HR News


Volume 17                                            No. 30 & 31                                      Oct 30 & Nov 10, 2015

HR NEWS: OCT 30 & NOV 10, 2015

 (From October 21 to November 10,  2015)


1. 2 die as Dalit family set afire in Haryana (2)

FARIDABAD: A Dalit family of four, including two children, was set afire inside their house allegedly by members of the Rajput community in Sun Perh village in Ballabgarh, Faridabad district of Haryana, early on Tuesday. While Vaibhav (2 years) and Divya (10 months) died before reaching the Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi, their mother Rekha (22) was admitted to the ICU with serious burns. Rekha’s husband, Jitender (26), a medical attendant at a hospital, escaped with minor burns on his hands. The police have booked 11 persons in the case and arrested three so far. “A case has been registered under the Indian Penal Code and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against 11 persons and three — Balwant, Dharam Singh and Kartar — have been arrested,” said Assistant Commissioner of Police (Prithla) Vishnu Dayal. The attack on the Dalit family has its history in the murder of three persons of the Rajput community on October 5 last year following an altercation over a mobile phone. Twelve members of Jitender’s family were named in the case and are currently in jail. Two weeks ago, the accused had allegedly threatened Jitender’s family with dire consequences if they did not leave the village. Jitender, who has been given police protection since October last year, said he had informed the local police about the threat, but no action was taken. “The Rajputs had threatened my wife of dire consequences. We gave a written complaint to the Station House Officer, Sadar police station, Ballabgarh, on October 6, but the police did not take congnisance of it. Had they taken our complaint seriously, the lives of my children could have been saved,” said Jitender, demanding action against the police for their inaction. Recalling the attack, Jitender said he, his wife and two children were sleeping on a bed near a window that was kept open. The other members of the family had gone to attend a jagran, a religious function, in the neighbourhood. “Around 3 a.m., a few men poured petrol on us from the window. I felt some liquid on my hands and got up. It was dark in the room. Even before I could figure out anything, somebody threw a lighted match stick inside and we were engulfed in flames,” said Jitender. The three policemen in-charge of Jitender family’s security were at the jagran when the incident took place. All three — constables Bali Mohamad, Vikas and Sandeep — have been suspended for dereliction of duty. Inspector Anil Kumar, Officer-In-charge of Sadar police station, has also been suspended for not taking action on Jitender’s compliant. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar announced Rs.10 lakh to Jitender’s family. (The Hindu 20/10/15)

2. Dalit writer assaulted for ‘anti-Hindu’ writings (2)

BENGALURU: Amid continuing countrywide protests by writers over “rising intolerance”, a young dalit activist and writer was allegedly attacked by unidentified men whom he suspects to be right-wing activists, for his “anti-Hindu” writings at Davangere in central Karnataka. Huchangi Prasad, a 23-year-old student and author of a book “Odala Kichchu” which speaks against the caste system, alleged that he was assaulted on Wednesday and threatened that his fingers would be cut for writing against Hinduism. “On October 21, late night, a group of eight to nine people came to SC/ST hostel where I reside and told me that my mother was unwell. Worried, I followed them. They took me to a place and started threatening and assaulting me for writing against Hinduism and caste system,” Prasad told PTI. Prasad, a journalism student, alleged, “They also smeared kumkum on my face and threatened to cut my fingers for my writings.” Prasad said he received some minor injuries in the attack, adding, “They (the attackers) said I’m born as dalit, because of sins I had committed in my previous life.” Asked whether the men belonged to any particular group, Prasad said, “From their words it was almost clear that they are from some right-wing group but I’m not completely sure.” A case has been registered against unidentified people at RMC Yard police station in this regard. Police said they are on a lookout for the suspects. “A complaint was filed by Prasad yesterday (Thursday) alleging eight to ten people had attacked him and attempted to kill him,” a police official involved in the investigation said. He said case has been registered under various sections of Indian Penal Code, including 307 (attempt to murder), as also under sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The incident has occurred at a time when at least 35 writers from across the country have announced their decision to return their Sahitya Akademi awards to protest the “rising intolerance” in the country and the killing of Kannada writer and rationalist MM Kalburgi at Dharwad in north Karnataka….  (Times of India 23/10/15)

3. Another Dalit dies in Haryana, blames cops in suicide note (2)

CHANDIGARH: Almost a week after two Dalit children were burnt alive at Haryana’s Sunped village in Faridabad district and the mysterious death of a 14-year-old scheduled caste boy in Gohana town, another Dalit died in the state when a tailor committed suicide by hanging himself in his house at Bhatla village in Hisar district on Saturday night and blamed the cops for his death. Two cops were suspended in the case. In a suicide note, Badan Singh, who was in his mid-forties and a witness in his cousin Gurbachan Singh’s suicide case, stated that he was being pressurized by cops not to give any statement in the case.Gurbachan, 50, had died under mysterious circumstances following a dispute with his employers, Rajbir, Lila and Raj Kumar. He was found hanging in a field on the outskirts of adjoining Chainat village on October 8. His family alleged that he was murdered but cops registered a case of suicide, and that too only on Sunday. According to sources, Badan was being pressurized to give a statement in favour of Gurbachan’s employers. Sadar police on Sunday arrested Rajbir, Lila and Kumar under Sections 306 (abetment to suicide) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of IPC. Hisar SP Jaipal Singh suspended Sadar SHO Jagbir Singh and sub-inspector Ramesh Kumar for delay in taking action in both the cases as well as for threatening Badan. “The court remanded the trio in police custody. We have initiated departmental proceedings against Jagbir Singh and Ramesh Kumar. If required, we can initiate criminal action against them,” said Jaipal Singh, who is heading a five-member special investigation team formed to probe the matter.Doctors performed Badan’s autopsy amid protests by Dalits outside the civil hospital. Initially, villagers refused to cremate the body but relented after an assurance from district administration officials that the guilty would be punished. Two Dalit children were burnt alive when their house in Faridabad district was set afire on October 20. (Times of India 26/10/15)

4. Dalit priests presiding over UP temple for past 200 years (2)

KANPUR: Amid reports of atrocities against dalits from some parts of the country, a nondescript temple on the banks of the Yamuna in Lakhna town in Etawah district stands out as a ray of hope with its unique 200-year-old tradition. Here, devotees — be they brahmin, thakur, vaishya or from any other caste — bow in front of dalit priests and perform puja and other rituals with their help. “Since the past 200 years, only dalits have been priests at Kali Mata temple,” said priest Akhilesh Kumar and his brother Ashok Kumar. One of their ancestors, Chotey Lal, was the temple’s first priest. Brahmins, thakurs and vaishyas in and around Etawah and from as far as neighbouring Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan visit the temple through the year. “The priests of the temple are revered by all upper-caste people, who offer them garlands and offerings of fruits during rituals,” said Tribhuvan Singh, former block pramukh of the area. “The dalit priest, who sits at the ‘hawan kund’, prays and blesses people by offering ‘prasad’.” Legend has it that in 1820, local ruler Jaswant Rao built the temple and appointed Chotey Lal as the first dalit priest to show respect towards lower-caste people. “King Jaswant Rao, who got the temple constructed, made it mandatory that the temple priest would only be a dalit,” said Dashrath Singh, a grocery shop owner in Lakhna. Ram Sumer, a resident, told another tale associated with the custom. “Our ancestors used to tell us that during construction of the temple, King Jaswant Rao had got angry when he saw a group of upper-caste men beat up a dalit labourer, Chotey Lal, for touching the idol that was to be installed in the temple,” he said. “He issued a diktat that only Chotey Lal and his future generations would take care of the temple.” Residents of Lakhna seek out dalit priests even for weddings, ‘mundan’ (tonsure ceremony) or other rituals. “During these disturbing times, one only needs to look to this 200-year-old place — where priests belonging to the dalit community are held in high esteem — for inspiration,” said Ram Das, another local of Lakhna. (Times of India 30/10/15)

5. ‘One Dalit complained being denied entry, standing on temple premises’ (2)

KALABURAGI: Pejawar Mutt seer Sri Visvesha Tirtha Swami has clarified that Dalits of Duttargoan village had not complained to him about being denied entry to a temple and only one Dalit leader, Kalyan Rao Siddramappa Bhavimani, had raised the issue but he had replied to him before leaving the temple. Referring to reports appearing in the media about an incident at Duttargoan village in Aland taluk in Kalaburagi district on Saturday, the seer told presspersons here on Sunday that when Mr. Bhavimani told him that Dalits were prevented from entering the temple, “I replied that he (Mr. Bhavimani) was speaking about prevention of Dalits from entering the temple, on a temple premises itself and offered that he (the seer) would lead Dalits into the temple if the complaint was true.” The seer said that except Mr. Bhavimani, no other Dalit had made a complaint and it was also not true that the Dalits of the village had surrounded him forcing him to give up his intended padayatra to appeal to people to shun consumption of liquor and seek introduction of total prohibition in the village. “On my way to the temple, I came in a padayatra,” he said. However, the seer did not reply why the intended padayatra in the village did not take place. “Everyone knows about my work for the uplift of Dalits. I am ready to take up the cause of Dalits and fight against their exploitation. Today, I visited the houses of two Dalits and they (Dalits) showered love on me and performed pada puja,” he said. The seer, who would be ascending the Paryaya Peetha of the Ashta Mutts in Udupi for a record fifth time on January 18, 2016, said that he had plans for taking up several works during his Paryaya period. Work on a world class educational centre in a 40-acre land in the birth place of Madhwacharya, 10 km from Udupi, would be completed. At present, classes up to seventh standard were being run in a residential school. Translation of religious books into other languages and improving amenities for pilgrims visiting Udupi would be taken up. The seer had ascended the Paryaya Peetha in 1952, 1968, 1984 and 2000. (The Hindu 2/11/15)

6. Yet another Dalit-caste Hindu clash at temple festival (2)

Madurai: In yet another temple festival-related clash between caste Hindus and Dalits near Tirumangalam, an unruly mob pelted stones on police personnel and damaged the windscreen of the official car of Madurai Superintendent of Police Vijayendra Bidari on Wednesday evening. Five police personnel sustained minor injuries in the incident, the SP said. The police had arrested 12 persons, he added. A large posse of police personnel have been deployed at Keezha Urapanur. The police said that Dalits who had taken part in Vadakkuvatchi Selliamman Temple festival along with caste Hindus complained that they were not properly treated at the two-day temple function that began on Tuesday. After a scuffle, Tirumangalam Tahsildar S. Gopalakrishnan locked the temple on Tuesday and stopped further celebration. Dalits said that they were boycotting the rituals at the temple. Usilampatti Revenue Divisional Officer M. Balasubramaniam said that caste Hindus wanted to resume the rituals of sprouts procession and ‘puravi eduppu’ and do it outside the temple on Wednesday. However, Dalits objected to sprouts procession being taken out on Wednesday. The SP said that the police averted a possible attack on the women from the other side. Later, some 200 Dalits blocked Tirumangalam-Sholavandan Road blocking the van carrying sprouts procession en route a tank. The SP, who held talks with the protestors, asked them to disperse. However, the situation worsened when some persons started pelting stones on the police. The windscreen of the SP’s vehicle developed cracks after a stone hit it. The situation was calm and no untoward incidents were reported, the police added. (The Hindu 5/11/15)

7. Dalit Woman Beaten Up for Refusing to be Maid (2)

THANJAVUR: Three caste Hindus were booked for allegedly thrashing a Dalit woman who refused to work as a servant maid in the house of one of the accused. Sources said, Samikannu, of Pattuviduthi asked Palaniyammal (38), a Dalit, of the same village, to work as a servant maid in his house. As Palaniyammal refused, Samikannu and his two associates went to the house of Palaniyammal on Oct 31.  Even as Samikannu abused Palaniyammal in front of her house using her caste name, the two others assaulted Palaniyammal with a spade.  The Orathanadu DSP Sengamalakkannan on Wednesday registered a case under various sections of SC, ST Act against the three. (New Indian Express 6/11/15)

8. Jaipur School Warns Dalit Students to Sweep the Floor or Take TC (2)

A class III student claims that he uses the buara (broom) twice daily, once in the morning, and then before the meals. His classmate reminds him that they also clean, and set the garbage pile on fire, whenever the school gets too dirty. “Sweep the floor or we’ll give you a TC”, is a threat that a 12-year-old often hears at school.  They are all the Dalit students of Rajkiya Ucch Madhyamik Vidyalaya in Benada village on the outskirts of Jaipur.  Last year, following a PIL, the Rajastan High Court had directed an NGO, Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (BGVS), to review the status of toilets in about hundred schools in and around Jaipur. The NGO reported that the girl children from SC communities were made to clean toilets by the teachers and administration. These children face discrimination because they belong to SC communities, thereby reinforcing untouchability and caste roles of traditional societies. The kids of Rajkiya Ucch Madhyamik Vidyalaya, where the Gujjars outnumber the Dalit students, do not clean toilets. However, the work they are made to do, does reinforce the caste roles.  Parents of these Dalit children told to Delhi-based Indian Express that their kids are made to fetch water for their teachers, are given smaller portions of food at mid-day meals compared to their Gujjar counterparts, and bear the duty of cleaning the school premises. The school principal, however, denies that the children are made to clean the school. He claims that they pay a “Dalit woman” to clean both the toilet and the school premises.  The children say that she comes only once a month and only cleans the toilets. Even the Gujjars acknowledge the difference between them and their counterparts when it comes to cleaning duty. They claim that they are made to clean the classroom only as punishment for coming late for class.   (New Indian Express 9/11/15)


9. Tribal village in Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s district has no literates (6)

SEMALIYA PATHAR (Sehore): A village in foreign minister’s constituency and Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s home district, 60km from state capital, doesn’t have a single literate. Every time, residents of village receive a letter they walk 5km to know about its content. Inhabitants of this village are Korku tribals, an endangered tribe. The village is home to more than 500 tribals and 50 children aged between 5 and 14. Even Centre’s flagship, Right to Education Act, means nothing for them. As there’s no school in the village, they would have to walk through hilly terrain for at least 7km to reach the nearest primary school. “This is our condition after so many years of independence. How will our kids be educated and lead a better life,” asks 55-year old Kaleram. Another tribal, Karan Singh, who is father of 11-year old Ajay, said, “If my child could study, I would have brought books and pencils from Sehore.” Many politicians came to the village and assured that a school would be built, but to no avail, said Singh. Primary education is a big hurdle, say villagers. “If there is at least a primary school, our children will be able to study,” said Singh. Majority youth of this village are unemployed. “Every time, I saw a policemen, I wanted to be one. Today, I know my dream is shattered as I am illiterate and will never be able to become a cop,” said Pehlad, 20. (Times of India 21/10/15)

10. ‘Bauxite mining will cost tribals dear’ (6)

VISAKHAPATNAM: Urging the state government to implement the 1/70 Act properly, Araku MLA Kidari Sarweswara Rao said bauxite mining would prove to be costly to the lives of tribals in the Visakha Agency. Addressing a gathering of more than 6,000 people from Balapam and other panchayats at Gopuramkonda, the bauxite reserves site between Jerrela and Korukonda on Thursday, the MLA assured the tribals that he would also be a part of the anti-bauxite agitations. The local people’s representatives also threatened to resign from their posts if the state government did not scrap the bauxite mining proposal at the earliest. They also demanded proper implementation of the 1/70 Act. The MLA said the area was backward and people were dying due to lack of proper medical facilities. “Deaths from malaria have become regular in the Agency area and the state government has been furnishing false records. Lack of basic amenities and medical facilities have been leading to deaths of scores of tribals every year. As a result, the population in the Agency areas is also not increasing,” he said. He said that if bauxite was excavated in the Agency area tribals would suffer from new diseases. “These are not my words. Experts and scientists have been saying this. Chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu had written to the governor demanding cancellation of bauxite mining when YS Rajasekhar Reddy was the chief minister. But now, he has backed the same proposal,” Sarweswara Rao alleged. He said that tribals had stopped the Kala Committee, appointed to examine the feasibility of the proposal, when the panel members tried to visit the bauxite reserves area by road. “Because of severe opposition and fear, the committee conducted an aerial survey,” he said, adding that the chief minister’s statement during the World Tribals’ Day last year in this regard had spread fear among the tribals. The Araku MLA assured the tribals that he would bring the issue to the notice of the state government once again and warn the authorities about the resistance by tribals. Meanwhile, MPTCs, sarpanches, vice-sarpanches and MPPs attended the meeting, for which the MLA had to walk for nearly three hours to reach the meeting venue due to the lack of a proper road. YSRCP’s Paderu MLA Giddi Eswari, on the other hand, lost her way on the way to the meeting venue and was able to meet the crowd returning from the meeting. Police sources said the meeting was organised by Maoists. (Times of India 24/10/15)

11. Tribal no to rural polls (6)

Ranchi, Oct. 25: Around 250 tribal youths today staged a demonstration outside Raj Bhavan to protest against the upcoming panchayat elections in the state, beginning November 22. Agitating under the banner of Adivasi Chhatra Sangh, the youths alleged that the rural elections were against the letter and spirit of PESA – the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act 1996. Later, they submitted a memorandum to governor Droupadi Murmu, seeking her intervene to protect the rights of indigenous people. The outfit’s president Sushil Oraon alleged that the proposed panchyat elections would abolish the traditional systems of governance prevalent in tribal society. According to him, the traditional systems of governance like Manki Munda, Pahara, Pahnai, Manjhi Pargana, Doklo, Sohor and Munda Khutkatti – prevalent among different tribal groups – vest administrative and revenue rights in gram sabha. Further, as per the provisions of the PESA, the state cannot formulate any law that would infringe on socio-religious and community traditions of tribal society. “According to the tribal systems, villagers choose one among themselves as their mukhiya. Under PESA, too, there is no provision for election of mukhiyas. Jharkhand is a tribal state where rules can be framed only in accordance with PESA. But this is not happening,” said the outfit’s spokesperson Prabhakar Kujur. He added that even notified areas like Ranchi, Gumla, Lohardaga, Latehar, West Singhbhum and East Singhbhum had been brought under the three-tier panchayati raj system, which would undermine the objective of PESA and abolish tribal traditions. “We tried to draw the government’s attention towards the flaws in the polling system a couple of times but they were ignored,” said Oraon. The state poll panel has already announced the elections for 64,700 posts under the three-tier system that comprises gram panchayat, panchayat samiti and zilla parishad. The polling will be held on November 22 and 28 and December 5 and 12. (The Telegraph 26/10/15)

12. Centre to Set up National Tribal Advisory Council Under PM’s Chairmanship (6)

NEW DELHI: The NDA government has decided to set up National Tribal Advisory Council under chairmanship of the Prime Minister for real time monitoring of various tribal development programmes and schemes in the country. This was announced by Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram while addressing the conference of senior officers of tribal welfare from states here. “A National Tribal Advisory Council under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be set up for real time monitoring of the ongoing programmes and schemes aimed at welfare of tribal people and development of tribal areas. The Council will meet once or twice a year,” Oram said. The Minister also stressed the need for more effective community participation for the success of various tribal welfare schemes. He said though there has been significant improvement in terms of infrastructure in education sector for tribals but the quality of education has not improved in the same way. Oram said the same is true with reference to primary health care for tribals. Referring to the problems of sixth scheduled states of northeast, Oram said their problems are quite different in nature and we should hold a regional conference for them in Guwahati. The Minister directed his Ministry officials to release 50 per cent of the tribal welfare funds to the states in the first quarter of the next financial year. He said by third quarter of the financial year 80 per cent of the funds should be released to the states. The Minister urged the state governments to release the funds received from the centre in the same way for various tribal welfare schemes. On the rights of tribals, Oram said states need to expedite proposals for declaration or rationalisation of scheduled areas by making them co-terminus with the tribal sub-plan areas. States should also safeguard against sale of land to non tribals, he added. Under Forest Rights Act, states need to take steps for vesting of forest rights, both in individual capacity as well as for the community as a whole. (New Indian Express 30/10/15)

13. 40 tribal women complain of molestation by Bijapur police (6)

RAIPUR: Nearly 40 tribal women from three villages in the restive Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh have accused police jawans of molestation. The women belong to Peddagelur, Budgicheru and Gundam villages of Basaguda block. Soni Sori, tribal activist and Aam Aadmi Party leader, who visited the villages with a team of woman activists, said the harassment took place when security forces from Bijapur were carrying out an operation in the area between October 19 and 24. “The women told us that around 40 of them were molested by the policemen. Two of them said they were raped. The policemen stripped many women and indulged in indecent behaviour,” Ms. Sori told The Hindu. “These villages are situated deep inside the forest. We were able to bring four women to Bijapur district headquarters today [Sunday] and they have testified in front of District Collector Yashwant Kumar,” she said. Mr. Kumar confirmed that he had received complaints from the four women, but denied there were allegations of rape. “We took statements from the four women and they have complained of beating by the policemen. An FIR has been lodged. Inquiry is going on and strict action will be taken against anyone found guilty. They [tribal women] have not complained of rape, but we are looking into all angles,” he said. But Ms. Sori insisted that the two women did complain of rape. “They recounted every detail of the incident. Perhaps the Collector did not understand everything because the women were speaking Gondi,” she said. Superintendent of Police K.L. Dhruw said: “An operation did take place in the area and a force of around 500 men was there. These boys ventured into that Maoist sensitive area as a road is to be built there. The Maoists don’t want the road. So more than eight days after the operation, they conspired to make such allegations against the policemen to demoralise them,” he said. (The Hindu 2/11/15)

14. Tribals unite again to oppose mining in Niyamgiri hills (6)

BERHAMPUR: Organisations like Niyamgiri Surakshya Samity (NSS), Lok Sangram Manch (LSM) and All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha (AIKMS) have decided to restart organising people’s movement against alleged attempt of Odisha government to revive proposal of bauxite mining in Niyamgiri hill range. These organisations had played a key role during the agitation of Dongria Kondh tribals against the mining of this hill range. As per some reports in media, the State government is planning to reconvene gram sabhas in Niyamgiri region with an aim to get permission for bauxite mining. It may be noted that in July and August 2013, gram sabhas had been held in villages of Niyamgiri hill range under judicial supervision because of direction of the Supreme Court. Tribal inhabitants of this region had rejected bauxite mining plan in the region for Vedanta Alumina Limited (VAL). NSS leader Subas Kulisika, who is from the Dongria Kondh community, said they would again try to thwart attempt of government to mine Niyamgiri region, which is their source of life and livelihood. The NSS will again reorganise the tribals of the regions who have become too conscious about the issue. AIKMS national committee member B. C. Sadangi said it is an irony that the State government has failed to provide benefits of implementation of Forest Rights Act to the tribals living in Niyamgiri region but is continuing with backdoor efforts to benefit private company. This peasants’ organisation has decided to provide all possible support to the NSS and tribals if the government proposes to hold gram sabha meetings again. Tribal organisation LSM has also opposed the government’s attempt to allow bauxite mining in the region. The LSM plans to start mass movement to increase public awareness against mining project in Niyamgiri region, said its leader Ganesh Jakesika. Convenor of Lok Shakti Abhijan Prafulla Samantra, the petitioner in the Vedanta case in the Supreme Court, has also opposed recent reports that the Odisha government has started preparation to restart process to enable mining in Niyamgiri Hills. According to him, this attempt was demeaning the judiciary of the country. (The Hindu 2/11/15)

15. Soni Sori-led AAP protests police atrocities in Bastar, Cong forms probe team (6)

RAIPUR: Amid allegations of sexual assault by security forces during anti-Naxalite operations in Bastar, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has threatened to intensify agitation against police excesses, alleging that police were also implicating local tribals in false cases. branding them as Maoists. Civil rights and women’s groups have stepped up a campaign against the recent incident of CRPF personnel and district force personnel allegedly molesting tribal women during an anti-Maoist operation in Bijapur district. Strongly condemning sexual assault, rape and molestation of tribal women and a minor, Aam Aadmi Party leader Soni Sori on Tuesday alleged that tribals have become the soft targets for police and security forces in Bastar and that AAP will intensify the movement in the state to bring justice for the unprivileged. Addressing media in Raipur, Sori said that it took around 10 days for the incident to come in light as the local media is also under tremendous police pressure. “Three tribal women were stripped off at Chinnagelur, Godem, Bhurgicheru, Pedaglur areas of Bijapur district few days back by the security personnel. Of them, one woman died ”of atrocities” and the fourth one was a minor girl who was gang-raped after being blindfolded. She had fainted and was later rescued later by a family member, said Sori, adding that there were pregnant women among those molested and mothers of newborns too. About 40 women were reportedly molested. While the men were chased out of the villages, others ran away for fear of being branded Maoists, Sori said. The personnel also looted the villagers of their cash and belongings, Sori added. AAP convener Sanket Thakur said tribal people are sandwiched between the extremists and the police and are often arrested over false allegations of being Maoists or are shot down by rebels for being police informers. But even after being acquitted by court, the Bastar police continue to harass them. Although the Bijapur police have lodged an FIR over the rape of four tribal women on Monday, the opposition Congress party has formed an 11-member investigation committee led by Konta legislator Kawasi Lakhma, Kondagaon MLA Mohan Markam, Chitrakoot MLA Deepak Baij and other members of Congress in the Bastar division. The team will visit the crime spot, meet survivors and present a probe report within a week to the state Congress committee. (Times of India 3/11/15)

16. Tribal woman paraded naked in Madhya Pradesh’s Khandwa village (6)

INDORE: A 35-year-old tribal woman was paraded naked and beaten up by villagers in Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh on suspicion of witchcraft on Friday evening. The victim sustained critical injuries in the attack by residents of Bakhar village under Khalwa police station. Khalwa police told TOI that as many as 8 persons, including women, were booked for attacking the victim. The victim, who hailed from Korku tribe, was cornered by a group of women, who initially beat her up and tore her clothes off. The men later joined in thrashing her around. The victim was paraded naked in the village. Attackers threw dirt at her after tying her to a tree. Victim’s husband escaped the onslaught and reached Khalwa police station to seek help, police said adding a team of policemen were sent to the village to rescue the woman. She was taken to a primary care centre in Khalwa and later referred to district hospital in Khandwa on late Friday night. Police said that the attackers also hail from the same tribe and were suspecting that the victim was indulging in witchcraft to hurt others. Additional police force was deployed in the village to prevent any flare-up. (Times of India 7/11/15)

17. Tribal Leader Shot Dead in W. Godavari (6)

BUTTAYAGUDEM (WEST GODAVARI):Guruguntla Subba Reddy, a 50-year-old tribal leader, was shot dead by unknown persons near Inumuru village in Buttayagudem mandal of West Godavari district late on Saturday night. Subba Reddy of Reddy Bodderu village was acting as the Agency Kondareddy tribe elder. Around 10 pm on Saturday he was returning to his village from Jangareddigudem along with his nephew Buchireddy on a Moped. As soon as they reached Inumuru village some unknown persons, who were following them on a motorcycle for a while, shot Subba Reddy with a country-made rifle from behind. Subba Reddy, who was riding on the pillion of the Moped, died on the spot. However, Buchireddy escaped from the spot and informed the matter to the villagers, who in turn lodged a complaint with the Buttayagudem police. The Buttayagudem police then alerted Jangareddigudem CI and accompanied him to  Inumuru village and conducted an inquiry after registering a case. (New Indian Express 9/11/15)


18. 80% of over 23K adolescent girls claim lack of dignity: Survey (8)

New Delhi: Nearly 80 per cent of 23,801 adolescent girls from 13 states, including Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, claim that they suffer from lack of privacy and dignity at home as well as relief camps after a disaster, according to a sample survey . According to ‘State of the Girl Child in India Report 2015 – The state of the girls: what next?’, compiled by NGO ‘Plan India’, 45-58 per cent of 32,311 adolescents — 23,801 girls and 8510 boys — feared of being married off early. The report highlights that gender bias in terms of access to food was reported by about one-third adolescent girls while 60 per cent of the respondents complained of being unable to attend schools post a disaster. Twenty-five per cent girls also feared being sold or trafficked after a disaster. They also claimed lack of sanitation facilities with only 17 per cent boys or girls having access to functional toilets. As far as education and gaining skills were concerned, poverty, household chores, seasonal disturbances, child labour and preference to educate a son were found to be the factors which were keeping girls out of school. More than 95 per cent adolescent girls of the sample size claimed to be engaged in domestic work. 54 per cent girls in the poorest households and 16 per cent girls in the richest households were found to be child brides, the survey claimed. Underlining the key findings of the report, Plan India’s executive director Bhagyashri Dengle said even though there has been improvement in the status of girl child, a lot more needs to be done because a majority of girls in India still experience multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. Arti Kirloskar, Chair, Plan India Governing Board, said that communities and countries should ensure that their girls and women are safe and secure. “The call for commitment is from all stakeholders at various levels who are in a position to encourage gender equality in the spirit as articulated in the SDGs. “Corporates are a very significant player in this context. Gender transformative work cultures and CSR programmes and policies will have a dual impact: one on their own efficiencies and work environment and second on the value for investments made in community development programs,” Kirloskar said. The other states which were covered during the study were West Bengal, Odisha, Telengana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Uttarakhand. (Zee News 21/10/15)

