM: After the rescue of 14 child workers and 29 other children from cotton fields in Thalaivasal block, officials are keen on taking up rehabilitation measures effectively so that they pursue their education and not involve in the work again. Of the 43 children, 25 children’s parents have received advance from the farmers. Hence, the officials are working on obtaining an assistance of Rs. 20,000 from Child Labour Rehabilitation-cum-Welfare Fund from the district administration and hand over it to the children’s parents. Also, the officials are coordinating with various departments, including Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, revenue and social welfare, so that the students pursue their education and their parents receive benefits of the Government schemes. Meanwhile, the police could also invoke Section 17 under the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act on the farmers for employing child workers. The Thalaivasal police earlier registered a case under Sections 365 (kidnapping and wrongfully confining person) and 367 (slavery) of the IPC. Last year, four farmers were arrested from Siruvachur village for employing child workers. But the case is yet to come for trial. (The Hindu 19/10/14)

23. Difference in figures a major hindrance for government and activists (14)

New Delhi: While the bone of contention with regard to child labour and abuse is the difference in facts and figures generated by activists and the government, the Central as well local authorities seem to have geared up efforts to attend to the issue. The ministry of women and child development has fast-tracked its endeavours in the past few months. It has taken up new areas to understand why the capital and country lag behind in curtailing child labour despite several laws being in place. However, the activists feel the work done is too little and too late, and most of them doubt the efforts of the Delhi government. “According to the NCPCR the number of child labourers in Delhi is around 35,000. This figure is highly questionable as we know there are more than one lakh children who are homeless and not enrolled in school. Unless and until the government clarifies on the data, it is impossible to get to the root cause of the problem. NGOs have been on their toes to shelter and provide basic facilities to these children but that is only one aspect of the issue,” explained Amod Kanth of Prayas. While the NGOs applauded the attention given to the sector as a fallout of international recognition, experts feel there are few immediate steps that can change the scenario. Since a major chunk of children are employed illegally in households as domestic helps, it is crucial to bring placement agencies in the capital under the purview of the law. The fact that they operate in a callous manner adds to the disparities in figures of number children working as domestic labour. The capital is a major market for these agencies. In order to keep a check on children being trafficked from across India, the ministry has come up with a helpline which will expand its wings by the end of the financial year to aid in tracking children. As per ministry sources, the “Childline” received more than 38 lakh calls in the past one year. Another crucial aspect of child labour is rescue operations and thereafter restoration. In this regard, the network of NGOs play a crucial role. After the child has been tracked, the rescue operation is carried out by NGOs; their work includes providing emotional and financial support to the child. As per ministry data, in 2013 a mere 1,100 adoptions were made. However the adoptions seem to have picked up from June onwards and till August 1,650 children had been adopted. Particularly in the case of the national capital, NGOs feel that the state government is callous in dealing with suggestions and queries coming from activists. (Asian Age 20/10/14)

MINORITIES – GENERAL

24. Govt opposed to Dalit status for converts (7)

NEW DELHI: The Centre believes that granting dalit status to converts from Islam and Christianity would encourage religious conversions, coming out against the demand that the list of Scheduled Castes be opened up beyond Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism. Union social justice minister Thavar Chand Gehlot told TOI, “Allowing SC status to converts would provide a fillip to religious conversions. The demand is not constitutional and we want to work within the parameters of the statute for the welfare of these communities.” The unequivocal stance indicates that the Centre may oppose the demand of dalit Christians in the Supreme Court. The issue has been hanging fire as the UPA government, in its affidavit, continuously dragged its feet in the Court. The call for extension of dalit status to Christianity and Islam is a sensitive subject that has resulted in divisions among social groups. While the dalit converts have long complained that stigma of caste-system exists in their new religions and they be clubbed with SCs, a section of existing dalits oppose it out of the fear that new members to the SC list would add more claimants for benefits like job reservations and cut into their share. Groups like Sangh Parivar apprehend if dalit status is opened to practitioners of Christianity and Islam, there would be nothing to stop dalits from changing faith. The ineligibility for welfare benefits is seen as a check against conversion. Speaking to TOI, Gehlot argued that opening the SC list would bring new claimants for benefits available to existing dalits. “It will encroach upon the facilities of SCs,” he said. On the other hand, he claimed the dalit converts are availing facilities extended to (backward) Christians and Muslims. “Now, if they get SC status, they will be eligible for dual benefits,” he added. According to the minister, the demand was unjustified because dalit-converts left the Hindu fold to escape the scourge of untouchability. “They converted to other religions because untouchability did not exist there. The conversion has solved the problems they faced as Hindus. So, they should not ask for SC status,” he argued. Coming out strongly against the campaign of dalit converts, the Union minister said the subject was debated in detail in the Constituent Assembly and has also been examined by government and the Supreme Court in the past. “They did not support it then and it should not be done now,” he insisted. Refusing to spell out the stand the government may take in the apex court, Gehlot said, “I am not aware of the affidavit the law ministry would file. But we are against opening dalit status to converts.” (Times of India 10/10/14)

25. Are Hindus being victimised in Pakistan? (7)

Islamabad: Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC) said that people have occupied properties left by the Hindus when they migrated to India after Partition in 1947. “Illegal occupation and corruption related to properties owned by minorities occurred due to the appointment of non-Hindu chiefs of the multi-billion-rupee Evacuee Trust Property Board in the past,” the PHC said in a statement after a meeting of the council here. The PHC proposed appointing former Supreme Court judge Rana Bhagwandas as the chairman of ETPB. The government recently appointed Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader Siddiqul Farooq as the ETPB chief. The PHC statement said the Liaqat-Nehru Agreement of 1950 binds the government to appoint someone from the Hindu community as the head of ETPB. “Appointing a non-Hindu person, Syed Asif Hashmi, as ETPB chairman during the last PPP (Pakistan People’s Party) government resulted in large scale corruption regarding minorities’ properties,” it said. During the meeting, participants also requested patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council, Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, who is a legislator of the ruling party, to play his due role to ensure the implementation of the Liaqat-Nehru Agreement. Dr Vankwani said that he had provided a file with proofs of corruption to the federal minister for religious affairs and asked him to appoint a probe commission. (Asian Age 14/10/14)

26. Minority girls to get Rs 50K marriage dole (7)

Gulbarga: Qamar-ul Islam, Minister for Municipal Administration, Minorities and Wakf, announced on Wednesday that the government would provide Rs 50,000 to each of the poor girls from the Muslim and Christian communities for their first marriage, under ‘Bidai’ scheme. Brides with an annual family income of Rs 1.5 lakh will be eligible for the dole. The government has set aside Rs five crore for the purpose. A total of 1,000 girls will get the allowance in the first phase, the Minister told a press conference. A total of 43 brides will get the dole in Gulbarga district, which has a minority population of 2.3 lakh. The number of beneficiaries in each district will be proportional to the population of minorities in the respective districts, he said. He announced that it had been planned to open minorities’ welfare centres in both district and taluk levels. These centres will be housed in government buildings which will also have the offices of the departments of minorities’ welfare and wakf. Information related to schemes for the minorities will be updated on the website concerned and e-mailed to the individuals and institutions concerned. Details on the selection of beneficiaries and on the utilisation of aid will also be uploaded on the website, to ensure transparency. The minister said that grants amounting to Rs 4.59 crore had been given to 53 churches and community halls belonging to the Christian community. Scholarships would also be provided to students from the Jain community, Islam said. A total of 2,000 taxis had been sanctioned by the Tourism department, with a grant of Rs two lakh to each beneficiary from the backward classes and minorities. The beneficiaries will have to bear the balance amount in instalments. Islam said the Nagarothana project would be implemented in 19 districts, at a cost of Rs 1,400 crore. It had already been initiated in Chikmagalur and Dharwad districts. The other districts include Haveri, Kolar, Kodagu, Hassan, Mandya, Bijapur, Mysore, Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada, Udupi, Ramanagar, Davangere, Chitradurga, Bangalore Rural and Chamarajanagar.  The project funding will be in the 50:50 ratio by the Union and State governments. Road and drainage works will be completed in these districts under the project. It will be implemented in Bidar, Bagalkot, Yadgir, Shimoga and Gadag districts too. (Deccan Herald 16/10/14)

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

27. Kanchi seer meets Muslim cleric, discusses Ayodhya (7)

LUCKNOW: Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati on Saturday met All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) general secretary Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali and sought his help for initiating fresh dialogue between Muslim and Hindu leaders for a possible out-of-court settlement of the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute. The seer had unsuccessfully held talks with AIMPLB to resolve the dispute in 2002 and 2003 on then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s request. He told Mahali that courts would be unable to sort out the dispute as it involves faith and that the solution can be reached only through dialogue between the two communities. Mahali said the seer had come with a request to begin a fresh dialogue. He said he assured him of all help for a peaceful settlement of the dispute. The Muslim cleric called on the need for confidence building measures to bring Hindus and Muslim closer before the dialogue. “Please talk to people, who are vitiating atmosphere through misinformation campaign on issues like love jihad, cow slaughter and madarsas. You are highly respected and tall religious figure, I am sure such people will listen to you,” Mahali told the seer. Jayendra Saraswati, shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham. (TOI file photo by Deepak Salvi) The two religious leaders held a closed-door meeting for nearly an hour with the help of interpreters. The seer told Mahali he has lot of respect for Islam. In response, Mahali quoted Urdu poet Allama Iqbal, who had lauded lord Ram as Imam-e-Hind. “We all respect Ramchandraji. Islam teaches respect for other religions, their saints and prophets,” he said. There two agreed that the September 30, 2010 high court judgment on Ayodhya dispute was not acceptable to any party to the litigation. They noted the legal solution will take time and leaders from both side should explore possibilities of dialogue for out-of-court settlement. The seer had met AIMPLB president Maulana Rabe Hasan Nadwi in March 2002 and proposed Hindus should be allowed to construct Ram Temple on the undisputed land. The proposal included status quo will be maintained on the disputed land and both Hindus and Muslims will abide by the court’s verdict The talks continued for a year. But the seer withdrew his earlier proposal and asked AIMPLB to donate the disputed area to Hindus and think on the same lines for disputed mosques in Mathura and Kashi in 2003. The AIMPLB rejected the proposal saying the site of the mosque is the property of Allah and cannot be alienated by sale, gift or otherwise. The Supreme Court had in May 2011 stayed the Allahabad high court order for trifurcation of the 1500 sq meter land in Ayodhya. (Times of India 12/10/14)

28. Hardly any Indian Muslim indulge in terrorism: Prez (7)

Oslo:  Asserting that the problem of terrorismin India was imported, President Pranab Mukherjee has said indigenous terrorist activity was “extremely negligible” with hardly any involvement of the 150 million Muslims of the country. “Of course there may be one or two out of hundred fifty million but all of these are imported. These are coming from outside. Indigenous terrorist activity in India is extremely negligible and whenever such signs are visible we take appropriate steps,” he said in interviews to the Norwegian media ahead of his two-day state visit to Norway. Mukherjee said terrorism has no respect for religion or borders with no ideology or their only ideology is wanton destruction and total negation of human values. “Nobody should say terrorism indulged by A is good and terrorism indulged by B is bad. Good terrorists, bad terrorists – these types of classification, to my mind, are meaningless,” Mukherjee said. The president said the country has been fortunate as hardly any among the 150 million Muslims – second largest population after Indonesia – indulges in terrorism. He said terrorism must be fought and should not be indulged in any form. “That is the only way you can handle the terrorism,” he said. On the question of recent violence on the Indo-Pak border and Line of Control, Mukherjee said the foreign minister would be the right person to answer this and added that stated policy on the issue is we can select our friends but cannot select our neighbours. “In my capacity as the foreign minister serving India twice, I used to articulate that I cannot live in perpetual tension with my neighbour. I would like to ease the tensions. “But at the same time, it is to be recognised that there have been a series of developments since independence and partition of these countries,” he said. Mukherjee said there are two institutional treaties -Shimla Agreement of 1972 and Lahore Declaration of 1999 – which can provide the mechanism through which outstanding issues could be resolved. (Hindustan Times 14/10/14)

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

29. Will Christians vote good governance over secularism? (7)

Mumbai: This season, the Christian vote will be more fragmented than at any time in the community’s history. Catholic and Protestant churches will urge parishioners at weekend mass to vote for “good governance” over “secular parties”. Incidentally, good governance is the BJP’s vote plank, while secularism is the Congress calling card. Christians live in large numbers in Byculla, Mahim, Bandra, Amboli, Kalina, Vakola, Malad, Mira-Bhayander and Vasai. Many are longtime Congress supporters and may be reluctant to switch loyalties. Archbishop of Bombay, Oswald Cardinal Gracias, had told TOI on September 24 that he had urged Catholics to vote for “good governance” rather than “secular parties”. Writing in the Examiner, he added a footnote for “minorities and weak and marginalised sections”.Fr Rocky Banz, parish priest of Gloria Church, Byculla, said, “We will repeat the Cardinal’s message at mass on Saturday evening and Sunday morning.” The Church of North India (CNI) echoes similar thoughts. Rev John Silas of Christ Church said, “Good governance is a must. Everybody banked on the Congress for a long time but somewhere something went wrong. (Narendra) Modi is extremely articulate as compared to past incumbents. We cannot predict the future but let us at least vote for good people.” Some Catholic organizations have announced support for BJP and Shiv Sena candidates. The Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) is supporting BJP’s Ashish Shelar in Bandra (W). Bombay Catholic Sabha’s Gordon D’Souza said, “The Cardinal’s message is a huge leap from the traditional stand. We must focus on infrastructure. Good candidates are a must, while secularism is an added advantage.” A M Sodder, secretary of the Association of Concerned Catholics, says, “Corruption has flourished under the garb of secularism. The Congress-NCP has not given us reservations in government institutes, jobs or special benefits. We will choose good people, irrespective of party or community.” East Indian Christians have formed the Maharashtra Swaraj Party (MSP), which could nibble at the vote share of mainstream parties. MSP’s five candidates will contest as independents as the party is yet to be registered. Vile Parle candidate Godfrey Pimenta denies that MSP has been propped up to break Christian votes. “Ours is not a party of Christians or East Indians. This time our candidates are Catholics as we were had no time to prepare a wider base. We are testing the waters. If we need to contest 227 municipal seats, we need local people from all communities.” D’Souza and Abraham Mathai of Harmony Foundation are pleased that more Christian and East Indians are contesting. But Sodder says, “Their 300-400 votes may influence the margin of victory, not the result.” (Times of India 10/10/14)

30. Maoist killed catholic nun, accepts arrested leader (7)

Ranchi: A senior Maoist leader arrested last month in Dumka district has told the police that his party killed Catholic nun Valsa John because her presence was an obstacle to the growth of the CPI-Maoist in the Santhal Pargana. Another mystery seemed to have been solved when Sukhlal Murmu told his interrogators that his team did not know they were ambushing a Superintendent of Police-ranked officer when they killed Amarjit Balihar, in charge of Pakur district, in July 2013. Sukhlal (39), known as Prabirda, was the Zonal Commander of Santhal Pargana for the CPI-Maoist when sister Valsa (53) – who hailed from Kerala – was murdered in November 2011. He was elevated to being a member of the Purvi Bihar Purvothar Jharkhand Special Area Committee created earlier this year on his request. The BBC had quoted a Maoist spokesperson after sister Valsa’s murder claiming responsibility for the killing. The spokesperson alleged that the nun was working on behalf of mining interests. Prabir has repeated the charge, telling his interrogators that sister Valsa used to do “dalali” work for the PANEM Coal Mines Ltd., which was trying to operate in Pakur district. However, Prabir has also said that Valsa’s death was premeditated, with the CPI-Maoist deciding about a year-and-a-half ahead to kill her. “There was a meeting of the Jharkhand Regional Committee held at Pirtand [of Giridih district] about a  year and a half before the murder. Senior leaders Kishanda [Politburo member] and Prayaag were at that meeting. Kishan was apparently not murdering a woman who was religious, too,” said Dumka SP Anoop Mathew said. However in the end, the JRC resolved to kill sister Valsa, Prabir has told police officers that Valsa  was averse to an alliance with his party even though their interests aligned when it came to mining. Known for her paranoia, the nun even had her people follow Prabir once when he tried to get in touch with people in the PANEM area, trying to influence them. The Maoists, who were trying to use the popular anger against PANEM as a foothold to enter the region, were being pegged back by Valsa’s influence. However, Prabir has said the Maoists saw a way in when Valsa dropped her blanket objection to the PANEM project, allowing the company to construct a road in the area. She later agreed to allow the project to go forward if adequate compensation was paid. The Maoists told people that Valsa was becoming a broker for the company… (Indian Express 12/10/14)

31. Bangalore: Church attack panel report scrapped (7)

Bangalore: The Siddaramaiah led Congress government has rejected the findings of the Justice B K Somashekhara Commission that was constituted by the previous BJP government to probe the widespread attacks on churches across the state in September 2008. Terming the report “politically motivated” and “lacking credibility”, law minister T B Jayachandra told reporters at the end of the cabinet meeting where the decision was taken to scrap the report. He said the commission’s final report “washed over” the crimes of groups such as the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad “which had orchestrated the attacks”.He also said that, despite being a retired judge, justice Somashekhara had not been “objective”. “There are major discrepancies between the interim and final reports of the commission. The final report was a watered down version of the interim report and was clearly aimed at helping the government of that time,” he said. He said that the law department had studied the report “deeply” and sought the opinion of many legal experts before deciding to scrap it. The attacks – for which then Bajrang Dal chief Mahendra Kumar and Vishwa Hindu Parishad chief M B Puranik claimed responsibility – started in Mangalore on September 14 and spread to other parts of the State in the following days. In a series of press conferences held after the attacks, the two Hindutva leaders said that the attacks were in response to “forcible” conversions to Christianity, a claim they are yet to prove. While deciding to scrap the Somashekhara commission report, the State government has decided to take action against police officials who allegedly colluded with the attackers and cracked down on Christians who were protesting against the attacks. Jayachandra said that the government has decided to adopt the recommendations of the NHRC, which said that action must be taken against groups that took law into their own hands. (Hindustan Times 16/10/14)

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

32. At least 20 dead in latest India-Pakistan row over Kashmir (13)

Delhi: Cross-border shelling between India and Pakistan has killed at least 20 people and displaced thousands since the latest round of hostilities broke out more than a week ago, government officials from both countries said. At least 10 Pakistani civilians were killed and 42 injured in firing across parts of the disputed northern Kashmir region and eastern Punjab province. Indian officials confirmed to ucanews.com that at least 10 civilian had died as a result of intense fighting. In India, about 15,000 people have fled their homes in towns and villages and are staying in relief camps administered by the government. Bharat Bhushan, 49, fled Arnia township on October 4 after heavy shelling occurred near his home. “It appeared to be a bomb which I thought had fallen next to my house,” Bhushan, whose home rests about three kilometers from the India-Pakistan border, said over the phone. “We saw several mortar bomb shells with markings of ’81′ and ‘Pakistan ordnance factory,’” he told ucanews.com. Gulshan Kumar, 35, who remained in Arnia to guard against looting, said shelling from Pakistan continued into Thursday morning. “The fire from Pakistan continues; the last mortar fire hit the town at about 8am today,” he said by telephone from Arnia. Ajeet Kuman Sahu, Jammu deputy commissioner, told ucanews.com that 10 people have been killed and 71 injured from shelling and gunfire along the disputed international border that separates India and Pakistan. Both countries have accused the other of initiating the latest conflict and have vowed to not stand down until the other side stops firing. Fighting between Indian forces and rebels seeking independence or a merger of the territory with Pakistan has killed tens of thousands – mostly civilians – since 1989. The two countries have gone to war over the territory twice, in 1947 and 1965, and fought a smaller-scale conflict in 1999. Girdhari Lal, a local trader from Arnia, said it was painful for villagers to live like refugees on their own land. “We are fed up with all this; we request the Indian government to settle this conflict once and for all,” Girdhari said. (UCA News 10/10/14)

33. 22,000 ‘Nitaqat’ returnees seek government assistance (13)

Thiruvananthapuram: About 22,000 people, who have returned from Saudi Arabia, have registered with the state government seeking assistance for starting self-employment programmes, an official said. These people, who have come back after the Saudi government applied stricter labour laws called the “Nitaqat”, have registered with the Norka (Non-resident Keralites affairs) department that looks after the welfare of the Kerala diaspora and also those who have returned from abroad. Last year when there was a talk about a mass exodus from Saudi Arabia on account of the “Nitaqat” law which made it mandatory for local companies to hire one Saudi national for every 10 migrant workers, the state government announced it would come out with a rehabilitation scheme for such people to start their own business. It also promised to provide subsidy in both capital and interest on short- and long-term loans. “We had opened an online registration of all those who wished to avail the financial assistance scheme of the government that was made available with the help of Canara Bank and Union Bank of India. Till now we have received 22,000 applications,” Norka CEO P. Sudeep told IANS. According to the government policy, the maximum cap on loans would be Rs.2 million and a 10 percent subsidy would be offered to all those who start an enterprise in agriculture, manufacturing, trading or the service sector. The Norka department has by now processed these applications and directed all such applicants to attend a short-term training programme that was held at the district headquarters to make them familiarise on how to run a successful business or self employment programmes. “To each of those who had registered with us we opened a new site and handed over them a password to access the site. Till yesterday 2,900 applicants have re-registered with us. Now we have asked the remaining people that if they are interested to re-register they can walk into any of the Akshaya Centres and get their re-registration done,” said Sudeep. “We now plan to start giving the loans from December 1st and for that we along with the representatives of the banks would sit together with the applicant and give them instant loans. We will hold special adalats in all the 14 districts of the state and hand over these loans,” he added. (Business Standard 12/10/14)