19. More girls dying before age 5 than boys in India: UN report (8)

UNITED NATIONS: India is among the countries with the largest surplus of men and a worrying under-five sex ratio with more girls dying before the age of five than boys, according to a UN report. “The World’s Women 2015″ report launched said men outnumber women in eastern Asia, southern Asia, Oceania, and western Asia. The three regions have the highest surplus of men in absolute numbers: 50.5 million in Eastern Asia (mainly due to China), 49.5 million in Southern Asia (mainly due to India), and 12.1 million in western Asia (mainly due to Saudi Arabia and the UAE). In absolute terms, countries with the largest surplus of men are China (52 million), in eastern Asia, and India (43 million), in southern Asia. The ratio of men to women and the surplus of men in these two most populous countries largely determine the surplus of men observed at the global level, the report said. The report said that in India, while sex-selective abortions have been technically illegal since 1996, the law has had “little effect so far on the sex ratio at birth”.India has the lowest sex ratio in under-5 mortality, with a ratio of 93 (93 boys die before age 5 for 100 girls that die by that age). “This is also the only country with an under-5 mortality sex ratio under 100 (more girls die than boys),” it said. India alone accounted for 21 per cent of all under-5 deaths in 2013 and this low sex ratio in under-5 mortality is pulling down the average for Southern Asia as a whole and the entire world. “Higher mortality among girls can be closely related to a general preference for sons in India, which is expressed in special treatment for boys in terms of parental investment in nutrition, vaccinations, access to health treatment and parental care in general,” the report said. It further said that in China and India, between 1995 and 2013, women’s participation in the labour force declined from 72 to 64 per cent and from 35 to 27 per cent, respectively. Child marriage is also most common in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, with India accounting for one-third of the global total of child brides. (Times of India 22/10/15)

20. Govt to okay factory night shifts for women with safety shields (8)

New Delhi: The government is all set for changing the law to allow women to work night shifts in factories, currently restricted to a 7pm pack-up time, while employers will have to ensure their workplace safety and drop them home safely as well. It is unlikely to accept a parliamentary panel’s objections to a proposed bill for amending the factories act, 1948, that limits women’s working hours to daytime or till just a little after sundown. The committee has asked the government to consider all safety angles before ratifying the changes because of mounting incidents of crime against women working late into the night. “In view of a spate of events all over the country where women working at odd hours have been subjected to physical harassment and brutality as well as mental trauma, the committee would like to caution the ministry not to undermine the importance of safety provisions and leave any loopholes in the safeguard and protective clauses for such vulnerable women workers,” it said. But the objections looked a little tenuous as women are already allowed to work night shifts in call centres, hospitals and other white collar jobs. Labour ministry officials said the revised bill, likely to be tabled in the winter session of Parliament, intends to give equal opportunities to all workers and employers will be legally responsible for providing safety to women workers working night shifts. “In case of night shifts for women worker, the occupier shall be fully responsible for safety within the factory premises and during transit from workplace to their home,” a note on the revised bill states. It maintains that night duty for women shall be voluntary, with written consent on record. The government has sought to change the legislation as part of a drive to reform archaic labour laws. Sectors such as textile and handicraft that have a sizeable number of women in their workforce will benefit from the amended law. The proposed amendment will make it mandatory for the employer to ensure “adequate safeguards exist in the factory as regards to occupational safety and health, provision of shelter, restrooms, lunch rooms, night crèches and ladies’ toilets, and equal opportunity for women workers”. There has to be adequate protection from sexual harassment and safe transportation from the factory to the doorstep of their home. (Hindustan Times 26/10/15)

21. Women’s panel opposes commercial surrogacy (8)

HYDERABAD: The State Commission for Women (SCW) said on Wednesday that it is strongly opposed to commercial surrogacy and wants a new Act that opposes commercialisation of women’s womb and regulates activities of the industry. Commission chairperson Tripurana Venkata Ratnam, who recently attended a consultation meeting by the National Commission for Women on Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) Bill, will soon hold consultations with women’s groups and send recommendations to the National Women’s Commission as well as the ministry of health and family welfare. The draft ART Bill proposes to formulate a minimum compensation rule for surrogate mothers. “We are demanding that treating a woman’s womb as a commodity should be stopped. During the consultation meet held in New Delhi, we felt surrogacy has become a commercial activity and needs to be checked. Commercialisation of surrogacy violates the basic human rights of women,” Ratnam said at a press conference. The official pointed out that IVF clinics are found to be largely concentrating on surrogacy as it contributes to more earnings. There are a large number of foreign nationals coming to India for surrogate babies as it is cheaper here. “In the whole process, it is women who suffer. These are mostly poor, illiterate, dalit and tribal women who are recruited through agents visiting their villages. Also, the process of obtaining informed consent from the surrogate mother is often treated as a mere technicality, reduced to a one-off session on the costs and procedures,” she added. Currently, there is no law that looks into the issues of surrogacy. As a result, once the surrogate baby is born, there is no support for the surrogate mother. Women are found to be much less informed than their partners about their exact diagnosis and the procedural details. In the absence of norms, price quoted varies widely. Surrogate mothers get between Rs 40,000 and Rs 1 lakh. Lack of treatment protocol also impacts the mother’s health. “There have been studies which have established that repeated surrogacy can result in cancer. In such cases, who will take care of the mother? We have to stop surrogacy as a business activity,” she said, adding that a childless couple should take help from family members. “Let relatives come forward to become surrogate mothers,” she added. (Times of India 30/10/15)

22. Conviction Rate Low, Says DCW as Delhi Sexual Crimes Hit 15-year High (8)

NEW DELHI: Twentyone cases of sexual abuse of women, on an average, are reported in the capital every day, according to the latest figures released by the police. These include six cases of rape and 15 of molestation. This year 1,750 cases of rape and 4,406 of molestation were reported by October 15. This is the highest number of such crimes in 15 years for the same period. However, Delhi Police top brass say the rising rape and molestation cases were a sign of its “zero-tolerance policy in filing cases”. Police also claim to have solved almost 90 percent of rape and molestation cases.Senior Delhi Police officers refused to comment on the issue, but they said that the rising number shows an attempt not to hide any offence. “We follow a zero-tolerance policy in registering rape and molestation cases. We don’t bother whether the crime graph is rising or falling. Our priority is to register cases and act promptly,” an officer, who did not want to be named, told IANS.Although Delhi Police claim that an overwhelming majority of sexual crime cases were solved, the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) says the conviction rate is very low. DCW chief Swati Maliwal agreed that the police were filing cases of atrocities against women in a more proactive way. But she questioned the force’s investigation process. “I met the Delhi Police Commissioner a few weeks ago and asked him about the cases of atrocities registered against Delhi women in 2014. I was surprised that the police had filed 11,000 such cases in 2014, but charge-sheet was filed in only 3,500 cases and only nine persons were convicted,” Maliwal told IANS. Maliwal said that only registration of cases of crimes against women was not enough, the police should file the charge-sheet in each and every case promptly, and the victims should be given proper counseling so that they do not become hostile. “Speedy forensic science laboratory reports are crucial in solving such cases. Finally, more fast-track courts for sexual crimes should be set up in the capital to hear such cases,” Maliwal said. Last year, 1,725 rape cases and 3,487 molestation cases were reported for the same corresponding period (January-October 15, 2014). A total of 2,166 cases of rape and 4,322 cases of molestation were registered in the full year. In 2013, at least 1,636 rape cases and 3,515 molestation cases were reported in the national capital. In 2012, the numbers were 706 rape and 727 molestation. The officer said the prevention of rapes by policing was difficult as in 95 percent cases the accused is someone the victim knows well. “Only a small percentage of the rapes are committed by strangers,” the officer said. (New Indian Express 1/11/15)

23. NGO to hold fund-raising initiative for rural women’s empowerment (8)

KOLHAPUR: The city-based NGO, Reflections foundation, started by a group of students in 2008 to encourage and promote reading among women in rural areas, will be organising a fund-raising event at Tarabai Park in the city on November 6 and 7. Under the event, the foundation members will sell various handmade Diwali decorations by the rural women. Aparna Patil, founder member, said that the group has been involved in various activities, which primarily focus on the development of non-academic skills among girls and women in rural areas. (Times of India 5/11/15)

24. Woman magistrate alleges sexual harassment by lawyer inside courtroom (8)

New Delhi: A woman magistrate at a traffic court in New Delhi has alleged that she was sexually harassed by a lawyer inside the courtroom during a hearing of a case, police said on Thursday. The incident took place on October 30 and was reported to the police the next day. A case was registered under Sections 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 169 (public servant unlawfully buying or bidding for property), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his/her duty), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of IPC, said police. The accused lawyer has not been arrested yet. In her complaint, the magistrate told the police that the lawyer had used abusive language in the court. His behaviour compelled the magistrate to adjourn the court. And when she did so, the lawyer continued using allegedly filthy and abusive language addressing her, she said. An FIR was registered based on the woman’s complaint at Farsh Bazar police station in East Delhi, said police. On October 30, the advocate had appeared before the magistrate in connection with a vehicle impound case in a drunken driving matter and moved a plea to release it. “The court imposed a fine on my client while disposing off the application and the vehicle-owner sought 30 minutes’ time to deposit the entire amount,” said the accused advocate. “Later, when the owner returned with the money, the magistrate returned the challan and asked my client to deposit it the next day, which was opposed by me,” said the advocate. “I told her that she should follow the due process of law and an argument took place and she rudely asked me and my client to leave the court. The same day at 4pm, I gave my complaint to the district judge and the bar association against the behaviour of the magistrate and when she came to know about it, she lodged a false case against against me with the police the next morning,” the advocate claimed. (DNA 6/11/15)

25. ‘Beti Bachao’ programme effective, says Haryana CM (8)

Yamunanagar: Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Sunday expressed happiness over achieving “positive results” in promoting education of girl child and curbing female foeticide under the “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” programme in the last one year. Mr Khattar said that three families improve because of an educated and cultured woman. The Haryana government implemented the programme under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi in an effective manner and everyone should contribute towards this effort, he said. The CM was speaking as the chief guest during the 28th annual function of the Gujjar Kanya Gurukul Sansthan at Deodhar in Yamunanagar district on Sunday. He planted a sapling in the courtyard of the institution and laid the foundation stones of “Vigyan Bhavan” and women’s hostel “Yash-oda Bhavan”. Apart from this, the CM also launched a programme for visitors and tourists in Kalesar National Park and flagged off a convoy of four vehicles deployed in the programme. With a view to encourage the instution’s efforts to promote women’s education since 1984, Mr Khattar announced a sum of Rs 1 crore from his fund, of which Rs 50 lakh would be made available during this financial year and the rest would be made available during the next financial year. Accepting the institution’s demand for 24-hour power supply, the chief minister said that this would be done by connecting the villages surrounding the institute to a separate special feeder under the “Mhara Gaon, Jagmag Gaon” scheme of the state government. Presiding over the function, Haryana Assembly Speaker Kanwar Pal announced a sum of Rs 11 lakh for the Gujjar Kanya Gurukul Sansthan from his fund for the promotion of education. The chief minister said that the quality-oriented education should be imparted to children, which would instill the feeling of patriotism in them. (Asian Age 9/11/15)


26. Child rights activists plan stir (14)

CHENNAI: Child rights activists have proposed to protest in front of the office and residence of the Social Welfare Minister if the Integrated Child Protection Scheme is not implemented. According to them, ever since an agreement was signed with the Centre in 2012, there have been problems. Funds allocated for the programme was not spent properly between 2012 and 2014; and funds have not been received for 2014-15 and 2015-16. Neither has the appraisal board met so far. Though 40 children were identified in each district for sponsorship scheme, lack of funds allocation has prevented conduct of awareness programmes, capacity building and skill enhancement efforts, said A. Narayanan, director of non-governmental organisation Change India. “There is no monitoring of whether the Juvenile Justice Act, POCSO Act and the Right to Education Act were being implemented or if the district child protection unit had conducted awareness programmes about these Acts,” he said. Though the mahila courts try sexual crimes against children, they do not order interim relief and compensation in most cases, said K. Shanmugavelayudam of Legal Resource Centre for Child Rights. There is no clarity or guideline on the use of Nirbhaya funds in the State. Nor does the department hire the services of child psychologists, he added. (The Hindu 23/10/15)

27. Sharp increase in number of child marriages (14)

MADURAI: Calls to the Madurai Childline, which operates at the helpline number 1098, has revealed that there has been a sharp increase in the number of instances of child marriage being reported during the last four years. Data indicates that while between April 2012 and March 2013, there were only seven calls made to the helpline to report child marriages, this had drastically risen in April 2014 to March 2015 where 51 instances were reported and members of the District Social Welfare Department and Childline intervened. From April 2015 till October, the Childline has already received 57 distress calls of child marriages taking places and have intervened to stop them from happening. “This indicates that over the years, more people have become aware of the redressal measures in place and are using the helpline. More than 80 per cent of the calls we receive about child marriages going to take place are from the children themselves,” said Jim Jesudoss, Director of Childline, Madurai. The district administration has been constantly making people in rural areas aware of the ills of child marriages and addressing them at gram sabha meetings on not to marry off young girls, he added. In a bid to take more awareness to the rural areas, Collector L. Subramanian flagged off a series of awareness programmes which include street theatre, folk music and dance performances based on the theme of prevention of child marriages. Through the five-day programme, the Childline and the district administration, with the support of the District Social Welfare Department, District Child Protection Unit and Department of Social Defense expect to target nine blocks comprising Chellampatti, Usilampatti, Sedapatti, Tirupparankundram, Tirumangalam, Kalligudi, T. Kallupatti, Kottampatti and Melur from where they have recorded the maximum number of complaints of child marriages. (The Hindu 25/10/15)

28. Castrating child rapists best solution for sex offences, says Madras HC (14)

CHENNAI: Castration. This is Madras high court’s one-word solution for curbing spiralling sex offences against children. “Traditional laws are not stringent enough to yield any desired positive result. Suggestion of castration looks barbaric, but barbaric crimes should definitely attract barbaric model of punishment. Many may not agree with this. Still, everyone needs to understand the stark reality in society and appreciate the punishment suggested,” said Justice N Kirubakaran, pointing to the fact that the conviction rate in cases of sex offence against children is a mere 2.4% and that between 2008 and 2014, crimes against children had increased by 400 per cent. “This court is sure that additional punishment of castration of child rapists would fetch magical results in preventing and containing child abuses,” said the judge while pointing out that chemical castration had come into force in several countries including the US. The judge was passing orders on a plea from a foreigner facing pedophile charges in TN for quashing the case. Turning down the plea, the judge, however, stayed the red corner notice issued against him making it clear it was being done to facilitate his participation in a criminal trial. … (Times of India 26/10/15)

29. Childline rescues 325 children in six months (14)

MADURAI: Between April and September this year, the Childline had rescued as many as 325 children who were exposed to or exploited under various circumstances, including child marriage and child labour. Disclosing the information at a Childline advisory meeting chaired by Collector L. Subramanian here on Thursday, the officials appealed to the public to utilise Childline number 1098 to put an end to exploitation of children. ‘Childline 1098,’ established in Madurai in 2002, is engaged in sensitising children, parents and others. Expressing concern over the rise in number of child marriage cases reported over the years, the officials said that they stopped 55 such marriages . Before booking marriage halls, their managers or owners should check the birth certificate of the bride, Dr. Subramanian said and added that forcing children to beg should also be viewed seriously. Childline director P. Premalatha said that since the 24-hour free phone service was available, people must inform the Childline whenever they came across any child in difficult circumstances. It could be a street child or a lost child or runaway child or a child in need of medical assistance.A trained team of volunteers would take care of the victim, she said. Faculty members from Madurai Institute of Social Sciences and Jim Jesudoss of Sakti Vidiyal said that sensitising children in schools had produced good results. The plan to establish clubs to disseminate child rights in schools would go a long way in sensitising the children. Apart from stopping child marriages, the Childline team also intervened on time and prevented five children from being sexually exploited. The teams saved nine children from falling prey to drugs. The most visible menace was begging in major intersections in the city. The police had been told to alert the Childline about begging. “Without harming the children, the parents had to be educated on the harm of begging,” the speakers said.The Collector said that apart from Childline volunteers, officials from Social Welfare Department should keep a tab on school dropouts. He said that school dropouts should be given vocational training. Deputy Director (Social Security) S. Dhanasekarapandian, Social Welfare Officer R. Anandavalli, Assistant Commissioner (Labour) S.P. Santhi and others participated. (The Hndu 30/10/15)

30. Over 4700 child still missing in Assam (14)

Guwahati: Over 4700 children are still missing in Assam, who are untraced since 2012, a report said. The recently published report of Assam State Commission for Child Rights revealed that since 2012 to the month of October in 2014, a total of 4754 child are still untraced in the state. The commission said in its report that the child missing incidents have increased in Assam. The child labour rate in Assam is higher than national average. It is a very concern issue. The child labour rate in the state is 4.9pc against the national average 4.5pc , Runumi Gogoi, the chairman of the commission said. The report revealed that the child marriage incidents increased in several districts of the state in past years. The child marriage rate in Barpeta, Kokrajhar, Dhubri district are higher against the national rate, Gogoi said. The state commission and UNICEF had jointly organized a state level seminar of child rights issue in Kaziranga on Saturday. (New Kerala 1/11/15)

31. Child Labour Act challenged in HC (14)

GUWAHATI, Nov 2 – The Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights and MM Sengar, child rights activist, have challenged in the Gauhati High Court the constitutional validity of the Child Labour Act -1986, highlighting the fact that the said Act is ultra vires on the basis of constitutional provisions, international laws and Supreme Court judgements. The petitioners highlighted in detail the plight of children in Assam as well as in the rest of the country and prayed to the court to direct the Government of India to eliminate the difference in the definition of a child by age as prescribed by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and Child Labour ( Prohibition and Regulation) Act,1986 to a conformity of 18 years, as per the commitment to the UN Committee on Rights of the Child . The matter will be heard again on December 11. Advocate Debasmita Ghosh represented the Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, while Sengar represented himself (petitioner in person). Chief Justice (Acting) T Vaiphei and Justice PK Saikia issued notice to the Government of India, asking it to file a reply on the same before December 11. The petitioners had filed the writ petition in public interest under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, challenging the constitutional validity of Section 2(ii), Part II and Part III of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 and calling for upholding the provisions of the Constitution of India for protection of children by eliminating unlawful child labour practices across the country and preventing commercial and other exploitation of children from hazardous and other work, which becomes a hindrance to their comprehensive development and leads to deprivation of primary, secondary and higher education. (The Assam Tribune 3/11/15)

32. POCSO shocker: Chhattisgarh clocks 2,708 child sexual abuse cases (14)

RAIPUR: Though Chhattisgarh hugs fourth rung in rogue’s gallery on crime against children in 2014 contributing to 4.9% to all-India figure, shocking numbers of incidents have been registered under Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) since its inception. On an average, three children are sexually molested everyday in Chhattisgarh. TOI accessed data of incidents registered under POCSO in state from November 2012 to March 2015, according to which 2,708 cases were reported from 27 districts for child molestation. State capital recorded maximum number of 288 cases under POCSO, followed by Durg with 256 cases while 190 incidents were reported in Raigarh district. Among the vulnerable remote districts, Koriya recorded 165 cases, followed by Jashpur district with 157 incidents of child assault. At a place where people hesitate in reporting about such incidents to police, number of incidents recorded is quite high. This indicates that there are a number of cases which still go unreported, a senior police officer said. Incidentally, of 2708 cases registered, accused in only 193 incidents have gone behind the bars while, of 2,377 cases presented before court, 1,732 are still pending and alleged accused in 452 cases have been acquitted. The situation not only calls for justice through fast-track courts, but creating awareness about newly formed Act among children and parents. Besides, proper training to police officials for imposing appropriate sections of the Act is also essential. CID child cell has been imparting training to police in several districts in collaboration with Delhi-based NGOs, but the need for more is always felt amid ignorance. Talking to TOI, Vikram Srivastava, prominent advocate and founder of Independent Thought in Delhi said, “High number of cases signifies that children and parents are gaining confidence in terms of reporting. It’s very important to inform children in schools about protection and its mechanisms like ChildLine number.” He added that children in conflict zones at residential schools at both government and non-government institutions are most vulnerable, unaware and ignorant of right and wrong. “Hence, it’s very important to implement effective legal mechanisms under juvenile justice Act and ICPS,” Vikram said. (Times of India 6/11/15)

33. Satyarthi calls for new anti-child labour laws (14)

CUTTACK: Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi on Saturday made a fervent plea to leaders of all political parties to immediately pass the pending Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill in Parliament that is seeking a complete ban on all forms of child labour in the country. “Since the only law prevailing in the country on child labour for the last 30 years has become obsolete and ineffective in achieving its desired goal, we need to have a new and good anti-child labour law to abolish all forms of child labour in the country,” Mr. Satyarthi said while delivering the first Foundation Day lecture of National Law University here. Amid thunderous applaud from law students, Mr. Satyarthi, who jointly won the Nobel Peace prize last year for his fight against oppression of children across the world, said much of his achievements have come for the support his organisation ‘Bachpan Bachao Andolan’ received from the courts. “Indian judiciary and legal mechanisms are in safe hands but a lot needs to be done as challenges are plenty,” he said urging the law students to work hard to free child labourers in the country. Currently there are over 4.3 million child labourers in India and last year, only 147 cases were filed against their employers that saw an abysmal low conviction rate of only two per cent. He was also equally worried over the huge cases of child sexual abuse allegations pending in different courts. Presided over by University Vice-Chancellor Prof. Srikrishna Deva Rao, the Foundation Day lecture was also addressed by senior judge of Supreme Court Justice Dipak Misra and Orissa High Court Chief Justice D. H. Waghela. Many legal luminaries of the State including judges of the High Court were also present on the occasion. (The Hindu 8/11/15)


34. Centre to modernise education of minorities (7)

Vijayapura: With an objective of modernising the education of minorities, the State government has decided to establish a centre after Sir Sayed Ahmed Khan, one of the founders of Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh. A government order issued recently aims at improving the educational standard of minorities, focusing primarily on higher education. “Modernisation of education of minorities is the need of the hour. The government, which has realized its importance, has decided to set up a study and research centre in Bengaluru,” said Sabir Mulla, the Head of the Centre. Speaking to The Hindu , he said the government chose to name the centre after Sir Sayed because of his enormous contribution to the education sector, mainly towards minorities. “Sir Sayed was a pioneer in bringing the concept of modernisation in the education of Muslims, which is the majority among the minorities,” he said. The full-fledged centre is yet to come up, but Mr. Mulla elaborated the salient features of the centre and projects to improve the education of minorities. He said the centre plans to introduce the concept of digital classes or e-education. Noting that the percentage of Muslims in higher education was weak compared to other religious minorities, Mr. Mulla said the focus would be on increasing attendance. “One of the reasons for the poor higher education percentage is that many students are unable to cope up with English as a medium of education after studying in Urdu. We will try to evolve methodologies on bridging the lacuna,” he said. He said the centre would also try to set up a chair in the name of Sir Sayed in all the universities of the State. “We will also offer financial aid to the students doing research on various issues related to minorities,” he said. Welcoming the step, Rafi Bhandri, member, Karnataka Urdu Academy and former Syndicate member of the Karnataka State Women’s University, said the centre should focus more on higher education. “Since Sir Sayed was giving importance to education of women among the minorities, the centre should work to meet his aspirations,” he said. Mr. Mulla said the centre was at present working out of the Director of Minorities Office until it opens its own office. (The Hindu 21/10/15)

35. ‘Pre-meditated planning’ behind Dadri lynching: Minorities panel (7)

NEW DELHI: National Commission for Minorities suspects there was “pre-meditated planning” behind the Dadri lynching incident and termed “disturbing” controversial statements by politicians to “make capital out of such outrages”.In an apparent criticism of BJP leaders who made controversial comments after visiting Bishada village, where 52-year-old Mohd Iqlakh was lynched over a rumour that he had eaten and stored beef, NCM said such statements further “vitiate” the relations between different communities.These should be stopped at all cost or “things will go out of hand”, added NCM, which had a three-member team headed by its chairperson Naseem Ahmad making a visit to Bishada village. “The team feels that a crowd of large numbers appearing within minutes of an announcement from temple’s loudspeaker and at a time when most villagers claimed they were asleep seems to point to some pre-meditated planning. “The facts as reported to the NCM team point strongly that the whole episode was the result of planning in which a sacred place like temple was used for exhorting people of one community to attack a hapless family,” says a report prepared by the three-member team. NCM said it will be “quite an understatement” to say that the killing was merely an accident “as has been claimed even by some persons in authority” — a clear reference to a statement by Union Minister Mahesh Sharma and some other BJP leaders. It added that what is more disturbing is that responsible persons converge at the place of any such incident and make irresponsible statements that further vitiates relations between communities. “All the political establishments need to counsel their cadres and sympathisers to desist from making irresponsible statements and making capital out of such outrages,” it said. “The malaise of moral policing” is spreading fast, especially in western UP, it said while seeking vigilance of and curbs on the use of social media, claiming it was being extensively used to flare up communal passions. (Times of India 22/10/15)

36. RSS meet to flag population ‘imbalance’ (7)

New Delhi, Oct. 29: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is expected to flag the issue of population tilt – allegedly away from the Hindus – at a high-level meeting that begins in Ranchi tomorrow. The RSS’s Akhil Bharatiya Karyakarani Mandal (All India Executive Council) is gathering in the Jharkhand capital for three days for the annual meeting. This time, the alleged imbalance in the Hindu population and the “increase” in that of Muslims is likely to dominate the deliberations and yield in a resolution, demanding a national population policy, which the RSS hopes will “restore parity” in the religious demographic count. The issue was pegged on the Census 2011 data on population by religious communities released in August this year by the registrar-general and census commissioner. The data claimed that the proportion of Hindu population to total population declined by 0.7 percentage point, that of Sikhs by 0.2 percentage points and of Buddhists by 0.1 percentage points during 2001-11. It said the proportion of Muslim population to total population rose by 0.8 percentage points while there was no significant change in that of Christians and Jains. Stating that the population growth rate in the same decade was 17. 7 per cent, the data put the growth rate of Hindus at 16.8 per cent, of Muslims at 24.6 per cent, of Christians at 15.5 per cent, Sikhs at 8.4 per cent, Buddhists at 6.1 per cent and Jains at 5.4 per cent. Sangh spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya told The Telegraph, “Yes, we are concerned with such findings. Society and the government should be equally worried by this imbalance. That is why it is a focus area for our meeting.” However, political observers have not missed the larger political implications of a potentially inflammable issue. Ranchi is next door to Bihar. The RSS’s resolution, the Bihar opposition fears, will be exploited by the BJP in its campaign for the remaining two phases of the Assembly elections in that state to try and stoke fears in Hindus about their supposed shrinking numbers in proportion to a purported rise in those of the Muslims. Already, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ratcheted the communal pitch by raking up the matter of religion-based reservations in one of his speeches while today, BJP president Amit Shah, addressing a rally, warned that a victory for the Lalu Prasad-Nitish Kumar combine would trigger celebrations in Pakistan…. (The Telegraph 29/10/15)

37. India would become weak if minorities feel insecure: Teesta (7)

Aligarh: The Centre must understand that if minorities were feeling insecure, India would become weak and divisive forces would gather strength, activist Teesta Setalvad said in Aligarh. “We are witnessing a very determined bid by fascist forces to denigrate the country’s Constitution and the entire socio-justice system which safeguards the interests of the weakest and most vulnerable sections of society,” she alleged, while delivering a lecture at the Aligarh Muslim University. Accusing BJP leaders of using words loaded with communal overtones, she said that government should know that without social justice there is no democracy. She also said that the minorities should act with some restraint. “I urge you not to be provoked by the actions and hate speeches of the communal forces….Instead channelise energies for building bridges of understanding with Hindus and all sections of society…. This is the only way to remove the narrative of hatred.” She was speaking on Preamble to India’s Constitution and the Equality Challenger to Constitutional Government organised by AMU last evening. Delivering the presidential address, historian Professor Emeritus Irfan Habib said there was reason for hope as Indian civil society had in recent weeks “displayed an unprecedented courage by registering their concern”. “Remember that all those who are raising their voices in your defence are Hindus and if you want to strengthen their hands, then your hands too will have to be clean.” He reminded that all three rationalists and writers who had been killed in recent months were Hindus. He said that “minority communalism” would be an inappropriate response to the “communal polarisation” (Hindustan Times 1/11/15

38. There’s extreme intolerance in India: Shah Rukh Khan on 50th birthday (7)

Mumbai: Actor Shah Rukh Khan Monday joined the chorus against “growing intolerance” in the country, saying that “religious intolerance and not being secular…is the worst kind of crime that you can do as a patriot”. At a press conference in Mumbai, when asked whether he would return an award — on the lines of what writers and filmmakers have been doing as a form of protest — he said, “No one can force me to do anything I don’t want to, but let me get a National Award, and then I will return it.” He added that he respected the writers for what they are doing. Earlier, talking to India Today TV, he said, “There is intolerance, there is extreme intolerance… there is, I think… there is growing intolerance.”“It is stupid… It is stupid to be intolerant and this is our biggest issue, not just an issue… Religious intolerance and not being secular in this country is the worst kind of crime that you can do as a patriot,” he said.He added, “People put words into the air even before thinking and here is a secular country. Here’s a country perhaps for the last 10 years that is on the cusp of going beyond what we think.” On writers and filmmakers returning their awards, he told the TV channel, “I respect those who returned awards, but I don’t have to.” However, he admitted that being a celebrity, it was tough for him to take a stand on every issue. “We may talk about freedom of speech, but people come outside my house and throw stones,” he said. He added that no one should question his patriotism. “We will never be a superpower if we are not going to believe that all religions are equal,” he said. At the press conference, too, he said, “Creativity is secular. Creativity ke andar koi jaat paat, koi dharm nahin aata hai. Kis religion ke hain. Humein kalaakaar se pyaar hai, na ke kahaan se aayein hain (Creativity does not involve caste or religion. We love the artist, not where he is from),” said the actor, who turned 50 Monday. (Indian Express 3/11/15)