34. POK refugees hold protest in Jammu (13)

Jammu: Demanding permanent rehabilitation in the country, members of Pakistan occupied Kashmir Displaced People’s Front (POKDP) today held a protest here and accused successive governments of turning a “blind eye” towards their demands. The members of the outfit were also demanding Rs 25 lakh compensation for each of the refugee families. “The successive state governments have turned a blind eye towards our demand of permanent rehabilitation including grant of Rs 25 lakh compensation to each of refugee family,” said Capt Yudhvir Singh Chib president of POKDP. He said that in the upcoming Assembly polls his organisation will field its own candidates. “During election campaigns leaders of various political parties come and make promises, but as soon as they come to power they forget all the promises,” Chib claimed. “We have decided to field our own candidates in the upcoming Assembly polls,” he said. (Zee news 16/10/14)

35. North-East Students Feel the ‘Difference’ in City (13)

BANGALORE : Discrimination against us is not new, say some students from the North-East living in the city. “We see a lack of respect when people talk to us,” says Bijoy, an undergraduate student. When he came to Bangalore a year ago, he says he was surprised that auto drivers were asking for excess fare. “Wherever we went, they used to charge us more. They used to look at us funny,” he says. Many from the North-East come to Bangalore to study and work. While living in areas such as Shanthinagar, Kothanur and Kammanahalli, they say they have faced discriminatory comments, but have never felt unsafe. “We stand out first because of our facial features and then the language,” says Abujam, who is pursuing a masters course. Most students say shopkeepers and auto drivers are the main culprits. “Shopkeepers try to charge us extra. When we speak in Hindi, they are surprised we know the language,” says Angelina, who works at a parlour. Sometimes they are called Chinese and Nepali, or mistaken for Tibetan refugees.  “When we tell them we are from the north-eastern part of the country, they are visibly shocked,” she says. Meyasi, from Nagaland, admits not knowing Kannada sometimes comes in the way of communicating. Smile, Walk Away The North-Easterners have different ways of dealing with their problem. Kiara is the type who simply smiles and walks away. “But sometimes, we try to educate the people,” she says. Some have no bitter experiences. “I have never been assaulted or attacked. Auto drivers do try to fleece us, but I don’t feel unsafe even when I venture out late at night,” says Gulshan K. One student is careful not to tar everyone with the same brush. “Some are initially racist, but once they get used to us, they understand us. Others can’t get over the fact that we are different. But the second category is small,” says Gaius Shimray, a BCA graduate looking for a job. (New Indian Express 17/10/14)

36. HC comes to rescue of Sri Lankan refugee (13)

MADURAI: The Madras High Court Bench here has imposed a cost of Rs.10,000 on the Director of Social Welfare for not disbursing the emoluments due to a Sri Lankan refugee who retired last year after 32 years of government service. Allowing a writ petition filed by the refugee, Justice T. Raja ordered that the Director should pay the cost, from his personal funds and not from that of the government, to the petitioner within six weeks besides disbursing the emoluments with 12 per cent interest. “Mr.T.S. Mohammed Mohideen, learned Additional Government Pleader, repeatedly requested the court with all politeness to dispense with the cost. But this court is not inclined to accept the request as the respondent deserves to be imposed with a heavy cost,” he said. The judge pointed out that the petitioner, I. Jothi Gandhi, had taken refuge in India since 1973. He was appointed to the post of Office Assistant on November 5, 1981 on the basis of his Sri Lankan educational qualification considered equivalent to completion of Class XI in Tamil Nadu. After 10 years of service, he was promoted as Junior Assistant on January 27, 1992. However, on March 13, 1992 he was reverted back to the post of Office Assistant on the ground that he did not possess the requisite educational qualification. The poor refugee did not challenge the order reverting him to the old post. Thereafter, on June 2, 2010, the Commissioner of Social Welfare Department promoted him to the post of Junior Assistant along with 59 other employees in accordance with the Tamil Nadu State and Subordinate Service Rules. (The Hindu 19/10/14)

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

37. RTI weakened by neglect, say activists (1)

NEW DELHI: An independent assessment of the functioning of the Right to Information Act 2005 in the last two years in five States has found alarmingly high levels of pendency of appeals and several instances of violations of mandatory norms of pro-active disclosure under Section 4 of the RTI Act. Releasing the report, ‘People’s Monitoring of the RTI Regime in India 2011-13’ on Friday, activists criticised the systematic weakening of the law in the study period. They pointed out that while previously three attempts to dilute the law by the central government through amendments in 2006, 2008, 2013, had failed following public outcry; the Act was now being weakened through neglect of important appointments and lack of provisions of resources at State level. “The Central Chief Information Commission is headless since no chief has been appointed since August when the post fell vacant. This will increase the already massive pendency of over 25,000 cases. The delay in this appointment raises issues about the legal validity of orders passed in the interim,” said Anjali Bhardwaj, Coordinator of the study done by RTI Assessment and Advocacy Group and Samya-Centre for Equity Studies and member, National Campaign for People’s Right to Information.With delays in disposal of cases and information commissions working at less than required strength, there is increasing pendency of cases in many states. The study calculated that given the existing backlogs, if an applicant filed an application in Madhya Pradesh Information Commission which had disposed only 6 percent cases , the hearing would be expected to come up for hearing in 60 years. The same number for West Bengal was calculated at 18 years. Nearly two thirds of the RTI applications in the sample were found to be seeking information that should have been proactively made public under section 4 of the RTI Act. “Despite a strong provision for pro active disclosure under section 4, there is poor compliance as authorities do not put up boards with required proactive disclosures or make available publications in their offices which citizens could inspect to access information on public issues,” said Shekhar Singh, the study’s coordinator. The researchers who relied on over 800 RTI applications to various information commissioners, inspections, interviews, group discussions, found several states commissions had not published mandatory annual reports on RTI implementation since over five years. An assessment by the activists in 2009 had found better implementation as well as high awareness levels on the Act, especially in rural areas. (The Hindu 11/10/14)

38. 15,500 sign petition to urge PM Modi to name CIC (1)

NEW DELHI: For the first time in 10 years of the RTI act the Central Information Commission (CIC) is headless after the retirement of chief information commissioner Rajiv Mathur on August 22. A petition urging PM Narendra Modi to appoint the CIC has gained some traction garnering over 15,500 signatures in the last few weeks. The delay in appointing a new chief is severely hampering the working of the commission. Not only is there a huge backlog with close to 25,000 appeals and complaints pending, but the commission’s orders can be challenged in a court in the absence of the chief. The petition initiated by National Campaign for People’s Right to Information ( NCPRI)’s Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bharadwaj and Amrita Johri points out, “This ever-increasing backlog of cases challenges the citizen’s fundamental Right to Information and creates roadblocks in fighting corruption, big and small. PM Modi, you have often stressed on ‘anti-corruption’ and ‘quest for transparency’ as the driving forces of your good governance program. How can then such a key institution to fight corruption remain rudderless?” Demanding that the position be filled immediately Bharadwaj said, that according to media reports, the delay in appointing a new chief is because there is no leader of opposition. However, the RTI Act clearly states that in the absence of a leader of opposition, the leader of the single largest opposition party should be part of the committee to appoint the new chief. (Times of India 12/10/14)

39. Over 150 activists gather in city, celebrate 10 yrs of RTI (1)

COIMBATORE: More than 150 RTI activists from Coimbatore district gathered in the city to celebrate the beginning of the tenth year of the RTI Act. Many shared their stories and a few even raised questions regarding the Act. Several activists had travelled from Pollachi, Tirupur and Ooty as well for the meeting. “The meeting which should have been held by the government is being held by us,” said V Easwaran, MDMK, Youth Wing, State Secretary. Bhaskaran, an eminent RTI activist from Pollachi was felicitated at the meeting for his commendable contribution to society through the Act. He has been using it since its inception in 2005. “This Act allows the public immense power but few people recognize its true potential,” said Bhaskaran. In 2007, an old woman had approached him for help after postal department officials refused to release her son’s insurance money. “Her son, who had died in 2007, had taken out an insurance policy in 2002. The officials not only refused to give her the money but also insulted her saying that she was more interested in the money than her son,” said Bhaskaran. He filed several RTIs asking for information and also appealed to the higher authorities using RTI. “Within 19 days she received the insurance amount. That is the power of the Act,” he said. Other activists shared similar stories. “Often, we don’t get appropriate answers. Sometimes, it takes a while before we get any response from them. Just as we organize meetings, the relevant officials also hold meetings trying to figure out how to avoid giving the requested information,” said M R Krishnamurthy. Many said the student community needs to be made aware of the power of the RTI and should be included in the crusade. “The present corrupt system and fast life has made the students completely unaware of their rights and responsibilities. But if they start questioning the government, many changes will happen,” said Thiyagarajan, RTI activist. “Illegal encroachments, official negligence, land grab cases and other corruption cases have been brought to light by activists through the RTI,” said V Easwaran. Even though several people who were in politics were present at the meeting, the activists wanted the meeting to be devoid of any political intentions. “We wanted to make sure that this doesn’t have any political intent and all common men participate in it to use the act in a better manner,” said Manoj Arun, RTI activist. (Times of India 13/10/14)

40. Do not file RTI to know results: UPSC to candidates (1)

New Delhi: The Union Public Service Commission has advised candidates not to file RTI applications to know results of civil services preliminary examination. “The Commission puts up the mark sheets of all candidates who takes the civil services examination. Despite this, candidates file RTI applications to know their results. We have been informing them that mark sheets will be uploaded on our website once the entire selection procedure of this year’s exam gets over,” a senior official of the UPSC said. The results of civil services preliminary examination, 2014 were declared yesterday by the UPSC. “Candidates are also informed that marks, cut-off marks and answer keys of civil services (preliminary) examination 2014 will be provided only after the entire process of the civil services examination, 2014, is over i.e. after the declaration of the final result.” “Therefore, no application under RTI Act, 2005 or otherwise will be entertained in this regard,” the UPSC has said in a statement. As many as 16,933 candidates have qualified in the civil services preliminary examination. A total of 4,52,334 candidates have taken the test held on August 24 at 2,137 venues across 59 cities in the country. The civil services examination is conducted in three stages — preliminary, main and interview — to select candidates for prestigious Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and Indian Police Service (IPS) among others. (Zee News 15/10/14)

41.  ‘Commission is acting against the spirit of RTI’ (1)

GULBARGA: Senior Right to Information (RTI) activists have charged the Karnataka Information Commission (KIC) with acting against the letter and spirit of the RTI Act, 2005 by delaying the process of hearing of the petitions, filed by people seeking action, against those who denied information sought by the general public. The RTI activists under the banner of newly formed organisation Paradarshikate (Transparency), in a letter addressed to the Governor Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala, and submitted to the Deputy Commissioner in Gulbarga on Wednesday, said it was highly regrettable that the complaint or appeal filed before the KIC wass taken up for the first hearing after a period eight months to one year. The signatories to the memorandum included former registrar of the Karnataka State Law University K.S. Bagale, who is the secretary of the organisation, and president Deepak G. Gala. They said that the Commissioners were not following set procedures for hearing the complaints, appeals and to adjourn the cases. Seeking the intervention of the Governor to put back the functioning of the KIC on the rails, they said there is no uniformity in hearing the number of cases per day. (The Hindu 16/10/14)

42. 13 parties’ tax-free income Rs 1,381cr in 2 yrs (1)

NEW DELHI: The tax-exempted income of 13 major political parties of the country, in last two years, amounts to Rs 1,381 crore, according to an RTI reply. Of this, Congress and BJP have cornered around 80%.During 2012-13 and 2013-14, Congress had a tax-exempted income of Rs 743.76 crore and BJP had Rs 338.95 crore. Congress in 2012-13 had income worth Rs 318.08 crore whereas the amount rose to Rs 425.68 crore in 2013-14, BJP though had an income of Rs 17.42 crore in 2012-13 and it was Rs 321.53 crore for 2013-14. According to the income tax department, SP’s Rs 164 crore was tax-exempted, whereas BSP had registered Rs 20.76 crore for the same period as exempted. Among other parties, CPI(M) registered an income of Rs 92.90 crore, CPI Rs 2.62 crore, JD(U) Rs 13 crore and RLD Rs 4.48 crore, it said. RJD in 2013-14 had a tax-exempted income of Rs 41,411. Political parties are exempted from tax on income through section 13 A of IT Act 1961. They have to, however, maintain a book of account for donations or income above Rs 20,000. (Times of India 20/10/14)

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

43. School jobs for SCs: Meerut resident seeks governor’s help (11)

Meerut: Meerut resident Mannu Singh has written to UP governor Ram Naik to issue mandatory and time-bound instructions to ensure relaxation in norms for appointing SC candidates for the post of part time instructor (PTI) in physical education and arts education. In his letter, he referenced suggestions made by National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) to the Basic Shiksha Department (BSD). “Under article 338 (7) governor has been entrusted with the task of ensuring the compliance of the report or any part thereof of NCSC of any such matter”, Singh said. As per the Right to Education Act 2009, the state government in 2013 had issued an order to fill PTI posts in primary schools with over 100 students. 2,330 of the 11,099 posts, that needed to be filled, were of the SC category. In many districts, the posts reserved for SCs have not been filled up. Over 200 posts are currently vacant. This was because a candidate can only be appointed to a post in his or her own district. The NCSC recommended that the state government consider a relaxation of conditions and allow candidates from adjoining districts to be appointed to available vacancies. There are suitable SC candidates in some districts where there are no vacancies, while there are vacancies in some districts but there are no eligible candidates. Hence, vacancies reserved for SC candidates were not filled up in some districts. “This will help filling up of the reserved vacant posts and employment to the unemployed youth. With these recommendations the case is disposed off”, ordered NCSC chairman PL Punia. Mannu Singh told TOI that not a single PTI post under the SC quota was filled in Lalitpur, Sonbhadra and Lakhimpurkhiri districts. He added that there is a significant number of vacancies in Lucknow, Sitapur and Badaun districts. “It is a matter of grave concern that despite mandatory obligations, the BSD is not abiding by the reservation policy. Owing to that, a number of eligible candidates are deprived of job opportunities”, he said. (Times of India 12/10/14)

44. Many families in slums hardly knew of RTE Act, says survey (11)

JAIPUR: Law students of five-year integrated course at Law College of Rajasthan University have done a reality check on the status of admissions in private schools under the RTE in the slum areas. Under the aegis of NGO Centre for Legal Aid, Awareness & Youth (CLAAY), formed by the students of Law College, they found that most of the families in slum areas aren’t aware of the RTE act. Many of those who admitted their wards, later had to quit due to adverse situations created by the schools. The NGO was formed in 2011 to evoke activism and sense of participation among students in providing legal aid to poor and needy and to critically assess the state’s social welfare schemes and policies. These students have gone a step ahead to file a petition in the court against the private schools for not admitting students under RTE. They have submitted its report to highlight the non-compliance of RTE by private schools. The report says that lackadaisical attitude of the government in keeping a check on admissions under RTE by private schools is fast adding to the dropouts. “Those students who were supposed to be in the schools were found working at street shops. Many were found involved in drug abuse cases. In many cases, schools have been creating obstacles like charging activity fees, forcing students to quit,” said Abhimanyu Singh Yaduvanshi, founder member of CLAAY. Students surveyed were from slum areas of Vidhyadhar Nagar, Parwati Nagar and Jawahar Nagar. Fighting the menace of child workers is also high on their agenda. The law students have done an extensive survey to track down the children of up to 14 years engaged in working. From seminars on child rights to counselling families for sending their children in schools is done by them. “Law students are torchbearers of law,” said Harshad Kapoor, a fifth year student, who informed that they are rolling out a campaign against the menace of ‘eve teasing’ in the city. “The city is fast developing into an urban conglomerate and is fast loosing its social values with cases of crimes against women on the rise. Besides, creating legal awareness, we will use social media to report such cases to map the vulnerable areas for eve teasing,” said Kapoor. (Times of India 13/10/14)

45. RTE effect: 26% drop in number of out-of-school kids since 2009 (11)

NEW DELHI: In a vindication of sorts for the Right to Education Act, the latest HRD ministry-mandated survey shows a 26 per cent drop in out-of-school children in the country since 2009. According to the latest survey conducted by Indian Market Research Bureau for the ministry, out-of-school (OoS) children have declined to 60.6 lakh — 2.97 per cent of all children in the 6-14 age group — from 81.5 lakh in 2009. In the first survey of 2005, 1.34 crore children were out of school. Interestingly, there were less girls (28.9 lakh) out of school than boys (31.6 lakh). In fact, girls have consistently done better than boys in all three surveys. A survey of OoS slum children was done for the first time and it their number was found to be 4.73 lakh. The survey found a continuing drop in the number of OoS children among scheduled castes and Muslims. Among tribal OoS children, the drop was marginal — from 10.69 lakh in 2009 to 10.07 lakh in 2014. In terms of social classes, the number of SC out-of-school (OoS) children have come down to 19.66 lakh from 23.08 lakh in 2009 and 31.04 lakh in 2005. In the latest survey found there were 15.57 lakh Muslim OoS children, down from 18.75 lakh in 2009 and 22.53 lakh in 2005. While states such as Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Delhi, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal witnessed a decline in the OoS children, in 13 states and Union Territories percentage of such children has increased since 2009. These include Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand. What dampens the good work of RTE is that the decline in OoS disabled children has followed a different trajectory. In 2005, 5.82 lakh disabled children were out of school which went up to 9.88 lakh in 2009 and in the latest round has come down to 6 lakh. Sources said it could be due to inclusion of more kinds of mental and physical disabilities in the list so that RTE becomes more inclusive. But there is a general acknowledgement that a lot needs to be done on this front. (Times of India 14/10/14)

46. Free education for transgender kids in Delhi schools (11)

New Delhi: Transgender children will study in Delhi schools free with Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung Wednesday approving their admission under the category of “disadvantaged group” defined by the Right to Education Act. It means these kids will be eligible for 25 percent reservation under the economically weaker section (EWS) and disadvantaged students category for admission. A government notification said: “In exercise of the powers conferred by Clause D of Section 2 of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 (35 of 2009) (RTE Act), the Lt. Governor of Delhi is pleased to notify inclusion of a ‘transgender’ child within the meaning of ‘child belonging to disadvantaged group’ as defined in the said section of the RTE Act.” The notification issued by the Directorate of Education added: “The order will be applicable to all schools situated within the National Capital Territory of Delhi.” (Business Standard 15/10/14)

47. Bihar government to implement common school system: Minister (11)

PATNA: Education minister Brishen Patel said despite financial handicaps the state government would implement the common school system (CSS) with a view to achieving the goal of universalization of education. Speaking on Sunday as the chief guest at the inaugural function of a two-day UGC-sponsored seminar on ‘Common school system and right to education’, organized by Patna Training College in collaboration with Suryasthali Human Welfare Society, the minister said the CSS has been a dream project of the state government and it has assumed greater significance after the implementation of Right to Education. The government is striving hard for implementing the CSS, he added. Inaugurating the seminar, Bihar legislative council chairman Awadhesh Narain Singh said proper implementation of Right to Education can be ensured only after the introduction of the CSS. Even poor children would be able to get quality education after its implementation, he said. Patna University pro-vice-chancellor Ranjit Kumar Verma presided over the seminar. Patna Training College principal and seminar convener Khagendra Kumar welcomed the guests. The theme of the seminar was introduced by Lalit Kumar. A book, ‘Common school system and right to education’ was also released on the occasion. National University of Educational Planning and Administration faculty member A K Singh delivered the J P Blair memorial lecture on ‘Situating common school system within right to education framework: a pathway for achieving the exclusive goal of universalization of education’. Jawaharlal Nehru University faculty member S N Malakar delivered the A A Kazmi memorial lecture on ‘Liberalisation and school system in India in general and Bihar in particular: Imaging crisis and challenges’. Prominent among those who participated in the deliberations included Sudhakar Prasad Singh, Shahla Kishore, Beena Prasad, Jessi Modi and Kumar Sanjeev. A cultural programme was also organized on the occasion of the college foundation day. (Times of India 19/10/14)

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

48. States get six months more to implement food security law (21)

NEW DELHI: The food ministry on Thursday extended the deadline by six months for implementation of the food security law by the state governments. The food law, which came into force in July last year, was to be implemented by all the state governments within a year – by July 4, 2014. Since only 11 states had either fully or partially implemented the scheme, the ministry had extended the deadline by three months, which ended on October 4. But the remaining states could not put in place the necessary infrastructure and mechanism for rolling out the welfare scheme. Announcing the extension of the deadline, food minister Ram Vilas Paswan said out of the 11 states that have rolled out the scheme, only five states have implemented the scheme fully. In September last year, Parliament had passed the Food Security Act under which each eligible person would get 5 kg of rice and wheat at Rs 3 and Rs 2 per kg respectively. The existing Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) poorest of the poor households, will continue to receive 35 kg of foodgrains per family a month. The implementation of the law would increase the Centre’s food subsidy bill by Rs 25,000 crore to Rs 1.31 lakh crore while the grains requirement would rise by 6-8 million tonnes from the current 55 million tonnes annually. Meanwhile, the Centre is focusing more on whether the state governments have built adequate capacity to implement the scheme. The food ministry has even sought details of the preparedness in states where the scheme is in force. With Facebook interested in expanding its network of users in India, the government is expected to take up issues like education, female foeticide and ‘Clean Ganga’ campaign for promotion through the social networking site. (Times of India 10/10/4)

49. BPL category may get free medicines; PDS may exclude tax payers (21)

New Delhi: The Centre is working on a solution to ensure that poor get benefits like free medicines and check-ups in speciality government hospitals on the basis of their BPL ration cards while eliminating income tax payers and top officials from the ambit of PDS. The new moves are aimed at better targeting of subsidies which the government wants should reach the needy and the deserving. “This issue is under consideration. We are trying to find some workable solution to ensure Below Poverty Line (BPL) category people can avail other facilities like free medicines with ease on the basis of a ration card,” says Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan. He told PTI in an interview that the poor are facing problems, especially in those states where the new food law has been implemented. The Minister was asked whether the government will take steps to ensure that new ration card serves as an ID card for other benefits. Meanwhile, the government is working on plans to take out income tax payers and ranking officials in the government out of the ambit of Public Distribution System (PDS). The Modi government has asked states to try such a scheme and Paswan will be discussing the issue with them. It has also given enough signals that the much-touted welfare food security programme of the UPA government will not be shelved. (Zee news 12/10/14)

50. India’s rank improves to 55th position on global hunger index (21)

New Delhi: The number of hungry people has declined in India with its score on the global hunger index (GHI) improving to 55th position in 2014 due to progress made in addressing underweight in children, says a report. The country’s score is better than Pakistan (rank 57) and Bangladesh (57) but it still trails behind Nepal (44) and Sri Lanka (39). India was at 63rd position on GHI last year. “Progress in dealing with underweight helped India’s 2014 GHI score fall to 17.8 points. India now ranks 55th out of 76 countries, before Bangladesh and Pakistan, but still trails behind neighbouring Nepal and Sri Lanka,” the report said. While the country is no longer in the “alarming” category, India’s hunger status is still classified as “serious,” it said. While India has made significant progress in reducing underweight among children under five in the past few years, “much work still needs to be done” at the national and state levels so that a greater share of the population will enjoy nutrition security, it suggested. The GHI report has been jointly prepared by International Food Policy Research Institute and NGOs Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide. This year marks the end of a “data drought”, the report said, adding that India has determined its first new provisional national underweight estimate in eight years. At 30.7%, it points to real progress compared with the last estimate of 43.5% in 2005-2006, it said. “As a consequence, India no longer ranks second to last on underweight in children, but 120th among 128 countries with data on child under-nutrition from 2009-2013,” it added. Highlighting the efforts made to address underweights in India, the report said that since the last under-nutrition data became available, the Indian government rolled out and expanded several programmes that targeted a mix of direct and indirect causes of under-nutrition. Nutrition-specific interventions that were scaled up after 2006 include a final push to expand the Integrated Child Development Services and the launch of the National Rural Health Mission. Indirect factors may have included the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, a rural jobs programme, and reforms in several states to the Public Distribution System, which distributes food to the poor, the report said. The GHI report said: “Although implementation of these social sector programmes has been fairly uneven across India’s diverse states, given the scale and budget of these programs in India, it is likely that changes have helped improve underlying conditions for child growth in parts of India.” It said efforts have also been made to create an enabling environment for nutrition. Within the context of India’s decentralised governance system, state governments have taken ownership of nutrition and tried to strengthen delivery of targeted nutrition efforts. “The state of Maharashtra was the first of several to bring high-level political and bureaucratic leadership to nutrition through a Nutrition Mission, a program with greater flexibility and freedom than usual,” said the report. Another key element in the enabling environment for food security and nutrition was the creation of a body called the Commissioners to the Supreme Court on the Right to Food Act, a group that supports independent monitoring of the delivery of food-based programs like the Integrated Child Development Services programme and the PDS, it added. (Hindustan Times 13/10/14)

51. World Food Day: India home to 190 million hungry people (21)

New Delhi: On World Food Day, observed to mark the foundation of the Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in 1945, here is a reality check for India. (a) 2012-14: India has around 190.7 million undernourished people, out of a total population of 1,252 million — a 15% prevalence rate. (b) 2010-12: India had 188 million undernourished people, which means the number of undernourished people during 2012-14 increased by 2 million. (c) Number of undernourished people in India was the highest in 2004 when it was 241 million. World Food Day is observed in more than 150 countries, focusing on the need for action to eradicate poverty and hunger. By sheer numbers more people are going hungry in India than anywhere else. Here’s why. India is home to 269 million people living below the poverty line, according to the Tendulkar methodology. This is more than the population of Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous nation. Simply put, 269 million Indians do not have the money to buy food. This is the reason why India has the world’s biggest food security programme under which two-thirds of the country’s 1.2 billion population has the right to subsidised grains. A look at India’s prevalence of undernourishment and depth of food deficit, as against BRICS and a few other comparator economies such as Mexico and Indonesia, shows the subcontinent giant is doing better, but only just. For a quick analysis, take a look at the prevalence of undernourishment, and depth of food deficit…. (Hindustan Times 16/10/14)

52. Needy Adivasis may lose food security (21)

ADILABAD: Food security could eventually elude those who actually need it the most in backward districts like Adilabad if the State government denies the Telangana State Food Security Card (TSFSC) to those who own more than 2.5 acres of wet or five acres of dry land. Almost the entire agency area in this district will be deprived of subsidised rations as most poverty and debt- ridden Adivasis and other tribal people invariably own dry lands in excess of five acres. “If the criterion of land ownership to decide on allocation of FSC is implemented, our gram panchayat will have over 80 per cent of the 850 households losing the existing white ration cards. Even if the Adivasis own 20 acres, they find it difficult to make ends meet as the lands in the hilly agency areas are not fertile and productivity is dismally low,” points out Sirpur (U) sarpanch Atra Omprakash, as he expresses fears of being deprived of FSC. The Agency areas falling under Utnoor and Asifabad Revenue Divisions have over 1.6 lakh families (70 per cent cardholders assumed to be tribal) using white ration cards and Antyodaya Anna Yojana cards. The land holding in these areas is better as compared with the plain areas with some tribal families owning even 20 acres of land. The land holding, at least in the case of 36,000 tribal beneficiaries, improved further following the implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA). These families are cumulatively ‘richer’ by nearly 1.4 lakh areas of land for which pattas were issued under the FRA though the status of such land is not clear so far as the issue of FSC is concerned. “The issue came up for discussion and the government has asked officials to take a compassionate view of FSC applicants hailing from backward areas with respect to landholdings,” reveals Adilabad District Supply Officer Vasant Rao Deshpande. “This is not the case as the Tahsildar has asked Village Revenue Officers to ‘round’ off the names of applicants who own more than five acres of land,” counters Mr. Omprakash. (The Hindu 17/10/14)

53. 9.43 Lakh people Apply for Food Security Cards in RR Dist (21)

HYDERABAD : Over 3 lakh applications for pensions and 9.43 lakh applications for Food Security Cards have been received in Ranga Reddy district so far. This was revealed bydistrict collector N Sridhar at the zilla parishad meeting held here on Friday. The meeting, presided over by zilla parishad chairperson P Sunita Mahendar Reddy, discussed about 60 topics but primarily focused on  farm loan waiver, food security cards, pensions, caste and income certificates.  Opposition members charged the ruling party with ‘lackadaisical’ approach to making necessary arrangements at the counters set up to receive applications for food security cards and various other welfare schemes of the government. TDP members accused the government of indifference to farmers who were reeling under drought. Some others alleged that several pensioners had not been paid for two months and demanded an explanation from the chairperson. (New Indian Express 18/10/14)

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

54. Activists object to changes in MGNREGA (14)

GULBARGA: Civil society activists have raised serious objections to the central government’s “blatant” attempts to roll back the national rural job guarantee scheme and have written to the prime minister on the issue. An open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed by several prominent public figures and organisations across different fields raises serious objection to the central government’s effort to undermine the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and divert it from its basic objectives. Activists Friday claimed that the NDA government was trying to roll back the national rural job guarantee scheme. Civil society activist and former member of the National Advisory Council Aruna Roy asserted that if the scheme is rolled back more than half of the country would be affected. Forty percent of the households, which have benefited from the scheme, belong to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, she said. She said that among the ways in which the government was trying to roll back the scheme was by converting it into a contractor-driven programme and by rationing funds. (Business Standard 10/10/14)

55. Officials respond to demand for work under MNREGS (14)

GULBARGA: Officials of the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department conceded to the demand for work under the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) by the villagers of the Azadpur in Kusnur Gram Panchayat. The villagers, mostly women who could not get any work , had been demanding the work from the gram panchayat under the MNREGS for the past few days. Recently, the villagers under the banner of the Janawadi Mahila Sanghatane and Pragnya Kanoonu Salaha Samiti staged a dharna in front of the Kusnur Gram Panchayat office. Senior officials of the panchayat rushed to the gram panchayat and assured the protesting women that they would be provided the work of desilting of the Azadpur Tank. As promised the gram panchayat officials provided work of desilting the tank to 200 women who had demanded work. (The Hindu 12/10/14)

56. Relief for Employees Working in the Unorganised Sector (14)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Workers in the unorganised sector who had to fight even for the right to sit has every reason to cheer now as an ordinance issued in August ensures them the basic facilities for which they had been fighting for a long time. The ordinance to amend the Kerala Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1960 ensures the right of an employee, working in a big establishment, to get an appointment order from the employer at the time of appointment. It also directs that no educational or experience certificate in original received from an employee shall be retained by the employer of any establishment at the time of appointment or during the course of employment. “While the ordinance came into effect, the draft rule is being formulated which would help in providing the basic facilities to workers such as rest room and sanitation facilities,” Additional Labour Commissioner (Industrial Relations) G L Muraleedharan, who is at present holding the charge of Labour Commissioner, said. The Assembly will pass the Kerala Shops and Commercial Establishments (Amendment) Bill in its next session. Every employer, as per the ordinance, shall provide service certificate to the employees engaged by him at the time of resignation or during retrenchment or superannuation of the employee or while he/ she applies for another job. The ordinance categorises shops or commercial establishments into three: big, medium and small. A shop or establishment which employs 20 or more employees is termed as big, the one which employs six or more but less than 20 employees is medium and the one which has no employee or not more than five employees forms the small category. The ordinance also directs every employer of a big establishment, employing more than 50 employees, to provide hostel facilities to the employees. The fine for violating the provisions of the Act has also been increased. “It will be ensured that the labourers working in shops and commercial establishments are allowed to sit and the amendments made in the Act will be strictly implemented,” Minister for Labour Shibu Baby John said in a discussion organised by the Youth Commission in this regard in September. A toll-free number of the Labour Department will function round-the-clock for the employees to lodge complaints. It would also be made mandatory to disburse the salary through banks. “If the attitude of the employers do not change, we would start the second phase of the agitation,” said a woman working in a textile shop in Kozhikode. (New Indian Express 13/10/14)

57. 37 Bonded labourers Rescued; Collector Warns Employers (14)

NAMAKKAL : A day after 37 bonded labourers were rescued from a bore well-digging firm near here, Collector V Dakshinamoorthy issued a strict warning that stringent action would be taken against those who resort to bonded labour system. “I will look into the issue of 37 bonded labourers exploited by their employer. Severe action will be taken against the bonded labour system in the district,” Dakshinamoorthy told Express. A team of Revenue Department officials, acting on a petition received by the Collector, rescued 36 bonded labourers, who were confined in a shed at a farm in Thidumal falling under the Paramathi-Velur taluk in the district on Saturday. Later, one more labourer was rescued taking the number to 37. The rescued persons were from Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Chattisgarh. The Collector said that surprise checks would be conducted in workplaces like poultry farms, borewell-digging firms and other such establishments where a large number of migrant workers were employed. “I will instruct the officials concerned to the check private firms that have employed migrant labourers,” he stated. Meanwhile, the Nallur police arrested the employer of the borewell-digging firm, C Murugesan (32) of Thidumal, on charges of practicing bonded labour system. Cases under sections 370, 374 of IPC, 9, 16, 17 and 18 of Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 were slapped on Murugesan and sections of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, were also invoked against him. It came to light that the firm owner had hired the labourers through an agent and employed for them for digging bore wells. But he did not pay the agreed wages to them. “Though I have toiled for about six months toiling, owner has not given me wages,” Ajithkumar, a rescued labourer, said. It may be noted that as many as 58 such bonded labourers, all of them women, hailing from Chattisgarh, were rescued from a food processing unit in Namakkal in November last year. (New India Express 13/10/14)

58. MNREGA was used as ‘partisan tool’ to win votes: Govt cites study (14)

New Delhi: Government on Friday toughened its stand about bringing changes into UPA’s flagship MNREGA scheme even as Congress hit out at the NDA regime for “weakening” the programme just for political reasons. Digging out a study by the Mumbai-based Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, the Centre said that its report on the rural job scheme reveals how it was used by Congress as “a partisan tool to garner votes” in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. The study, ‘Local Funds and Political Competition: Evidence from the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in India’, by Bhanu Gupta and Abhiroop Mukhopadhyay, shows that “larger funds (were) allocated to blocks where Congress had lower initial vote share” in Rajasthan, government sources said. “These results are stronger when we consider blocks where Congress won or lost by a close margin in a previous election. The study gives evidence of a mechanism which highlights the role of a political representative in the funds sanctioning process,” government sources said quoting the study. Amidst allegations that the government was diluting the MNREGA, Rural Development Minister Nitin Gadkari today ordered immediate e-transfers to reduce delays in the payment of wages under the scheme. Meanwhile, Congress targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue and accused NDA government of deliberately “maligning” and “weakening” the scheme simply because it was launched by UPA. “It is a very unfortunate and sad to bring politics into everything and to malign and weaken it only because it was brought in by UPA. MNREGA has been a very effective scheme,” said Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi. “It’s coverage is being narrowed. Labour-material ratio, which was the soul of the scheme has been cut down from 60:40 to 51: 49 even though experts had earlier demanded that it be raised to 70:30,” he said. Congress’s attack came a day after the NDA government declared that it was determined to go ahead with its plan to undertake a “thorough review” of MNREGA. The Rural Development Ministry had also suggested that MNREGA could be linked with the skill development programme, a pet project of Modi. (Zee News 17/10/14)

59. Labour laws: Measures will work only if states join in (14)

Industry captains have welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s labour law announcements, especially the ones on inspections for compliance with labour laws. Modi had said inspectors will visit factories only on the basis of randomly-generated targets from a computer. Employers hope this’d end arbitrary raids, bribery and harassment. The announcement’s fi ne print shows it’s not as sweeping as made out. The PM’s plan encompasses only inspectors under the central labour commissioner working through its regional offices. This machinery covers all central PSUs and major ports, mines and oil fields, banking and insurance companies, air-transport services, and industries like cement, petroleum, telecommunication. These sectors only have an estimated 1800 inspectors. The remaining industrial units are under state governments because labour’s on the Concurrent List. The latest Annual Survey of Industries says in 2011-12 India had 1.76 lakh factories employing over 1.3 crore people. In 2012-13, about 30,000 inspections were conducted and nearly 2.6 lakh irregularities found. Modi’s announcements touch only a fraction of workers. State labour departments regulate bulk of the workforce with an estimated 8,000 inspectors. And, 8,000 is far from being an impressive figure where the entire country is concerned. In New Delhi, for example, roughly 25 inspectors cover 25,000 units. The story doesn’t end here. The labour law enforcement machinery is limited to the organized sector, mostly covered by the Factories Act. A large number of these factories may not be complying with labour laws, especially in states like UP where inspections were done away with years ago. So, the impact is on a fraction of units. What lies beyond the organized sector is a vast ocean of units nominally covered by some labour law or not at all. According to a recent National Sample Survey Organization report, about 72% of workers in the non-agriculture and non-cultivation/animal-rearing jobs work in the informal sector. Manufacturing, construction, wholesale and retail trade, transportation and storage are main providers of informal sector jobs, the report says. About 73% rural workers and 75% in the urban areas are employed in these industries. About 79% of these workers don’t have a written job contract, 71% don’t get paid leave, 72% have no social security benefits, and over 80% have no union or association. In other words, they are firmly beyond the pale of labour laws. Economic policy experts arguing for greater labour market flexibility saying that it’ll boost productivity need to look at this vast sector where complete flexibility prevails and wages are a pittance and net contribution to the economy is over 50%. (Times of India 18/10/14)

RESERVATION

60. Constitutional changes sought for betterment of disabled persons (25)

HYDERABAD: Castigating the successive Central governments for discarding welfare of people with disability, the city-based activists for the disabled community on Friday demanded constitutional amendments to improve their living conditions. Activists rued that Parliament is seeking to enact a law for safeguarding rights of persons with disabilities without giving it a constitutional status. “We need legal protection, which is guaranteed to SC and ST community. We also demand political representations at all levels. That apart, amendments should be made to the constitution to include the disabled in various articles which would ensure welfare,” said V. Rajashekar, deputy coordinator for the Cell for Disabled at The English and Foreign Languages University (Eflu). Another activist K. Srinivas said they have demanded an increase in job reservation from three per cent to five per cent before a parliamentary standing committee. “The reservation should also be given to us in promotions and not just direct recruitment. This should be guaranteed by the constitution,” he said. The activists were representing the Hyderabad Alliance for Disability Rights, an umbrella organisation of five other organisations. (The Hindu 11/10/14)

61. Scrap Quota for Wards of Freedom Fighters in Medical Education: HC (25)

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Friday directed the State government to strike down the quota for children of freedom fighters in medical education. V G Sunramaniyan, son of a freedom fighter filed a petition seeking directions to the Health and Family Department, Directorate of Medical Education, and the Medical Council of India to allot MBBS seat to his daughter under the Freedom Fighters Quota. Justice V Ramasubramanaian observed that the quota for freedom fighters’ children was only a special category for reservation and such reservation was not a Constitutional guarantee. The petitioner claimed that his daughter passed higher secondary in 2013-14 securing 1,159 marks. She applied for admission to MBBS course in the academic year 2014-15 under the  quota. But the Selection Committee refused to consider her application, stating that it applied only to children of freedom fighters and not grand children. He further contended that if the decision of the committee was allowed, no seat could be filled up under the quota since children of freedom fighters will be of more than 50 years of age now. Meanwhile, the Health and Family Welfare department of TN and the Directorate of Medical Education stated in their counter affidavit that for the past 15 years no candidate was admitted under the special category. They further stated that every year if no eligible candidate was available for the three seats under the category, they would be reverted to the general category. Questioning the rationale for the existence of the category, if no one had applied under the category for the past 15 years, the judge directed the department to remove the category for children of the freedom fighters to avoid any more confusion in future. (New Indian Express 12/10/14)

62. Only parents income be considered for deciding creamy layer:SC (25)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held that an individual candidate’s income was not required to be clubbed with the income of the parents for the purpose of determining “creamy layer” to exclude a person of backward class from the benefits of reservation. Referring to the Centre’s Office Memorandum of 1993 on the issue and judgements of the apex court, a bench comprising justices J S Khehar and Arun Mishra set aside the decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court which took consideration of the income of the candidate, a chartered accountant, to declare that the family belonged to the “creamy layer”.”The aforesaid determination was rendered by reading down the policy instructions issued by the state government, on the basis whereof, the backwardness of a candidate had to be adjudged. “The aforesaid policy instructions were read down, to include the income of the person concerned, along with the income of the parents of the person, contemplated by the policy instructions,” the bench said. “It is not possible for us to accept, that the individual’s own income could have been taken into consideration,” the bench said after analysing the Centre’s office memorandum of September 8, 1993 issued by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pension (Department of Personnel & Training). The apex court noted that even with reference to category IV, which includes professional’s (like CA), the income of the professional, has not been included. “Thus viewed, we are satisfied, that on the plain reading of category VI of the office memorandum of September 8, 1993, that it was not the income of the individual concerned, but that of his parents, that would determine whether he would fall within the creamy layer or not,” the bench said while allowing the appeal of a candidate filed through advocate R K Kapoor. (Deccan Herald 13/10/14)

63. Maharashtra child rights commission seeks to cancel quota exemption for minority schools

MUMBAI: With several schools in the state applying for the minority tag to avoid reserving 25% of their seats for children from the weaker sections, the state child rights commission has asked the Centre to consider cancelling the exemption for minority institutes. While the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, requires schools to reserve 25% of their seats for students from economically weaker sections, on May 6, the Supreme Court exempted aided and unaided minority institutes from doing so. The Maharashtra State Commission of Protection of Child Rights has written to the department of school education and literacy, Government of India, requesting it to file a review petition against the SC order. “In Maharashtra, particularly in Mumbai, where a majority of quality schools have the minority tag (linguistic and religious)…[they] are not admitting children falling under the category of weaker section on the basis of the SC order, under the 25% quota,” said the commission’s secretary, A N Tripathi, in the letter dated October 7. According to the commission, almost 80% of the private schools in the state have acquired a minority tag and several others have applied for the same. “We have got several complaints where students have been denied admission, but on most occasions we cannot resolve the case as the schools are minority institutions. Hence, we feel there is a need to cancel the exemption given by either filing a review petition or by way of a constitutional amendment,” Tripathi told TOI. “Government-run schools neither have the resources nor the discipline, while privately-owned schools are completely commercialized…thus, a majority of urban and rural children who fall under the category of weaker section are being deprived from education,” read the letter. Activists agree that schools are misusing the privilege and hence, this practice needs to be curbed. “After the SC order, schools have started applying for the minority status just to avoid admitting students from the weaker sections,” said K Narayan of the Anudanit Shikshan Bachao Samiti. In the recent RTE admission process, only 312 unaided schools participated, of which five got the minority status during the admission round. (Times of India 16/10/14)