39. BJP hits back: Intolerance campaign to derail development (7)

New Delhi: BJP on Thursday termed the intensifying campaign against “rising intolerance” as an attempt to “derail the development” momentum created by the Narendra Modi government. Hitting back at the Congress and the Left, the party — which released a booklet to counter the campaign — said that “maintaining peace in the country” was its “vested interest” as peace was necessary for development. “The entire campaign is a clear effort to derail the development momentum created by the energetic efforts of the Prime Minister. We have vested interest in keeping atmosphere of tolerance in our country because without peace no development can take place. Why should we ourselves destroy our mission for development?” asked Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, who addressed the media with party chief Amit Shah. Questioning the motives of those behind the protest, Naidu said: “Why were the so-called intellectuals silent then, and violent now?”Shah released a compilation of articles titled “Know the truth: Some are misled, some are misleading” that defended the government and questioned the protesting intellectuals. While Shah said he would speak on the matter on November 8 — the day of the Bihar election results — Naidu alleged that the ongoing protests were a joint campaign by Congress and Left-leaning intellectuals. The BJP, he said, had no problem with some of them returning their awards, but it had an issue with their efforts to project that there was growing intolerance and the Centre was to be blamed for that. “It is being seen by many as a well-organised effort to defame our cultural ethos,” he added. Reacting to Naidu’s allegations, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said: “The RSS point of view has always been there in the academic and intellectual discourse of India. The current intolerance in the country is highlighted by the growth of violence and intimidation between opposing points of view unleashed by the RSS and the various tentacles of the communal octopus.” He said the RSS “has not retracted or apologised for MS Golwalkar’s observation that we should learn from the methods used by Hitlerite fascism and that India should ‘learn and profit’ from this.” (Indian Express 6/11/15)

40. Agnivesh to lead peace march against intolerance (7)

Kolkata: Terming Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “deafening silence” on the raging issue of “intolerance” as an endorsement of the “communal statements” of Union Ministers and BJP leaders, social activist Swami Agnivesh has announced that he would lead a peace march from the house of the Dadri victim on November 27. The march, in which religious leaders and peace activists of all communities would participate, is set to conclude at the Gandhi memorial at Rajghat in Delhi on November 29 and a peace meeting would be held on November 30. The march would start from the house of Mohammad Akhlaq, who was lynched by a mob in a village in Dadri area of Uttar Pradesh following rumours that he ate and stored beef. “Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, everybody would be there in the march,” he said, denouncing the killing of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and M M Kalburgi, and the Dadri lynching. “On the one hand, these killings have taken place in India. And on the other, secular bloggers are being killed in Bangladesh. It is time we speak up, stand up and be ready to be counted,” said Swami Agnivesh, who was in the city as a speaker on inter-faith dialogue at an international conference organised by Council for World Mission (Singapore) and Bishop’s College. Targeting Mr Modi, he said: “Our Prime Minister, who claims to be the PM of 125 crore Indians, is in complete silence even as various BJP leaders and Hindutva activists have been making communal statements. “His deafening silence is an endorsement of the statements. It is an orchestration. An orchestra is on and the cabinet ministers and leading MPs are saying so many things. But there is no action. So I am saying the Prime Minister’s silence is an endorsement of such statements.” Referring to scientists, literary figures and artists returning their awards, Swami Agnivesh said “the sort of intolerance we see around us is unacceptable”. Assailing the RSS, he said: “The Hindutva lobby has found itself in the seat of power now with Narendra Modi as Prime Minister. The RSS is feeling uncomfortable and they can’t just wait to declare India as a ‘Hindu rashtra’. This is height of intolerance.” Swami Agnivesh said the BJP’s 2014 Lok Sabha election slogan of “Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas” now seemed hollow, saying its real meaning as come out in the RSS resolution recently passed in Ranchi, which clearly states that the word ‘sabka’ means those religions which have originated in India like Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism and leaving out Islam and Christianity. – IANSThe march would start from the house of Mohammad Akhlaq, who was lynched by a mob in a village in Dadri area of Uttar Pradesh following rumours that he ate and stored beef. (The Hindu 9/11/15)


41. No uniform civil code please: Muslim women’s group (7)

New Delhi: A Muslim women’s group on Tuesday opposed attempts to impose a uniform civil code but said “a gender just reform” was needed in the Muslim personal law. Any move to introduce a uniform civil code without taking into account the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion would be wrong, the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan said. “Article 25 the constitution gives the right to all, including minorities, to have personal laws based on respective tenets of different religious communities,” the group said in a statement. “Under this provision, we demand a gender just reform in the Muslim personal law based on the Quranic values of equality and justice, in line with article 25 of the constitution.” The group pointed out that the Supreme Court observation on the need to bring about a gender just legal framework was not aimed at imposing anything on different communities. “As per the BJP manifesto, the NDA government wants to impose a family law on all communities with the intention of national integration,” it said. “It is important to point out that national integration cannot happen by a common family law but by treating all citizens equally. “There can be no imposition of any kind as this would impinge on the religious freedom and secularism principles enshrined in the constitution. Nor would different socio-religious communities accept this. “Like all religious majority and minority community in India, Muslims must also have a codified Muslim personal law based on its religious text. “Just as there is a Hindu Marriage Act for Hindus, just as there is a Indian Christian Marriage Act for Christians, just as there is a Parsi Marriage and Divorce (Amendment) Act for the Parsis, Muslims too should have an amended Shariat Application Act to ensure a law for the Muslim community which is in consonance with the Islamic and constitutional values of justice and equality.” The group said the recent targeted violence on minorites “have led to an atmosphere of insecurity and deep sense of fear within the Muslim community and amongst all minorities. “Any talk of a uniform civil code is only adding to the strongly felt sense of hurt and alienation. “This atmosphere of intimidation does not help the cause of women’s demand for justice at all. “It appears that for the fringe right-wing groups, uniform civil code is another stick to beat the community with,” the group said. (Deccan Herald 21/10/15)

42. Muslims groups hit out at ‘communal’ acts (7)

GUWAHATI: Condemning the recent incidents of cow body parts being recovered from temple premises in different parts of the state, three Assamese Muslim organizations cautioned that such incidents prove how vested groups are trying to create communal clashes in the state for political gains. The three organizations – Sadou Asom Garia Yuva Parishad (SAGYP), Asomiya Muslim Kalyan Parishad (AMKP) and Ujoni Asom Muslim Kalyan Parishad – in a joint statement said the incidents were orchestrated as part of a conspiracy ahead the 2016 assembly election. “We condemn the incidents of desecration of temples by throwing cow body parts. People of the state have to maintain communal harmony at all cost,” said AMKP president Rahamsa Ali. SAGYP president Abdul Hamid warned that unless these communal forces are nipped in the bud, the situation in coming days may turn more violent. The three groups also alleged that the AIUDF has failed to champion the causes of indigenous Assamese Muslims. (Times of India 21/10/15)

43. Muslim body asks govt. to allot land for burial (7)

MANGALURU: The Muslim community residing in and around Jeppu in the city categorically stated that it has sought allotment of about 26 cents of vacant government land at Attavar-Nandigudda for a burial ground and not burial land being used by other communities, including the Hindus. J. Sadique, president of Muhyideen Juma Masjid and Dars, Noorul Islam Madrasa, Jeppu, in a release here said that the government may also allot any other suitable land other than the Nandigudda land as every human being is entitled for an honourable burial. Recently residents of Jeppu, Attavar and surrounding areas under the banner of Vishwa Hindu Parishad had held a demonstration protesting the decision of the government to allot certain portion of the land in Nandigudda for Muslim burial ground. Following the protest, the assistant commissioner of Mangaluru Revenue Sub Division heard both the parties and reserved his order on the issue. Mr. Sadique said the government burial land in Nandigudda has been offered to various communities, including 2.32 acres to Hindus, 59 cents to Brahmo Samaj, 2.28 acres to Christians, 1 acre to Mescom, 7 cents to Syrian Christians, 10 cents to Jehovah’s Witnesses and 43 cents for roads. There remains another 26 cents of government land which has been vacant, which the Muslim community has claimed, he said. Mr. Sadique said Jeppu area houses about 50,000 Muslims, while the available burial ground is on just 21 cents of land, which is being used for over a century and the community is facing a severe shortage of space. (The Hindu 29/10/15)

44. RSS seeks review of population policy to counter Muslim growth (7)

Ranchi: The RSS on Saturday sought a review of the population policy to counter “severe demographic changes” in India, flagging what it considers a high rate of growth among Muslims in the country. The Hindutva outfit – considered the ideological mentor of the ruling BJP at the Centre – passed a resolution on the contentious issue at its three-day national executive in Jharkhand’s capital. The RSS and its affiliated organisations have been citing the last census figures to claim that the Hindus are facing the threat of being swamped by Muslims, though the minority community accounts for only 14.2% of the country’s population while their population is growing at a slower rate. The Hindu population was pegged at 79.8% of the population by the religion data of Census 2011. “The share of population of religions of Bharatiya origin has slipped from 88% to 83.5% between 1951-2011 censuses while Muslim population has increased from 9.8% to 14.23% in the intervening period,” said the resolution, a copy of which was released to the media. The RSS considers the Hindus as Bharatiyas (Indians) to make a distinction with Muslims and Christians whom the organisation claims arrived with “invaders” like the Mughals and British. Expressing concern over the “demographic imbalances”, the RSS urged the Centre to reformulate the national population policy keeping in view the availability of resources in the country and future needs, the same idea floated by the outfit’s top leader Mohan Bhagwat in his Vijaya Dashami speech in Nagpur on October 22. It also pointed out alleged abnormal rise in population of Muslims and Christians in some Northeast states like Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. “The Muslim population growth rate has been higher than the national average in border states of Assam, West Bengal and Bihar indicating unabated infiltration from Bangladesh which is corroborated by the Upamanyu Hazarika commission report and judicial pronouncements from time to time,” the resolution read, adding that the infiltrators were usurping the rights of the natives and resulting in socio-cultural and economic tensions. The organisation said that the “unnatural growth of Christian population in many districts of the country indicates targeted religious conversion activity by some vested interests” and threatening the unity, integrity and cultural identity of the country. RSS leader Krishna Gopal said though India was one of the early countries in the world to announce as early as 1952 that it will have population planning measures, it was only in 2000 that a comprehensive population policy was formulated and a population commission was formed. In January this year, BJP leader Sakshi Maharaj had asked all Hindu women to bear four children to protect the religion, which was slammed by women rights activists and minority organisations. (Hindustan Times 1/11/15

45. Rajasthan: Highest school dropout rates among Muslims, SCs/STs (7)

Jaipur: Children of scheduled caste/scheduled tribes and Muslim communities in Rajasthan are the worst affected in cases of school dropouts, a report of a joint survey by district information system for education (DISE) and independent bodies has revealed. The survey report was presented by educationalist Ganesh Nigam at the two-day national consultation on right to education (RTE) organised jointly by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)and Ajit foundation on Saturday. According to the report, the annual average dropout rate at primary level for the state was at 8.39% in 2013-14 and 18.50% for the Muslim community. Similarly, the dropout rate was higher in SC and ST communities with 9.57% and 10.04% respectively. In the upper primary level, Muslim dropouts form the highest average with 20.59% as compared to the state average of 6.03%. SC and ST communities mark steep averages of 7.51% and 7% respectively. Muslim students have the lowest transition rate (from primary to upper primary level of education) with 70.46% as compared to the state average of 88.23%. SC/ST kids have lower transition rates of 87.70% and 81.60% respectively. “Children of SC/ST and Muslim communities have the lowest attendance in schools. Unless education is inclusive to all communities, the RTE act is nothing but a failure,” said Nigam. “Government schools provide free education. But disdain by teachers and an inactive administration force parents to pull out their kids from schools. Economic disparity is the biggest reason behind this trend,” said Sayyed Masood Akhtar, state president, Rajasthan Madarsa Education Helpers’ Association (RMEHA). “Access to public schools is anyway very limited to this community due to poverty but the dropouts can join madarsas,” said Saeed Ahmed, additional director, Madarsa Board. Dalit activists, however, believe that social disparity is the reason behind the increasing dropouts among the SC/ST and Muslim sections. “Teachers have a negative mindset against the deprived sections and discourage children at the initial level. Children of Valmiki community have stopped going to school as they were asked to be manual scavengers there,” said PL Minroth, chief functionary, center for Dalit rights. The report adds that Muslim girls constitute 22.90 % of annual average dropout rate at the upper primary level as compared to that of boys at 18.77%, citing lack of safety assurances from the government and societal bodies as the reason for this trend. “Numerous reasons including patriarchy, lack of safety and poverty are responsible for this trend. Parents are not usually willing to send their daughters to distant schools. If more female staff are included in government schools, then we can certainly improve this figure,” said Ameen Kayamkhani, patron, RMEHA. (Hindustan Times 3/11/15)

46. Clerics take on joblessness among Muslims (7)

BAREILLY: The clerics of Dargah Aala Hazrat have decided to launch a campaign on the last day of the annual Urs-e-Razvi to combat unemployment in the community. In invitation posters to the annual Urs next month, visitors have been told to give the total amount of zakat money (mandatory alms) to one unemployed and poor person for setting up a business, rather than distributing it among scores of poor people. The posters of invitation have been sent to followers of the Barelvi school of Islamic theology across the world on behalf of Hazrat Subhan Raza Khan alias Subhani Miyan, chairperson of the shrine. The poster mentions that the rate of unemployment among youth, and not just in the community, has been rising. India is counted among poor and backward countries of the world because of the high unemployment, the poster explains. “However, nothing could be a better service to the country than if our community could come together to combat unemployment. Every person attending Urs should promise that they will donate the zakat to an unemployed and needy person, to assist him in setting up a business,” Subhani Miyan told TOI. A mandatory donation in Islam, equal to 2.5% of a follower’s wealth, is collected from all those whose wealth and income exceed 52 tolas of silver a year. This is called zakat. Maulana Mohammed Ehsan Raza Khan, the Sajjadanasheen (hereditary head) of the shrine said, “If an unemployed person becomes employed, he would be able to help other poor people. However, if the same amount is distributed among many poor people, it will not help in eradicating poverty.” Besides the invitation posters which have been printed in Urdu, pamphlets in English and Hindi are also being readied for distribution among visitors to the Urs, set to begin from December 6. “On the last day of the Urs, December 8, we will ask other clerics and followers to agree that they follow this advice for fighting unemployment among Muslim youth. We will ask them to raise their hands to confirm that they would give their zakat to an unemployed youth,” said Mufti Mohammed Salim Noori, who will be among the speakers at the event. Noori said that instead of waiting for the government to create job opportunities, the community must begin to help itself. The clerics have also planned a special workshop for Muslim women, to make them better aware of their rights on December 6. On the second day of the Urs, December 7, a conference will be organized to counter proposed changes to Muslim Personal Law and ensure better security for Indian Muslims. The 97th Urs-e-Razvi of Aala Hazrat Imam Ahmed Raza, founder of the Barelvi movement, will be organized from December 6-8. Lakhs of followers routinely converge at Bareilly for this annual event. Nearly 50,000 clerics from across the country are expected to congregate at the Urs this year. (Times of India 8/11/15)


47. ‘Caste-based Oppression has Continued’ (7)

BENGALURU: Former member of the Karnataka State Minorities Commission Rev Dr Godwin Shiri has stated that caste oppression of Christian dalits has continued in South India. On Tuesday, Shiri’s book Christian Dalit Women under Unabated Caste and Gender Oppression – A South India Case Study, was released by pastor and dalit writer Rev Dr Manohar Chandraprasad. “Caste-based oppression, social degradations, economic disabilities, restrictions and other issues continue. Ironically, all of these issues are being treated as common occurrence, while the society or the government and even the Church are not doing anything about it,” Shiri says in the book. Shiri has also said that the living condition of Christian Dalit women have not remained stagnant as change is taking place, albeit slowly. Later, Chandraprasad said that it is necessary to understand and identify the problems in the hundreds of sub-castes in Christianity so that they can be eradicated. “There are eminent persons who are speaking about the various societal ills, which is a good step. However, this is just the beginning, and more such efforts must be undertaken. Similarly, efforts must be taken to understand and identify the ills in Christianity, which has over 400 sub-castes, so that they can be addressed,” said Chandraprasad. (New Indian Express 21/10/15)

48. Indian church leaders call for calm in Punjab state (7)

New Delhi: Church leaders in India’s Punjab state are pleading for calm as angry protests spread across Sikhism’s homeland following reports of a series of desecrations of the Sikh holy book. “We have condemned the incidents and appealed for calm,” Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar, whose diocese covers most of the state in northern India, said Oct. 22. By mid-October, hundreds of thousands of Sikhs, who are a majority in Punjab, blocked roads demanding the arrest of those responsible for desecrating the Guru Granth Sahib, Sikhism’s sacred book.Local media and police reports recorded at least five incidents of the book being destroyed. The trouble began Oct. 12 in Faridkot, with the discovery of torn pages of the Sikh holy book in Bargadi village. At least four more incidents of such desecration were recorded by Oct. 17. The protests increased in size and intensity after an Oct. 14 incident, when police opened fire on protesters, killing two people. As tensions escalated, paramilitary forces and the Punjab police tried to restore order by cordoning off sensitive areas in the affected districts of Amritsar, Jalandhar, Faridkot and Bathinda on Oct. 21. “People are really angry and upset. They want their demands met as early as possible,” said Father Peter Kavumpuram, the public relations officer of Jalandhar Diocese. He said the Sikhs are “deeply spiritual people” and “very friendly” especially with Christians, who number 300,000 in the state with a population of 24 million people. “We have expressed solidarity with the grieving community,” he told Indian media reported that at least six people linked to the desecrations remain in police custody. Sikhism began in northern India’s Punjab region in the 15th century. The Guru Granth Sahib, Sikhism’s holy book of hymns, stresses equality, fraternity and service and is as significant to Sikhs as the Bible is for Christians. (Uca News 22/10/15)

49. Christians must move with times: Pope (7)

Vatican City: Christians must adapt as times change, protected by their unwavering faith in Jesus, Pope Francis has said. “Times are changing and we Christians must change continuously,” Francis said on Friday in his homily at the Vatican’s Santa Marta residence, where he lives. “We must change whilst remaining fixed to our faith in Jesus Christ, fixed to the truth of the Gospel but we must adapt our attitude continuously according to the signs of the times,” Francis added. “Do this freely, without fear,” he said. “Our job is to look at what is happening within us, discern our feelings, our thoughts and what is happening around us and discern the signs of the times — through silence, reflection and prayer,” Francis stated. The pontiff’s comments came amid the ongoing Vatican summit on the family, which has been grappling with flashpoint issue such as the Catholic Church’s stance on divorcees, people who remarry and gays. The three-week meeting, which ends this weekend, is unlikely to change Catholic doctrine on the family but is focussing instead on how the Church’s teachings can be adapted to modern lifestyles, observers say. Nearly 300 Catholic church leaders have been attending the synod on the family, the most highly anticipated meeting since the Second Vatican Council half a century ago. (Zee News 24/10/15)

50. City church expresses concern over intolerance (7)

MADURAI: The Madurai Archdiocese of Roman Catholic Church expressed concern over the growing intolerance and hatred in the country stating that it will destroy the pluralistic nature of the country. In a statement, Archbishop Antony Pappusamy expressed fears that hate crimes unleashed across the country will destroy the very roots of democracy in the country. The pluralistic nature of the Indian society has been put under enormous pressure by the forces trying to bring in hegemony. Hatred is nurtured in planned manner to destroy the identity of indigenous groups and the freedom of expression – the most important right of democracy – is made a mockery. People decide to stand different to the opinion of rulers are projected as enemy of state and are threatened and eliminated. The archbishop cited the cases of Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar and M M Kalburgi who were brutally assassinated for voicing their differences. The crux of democracy is to nurture pluralism. In the name of cow protection, the campaign against beef eating has attained momentum. Deciding to eat something is individual’s personal desire, he said. Communalistic ideology is against free and scientific society. Understanding the communalism is vital to protect democratic values of the society. Religious minorities are most threatened by the idea of communalism and they are projected as enemies since the religious values followed by them are different from the religion of majority people. There is nothing wrong to differ and it is one’s right. Christian community believing this should be ready to face the threat by communalism, he stated and appreciated the writers who registered their protest by returning the awards. (The Times of India 30/10/15)

51. Pope ‘Greatly Concerned’ Over New Central Africa Violence (7)

VATICAN: Pope Francis today voiced “great concern” over a fresh outbreak of sectarian violence in the Central African Republic, four weeks ahead of a planned visit to the troubled country. “The painful events that have worsened an already delicate situation in the Central African Republic in recent days are of great concern to me,” the pope told pilgrims in St Peter’s Square. Yesterday, Muslim militants killed at least two people and wounded several in a Christian neighbourhood of the capital Bangui. The military said several hundred people fled the area fearing further violence. The fresh unrest came two days after four people were killed and around 20 wounded in Bangui in a reprisal attack avenging the deaths of two Muslims. One of the poorest and most unstable countries in Africa, the landlocked former French colony plunged into chaos after president Francois Bozize was ousted in a coup in March 2013. The mainly Muslim Seleka rebels behind the coup went on a bloody rampage that triggered the emergence of equally dangerous anti-balaka (anti-machete) militias in mostly Christian communities. “I appeal to all those involved to put an end to this cycle of violence,” Francis said after his regular Sunday recitation of the Angelus prayer. The 78-year-old pontiff then confirmed that he planned to visit Bangui on November 29, saying he “hoped” the visit would go ahead. The pontiff plans a six-day African tour, his first to the continent, that will also take him to Kenya and Uganda, beginning on November 25. (New Indian Express 1/11/15)

52. Christian leaders condemn ‘growing’ intolerance in India (7)

New Delhi: Christians from across the country on Monday condemned the “growing” intolerance in India and criticised “sinister attempts” to do away with the reservation policy. “In unequivocal terms we denounce the growing intolerance in the country. We also denounce the sinister attempts to do away with reservation policy and ultimately the attempt to undermine the constitution,” reads a statement, signed by over 100 Christian community leaders and activists. The community leaders have signed the statement to express their anger over violence against Dalits, Adivasis, women, religious minorities and even “ghar-wapsi” (a programme to convert non-Hindus to Hinduism). Principal of St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, Fr. Felix Raj, former Karnataka Police chief Francis Colaso and former Delhi government Minority Commission member John Dayal were among those who signed the statement. “We stand in solidarity with all those from various walks of life, faiths, traditions, backgrounds, cultures, communities, professions and orientations who have raised voice against the growing intolerance in the country and call upon all the citizens to resist every move to create crisis and conflict by some vested interest,” the statement said. (Business Standard 3/11/15)

53. Church attacks were petty crimes, not communal: RSS (7)

NEW DELHI: Armed with what it claims to be an objective report, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has decided to go aggressive on “vilification campaign” against it for stoking communal fire in the country. The issue came up during its Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal meeting in Ranchi recently. To begin with, RSS will rely on a report by the India Policy Foundation (IPF), one of the Sangh-promoted think tanks, which claims to have proof that attacks on Christians and churches were motivated and not the handiwork of saffron outfits. Senior RSS leaders Dattatreya Hosbole and Manmohan Vaidya are members of the IPF Trust while Rakesh Sinha of Delhi University is the director and Kapil Kapoor is the chairperson. The saffron outfit said IPF’s report – Big Lies – was prepared following “research and documentation” by looking at police reports and information from the ministry of home affairs. The report concludes that in most cases, the cause of the attack on churches and Christians was “petty thefts and crimes” and not “communal”.For instance, on the burning of St. Sebastian’s Church in Delhi’s Dilshad Garden in East Delhi, IPF report says that on the basis of FSL report, it can be “safely concluded that the fire had not been caused by implantation of any inflammable material or an act of vandalism.” IPF also claims that the priest of the church “did not blame any particular group” for the incident. In case of attack on Church of Our Lady Grace at Vikaspuri in West Delhi, IPF claims “three alcoholics were arrested who have no links with the Sangh Parivar”. IPF blames the media for blowing up the attack on St Alphonsa Church at Vasant Kunj in South Delhi. In the same breath, it also says investigations are still under progress. Similarly, the report claims incidents in Jasola, Rohini, Holy Child Auxilium School, Vasant Vihar and Believer’s Church in Haryana were cases of petty crimes. IPF says the idea behind the report was to investigate the role of individuals and groups; to know whether the incidents were planned, organized violence, anti-minority drive; and find out the role of clandestine groups. (Times of India 4/11/15)

54. ISIS frees 37 kidnapped Syrian Christians: NGO (7)

BEIRUT: The Islamic State group on Saturday released 37 Syrian Christians, most of them women, who were among more than 200 people kidnapped more than eight months ago, an NGO said. The Assyrian Observatory for Human Rights said the group of freed Assyrian Christians included 27 women and 10 men, most of them elderly. They arrived on Saturday morning in the town of Tal Tamr in the Khabur region of Hasakeh province in northeastern Syria, the group said. The releases were confirmed by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor, which said most of those freed were from other towns elsewhere in the Khabur region. The former hostages were among a group of 220 Assyrians captured by IS when they overran parts of the Khabur region in February. Since then, a trickle of the prisoners have been released, with between 140 and 150 believed to still be held by IS. The Assyrian Observatory said the releases were the result of negotiations carried out by the church, but other reports suggest IS has been paid to free the hostages. Assyrians numbered about 30,000 among Syria’s 1.2 million Christians before the country’s conflict began. They lived mostly in 35 villages in Hasakeh. In February, IS overran many of the villages, but Kurdish forces later expelled them. IS has captured hundreds of hostages, including Christians from different sects, in territory it controls in Syria and Iraq. Elsewhere, the Britain-based Observatory said the toll in Thursday’s air strikes on the town on Albu Kamal on the Syrian border with Iraq had risen to 49 people, at least 31 of them civilians. The monitoring group had previously said at least 22 people were killed in the strikes, but it was not able to confirm who was behind the attacks. Russia, Syria’s government and a US-led coalition are all carrying out air strikes on Syrian territory, sometimes operating in the same areas. (Times of India 7/11/15)


55. Refugee crisis: EU leaders to hold meeting to find solution (13)

Berlin: The European Union (EU) will hold an emergency summit of the leaders of the nations affected by the current refugee crisis to find a solution, to the plight of thousands of migrants stranded in the western Balkans in their desperate attempt to reach western Europe. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has convened the meeting for Sunday in Brussels in view of the “unfolding emergency” in the nations along the western Balkans route of the migrants, which required “much greater cooperation, more extensive consultation and immediate operational action,” a commission’s statement said yesterday. Besides German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Austrian counterpart Werner Faymann, the leaders of Greece, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Rumania and Bulgaria as well as non-EU nations Serbia and Macedonia have been invited to attend the meeting, the statement said. The situation of the refugees heading to western Europe through the Balkans route has been deteriorating since Hungary last Friday closed its border with Serbia and Croatia, leaving them a journey through Croatia and Slovenia as the only alternative to reach Austria and Germany. Thousands of refugees have been stuck in Croatia and Slovenia in increasingly cold and rainy weather without proper shelter and short of food and water, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR and other aid organisations. Croatia had limited the number of people it has been taking from Serbia and diverted many of them to Slovenia. Until last week, Croatia has been transporting the refugees entering the country from Serbia to the Hungarian border and from there they were taken to the Austrian border. Overwhelmed by the influx of refugees, Slovenia set a limit of 2,500 refugees it can take from Croatia per day in order to be in a position to register them and to transport them to the Austrian border. The situation in an overcrowded Slovenian registration centre for refugees in Brezice escalated on Tuesday after some refugees set on fire their tents in protest against the conditions there, media reports said. Meanwhile, several thousand refugees are waiting on the Serbian side to enter Croatia while many more are on their way along the route from Greece to Macedonia and Serbia. Germany’s newly-appointed coordinator for refugees Peter Altmeier, who took the initiative to organise next Sunday’s summit, said it was intended to reach an understanding on joint initiatives and sharing of responsibilities to restore order in the movement of migrants and to ensure that every nation involved treated them with human dignity. The refugee crisis can be tackled only through joint efforts and therefore “our goal is to reach a common understanding on joint initiatives and sharing of responsibilities. Every country must make its contribution instead of passing on responsibilities to another,” Altmeier said. (Business Standard 22/10/15)