64. Protest over regional quota under Article 371-J (25)

Bidar: The Karnataka State Government Employees Association members staged a dharna against the State government for delay in providing them regional reservation as per the provisions of Article 371-J. They went on leave and sat in front of the zilla panchayat where Umashree, district in charge Minister, was holding the Karnataka Development Programme review meeting. She met the employees and promised to carry their concerns to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. Their demands included cancellation of all promotions and recruitments done without invoking the provisions of the Constitutional Amendment, identifying regional and State cadre among all groups of employees, taking up steps to vacate the stay on the rules, ensuring eight per cent State cadre reservation to employees in the Hyderabad Karnataka region, publishing the seniority lists of State cadre and HK regional cadre employees and transfer of important departments, boards and corporations to HK district (The Hindu 18/10/14)

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

65. NHRC gives notice to CS on N’garh orphan family status (1)

Bhubaneswar: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought a status report from the Chief Secretary over the status of an orphan family in Nayagarh district. The NHRC was moved by rights activist Radhakanta Tripathy on November 5 last year alleging that on November 1, 2013 a helpless woman Kunti Dharua widow of Hita Dharua died due to medical negligence in the Nayagarh. After her death her five minor children most of whom are girls have become orphans. Their condition was so miserable that they were not able to perform the last rites of their deceased mother. “The first two children who are adolescent daughters left their studies to earn a livelihood for the family despite odds against them as child labourers,” said the petitioner requesting the apex human rights panel for restoration of their basic human rights. The petitioner stated that pursuant to the direction of the commission, a report dated 11.7.14 from the State Government has been received by the commission wherein the condition of the distressed family was narrated. The report revealed that the family has been included in the BPL list of beneficiaries and 25 kg of rice at the rate of Re1is being provided to them, besides a financial assistance of `3000 has been provided and another similar amount has been recommended to the Collector from Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. Another report dated 17.7.14 from the Government received by the commission revealed the background of the sufferings of the deceased Kunti Dharua as a TB patient and her treatment. It is reported that deceased Kunti Dharua died due to shock for the loss of her husband and her third daughter. The NHRC further directed the CS to submit a status report on the question of shelter to the orphans under MO Kudia Yojana within six weeks and also transmitted each report to the petitioner for comments within the same period. In his rejoinder the petitioner submitted that the family has not yet been assisted a house neither under any Government schemes nor the children duly cared for. He urged the commission that all the benefits under the social protection scheme are ensured to this unfortunate family.  The response from the Chief Secretary is awaited. (Pioneer 10/10/14)

66. Recognition of civil society’s contribution, says Pranab (1)

NEW DELHI: President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday led the nation in heaping accolades on Indian activist, Kailash Satyarthi, for winning the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, alongwith Pakistani teenage advocate for girls’ education, Malala Yousafzai. In his congratulatory message, he said: “The prize should be seen as recognition of the contributions of India’s vibrant civil society in addressing complex social problems such as child labour and the important role played by it in collaboration with the Government in the nation’s efforts to eliminate all forms of child labour.” Congratulating Mr. Satyarthi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “The entire nation is proud of his momentous achievement.” He also congratulated Ms. Yousafzai and said hers is a journey of immense grit and courage. Greeting both awardees, Vice-President Hamid Ansari said: “This is a richly deserved recognition for two remarkable human beings, who have worked tirelessly and fearlessly, against all odds, to protect and promote the rights of the child.” Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan also congratulated both. The Congress sought to drive home the symbolism in India and Pakistan sharing the award at this juncture with spokesman Abhishek Singhvi tweeting: “What a message to world and India and Pakistan. Joint Indo-Pak male-female Nobel peace prize winners. We are being shamed into settling our age-old dispute.” Later at the Congress briefing, he congratulated both on behalf of the party; adding that the symbolism of the moment should not be lost on anyone. “This joint Peace Prize sends a clear message that conflict resolution in all troubled parts of the world, including the sub-continent, must be the norm…’’ (The Hindu 11/10/14)

67. 2,422 NGOs got Rs 800 cr in foreign donations: Probe (1)

Bangalore: An inquiry by the Internal Security Division (ISD) of the State police has found that as many as 2,422 non-profit organisations active in Karnataka and registered with the Union Ministry of Home Affairs receive on an average a whopping Rs 800 crore in foreign donations a year. That is, however, not the final picture as there is no centralised information on how many NGOs, under the banner of civil society, are active through foreign donations in the State. The ISD dug into the records after Congress MLA K R Ramesh Kumar raised questions about the manner in which NGOs function and their financial condition. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had directed the police to dig out the details. The ISD also found that there are at least 50,000 NGOs, including self-help groups, associations and trusts. Sources in the ISD said that of the 2,422 NGOs that received foreign monetary support, many have not shown any tangible evidence of the donations being utilised for a special purpose or cause. The inquiry also revealed that a majority of the NGOs have not maintained proper records of the donations they received. Sources also said that several NGOs could not even show the details of expenditure towards a specific agenda or programme for which the donations were claimed. Besides, almost all NGOs gave information for only two financial years—2012-13 or 2013-14—while the ISD had served them notices seeking details of at least three consecutive years. As per MHA records, NGOs in Karnataka are said to receive Rs 1,100 crore every year in foreign donations. Hence, the ISD is looking into this difference of Rs 300 crore between the MHA and State figures of the donations received. While most of the NGOs have provided at least some information on their funding, some have questioned the ISD’s right to enquire into their monetary affairs. Among such NGOs is the well-known Samaj Parivatan Samudaya (SPS) headed by activist S R Hiremath. The SPS is said to have questioned the ISD’s authority to enquire into the fundings of the NGOs by sending a written response to the police. But sources assert that refusing information by the NGOs does not amount to any offence as they are legally within their rights not to reveal any information. For there is no particular investigating agency which has been formed or appointed by the government to seek details or conduct an investigation. The ISD is said to be sending a report to the State government soon as part of a reply to Ramesh Kumar’s question. The report is said to include certain recommendations that may be required to make the NGOs show transparency in their financial dealings. (Deccan Herald 14/10/14)

68. NHRC awards Rs 5 lakh to biker’s kin, Jung hikes it to Rs 50 lakh (1)

New Delhi: The Delhi government has unilaterally hiked 10-fold the compensation amount ordered to be paid to the family of 19-year-old Karan Pandey, who was killed in police firing in July last year. In mid-July, the National Human Rights Commission had recommended to the Delhi government to pay Rs 5 lakh as compensation to the next of kin of Karan Pandey, who was killed in police firing on stunt bikers on Ashoka Road in Central Delhi on the intervening night of July 28-29, 2013. Now, in a letter to Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi on October 9, a Delhi government Home Ministry functionary has said Lt-Governor Najib Jung has sanctioned payment of “monetary relief of Rs 50 lakh” to Pandey’s next of kin.The letter also says the L-G has directed Bassi to take departmental action against the inspector involved in the incident. The NHRC took strong note of the evidence, which pointed to “negligence and error of judgement” on the part of a Delhi Police inspector, who had opened fire at the rear tyre of the motorbike which resulted in the death of Pandey who was riding pillion (it was being driven by Puneet Sharma). The NHRC concluded that “there was unnecessary use of force — opening fire — which was disproportionate to the amount to threat to the PCR personnels’ life”. It had also questioned the police claim that they fired only after the youths started pelting stones at the police party. The youths were allegedly part of a group of bikers who were performing stunts in the high-security area. Awarding compensation of Rs 5 lakh to Pandey’s next of kin, the NHRC headed by former Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan had asked the Chief Secretary to submit the action-taken report on the departmental proceedings initiated against the police officers, along with the proof of payment, within six weeks. “I don’t think there has been any instance, at least in my memory, of a state government revising our recommendation by such a level on its own. Many states, in fact, refuse to accept our recommendation. This is a welcome step,” a senior NHRC functionary said… (Indian Express 16/10/14)

69. NHRC notice to State on poor facilities to tribal students (1)

Bhubaneswar: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought an action-taken report (ATR) from School and Mass Education Secretary over illness of students of Tentoloi Sevashram School in Banarpal block in Angul district within four weeks. According to complainant Human Rights Watch secretary Sangita Swain, around 60 inmates and students of Tentoloi Sevasram School fell seriously ill as sans any pure drinking and toilet facility. “The students depend on river water for drinking and other purposes which violate their human rights. Due to unavailability of proper drinking and other basic facilities the students fell ill,” said the complainant. She urged the commission to take disciplinary action against the school/public authorities, besides praying the apex human rights watchdog to ensure pure drinking water and toilet facilities immediately. (Pioneer 19/10/14)

JUDICIARY/ LAW

70. Law Minister says no to proposal to give arrest power to NCW (19)

New Delhi: The Law Ministry has red flagged a proposal to provide the National Commission of Women punitive powers to arrest and penalise people guilty of harassing women and ignoring summons. The Law Ministry has also questioned the move to have two separate selection panels for chairperson and members of the Commission. Sources said the Law Ministry is of the view that the Commission cannot be given powers to arrest and penalise as these were the domain of the police and the judiciary. The Law Ministry has also pointed out that one selection panel was sufficient for the selection of chairperson and other members. Seeking to give more teeth to the NCW, the Ministry of Women and Child Development plans to make National Commission of Women (NCW) on par with National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to effectively deal with cases of violence and harassment of women. According to the proposal, ignoring summons of NCW may land the offenders in jail. The WCD Ministry wants the NCW to be an effective body so that it can recommend jail and refer cases to court. According to Chapter III of the National Commission for Women Act, 1990, the Commission is mandated to investigate and examine all matters relating to safeguards provided for women under the Constitution and other laws. The NCW is also mandated to make recommendations for the effective implementation of safeguards. It also takes up cases of violation of the provisions of the Constitution and other laws relating to women with the appropriate authorities. The Commission is free to take suo motu cognisance of reports of deprivation of women’s rights and non- implementation of laws enacted to provide protection to women and also to achieve the objective of equality and development. NCW is the apex national level organisation of the country with the mandate of protecting and promoting the interests of women. (Zee News 12/10/14)

71. Gallows only for meticulously executed diabolic murders: SC (19)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has said that when an accused executes a meticulously planned diabolic murder, without provocation or acting on the spur of the moment, and becomes a menace to society, then the crime falls in the category of rarest of rare cases warranting the death sentence. “In our considered view, the “rarest of the rare” case exists when an accused would be a menace, threat and anti-thetical to harmony in the society,” said the apex court bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice R.K. Agrawal and Justice Arun Mishra in their Oct 9 order. Holding that the death sentence in such cases was the only appropriate punishment, Chief Justice Dattu pronouncing the order said, “Especially in cases where an accused does not act on provocation, acting in spur of the moment but meticulously executes a deliberately planned crime inspite of understanding the probable consequence of his act, the death sentence may be the most appropriate punishment.” The court said this while upholding the July 2, 2009, order of the Jharkhand High Court which had confirmed the Aug 1, 2008, order of the trial court convicting four accused of murder who had wiped out an entire family of eight of their immediate relative over a land dispute. The trial court awarded all the four convicts the death sentence. However, the high court while confirming the conviction of the four by the trial court upheld the death sentence of two and commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment of the other two – Saddam Khan and Wakil Khan . “We are mindful that criminal law requires strict adherence to the rule of proportionality in providing punishment according to the culpability of each kind of criminal conduct keeping in mind the effect of not awarding just punishment on the society,” the order said. “Keeping in view the said principle of proportionality of sentence or what it termed as “just-desert” for the vile act of slaughtering eight lives including four innocent minors and a physically infirm child whereby an entire family is exterminated, we cannot resist from concluding that the depravity of the appellant’s offence would attract no lesser sentence than the death penalty,” the court said while upholding the order of conviction and sentencing by the trial court and its being confirmed by the high court with modification. In the present case on June 6, 2007, one Mofil Khan and others attacked his brother Haneef Khan when he was offering prayers at a mosque in Makandu village in Jharkhand with sharp-edged weapons. Haneef died on the spot. Thereafter, the assailants went to Haneef Khan’s house and killed his six sons and wife. One of the sons was physically disabled. (Business Standard 11/10/14)

72. Give ACB free hand to probe cases against babus: PIL (19)

Mumbai: A Mumbai activist has approached the Bombay high court seeking to quash a circular, issued by the general administration department, requiring the anti-corruption bureau (ACB) to seek the state’s approval before starting any inquiry against an IAS/IPS officer or a minister. A division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice MS Sonak has posted the public interest litigation filed by Ankur Patil for hearing on November 13. The 33-year-old Mulund resident contended the circular issued by the department in March 1981 was similar to section 6-A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, and cannot be continued as the Supreme Court had, in May 2014, invalidated section 6-A of the Act. According to the PIL, section 6-A of the DPSE Act states the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will not conduct any inquiries into allegations against an officer of the level of joint secretary or above, without previous approval of the Centre. However, after politician Subramanian Swamy had challenged validity of the section, the apex court held the legal provision was invalid. The SC had observed that every public servant, against whom there is reasonable suspicion of commission of a crime, has to be treated equally under the law. “The decision-making power does not segregate corrupt officials into two classes,” the Apex Court had held. “Any distinction made between them on the basis of their status or position in service for the purpose of inquiry/investigation is nothing but an artificial one, and offends Article 14 of the Constitution of India.” In his petition, Patil stated after the verdict of the apex court, he wrote to the chief minister and the department in July 2014, and requested them to withdraw the circular, as it was contrary to the law laid down by the SC. Eventually, he approached the HC after noticing that his letter was not taken into cognisance, and the anti-corruption bureau was still following the circular. (Hindustan Times 18/10/14)

73. Converted wife can seek divorce only after renouncing Islam: HC (19)

AHMEDABAD: A non-Muslim woman who converted to Islam for marriage can seek divorce from her Muslim husband only on the basis of reconversion to her original faith, said Gujarat high court. The HC further said that such divorce petition cannot be turned down by the family court without conducting proper trial because section 4 of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act does not come in between. According to case details, Vadodara-based Christian girl Shinu married Muslim boy Javed Mansuri in February 2003 by entering into nikah according to the Muslim marriage laws. Shinu complained of ill-treatment by her husband and renounced Islam and reconverted to Christianity in March 2012. Immediately, she moved a family court and sought divorce decree on the ground that her husband was not maintaining her as well as her renunciation of Islam leaves her nikah null and void. The husband also moved the court questioning her reconversion and asserting that section 4 of the law prohibits the automatic dissolution of marriage. In August 2013, a family court in Vadodara rejected Shinu’s application saying that she had alleged cruelty but not sought dissolution of marriage on any of the grounds of section 2 of the Act — desertion and non-maintenance of wife. The court held that section 4 of the Act — which prohibits automatic dissolution of marriage at woman’s renunciation of Islam – would not apply in this case because Shinu was a Christian, who became a Muslim and then re-embraced her original faith. The rejection from family court brought Shinu to the high court, which cancelled the lower court’s order and sent the matter back for adjudication after recording evidence. The HC said that Shinu had to establish at any rate necessary facts by supplying evidence that she was a Christian first and now she has renounced Islam. She then will have to show legal fallout of her reconversion. She does not have to seek divorce by raising the ground of desertion and husband’s default in maintaining her. (Times of India 19/10/14)

74. Wife’s cruelty towards in-laws ground for divorce, says HC (19)

LUCKNOW: The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court has ruled that a man can seek divorce if his wife pressurizes him for abandoning his parents and demands a fixed sum every month for personal expenses. Terming such behaviour as ‘cruelty upon the husband’, the court also ruled that a woman who makes these demands while earning more than her husband will not be entitled for permanent alimony. The court made these observations while upholding the judgment of a family court which granted divorce to a man on the above grounds and also declined permanent alimony to his wife under Section 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act. Expressing concern over the case which dragged for over 23 years, a division bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Mahendra Dayal said, “The worst sufferer of this long litigation is the child who was born out of the wedlock and the parties are still not ready to reconcile or settle their dispute amicably.” Radhika and Ashok (names changed) got married in Lucknow on February 5, 1991. Immediately after marriage, Radhika demanded eviction of her in-laws from the house and Rs 3,000 for her monthly expense on cosmetics and outings. When Ashok failed to meet her demands Radhika started harassing her in-laws and husband physically and mentally. Ashok then lodged a police complaint on June 14, 1991, and got his injuries examined in the government hospital. He also complained to Radhika’s mother and two brothers but to no avail. A miffed Radhika then threatened to frame her husband and in-laws in dowry harassment case. Ashok then took a rented accommodation in Rajajipuram. In September 1991, he was transferred to Bulandshahr. When his wife came to know about his transfer, she along with her family members detained him in the house and threatened him with dire consequences if he left. But he managed to escape and joined his new posting. He filed a divorce petition in the family court in October 1991. In retaliation, Radhika filed a dowry harassment case against her in-laws and husband (they were acquitted later). Ashok requested the family court to hear his plea before the completion of one year – the minimum period before such a petition can be heard – alleging mental harassment by his wife. The family court took up the case issued summons to Radhika. The case prolonged for 13 years till Ashok obtained a high court order telling family court to decide the case within three months. On September 30, 2004, the family court granted divorce to Ashok and declined any permanent alimony to his wife. (Times of India 20/10/14)

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

75. AFSPA needs to be be repealed immediately, says former police officer (1)

IMPHAL, October 10: The debate over Armed Forces Special Powers Act, AFSPA is no longer needed; it should be repealed at the soonest. It is inhuman and as well as redundant as a law. This was stated by Potsangbam Sonamani, former senior superintendent of police, Kohima, who is also the president of Manipuri Association North East India. Sonamani was speaking in the North East Consultation on Human Rights, today at the Tribal Research Center hall, Imphal. The consultation was jointly organised by North East Students`™ Organisation, NESO and All Manipur Students`™ Union. Sonamani further said that though the Act has been enacted by the establishment, the greater onus lies with the human right activists and the people. He also lamented the lukewarm turnout of public during such an important consultative meeting. Former Chief Minister, Radhabinod Koijam, speaking as the chief guest recounted his experiences with the then Prime Minister, during his short stint as the State Chief Minister regarding the ramification of the Act. Yambem Laba, human right activist and journalist, recalled how the human right movement took a definitive shape in the State. He also recollected how he during his college days petitioned against the Act before the Supreme Court of India, along with some of his friends. He appealed the members of NESO and AMSU to be firm with their convictions. Samuel Jyrwa, Chairman NESO, termed AFSPA a manifestation of racial discrimination against the North East people and emphasised on the need to repeal such a draconian law. He also pointed out that such consultation will be held in all the seven sister States of the NE before the next Parliament session. After a thread bare discussion on the genesis and politics of AFSPA, adverse gender impact of the armed conflict and the increasing `securitisation of development`™ in the Northeast region, the consultation unanimously decided to pressurise the MPs from the Northeast to push for the repeal of AFSPA in Parliament. Sinam Prakash secretary general NESO in his keynote address pointed out that despite of internal and external democratic pressure to repeal AFSPA the government of India is turning a blind eye to the issue for too long. The technical session was a chaired by Lokendra Arambam, senior citizen. Seram Rojesh, Anjulika Samon and Homen Thagjam presented papers on the Act. (Kangla )m;ome 11/10/14)

76. State Human Rights Commission investigates custodial deaths (1)

COIMBATORE: The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) conducted an inquiry into complaints of alleged human rights abuse by police officials in the western region in Coimbatore city on Friday. SHRC member K Baskaran probed the complaints and later visited Coimbatore central prison to investigate a prisoner’s suspicious death. A few of the witnesses were also questioned by the judge and the next hearing has been fixed on December 19. SHRC received 28 complaints from the western region of the state. To ensure easy access to the petitioners, police officials and other government officials, it conducted the probe at the Circuit House located at Red Fields on Friday. Petitioners and police officials from Namakkal, Salem, Tirupur, Coimbatore and Krishnagiri districts gathered at Circuit House to attend the probe. R Mohanraj, 31, from Selvalakshmi Nagar in Tirupur, engaged in garment trading, was picked up by Tirupur police on September 3, 2012, in connection with a murder case and died in custody at Tirupur rural police station. Police detained Mohanraj for inquiry. He fell unconscious after policemen allegedly beat him up. Police claimed that Mohanraj tried to escape from their custody by jumping over a wall. Unfortunately, he fell on ground and died. But family members of the accused allege that he died because of police torture. Following the custodial death, Mohanraj’s relatives approached SHRC, telling them that Tirupur assistant superintendent of police (Now SP – Erode) Sibi Chakaravarthi and the inspector Kumar beat him to death. Both Ramesh and Kumar were interrogated by SHRC member Baskaran. Sibi Chakaravarthi was asked to appear in the next hearing. Baskaran and his team visited Coimbatore central prison on Friday afternoon where they recorded the statements of a few inmates in connection with a convicted prisoner C Kumar’s suspicious death inside the prison complex. Kumar, 29, from Kallikattu Valavu village in Salem district, murdered his father Chinnasamy. He was arrested by Salem rural police and lodged at Coimbatore central prison in 2005. The Principal district judge court in Salem had awarded a life sentence to Kumar. Later, he appealed before the Madras high court which reduced the life sentence to seven years rigorous imprisonment. On August 9, 2010, Kumar allegedly committed suicide at the library hall in Coimbatore central prison after he came in contact with live wire. Prison officials claimed that it was a suicide. However, the SHRC has taken the case as suo motu and started the investigation. Baskaran visited the library hall and cell where Kumar had been lodged. He conducted an inquiry with other inmates who spent time with Kumar. (Times of India 11/10/14)

77. STF submits papers of 13 encounters to legal panel (1)

AHMEDABAD: The Special Task Force (STF) probing 17 encounters which took place in Gujarat from 2002 to 2006 has completed investigation in 13 cases. At a meeting held in Gandhinagar on Friday, the case papers relating to the 13 encounter cases were handed over to the STF’s legal committee for scrutiny. Sources said the legal committee will give its opinion on the cases to STF chairman former Justice H S Bedi, who is coming to Gujarat on October 16. “Justice Bedi will then, in consultation with STF members and members of the legal committee, decide on further action,” said sources in the task force. STF officials said work is still to be done in the Samir Khan Pathan encounter case, the Kasim Jafar Hussein custodial death case and an encounter which had taken place in Anand. The encounter in which Samir Khan Pathan was killed took place at Usmanpura in Ahmedbad in October 2002 and the Kasim case also took place in the same year. Compensation has been given to the relatives of the victims of four encounters, including the wife and children of Kasim. The STF was set up by the Supreme Court under the chairmanship of retired Apex Court judge, Justice HS Bedi, on a petition filed by Bollywood writer Javed Akhtar and journalist BG Verghese. “Joint commissioner of police (JCP), Ahmedabad crime branch, Arun Kumar Sharma, was appointed the coordinating officer by the state government. Four IPS officers were entrusted with the investigation into 17 different cases,” said an STF official. However, as Arun Kumar Sharma has been empanelled for central deputation, it is possible that a new coordinating officer of IGP rank will soon be appointed in the STF. “Incidentally, as promotions from IGP to ADGP are due within a few days, the new JCP of crime branch could be appointed coordination officer of the STF,” said sources in the home department. (Times of India 13/10/14)

78. Pakistan troops resort to firing along LoC (1)

New Delhi: The India-Pakistan frontier was on the boil once again on Monday with Pakistani troops violating the ceasefire and resorting to firing along the LoC in Poonch district of Jammu in which one woman suffered injuries. The Indian security brass has warned of clear attempts being made by Pakistan to vitiate the atmosphere in Jammu and Kashmir by keeping the border issue alive and also push militants in a bid to disrupt the forthcoming Assembly polls in the state. With top sources indicating that the polls in J&K may be held as early as December, home minister Rajnath Singh on Monday morning held a closed door meet with NSA Ajit Doval, BSF DG D.K. Pathak and chiefs of IB and Raw to review the security situation. The high-level meet is also learnt to have discussed the issue of Pakistan trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue. Meanwhile, the four-day Army Commander’s Conference chaired by Army Chief Gen. Dalbir Singh Suhag began on Monday during which the Army top brass is expected to take stock of the situation prevalent at the borders with both Pakistan and China. The view in the Indian security establishment is that J&K will remain on high alert till polls and if needed, more Central forces will be rushed to the state to oversee the election process. A final view is yet to be taken by the Election Commission on the dates for holding Assembly elections in J&K. In heavy retaliation by the BSF, an officer of the Pakistan Rangers was killed by the force on Monday which fired more than 50,000 rounds and over 1,000 mortars resulting in heavy damages on the Pakistani side. Sources said more than 50 border outposts and small chowkis of the Pakistani troops have been severely damaged. The Indian security brass has decided to build pressure on Pakistani troops through an approach of ‘’matching one bullet with five’’. There was, however, no ceasefire violation by Pakistan along International Border (IB) in Jammu frontier. (Asian Age 14/10/14)

79. Police attitude causes fear among people, says CPI (1)

TIRUCHI: Communist Party of India (CPI) State secretary D. Pandian said on Friday that the attitude of the police caused fear in the minds of the people. Citing the recent custodial death at the S.P. Pattinam police station in Ramanathapuram district and the excesses committed on women at Vachathi during the anti-Veerapan operations earlier, Mr. Pandian said the police had to be reformed and made to function within the ambit of law. Addressing journalists after taking part in the party’s State executive committee meeting here, he said the government had given the police absolute freedom and urged it to take steps to reform the force. The CPI would launch a movement to make this demand. He said Tamil Nadu was yet to enact a Lok Ayukta Act to check corruption. The CPI, along with legal experts and social activists, would launch a movement demanding the enactment of an anti-corruption law. Alleging that the BJP government was attempting to destroy the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, he said the Centre should ensure that the scheme continued to be implemented and expand it to urban areas. (The Hindu 18/10/14)

80. CBI begins probe into alleged custodial torture (1)

TIRUPUR: As directed by the Madras High Court, CBI officials conducted a preliminary inquiry into the alleged custodial torture and sexual assault of a 49-year-old woman at the Udumalpet police station a few months ago. Police sources here told The Hindu that a CBI team, led by Superintendent of Police M. Roopa, an IPS officer of the Nagaland cadre, recorded the statements of the policemen posted at the station, over the last few days. The statements of the officials at the sub-divisional and district levels are yet to be recorded. The court ordered the probe on a petition by the Madurai-based daughter, which said her mother was taken into custody on August 14 in connection with the murder of her house owner. She said the police tortured her and injured her private parts. Justice Ramasubramanian, who ordered the probe, came down on the police and pulled up for the judicial magistrate for not strictly verifying whether the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in D.K. Basu vs. the State of West Bengal were followed while making the arrest. Meanwhile, All India Democratic Women’s Association national vice-president and CPI (M) central committee member U. Vasuki told The Hindu that the AIDWA members’ interaction with the kin of the 49-year-old woman revealed that she was subjected to third-degree methods. (The Hindu 19/10/14)

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

81. Islamic State group kills Iraqi TV journalist (1)

The governor of Iraq’s Salahuddin province says a journalist from a local television network has been killed by the Islamic State group. Governor Raed Ibrahim says Raad al-Azzawi, who was a cameraman for Iraq’s Salahuddin Television, was killed by militants on Friday in the city of Tikrit. Ibrahim said he wasn’t able to provide any further details. The Islamic State group, which holds large swaths of land stretching across the Iraq-Syria border, has beheaded a number of journalists in Syria, saying the killings are in retaliation to U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. Reporters Without Borders said last month that the militants had threatened to execute al-Azzawi, a father of three, for refusing to join the Sunni militant group. (Indian Express 11/10/14)

82. The media watchdog said al-Azzawi was abducted on Sept. 7. (7)

Chennai: Journalists, academicians and filmmakers, who participated in ‘Behind The Lines, Between The Lines’ film festival, stressed the importance of ethics in a world where journalists work in extremely hostile environments. “Visual media could be the future of journalism and we need to educate people about image construction and consumption. An image has the power to influence people in many ways,” said Annette Danto, professor of film and filmmaker. Stating that journalism in the U.S. had shifted towards visual media, overshadowing the written word, she insisted journalists of tomorrow must be aware of journalistic ethics. “Young students are more comfortable with cameras than they are with writing a story. They need to be taught to fully understand the subject they are filming,” she said. Renowned Indian journalist, Syed Nazakat, who has covered conflicts in Asia and Africa, said that media houses are failing to invest in journalists. “Young journalists are not aware of the risks they are constantly in. They are not trained to keep themselves safe in conflict situation,” he said. (The Hindu 12/10/14)

83. CM’s nod for cashless health scheme for scribes: Minister (1)

KADAPA: Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu has agreed to extend cashless health scheme of Rs. 2.50 lakh to journalist families, Minister for Information and Public Relations Palle Raghunatha Reddy said. The government would enhance the corpus in the journalists’ welfare fund, he asserted in a get-together for journalists all over Kadapa district organised by Rajya Sabha member C.M. Ramesh Naidu at Meda Convention Centre here on Sunday night. He assured to examine the demand to extend the accreditation and concessional bus to sub-editors too. Mr. Chandrababu Naidu was according priority to the journalistic community unlike his Telangana counterpart K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who blocked telecast of two news channels, Mr. Raghunatha Reddy said. He recalled the key role played by the media during the freedom struggle and in nation-building. Stating that a sustained media campaign led to enactment of Nirbhaya Act, unearthing of several scams and unbridled plundering of natural and national resources, Minister for Social Welfare Revala Kishore Babu lauded the media for working round-the-clock, often risking their lives, and voicing the people’s concern and woes. The Chief Minister would be apprised to grant house sites, houses and health cards to media personnel. He urged the media to cooperate with the government in safeguarding democratic institutions and serving the society effectively. A.P. Legislative Council Deputy Chairman S.V. Satish Kumar Reddy assured efforts to resolve the problems confronting journalists. He lamented that many scribes lacked basic pay and facilities. Rajya Sabha member C.M. Ramesh Naidu and Government Whip Meda Mallikarjuna Reddy assured that the Government would ensure the welfare of journalists. District TDP president M. Linga Reddy and other TDP leaders participated. (The Hindu 14/10/14)

COMMUNAL RIOTS

84. Public meetings may revive tensions in western U.P. (7)

New Delhi: An RSS-backed panchayat that has been called in Muzaffarnagar on October 10, and a Rashtriya Lok Dal-inspired rally scheduled for October 12 in neighbouring Meerut, with seemingly different agendas, could see a fresh spurt of divisive politics in western Uttar Pradesh, an area that was rocked by communal violence last year and led to 40,000 Muslims fleeing their homes to take shelter in refugee camps. Friday’s Muzaffarnagar panchayat — that has awakened memories of last year’s mahapanchayat where inflammatory speeches by local Jat leaders led to communal violence — its convenor Virendra Singh told The Hindu telephonically, has been called to demand that the recent murder of three labourers in the district be declared as a “communal incident” so that their families can get the compensation that those who are victims of communal violence get — and that includes a government job. The three murdered men belong to the Jatav, Valmiki (both Dalit) and Kashyap communities, so the fervour that was seen among the dominant Jat community may not be on display on Friday, Mr Singh – a Jaat himself – said. But by insisting that it be seen as a communal incident there appears to be an effort to revive the tension seen last year that so polarised Hindus and Muslims in the Lok Sabha elections that the BJP swept the polls in the region. Simultaneously, RLD chief Ajit Singh has called a rally on October 12 under the banner of “Chaudhary Charan Singh Smarak Banao Sangharsh Samiti” ostensibly to demand that 12 Tughlak Road be declared a memorial for his father and the former Prime Minister Charan Singh but, in fact, it will mark the start of his efforts to revive his party. The RLD that traditionally drew its strength from the Jat-Muslim combine found its base totally eroded after last year’s communal violence left the two communities at war with each other. The rally is being described as a “political family get-together” as invitations have been sent to the Samajwadi Party, the Janata Dal-United, the National Conference, the Biju Janata Dal, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and the Janata Dal-Secular — many of whose leaders are expected to show up. For Mr. Ajit Singh, this will be his first effort after the Lok Sabha polls to demonstrate that he still has political clout in the region and sources say, he is expecting over a lakh and a half to show up as Jat leaders and khap heads from Haryana and western UP have all been sent invitations. Those who are likely to attend are former PM H.D. Dewe Gowda, former Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, JD(U) president Sharad Yadav, RJD president Lalu Prasad and SP leader Shivpal Yadav. Congress Chief Ministers Harish Rawat and Bhupinder Singh Hooda, NC chief Farooq Abdullah, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Telangana CM K. Chandrasekhar Rao too, have been invited. With the RLD rally an attempt to bring anti-BJP forces on one platform in Meerut, and the Muzaffarnagar panchayat an effort by pro-BJP forces to revive the communal tension of last year, western UP will continue to be a contested site. (The Hindu 10/10/14)

85. Communal riots of Kokrajhar in 2012 exposed Assam to jihadists (7)

Guwahati: The communal riots of 2012 in Kokrajhar was the turning point for Assam as it brought the state on the radar of pan-Islamic jihadi elements. Informing that the arrest of six modules of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen of Bangladesh has also corroborated it, authoritative security sources told this newspaper that documentary evidences in possession of the security agencies have revealed that Assam started figuring in most of discourses of pan-Islamic jihadi forces after communal riots of 2012. Saying that in most of the discourses of Islamic terror networks, the plight of Muslims in Assam was highlighted, security sources informed that there have been occasions when plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar was also referred with Assam in discourses at various international forums of radical jihadis. Claiming that some of the NGOs and religious and political leaders who came for relief operations were also instrumental in highlighting it, security sources said that some protest demonstrations against the Assam riots outside the state also helped in publicising the demography of the state. Security sources clarified that they are yet to find any evidence that indicates the interest of the Al Qaeda in Assam, though they admitted that the Indian subcontinent is on the radar of the Qaeda and Indian security agencies had prior inputs in this regard. Admitting that the ongoing radicalisation of Rohingya youths facing onslaught in Myanmar was also posing a serious threat to the safety and security of Assam, security sources said that agencies have found evidences of Rohingyas exploring possibility of shelters in the frontier states of the Northeast. Pointing out that the Rohingyas of Myanmar have already flooded J&K and New Delhi, sources said that Assam may turn out to be a new shelter for them, with several NGOs and jihadi elements extending their moral support to the ongoing training of Rohingyas in the bordering areas of Bangladesh. They said that six Muslim youths arrested in Assam were the part of the JMB plan to launch a retaliatory attack on Dhaka. (Deccan Chrinicle 13/10/14)

86. Minister meets kin of riot victims in Hallikeri (7)

HUBLI : Food and Civil Supplies and district in-charge minister Dinesh Gundu Rao on Saturday met relatives of the three persons killed in the recent communal violence in Hallikeri village, Navalgund taluk, Dharwad district. Family members of the Koreppa Javur, Hucchappa Durgad and Ismail Nadaf said they live in a state of fear and complained that police are yet to provide protection to their houses. Speaking to reporters, Rao said probe into the case will be carried out in an impartial manner. “It was unfortunate that the village witnessed communal clashes. The government has been trying to maintain peace in the village.” The minister said that the youths who fled the village fearing police action will be convinced to come back and live in harmony. A few protests were held during the public grievance meeting attended by Rao here on Saturday. BJP workers staged protested in front of the minister, demanding appointment of a new commissioner of Hubli-Dharwad Municipal Corporation. The protesters said routine work is being affected due to the absence of HDMC commissioner. Deputy mayor Manjula Akkur, BJP district president Lingaraj Patil, former mayor Pandurang Patil and others were present during the protest. Replying to the protesters, Rao said that the government will appoint the commissioner within 10 days. The BJP also demanded prevention of irregularities at the food and civil supply department as thousands of beneficiaries are denied BPL card. Rao said he will soon take action against the culprits. “Pending ration cards will be issued within a month,” he said. In another protest, members of the Hubballi Viman Nildana Santrastar Okkuta demanded alternative land under Ashraya scheme to those who lost their land due to expansion of the airport. Members of the Karnataka State Retired Government Employees and Senior Citizen Welfare Association demanded a space for their office at the HDMC Complex and a site for their association. They also urged a separate outpatient unit for senior citizens at government hospitals. (Times of India 18/10/14)

COMMUNALISM

87. In RSS-backed school, students get a Modi crash course (26)

In a drawing competition at Bandra Hindu School, founded by RSS members, the winner of the first prize is 15-year-old Sohail Shaikh, for his crayon drawing of Narendra Modi. The compulsory competition, held at the school on Gandhi Jayanti, saw each of the 350 students draw the face chosen for them, the Prime Minister’s. Founded in 1992, the school is run by the Bandra Hindu Association and three-fourth of its management staff are Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh workers. But 75 per cent of the students, who come from the slums of Behrampada and Bandra’s Garib Nagar, are Muslims. Most of their parents are uneducated and work as labourers or hawkers, said Ajeet Manyal, the secretary of Bandra Hindu Association. “I was asked to draw a picture of Narendra Modi and, since he is the Prime Minister, I drew it,” said the nonchalant winner Sohail Shaikh, a class 10 student. The competition and prize distribution on Gandhi Jayanti ended with a mandatory poetry recital by students, now the school’s anthem. “Loot ke le gaya dil-jigar, Modi jadugar” (He has stolen our hearts, the magician Modi), reads the first line of the jingle. “Modi thinks like a rishi and executes like a corporate leader. His commitment to Indian ethos and his love of education makes him like Swami Vivekananda and greater than Jawaharlal Nehru,” said Manyal. The central hall of the school is watched over by framed portraits of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Swami Vivekananda, Subhash Chandra Bose, Maharana Pratap and Lakshmibai, the Rani of Jhansi. The school also lets BJP workers use the space to hold meetings. “For all these poor children, Modi is a perfect icon because he has led a similar kind of life, full of hardships. Every child in this school should think, ‘I also want to be Modi’,” Manyal said. A big day at the school last month was September 17, Modi’s birthday. The children and staff attended a havan at the school and prayed for the PM’s long life. The school also had a fancy dress competition after the havan where the management supplied Modi masks to children. “Modi is approachable at all times. We send him pictures of our school activities through social networking websites and he replies,” said Aarti Khurana, an administrator. Irshad Shaikh,14, seems well pleased. “He (Modi) shares a lot of information about the country,” he said. “We keep listening to his speeches in the school and he is very motivating.” In between class rooms are huge walls, highlighting Modi’s quotes, alongside his framed photographs. “Don’t dream to be something, but rather dream to be something great,” reads one panel. The fan-like visuals are interrupted at some spots, by a photograph of Mahatma Gandhi and his word in one place. .. (Indian Express 10/10/14)

88. Hindutva activist revered by Uddhav, Modi slams both (26)

Sangli: At his election rally in Sangli’s Tasgaon Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to staunch Hindutva activist Sambhaji Bhide (Guruji) as one of his inspirations. Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray had earlier sought Bhide’s blessings during election rallies Shiv Sena held in Sangli and Mumbai earlier this week. But even as both parties blame each other for a bitter divorce,  Bhide said he was displeased with both leaders for not persisting with the saffron alliance in Maharashtra. A former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activist, Bhide is the founder president of the Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan, an outfit with sizeable clout in Sangli, Satara, and Kolhapur districts of Western Maharashtra. “I had called them both a couple of times urging to persist with the alliance. While they kept assuring me that alliance would continue, they eventually snapped ties,” Bhide told the Indian Express. Claiming that a division of votes between the former allies was “disastrous”, Bhide alleged that the two snapped ties as they were blinded by power. At the Tasgaon rally, Modi had said he had come to seek blessings of Bhide Guruji, who had been an inspiration during the early days of his life. Modi also reminded crowds that “at the instance of Bhide Guruji, he had visited the Raigad fort to gain inspiration from Maratha warrior king Chatrapati Shivaji, before accepting the responsibility of leading the BJP to power at the centre.” Interestingly, Bhide remained present of rallies of both the leaders in Sangli, while turning down requests to share the stage with the leaders. “I have never shared a political stage in my life,” Bhide explained. “The Mahabharata describes an instance when Vidur meets Gandhari with a request to step in to resolve differences between her sons Duryodhan and Dushashan. She, however, turns it down saying as a mother she did not know whose side to take and that both were useless. People like us are faced with the same dilemma now,” he said. Having dedicated his entire life to promote the rich legacy of Shivaji and his heir Sambhaji, Bhide also alleges that “all parties had made Shivaji an office of profit”. All  political parties in tkhe state have been using Shivaji’s name in their election campaigns to woo Maratha voters. “Parties invoke the great leader’s name during elections. He is conveniently forgotten thereafter. It kills to say his name is misused this way,” Bhide further said. The activist, however, says he would request the PM to translate the ‘sacred texts’ on Shivaji in all languages and include lessons in school curriculum to spread the word on the great ruler’s legacy. The Shiv Pratisthan Hindustan holds expeditions to various forts built by the Maratha warrior king as part of its efforts to preach his legacy. (Indian Express 11/10/14)

89. Enough time till 2019 for Ram temple: RSS (26)

LUCKNOW: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Friday said it would not set any deadline for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to construct the Ram temple as the issue was part of the BJP’s manifesto. “The government has enough time till 2019 to act on the issue,” said RSS joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale. He called Ram temple a national issue and said they did not need pressurize the government on this issue while speaking at the RSS national executive meet here on Friday. “Any decision on demand or programme related to Ram temple construction will be taken by dharmacharyas and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which is supported by the RSS,” he said. “The BJP government has been formed for five years and it is not RSS’s duty to fix priority of the government. The government will have to fix its priorities keeping other matters which they think are important in mind.” Hosabale said national security issues would be discussed at the RSS meet and added ‘love jihad’ may figure in the deliberations. This contradicted RSS media in-charge Manmohan Vaidhya’s statement, saying ‘love jihad’ was not on the agenda. Hosabale said the RSS would not pass any economic and political resolution since the government has been in office for just a few months. “We will first see its performance,” he said. The RSS would chalk out a plan for rehabilitation work in disaster-hit Jammu & Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh and Meghalaya. Hosabale claimed RSS workers participated in relief operations in these states. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat earlier inaugurated the three-day meet. He paid tributes to Indian soldiers killed in exchange of fire with Pakistan on the border and those killed in recent natural calamities. (Times of India 18/10/14)