56. West Bengal has the highest No. of foreign prisoners (13)

KOLKATA: Almost half of the foreign prisoners in the country are lodged in different jails of Bengal. According to recent data released by the National Crime Records Bureau, nearly 47% of the foreign prisoners are lodged in Bengal jails and most of them are Bangladeshis and Rohingya Muslims. The Rohingya Muslims were arrested while trying to cross over to India through Bangladesh.Sources said since there’s no repatriation treaty with Bangladesh, several prisoners from the neighbouring country are still languishing in jails even after their terms are over. According the NCRB data, of the 6000-plus foreign prisoners lodged in different jails in the country, 2935 are in West Bengal. Among them, 1113 are convicts and the rest are undertrials. “There are several foreign prisoners, including those from Bangladesh and Myanmar (read Rohingyas),” said Madhurima Dhanuka, consultant with Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), an NGO which works in coordination with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and fights for the release of the Bangladeshis and Rohingyas. Take the case of Yousuf, a resident of Panoor gram panchayat in Kerala’s Kannur district. He was arrested from Bongaon on January 18, 2012 while trying to cross the border. He was sentenced to prison for 650 days. Yousuf was convicted on the ground that he, being a Pakistani national, intruded on India. He has been languishing at Dum Dum Central Jail despite a release order in November 2013. Reason: Pakistan refused to recognize him as its own citizen.If this is the situation with an Indian national, think about the foreign nationals. Nearly 100 Rohingya Muslims lodged in various prisons across Bengal are staring at an uncertain future as their plea to get refugee status is yet to be heard by the Indian authorities. The Rohingyas, originally residents of Myanmar, were arrested when they were trying to cross over to India through Bangladesh. According to sources, there are 320 prisoners in Bengal jails who have completed their terms. Most of them are Bangladeshis, but two are from Nigeria, two from Myanmar, one from Ukraine and one from Lesotho. (Times of India 25/10/15)

57. At least 120,000 displaced in Syria in past month: UN (13)

At least 120,000 people have been displaced in Syria this month because of fighting, according to UN humanitarian officials. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the people fled their homes in the Aleppo, Hama and Idlib governorates between October 5 and October 22. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Monday that most remain in the three governorates but some have fled to camps near the Turkish border. He said most people in Aleppo moved toward villages and towns in the countryside west of the city. Dujarric said the displaced Syrians need tents, basic household items, food, water and sanitation services. He said the UN’s humanitarian partners are scaling up their response, and distribution of cooked and ready-to-eat food has started to those displaced in the three governorates but needs to be stepped up. The UN report largely matches up with a similar report yesterday by the Norwegian Refugee Council, which estimated that 100,000 Syrians have been displaced in the last three weeks by the recent surge in fighting following the start of an airstrike campaign by the Russian military. The council said that this new exodus is pressuring already overcrowded and overstretched camps in the country. In a statement, the group said that the new wave of displacement is mostly from the province of Aleppo, where Syrian government and allied troops, emboldened by Russian airstrikes, began a ground offensive on October 16. The militant Islamic State group has also seized new territories in Aleppo, pushing out rival rebels and fighting with government troops. Others were displaced by the airstrikes and fighting in Hama and Homs. “This is a cry for help,” said Karl Schembri, the Refugee Council’s media adviser. He said the newly displaced are heading toward already crowded facilities along the border with Turkey. “There are already people moving day-to-day to find places” to lay their tents, while rainy season has begun, he said. Last week, a UN official in Geneva said that around 35,000 people are reported to have been displaced from just two villages on the southwestern outskirts of Aleppo city. The civil war, in its fifth year, has killed more than 250,000 people and displaced half of Syria’s prewar population of 23 million. (DNA 27/10/15)

58. 11 dead as refugee boats sink in Aegean (13)

Athens: Four boats carrying refugees from Turkey to Greece sank in the past few hours, leaving at least 11 people dead and more than 40 others missing, Greek authorities said on Thursday. Greece’s Coast Guard retrieved 11 bodies, including eight children, and a rescue operation was underway in the Aegean Sea to search for the missing, the authorities said, Xinhua news agency reported. The sinkings occurred from Wednesday to early Thursday off the Greek islands of Lesvos, Samos and Agathonissi. From Tuesday to Thursday, the Greek Coast Guard rescued almost 1,000 people attempting to cross over from the Turkish shores in wooden vessels. Adverse weather conditions did not curb the influx of refugees from war-torn Syria. Latest data from the Greek shipping ministry, the UN High Commission for Refugees and the International Office for Migration show that since January 2015, about 500,000 refugees and migrants have reached Greece to seek a better and secure life in central and northern European countries. More than 3,000 people have died this year while crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Greek Shipping Minister Theodoros Dritsas reiterated in a statement Athens’ plea to the European Union and the neighbouring countries to step up coordination to avoid such tragedies at sea. (Business Standard 29/10/15)

59. Election brings hope, fear for Myanmar refugees stuck in limbo (13)

MaeSot, Thailand: For refugees from Myanmar living in camps just across the border in Thailand, a landmark election in their homeland triggers mixed emotions – hope that a hated government will be defeated, and fear of the uncertain future such an upheaval might bring. Ko Chit, 45, who lives in Mae La refugee camp, the largest of the nine camps that are home to around 110,000 people, is typical of those who spoke to Reuters. He wants opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) to win the Nov. 8 poll, the country’s first free and fair election in a generation, but worries that could result in being sent back to Myanmar when it remains unsafe. “The situation is not yet stable and we cannot go back because of fighting and persecution,” Ko Chit said. “If there is no non-governmental organisation to support us there, it would be better to stay in the camp.” For many who spoke to Reuters, the looming fear is that an NLD win will prompt Thailand to declare it is now safe for them to go back and shutter the camps. Some residents have been living in the camps for 30 years. Nearly 80 percent are ethnic Karen from eastern Myanmar who fled armed conflict and often persecution at the hands of the Myanmar army during decades of military rule. (Zee News 3/11/15)

60. US has the largest number of refugees settled (13)

NEW YORK: With European countries struggling to come to terms with refugees from middle-eastern countries like Syria and accepting them, the US has come out as the country which has settled the largest number of refugees. In the fiscal year 2015, the nearly 70,000 refugees arrived to the US and have settled, said the director of Refugee Admissions Office of the US Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration Lawrence Barlett on Tuesday. This is more than all other countries combined, he said. Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres criticized the European Union for being slow in accepting refugees on Tuesday. “The number of arrivals currently stands at between 6,000 and 8,000 a day on Greek islands alone. The European Union has the capacity to manage this crisis, but for that to happen, a united and comprehensive regionaI approach is essential,” he said. “The decision to relocate 160,000 within the EU was a step in the right direction, but the implementation has been far too slow,” he added. Explaining the difference between refugee programs in the US and other countries like Turkey, Barlett said that refugee had the choice of becoming permanent residents or even citizens with voting rights. “Turkey would be a good example, Jordan, great example – where you’ve got a couple million, I think, refugees now in Turkey. So they’re a hosting country, but they have not agreed to resettle refugees. They’ve not agreed that Syrians can become Turkish citizens or agreed that they can have full access to services of that government,” he said. “So clearly, the international community owes Turkey a lot in terms of gratitude for what they are doing on a temporary basis for people, but that is not a permanent solution for a refugee. Many countries simply do not have the infrastructure to absorb large numbers of people; we know that,” he added. …. (Times of India 4/11/15)

61. M.K. Narayanan for ‘across the border’ citizenship for Tamil refugees (13)

Chennai: Advocating ‘across the border’ citizenship for Sri Lankan Tamil refugees presently living in India, the former National Security Adviser, M.K. Narayanan, on Wednesday said, “it was not easy, but it should be possible.” Speaking at a colloquium ‘The Future of Sri Lankan Tamil Refugees in India’ organised by The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy, he endorsed the argument that providing financial support to refugees who intend to return should help them. “By and large the Government of India can meet its obligations on returning the refugees back to their homeland with a certain amount of backup and support,” he said. “What they want is, give us a little more support, in helping those who want to go back to do so. I think this is easy,” the former NSA said. Organisation for Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation treasurer S.C. Chandrahasan also emphasised the need to facilitate the return of these refugees who had spent over 30 years in India. Unlike other countries in the West, Afro-Asian nations, especially India, did not make the refugees wait in a queue and instead, accepted them as they came. The opinion of the vast majority of refugees living in India was to go back home and safeguard their lands, he said. The Chairman of Kasturi and Sons Limited, N. Ram, said the conditions in the Island had improved “significantly, if not radically” and it was the best time for the safe return of Tamil refugees to their homeland. With a new government in the island, there was a conducive atmosphere for those who were willing to return, he added. R.K. Radhakrishnan, Senior Deputy Editor, Frontline, said the conditions in the refugee camps in Tamil Nadu were bad and the accommodation provided to them had not been repaired in several years. He made a presentation on the future of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in India. (The Hindu 6/11/15)

62. 4 Myanmar refugees among 6 held in Hyderabad (13)

HYDERABAD: Police have arrested six persons, including four refugees from Myanmar, for illegally obtaining Indian passports and other identity cards (ID) cards under false names. They also arrested a home guard posted at RTA office, Khairatabad, for helping the refugees in securing the Indian passport illegally. In a joint operation conducted by the Bahadurpura police along with Special Branch cops at Kishanbagh and MM Pahadi in Rajendranagar, four Rohingyas from Myanmar, Md Rafeeq, 24, Md Aziz, 35, of Kishanbagh, Abdul Kareem, 35, and Md Saleem, 22, of MM Pahadi have been arrested. Cops seized two Indian passports containing photographs of Md Rafeeq and Md Aziz with false names and local addresses. Police also seized Indian passport applications of Kareem and Saleem with fake details of their identity. Cops also seized four voter ID and Aadhaar cards containing their photographs, but fake particulars. On interrogation, the four refugees, who have United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)-issued identify cards, confessed that they wanted to go to North American, Middle East or West European countries for employment and decided to obtain Indian passports for that purpose. The four refugees have told police that home guard Nazir Khan, 40, of Kishanbagh, currently posted at RTA office in Khairatabad, had helped them to contact Md Ghouse, 32, of Hussainialam, to obtain voter ID cards with fake particulars. With the help of Ghouse, the four refugees obtained voter ID cards and then Aadhaar cards with fake particulars and then opened bank accounts. Using all the supporting documents with fake particulars, the refugees applied for Indian passports. Rafeeq and Aziz managed to obtain Indian passports, but during the antecedent verification Kareem and Saleem’s passport applications were rejected. After a detailed scrutiny of the applications, the Special Branch cops along with Bahadurpura police nabbed all the four on Sunday. Based on their confession, police also arrested Ghouse and Nazir. A case was registered against the accused by the Bahadurpura police under sections, 370, 466, 468, 474, 473, 474 r/w 109 of the IPC, sections 12(1)(b)(d) of the Indian Passport Act 1967, section 14(a)(b)(c) of the Foreigners Act 1946, sections 10 & 24 of the Immigration Act, 1983, section 3 of the Passport Re-entry Act, 1920. The arrested persons would be produced in court and remanded in judicial custody on Monday. (Times of India 9/11/15)


63. Many RTI Activists’ Forums Boycott SIC Convention (1)

KOCHI: Various RTI activists’ forums boycotted the convention organised by the State Information Commission here on Tuesday and alleged that it was a futile bureaucratic exercise without public participation. At a press conference here on Tuesday, the RTI activists pointed out that the four posts of state information commissioners remain vacant in the SIC, even as nearly 10,000 appeals are pending before it. Besides this, the commission was averse to taking action against officials who failed to rightly implement RTI and hold information. While corruption, red-tape and nepotism are ruling the state, the functioning of the SIC has become almost defunct. The Commission do not want to face uncomfortable questions related to its functioning and that is why it did not invite the RTI activists forums into the convention, the activists alleged. “In the absence of an active and frequent interaction with the social groups and activists, the SIC would turn out to be another bureaucratic set up,” K N K Namboodiri of Kerala RTI Federation pointed out. The state government was trying to misguide the public as well as the court regarding the appointment of information commissioners, said M A Pookoya, state coordinator of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI). When the organisation approached the High Court, the government filed an affidavit saying that a committee had been formed, which was completely false. The NCPRI sought information through RTI on the committee and it was disclosed that no such committee had been constituted at all. The government is playing games and it would take at least three months to complete the mandatory procedures of appointing information commissioners. By then, the appeals and complaints before the SIC would accumulate further, he added. D B Binu of Human Rights Defence Forum, said that the organisations would launch a statewide agitation against the apathy of the government and the SIC. (New Indan Express 21/10/15)

64. Opposition attacks Devendra Fadnavis over CM Relief Fund issue (1)

New Delhi: Opposition Congress and NCP on Saturday attacked Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis over sanction of funds from CM Relief Fund to a dance troupe, demanding his resignation and apology for the “travesty”.”Money meant for relief fund or relief for a particular unforeseen situation is used for all kinds of peccadillo in Bangkok. What could be a greater travesty. “This calls for the resignation of the Chief Minister. The relief fund is administered by the chief minister directly. If money has been misappropriated for a cause for which the money has not been collected, it is a very serious issue. The CM should resign or the opposition parties together must insist on his resignation,” Congress leader Manish Tewari said. The attack came even as the Chief Minister’s Office denied any wrongdoing and said that the dance troupe comprising government employees was allocated the funds meant for such activities. An RTI query filed by activist Anil Galgali found that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis approved Rs 8 lakh for a government employees dance troupe to participate in a competition in Bangkok in December. He sanctioned the sum that was transferred to Sachivalaya Gymkhana for the dance contest. The issue has sparked a row with the opposition questioning the BJP-led government’s “priorities” at a time when the state is reeling under severe drought. “Maharashtra is facing severe drought and thousands of farmers are committing suicide. Thousands of application are pending before the CM. People are seeking relief for chronic diseases like cancer and heart attack. He has no time to take the decision to distribute Rs 5,000-10,000 to needy people.” “Despite that he diverted this fund to Sachivalaya Gymkhana for foreign tour for their own enjoyment. This cannot be tolerated. He should apologise for his shameful act. The money should be recovered from the people who have enjoyed. If not, Fadnavis should pay from his own pocket,” NCP leader Nawab Malik said. BJP leader Sania NC said levelling “baseless” allegations was wrong. She said Fadnavis’ “fight against corruption, his credibility, his accountability is being talked about all over the country”.She said complete information should be put in public domain.   (Zee News 24/10/15)

65. 10 years after RTI act, info under lock & key (1)

In 2005, when the country celebrated Vijayadashami to mark the symbolic triumph of good over evil, a potent tool to em power citizens and expose the often accepted sordid business of governance came into being. Ten years later, the Right to Information Act has become a whistleblower’s weapon as it seeks, though at times in theory, to bring to the light dealings in government departments otherwise shrouded in secrecy. But eight years before the Centre implemented this law, Tamil Nadu became the first country to enact a transparency law, albeit with too many loopholes. Enacted on May 4, 1997, the Tamil Nadu Right to Information Act had 21 exemptions, including 12 subclauses, and did not have an independent body to file appeals which defeated its purpose. So when the UPA government brought the RTI Act, 2005, it promised a tell-all story for just `10. In Tamil Nadu, from a mere 12,000 people using the act in 2006, more than 2.5 lakh filed pleas in 2011. According to the RTI annual reports between 2006 and 2011, 8.75 lakh pleas were filed in various departments in the state. Though there were only few highprofile exposes using the RTI Act in the state in the last 10 years, an RTI application in 2010 showed how the Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB) favoured judges, legislators and bureaucrats close to the ruling class while allotting plots under the discretionary quota.The law brought about changes in different ways, with implications ranging from the personal to social. It gave rise to a new breed of activists called RTI activists who asked piercing queries to the government. But after a decade, the crusaders say that the law meant to arm citizens to take on the corrupt amid the ruling class has suffered several blows. After the first two years, government departments have found ways to stonewall queries. For instance, the Tamil Nadu government is yet to place the 2012, 2013 and 2014 annual RTI reports in the assembly . V Gopalakrishnan, who exposed TNHB’s allotment irregularities, said activists are unable to access documents as officials continue to ditch queries. He said several departments cite `file missing’ as an excuse and dodge questions. RTI activists say government departments use Section 6 (3) and Section 7 (9) to deny and delay applications.Section 6 (3) says that if a public authority receives a request for information which is held by another public authority, “the authority shall transfer the application or such part of it as may be appropriate to that other public authority”. This eats up time. Section 7 (9) says, “An information shall be provided in the form in which it is sought unless it would disproportionately divert the resources of the authority or would be detrimental to the safety or preservation of the record in question”.”An increasing number of public information officers (PIO) are now transferring RTI applications from one department to another with an intention to divert the queries. The information commission has failed to enforce the implementation of suo motu disclosure of information on websites of departments under section 4 of the act,” said M Thuyamurthy , who has more than 200 RTI appeals pending. .. (Times of India 29/10/15)

66. Soon, RTI adalats to clear pending cases (1)

Bengaluru: To deal with the rising number of cases, the Karnataka Information Commission is contemplating holding Right To Information (RTI) adalats across the city from next month. Currently, 30,000 cases are pending before the authority, which is struggling with reduced staff strength. “We receive close to 800 to 1,000 appeals a month and each Commissioner has to deal with 30 cases a day. We have four Commissioners and one Chief Commissioner when the sanctioned strength is seven,” L. Krishnamurthy, KIC Commissioner (RTI), said while addressing members of FKCCI on Saturday. On the nature of pending cases, Mr. Krishnamurthy told The Hindu , “The maximum cases pertain to RTI applications filed with the BBMP and BDA. We are thinking of a zonal approach to the problem where we will hold adalats and deal with as many cases as possible.” He said that instructions on holding the adalats had been issued and the time and venue was yet to be fixed. Mr. Krishnamurthy said that of the complaints related to RTI applications filed with the BBMP, around 99 per cent pertained to building violations. “Some people, who misuse the Act, file around 1,000 cases. As a result, applicants from rural areas with one or two applications are not able to get a hearing. Sometimes, it takes around nine months for the appeal to reach us in some individual cases,” he said. Mr. Krishnamurthy said that the Commission receives complaints about departments that do not upload files available under the RTI Act on their websites. “If we receive such complaints, we can direct the authorities to upload the information,” he said. (The Hindu 1/11/15)

67. Nuapada Watershed Mission fails to respond to RTI query (1)

Bhubaneswar: The Watershed Mission office in Nuapada district is regularly violating RTI rules. The first appellate authority in the district is also indifferent towards the appeal of the applicants. They are in hand in gloves with their field offices, thus do not allow transparency, said the RTI activists of Nuapada district, adding that the violation is done knowingly to suppress corruption in implementation of watershed activities. Parameswar Barik of Dhanksar village had applied to the PIO, District Watershed Mission office, seeking information on activities taken up in Dhanksar and Sardhapur villages of Khariar block under watershed development programme. He was directed by the PIO to deposit Rs27,440 as Xerox cost per page. Barik went for an appeal before the first appellate authority. The Project Director of Watershed Mission of Nuapada, as the First Appellate Authority interestingly justified the cost without mentioning any reason. “I did not go for the second appeal, because that would have taken a long time for hearing. Thus, I visited the field office of the Mission to deposit the said amount, but unfortunately, they did not accept the money stating that, the money receipt is not available in their office,” said Barik. Barik claimed that he had tried several times to deposit the information fees, but the PIO at Khariar avoided. “Such tactics are adopted by the mission office regularly,” said RTI activist Kshirasindhu Sagaria of Khariar block. “I was directed by the office to deposit Rs 52,000 for information of two watersheds in 2013. My first appeal against the direction of the PIO was not heard by the PD, thus I went for second appeal, which is still pending in the State Information Commission,” added Sagaria. Villagers in every watershed complain about lack of transparency in activities. “Most of the activities are undertaken violating minimum accounting norms. I had verified the pass book of the watershed committee of Makarchuan Nala watershed. More than Rs18 lakh has been withdrawn but activities have been undertaken for Rs13.10 lakh,” said Barik. “It reveals that, the rest amount has been misappropriated,” Barik told. He also claimed that the works undertaken are of low quality. “An earthen bund has been repaired in Dhanksar village by using machine at a cost of Rs2.10 lakh, although hardly Rs70,000 would have been spent. The papers show that the work has been done by employing labour,” added Barik. It is revealed from the verification of documents produced by the watershed committee that most case records do not have resolutions of the village, nor the implementing agency (the Khariar Mission Office) has maintained MB (Measurement Book). There are also no order sheets and technical sanctions of the concerned authority. The RTI activists of Khariar have demanded transparency in the watershed mission’s work. “There should be regular social audit by the villagers,” they said. (Pioneer 5/11/15)

68. CIC returns 12% of info appeals with little explanation (1)

NEW DELHI: New analysis by Right to Information activists confirms that the Central Information Commission is returning requests for information at a high rate to the applicants. Twelve per cent of all second appeals and complaints received by the CIC this year were returned to the senders, with reasons for the return being made available in only a fraction of cases. As reported earlier by The Hindu, the number of cases the CIC admits has crashed precipitously. Activists say it is likely that a larger number of applicants are having their requests turned down. It is difficult to track requests which have been turned down by the CIC as there isn’t any clear information about them, say the activists. Cases come before the Delhi-based CIC in two ways: if an applicant is not satisfied with the response to his or her request for information from a Central government authority, he or she can approach the CIC with a second appeal, or if a citizen has a complaint — his or her request was not taken or wrong information was given or he or she has faced threats — he or she can complain directly before the CIC. An analysis by Manisha Chachra, Venkatesh Nayak and Lakshya Thukral of the Access to Information Programme of CHRI has shown that the CIC received 71,166 second appeals and complaints between January and October, 2015, and returned 8,534 or almost 12 per cent to the sender. The rate of return spiked in August, when one out of every five requests was returned. “CHRI firmly believes that the CIC has a duty to assist the appellants and complainants to cure any technical defects in their submissions. The reasonable way to do so is to advise the appellants/complainants to send the missing documents by post instead of simply throwing back their appeal papers at them,” the researchers said in a statement. “CHRI also believes that there is no provision for returning complaints to the sender under the RTI Act. CHRI recommends that if there are technical defects, the CIC may advise the complainant to cure them and keep the complaint pending in the meantime,” they added. Simultaneously, Anjali Bhardwaj and Amrita Johri of the National Campaign for the People’s Right to Information analysed the “deficiency memos” that the CIC must create for every appeal or complaint returned to the sender. Looking at one month, August 2015, alone, they found that the CIC received 6,389 pieces of incoming mail. Of these, the status for 1,048, showed that they were ‘Returned to Sender’; 183 were marked as ‘Registered’, and the remaining 5,158 were marked as ‘Fresh Dak’, meaning that they were yet unopened. Examining a random sample of five per cent of those returned to the sender, or 54 marked as such, they found that the deficiency memos could only be located for 11 of the 54 cases which were returned. “In the rest, which constitute more than 75 per cent of the samples analysed, the deficiency memos were not available online. This is extremely concerning, as it implies that no information is available on the CIC website about the reasons/basis for the sudden increase in the number of appeals/complaints being returned to senders,” Ms. Bhardwaj said. “It shows that the commission is itself not being transparent and that there is no public accountability,” Ms. Bhardwaj added. (The Hindu 7/11/15)

69. RTI Reveals Lies by Corporation Officials (1)

CHENNAI: Chennai Corporation officials are turning a blind eye to unauthorised buildings in Sowcarpet, and often provide false information under the Right to Information Act to shield illegal structures. City Express is in possession of few RTIs given by the Chennai Corporation to an RTI activist, which appears to be false. “There have been instances where Chennai Corporation officials put the blame on other departments and at times, say no inspection has been done despite clearly stating the violation,” says J Parasmal, an RTI activist. This comes when the Madras High Court has lamented about the unholy nexus between builders and officials. In one particular case, regarding a building on Thathamuthappan Street, the RTI activist had sought the reason as to why no action had been taken against the illegal building. “The public information officer stated that the appeal is pending before the housing and urban department,” said the activist. But according to the Housing and Urban Development Department, there has been no appeal pending in the government. “The building is not built as per plan. When I sought a reason as to why no action has been taken, they lied about it,” says Parasmal. Similarly, in another case, the officials replied to a query in RTI that they have not inspected the five-floor building in Narayana Mudalali Street. “If they haven’t inspected the building then how do they know it has five-floors?” he adds. Repeated attempts to contact Chennai Corporation officials have failed. Meanwhile, action is yet to be taken against a 7-storey building, which was sealed for major violation last year. Nearly 10-months later, the building, which is acknowledged by the Corporation as having violated the development regulations, is still standing tall and buzzing with activity. Corporation commissioner Vikram Kapur has submitted before the court that Chennai Corporation has conducted a detailed survey of 1,655 buildings and called for plan notices issued to 1486 buildings. He also said that the corporation has given de-occupation notice to 200 buildings. “Corporation has provided toll free number 18004251914, for public grievances and complaints. Public can also call the number to inform them about unauthorised constructions within the Corporation limits,” he said. The Corporation has stated that out of 11,304 buildings inspected in the Goerge Town area, only 72 were found to have been built in accordance with rules. “The preliminary survey revealed that merely 1% of buildings are built without any deviation,” the civic body had informed the court. (New Indian Express 9/11/15)


70. New education policy: Catholic Church asks govt to focus on values, inclusiveness (11)

New Delhi: The Catholic Church, which owns the second highest number of education institutions in the country, has asked the government to form its new education policy focusing on teaching values and probity in public life without being religion-specific. In its proposal to the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry for its new education policy, the Church claimed that the present system was deficient in ethical and moral components. Further, the Church said that the new policy should nurture diversity, inclusiveness and secularism as well as divergent and critical thinking among the students. The suggestions given to the government, which is expected to announce its new education policy in the coming two months, also included proposals like moderating fee structure, creating corpus scholarship fund for the marginalised, scrapping of all-promotion beyond Class III, evaluation of teachers once in three years and the creation of a national service for teachers to give them mobility on the lines of the civil services. The proposal was prepared by the Education and Cultural section of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) — the apex decision making body of the Catholic Church in India. “Amid growing incidents of intolerance in the country, it is essential that the education system focuses on value education and stands for Constitutional values,” said Father Joseph Manipadam, Secretary, Office of Education and Culture. “What we want to have is inclusive education,” he told The Indian Express. The CBCI team submitted its suggestions to Minister of Human Resource Development, Smriti Irani. According to Manipadam, the minister listened to them for almost an hour and forwarded the suggestions to her office to be incorporated in the draft policy. Urging the government to protect the secular nature and minority status of the educational institutions, the document suggested that minority schools — both aided and unaided — should be exempted from Right to Education. It said that while the curriculum should be able to develop scientific temper, spirit of inquiry, sensibility to safeguard public property and abjure violence, the examinations should be made more flexible and integrated with life situations. “Scientific research, academic development, technological development etc should be based on inalienable rights of the Indian citizens of all beliefs and practices,” the document added. The suggestions also stressed on inculcating value education. “On account of deficient attention to one’s duty and responsibility vis-à-vis our people the conclusion is clear: those ethical moral components/values that everyone does his or her task and perform are deficient in our educational system,” said the document. (Indian Express 22/10/15)

71. Teachers concerned over new survey (11)

Mumbai: With the exam season getting underway for both schools and colleges, the recent decision by education minister Vinod Tawde to have a state-wide survey for out-of-school children is to be conducted from October 29-30 has teachers concerned. Teachers have said that though they will be able to conduct the theory exams in the morning and go on survey for the rest of the day, oral exams and paper assessment will be delayed and hence the results too. Following the implementation of the Right To Education (RTE) Act in 2010 in Maharashtra, the state government became responsible for providing free and compulsory education to children in the age of six to 14 years. However due to the large migrant and floating population that includes contractual farm and kiln workers, the state was lagging behind in covering all the children in the stipulated age group. Hence the government decided to conduct a statewide survey on July 4 wherein 47,000 out-of-school children were found and enrolled in schools close to their homes. Due to the inability of the government to find and enroll all the 87,000 out-of-school children, education minister recently held a meeting of education officials, district collectors and zilla parishad officials and asked them to conduct a two-day survey to ensure that all out-of-school children were enrolled and a report of the same was submitted to the government by October 31. Commensurate to Mr Tawde’s order, the survey has been scheduled for October 29 and 30. However, teachers say that due to the exam season they will be forced to compromise on the oral exams and assessment duty to be available for the survey. “The new survey work will further hamper the teaching time of the teachers and as exams have been scheduled in the same period they will have to either delay exams or delay declaration of results,” said Anil Bornare, Mumbai president of Maharashtra Shikshak Parishad. (Asian Age 24/10/15)

72. Bengal for scrapping no-detention clause (11)

Kolkata, Oct 24 : The West Bengal government said on Saturday it has sent a letter to union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani supporting the decision of revocation of RTE Act’s no-detention clause in schools. Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said the state has backed the HRD ministry’s decision to bring back the “pass-fail” system. The move comes after Irani’s visit to the city in September for a meeting with education ministers of Bengal, Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand over the national education policy. At a Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) meeting recently, 20 state ministers unanimously backed the need to amend the RTE Act to enable yearly examinations and detention of poor performers. (New Kerala 24/10/15)