90. VHP to hold Virat Hindu Sammelans across country (26)

Buoyed by the runaway victory of the Narendra Modi-led BJP at the Centre, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) is planning ‘Virat Hindu Sammelans’ in five metros across the country as a “Hindu show of strength.” The sammelans, which have been organised to celebrate the golden jubilee year of the out, will be attended by Hindu religious leaders and Sangh Parivar functionaries. VHP leader Venkatesh Abdeo told dna that the convention to be held in Mumbai on December 14 will be attended by religious leaders like yoga gur Baba Ramdev and Narendra Maharaj of Nanij in Ratnagiri apart from Buddhist and Jain preachers. VHP president Pravin Togadia and RSS sah-karyawah Dattatray Hosbale will also attend the function to be held at the Bandra Reclamation ground, he added. The VHP is also trying to get Hindutva rabble-rouser and Lok Sabha MP Yogi Adityanath to attend the program. Similar functions will also be held in Delhi, Kolkata, Bhopal and Bangalore. “It is our credo to bring together the Hindu samaj in the VHP’s golden jubilee year. This will be a gathering of the Hindu samaj, a Hindu show of strength. It will aim at creating self-confidence and unity in Hindus and bring them together only as Hindus regardless of divisions like caste, language and region,” said Abdeo, adding that “a strong Hindu samaj will strike fear in the hearts of the enemy”.The organisation will also hold similar Hindu sammelans at the district level between November and February and a blood donation camp will also be held on November 2 to collect one lakh units of blood. “The self-respect of the Hindu community was being trod upon… despite comprising 85% of the country’s population, Hindus were being forced to live the lives of second-class citizens,” said Abdeo, referring to the Lok Sabha results. He added that with the BJP-led government at the Centre, they expected that the “injustice” against the Hindus be done away with, Hindus getting to “live a life of dignity” and “their culture be protected.” Abdeo said protection of Hindu religious institutions, Sanskrit language and cows were part of their wish list. “We had been demanding the protection of Ganga which culminated in the formation of a separate ministry for the purpose… similarly, we need a ministry for gau raksha (protection of cows),” said Abdeo, adding that a Uniform Civil Code and anti-religious conversion law were also part of their expectations. (DNA 19/10/14)

TERRORISM

91. 11 labourers kidnapped by militants in Mizoram (12)

Suspected militants from Tripura kidnapped 11 people, mostly construction labourers in Mizoram’s Mamith district on Friday night, police said on Saturday. A senior police officer of Mizora believed they were taken to Chittagong Hill Tracts of southeast Bangladesh. While Tripura police blamed the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) for the incident, its Mizoram counterpart did not name any outfit. “We are not yet sure whether it was NLFT or the Bru militant group”, Mamith district superintendent of police C. Lannunmawia told The Hindu over phone on Saturday. The militants sprang in front of a passenger vehicle and kidnapped 16 people at gun point, but afterwards released five tribals and took away mostly Bengali speaking labourers who hail from Karimgang district in lower Assam. They were held hostage to ransom, highly placed sources said. They stated that the kidnappings were committed by NLFT in collaboration with the Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF) – an outfit of Bru or Reang tribe fighting for autonomy in Mizoram. The Reang armed groups surfaced after ethnic strife forced thousands of community members to take shelter in north Tripura in 1997. (The Hindu 12/10/14)

92. Bangla militants’ arrest bares terror network plan (12)

Guwahati: The Assam police have launched an operation in the state’s districts bordering Bangladesh after the arrest of six Jamatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) militants brought to the fore the Islamic fundamentalist group’s plan to spread their tentacles in the state. The six were found to be involved in the Burdwan blast incident and were instructed to remain as a sleeper cell in Assam and to look for potential Muslim youth for motivation into jihad. Police have identified Kokrajhar, Dhubri, Goalpara and Karimganj as vulnerable to such Islamic terrorism. “This is the first instance of Assam police finding the presence of the JMB in Assam. Earlier, other fundamental outfits like Huji, SIMI, Indian Mujahideen’s presence were reported,” said a senior Assam police official. The official added, “The districts bordering Bangladesh may have been intruded by such outfits and radical ideologues. As these districts have a large Muslim population, we have started an operation to look for such elements. Influx from Bangladesh has been rampant in these areas and such fundamental outfits might have taken advantage of it.” Police have arrested another youth, Imran Hussain (20) from Kachua area in Nagaon district, on Sunday. He was working as a tailor in the area and a handmade pistol was found from his possession. However, his connection to any Islamic outfit is yet to be ascertained. “He denied having any such links. Investigation is on,” said Nagaon SP A Kalita. On Saturday too, three others-Saidul Islam (19), Akhirul Hoque (21) and Nubul Hoque (30) were arrested by police in Dhubri district along with sophisticated firearms and ammunition. Intelligence sources said the six JMB members were found to be traveling to West Bengal, Bangladesh and several other areas in the state in connection with the outfit’s activities. “Saikhul, an accused from Barpeta, had received training in jihad in Simulia madrassa of Burdwan and also in another madrassa in Murshidabad. The outfit is trying to spread the jihadi movement by distributing literature pieces, preaching recordings and other documents,” a source said. Intelligent wings also suspected that the outfit has been trying to lure Muslim youth by invoking the recent BTAD violence in which hundreds of Bengali speaking Muslims became victims. (Times of India 13/10/14)

93. 30 Taliban militants surrender in Afghanistan (12)

Kabul: Thirty armed Taliban militants have given up fighting and resumed normal life in Qaisar district of Afghanistan’s Faryab, Mohammad Naeem Andarabi, deputy to the provincial police chief, said Sunday. “Thirty Taliban fighters laid down arms yesterday (Saturday) and resumed normal life in their communities in Qaisar district,” Andarabi told reporters. These people were involved in anti-government activities in Qaisar and Almar districts over the past couple of years and with their joining civil society, the security situation would further improve in the province, Xinhua cited the police official as saying. Taliban militants, who are active in Faryab province and fighting against the government to regain power, were yet to make any comment on the development. (Business Standard 19/10/14)

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

94. Naxalites call for poll boycott over separate Vidarbha issue (12)

NAGPUR: The Maharashtra state committee of banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), popularly known as Naxals, has urged for boycott of the assembly elections on October 15 over the separate Vidarbha issue. The reds have claimed that the four prominent political parties, including Congress and BJP, have opposed the century-old demand of statehood for Vidarbha, and this warrants a boycott of the polls as a mark of protest. A press release by the secretary of the Maharashtra state committee of Naxals claims that Shiv Sena has openly opposed the issue of statehood for Vidarbha while others like Congress, NCP and BJP have refrained from taking a stand only to mislead the masses. The Naxals have appealed to the electorate to use boycott to punish parties for the injustice to Vidarbha. The press release says that this mechanism of boycott is part of a bigger struggle for mass revolution, which should be used at this juncture to protest exploitative and corrupt political parties, irrespective of their banners. The outfit has also claimed that boycotting poll is within the ambit of democratic rights, and should be used to ensure that the four big parties and their allies are ousted. The rebels hold the political parties responsible for suicides of at least eight ryots per day between 1995 and 2013 during the government of Shiv Sena-BJP alliance and later Congress-NCP combine. The Naxals have underlined the fact that around 60,000 farmers ended their life in two decades, which includes 3,146 suicides in 2013, quoting statistics from National Crime Records Bureau. The guerrilla outfits have claimed that governments of all political parties have only added to the woes of the farmers by displacing them from their native places to promote capitalist projects like Surjagarh mining and special economic zones. The Naxals also claimed that the big four political parties are actually hand-in-glove, with not much difference in their policies and agenda. These parties have an internal ‘setting’, from local bodies to the highest government, in order to distribute the exploited wealth of the masses among themselves, Naxals say. Referring to Mumbai’s growth, the Naxals claimed that the development of Maharashtra’s economic capital was at the cost of the labour and working class, whose wealth has filled the coffers of capitalists and industrialists. The reds also took a dig at the so-called encounter specialists of Mumbai, saying that they have replaced the ‘bhais’ after eliminating them. (Times of India 13/10/14)

95. Making a wave: 20-fold increase in Maoist surrender since May-end (12)

NEW DELHI: The number of Maoists giving up arms has shot up since the Narendra Modi government took over earlier this year, mainly in the Maoist backyard of Bastar in the BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh, which has reported a 20-fold increase in surrenders since the end of May. Home Minister Rajnath Singh is said to be highly enthused by these high figures of desertion among the insurgent ranks in Bastar as this could pave the way for his plan to go after the top leadership of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), which is holed up deep inside the district. According to a report with the Ministry of Home Affairs, which was accessed by ET, 395 Maoists have surrendered across the country till September 30 this year, almost double the 206 who laid down arms in the corresponding period last year. The home ministry is highly optimistic about the way ahead, especially because of a report from the Chhattisgarh police, which shows that the number of Maoists who surrendered in the worst-affected Bastar range surged to 221 as of October 8, a 20-fold jump from only 11 at the end of May, when the Modi government came to power. The highest number of surrenders was in the worst-affected districts of Sukma (50) and Kondagaon (67), which fall in the Bastar range, as per the state police report to the home ministry. The report shows 73 Maoists surrendered in Bastar last month. According to the home ministry, only 24 Maoists gave up their arms in the January-September period last year in all of Chhattisgarh, where Chief Minister Raman Singh has been at the helm for more than a decade. “Intelligence agencies are excited over the record desertions in Maoist ranks in Bastar. There seems to be panic among the Maoists in their den,” a home ministry official said. However, the number of surrenders in other affected states, except Andhra Pradesh, leaves a lot to be desired. While Andhra Pradesh has reported 76 surrenders this year against 44 last year, there have been only four surrenders in Bihar and 17 in Jharkhand this year, similar to their respective figures for last year. “Both Bihar and Jharkhand have been unable to cash in on the attractive surrender and rerehabilitation policy floated by the Centre,” a ministry official said. Bastar has performed well on other parameters too. There have been 143 police-Maoist encounters there this year, leading to the killing of 29 insurgents, and 459 of them have been arrested, leading to the seizure of 121 weapons, 115 improvised explosive devices, 269 detonators and 753 rounds of ammunition, as per Bastar police. (Economic Times 14/10/14)

96. Naxals gun down tribal person in Bhadrachalam division (12)

KHAMMAM: Fear gripped the tribal pockets in Venkatapuram mandal of Bhadrachalam division following the kidnap and killing of a tribal person by Maoists late on Tuesday night after branding a police informer. Midiam Balakrishna (29), a farm labourer, hailed from Tippapuram in Venkatapuram mandal. Police reportedly recovered a letter left behind by Maoists near Ramachandrapuram, where they dumped the body of Balakrishna after gunning him down. Police handed over the body of Balakrishna to his family members after a post-mortem examination at the government hospital at Venkatapuram on Wednesday afternoon. He is survived by wife and two children. Police registered a case. (The Hindu 16/10/14)

97. Senior CAF officer suspended after Naxals kill a jawan (12)

Raipur: A senior officer was suspended for not taking standard security measures, after a jawan of the Chhattisgarh Armed Force was killed by Naxals in the state’s insurgency-hit Sukma district today. Constable Shivkumar Sidar was abducted by Naxals on his way to hospital and killed earlier today. Company Commander Vinod Thapa was suspended for failing to take standard security measures while sending Sidar to Dornapal for medical treatment from Temelwada camp, said Inspector General of Police, SRP Kalluri. Sidar was sick for the last few days. While he was on his way to Dornpal today, Naxals abducted him from a private bus and killed him. He was travelling without any security personnel accompanying him, unarmed, and dressed in civilian clothes. The Naxals stopped the bus between Temelwada and Kusawada and asked him to get down. He was taken a little away and killed, Kalluri said. His body was later retrieved by the security personnel and a combing operation was launched in the area to nab the Naxals. (Zee News 18/10/14)

TRAFFICKING

98. Trafficked children toil in city’s factory units (1)

JAIPUR : The Nobel Peace Prize for Kailash Satyarthi, a child rights activist, has put the limelight once again on the menace of child labour. Rajasthan, indeed, has a large number of child labourers with gems, polishing, hotels and restaurants industry pulling in hundreds of such children every month. The Rajasthan Bal Adhikar Samrakshan Sajha Abhiyan (collective body of child rights NGOs) is working for child rights and engaged in rescuing children from labour with the help of law enforcement agencies. Satyarthi’s NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan has been actively participating in the rescue and rehabilitation of child labourers in Rajasthan. In fact, Jaipur is the epicentre of child labour with over 800 children being rescued this year alone. ActionAid, a human rights group, carried a study on 659 child labourers who were rescued from Jan 2013 to March 2014. The finding says that 85% comes from Bihar and 50 from Jharkhand and 32 from UP. Surprisingly, the number from Rajasthan is negligible. These children were mostly in the age group of 7 to 17 years. By the time they were rescued, most of them had spent an average of 4.5 years working in inhuman conditions. (Times of India 12/10/14)

99. Kerala denies human trafficking through orphanages (1)

NEW DELHI: Accused in the Supreme Court of turning a blind eye to “human trafficking” through unauthorised orphanages and childcare centres, the Kerala government has countered that it does not carry the stain of child abuse and exploitation. Kerala came under a cloud of suspicion before the Supreme Court, which learned of a recent incident about illegal transportation of around 600 children from Bihar and Jharkhand to some orphanages in the State. Police and district officials had rescued the children. The matter came to the court’s attention on an application filed by advocate Aparna Bhat in August 2014. Ms. Bhat is the court’s amicus curiae in a pending case on exploitation of children in orphanages in Tamil Nadu. On her application, Kerala was made a party in the litigation and the court had issued notice to the State. The amicus had described the Palakkad incident as part of a larger problem of mushrooming unauthorised orphanages and child care centres in the State. The case is scheduled to come up before a bench led by Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu on Monday. In its affidavit, the State government said the rescue operation in Palakkad was its own initiative. The children were provided care and protection by the State. It said social instruments like Kudumbasree, Childline, etc., work with the authorities to prevent child exploitation and abuse in the State. (The Hindu 13/10/14)

100. In disguise, UP man treks 500km to rescue children from traffickers (1)

Lucknow: Jagram, a shop owner in Bahraich district’s Turaini Rajab Kudiya village, finally found his sons being held as bonded labourers with 100 other children at a brick-making unit near Kathmandu in August. Jagram said the children were working under the most inhuman conditions, slaving from 3am to 5pm every day without rest and with just two meals. Thousands of children are trafficked in India every year for domestic servitude or to work for a pittance in sweatshop-like conditions in hazardous fireworks factories and coal mines apart from the carpet-weaving and silk-manufacturing industries. The problem was brought into focus last week when child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi won the Nobel Peace Prize. Satyarthi, who has been fighting child trafficking and child labour for decades, estimated about 60 million children in India, or 6% of the population, are forced into work. Jagram’s journey to find his sons wasn’t easy. He mortgaged his farmland and set off for Nepal in July on a tip from an NGO. Twenty days later, Jagram found his boys at the brick kiln, transporting soil and fetching water from a nearby lake. The whole area was well fortified and escape seemed hopeless. But Jagram was determined. To get closer to his sons, he took up work as a labourer at the factory where he found four more children from his village. He asked them not to reveal his identity and to wait for the right moment to escape. One night when security eased, Jagram took off with the seven children, but they barely made it to the neighbouring highway when security guards raised an alarm. The group hid under piles of sand in a paddy field and took a bus next morning to Nepalganj – that shares a border with Bahraich – unaware that they were stepping into a trap. The traffickers caught them at the Nepalganj bus station, took them to a secluded place and thrashed the victims mercilessly. Jagram pleaded, saying he would return to his village and they could take the children. On being freed, he approached local police who raided the factory and took the owner and an aide into custody. Nepal police alerted their counterparts in UP and NGO Childline. The children were escorted to the international border and handed over to UP police who sent them home. “I dreamt of educating my children and giving them a better life. When flood ravaged my village in 2013, I moved to Lucknow and worked at a construction site while my wife and the three children stayed in the village. I returned on hearing that my sons had gone missing,” said Jagram. Jagram now runs a shop in his village while his sons – Amrit Lal, 15, Nakshed, 13, and Akhilesh, 10 – are in school. Jitendra Chaturvedi, a member of Childline who also manages the NGO Developmental Association for Human Advancement (Dehat) near the Indo-Nepal border, said the two countries should join hands to check child trafficking and strict action is needed against those involved in such inhuman practices. (Hindustan Times 14/10/14)

101. Chhattisgarh’s efforts sluggish in tracing missing children : SC (1)

RAIPUR : Supreme Court summons to Chhattisgarh chief secretary Vivek Dhand and director general of Police AN Upadhyaya to appear in person on October 30, has once again brought to focus the alarming problem of human trafficking of women and children particularly from tribal areas of state, and laxity of administration in dealing with the problem. With nearly 65,000 women and children missing between 2001 and 2013, Chhattisgarh has the dubious distinction of being a hub of human trafficking as tribal women and children are taken to metropolis including Delhi and Mumbai and even far off to foreign countries, presumably to work as domestic helps. Eventually, many of them are pushed into prostitution. Irony for Chhattisgarh is earning tag of being among country’s fastest developing states amid its laid back law enforcement and bureaucracy. TOI found shocking numbers where Chhattisgarh recorded nearly 65,000 women and children missing between 2001 and 2013 of which more than 40 per cent still remain untraced. Official data received through an RTI shows children and women at Raipur, Durg, Jashpur and Bastar are among the most vulnerable ones with maximum number of children going missing and the figure continue to rise with every year. On an average, Chhattisgarh witnessed 330 women and 230 children going missing every month. Figures show around 40 per cent of the missing children have not been traced. Where do these missing women and children go isn’t really unknown to state’s stakeholders which include police, department for women and child, state commission for protection of child rights, child welfare committees, anti-human trafficking units and CID child cell. Officials have admitted that maximum of those going missing were trafficked who are procured under the guise as labourers and are further pushed into domestic slavery, prostitution, forced marriage, beggary and many more. Recently chief Lokayukta SN Srivastava has intervened in the issue under his jurisdiction as misconduct of public servant. Srivastava revealed that during his investigation, he found there were organized gangs working on juvenile criminals and jails who connect with them to lure/ convince children join them. “There are international gangs and push the vulnerable ones into slavery, beggary, pickpocketing and even orphanages.” He is gathering detailed information and has given deadline till December to properly implement several schemes and take steps to curb human trafficking and missing children. Srivastava said that additional chief secretary NK Aswal and DIG (CID, child cell) Rajeev Srivastava have assured of proper implementation of track the child web portal, AHTUs, formation of special juvenile police units etc. Talking to TOI, Rishikant from national NGO Shaktivahini working women and child rights said, “Supreme court’s intervention and summon on CS and DGP itself shows laxity in Chhattisgarh’s law enforcement. Being a hub of child trafficking, issue of increasing number of children going missing has to be dealt seriously in Chhattisgarh. Tracing a child isn’t a tough job if one really intends to, we have been doing it in accordance with police for past many years.” Explaining about how state needs to begin from the scratch over the issue, Rishikant said, “It’s vital for police to understand that as per SC’s order FIR has to be lodged with each child going missing presuming that he/she was trafficked. Only then process of tracing missing children could begin with the help of all stakeholders.” Meanwhile, reacting over opposition Congress’ spokesperson Shailesh Nitin Trivedi said it was high time state government wake up to the calls of growing missing children and Supreme Court’s order. Accusing Raman Singh government he said, “It’s shameful that thousands of children are still missing and despite that police avoids lodging FIR.” Supreme Court had earlier directed many states to file a compliance report following a petition filed by the Bachpan Bachao Andolan, which led the court to provide many directions regarding complaints of missing children. (Times of India 16/10/14)

102. Kingpins of girl trafficking racket from Jharkhand held (1)

New Delhi: A wanted couple, accused of trafficking minor girls from Jharkhand, has been arrested by the Delhi police’s crime branch. The trafficking kingpins had given shelter to the absconding former Jharkhand agriculture minister Yogendra Sao, who was recently arrested in northwest Delhi’s Shakurpur’s J.J. Colony. The police have identified the accused as Panna Lal (31) and his wife Sunita Kumari (37). The duo were running placement agencies in the name of “Birsa Bhagwan Placement Service”, “Pahal Security Services” and “Laxmi Placement Service”. Wanted in many cases of trading minor tribal girls from Jharkhand, Panna Lal hogged headlines when CID (Jharkhand) and the Delhi police arrested Mr Sao from his home on October 4, but left him behind. This police oversight earned media ire as Panna Lal, allegedly running a multi-crore business with scores of illegal placement agencies that dealt in the supply of Jharkhand girls as domestic servants, into forced marriages and to brothels, had an arrest warrant and four FIRs against him. “They (the couple) were involved in trafficking children from Jharkhand for working illegally as domestic helps in Delhi and NCR through their placement agencies,” joint commissioner of police (crime) Ravindra Yadav said. The accused were wanted by the Jharkhand police in a case of human trafficking and non-bailable warrants had been issued against them. On Sunday, a trap was laid by the police and both the accused persons were apprehended from their “hideout” in Shakurpur J.J. Colony, where both of them had come to collect their belongings for fleeing to some unknown place to evade their arrest. Both the accused persons had not been visiting their residence for the past few days. “It has been revealed that accused Panna Lal was running several sub-units to expand the business of human trafficking in Delhi. His connections with Maoists are being probed by the Jharkhand police,” Mr Yadav added. The police said that one Gayatri (35), who is the sister-in-law of Panna Lal Mahto, was also arrested on October 13. She had purportedly told the police the whereabouts of Panna Lal. (Asian Age 20/10/14)

CORRUPTION

103. ‘Chopper verdict upholds honour of ex-IAF chief’ (5)

New Delhi: After a court in Italy on Thursday found him not guilty of corruption in the 2010 deal to supply India with AgustaWestland helicopters, Giuseppe Orsi, the former chief executive of Italian firm Finmeccanica said the judgement upheld the honour of India’s ex-air chief, Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi, falsely accused of wrongdoing. “This judgement is also important because gives Marshal Tyagi back his honour after the accusation of having done something that he really had not done,” Orsi said in a statement sent to a news agency by his lawyers. Tyagi was not charged in the Italian case, heard in the court of Busto Arsizio and has denied any wrongdoing in connection with the EUR 560 million (Rs 3,600 crore) contract for 12 helicopters for VVIP use. “The peremptoriness of the acquittal makes the allegations meaningless. No amount of money was paid to an Indian public official, nor did the Swiss intermediary try to alter the tender,” said Orsi’s advocate, Ennio Amodio. Orsi, who was then the CEO of Finmeccanica unit AgustaWestland, was accused of paying bribes to Indian officials to win the contract. An agent of AgustaWestland, who agreed to become a witness for the prosecution, testified that he had met with Tyagi, who then changed the tender requirements to favour AgustaWestland. The Italian judge said in the verdict that while prosecutors had proven that fake invoices had been issued, there was no corruption. Telling reporters after the verdict that he hoped India would reconsider its decision to cancel the helicopter order, Orsi said: “This was an internal Italian issue that had nothing to do with India. I hope that the good relations between Italy and India will be restored.” Three helicopters had been delivered when the deal was cancelled. Reacting to the verdict, Tyagi told reporters here: “I am happy man, I always knew that I had done nothing wrong. It’s a big morale booster for the Indian Air Force, which had done its job perfectly.” The Central Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating the deal, on Thursday said the Italian court’s judgement did not necessarily mean the agency would drop its investigation of Tyagi, and that it was waiting to peruse the full judgement. (Zee News 10/10/14)

104. SC to decide on CBI petition on Jayalalithaa (5)

New Delhi: More trouble seems to be in store for former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, sentenced to four years in jail by a Bengaluru court. The Supreme Court is set to conduct final hearings in a special leave petition filed by the CBI challenging a Madras high court judgment quashing its chargesheet against her in a corruption case. The CBI had filed a case in 1996 against her under the Prevention of Corruption (PC) act for alleged criminal misconduct and obtaining of valuable thing/s. It had alleged that Jayalalithaa, on her birthday in 1992, had accepted R1.26 crore in ‘gifts’ via demand drafts when she was the state’s chief minister. “The demand drafts were accepted without consideration from people with whom she had current or potential official transactions,” said a CBI source. The CBI had in 2006 chargesheeted Jayalalithaa in a Chennai court under the PC act for the alleged offence. But the high court in 2011, acting on petition by Jayalalithaa, had quashed the CBI’s chargesheet on grounds of “unexplained delay” in registering the case then filing of the chargesheet. The CBI filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court in 2012 challenging the high court’s order. (Hindustan Times 11/10/14)

105. Enforcement Directorate attaches official’s assets worth Rs 53 crore (5)

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached assets and bank accounts worth Rs 53.57 crore, belonging to tainted former Mhada deputy collector Nitesh Thakur. He had hit headlines two years ago in 2012 after a raid by the state anti-corruption bureau (ACB) found him guilty for ‘disproportionate possession’ of assets and properties worth Rs 118 crore during 12 years of public service though his salary was merely Rs 28,000. The latest ED action has been executed under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The attachment order will see the freezing of property and land admeasuring 55 acres in the state along with fixed deposits totally valued at Rs 53.57 crore. During the previous ACB raid, Thakur was found to be in possession of 26 properties that included 11 flats and four bungalows collectively worth Rs 118 crore in Kandivali, Borivali, Andheri, Ghatkopar, Alibaug, Murud, Kolegoan and Chikli, most of which were registered in the name of his brother Nilesh and his mother. Thakur also possessed four cars, including a BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover and a Honda CRV. Sources said Thakur had been amassing the wealth through bribes and illegal gratification while being on unsanctioned leave since 2005, following which he was suspended by the agency. (Asian Age 13/10/14)

106. Lokayukta probe: More skeletons may tumble out of scholarship scam (5)

INDORE: After blowing the lid off scholarship scam running in paramedical colleges in Indore division, the anti-corruption watchdog Lokayukta police have now broadened its area of investigation. Prima facie, it was found that nearly 60 private colleges including engineering, management and under graduate courses are operating in Indore division in collusion with tribal welfare department and minorities welfare department officials and are involved in irregularities in disbursing scholarship. The in charge officials designated to disburse scholarship amount meant for students misused their powers and altered with the prescribed rules to benefit more than one college, stated Lokayukta press release. Police also found that colleges without taking permission from the students, gave fake admissions to withdraw scholarship amount provided under state government scheme. It was also found that colleges gave admission to those candidates who had never taken admission in colleges. With Lokayukta police starting investigations into the scholarship scam, more skeletons are likely to tumble out of cupboard in coming days. “A thorough investigation has been launched to probe the irregularities. The nexus of government officials and college directors will expose major corruption running in the name of providing education. College directors in collusion with government officials have siphoned off crores of rupees meant for scholarship,” said an official. (Times of India 14/10/14)

107. Black Money Study Reports Yet to be Accepted: Finance Ministry (5)

NEW DELHI: The Finance Ministry is yet to accept two of the three reports submitted to it on the assessment of black money in India and abroad which were commissioned by the UPA government three years ago.The studies were conducted by the Delhi-based National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) and National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), and National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM) at Faridabad. “Report from one institute has been received and accepted and reports from the remaining two institutes have been received but yet to be accepted by the government so far,” the Finance Ministry said in reply to an RTI query. It, however, declined to share the contents of the reports citing the exemption clause under the transparency law.   “Further details cannot be made available at this point of time as the information is exempt under Section 8(1)(c) and Section 8(1)(e) of RTI Act, 2005, since the report is yet to be examined by the government or action taken thereof is yet to be laid before Parliament,” the ministry said. Section 8(1 )(e) bars disclosure of information which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament. The other clause exempts disclosure of “information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information. The three studies were expected to be completed within 18 months’ time, which deadline had expired on September 21, 2012. The Finance Ministry did not give the dates on which these reports were submitted with it although the RTI application had also sought that information.There is at present no official assessment on the quantum of black money in India and abroad. (New Indian Express 19/10/14)

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

108. Scientist cautions against unchecked environmental pollution (9)

ALAPPUZHA: E. Vivekanandan, Emeritus Professor, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, has cautioned that unchecked environmental pollution could have serious repercussions. According to him, the existing scenario could lead to increase in sea temperature and also result in the extinction of coral reefs in the Indian Ocean within 50 years. Delivering a presentation on the topic ‘Reducing vulnerability and enhancing resilience of fishing communities to climate change’ organised as part of the workshop on coastal zone management at Mararikulam on Wednesday, Dr. Vivekanandan said he did not foresee a spike in the frequency of tornadoes and storms in the region. However, studies strengthened the possibility of an increase in intensities of the natural phenomena. Such occurrences could potentially affect fishermen in the coastal areas adversely. Factors such as excessive fishing, pollution and disruption of ecosystem impacted the fisheries sector much more than climate change, he said. Delivering a talk on ‘Drinking water and sanitation problems in coastal areas and its management’, Centre for Water Resources Development and Management senior scientist P.S. Harikumar said small-scale reverse osmosis units were necessary to address the problem of drinking water shortage in coastal areas. He also proposed the installation of e-toilets and harvesting rainwater in wells to prevent contamination of groundwater to a certain extent along the coastal belt. Scientists Linda Nostbakken, Natasha Bhatia and D. Chandramohan also spoke on various issues relating to coastal management. The four-day workshop concluded on Thursday. (The Hindu 10/10/14)

109. Online community network of Swachh Bharat launched (9)

New Delhi: The Ministry of Urban Development, seeking to convert the Swachh Bharat Andolan into a mass programme has launched an online community network. Taking the help of ‘LocalCircles’, a community social media platform, the social media platform will enable citizens to easily come together, exchange ideas on cleanliness, take up appropriate cleanliness activities in their neighbourhood, share pictures of collective efforts, engage with elected representatives and take the cleanliness campaign forward. Further, it will enable participants to know about the best practices for adoption. Further, it also enables considered and collective inputs to the implementing agencies on a regular basis on issues like garbage collection and disposal, promotion of civic sense and interventions, if any, required from the concerned agencies. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 2, focuses on sanitation, hygiene and waste management. It includes sweeping, removal of garbage, debris and unauthorised encroachments from roads, markets and residential places and aims at making India a clean country by 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. (New Kerala 10/10/14)

110. Hudhud strips Visakhapatnam of its green cover (9)

HYDERABAD: The maddening velocity of Cyclone Hudhud, apart from destroying the properties of thousands of residents, almost entirely stripped Visakhapatnam of its green cover, sucked it dry of its rich wealth of birds and eroded its picturesque beaches. Such was the cyclone’s intensity that about 75-80% of the city’s trees were found to have been flattened on Monday, their bare stumps standing testimony to nature’s fury. Even the hills dotting the city have become shorn of trees. The most saddening sights were visible in places such as Kailasagiri, Waltair, Ukkunagaram and the Andhra University campus that were earlier the most prominent lung spaces of Vizag. On Monday, however, the once tall trees were bent and broken, unable to bear the onslaught of Hudhud. The Kambalakonda Reserve Forest too had half its trees missing on Monday. In fact, almost all of the 50 lakh trees covering over 40% of the 3,600 hectares of Ukkunagaram or VSP Steel Township were found damaged. A top official of a PSU said that most campuses in Vizag were rich in green cover and the overall loss of flora and fauna was worse than the infrastructure damage they suffered. The erstwhile lush green corridors running along the two sides of National Highway 5 were no different. Pictures posted across social networking sites by commuters revealed the large-scale devastation that this stretch faced on Sunday. In place of trees, what remained were only heaps of fallen branches and leaves. “We will have to take up at least 50% re-plantation on the university campus in the near-term. But it will be an uphill task as the groundwater levels are already low. It will take us another 10 years to replant all the trees on campus,” Andhra University registrar, K Ramamohana Rao, said. The campus, spread over 700 acres, is presently a picture of havoc and is strewn with broken branches, much like the sprawling 1,000 acre Kailasagiri area. “Watching the sky on Sunday was heart-breaking. Dead bodies of our feathered friends were seen flying all around. Given that many trees were blown away along with their nests, these little creatures clearly had no place to shield themselves from the cyclone’s fury,” said Santosh Paul, a resident of Beach Road. Though some crows and kites were seen making a comeback on Monday, their numbers were limited to just a handful. If the accounts of some residents are to be believed, over 30,000 birds are believed to have died in the coastal city in less than 24 hours. Though the animals housed in Vizag’s Indira Gandhi Zoological Park, fortunately, managed to brave the storm, the expansive premises have lost all its green cover. (Times of India 14/10/14)

111. Indian firms moving towards low carbon economy: CDP (9)

The India 200 Climate Change Report 2014 by CDP, an international non-profit organisation, says that 24 per cent of the companies surveyed have reduced their absolute emissions while driving business growth and profitability. An additional 26 per cent have reduced their emissions intensity while driving business growth and profitability. This report analyses responses from the top 200 Indian companies by market capitalisation. This year, 59 companies (30 per cent) responded to CDP compared to 55 in 2013. Over 90 per cent of the companies state that climate change opportunities are driven by change in regulation. About 15 per cent of the responding companies have reduced their emissions despite a tough business situation. Over 60 per cent of surveyed companies are introducing process energy efficiency initiatives, consequently, 24 per cent have reduced their absolute emissions and an additional 26 per cent have reduced their emissions intensity while driving business growth and profitability, the report said. Indian companies are using their increased commitment to climate change action to drive innovative, sustainable businesses processes. In terms of global ranking, CDP said five Indian companies have made it to the Global A-list, on par with Australia and Canada and more than any other emerging economy except South Africa. Wipro, Essar Oil, Tech Mahindra, Larsen & Toubro and Tata Consultancy Services have shown the world that they can match the best in world when it comes to fulfilling their global challenge action on climate change. The research is published in The A List: The CDP Climate Performance Leadership Index 2014 , which has been created at the request of 767 investors who represent more than a third of the world’s invested capital. Wipro leads the Climate Disclosure: Leadership Index (CDLI) in India. The responding Indian companies have acknowledged the role of governments and regulations as the primary driver of climate change opportunities and investments. Five Indian companies have made it to the Global A-list, on par with Australia and Canada (The Hindu 19/10/14)

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

112. Congress promises to highlight farmers’ issues in legislature (20)

BIKNOOR (NIZAMABAD DT.): Congress leaders have warned the TRS government that it will have to face the music if it failed to keep its promises made to farmers and coolies before elections. They said the government was least bothered when the farmers, being unable to bear the crop loss, were committing suicide. In their ‘Rythu Bharosa Yatra’ conducted in the drought-hit mandals of Biknoor and Domakonda mandals on Thursday, the leaders accused Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao of trying to wriggle out of his responsibilities towards the farm sector and farming community by slinging mud on the Congress and Opposition leaders. Led by TPCC president Ponnala Lakshmaiah, K. Jana Reddy and D. Srinivas, the party floor leaders in the Assembly and Council respectively, former Ministers Mohammed Ali Shabbir and P. Sudarshan Reddy and party Kisan wing president M. Kodanda Reddy visited Pedda Mallareddy, Baswapur, Seetharampally and Achanpur in Domakonda and Biknoor mandals to observe themselves the crop loss and plight of the farmers. Addressing a gathering of farmers on a dried maize field at Seetharampally, Mr. Lakshmaiah said the Congress undertook the yatra to instil confidence among farmers to face the drought situation and request them not to commit suicide. “We are all behind you. We will make concerted efforts to expose the failures of the government in solving your issues in Assembly and Council and pressurise it to come to your rescue,” he said. Later, speaking at Rameswarpally, Mr. Lakshmaiah said that the TRS government dashed the hopes of four crore people of Telangana in the very beginning of its innings, which will not augur well for it in future. The Congress floor leader in the Council D. Srinivas said that almost all the 36 mandals in the district recorded 50 per cent less than normal rainfall (770 mm), while Domakonda and Biknoor witnessed scanty rainfall. Therefore, all mandals should be declared drought hit, he said. Former Ministers N. Uttamkumar Reddy and Mohammed Ali Shabbir also spoke. (The Hindu 10/10/14)

113. SC gives precedence to sugarcane farmers over banks (20)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday said sugarcane farmers will have precedence over banks for the recovery of their dues from mills as they are in a state of financial distress and are prone to commit suicide. A bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice A.K. Sikri, while dismissing appeals by the State Bank of India and the Punjab National Bank, said if farmers are not paid, they will commit suicide. “If money does not go to the farmers, they commit suicide,” the court observed. The two banks have moved the apex court against the Allahabad High Court order which had said that the sugarcane farmers have the first right over the proceeds of selling sugar by the mills for the recovery of their dues. Appearing for the two PSU banks, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the court that the banks’ only security was the sugar stocks with the sugar mills against which the banks have advanced the loans for the payment of farmers dues. Matter relates to the outstanding payments of Rs.3,007.07 crore to sugarcane growing farmers by the sugar mills owners in Uttar Pradesh as on Oct 7, said V.M. Singh who appeared as caveator in person for the Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan. Singh said that Allahabad High Court has directed the sugar mills to clear the outstanding dues of the farmers growing sugarcane by Oct 31. He contended that under the provisions of UP Sugarcane (Regulation of Purchase and Supply) Act, 1953 as amended in 1972, sugar mill owners could raise money against their stocks of sugar for exclusively making the payments of farmers dues but that amount was allegedly diverted and did not reach the farmers. Singh said that now apex court had reaffirmed the Allahabad High Court order, the farmers would get their dues with the auction of the sugar stocks with the sugar mills. (Business Standard 13/10/14)

114. 99 suicide-hit farmer families of Bathinda seek immediate compensation (20)

BATHINDA: Activists of farmers’ body BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) and farm labourers’ outfit Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union went to the office of Bathinda deputy commissioner and submitted the list of 99 peasants, who had committed suicide in the district in 18 months between April 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014. Families of suicide victims also assembled at Bathinda district administrative complex on Monday and sought a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each, as promised by the state government. “As per our survey, 99 suicides have taken place in Bathinda in the past 18 months. We forwarded the representation from all suicide-hit families for compensation to the district administration. We want immediate disbursal of compensation to these families,” said BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan. Bathinda additional deputy commissioner (ADC) Sumit Kumar met activists and sought two days to decide the cases. He said, “The administration has sought two days to settle the compensation issue. It will be dealt accordingly.” In September 2013, the government had ordered the DCs to immediately disburse financial assistance of Rs 2 lakh each to the families of farmers who had committed suicide after verifying the facts. Revenue and rehabilitation department on September 30, 2013 asked three universities of Punjab to conduct a survey to tabulate suicides by farmers till March 31, 2013. The survey could not be conducted for want of funds as Punjab government had failed to provide funds to the universities for the same. “Though Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana; Punjabi University, Patiala and Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), Amritsar had counted 4,800 suicides, as per our findings, more than 30,000 farmers and farm labourers have killed themselves in the last over two decades in the state. The government has preferred not to record most of the farm suicides and has concealed facts about these,” said Sukhdev Singh and Khet Mazdoor Union secretary Lachhman Sewewala. (Times of India 14/10/14)

115. 250 farmers committed suicide in 4 months in Telangana (20)

HYDERABAD: The farmers in Telangana are a distressed lot. Saddled with insurmountable debts, nearly 250 of them ended their lives in the past four months. On an average, at least two farmers have been committing suicide a day in the state just this Kharif season that is set to come to a close in the next two or three weeks. The harvest is expected to take place by the end of October or early November. Incidentally, of the 40 farmer suicides in Medak district since TRS assumed power, 18 of them were in chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s assembly constituency of Gajwel. Warangal continues to have the dubious distinction of high est such deaths with 54 recorded so far in the past four months. As per a GO issued in 2004, which is still in force, the government is required to provide immediate financial and rehabilitation assistance to families of farmers who commit suicide irrespective of the reason for such an act. “The farmers in the state have lost all hope,” said Ravula Chandrasekhar Reddy, Telangana TDP politburo member. “It is not that we expect miracles from a government that is barely fourmonth old. But we also do not expect disasters like these,” he told TOI. “There has not been one sentence of condo lence from anyone in the ruling TRS,” said Congress deputy leader in the legislative council Md Ali Shabbir, a former power minister. While no TRS leader or elected representative was willing to come on record to talk on the issue of farmers’ suicides, privately, some party leaders admitted that it was an issue the government should have taken seriously. However, they preferred to hold the previous governments responsible for the sad plight of farmers in the state accusing them of neglecting the rural power supply and irrigation sectors. While as of now there are records of 234 farmers’ suicides as verified by the local police, the figure is set to touch 250 if the deaths that occurred in the past 10 days are taken into account. “Suicide is a result of a person coming to a conclusion that he or she cannot solve a problem and also cannot see anyone else coming to their rescue to solve that problem,” Diana Monteiro, a counselling psychologist and director of Hyderabad Academy of Psychology explained. When the TRS announced that it would waive loans as promised in its election manifesto, the farming community stood by the party and is believed to have voted for it in large numbers catapulting it to power. However, the delays in implementing the loan waiver scheme and the riders attached to it, diluting the promise, has meant that many farmers who hoped to be freed from the cluthes of debts, suddenly found themselves at a loss. Not a single government representative or TRS leader has visited any of these families, allege TDP and Congress. “Despite championing the cause of farmers, TRS has completely ignored the provisions of GO 421 of 2004 which stipulates that the state is responsible for providing relief to families of farmers who commit suicide,” Shabbir said. In fact, the GO does not differentiate reasons for such deaths but lays down that irrespective of the reason, the government has to provide certain amount of relief, not exceeding Rs 2 lakh per family . The GO mandates the government to take steps to rehabilitate the family of the deceased farmer. (Times of India 17/10/14)

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

116. UP acquires 2,000 hectares for Agra-Lucknow expressway (4)

Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh government has acquired over 2,000 hectares from farmers and land owners for the proposed 301 km Agra-Lucknow expressway. This together with around 121 hectares of government and Gram Sabha land makes up for 70 percent of total land required for one of the flagship projects of the Akhilesh Yadav government. The project estimated to cost about Rs 10,000 crore would traverse 10 districts viz. Agra, Firozabad, Mainpuri, Etawah, Auraiya, Kannauj, Kanpur City, Unnao, Hardoi and Lucknow. According to UP Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA) sources, the government has so far acquired over 2,061 hectares of land from 22,525 farmers spanning 217 villages in these districts. Additional land across 15 other villages is still to be acquired and negotiations with farmers were underway. Interestingly, land acquisition has been lowest in pocket boroughs of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav in Firozabad, Mainpuri and Etawah, where acquisition percentage have stood at merely 40 percent, 17 percent and 34 percent respectively. Hardoi and Kannauj have clocked highest acquisition percentages at 100 and 95 percent respectively. Kannauj is the parliamentary constituency of Dimple Yadav, the wife of chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. Meanwhile, UPEIDA has sought Rs 1,350 crore from the finance department for part payment to farmers. Almost Rs 5,000 crore would be needed for land acquisition payments and the project is expected to be completed in 30-36 months. Initially, the expressway was planned on public private partnership (PPP) model. Since, it failed to garner investors due to economic slowdown. Subsequently, the government decided to adopt Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) route, wherein the state would fund the project. The contract for the project, divided into five packages, has already been awarded to developers. PNC Infratech has been selected for package 1 (Agra-Firozabad); Afcons Infrastructure for package 2 (Firozabad-Etawah); Nagarjuna Construction Company for package 3 (Etawah-Kannauj); Afcons Infrastructure for package 4 (Kannauj-Unnao); and L&T for package 5 (Unnao-Lucknow). The expressway would cut travel time between Lucknow and Agra and spur economic development along the route with trade, agricultural and economic corridors proposed at different places. It would provide seamless travel between Lucknow and National Capital Region (NCR) via the functional Agra-Greater Noida Yamuna Expressway. (Business Standard 10/10/14)