73. Meeting on New Education Policy (11)

BENGALURU: After several weeks of consultations about the New Education Policy (NEP), bureaucrats of southern States put forth their views at the southern zone meeting on Thursday. The meeting was presided over by Union Minister for Human Resources Development Smriti Irani and was attended by the Education Ministers of three southern States, including Karnataka. Minister of State for Primary and Secondary Education Kimmane Ratnakar said the clause on the no detention policy in the RTE Act that mandates that no child should be detained until the completion of elementary education. He also emphasised that an assessment test must be held in class seven so that the teacher and parents could gauge the learning levels of the child and take corrective measures. Among other things, he said that the Right to Education Act should cover children aged three to 16 years. He suggested that each gram panchayat have physical educators so that children, particularly in upper primary and high school, get access to physical education. (The Hindu 30/10/15)

74. Jesuits seek more transparency in new education policy (11)

Mumbai: Educationists have demanded more transparency, autonomy and equality for students of all genders in the proposed New Education Policy (NEP). The Centre should expedite the process of conferring autonomous status to colleges that have completed 25 years of existence, skill development should be embedded in the teaching-learning process and not be offered as disjointed courses, and established colleges should be allowed to run distance and online courses. These are some suggestions made by Jesuits in higher education in a letter to the Ministry of Human Resources & Development. The board, which comprises of 68 colleges in the country, including St Xavier’s College (Mumbai), met recently to discuss the themes and issues under the NEP. While several educationists have come forward to give suggestions to the MHRD, the state government has invited all stakeholders for a discussion organised at Sydenham College on Tuesday. State higher & technical education minister Vinod Tawde, who will be at the forum, said, “We are holding seminars and discussion with stakeholders and we intend to collectively present our suggestions to the Centre.” He added that according to him the Centre should ensure universities have some local area connect. “There should be stress on education with relevance. Employability of students should be of prime concern. Lastly, there should be some differentiation between educationally qualified and professionally qualified. The discussion on skill development is vast and we need to focus on that too,” said Tawde. St Xavier’s College principal Agnelo Menezes, who has written on behalf of the Jesuit institutions, stated in the letter that if an autonomous college is able to function excellently in terms of quality and is giving access to the poor and rural candidates and first generation learners, it should be free of restrictive regulations. (Times of India 2/11/15)

75. JNU council rejects courses in ‘Yoga’ and ‘Indian Culture’ (11)

New Delhi: In a rebuff to the government, Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Academic Council has rejected a proposal for introduction of short-term courses in ‘Indian Culture’ and ‘Yoga’ for propagating spiritual and mythological traditions and establishing Indian values in the world. The proposal was mooted by the varsity administration following communications from UGC and HRD ministry. However, the varsity’s Academic Council (AC), which is the top decision making body, rejected the proposal at a meeting last Friday. The proposal to introduce three short-term courses in these subjects had come against the backdrop of right-wing organisations, including BJP’s ideological mentor RSS, insisting on propagation of culture in educational campuses to promote India’s rich heritage and restore its cultural identity. “The draft for introduction of three short-term courses on Culture and Yoga was placed before the AC along with the feedback received from various departments on the same. The council unanimously resolved to reject the proposal,” an AC member told PTI. The rejection comes at a time when the government, especially the HRD ministry, is being accused of making attempts at saffronisation of education. The varsity had last month circulated a draft of three courses among various schools and departments of JNU for their feedback. According to the draft, the course on Indian culture aimed at expounding the importance of the country’s culture as well as exploring the etymological, social, spiritual, cultural and mythological aspects and establishing Indian values in the world. “The course will contain the texts, thoughts and traditions of different cultures and include things like religious systems in Indian culture among others. Besides, it will have portions from Vedas and selections from epics and Jatakas and suggestions on readings of Hindu epics like the Ramayana,” the draft reads. “There will be basic study of Indian culture to establish Indian rituals and values in the world and derive ways from these sources to make human life better,” it says. The document further says that Indian culture cannot be understood without the help of “Indian literature, which are generally written by sages”. “The course will encompass texts, thoughts and traditions of different cultures and include things like religious systems in Indian culture, among others,” it said. It also suggested reading of the Ramayana and the Bhagavad Gita from Gita Press Gorakhpur (the official press that prints Gita in Uttar Pradesh) , Acharya Jaidev’s Vedic Sanskriti, Tulsi Ram’s Vedas, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar’s Sanskriti ke Char Adhyaya, among others. (Hindustan Times 3/11/15)

76. Experts concerned over new education policy (11)

CHENNAI: Educationists have expressed apprehension over the Centre’s new education policy which, they said, was aimed at developing a skilled population without freedom to think and critically analyse issues. The Ministry of Human Resource Development has initiated a nation-wide consultation on the new education policy. The questionnaires, documents and discussions on the policy had raised serious doubts over its intentions, said educationists at a seminar organised jointly by the State Platform for Common School System and Tamil Nadu Science Forum here on Thursday. Anil Sadgopal of All India Forum for Right to Education said already in the GATS, the education was listed along with night clubs and pubs and termed service providers. “It is imperative that we fight the conceptual attack on education,” he said. “The recent withdrawal of non-NET scholarship by the MHRD is in the direction of privatisation which will dictate who will learn, what will be taught and how it will be taught. There will be no place for critical thought, asking questions, exploration which are all important components of education,” Prof. Sadgopal said. The preoccupation with rankings in the name of enhancing quality also came in for criticism. R. Ramanujam, a scientist with the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, termed it a one-dimensional approach. According to him the uniformity sought for syllabus in Central institutions was alarming. The approach to educational institutions was also managerial and not academic. Though the focus was on higher education, the government had not even taken into account some glaring facts, the educationists pointed out. For instance, though the 2011 census report had stated that only 8.4 per cent of the population had pursued higher education, the issue was never deliberated in Parliament, they pointed out. (The Hindu 7/11/15)


77. Chhattisgarh tribal man dies of starvation, probe on (21)

Raipur: Alleged starvation death of a primitive tribe man in a Chhattisgarh village has rocked the state. The alleged tragedy, occurred in the village of Ladergada under Bagicha block in north Chhattisgarh district of Jashpur last month, was brought to light by the local sarpanch on Tuesday. Chief minister Raman Singh promptly ordered a probe into reports of hunger death of the primitive tribe man after Opposition Congress called for President Pranab Mukherjee’s intervention in the matter. According to official sources, Lambu Ram (50), a member of Pahadi Korba tribe community, died on his way to village from Sanna, where he had gone to treat his wife Sukhni Bai at the local public health Centre for eye infection, on September 12. “We spent all our savings on my treatment. We were penniless and hungry when we were returning back to our village. My husband could not withstand hunger and passed away at Keledaragara on way to our village,” Ms Sukhni Bai told the visiting media persons. A delegation of Congress, which visited the tragedy-struck family on Tuesday, found no rice or any other foodstuff in their home. “We found that wild roots were the staple diet of not only the Sukhni Bai’s family but also of all the 20 Pahadi Korba tribe families residing in the village. No family in the village has ration card depriving them of benefits under Below Poverty Line scheme,” Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee president Bhupesh Baghel, who headed the probe team of his party, told reporters. Official sources said all the tribal families in the village eked out their living on selling fuel wood collected from the jungle. When contacted, Bagicha sub-divisional magistrate Prem Kumar Patel denied that Lambu Ram died due to starvation. (Asian Age 21/10/15)

78. Hunger death cry in tea garden (21)

JALPAIGURI: Allegations of hunger deaths are back to haunt the tea belt on north Bengal. At least eight deaths have been reported from Bagrakote tea estate in Malbazar in the last six weeks. The administration denies this. The garden was abandoned by the management in February this year, leaving nearly 1,500 workers and their families helpless. The closure of the garden, which was reeling from one crisis after another for the past few years, has left hundreds jobless and scrounging for food. Locals allege that starvation and malnutrition led to the deaths of eight persons. The latest was on Monday , when 44 year-old Mukti Santhal of Rai Line died. Bagrakote garden belongs to the Duncans group and there are 15 more gardens (13 in the Dooars and two in the Hills) which have stopped tea production since February. Four months on, nearly 25,000 tea workers are not getting wages and rations and living in endless misery. “If the Centre does not acquire these gardens as per the Plantation Labout Act, 1953, starvation and malnutrition deaths will again increase in the tea belt,” feared Chitta Dey, convener of Coordination of Tea Plantation Workers’ Unions. “We are crying out for aid but have received very little. The garden is running out of food. Pimps are already prowling the area,” said Laurentus Kerketta, a worker. The administration denies these are starvation deaths, saying that adequate steps were taken to ensure that food wasn’t a problem for workers after the tea garden was abandoned. “In all 41 sick and closed gardens in the Dooars, the administration is taking care so that no one is left unfed. Special ration are being given to expectant mothers,” said a food department official. Last year, the nation was shocked when 100 alleged starvation deaths were reported between January and July in closed tea gardens of the Dooars. Then, too, the administration had denied these were hunger deaths. In the erstwhile Left regime, when hundreds of workers were dying in closed and abandoned tea estates, the administration had never accepted starvation and malnutrition. There may be a different party in power, but the stance of the government remains the same. Workers have received loads of promises from the administration and labour unions but there is little sign of implementation. Irregularities in all the government sectors have made life hell for the, the workers say. (Times of India 27/10/15)

79. Poverty is falling fast in India, but we still measure it terribly (21)

Earlier this month, the World Bank decided to raise its global poverty line from $1.25 per day (in Purchasing Power Parity or PPP terms) to $1.90, the first major overhaul in ten years. How the Bank essentially constructs its poverty line is by taking the average of the national poverty lines of 15 of the world’s poorest countries (chiefly sub-Saharan countries and Nepal since 2005) and then converts this average into an internationally comparable number. For this number, it takes a basket of goods and services and calculates how much it would cost to buy these in various countries – think of it like a global exchange rate, essentially. What happened last week is that the World Bank decided to update the prices in this basket to 2011 prices (plus a few other tweaks) since incomes in these countries had risen, and that raised the poverty line – what was $1.25 at 2005 prices became $1.90 at 2011 prices. In aggregate numbers, this means that there were 897 million poor people globally in 2012 by the new poverty line. By the old poverty line, there were over 1 billion poor people as of 2011. (It seems strange that raising the poverty line still led to a lower number of poor people, but the fact is that incomes have grown considerably too.) In long-term trends, the updating changes really quite little. Here’s how India, China, Bangladesh and the world’s poverty levels had changed over the years according to the old poverty line.What does this mean for India? Well whichever way you look at it, poverty’s declining fast in India. By the new poverty line, in fact, the two years between 2009 and 2011 saw the fastest ever decline in India’s poverty in history. But the drawing and redrawing of poverty lines is a hugely fraught issue, and few have spoken more sharply and engagingly about it than Angus Deaton, the Scottish-born Princeton economist renowned for his work on consumption, poverty, nutrition and health – the irony of a major overhaul in global poverty lines just weeks before he was awarded the Nobel Prize would not have been lost on him. Mr. Deaton, who has long criticised the World Bank’s (and India’s, for that matter) ways of drawing poverty lines and is on a new commission to examine ways to improve it, told the Financial Times about the shift to $1.90 last month: “You’ve got a line that no one knows where to put it, PPPs that change, and underlying data that is bad.. It is sort of a statistical problem from hell.” The problems with the poverty line, as Mr. Deaton has frequently and eloquently pointed out, become sharply relevant for India. As President of the American Economic Association in 2010, Mr. Deaton gave a speech that is essential reading for anyone interested in poverty lines. In it, he pointed out that the graduation of India from the group of 15 poor countries the World Bank used to fix a poverty line in 2005 because it had now grown to middle income status perplexingly actually increased the number of poor in India. How on earth did that happen? India’s poverty line was so low that its graduation out of the group substantially raised the average poverty line – if you’ve been averaging 15 poor friends’ incomes, then when one of the poorest leaves the group, the group’s average income shoots up. Raising the global poverty line raised the number of those officially classified as poor everywhere – including in India. Mr. Deaton suggests a number of ways to improve poverty measurement, including self-reporting, of which he is a passionate advocate. Where does that leave us? Poverty in India is undeniably declining fast – perhaps faster than ever before – but the world’s newest Nobel laureate reminds us that we still do a terrible job of measuring it. (The Hindu 27/10/15)

80. Most anganwadi children don’t eat take-home ration, finds study (21)

MUMBAI: A study in three tribal districts of the state has found that 95% of children do not consume the take-home ration (THR), provided as supplementary nutrition, at anganwadis. The state spends around Rs 300 crore to the makers of these supposedly protein and micro-nutrient-rich powdered foods. Anganwadis provide cooked meals to children in the age group of 3-6 years, while children under 3 years are provided the THR packets twice a month. The findings were based on a survey in Amravati, Nandurbar and Gadchiroli by NGOs Rachna, Lokseva Sangam, Sathi, who interviewed families of 234 children. Around 98% found the sweet powdered food (sheera) unpalatable. In a previous study in 2012, around 79% had said that they fed THR to their cattle, hens or dogs. (Times of India 30/10/15)

81. Every Fourth Indian Goes Hungry, Says Vandana Shiva (21)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Environmentalist Vandana Shiva on Sunday said the country was on the decline in terms of production and consumption of healthy food. She was addressing mediapersons with regard to the announcement of the third Annam National Food and Agro biodiversity festival scheduled from December 10 to 14 in Kochi. “Every fourth Indian is hungry. Each second a child in the country is losing his or her weight and height. It’s due to lack of nourishment. The health of the younger generation is deteriorating physically and intellectually. Ever since the advent of junk food, the energy of young India is at stake.  Ayurveda which has a rich tradition and heritage in the country is not to be limited to massage parlours,” she said. It is time for a wake-up call as the youths are dying of heart attack and cancer. She  raised apprehension that number of farmer suicide had crossed 3 lakh.After the announcement of the festival that will be at Rajendra Maidan she launched the blog of a  group of techies running an NGO, Prakruthi, for promoting organic farming among the youth,in the Technopark. The festival will showcase the rich diversity of Indian food, agriculture and the native culinary ethos. Several workshops and seminars will be conducted by experts in various fields. The five-day event will be organised by Centre for Innovation in Science and Social Action (CISSA), an NGO working with the support of the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Food and Civil supplies. (New Indian Express 2/11/15)

82. Starvation Deaths Stalk Bengal Estates (21)

KOLKATA: With starvation deaths stalking the tea gardens in North Bengal, the state government on Monday ordered a CID probe into the issue. On Sunday, labourer Ranti Goalini (62) died at Bagrakote tea estate of the Duncans Group. His wife alleged that since wages had not been paid over the last several months, they could not even buy rice. Sources said there had been 13 starvation deaths in the last 45 days due to non-payment of wages, though the government claimed that the labourers had been suffering from ailments and the deaths were natural. The CID on Monday asked Duncans Group chairman G P Goenka to report at its headquarters here as there were charges of financial discrepancies in the tea company. Since Goenka was out of the city, another director M H Chinoy went to meet the sleuths. But he was told that Goenka should be present for questioning on Tuesday. The Duncans tea gardens cover 7,500 hectares of land spread over the Dooars, Terai and Darjeeling. (New Indian Express 3/11/15)

83. Adivasis have been reduced to eating garbage, says VS (21)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The sight of Adivasi children eating food from a garbage dump at Peravoor, a high range village, is a telling commentary on the kind of ‘development’ that the United Democratic Front (UDF) government claims to have achieved in the last four and a half years, Leader of the Opposition V. S. Achuthanandan said in a statement here on Thursday. The UDF government pretends to have spent crores of rupees of the Adivasis. In spite of this, how is it that there are hunger deaths among the Adivasis? How is it that there are stillborn Adivasi infants, a press note issued here on Thursday asked. The sad plight of tribal settlements at Attappady has figured in the media even before. It is shocking that Adivasis in Kerala have to eat garbage to quench their hunger. A case should be registered against the UDF government under relevant provisions of the Prevention of Atrocities Against the SC/STs Act, Mr. Achuthanandan said. Adivasis have been reduced to eating garbage because the greedy in the UDF government have ‘swallowed’ the money meant for the welfare of the tribal people, just as they have done away with money meant for other sectors. The UDF rule by making an Adivasi woman Minister a mute witness has reduced Kerala to a deplorable State. Enlightened Kerala would never forgive this UDF government for behaving in an unconscionable manner towards the Adivasis, the press note added. (The Hindu 6/11/15)

84. Climate change could result in 100 million poor: World Bank (21)

Stockholm: Climate change could push more than 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030 by disrupting agriculture and fueling the spread of malaria and other diseases, the World Bank has said in a report. Released yesterday, just weeks ahead of a UN climate summit in Paris, the report highlighted how the impact of global warming is borne unevenly, with the world’s poor woefully unprepared to deal with climate shocks such as rising seas or severe droughts.”They have fewer resources and receive less support from family, community, the financial system, and even social safety nets to prevent, cope and adapt,” the Washington-based World Bank said. How to help poor countries — and poor communities within countries — deal with climate change is one of the crunch issues in talks on a global climate accord that’s supposed to be adopted next month in Paris. Those who say that rich countries aren’t doing enough to help the poor said the report added emphasis to demands for billions of dollars in so-called climate finance to developing countries. “The statistics in the World Bank report are suitably shocking and I hope they force world leaders to sit up and take notice,” said Mohamed Adow of Christian Aid. “The Paris deal needs to support the poor and vulnerable communities to cope with unavoidable climate crises better, and to be more resilient to a changed climate.” Despite pledges to rein in emissions of carbon dioxide and other global warming gases, climate change isn’t likely to stop anytime soon. Carbon emissions are expected to rise for many years as China, India and other developing countries expand the use of fossil fuels to power their economies. But efforts to protect the poor, such as generally improving access to health care and social safety nets, and targeted measures to upgrade flood defenses and deploy more heat-tolerant crops could prevent most of the negative consequences of climate change on poverty, the bank said. “Absent such good development, climate change could result in an additional 100 million people living in extreme poverty by 2030,” the report said. Stephane Hallegatte, one of the authors, told The Associated Press that one of the unique features of the report was that instead of analyzing the macro-economic impact of climate change it was based in part on surveys of 1.4 million people in 92 countries. “When we ask people why they fall into poverty there are three major factors,” he said. “Agricultural shocks, including an increase in food prices; natural disasters such as floods, droughts, storms; and health issues, including malaria, diarrhea. (Business Standard 9/11/15)


85. India adds 5.21 lakh jobs in a year (14)

New Delhi: Employment in eight sectors including IT/BPO, automobiles, gems & jewellery and textile rose by 5.21 lakh last fiscal, said a government report. However, job creation in these eight sectors which also include handloom/powerloom, leather, transport and metal remained little stressed in the January-March quarter at 64,000 over the previous quarter, as per Labour Bureau’s ‘25th Quarterly Report on Changes in Employment’. During the first three quarters of 2014-15, these sectors witnessed an overall increase in employment by 1.82 lakh, 1.58 lakh and 1.17 lakh over the previous quarters. As per the 24th report, the overall employment had reduced by 36,000 in the January-March quarter in 2013-14. The report also stated that the overall employment increased by 2.76 lakh during 2013-14, lower than 5.21 lakh in the previous fiscal. At industry level, the highest increase in employment is observed in IT/BPOs sector where jobs increased by 37,000 during January-March, over November-December, 2014, followed by textiles including apparel sector (24,000), automobiles sector (20,000) and metals sector (1,000). The largest decrease in employment was recorded in leather sector (8,000) followed by gem & jewellery (6,000), transport (2,000) and handloom/powerloom (2,000). In the direct category of workers, employment has increased by 15,000 whereas for contract category of workers, it has increased by 49,000 during the quarter ended March, 2015 over December, 2014. Employment in the exporting units has increased by 73,000 at overall level, whereas in the non-exporting units, it has decreased by 9,000 during January-March, 2015 over the previous quarter November-December, 2014. Labour Bureau has been conducting a series of quarterly quick employment surveys since January, 2009 to study the impact of global economic slowdown on employment in Indian economy. The first one was conducted to study the impact of economic slowdown on employment during the October-December quarter of 2008. (Asian Age 21/10/15)

86. Maternity Benefit Ought to Follow Basics for Workers (14)

The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development has recently proposed that the 12-week maternity leave granted to working women under the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, should be increased to eight months. Can India, which is still struggling to ensure even basic rights for people, especially in remote areas, afford the luxury of eight months of maternity leave? With the current financial capacities, will a majority of organisations not feel that they have been saddled with eight months of pay for no work? Another million-dollar question is whether the proposed eight-month leave would really benefit women or would it ironically prove detrimental by creating yet another hiring hurdle for them? Meeting the interests of economics as well as child nutrition and women’s well-being are equally essential. The suggestion is to take the middle path by adding a couple of weeks of paid leave to the 12-week provision. Over and above this, there can be unpaid leave of another five months. In toto, the paid plus unpaid leave can together stretch up to about eight months, rather than the entire period of leave being paid for. Also, during the period when the woman is on leave, companies should be allowed to hire fixed-term employees as substitutes. A provision should be made that as soon as the woman employee rejoins work, the contract of the fixed-term employee would be automatically terminated. Currently, a woman is entitled to maternity leave as soon as she completes 80 days of service. This time period should be revised to about six months. While the proposal of eight months of paid maternity leave may not be feasible for many Indian entrepreneurs, some value-based multinationals—especially the ones headed by women—have brought out proactive gender balancing strategies that offer lucrative maternity leave of eight months. Many of them are also offering back-up child care, including for sick children. Countries like Germany, Japan and New Zealand offer 14 weeks of paid leave. Most of Europe, especially Scandinavia, offers great benefits ranging from nine months of leave to even a year. We may not be ready to adopt Scandinavian/European standards for working women in India in most sectors, but ensuring compliance of basic requirements has been inordinately delayed by our administrative and executive machineries. The most important sectors that need to be urgently catered to are the rural areas and the unorganised sector. Women in such areas should be made aware of the existing basic provisions. Women in the construction sector need special attention. Hundreds of crores of rupees in cess are lying in the government coffers in the name of workers’ welfare. This, too, can be utilised for women and child development. Further, there is a need to encourage compliance of the provision of creches, which already figure in the Factories Act and the Building and Other Construction Workers Act. Also, schemes, regulations and provisions should be framed for maternity needs of self-employed women like lawyers, doctors and other professionals as well as shopkeepers, hawkers and vendors. Another area that needs a check is the government sector, which provides for two years of leave for child care over and above six months of maternity leave as per the pay commissions. Misuse of the two-year provision for child care also needs a check. To cater to the hiring hurdle for women, especially in their marriageable and child-bearing age, a provision should be made for mandatorily keeping women employees in the interviewing committees. It’s not easy being a woman in India, though we have come quite far. Eight months of paid maternity leave may not be affordable, but other basic requirements need to be served across the country on an urgent basis. (New Indian Express 24/10/15)

87. Centre move to bring more workers under EPFO (14)

New Delhi: Aiming to bring more construction workers under the benefit of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), the Centre has asked concerned officials to visit construction sites to ensure employers open PF accounts for all workers. The Additional Provident Fund Commissioner has sent a circular to all regional PF offices instructing them that senior officials should visit construction spots, including roads, bridges, pipeline, railway line, buildings and enrol the workers for the benefit of the scheme. The circular also said that it is the principal employers’ duty to make certain that contractors, who they engage for construction, should open separate PF account for each workers. The principal employers should also monitor whether the contractors are paying his part of contribution or not. Though similar instructions to enrol construction workers were issued earlier as well, this time the labour ministry has decided to engage senior officials for the job following the complaints that contractors were evading enrollment of workers. “All construction sites which are located in your regions should be visited and photographs be taken when work is going on,” said the circular sent to regional PF offices. Regional officers were also advised to guide all the employers having more than 500 or more workers. (Deccan Herald 26/10/15)

88. Striking civic workers dump garbage on Delhi roads (14)

New Delhi: The municipal sanitation workers on Tuesday dumped garbage on the city’s roads to highlight a string of their demands, including timely payment of monthly salaries. The strike continued for the fifth day, and to highlight their agitation a union of sanitation workers dumped garbage on the roads in east Delhi’s Vivek Vihar area. “We are throwing waste on the road as a way of protest and to attract attention of the government authorities towards our demands of timely payment of salaries and other things,” Akhil Bharatiya Safai Mazdoor Congress president Rajendra Mewati said. The Delhi government on Sunday claimed that the strike by workers of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) had ended, but one of the main unions said the protest was still “going on”.The sanitation workers in the national capital went on an indefinite strike last Friday, demanding, mainly, timely payment of their salaries and regular employment for those who have been working on contract for over a decade. (Zee News 28/10/15)

89. Notice to Centre for Improper Implementation of NREGA (14)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Ministry of Rural Development on a PIL alleging improper implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, in terms of timely payment of wages and compensation. “States should wake up and make prompt payments,” a Bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu told advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioners RTI activist Aruna Roy, social activist Nikhil Dey and ex-civil servant Lalit Mathur, seeking the setting up of independent social audit units and indexing wage rates under the NREGA higher than that of the minimum wages stipulated under the Minimum Wages Act. Maintaining that Section 22(1) of the Act mandates the Centre to release funds for the wages, the petitioners said the dues payable to rural workers have mounted to Rs 3,100 crore. The PIL sought a direction to the Centre to restore the demand-based fund-release system as envisaged in the Operational Guidelines 2008 and comply with its statutory mandate of releasing funds to match the state governments’ expenditure at all times. It also wanted the Centre to ask states to ensure that prompt compensation is paid to workers in case of any delay of over 15 days. (New Indian Express 3/11/15)

90. Odisha announces shelter assistance for construction workers (14)

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday announced the launch of the ‘Nirman Shramik Pucca Ghar Yojana’ from December to provide shelter to construction workers in the state. The government has decided to provide Rs.1 lakh as housing grant under the scheme to construction workers through the Odisha Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board. Workers registered for minimum five years, and aged between 18 and 60 years, will be eligible to get the grant to build houses on their own land, said a release from the Chief Minister’s Office. However, workers who have benefited from other housing schemes cannot apply. (Business Standard 3/11/15)

91. NHRC seeks answers from DM in 2014 ‘bonded labour’ probe report (14)

BAREILLY: National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the district magistrate (DM) to submit a reply to a complaint of alleged discrepancies in a 2014 probe report related to bonded labourers engaged in brick kilns across the district. The DM has been asked to submit a reply within six weeks. NHRC was acting on a complaint lodged by human rights worker Rashmi Gupta, seeking an inquiry into the alleged case of more than 40 bonded labourers and sexual harassment of female workers by brick kiln owners. Gupta filed the complaint following a news report about the case in a local Hindi daily on April 2014. The report also stated that the workers had not received their due wages. Speaking to TOI, Gupta said, “The news report indicated that local police, with the help of labour department officials, had settled the issue of unpaid wages. Police authorities, thereafter, also stated that there were no cases of bonded labour. I sought the intervention of NHRC after this.” The inquiry report, dated July 2015 and conducted by district authorities, denied allegations of bonded labour. It said that complaints leveled by Gupta were unfounded since ‘recorded statements’ of the labourers denied bonded service. The report also stated that the arrear wages were paid and workers sent back to their native places. Taking note of reported discrepancies in the probe report, NHRC has now asked the DM if brick-kiln operators had licenses from competent authority and whether the monthly or fortnightly wages were in accordance with notified rates. It has also asked the DM to forward legible copies of wage registers, muster roll, wage slips and other copies of registers required to be maintained under various labour legislations. The body also questioned about caste, age and gender of labourers engaged and if they were contacted directly or an licensed agent was involved in their employment. The DM has also been asked if kiln owners had followed all provisions and rules contained in the Minimum Wages Act, 1948. The body has questioned whether Vigilance Committee, as mandated under the provisions of Bonded Labour System (Abolitions) Act, 1976, was constituted or not. (Times of India 7/11/15)

92.  Centre Plea to State on EPF for Building Workers (14)

BHUBANESWAR: The Centre has requested the State Government to ensure that construction workers are provided provident funds and other benefits. The Centre has asked the State Government to ensure registration of all construction workers under the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation and Conditions of Service) (BOCW) Act and Employees’ Provident Funds (EPF) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act so that they can get the benefits. Though there are an estimated 21 lakh construction workers in the State, 12 lakh have so far been registered. While over 7.3 lakh workers were registered under BOCW Act by 2014-15, over 12 lakh workers have already been covered by the end of October this year. A target has been fixed to ensure registration of 21 lakh workers by the end of next year. Meanwhile, the State Government has decided to launch two more welfare schemes for the construction workers. The housing and pension schemes for the construction workers will be launched in December. The housing scheme, Shramik Pucca Ghar Yojana, will be launched through the Odisha Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Board. Financial assistance will be provided to the workers for construction of houses on their own land. Beneficiaries will be provided assistance of ` one lakh each for construction of houses. Construction workers registered with the Odisha Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Board for the last five years will be eligible for getting assistance under the scheme. The Government has set a target to cover 3,000 registered workers during 2015-16 with an expenditure of `30 crore under the scheme. Besides, all construction workers above 60 years will be paid a pension of `500 per month. Steps are also being initiated to train workers to increase their efficiency for which `80 crore has been earmarked. (New Indian Express 9/11/15)