117. SC judgment due: Singur farmers want end to logjam (4)

SINGUR: It was the wedge between farmers willing or unwilling to part with their land that catapulted Singur into the global map from oblivion nearly a decade ago — first when it was shortlisted as the site for the world’s cheapest car and then, when it fuelled the anti-farmland acquisition stir that shook one of the mightiest corporate empires in the country. But that wedge now ceases to exist. All eyes will be on the Supreme Court on Tuesday when it takes up for hearing the validity of the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011, which Calcutta high court struck down as unconstitutional in June 2012. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s efforts to soothe the pain of unwilling farmers by shelling out doles from taxpayers seem to have bracketed even the big land-losers with the landless stakeholders. Take Mahadeb Das for example. Das, along with Becharam Manna, had first raised the banner of revolt and later roped in Trinamool Congress MLA Rabindranath Bhattacharya to give the Singur anti-land acquisition movement a political hue. Today, Das is disgruntled. With 11 bighas of his land in the 997.11 acres fenced off for the Tata Nano factory, Das hopes the SC verdict shows a way out of the logjam. “This can’t continue forever. Let there be a conclusive order — either the factory stays or the land is returned. To think of it, even if the factory stays we will live with it,” he said. Manna — now a minister in the state government — however stuck to the ruling party line. “The Singur movement has been an eye-opener to the world. It even forced the Centre to enact a new land acquisition law of its own. We keenly await the Supreme Court verdict. The farmers will get back their land,” he said. Statistics, however, don’t appear to prove a challenge to the state. Of the 997.11 acres, only 156 acres belong to owners who are unwilling. Of the Rs 90-crore fund disbursed by the previous Left Front government in 10,000 cheques, only 2,800 cheques have not been accepted. As high as 82.7% of the landowners have given a nod the Tata Nano project. At Beraberi Purbapara, Shyamali Das had named her granddaughter ‘Paribartan’ during the heady days of fiery protests when even the mightiest stumbling blocks did not appear too daunting with Didi by her side. Four years after she and others celebrated ‘victory’ when Ratan Tata announced the pullout, Shyamali is disillusioned with how things have unfolded since. “We have the ‘friendly government’ in place but neither land nor money. Farmers who had led the struggle are just about managing to eke out a living. The CM is handing out a monthly dole of Rs 1,000 and 2 kg rice at Rs 2 a kg to families that haven’t accepted cheques. My husband was beaten up mercilessly by the police during the protests and is still undergoing treatment with a medical bill of Rs 500 a month. That leaves the family with only Rs 500. What do we do with it? If the government is serious about our plight, it should pay the interest on the amount that we have forfeited by not accepting cheques for the acquired land,” she said. For her family, it would amount to Rs 3,000 a month for the 1.5 bigha acquired. (Times of India 13/10/14)

118. Land acquisition no longer required for green approval (4)

New Delhi: Making green norms more business friendly, the environment ministry has now allowed project proponents to seek environment clearance without mandatory land acquisition. In a change in rules notified last week, the ministry said that documentary evidence to suggest that the process of land acquisition has started would be more than enough to appraise the project and grant environment clearance. The change became possible as the ministry opined that the environment clearance is site specific under the Environment Impact Assessment notification of 2006 and any change in the site would make the approval invalid. “It may, however, be noted that the EC granted for a project on the basis of the aforesaid documents shall become invalid in case the actual land for the project site turns out to be different and mentioned in the EC,” the office memorandum issued with respect to land acquisition said. The amendment in the rules was made after several infrastructure ministries and industry associations told the environment ministry that the condition was a cause for delay in project acquisition. Considering the plea, the ministry said there should be some credible document to show the process of land acquisition has been initiated. In another business friendly measure, the ministry has imposed a restriction on its Expert Appraisal Committee that recommends environment clearance from seeking more environmental studies at the time of final consideration of the project, called stage-II approval process. The ministry said that the EAC should recommend environment studies at the time of approving the terms of reference for the project also called stage-I approval process. This condition was also imposed on suggestion of industry bodies. (Hindustan Times 14/10/14)

119. Raising Sardar Sarovar dam height will spell doom for poor: Medha Patkar (4)

BHOPAL: A large number of oustees of Narmada projects led by Narmada Bacaho Andolan (NBA) activist Medha Patkar sat on dharna near CM house on Thursday. They wanted to meet chief minister to highlight their concern over raising Sardar Sarovar dam height, but in vain. “We could see chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s cavalcade passing from dharna site but he did not stop to meet tribals and poor, who are affected and have been rendered landless because of these projects Whole day, we waited for him but he did not turn up to listen to our pleas,” Medha told TOI before leaving Bhopal. “Around 45,000 dam-hit families are yet to be rehabilitated. Raising dam height to 138.68 m would spell doom on more poor people,” Patkar said. Gujarat government has started construction on October 8 to raise dam height from 121.92 metres to 138.68 metres and to install radial gates on the dam. In June 2014, Union government gave approval to Gujarat government to raise the height of the dam. Following this development, she said, there are fresh issues related to relief and rehabilitation, huge corruption in rehabilitation work which is being investigated and violation of norms by Narmada valley Development Authority (NVDA). “We wanted to tell CM all this. Whole day officials kept assuring us that they would arrange meeting with CM, but in vain. MP has three ministers in Modi cabinet, still voice of the state is not “heard in Delhi.” “Owing to pressure from Narendra Modi, Uma Bharti would talk about saving Ganga only but she has no time to talk about Narmada,” Patkar alleged. Besides Sardar Sarovar dam oustees, oustees from other projects on Narmada and Adani power project in Chhindwara among others were also there. Meanwhile, Shyamla Hills police have registered a case against Patkar, Sunilam and their supporters. FIR was registered under different sections of IPC, including 147 (rioting), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint) and 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant). (Times of India 17/10/14)

RIGHT TO HEALTH

120. New health policy pushes for decriminalising suicide bids (3)

New Delhi: India’s new health policy which calls for recognition of mental disorders and a more accessible and holistic treatment of mental illnesses also pushes for decriminalisation of attempted suicide. Released on the occasion of World Mental Health Day on Friday, the policy takes a fresh look at the health services being offered for mental illnesses, lays down the guidelines for mental health care, and recommends changes in the law that criminalises suicide, now considered a major cause of death among people with a mental illness. Releasing the policy, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said: “The Indian Lunatic Asylum Act, 1858, and Indian Lunacy Act, 1912, ignored the human rights aspect and were concerned only with custodial issues. After Independence, it took 31 years for India to attempt the first enactment, which resulted another nine years later in the Mental Health Act, 1987. But due to many defects, the Act never came into force.” Advocating a change in attitude towards mental illnesses, he said: “When someone attempts suicide and fails, it is considered a crime; attempted suicides should be decriminalised.” The new policy is backed up by the “Mental Health Action Plan 365” which spells out specific roles for the Centre, States, local bodies and civil society organisations. “Universal access to mental health care is a specific goal of the government. It would find substantial articulation in the National Health Policy and National Health Assurance Mission,” the Minister said. (The Hindu 10/10/14)

121. Ebola toll passes 4,000 as fears grow worldwide (3)

Madrid: The death toll from Ebola has passed 4,000, the World Health Organization said on Friday, while a Madrid nurse was fighting for her life and authorities worldwide tried to prevent panic over the deadly disease spreading. The WHO said 4,033 people have died from Ebola as of October 8 out of a total of 8,399 registered cases in seven countries. The sharp rise in deaths came as the UN said pledges of aid to fight the outbreak have fallen well short of the $1 billion needed. Beyond west Africa, where almost all of the deaths have occurred, fears grew about the worst-ever Ebola epidemic. From Australia to Zimbabwe, and Macedonia to Spain, people who showed signs of fever or had recent contact with Ebola victims were whisked into isolation units or ordered to stay in their homes. False reports of infections forced Spanish police to call for calm, while in France some public buildings outside Paris were briefly closed after a scare. Authorities warned that hoaxes could trigger panic as a man was taken off a US flight by a bio-hazard team after he sneezed and reportedly said, “I have Ebola. You are all screwed.” Serious concerns remained in Spain over how the virus could have spread in the country’s main isolation hospital. Healthcare workers told AFP the quarantine floor of Carlos III hospital in Madrid was shut last year as a result of spending cuts and only re-opened for two missionaries who were flown back with the disease in August. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy visited the hospital where 44-year-old nurse Teresa Romero was infected, and where she was in a “stable but serious” condition on Friday. Doctors there took in seven more patients for observation late Thursday, while Madrid’s regional leader said Romero, who caught the haemorrhagic fever while caring for the missionaries, was at “serious risk” of dying. Her husband and 12 other people, most of them medical staff, were also under observation, though a male nurse had been discharged, the hospital said.In a sign of the stress at the hospital, where the media are camped out, some staff did not show up for work on Friday. “There are fewer staff signing up to help,” said one nurse caring for Romero, Charly Manuel Torres, referring to voluntary extra cover at the hospital. “We are very stressed. We are working under a lot of pressure.” The United Nations and leaders of the Ebola-stricken nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone pleaded for greater help for the frontline of the disease in Africa. UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson said only a quarter of “the one billion dollars sought” to combat the disease had been pledged. He also appealed for doctors, nurses and other health care personnel to come forward to work in desperately needed treatment centres in west Africa. In Liberia, where the official death toll was put at 2,316 by the WHO on Friday, the government said it had banned journalists from Ebola clinics, arguing it was to protect patients’ privacy. The move came as nurses at the largest government Ebola clinic in the capital Monrovia staged a “go slow” to demand hazard pay, defying a request by UN health officials to avoid industrial action during the crisis… (The Hindustan Times 11/10/14)

122. ‘Socio-cultural change must to reduce maternal, infant mortality rate’ (3)

Nagpur: Providing quality emergency and essential obstetric care to the mother holds the key to reducing maternal mortality rate (MMR). Also, gender equality and women’s empowerment can reduce the mother and child mortality rate, said Dr Prakash Deo, the state programme coordinator of the United National Population Fund (UNPF) of Madhya Pradesh (MP). Deo was interacting with TOI after receiving the Late DR VN Wankar Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award from the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Nagpur chapter, at the inauguration of IMA’s annual conference NIMACON. He basically belongs to Nagpur and served the public health sector in the state for two decades before taking up the UNPF assignment where he has been working since last seven years. Dr Deo said in MP, the MMR continues to be as high as 250 per one lakh women while the infant mortality rate (IMR) is 64 per thousand. “As per the Millennium Development Goals, the MMR should be brought down to less than 100 while IMR should be less than 30%. In MP, the total fertility rate (number of children delivered per mother) is 3.2 which needs to be brought down to 2.1. The sex ratio in MP has also gone down from 932 in 2001 to 918 in 2014,” he said. The main agenda of the UNPF is to ensure safe pregnancy, child birth and allowing every adolescent to achieve full potential. “This is possible only through socio-cultural change for which the UNPF acts as a catalytic agent. Improving the literacy rate also empowers women to defend themselves against all oppressions that they face in the male dominated society,” said Dr Deo. National programmes like the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and certain state initiatives like the ‘Mamta Abhiyan’ in MP are also supporting this cause, he added. The NIMACON was inaugurated by Arun Jamkar, vice-chancellor of Maharashtra University of Health Sciences. Dr Milind Naik, national vice-president of IMA, presided over the programme. Dr Sanjay Deshpande and Dr Kish Jhunjhunwala, IMA president and secretary respectively, also spoke on the occasion. Earlier, various technical sessions were held wherein Dr Vikrant Deshmukh, Dr Anand Pathak, Dr Sanjay Kolte, Dr Prakash Deo, Dr Deepak Jeswani, Dr Mannuprasad, Dr Satish Tiwari, Dr PG Dixit made presentations. (Times of India 12/10/14)

123. Tribal-dominated districts account for 47% of malaria deaths in India (3)

LUCKNOW: The three-day 25th National Congress of Parasitology titled ‘Global Challenges in the Management of Parasitic Diseases jointly organized by the Indian Society of Parasitology and CSIR-Central Drug Research Institute (CSIR-CDRI), which commenced on Thursday, saw discussion on malaria hogging the limelight. Malaria as a major public health problem in tribal area of India was brought forth by Dr Neeru Singh, director of the Regional Medical Research Centre for Tribals (ICMR), Jabalpur. She said that analysis carried out at the district level revealed that districts with 30% or more tribal population (comprising about 8% country’s population) contribute to 46% of total malaria cases and 47% malaria deaths in the country. The presentation also discussed various operational issues and challenges in malaria control and prevention in tribal areas. Director of CDRI, Dr SK Puri, while speaking on the occasion highlighted the contribution of the institute during the past more than six decades in the field of parasitic diseases. Padma Bhushan awardee Dr VP Sharma, former director of India’s Malaria Research Institute and an eminent parasitologist stressed on the need for more pro-active efforts from scientists and students in dealing with the nuances of parasitic diseases. He further said that drug resistance has emerged as a major threat in recent years and asked the scientists to also think of adopting new vector control strategies especially in the tribal areas of India to check the menace of parasitic diseases. Director general of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Dr PS Ahuja stressed on the need to detect and tackle the parasitic diseases at an early stage so that intervention can be started at the earliest. Dr SL Hoti, president of the Indian Society of Parasitology asked the scientists to take advantage of the large biodiversity of India and translate the leads generated from traditional medicine approaches to help infected individuals. During the scientific keynote and plenary sessions, Dr Joachim Clos from Germany described the role of heat shock proteins in survival and signal transduction in Leishmania, the causative organism of Kala-azar. Dr Ramaswamy Kalyansundaram from USA addressed elimination strategies for filariasis and highlighted recent advances in the development of vaccines against lymphatic filariasis. (Times of India 16/10/14)

HIV/AIDS

124. US urges action to keep Ebola from becoming `next AIDS` (3)

Washington: A top US health official urged swift action Thursday to prevent the deadly Ebola virus from becoming the next AIDS epidemic, as the health of an infected Spanish nurse deteriorated. The United Nations chief meanwhile called for a 20-fold increase in the world`s response to the spread of Ebola, which has killed nearly 3,900 people in West Africa since the beginning of the year. Ebola`s spillover into the United States and Europe has raised fears of a wider outbreak, and led the United States, Canada and Britain to start tougher airport screening of passengers arriving from West Africa. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted the number of cases could mount to 1.4 million by January unless strong measures are taken to contain the disease, which is spread though close contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. “We have to work now so that it is not the world`s next AIDS,” CDC Director Tom Frieden told the heads of the United Nations, World Bank and International Monetary Fund gathered in Washington. “I would say that in the 30 years I`ve been working in public health, the only thing like this has been AIDS,” he added, warning of a “long fight” ahead.In Madrid, the condition of a nurse who treated two elderly missionaries with Ebola worsened, leaving her at “serious risk” of dying, Madrid regional president Ignacio Gonzalez told parliament. Teresa Romero is the first person infected with Ebola outside Africa. Health officials said they would monitor about 50 other people — mostly health staff — who had been in contact with Romero for the duration of the 21-day Ebola incubation period. Six other people are in quarantine at the hospital as a precaution, including Romero`s husband and several health workers, according to the latest tally from the hospital. Among Ebola`s latest victims is Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient cared for in the United States to die of the disease. Just after his death was announced Wednesday, US officials ordered increased screening at five major airports in Atlanta, Chicago, New Jersey, New York and Washington. French Health Minister Marisol Touraine said she was working with the authorities in countries badly affected by Ebola “to see in which conditions we can reinforce departure controls.” Britain said it would start “enhanced screening” of people coming from Ebola-hit parts of West Africa at Heathrow and Gatwick airports and on Eurostar trains from Belgium and France. The European Commission was expected to meet on October 17 to discuss possible new ways to monitor passengers arriving from affected countries.The continuing outbreak in West Africa forced officials in Liberia — the nation worst hit by the Ebola outbreak — to postpone nationwide elections. Almost three million voters had been due to go to polling stations on Tuesday but organizers said there was no way a “mass movement, deployment and gathering of people” could go ahead without endangering lives. In Guinea, global aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres said a surge of Ebola cases had pushed its treatment unit in the capital Conakry to its “physical limits.” Speaking to the UN, World Bank and IMF chiefs in Washington, Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma assailed the global response to the epidemic thus far, saying it was moving more slowly than the spread of the disease. “This slower-than-the-virus response needs to change,” he said. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said resources to support the fight must be increased 20-fold, and urged nations to act without delay. “Cases are growing exponentially,” Ban said. “Do not wait for consultation. Just take action.” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim admitted that the world was “behind the curve” in the fight against Ebola. (Zee news 10/10/14)

125. HIV/AIDS cases on the rise in Arunachal (3)

ITANAGAR, Oct 10 – HIV/AIDS cases have been steadily going up in Arunachal Pradesh over the past five years, with 223 cases being recorded till last March. The number was 167 in 2010, officials of the Arunachal Pradesh State AIDS Control Society (APSACS) said. APSACS Dy Director (IEC) Tashor Pali said that most of those tested positive were in the age group of 15 to 39. Papum Pare district topped the list of HIV/AIDS-infected patients followed by Lohit and Changlang in the second and third spots respectively. “Unprotected sexual contact is found to be the primary reason for increase in HIV infection among people in the age group of 15 to 39 in the State,” Pali said. Pali said, “Awareness is the only way to stay away from infection as Anti Retro Viral Treatment (ARVT) can control only the multiplication of HIV virus inside the body, but cannot cure AIDS.” District Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres (ICTC) Supervisor Ali Taloh said that counselling for patients is a must since patients suffer from sudden shock and fear of death after they test positive. Pali observed that through proper and timely counselling, the longevity of life of the patients could be expanded by making them understand that there was a life beyond AIDS. “Through counseling we try to instil confidence among them on how to live a positive life, besides urging them to become a symbol of awareness by sharing experiences with their family members, friends and the society”, Pali further said. A private organisation “Arunachal Network of Positive People (ArNP+)” has been rendering a great service in creating awareness about the disease among the people. The ArNP+ is a registered society in the State constituted by 14 HIV-positive individuals. – PTI (The Assam Tribune 11/10/14)

126.  ‘HIV cases may increase in 4 to 5 years due to laxity in prevention’ (3)

MYSORE: Even as the number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the country has come down over the last ten to twelve years, president of AIDS Society of India I.S. Gilada fears a fresh spurt in the epidemic if the laxity in preventive intervention is allowed to continue. Till a few years ago, voluntary organisations and government agencies carried out preventive strategies in high-risk groups including truck drivers, sex workers and migrant workers. “But, these preventive activities have been more or less abandoned as the focus has now shifted to treatment,” said Dr. Gilada, speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of a two-day HIV/AIDS Conference, which concluded in Mysore on Sunday. If the complacency and laxity in preventive measures continues, there may a fresh spurt in HIV cases in the next four or five years, he warned. Calling for scaling up of preventive strategies, including risk mapping in vulnerable areas like student centres, railway stations, tourist centres, marketplaces and pilgrim centres, Dr. Gilada also made out a case for introducing ‘health education’ in school curriculum to create awareness about the virus. Though India has the third highest number of estimated people living with HIV in the world, Dr. Gilada said the spread of the disease in the country was not on as massive scale as had been feared in the early days when the virus was detected. “There was a flaw in the way it was analysed back then by comparing it with African countries like Nigeria, Botswana and Swaziland,” he said. He mentioned that sex was taboo in India and the society was against promiscuity. He said the affliction in India had been stabilised due to treatment strategies including free Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) introduced since 2004. About 6.8 lakh patients are benefiting from the government ART programme, he said. Meanwhile, according to statistics provided by the National AIDS Control Organsiation (NACO), new HIV infections per year has come down by a massive 57 per cent from 2000 (2.74 lakh) to 2011 (1.16 lakh), while HIV prevalence among adults reduced from 0.41 per cent in 2001 to 0.27 in 2011. (The Hindu 12/10/14)

127. Inmate Abused at HIV Home in Kovai, Say Public (3)

COIMBATORE: Tension prevailed at Puliyakulam in Ramanathapuram here on Monday after a section of local residents staged a protest alleging inmate abuse at a home for HIV/AIDS affected children and youth and demanding its immediate closure. According to the police, a few days ago, a 20-year-old girl, who was suffering from cancer and AIDS, was admitted to the home by her father. The facility hosts 20 inmates, most of whom were HIV positive. On Monday, a few locals noticed the girl crying outside the home. When questioned, the girl told them that she was beaten up by the staff. The locals took up the issue and staged a protest, demanding immediate closure of the home and also alleged that the staff at the facility were abusing the inmates. On information, the Ramanathapuram police rushed to the spot and conducted enquiries. A police official told Express that the staff at the home used to make the inmates of the facility do some chores for their ‘overall development’. These included washing their own clothes and cleaning vessels. As part of the policy, the staff had asked the girl to wash her clothes. However, when she failed to perform the task satisfactorily, the staff allegedly beat her up. Inspector Saravanan said that a detailed inquiry was conducted into the operation of the home and nothing wrong was found. However, a district child welfare committee probe into the incident was pending. According to sources, the locals had been against the functioning of the facility, as the home housed HIV/AIDS patients. Later, the father of the girl took her away. (New Indian Express 14/10/14)