93. Keep MPs, MLAs out of OBC creamy layer, demand netas (25)

NEW DELHI: A parliamentary panel on OBC welfare has taken exception to the proposal that elected representatives be included in the “creamy layer” ineligible for Mandal reservations in central jobs and educational institutions. It also demanded that the income ceiling to weed out the “creamy layer” from quota benefits be raised to Rs 20 lakh annually. The present ceiling stands at Rs 6 lakh, while a hike has been proposed to Rs 10.5 lakh. The twin demands reflect the unease of backward politicians over the recommendations of the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) to the Centre for the periodic review of “creamy layer”.In a first, the ‘parliamentary committee on welfare of OBCs’ recently took up the NCBC report for a thorough discussion and expressed dissatisfaction with its proposals. It is reliably learnt that it has asked the NCBC to withdraw and reconsider the report (which TOI reported exclusively in a series of articles in May). According to sources, the discussion was stormy as members argued that the stringent restrictions of “creamy layer” were responsible for the OBC presence in government being less than half of the 27% quota in operation for over two decades. The tug of war revolves around the NCBC’s radical suggestion that past and present MPs and MLAs should not be eligible for reservation, arguing that election to “high offices” like legislatures showed that the said individual had achieved “social elevation” to fall in the “creamy layer”.The NCBC has also proposed that wards of a ‘Class I’ officer in state/Centre be excluded from reservation benefits, irrespective of the officer being a “direct recruit” or a “promotee”. Presently, only “direct recruits” fall in the “creamy layer”.At the meeting, the members of the OBC parliamentary panel questioned how elected representatives could be put in the “creamy layer” when not all of them were educated or rich, and were elected for a short term. Citing the low figures of OBC workforce in the government, the MPs lamented that it had not reached even half of 27%.In this context, the panel members argued the NCBC’s suggested income bar of Rs 10.5 lakh was restrictive as it would keep out a big chunk of backwards from availing quota. The red flag is significant since the present income bar stands at Rs 6 lakh. According to them, the leap in education costs makes the present and the proposed income ceiling incongruous with the competitiveness expected from OBCs to avail quotas. “The income for creamy layer should be Rs 20 lakh annually,” the panel said. (Times of India 21/10/15)

94. Give OBC tag or will convert, warn 500 Patel families in Gujarat (25)

AHMEDABAD: As many as 500 Surat-based Patel families have threatened to convert from Hinduism if the community is not granted OBC status and reservation in jobs and education. All the families reside in Pasodara village near Surat city. Local Patel leaders described the move as a “symbolic protest” against the state government, which “has denied the community reservation benefits under OBC category”.”We have conveyed our wish to convert to various Hindu organisations and leaders of our religion,” said Raju Bodara, a prominent member of Akhil Bharatiya Patidar Sena, a Patel group, in Surat district. Vijay Patel, a local, said the families had been “compelled” to take such a step. “Looking at the current situation, where the government is terrorising Patels by various means, we are left with no other option but to convert. We are compelled to do so. This government and our religious leaders should introspect,” he said. Meanwhile, it has been reported that the self-styled torchbearer of the Patel quota stir, Hardik Patel, may attend a rally of O P Chautalaled Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) on November 1 at Rohtak. Hardik is currently jailed under sedition charges. “Hardik had confirmed to me that he would come (before the arrest). If he gets bail, I am sure he will attend the rally ,” senior INLD member Abhay Singh Chautala said. (Times of India 26/10/15)

95. SC panel chief dubs RSS ‘anti-Dalit’ (25)

NEW DELHI: Weeks after RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat courted a controversy by calling for a committee to look into “which categories require reservation and for how long,” the Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, P.L. Punia, has dubbed the Sangh “anti-Dalit.” “Mr. Bhagwat has said this two-three times. The RSS and the BJP are anti-Dalit and anti-reservation. They [the government] have no commitment to the pending Bill on reservation in promotion, too. The constitutional amendment Bill is pending, why don’t they push for it,” he asked in a conversation with The Hindu. He is also a Rajya Sabha member of the Congress. “The Prime Minister’s speech on terminating interview for Group B, C and D jobs smacks of obsession with ‘merit.’ They talk about Dr. Ambedkar. Mr. Bhagwat praised Dr. Ambedkar in his Dussehra speech. But he did not say a word about his previous comment on reservation. He made no clarification. And the BJP hasn’t said once that it disagrees with him — they have just said they agree with the present policy.” The BJP strongly disagreed with this view. “The PM has made it clear that none can finish quotas till he lives. Our party chief Amit Shah has also upheld quotas as they exist. Even the RSS chief had said these may continue for a 100 years. Mr. Punia’s comments are motivated,” BJP spokesperson Bizay Sonkar Shastri said. “He is in a constitutional position. He should clarify whether he is acting as SC Commission chief or a Congress spokesperson.” Mr. Punia had days ago strongly reacted to Union Minister Gen. (retd.) V.K. Singh’s “dog” analogy in the deaths of two Dalit children in Haryana, and has called for cases to be registered against him under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and the IPC.Asked whether there should be exclusion of the creamy layer among Dalits from the purview of reservation, Mr. Punia said this did not seem legally possible but he did not have any personal objection to it. “The creamy layer concept was discussed in detail by the Supreme Court in the Indra Sawhney case. It said creamy layer exclusion would apply only in relation to OBCs. So, legally speaking, the SCs are a special class and different from OBCs,” he said. “But so far as my personal opinion is concerned, I don’t have a problem in the exclusion of the very well-to-do, who have benefited from the reservation in the past.” Asked about Congress leader Jitin Prasada seeking a debate on Mandal and asking for quotas for the poor among the upper castes and a focus on the most backward castes, Mr. Punia said: “Our 2014 manifesto said we can consider other proposals without prejudice to the existent 50 per cent quota for the SCs and STs and the OBCs. All Congressmen are committed to this. This is both my individual and party position.” (The Hindu 27/10/15)

96. India’s reservation structure correct, quota issue shouldn’t be politicised: RSS (25)

New Delhi: Days after Mohan Bhagwat kicked up a political storm with his quota remarks, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) has clarified its stand on reservation policy. While clearing its stance on the issue, the RSS said it is not against reservations and the concept of quota is an article of faith for them, according to a report of news channel IBNLIVE. “The current reservation structure in India is right in itself,” RSS leader Dattatreya Hosabale said, adding that “the issue of reservation must not be politicised.” RSS’ statement comes a month after its chief Mohan Bhagwat called for ending caste discrimination and said only an equitable society can lead to a strong and proud community. “Interest groups are formed because we have certain aspirations in democracy. At the same time, we should remember that through interest groups we should not strive to address those aspirations at the cost of others,” he had said. “We should have integral approach of welfare for all. It is sensible to realise that my interest lies in larger national interest. Government also has to be sensitive to these issues that there should not be any agitations for them,” Bhagwat told Sangh mouthpiece “Organiser” and “Panchjanya” in an interview. A political row broke out over RSS chief’s call for review of reservation policy with BJP opposing it and distancing itself from its ideological mentor and shared the stand taken by Bihar-based parties which said reservation in India is a “settled issue”.BJP said it respected 100 per cent the reservation rights of SCs, STs and other backward castes as it was essential for their social and economic development and empowerment. The BJP was taken aback with Bhagwat’s comments and Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself had to turn the reservation row on its head during an election rally in Bihar. “I come from an extremely backward class and understand the pain of having been born to a poor woman. I will not allow this to happen. I pledge to protect the rights of dalits, mahadalits and backwards, even if it means sacrificing my life,” he said addressing an election rally in Buxar on Tuesday. RSS had also clarified that Bhagwat did not speak about existing quota system but said everybody should try to ensure that all weaker sections reap its benefits. (Zee News 30/10/15)

97. U’khand cabinet nod for bill on 10% reservation to statehood activists (25)

DEHRADUN: The Uttarakhand state assembly, which begins its four-day supplementary budget session today in Gairsain, may take up as one of its first activities, the bill to grant 10% horizontal reservation to the over 10,000 statehood activists and their children in state government jobs. The bill received a nod from the state cabinet in a meeting chaired by chief minister Harish Rawat late on Saturday night. Confirming that the bill, which seeks to fulfill the longstanding demand made by statehood activists , would be tabled on priority, assembly speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal, who will preside over the proceedings of the session, told TOI that “in all likelihood, the bill should be placed on the floor of the House either on Monday or Tuesday.” The provision of horizontal reservation stipulates that if a person in the reserved category is a member of SC, ST or OBC, he/she should get the benefits of the reservation entitled to these categories. If from the general category, he/she should get the declared reservation under the horizontal reservation provision. Notably, the state government had to draft the bill for proposed reservation after the Supreme Court issued a directive to it to this effect about two months ago. This followed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed by the state government to challenge the Uttarakhand HC order quashing a government order (GO) that was passed by the Harish Rawat government which accorded reservation to statehood activists. Meanwhile, statehood activists say they are finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel. “The day this bill becomes an Act, it will be major victory on the part of all statehood activists who have been fighting for their demand for such a long time,” said Pradeep Kukreti, general secretary of Rajya Andolankari Manch. (Times of India 1/11/15)

98. Patels to protest against Modi in Britain (25)

Ahmedabad: Patel community activists have sought Britain’s permission to stage protests against Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he visits there this month, a Patel leader said on Monday. They want to hold the demonstration to press their demand for reservations for Patels in jobs and educational institutions in Gujarat. Said Varun Patel, a Patidar leader in Ahmedabad: “We have written to British Prime Minister David Cameron to allow us to exercise our right to protest in their great democracy since we are not allowed to do so in our very own state by our own government.” Patel, who is the Ahmedabad convenor of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), was referring to the sedition charges slapped on PAAS chief Hardik Patel and his supporters. “Hardik and his close associates are being tossed from one set of policemen in one city to another in another city,” he added. Varun Patel said: “We wish to highlight before the Indian community in Britain the plight of the Patel community which is being targeted for raising its voice in the prime minister’s home state Gujarat.” He wondered how other political parties and groups are allowed to take out processions and stage protests, “but no Patidar gets permission to hold a public function in this state”. Modi is scheduled to visit Britain from November 12 to 14 before leaving for Turkey to attend the G-20 summit. Patel said the agitating Patels had decided to vote against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates, irrespective of their caste, in the ensuing elections to 323 local bodies, including six municipal corporations, on November 22 and 29. “Kamal ne kachdi nakhishu (We will crush the lotus)”, Varun Patel said, referring to the BJP election symbol. (Business Stadard 2/11/15)

99. Tribunal Orders in Favour of Disabled Candidate (25)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala Administrative Tribunal’s (KAT) order to include a physically handicapped (PH) candidate who succeeded in the  Prelims and Final written tests in the rank list for the post of Deputy Collector in the Land Revenue Department is likely to put an end to the PSC practice of conducting ‘suitability assessment’ of PH candidates. Madhu K of Sreepadam, Patturaikal, Thrissur, an alumnus of IIT, Kharagpur and presently employed with IIT Ahmedabad had moved KAT against the denial of justice and discrimination meted out to him. Madhu, who completed MTech in Electrical Engineering from IIT, Kharagpur had been shortlisted, but the PSC found him unfit for outdoor work after the interview. “It was a denial of equal opportunity and rights enshrined in the Constitution. As per the Central Act, physically handicapped persons considered for posts reserved for them should not be subjected to the ‘suitability assessment’ on the basis of an interview. The Central Act passed in 1995  emphasises the need for giving the disabled a quota,” he pointed out. KAT sitting chaired by Justice T R Ramachandran Nair and member K Cyriac Joseph after analysing various provisions of the Act,   held that having considered the physically handicapped for posts reserved for them as per the Act, they should not have been subjected to the suitability assessment on the basis of an interview. KAT setting aside the PSC’s contention of non suitability, directed it to include him in the rank list within a month without affecting the already included persons and not disturbing the reservation turns if any. Though Madhu had been certified with 42 per cent orthopaedic disability, he should not have been excluded from the list as the government had included the Deputy Collector’s post in the Land Revenue Department for 3 per cent reservation for persons with disability as per the provisions for the Persons with Disability (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and  Full Participation) Act of 1995. The PH candidates can have a sigh of relief that PSC will not be able to discriminate  against them in future.When contacted PSC Secretary Saju George told ‘Express’ on Thursday that PSC had received the copy of the verdict and he had written to the Commission on complying with the order.“The KAT order will clear the road blocks of PH candidates. The Supreme Court had pointed out that once the government had stipulated the quota and  passed the relevant Act, the PSC had no business to object it, but there was a provision to conduct suitability assessment that will no more be relevant,” he said. (New Indian Express 6/11/15)

100. Bihar election results: Dalit, Dadri cost BJP dear (25)

New Delhi: Did RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat’s comments on reservation and controversial remarks, including on the Dadri lynching and Faridabad Dalit incident, by saffron leaders cost the BJP-led NDA in the Bihar Assembly elections. Both the BJP and the RSS on Sunday rejected that Mr Bhagwat’s remarks had any impact on the elections, with the Sangh claiming that the Grand Alliance leaders used the “anti-RSS” plank to “hide the shame of caste-based political polarisation and consolidation of reactionary politics.” Incidentally, Mr Bhagwat is camping in Delhi and senior BJP leader and Union minister Rajnath Singh met him on Sunday morning.It could be recalled here that BJP leadership had to reprimand its leaders for their controversial remarks after the party came under fire for trying to “polarise” the votes on “communal lines.” BJP president Amit Shah’s remarks that firecrackers will go off in Pakistan if the Grand Alliance won also backfired for the NDA, which had claimed that development was its main poll plank. Rejecting suggestions that Mr Bhagwat’s remarks had a negative impact on the saffron party’s poll prospects, senior BJP leader and Union minister Ravishankar Prasad said “Absolutely not.” RSS ideologue Rakesh Sinha maintained that Mr Bhagwat had only given a “rational assessment of reservation policy which is meant to empower SC/ST/OBC who failed to get the reservation benefits.” He infact questioned the BJP as to why it failed to consolidate the pro-BJP sentiments in Bihar despite “unmatched popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and enough representation from the state in PM’s council of ministers. He added that “elitism” has become a “bane” for the BJP. “This (reservation) issue has been blown out of proportion and had no impact on voting pattern…What he (Bhagwat) meant was to highlight the capacity building of SC/ST/OBC so that larger number of people could take the benefit of the policy of positive discrimination,” said Mr. Sinha. (Asian Age 9/11/15)


101. Rights group urges India not to welcome Sudanese president (1)

Nairobi: India should not welcome Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, 21 international and African NGOs said on Tuesday. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has warrants out for his arrest to face charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur, Human Rights Watch quoted these groups as saying. India has invited al-Bashir and other African heads of state to attend the India-Africa Forum Summit from October 26 to 29 in New Delhi. “Al-Bashir is an alleged war criminal on the run from the law,” said Oby Nwankwo, steering committee member at the Nigerian Coalition of the ICC. “Hosting al-Bashir would tarnish India’s global standing and be an affront to the victims.” Al-Bashir faces two ICC arrest warrants, issued in 2009 and 2010 over attacks that systematically targeted civilians in violation of international law as part of the Sudan government’s counterinsurgency policy in Darfur. The attacks have led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people to refugee camps in Chad and to camps for internally displaced people in Darfur. India, which has not joined the ICC, is not bound by the treaty that establishes the court to cooperate. But the UN Security Council has urged every country to cooperate with the Darfur cases. Security Council Resolution 1593 of 2005, which referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC, “urges all States and concerned regional and other international organisations to cooperate fully” in the ICC investigation. “Many countries have avoided a visit from al-Bashir, and India should do the same,” said Elise Keppler, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “India has said that it wants to play a leadership role on global issues, and this is an opportunity to be on the right side of history.” Activists across Africa have campaigned for al-Bashir’s surrender, and his movements have been restricted. Trips to ICC member countries have been cancelled or curtailed, including to Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Central African Republic and Nigeria. Countries such as Botswana have made clear he is not welcome. Trips to countries that have not joined the ICC have also been cancelled, including Turkey, Malaysia and Indonesia. In some instances, governments have invited Sudan to send other representatives. In June 2015, al-Bashir travelled to South Africa amid diplomatic and public outcry. A domestic court issued an order that barred his movement, but he nevertheless left the country. The visit remains the subject of litigation in South Africa and before the ICC. (Business Standafrd 21/10/15)

102. NHRC notice to UP government over alleged gang rape of woman constable by colleagues (1)

LUCKNOW: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken suo motu cognizance of a reported gang rape of a woman constable by her colleagues in Maoranipur in Jhansi district of Uttar Pradesh. The Commission issued a notice to the senior superintendent of police (SSP), Jhansi, calling for a report within two weeks. The Commission has observed that the contents of the report, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of human rights of the victim. According to the media report published on October 6, 2015, the woman constable, a resident of Mainpuri, was posted at Etawah police line. She was assigned duty at a fair in Moranipur’s Jal Vihar for 15 days. While she was returning from her duty at the fair on September 28, two of her constable colleagues offered her lift in a car driven by another person. She was allegedly gang-raped inside the car before being let off. She was admitted to a district hospital in Etawah in critical condition. (Times of India 23/10/15)

103. NHRC notice to Odisha over death of woman, baby in hospital (1)

Bhubaneswar: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday directed the Odisha government to submit a report over the death of a pregnant woman and her baby after allegedly being badly assaulted by a nurse on duty in Mayurbhanj district. Taking suo motu cognizance of a media report that an expecting mother delivered a still-born child after a nurse abused and kicked her, the commission has asked the state chief secretary to furnish a report on the matter within four weeks, an NHRC release said. The woman and her child died after being allegedly kicked and slapped by the nurse at a government-run hospital at Baripada on October 5. The nurse has been suspended. Justice D. Murugesan, an NHRC member, observed that the contents of the press report, if true, indicated negligence and prevailing lawlessness in the government-run hospital in the Mayurbhanj district and raises serious questions of violation of human rights. The woman was admitted to the district hospital at the Baripada town on October 4. However, the doctor on duty reportedly asked her to wait till October 5 for the delivery. At 2 a.m., when she went into labour, the nurse allegedly abused the victim for screaming in pain and asked an attendant to take her to the labour room, said the release. “She then got enraged over the delay and allegedly hit the pregnant woman with her ‘chappal’ and also kicked her,” the release added. Subsequently, the woman was taken by a doctor to the labour room where she gave birth to a still-born child and herself died a few hours later. An FIR about the incident has been lodged at the Baripada town police station. (Business Standard 26/10/15)

104. Pakistan loses UN Human Rights Council election (1)

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan failed to win a re-election to the top UN human rights body, garnering just 105 votes in the 193-member General Assembly. The General Assembly on Wednesday elected 18 members of the UN Human Rights Council through a secret ballot. Pakistan’s current term at the council is set to expire on December 31 and it was seeking re-election to the 47-member Human Rights Council. Sources said the loss came as a setback to the Pakistani delegation that had appeared confident of winning the seat. The sources attributed the loss to the way the Pakistani delegation fought the election, adding that it could not lobby effectively for the vote. The new members, who will start their three-year terms beginning January 1 next year, are Belgium, Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Germany, Kenya, Panama, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Togo, Slovenia, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. Pakistan lost the seat in the Asia-Pacific category in which five seats were vacant. India is also a member of the council and its term will end in 2017. Members of the council are elected directly and individually by secret ballot by the majority of the members of the General Assembly. Geneva-based non-governmental human rights group UN Watch welcomed the defeat of Pakistan, terming it as a “major surprise.”Days before the vote, several human rights bodies had opposed the re-election of Venezuela, Pakistan and UAE to the UN Human Rights Council due to widespread criticism of these governments for egregious human rights violations.According to a report by UN Watch, Human Rights Foundations, and the Lantos Foundation, Pakistan, UAE, Burundi and Ecuador were cited by human rights groups for having committed serious violations of numerous articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including curbs on the freedoms of speech, press, religion, and assembly, along with disregard for fundamental due process.The candidate countries were also found to have voted against UN resolutions taking action for victims of human rights abuses in various hotspots, UN watch said. Sources in the Indian mission to the UN here welcomed the election of Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan against the backdrop of historical visits undertaken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to these nations earlier this year. (Times of India 29/10/15)

105. NHRC summons DM and SSP in juvenile beating case (1)

Meerut: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued summons to the district magistrate and the senior superintendent of police (SSP) for failing to produce medical reports of a juvenile inmate, who was allegedly beaten up at a reformatory home earlier this year. The commission asked them to appear in person before it on December 14. Taking suo-motu cognizance of the juvenile being beaten up in January earlier this year, the commission had sought medical reports but the administration remained fail to produce the same even after the NHRC’s reminder. The summon issued to the district magistrate read, “In the matter of beating a juvenile at the reformatory house situated at Suraj Kund Road, the NHRC had directed the district administration on February 2, 2015 to forward the medical report of the injured inmate by April 20. However the requisite report has not yet been received despite a reminder on May 25.” However, their personal attendance stands dispensed if they submit the requisite report on or before December 7. Srinivas Kamath, deputy registrar of NHRC, stated in the summon, “While considering the matter on September 28, the commission noted that Satish Kumar Sharma, secretary general of Global Humanitarian and Environment Protection Trust of Meerut had forwarded a copy of a news article which reported that the juvenile was beaten up after covering him in a blanket. As per the report, the juvenile was assaulted, tortured and physically abused. The victim was reported to have been admitted to the medical college hospital following protest by his family members. The victim disclosed to his family that he was forced to administer drugs and when he refused to do so, he was assaulted by the other inmates of the home.” The NHRC, earlier this year, had issued a notice to the chief secretary of UP government to submit a detailed report in the matter within four weeks. The SSP and DM forwarded a report by the circle officer, Civil Lines. The commission later on directed the SSP and DM to forward the injured inmate’s medical report, which they faield to do so despite a reminder.  (Times of India 2/11/15)

106. Human rights bodies appeal to sever ties with Punjab CM Badal (1)

AMRITSAR: As if the chain of protests by various Sikh bodies against SAD(B) during the recent Sikh religious crisis was not enough, a group of human rights organizations on Wednesday appealed to people to cut ties with chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and the then Punjab police chief KPS Gill for allegedly killing innocent Sikh youth in false police encounters. The appeal holds significance for it is a crucial time with various Sikh leaders from around the world getting ready to meet in Amritsar during the proposed Sarbat Khalsa being convened on November 10. The appeal could further add fuel to the fire against SAD(B) leadership. Not only have these human right bodies sought social boycott of Badal but going a step ahead, the recently concluded World Sikh Summit has passed a resolution to award Badal with the title of Gadar-e-Quam. Human rights body Khalra Mission Organization (KMO) that has taken up the case of justice for 25000 deaths of innocent persons during heydays of militancy, held a meeting with other similar organizations and urged people to socially boycott Badal and Gill. “We have also demanded their excommunication from Sikh panth,” said patron of KMO Paramjit Kaur Khalra while talking to TOI on Wednesday. Besides KMO, the meeting was attended by representatives of other bodies including Manukhi Adhikar Insaaf Sangarash Committee, Punjab Manukhi Adhikar Sangathan, Lawyes for Justice and Democratic Rights. (Times of India 4/11/15)

107. Nepal PM Attacks India for Raising Human Rights Abuses at UN Meet (1)

Kathmandu:  Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli today criticised India for raking up human rights abuses in the Himalayan nation at a UN Human Rights Council meet in Geneva. India, for the first time, raised the issue of war crimes committed during the decade-long conflict in any international forum and urged Nepal to carry out the transitional justice mechanisms in an effective way. Speaking to the media, Mr Oli demanded to know how India could be ignorant that the UN was involved in Nepal’s peace process. He said India had not made its position public earlier on Nepal’s transitional justice mechanisms or their efficacy but raised the issue at an international body. The Indian representative said in Geneva that Nepal should “ensure the effective functioning of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and full implementation of its recommendations, including prosecution of those responsible for violent insurgency”.This has been widely interpreted in Kathmandu as another example of India’s harsh stand vis-a-vis Nepal. Without taking any name, Mr Oli said: “Some days back, one of the leaders from our neighbourhood publicly warned that India will show its mettle against Nepal. “Now, they are digging out a decade-old-issue,” he added. The prime minister said Nepal had formed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and another commission to probe the disappeared people to address war crime issues such as killings, torture and rape. “We faced war in the past. Then we realized it was not possible to have war all the time. So we initiated the peace process,” said Mr Oli, adding Kathmandu also invited the UN to resolve the armed conflict. “The conflicting parties in the past are together today and carrying out democratic and peaceful reforms, whether they are in the government or not,” he said. (NDTV 6/11/15)

108. Civil society brings anti-BJP parties together (1)

New Delhi: Civil society is bringing anti-BJP parties together on the issue of secularism. While the role of the Samajwadi Party and the BSP in this fight is not clear, at least five parties — the Congress, JD(U), RJD, Trinamul Con-gress and the Left — cannot go with the BJP. On the other hand, the BJP cannot take the support of the AIADMK, DMK, BJD, TRS and even the TDP and the PDP for granted. The TDP and PDP are sharing power with the BJP in Andhra, Jammu and Kashmir respectively. The civil society raised its voice against growing intolerance in the country after the regime change at the Centre. While writers, film and theatre personalities are returning their awards in protest, scientists, industrialists, even the RBI governor have disapproved of intolerance. The civil society is demanding political parties to be proactive but some of the CMs who are friendly with the BJP after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections are maintaining silence on this issue after realising that a debate on secularism versus communalism may not affect their political constitu-ency in their states. Meanwhile, the Congress on Saturday faced criticism of pursuing “reluctant and apologetic secularism” from activists and academicians who asked it to shed its “defensive” approach towards communalism. Activist Sh-abnam Hashmi said that if the CM of BJP-ruled Goa can say that beef cannot be banned there, why can’t Congress CMs barring Karnataka, not take the same stand. “How many of us have challenged the Sangh terror. It has beco-me a habit to play defensive politics. Why be defensive?” she said. Academician Ram Puni-yani stressed the need for the coming together of secular forces, saying, “Fascist forces are few, but they are together while those fighting them are totally divided.” (Asian Age 8/11/15)


109. SC against civil society role in judges’ selection (19)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has disapproved any effective role for civil society in appointment of judges in the higher judiciary. Though the civil society saw its upsurge in Anna Hazare movement in 2012, it has not evolved as much to give any direction to the political executive in the country, the apex court said. A five-judge Constitution bench quashed the 99th Constitutional Amendment Act enabling formation of National Judicial Appointment Commission  with two eminent persons from civil society. “It (civil society) is not yet sufficiently motivated, nor adequately determined, to be in a position to act as a directional deterrent, for the political-executive establishment,”Justice J S Khehar said, adding, it is the higher judiciary, which is the savior of the fundamental rights of the citizens and must continue to act as the protector of the civil society. During the arguments, the government, through Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, submitted that it was imperative for the court, to take into consideration the existing socio-political conditions, the ground realities pertaining to the awareness of the civil society, and the relevant surrounding circumstances. “In India, the organic development of civil society, has not as yet sufficiently evolved. The expectation from the judiciary, to safeguard the rights of the citizens of this country, can only be ensured, by keeping it absolutely insulated and independent, from the other organs of governance,” Justice Khehar said. The government has claimed induction of civil society representation will bring about critically desirable transparency, commitment and participation of the ultimate stakeholders – the people. In his separate judgment, Justice Adarsh K Goel, however, said there is no bar to an expert feedback from the civil society through the constitutional functionaries involved in the process of appointment of judges. “Thus, there is transparency as well as checks and balances. These considerations do not justify interference with the final initiation of proposal by the judiciary or in taking a final view in the matter by the judiciary, consistent with the mandate of the Constitution,” he said. It was the only minority view of Justice J Chelameswar who said there is abundance of opinion (in discerning and responsible quarters of the civil society in the legal fraternity, jurists, political theorists and scholars) that primacy to the opinion of judiciary is not a normative or constitutional fundamental for establishment of an independent and efficient judiciary. “Various democratic societies have and are experimenting with models involving association of civil society representation in such selection process,” he said, adding “the fiasco” created in several cases in over 20 years working of collegium system could justify participation of civil society members.  (Deccan Herald 21/10/15)

110. Labour ministry working on 6 bills for passage in winter session (19)

NEW DELHI: Pushing to fast track reforms, the labour ministry plans to place as many as six bills before Parliament in the winter ession starting next month. “A lot of work has been done on six legislations under the labour reform process. Ministry is keen to push all of them for passage in the Winter Session of Parliament next month,” said a source. They include Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012 and Payment of Bonus (Amendment) Bill, 2015, which have already been approved by the Cabinet, the source added. The ministry has also completed tripartite consultations on the Labour Code on Industrial Relations, 2015; Small Factories (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Services) Bill, 2014 and Labour Code on Wages. These are with Law Ministry for vetting, the source said. Once approved, these bills will be sent to the Cabinet for approval and then to Parliament for passage. The ministry will soon prepare a draft Cabinet proposal on an amendment bill for the Employees’ Provident Fund & Miscellaneous Provisions Bill for inter-ministerial consultation. After that, it will be sent to the Law Ministry and subsequently to Union Cabinet for approval. Once the mandatory approvals are through, it will be placed before the Parliament for passage. Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya had last month said: “Child Labour Amendment Bill, EPF Bill and Payment of Bonus Bill would come in winter session for passage.” He had also said: “If time permits we will bring in Code on Wages and Code on industrial relations. Once again we will go for consultation (on these bills) and then go to Cabinet to proceed with these legislations.” The Labour Code on Wages seeks to amalgamate and simplify provisions of four laws — Minimum Wage Act 1948, Payment of Wages Act 1936, Payment of Bonus Act 1965 and Equal Remuneration Act 1976. Even as the labour ministry is working to push these bills, the central trade unions are not on board on the industrial code, small factories bill and EPF amendment bill. They have strongly opposed some of the amendments that include norms related to easing retrenchment, lay offs and closure of units provision and forming unions under the proposed New Industrial Relations Code. The bill allows companies employing up to 300 workers to lay off staff without seeking official sanction. At present, industries hiring up to 100 workers are allowed to lay off without permission. (Times of India 22/10/15)

111. High Court set to wrap up petition on Delhi rent law (19)

NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court has begun hearing the final arguments on the validity of the archaic Delhi Rent Control Act (DRCA). A bench of Justices B D Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva is proceeding towards a verdict on the constitutional soundness of the Act as it recently heard a group of women property owners on the issue. The petitioners attacked the DRC Act pointing out that most of the provisions were redundant. The petitioners highlighted that two parts of the Act – relating to rates of hotelslodging houses, and for the lease of vacant premises to the government in certain areas – are dead laws as there are no reported cases under these provisions in the Act. Moreover, the petitioners argued that Sections 4, 6 and 9 of the Act relating to the control of rent have already been de rent have already been de clared unconstitutional by the HC in 2002 and the only part of the DRC Act that survives is the control of eviction. The petitioners alleged that tenants protected under the Act are determined by historical accident and not by need due to the peculiar nature of the legislation. “In fact, the poor are not getting any benefit out of the Act.” Advocate Shobha Aggarwal, the lead petitioner in the case, drew HC’s attention on various amendments to the Act.She pointed out that the 1976 Amendment to the Act provided for limited inheritance of tenancy rights by legal heirs of tenants but the implementation of the Act has ensured unlimited succession rights to the tenants of both residential and commercial premises including big companies such as Life Insurance Corporation in perpetuity. The petitioners further argued that even after the 1988 Amendment, the object of expediting disputes between landlords and tenants was not achieved and cited a chart showing that as of December 2014, 10.15% of all civil cases pending before the district courts in Delhi were as a result of the DRCA. (TYimes of India 27/10/15)

112. HC orders govt to increase strength of judges in lower judiciary (19)

ALLAHABAD: A seven-judge bench of Allahabad High Court on Thursday directed the state government to increase the strength of judges in lower judiciary by 25% by the next year. The court also directed the state chief secretary to file a report regarding steps taken to enhance the security arrangements of the High Court and all the district courts in the state. The bench, headed by Chief Justice Dr Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud, directed the state government to complete the security work of High Court before celebration of 150 years of its establishment, i.e., by March 2016. The court also took cognizance of manhandling of a police officer on the Allahabad District Court premises on October 28 and restrained two lawyers from entering the court premises till the next date of hearing. The court also issued notices to the president and secretary of the Allahabad District Bar Association and fixed November 18 as next date of hearing. The court was hearing the matter regarding security as well as issuance of bio-metric cards to the lawyers. On Thursday, the chief secretary, principal secretary (finance) and additional secretary law appeared before the court to apprise it about the status of work done so far. The chief secretary apprised the court that video-conferencing facility has made available in nine district courts so far and the work is going on in 52 other districts. Further, CCTVs, door-frame metal detectors, etc., will be installed in court premises to ensure security and safety of advocates and litigants. This seven-judge bench was constituted by the Chief Justice following killing of a lawyer, Nabi Ahmed, by police sub-inspector Shailendra Singh on March 10 in Allahabad District Court compound. The incident had rocked the state and this bench was set up to ensure the security in district courts across the state. (Times of India 30/10/15)

113. Supreme Court sets 2005 cut-off on women right to ancestral property (19)

New Delhi : The Hindu Succession Act, 1956, originally did not give daughters inheritance rights in ancestral property. They could only ask for a right to sustenance from a joint Hindu family. But this disparity was removed by an amendment to the Act on September 9, 2005. The apex court judgment has now added another disqualification for women regarding their right of inheritance. Until now, they could not ask for a share if the property had been alienated or partitioned before December 20, 2004, the date the Bill was introduced. This judgment makes it imperative for the father to have been alive when the amendment came into force. Settling the law in the wake of a clutch of appeals arising out of high court judgments, a bench of Justices Anil R Dave and Adarsh K Goel recently held that the date of a daughter becoming coparcener (having equal right in an ancestral property) is “on and from the commencement of the Act”. The bench overruled the view taken by some high courts that the amendment being a gender legislation that aimed at according equal rights to the daughter in ancestral property by removing discrimination, should be applied retrospectively. Interpreting statutory provisions, the top court shot down the argument that a daughter acquires right by birth, and even if her father had died prior to the amendment, the shares of the parties were required to be redefined. “The text of the amendment itself clearly provides that the right conferred on a ‘daughter of a coparcener’ is ‘on and from the commencement’ of the amendment Act. In view of plain language of the statute, there is no scope for a different interpretation than the one suggested by the text,” it said. Further, there is neither any express provision for giving retrospective effect to the amended provision nor necessary intent, noted the court, adding “even a social legislation cannot be given retrospective effect unless so provided for or so intended by the legislature”. About applicability of the amendment to the daughters born before it was brought, the bench held that the new law would apply irrespective of the date of birth. “All that is required is that the daughter should be alive and her father should also be alive on the date of the amendment,” it said. The court also held that alienation of ancestral property, including its partition, which may have taken place before December 20, 2004, in accordance with the law applicable at that time, would remain unaffected by the 2005 amendment, and those partitions can no longer be reopened by daughters. (Indian Express 1/11/15)

114. High Court imposes cost on advocate for moving PIL plea (19)

CHENNAI: Noting that a PIL moved by an advocate against a public notice issued by the State government informing the compulsory helmet rule as directed by the court, is nothing but a “publicity stunt,” the Madras High Court on Tuesday imposed Rs. 10,000 as cost on the lawyer. Advocate Muthukrishnan, approached the high court through a PIL seeking to declare that the public notice issued by the Tamil Nadu Department of Home Secretary informing the public that wearing of helmet by two wheeler riders is compulsory from July 1 is without authority and improper, illegal and unconstitutional. When the petition came up for hearing before the First Bench, comprising Chief Justice S.K. Kaul and Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana, the petitioner contended that the rule had created an emergency like situation among the 1.5 crore two-wheeler riders in the State. Recording his submissions, the Bench said, “The petition is misconceived and meritless. What the government was doing was in pursuance to the direction issued by the court and petitioner was very much conscious of the fact.” Despite the aforesaid fact, the present petition was sought to be separately filed to rake up the same issue again. Since, the petitioner was an advocate, he knew very well the legal procedure and consequences there of. To once again raising the issue was nothing but a “publicity stunt”, the Bench added. (The Hindu 4/11/15)

115. Delhi high court dismisses PIL against cow slaughter (19)

NEW DEAR: Calling it a ” misconceived petition”, the Delhi high court on Friday dismissed a PIL seeking enactment of a law to prohibit slaughter of cows and sale of beef across the NCR. A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath tossed out the PIL after the AAP government said that Delhi already had a stringent law, Delhi Agricultural Cattle Preservation Act, in place. Additional standing counsel Sanjoy Ghose called the PIL a “publicity stunt” that should be dismissed with exemplary costs. Ghosh told the court the Act stipulates that “no person shall transport or offer for transport or cause to be transported agricultural cattle from any place within Delhi to any place outside Delhi, for the purpose of its slaughter, knowing that it is likely to be slaughtered”.He said the Delhi government had five cattle shelter homes, with a combined capacity of 23,000, where 10,000 animals were currently housed. “If the petitioner has any such cattle, he can send them to us,” the counsel said. Taking note of the submissions of Delhi govern ment’s counsel, the bench said, “The writ petition is misconceived and is dismissed.” During the brief hearing, the bench also observed it cannot issue any direction for enactment of any law and it is for the state and Centre to decide. “Let them take a decision on the issue. We are not inclined to entertain the same,” the court added. The petition, filed by Swami Satyananda Chakradhari, who claimed to be a monk, had sought directions to the state government to enact a law similar to the 1932 Ranbir Penal Code, applicable in Jammu and Kashmir, which states that slaughter of cows and “like animals” was punishable with up to 10 years of imprisonment as well as a financial penalty. Filed through advocate Na wal Kishore Jha, the petition also sought directions to the state government to set up a “Gokul Gram” where old cows, bulls and bullocks could be rehabilitated. (Times of India 7/11/15)

116. Justice still not accessible to poor: Law minister (19)

NEW DELHI: Expressing concern over the rising cost of litigation, Union law minister Sadananda Gowda on Saturday said justice remains inaccessible to the poor as they cannot afford to approach the courts. Speaking at a function of National Legal Services Authority, he said that economic barrier coming in the way of justice had to be shattered by providing quality free legal aid to the poor. He said the fees charged by leading advocates in the Supreme Court, high courts and district level courts are unaffordable for large sections of the society. “First and foremost concern and barrier to access to justice is that of economic barrier. Cost of litigation consisting of cost of advocacy and court fee is a major obstacle for majority of the litigants in India,” the minister said. “This problem gets pronounced when the poor litigant is pitted against a very rich and mighty opponent. In such scenarios, the result of the adjudication might go against the poor litigant.” He said that quality of free legal aid given to poor litigants was not up to the mark as well established lawyers did not volunteer to provide their services and fate of those litigants was decided by inexperienced lawyers. “It is common knowledge that not many senior advocates volunteer for the legal aid services and even if some of them are entrusted with this work either by the court or by the legal services authority, they do not effectively handle the case as these cases are not economically attractive for them,” he said. “This is a major challenge, and we must debate and come out with creative solutions so that adequate number of efficient and senior advocates do volunteer for legal aid services in the country,” he said. (Times of India 8/11/15)


117. 80 Tirupur Cops to Stand in Identification Parade in Custodial Rape Case (1)

CHENNAI/COIMBATORE: Around 80 police personnel serving in Tirupur district will soon stand in an identification parade for a 50-year-old woman to identify the cops accused of torturing and raping her under illegal custody. The brutal case of police excess came to light last August when the victim’s daughter approached Madras High Court seeking a CBI inquiry. On finding that the medical tests suggested torture faced by the woman in Udumalpet police station, the High Court ordered a CBI enquiry and also `2 lakh as interim compensation to the victim. The woman’s counsel had submitted that she was kept in illegal custody in the police station for three days, after her arrest on August 11, 2014, as a suspect in her landlady’s murder. Over a year after the CBI was ordered to probe the custodial torture case, the agency arrested and produced three police personnel, including a sub-inspector, before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Coimbatore on Tuesday. Senior CBI officers told Express that the investigations have proved that the victim was kept in police custody beyond 24 hours, a gross violation of rules, and assaulted by the policemen in the station. “But we are yet to confirm the allegations of rape,” said the officer. On Monday night, a CBI team arrested sub inspector K Vijay Kumar (33),now serving in the Alangiyam Police Station in Tirupur district, and constables S Tilak Kumar (29), at present in Thally Police Station in Krishnagiri district and S Ranganayagam in Udumalpet police station. Four other policemen are suspected to be involved in the case. The CBI is planning to conduct an identification parade of the policemen serving in Udumalpet and surrounding stations. The victim would identify the policemen who tortured her in the presence of a magistrate. “There are 80 police personnel in the region. The identification parade would be conducted before a magistrate. The court would decide the date and venue,” said the CBI officer. The CBI has registered the case under charges of rape, causing grievous hurt with the intention of extorting confession and illegal confinement. The three arrested policemen are ordered to be kept in judicial custody until November 3, by the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court, Coimbatore. (New Indian Express 21/10/15)

118. HRW claims Lanka police torturing criminal suspects in custody (1)

Colombo, Oct. 24: The Human Rights Watch (HRW), a global human rights organisation stated that Sri Lanka’s police forces are regularly torturing and ill-treating criminal suspects in custody. The report named ‘We Live in Constant Fear’: Lack of Accountability for Police Abuse in Sri Lanka, stated severe beating, electric shock, rubbing chili paste in the genitals and suspension from ropes in painful positions are among the various methods used by the Sri Lanka police, the LankaPage reported. HRW Asia director Brad Adams said that even though Sri Lanka has decent laws to protect against such abuse, unfortunately these laws are treated as mere suggestions. The research was conducted in greater Colombo and other parts of Sri Lanka in 2014 and 2015. It stated that suspects are usually not informed of the reason for their arrest and are often not produced before a magistrate with 24 hours as required by the law. Even the family members sometimes are neither informed about the arrest nor allowed to meet the suspects. Even if the victims and their families files cases against the misconduct by the police, there is little possibility of justice and accountability. In rural areas, policemen many times threaten against victims if they file any kind of complaint against them. The Sri Lanka police can only gain the trust of the people only if it end the barbaric practice of torture. Strict punishment should be taken against those who use such method of abuse, Brad Adams said. (New Kerala 24/10/15)

119. Ceasefire violations continue in Samba (1)

SRINAGAR: Even as the Jammu and Kashmir government asked people living on the Jammu border to remain vigilant, Pakistan firing continued for the third consecutive day on Sunday. Fresh shelling and firing started around 9 p.m. on Saturday and continued till 3 a.m. on Sunday. “The fire was aimed at 14 BSF posts in the Samba sector,” a BSF official said. The fresh wave of ceasefire violation has left seven injured, as two more civilians were injured on Sunday. A civilian died in the firing on Friday. Meanwhile, Minister for Industries and Commerce Chander Prakash Ganga assessed the damage due to mortar shelling in Mawa and Bainglarg villages. “The administration and the police are vigilant in the areas and immediately respond at times of border shelling. People have been asked to remain vigilant,” said Mr. Ganga. Dozens of family continue to stay away from their residences. Despite the ongoing firing on the LoC, Mr. Ganga said, “The Centre is committed to expanding cross-LoC trade despite the roadblocks being created by Pakistan.” The Minister said the entire cross-LoC trade is an investment in peace and every effort would be made to keep it thriving. “Our Chief Minister is particularly interested in this trade and he has already ordered to improve the facilities and repair the approach roads,” the Minister said. He called for cross-LoC tourism. “People coming from the other side or going from this side would be doing so according to rules and regulations and there shouldn’t be any problem in enhancing tourism,” he added. (The Hindu 26/10/15)

120. Two cops of Odisha’s Bheden police station held for murder (1)

BHUBANESWAR: It was a day of embarrassment for Odisha police as a sub-inspector (SI) and an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) of Bheden police station in Bargarh district were on Wednesday arrested on charges of murder. The police have also launched a manhunt for the officer-in-charge (OIC) of Bheden police station Sunil Naik in the murder case. The Sonepur police arrested Soumya Ranjan Patra (SI) and Pitambar Behera (ASI) in connection with the alleged custodial death of Makhnu Bag, 57 of Bargarh. Makhnu’s skeleton was found in a forest in Sonepur district on September 24. Bheden police had taken Makhnu into custody on July 17 for interrogation in a rape case against his son. Prima facie, police said the accused allegedly beat Makhnu to death in the custody and disposed the body in Metakani forest in the neighbouring Sonepur district to destroy evidence. Role of Bheden police came under scanner as Makhnu went missing since he was taken to the police station for questioning. “His son lodged a complaint after the recovery of Makhnu’s skeleton in Ulunda forest. A DNA test confirmed Makhnu’s identity. We registered a murder case against Bheden police,” said DIG (northern range) Prateek Mohanty. After registration of the case, most of the personnel of the police station, including OIC Sunil Naik absconded. Naik is still on the run, police said. “Prima facie, we have strong evidence against Patra and Behera, who have been arrested. They have been booked for murder (302 of IPC). Four personnel of the police station, including Patra, Behera, Naik and one lady constable Gitanjali Bhoi have been suspended,” said Mohanty. Bargarh district SP Ashish Kumar Singh wrote to district judge, requesting a judicial probe into the incident. “We will not spare anyone involved in the case,” Singh told media persons. On August 21, police arrested four personnel of Special Operation Group (SOG), an elite anti-Maoist force of Odisha government, on charges of lynching a youth in its custody in Nuapada district. (Times of India 28/10/15)

121. Army set to punish 4 soldiers for encounter killings in J-K (1)

New Delhi: Four soldiers are likely to be tried by a military court for killing two teenagers and injuring their two friends in a case of mistaken identity in Kashmir’s Budgam last November that triggered a wave of protests and saw the army issue a rare apology. An army probe found charges of use of excessive force against the soldiers, including a junior commissioned officer, to be true but a court martial would be initiated only after the Jammu and Kashmir government shares its inquiry report with the army, sources said. If found guilty, the four men face a maximum of life imprisonment. “Civilian casualties will not be tolerated. Procedures have been tightened to ensure such incidents never happen again,” northern army commander Lieutenant General DS Hooda said. The army often finds itself at the receiving end of public anger, with its men being accused of using excessive force. In recent years, it has tried to correct the perception by acting against soldiers. The Budgam probe is said to be one of the quickest to be conducted in the Valley. On November 3, 2014, a patrol belonging to 53 Rashtriya Rifles opened fire on a white Maruti car after it allegedly evaded two check points, fuelling suspicions that there were terrorists inside. However, it later turned out that the occupants were five teenagers returning from a Muharram procession. The probe investigated 14 soldiers but only four were found guilty of violating standard operating procedures, sources said. Five days after the shooting, the army had — in a rare move — admitted that the killing of Faisal Yusuf Bhat and Mehrajuddin Dar was a mistake. The incident had unleashed a wave of protests in the state where an anti-army sentiment prevails due to the controversial armed forces special powers act that gives the forces a free hand in search and arrests. The army paid a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each the families of the deceased and Rs 5 lakh each to the injured Shaker Bhat and Zahid Naqash. The brother of one of the two boys killed is now employed with a goodwill school run by the army, while Bhat and Naqash were offered jobs by the Border Roads Organisation. The news of the possible court martial comes two months after confirmation of life sentence awarded to six soldiers, including a colonel and a captain, for staging the killing of three Kashmiri civilians in 2010 and passing them off as Pakistani terrorists trying to sneak into India. The civilians were lured to Machil on the pretext of jobs, but were later shot dead by troops on April 29, 2010. The Machil killings triggered widespread protests and also led to bloodshed in the Valley. (Hindustan Times 2/11/15

122. 40 tribal women complain of molestation by Bijapur police (1)

RAIPUR: Nearly 40 tribal women from three villages in the restive Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh have accused police jawans of molestation. The women belong to Peddagelur, Budgicheru and Gundam villages of Basaguda block. Soni Sori, tribal activist and Aam Aadmi Party leader, who visited the villages with a team of woman activists, said the harassment took place when security forces from Bijapur were carrying out an operation in the area between October 19 and 24. “The women told us that around 40 of them were molested by the policemen. Two of them said they were raped. The policemen stripped many women and indulged in indecent behaviour,” Ms. Sori told The Hindu. “These villages are situated deep inside the forest. We were able to bring four women to Bijapur district headquarters today [Sunday] and they have testified in front of District Collector Yashwant Kumar,” she said. Mr. Kumar confirmed that he had received complaints from the four women, but denied there were allegations of rape. “We took statements from the four women and they have complained of beating by the policemen. An FIR has been lodged. Inquiry is going on and strict action will be taken against anyone found guilty. They [tribal women] have not complained of rape, but we are looking into all angles,” he said. But Ms. Sori insisted that the two women did complain of rape. “They recounted every detail of the incident. Perhaps the Collector did not understand everything because the women were speaking Gondi,” she said. Superintendent of Police K.L. Dhruw said: “An operation did take place in the area and a force of around 500 men was there. These boys ventured into that Maoist sensitive area as a road is to be built there. The Maoists don’t want the road. So more than eight days after the operation, they conspired to make such allegations against the policemen to demoralise them,” he said. (The Hindu 2/11/15)

123. NEFIS condems Meghalaya HC’s recommendation to impose AFSPA in Garo Hills (1)

NEW DELHI: North-East Forum for International Solidarity (NEFIS) organized a candle light vigil on Thursday to mark the 15th year of Irom Sharmila’s formal commencing of her hunger strike against Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). The organization also condemns the recent Meghalaya High Court’s recommendation to implement this Act in the Garo hills area. The candle light vigil was organized at Vishwavidyalaya Metro station, Delhi University to express solidarity with Sharmila’s struggle and saw large number of North East people as well as students from other parts of the country. On November 2, 2000 ten civilians were shot dead by paramilitary forces at a local bus-stop in Malom, Manipur. Among the deceased was an 18-year old National Bravery Award winner. The incident triggered angry protests across Manipur and led to Sharmila going on her epic fast a few days later. As victims of Malom shooting and others still wait for justice, Sharmila continues to be heckled by cases filed against her and periodic arrests. NEFIS pledged to take forward the nation-wide struggle against the “draconian and anti-people” AFSPA. NEFIS alleged that AFSPA has historically been used to subjugate the North East people and HC in recommending this Act for Garo Hills im Meghalaya has shown itself to be “a stooge of Indian Government. At a time when there is a growing demand to revoke this draconian Act, Meghalaya high court instead of upholding justice, is itself partaking of injustice and allowing it to prevail.” AFSPA has been enforced in parts of Jammu and Kashmir, as well as in the North East states. Under the provisions of AFSPA the government’s judgment on why an area is found to be ‘disturbed’ is not subject to judicial review. Similarly, there can be no prosecution, suit or any other legal proceeding against anyone acting under this law, except with the sanction of the Central Government. Moreover, this controversial law provides impunity to the armed forces for detaining, using lethal force and entering and searching premises without warrant. “Since armed soldiers trained in combat and in war have no training in civilian law or policing procedures, atrocities under AFSPA are inevitable and are growing. Hence, NEFIS demands that AFSPA should be repealed at the earliest from all states, thereby ending the miseries of the people,” said a statement. AFSPA has been condemned nationally and internationally and government-appointed commissions (including the recent Justice Verma Committee) and human rights organizations have pressed for the withdrawal of the Act. (Times of India 6/11/15)

124. Bad condition of Bihar prisons exposed (1)

KOLKATA: A couple of years ago, prisoner Devi [name changed] of the Seikhpura prison in south Bihar was alone in the woman ward, when Devendra Ram, a jail staff member, came in and groped her. According to Devi, she rushed to the gate only to find that two other inmates (Sanjay and Rama Singh) were standing outside the gate. She says the two were “standing there with the intention of guarding the gate to facilitate the rape.” Despite her many requests, the jailor refused to meet her. Ms. Devi says no action has been taken so far, and her medical examination was conducted after a delay of 14 days. Allegations are plenty in many of Bihar’s 58 prisons, according to a voluminous report commissioned by the Bihar State Legal Services Authority (BSLSA) and endorsed by the senior-most judge of the State. The 1,800-page report, perhaps the first of its kind to make it to the public domain, has graphically described many cases of custodial torture. On the basis of testimonials, five reasons are cited as “area of concern” in the cases of torture. Those are “delay of nearly two weeks in conducting medical examination; delay of nearly two years in filing of charge sheet and two years in framing of charges.” Besides, the victims told an investigation committee that they could not “afford private lawyers;” legal aid panel lawyers refused to fight cases of custodial rape and torture. Moreover, the “victim [is] unaware of the case status and the lawyer,” says the survey titled ‘Status Report-2015, Based on Survey, Inspection and Analysis.’ The committee visited 58 jails and interviewed 30,070 prisoners, including 26 terminally ill and 102 mentally challenged. The number of prisoners in need of medical attention was 176. Besides custodial torture and denial of justice, the report focuses on the physical condition of the inmates, the condition of juveniles and aged prisoners, remission and prison punishments. “A majority of the prisoners said they were brought from police stations to the court for production. In the court, they were kept in the court lockup and were not taken to the magistrate,” according to a case scenario. Another scenario under the chapter on inmates’ access to the judicial process says many prisoners were brought from police stations to courts. Then they “were kept standing at the back side of the court room and the magistrate did not interact with them.” Then, they were sent to “court lock up…kept there for hours and brought to prison.” Going by such testimonials, the report concludes that at least 2,799 prisoners are “in need” of legal aid. “In most cases, they do not have access to lawyers, [and] there actually exists no mechanism for prisoners to meet lawyers. However, the prisoners are at the centre of the criminal justice system but they are denied access to justice, and this is perhaps true for all jails of the country,” said Smita Chakraburtty, who headed the committee that produced the report on behalf of Human Rights Law Network, a Delhi-based legal aid group. The report, howsoever commendable, indicates that the State has failed to provide justice to prisoners in many ways. But the senior-most judge of Bihar, Justice V. N. Sinha, as the head of the BSLSA, commissioned the report and even brought it to the public domain. Arguing why he has commissioned the report, Justice Sinha said in the foreword that as the BSLSA chairperson, he was “conscious” of his “responsibilities towards prisoners as they were not only entitled to legal services…but also access to justice” and the BSLSA is required to “at least hear their voice in person.” He, however, acknowledges that justice could not be delivered. “For a prisoner to step into the Legal Aid Clinic and ask for a lawyer, he has to cross socio-economic and psychological hurdle(s). Given the demography of the prisoners, it is but obvious that the Legal Aid Clinic, though fully functional in its capacity, fail to reach out to each of the prisoners.” (The Hindu 8/11/15)


125. Returning Akademi awards a courageous act: Sharmila Tagore (1)

New Delhi: Veteran actress Sharmila Tagore today backed writers, who are returning their Sahitya Akademi awards to protest against rising intolerance, calling it spontaneous and brave move. “It’s a challenging time for India. There is a conflict between modernity and serious threat of regression and there is kind of ban on freedom of speech as the Akademi awards are being returned,” the 68-year-old National Award-winning actress said at the CII Big Picture Summit 2015 here. “It is a courageous act, because dissent is now violent, it is not just verbal disagreement. There is a physical assault involved. People are standing up against that and countering. I feel this a very positive and spontaneousresponse,” she said when asked about her view on the issue. The rationale behind returning the awards has been questioned by some, but the “Amar Prem” star said the protest is giving us an ultimatum about the damage the intolerance will cause to the country. “…It is my personal point of view that what the writers, who are returning their awards, are doing is a spontaneous movement. What is happening is reminding us of Emergency and Babri Masjid. We are reminded that this is a serious threat to the fabric of our country. It is a spontaneous protest,” she said. Calling the Dadri mob lynching incident as “scary”, Sharmila demanded justice for the victim. “What happened in Dadri was scary. It was actually crossing the line. Nobody has condemned it strongly enough. I would like to hear some kind of justice being done, convicts being punished. Because if we do not do that, a wrong message will go out. Every time their is silence, the ambit of impunity is increasing.” The “Aradhana” actress, who started her career at the age of 13 with Satyajit Ray’s “Apur Sansar” before making it big in Bollywood, finds the entertainment industry a perfect example of India’s tradition of unity and diversity. She feels the ongoing protest is the best way to guard and take forward the image of the country. “We have a very robust tradition of unity and diversity, which I have experienced working in films, look at the titles of the movies. People from different culture work together for one future. Many people will stand by the Constitution and not allow this robust idea of India to disappear forever,” she said. (Indian Express 21/10/15)

126. Kanpur: Two journalists attacked in Kannauj (1)

KANPUR: Two journalists were attacked near Sheikhpura village while returning home in Kannauj on Saturday night, where tension has been simmering since violence at Lakhan Tiraha (tri-section) four days ago. They were attacked by a mob wielding lathis and sharp-edged weapons. The attackers tried to set ablaze their two-wheelers and threw a vehicle into a nullah. The people of the area informed the police. The journalists were admitted at the district hospital. A case has been registered. No arrests have been made so far. The police said the motive for the murderous attack remains unknown. The police said that Subhash Saxena, the scribe of a local Hindi daily, residing at Sarai Meera crossing and his journalist friend Prince Srivastava of Chowdhary Sarai, were returning home after the day-long coverage in violence-hit areas of Kannauj on two-wheelers, when they were allegedly attacked near Sheikhpura on Saturday night. “Subhash was found with injuries in a ‘nullah’ while Prince, who also sustained wounds, managed to escape and alerted people of Kanshiram Colony, who informed police. The attackers also tried to set ablaze their two-wheelers, which has been recovered from the spot,” superintendent of police Kalanidhi Naithani said. The two were rushed to district hospital where their condition is stated to be out of danger. “A case has been lodged and the circle officer has been instructed to conduct a probe and arrest the accused responsible for the attack,” district magistrate Anuj Kumar Jha said. Tension has been running high after the death of a man in a clash between two communities near Lakhan Tiraha over throwing of colours during idol procession on Thursday. BSF, PAC and Rapid Action Force (RAF) have been deployed to restore peace. (Times of India 26/10/15)

127. Arun Jaitley bats for freedom of speech, says age of bans is over (1)

NEW DELHI: The government should refrain from placing curbs on freedom of speech as the “age of bans” is over, said information & broadcasting minister Arun Jaitley on Monday. At the same time, he counselled restraint in the interest of public order, especially by the social media when it crosses the “lakshman rekha”.Speaking on the expanding role of media as enunciated in successive court rulings and because of technological advancements, Jaitley said the misuse of free speech has also continued. “Should the state step in? As far as possible, no…Many believe, and I am one of those who do believe, that the age of bans is now over. It is literally impossible to implement them,” he said while delivering the Sardar Patel lecture organised by All India Radio. The minister noted that while print media, and to an extent the electronic media, exercise judgment in their content, social media lacks such a mechanism. “The two areas where we are concerned – because of the character of India – are our multi-cultural, multi-religious character where sensitivities involved relate to sovereignty, integrity, public order…In the context of social media, where there is caste or communal trouble and frenzy is created resulting in (breakdown of) public order…restraint has been placed,” he said. He pointed out that makers of the Constitution rightly held that freedom of speech and expression is not absolute and subject to reasonable restrictions which were specifically defined. “In a society where because of multi-religious, multi-cultural reasons there are sensitivities, what do we do if somebody crosses the Lakshman Rekha?What would the Indian society have done if instead of the Danish cartoonist, it would have been an Indian cartoonist. These are questions which will continue to loom,” he said. “And therefore we have provisions in criminal laws (which are used) in extreme cases.” Jaitley said that in a changing media landscape with the arrival of electronic media, news has become more sensational. While the medium has expanded the right to free speech, electronic media has changed the definition of news. “News was what television cameras could capture. What cameras can’t capture won’t be news. A major Africa summit will be some news, but a young girl returning home from Pakistan would be big news because TV captures it differently,” he added. He said that there was now actual news and channel driven news. The minister said that while journalists have the right to conceal and protect their sources in public interest, when it comes to national security, secrecy of sources cannot be of higher importance. “I think the way courts world over have moved, is the correct direction. There is no fundamental right to conceal your sources but there is public interest which enables you to conceal your sources. And that public interest therefore will always have to be balanced with competing public interest,” Jaitley said. (Times of India 27/10/15)

128. Citing Threat to Freedom of Expression, Filmmakers Return National Awards (1)

MUMBAI: Toeing writers’ line that their freedom of expression was in danger, 10 filmmakers on Wednesday announced here that they will return their National Awards. Their announcement came on a day when the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) students decided to call off their 139-day-long strike. Dibakar Banerjee addresses the media after returning his National Award in Mumbai on Wednesday | pti A statement issued by the protesting filmmakers urged the Union government to reveal its commitment towards freedom of expression and extended their support to the FTII students. The filmmakers include Dibakar Banerjee, Anand Patwardhan, Paresh Kamdar, Nishtha Jain, Kirti Nakhwa, Harshavardhan Kulkarni, Hari Nair, Rakesh Sharma, Indraneel Lahiri and Lipika Singh Darai. Banerjee said the decision was not politically motivated. “I never thought I would return my award. I can say this, that if FTII’s ethos is protected and strengthened, then not only will I think of taking back my award but will also hand out 10 other awards in joy.” He claimed that he was returning the award to capture public attention. “They may also dismiss me. But this is what I can do and I am doing it.” Patwardhan said there were roving gangs looking to commit  violence against anyone who speaks out. “Our appeal is to the people, not the government. We want to be a part of the awakening that is happening in the country, like the scientists, artists and writers returning their awards.” (New Indian Express 29/10/15)

129. Newspaper editors’ body concerned by growing “intolerance” (1)

NEW DELHI: A newspaper editors’ body expressed serious concern over growing “atmosphere of intolerance” in the country and urged the government to maintain peace and unity among various communities. The All India Newspaper Editors’ Conference (AINEC) also noted with “great satisfaction” the comments made by President Pranab Mukherjee appealing people to preserve India’s “multiplicity”.At its general body meeting held on Sunday under presidentship of Vishwa Bandhu Gupta, the AINEC also expressed concern over growing incidents of violence against media and asked the central as well as state governments to take stringent action against the guilty. Gupta is a Congress member and part of its media team. The body said that ensuring safety and security of the journalists carrying out their professional duties was very important for freedom of press and democracy. On the current situation, the meeting passed a resolution which said it “viewed with great concern, the growing atmosphere of intolerance in our country. It is also noted with great satisfaction, the comments made by our President Pranab Mukherjee for preserving the multiplicity of our country.” In the last three weeks, Mukherjee had on a number of occasions spoken against growing intolerance and called for preserving the multiplicity and pluralistic character of the country. (Times of India 3/11/15)

130. Journalist shot dead in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (1)

Peshawar: A Pakistani journalist was shot dead by unknown attackers in the troubled northwest Tuesday, the police said, a region where reporters are frequently targeted by Islamist militants. Zaman Mehsud, 40, was killed while riding his motorcycle to the remote Tank district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. “Zaman Mehsud was riding his motorcycle when gunmen awaiting along the road opened fire,” Rasool Shah, a senior police official in Tank, told AFP. He was critically wounded and died of his injuries in hospital, Shah added. He had been working for three Urdu-language newspapers covering the South Waziristan tribal district and surrounding areas. Zafrul Islam, another senior government official, confirmed the incident and said Mehsud was hit by five bullets including one in the head. The police would not comment on the motive for the killing, but journalists in the region work under constant threat from Islamist rebels, mainly the Taliban. The powerful military also stands accused of using its intelligence agencies to regularly harass and sometimes kill journalists. — AFP (The Hindu 4/11/15)

131. Police stop media coverage of Kovan case proceedings (1)

CHENNAI: Police on Wednesday tried to prevent journalists from reporting court proceedings as folk singer S Sivadas alias Kovan, 45, arrested last week on sedition charges, was produced before a magistrate. Kovan has been detained for allegedly making derogatory remarks against chief minister J Jayalalithaa in a song pillorying the state’s liquor policy. Around 2.30pm police brought the singer to the metropolitan magistrate court in Moore Market complex. Instead of the usual route to take prisoners, police took a detour in Kovan’s case. Once inside the court premises, policemen locked the gates. When journalists wanted to go inside, a police team, including CCB personnel in plainclothes refused. After an argument, reporters were allowed inside, albeit for a brief while. Journalists’ had a chat with Kovan who was waiting outside the court hall for proceedings to begin. But as proceedings begun, the CCB team formed a human chain and prevented journalists from entering the hall. A woman journalist said the policemen were rude to her. “The policemen were abusive. They even pushed us. One of the policemen even flashed his biceps to indicate his physical prowess. He challenged us to fight with him,” she said. Some journalists entered the court hall to complain about the police behaviour. “A few advocates supported us and we were able to file an oral complaint. This was an open court proceeding. According to rules, journalists can’t be prevented from reporting such matters,” a journalist said. (Times of India 5/11/5)

132. ‘Suppressing free speech’: Greenpeace told to dissolve in a month (1)

New Delhi: The Tamil Nadu government has scrapped Greenpeace India Society’s registration and ordered the environmental group to shut down its operations in the country. Greenpeace India responded by accusing the state’s registrar of society of acting at the behest of the ministry of home affairs (MHA) that has targeted the green NGO over the past two years. “The MHA’s clumsy tactics to suppress free speech and dissenting voices are turning into a major national and international embarrassment for this government,” Greenpeace India executive director Vinuta Gopal said in a statement. “This is an extension of the deep intolerance for differing viewpoints that sections of this government seem to harbour,” Gopal said, insisting that the group was “on strong legal ground”. Thursday’s order cancelling the society’s registration gave Greenpeace India one month to pass a special resolution to dissolve itself. It said if this wasn’t done, the registrar of societies would appoint an official liquidator to wind up the society. The NGO can appeal against the decision before the appellate authority in the government before it moves the court. Greenpeace executive director also accused the registrar of passing the order without granting Greenpeace a hearing and complying with the Madras High Court order to address each of their points and queries. “This is a blatant attempt to circumvent the legal process and shows no respect for the law. We are confident that we are on strong legal ground. We have faith in the legal process and are confident of overcoming this order,” she added. In September, the home ministry had told the Delhi high court that the government had cancelled its license to get foreign funding. (Hindustan Times 7/11/15)


133. Maintain peace, communal harmony must be ensured: Harsimrat Kaur (7)

Bathinda: Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Tuesday appealed for peace and communal harmony as she condemned desecration of Guru Granth Sahib in various places in the state. The minister for food processing industry and SAD MP demanded harsh penalties for the guilty. Noting the repetitive nature of desecrations, she said: “It was clear that some external agencies were trying to destabilise the Punjab government”.She warned people of the state to remain wary of such “elements” and warned them against believing rumours. She assured them the state government would catch the guilty. She said: “Being a humble and devout Sikh, my sentiments have been deeply outraged by recent desecrations of Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji and subsequent happenings have left me emotionally shattered”.”These sacrilegious acts are an unpardonable offence and no one associated with this ghastly crime will be spared at any cost,” she said. She also told people to remain vigilant and report suspicious activities immediately. — PTI (The Tribune 20/10/15)

134. Communal tension in Kanpur over jagran posters (7)

Lucknow: Communal tension was reported in Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh when some Hindu groups took to the streets on Saturday after some posters and banners of Bhagwati Jagran were found ripped off the walls in a locality. Police said some posters of a Jagran were found torn in Babupurwa locality late Friday night, triggering protests in many parts of the city on Saturday. The agitated groups demanded the guilty should be booked. Agitated people jammed the road where Muslims’ Tazia procession was to be taken out. “Some people were injured when stones were pelted and angry groups vandalised property. Following this, district administration clamped prohibitory orders across the city and security was stepped up,” a police official said. A home department official said the situation was tense but under control. The BJP state unit accused the Samajwadi Party-led Uttar Pradesh government of failing to maintain communal harmony. “This type of callousness has been the hallmark of the Akhilesh Yadav government over the past three years. They have not only publicly sided with one community but have also allowed small issues to spiral out of control into major flash points,” BJP state spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak said. Meanwhile, security has been beefed up across the state following communal flash points in many parts of the state over the week. Violence had erupted in Banda, Ambedkarnagar, Kannauj and Fatehpur following communal clashes. (Zee News 24/10/15)

135. Communal tension in Rajasthan cities (7)

Jaipur: Tension gripped the cities of Sri Dungargarh and Bhilwara in Rajasthan since Friday night after the occurrence of separate incidents of communal tension in the two cities. In Sri Dungargarh in Bikaner district an incident of communal clash was reported on Friday night when groups from two communities collided while they were undertaking their individual religious processions. The clash began over loud music being used by one group and soon the people from both communities began pelting stones. Police force was deployed after violence broke in Sri Dungargarh. Some shops were looted, few others were set ablaze after which the police resorted to lathi-charge and lobbed tear gas shells to bring the situation under control. Bikaner district collector Punam said that arrests were made on Friday night and Saturday, and an indefinite curfew had been imposed in the city. Over 50 arrests had been made till Saturday evening, Ms. Punam said. In Bhilwara, at a distance of about 430 kilometres from Sri Dungargarh, the situation remained tense after the alleged killing of 20-year-old Islamuddin on Friday night. On Saturday, around 500 Muslims collected in the hospital where Islamuddin’s body was kept for post-mortem and prohibited the authorities from sending the body for post-mortem until the suspected persons were arrested, a source in the Bhilwara police station said. On Saturday, an FIR was registered in the Bhilwara police station by Islamuddin’s family, Bhilwara district Collector Tina Kumar said. On Saturday evening Ms Kumar said to told The Hindu, “The situation has been brought under control and Islamuddin’s body will now be sent for a post-mortem. However, Section 144 [of the Criminal Procedure Code] remains imposed [in Bhilwara] and internet services will remain suspended for 24 hours.” (The Hindu 25/10/15)

136. Riot breaks out after Muslim barber refuses to shut shop on Tuesday (7)

Bengaluru: A Muslim barber refused to shut shop “as per custom”, triggering a riot by indignant members of the Hindu community at Nelliyadi village, 70 km from Mangalore, in Karnataka on Tuesday. Though the violence was brought under control a few hours after it erupted around 4 pm, dozens of people were injured and property worth lakhs destroyed in the melee. Bajrang Dal leader Ravi Ballya told HT that the trouble started when the barber, Salman, refused to “respect local sentiments” and keep his shop shut on Tuesdays. “It is well-known that Hindus don’t cut their hair on Tuesdays. Salman was initially a nice boy. He used to respect our wishes and close his shop then. But in the last few weeks, he stopped doing that because some PFI (Popular Front of India) leaders filled his head with poison,” Ballya said. Thukrappa Shetty, the local Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader, had a similar story to tell. “Uday Kumar, the leader of the barbers’ association, went to Salman’s shop and politely asked him to shut shop. But Salman and some others abused him instead. It was a clear provocation. What happened next was a spontaneous reaction from local Hindus who had been hurt by their behaviour.” According to Superintendent of Police Dr SD Sharanappa, a large mob led by Ballya then attacked Salman’s shop as well as other Muslim-owned establishments in the Nelliyadi Jumma Masjid complex. In retaliation, another mob led by the PFI simultaneously indulged in arson and vandalism. Kempi Mustafa, the head of the local masjid, said this was not the first time Kumar and Ballya had stoked communal tension in the area. Alleging that both are accused in criminal cases, he said this was just the latest in a string of incidents aimed at disrupting the communal harmony of coastal Karnataka. Though available on the phone, Ballya was reported absconding by the police. Meanwhile, the situation continued to be tense in at least four villages near Nelliyadi – Kokkada, Patrame, Golithottu and Ballya. The police have so far arrested nine men from both communities, and imposed curfew in the area. The coastal region of Karnataka has witnessed at least 153 incidents of communal violence since January this year. (Hindustan Times 28/10/15)

137. SAD to Centre: Ensure justice for kin of 1984 riot victims (7)

CHANDIGARH: The Shiromani Akali Dal on Tuesday urged the Centre to ensure that justice is being served to the kin of innocent Sikhs killed in Delhi and other parts of the country during November 1984 riots. In a resolution passed by the Core committee of the party at a meeting held here under the chairmanship of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Party President Sukhbir Singh Badal, the party expressed grave concern over the fact that even after more than three decades, the culprits have not been punished as per the expectation of the aggrieved families. The party also demanded that along with exemplary punishment to the guilty, the Union government should also expose the complete “conspiracy” hatched at the behast of Congress party, the resolution stated. Party Secretary and Spokesman Daljeet Singh Cheeman said that the core committee appreciated the strong efforts put in by the Punjab Chief Minister as well as the Deputy Chief Minister for maintaining peace and communal harmony in the state. The committee reassured the people of the state that SAD will not allow any body to disturb the hard-earned peace of Punjab at any cost, Cheeman said. The committee also appealed to the people of the state to be beware of the nefarious designs of certain anti-social elements, who are hell bent on disturbing peace in the state, he said. He further said that the core committee also lauded various decisions taken by the state government to ensure peace and communal harmony in the state. In an important decision taken by the core committee, the party will hold “Sadhbhawna Rally” in each district of Punjab. Giving details of the rallies, Cheeman said that first such rally will be organized at Bathinda on November 23, followed by Moga on November 28, in Gurdaspur on December 1, Jalandhar December 4, Tarn Taran December 7 and Sri Amritsar on December 20. The schedule for the remaining district will be announced later on. The core committee also appreciated the procurement of paddy as well as the distribution of relief for cotton to the affected farmers, the statement said. In a special resolution passed in the meeting, the core committee facilitated the Chief Minister as well as the Deputy chief Minister for the successful completion of Progressive Punjab Summit-2015 and praised the hard work and efforts done by the Deputy CM to make it is successful, the statement added. (Times of India 3/11/15)

138. BJP man threatens to behead Karnataka CM over beef, held (7)

SHIVAMOGGA/BENGALURU: Politics over beef plumbed new depths on Tuesday when a BJP functionary from Shivamogga threatened to “behead” Karnataka’s Congress chief minister Siddaramaiah and “play football with his severed head” if he ate cow meat. S N Channabasappa, Shivamogga BJP secretary and a former municipal councilor, was promptly arrested. He made the remarks on Monday in reaction to the CM’s statement that no one can stop him “from eating beef, pork or any other meat”. A red-faced BJP sought to play down his statement saying Channabasappa was an “inconsequential” figure. Instead, it targeted Siddaramaiah for “endorsing” beef-eating. Channabasappa was arrested following complaints by Shivamogga Congress chief R Prasanna Kumar and youth wing chief K Ranganath. Doddapet police arrested Channabasappa and charged him under sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of IPC. Channabasappa had made the statement at a protest organized by BJP on Monday night daring Siddaramaiah to come to Shivamogga and eat beef. “I will behead him and play football with his severed head,” he had threatened. BJP state chief and Dharwad MP Prahlad Joshi said, “BJP condemns the statement made by our leader from Shivamogga. We also condemn the CM’s provocative statement. Statements from people like Channabasappa are deplorable and the party disowns such utterances. That said, the CM’s public statement of planning to eat beef or pork is also condemnable. It has hurt the feelings of lakhs of people.” A week ago, Siddaramaiah had said no one can stop him from eating beef, pork or any other meat. “Till date, I have not eaten beef. If it suits me, I’ll do so. Nobody can stop me. I am not one to be cowed down by BJP’s protests,” he had said. On Tuesday, the CM stood by his statement. “I have not seen the video (of Channabasappa making the statement). If he has said this, I will mull legal proceedings,” Siddaramaiah said. “I never said I eat beef or pork. I have never eaten till now. I had said no one can stop me if I want to eat meat.” .. (Times of India 3/11/15)

139. Headmaster lynched for ‘stealing cow’; shutdown call in Manipur (7)

Guwahati: A Muslim organisation’s refusal to bury a madrasa headmaster lynched on Monday for allegedly stealing cattle has put the Congress-led Manipur government in a fix. The organisation has also sought the centre’s intervention in what it calls a Dadri-style killing besides calling for a state-wide shutdown on Thursday. Md Hasmat Ali alias Babu, 55, was clobbered to death by a mob near a village in Manipur’s Imphal East district early Monday morning. Villagers had allegedly spotted him with a calf that went missing from one Khumallambam Brojen’s shed. Ali’s body was taken to the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS) in state capital Imphal for autopsy while the calf is being kept at the local Irilbung police station. “Ali, a kind-hearted and honest teacher, was killed after being accused of a crime he could not have committed. The police know who his assailants are but are not taking action. We will not take his body from JNIMS for burial until justice is done,” Md Rajauddin, convenor of a joint action committee against Ali’s killing, told HT. He added that the committee has called for a statewide shutdown on Thursday besides appealing to New Delhi for prodding the Manipur government into action. A district police officer said tension prevailed in the Muslim-dominated Keirao Makting area of Imphal East district though the situation has been brought under control. Locals had tried to storm the Irilbung police station on Tuesday. According to the 2011 census, Muslims account for 8.32% of Manipur’s population. A majority of them belong to the Pangal community, considered ethnic Muslims, dominating certain pockets of Imphal East and Thoubal districts. Thoubal is also the home turf of Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh. The Pangals and the majority Meiteis have co-existed uneasily in the state’s Imphal Valley since 1993 when a major communal riot claimed the lives of 150 people. The riots led to the creation of several Islamist rebel groups, the most potent of which was People’s United Liberation Front (PULF). Another such group, the Islamic National Front, merged with PULF in 2007. (Hindustan Times 5/11/15)


140. People opposing Shiv Sena’s stance can go to Pakistan: Ramdas Kadam (26)

In a remark which may kick off a controversy, senior Shiv Sena leader and state environment minister Ramdas Kadam asked those who opposed Sena’s stance against cultural and sporting ties with Pakistan and supported the unfurling of Pakistani flags on Indian soil to go to Pakistan. Moreover, in yet another clash between two ruling allies, Kadam launched a blistering attack on the BJP for supporting cricketing ties with Pakistan, and lashed out at Mumbai BJP president Ashish Shelar for his statements against the Sena leadership. On Monday, Shiv Sena activists had stormed the BCCI office in Mumbai protesting the plans for a bilateral cricket series with Pakistan. This came on the heels of its successful protest which saw an event by Pakistani ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali being cancelled and the release of former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri’s book launch passing off without a hitch despite the Shiv Sena’s threat to disrupt it, albeit due to the BJP-led state government providing massive police protection. Shiv Sainiks had also blackened the face of senior journalist and Observer Research Foundation (ORF) chairman Sudheendra Kulkarni, the organizer of Kasuri’s book launch, on the morning when the event was scheduled. “I feel those who talk against the Shiv Sena today (on its opposition to Pakistan) should go to Pakistan if they have so much love for it. The country was partitioned on religious grounds, Pakistan was formed on the basis of religion… so if slogans of Pakistan zindabad are being given again in the country, Pakistani flags are being unfurled and (if someone is) supporting (those who do it), then chale jao Pakistan… it is a country for Muslim people,” said Kadam, while speaking to reporters on Tuesday. “The jawans, who protect our borders, are being attacked by Pakistan, they are infiltrating our borders, Pakistani terrorism has not stopped,” noted Kadam, adding that Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray’s stance that there should be no sporting or cultural ties between the two countries till this was done was supported by the people. He added that allowing Pakistani artistes to perform in India and their cricket team to play here would amount to the government “rubbing salt on the wounds of the families of shahid jawans” and advocated the need to pay Pakistan back in the same coin….  (DNA 21/10/15)

141. Saffronization fears over history textbooks rewrite plans (26)

NEW DELHI: Sparking fears of saffronisation of education in some quarters, the process to rewrite NCERT history textbooks may have begun. Earlier this month – between June 8 and 12 — NCERT conducted a workshop for a quick review of history textbooks attended by scholars from all parts of the country, including three council members of the Indian Council of Historical Research. Before the workshop, a meeting took place in the HRD ministry in which NCERT officials were called and the issue of change in history textbooks was discussed. Though both HRD and NCERT maintain that the meeting was to address “mistakes and controversial issues in history textbooks”, Sardindu Mukherji of ICHR who attended the meeting told TOI, “There are obvious problems with textbooks. These books should be replaced.”Since 1977, when Jana Sangh joined government as part of the Janata regime, there has been threat of changing NCERT textbooks, especially of history. In 1999 when NDA came to power, all NCERT textbooks were changed. In 2004, UPA replaced them again. One senior NCERT official involved with history textbooks told TOI, “Five day workshop is not held to correct minor changes. These books have been in use for more than 10 years and from time to time changes have been made and names of figures like Avantibai Lodhi were added.” He says one of the things that came up for discussion in the workshop is the time it will take to come up with new history textbooks. Mukherji says, “It is for government to decide. But we are told that commissioning and writing takes 18 to 24 months. If at all, new books can come only in 2017. Books are first written in English and then translated in Urdu and other languages.”… (Times of India 24/10/15)

142. In letter to PM, President, Admiral Ramdas alleges RSS pushing ‘Hindu Rashtra’ agenda (26)

New Delhi: In an open letter to President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Navy chief Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas alleged that the “RSS and their network” were leading a “systematic and well orchestrated attempt to impose a majoritarian single-point agenda of creating a Hindu Rashtra in India”. Admiral Ramdas was also the former internal Lokpal of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Stressing that the Hinduism he “knew” was “not filled with the kind of violence and intolerance represented by the current brand of “Hindutva” that was “fanning the flames of division and fear across the country”, he said that series of attacks on “minorities and Dalits” had forced him to hang his head in “shame”. Ramdas, who was the chief of naval staff between 1990-93, accused the country’s leadership of playing with fire. In his three-page letter, Ramdas wrote that it was “most shocking” to see no condemnation of such activities by those at the helm of affairs. He said that the “co-ordinated response of those in government seems to be to downplay the attacks – by terming them ‘sad’ and ‘unfortunate’.” Later, speaking to The Indian Express, Ramdas said that he had no hope that the country’s top leadership will respond to his letter. “I have done my job by pointing out that the fabric of Indian Constitution is in danger.” (Indian Express 26/10/15)

143. Hindu Sena chief Vishnu Gupta detained over Kerala House ‘raid’ (26)

New Delhi: Hindu Sena chief Vishnu Gupta was on Wednesday detained by Delhi Police for allegedly making a false complaint that beef was being served at the Kerala House canteen here. DCP (New Delhi) Jatin Narwal said that Vishnu Gupta is being questioned but did not disclose any further details. The development comes a day after a major row erupted when Delhi police entered the Kerala House acting on the complaint, with a miffed Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy condemning the “raid” as “highly objectionable”. The Delhi Police and the Centre also came under attack from chief ministers Arvind Kejriwal and Mamata Banerjee. Delhi Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi had on Tuesday said that police were contemplating action against the caller, Vishnu Gupta, under IPC Section 182 (false information, with intent to cause public servant to use his lawful power to the injury of another person). He added that the PCR call regarding the beef complaint was given priority because it had the potential to disrupt harmony between communities and could have had “disastrous consequences”, especially because of the “past record” of the caller, identified as Vishnu Gupta, national president of Hindu Sena. “The caller was already in police’s notice because of his past record,” said Mr. Bassi, adding that the officials deployed outside Kerala House to keep a watch were instructed to take preventive action in case Vishnu Gupta and his associates were caught doing any “mischief”. (The Hindu 28/10/15)

144. All tribals are Hindus, no need for Sarna code: RSS (26)

RANCHI: While adopting a resolution on national population policy of the country, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has reiterated that all tribals are Hindu’s and that the demand for a separate religious code is against the spirit of the constitution. Talking to media on the sidelines of Akhil Bhartiya Karyakari Mandal (half yearly executive body meeting) RSS sah sarkaryavah Dr Krishna Gopal said that tribals are Hindus and all of them come under the Hindu code bills. “Demanding separate code for tribal or sarna is tampering with the spirit of constitution,” he said. Gopalji was responding to a question on tribal community protesting union tribal affairs minister Jual Oram in Ranchi on Saturday for his statement that tribals are Hindus. “There is no denial of the fact that tribals are Hindus and that the minister is right in saying so,” he said. During the meeting RSS thinktank expressed concern over the unnatural growth of Christian population in many districts of the nation which according to them indicate an organised and targeted religious conversion activity by some vested interests. Gopalji said that in one decade Christian population of Arunanchal Pradesh has grown by almost 13%, “whereas in Manipur the share of religions of Bhartiya origin which was more than 80% in 1951 has come down to 50% in 2011 census,” he said. Earlier in the day members of Adivasi Sarna Mahasabha under leadership of former Congress MLA Deo Kumar Dhan displayed black flags to union minister Jual Oram to protest his statement of similar nature. Dhan during a public meeting in Jamshedpur, almost four months ago had said that tribals are Hindus. However soon after RSS reiterated its stand about tribal community sharp reactions came from the tribal quarters. Former chief minister and JMM central vice president Hemant Soren said that RSS was trying to convert secular India into a Hindu nation. “They are trying to dictate terms to all other communities and we will protest it sternly,” he said. Dhan on the other hand expressed shock over the stand of RSS and asked them to remain away from tribal matters. “RSS cannot be decision makers in a secuilar country. It seems that the ongoing demand for separate religious code for tribal in different state must be brought under a common banner and all 12 crore tribals of the country should raise unanimous demand for a common tribal code for their religion, which is based on the concept of nature worship,” he said. (Times of India 1/11/15)

145. VHP demands ban on sale of beef in Delhi, threatens agitation (26)

New Delhi: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has asked Delhi lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung to stop the sale of beef in hotels and restaurants in the national capital, complaining that the banned meat is sold on the sly. he request came amid a raging row over beef after a Muslim man was lynched on the suspicion of cow slaughter at Dadri in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi Police allegedly raided Kerala House acting on a hoax call over “Beef Fry” on the guesthouse canteen’s menu. The VHP, at the front edge of a campaign against cow slaughter, wrote to Jung on Monday about the Delhi Agricultural Cattle Preservation Act, 1994, that clearly prohibits the purchase, sale, import, export, possession and serving of cow meat as well as slaughter of the animal. “Despite a law being in full force, its enforcement by the authorities concerned seems to be in question. It is shocking to witness that many hotels, restaurants and food joints in Delhi are still daring to carry ‘beef’ as it is or otherwise on their menu,” says the letter signed by several VHP leaders. “A little reference to any dictionary available clearly exposes the dubious arguments of those who are trying to mislead the masses that buffalo meat is also covered under the definition of beef,” it says in an oblique reference to Kerala House’s clarification that it was not beef but buffalo meat that was sold in its canteen. The organisation’s spokesman, Vinod Bansal, said there have been numerous complaints about the sale of beef items in Delhi’s eateries. The VHP, which is part of the larger Sangh Parivar to which the ruling BJP also owes allegiance, said the Kerala House episode and a latest sting aired by some television channels exposed how the law has been openly challenged and hurt religious sentiments of Hindus. A copy of the letter was sent to the Union home ministry, the Delhi Police commissioner, mayors and commissioners of municipal corporations as well as hotels and restaurants. “In our letter, we have categorically stated that if the sale of beef is not stopped forthwith, we will have to launch an agitation,” Bansal said. (Hindustan Times 3/11/15)

146. RSS demands regulating religious institutions in Odisha (26)

BHUBANESWAR: Expressing concerns over reported change in population composition, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha (RSS) on Friday urged the Odisha government to strictly monitor activities of all religious institutions in the State. The ideological mentor of the Bharatiya Janata Party demanded mosques and churches be brought under the purview of the Odisha Endowment Act which regulates financial transactions of temples and mutts in the State. Addressing a press conference here, Samir Mohanty, Sangh Chalak of RSS, Odisha (East), alleged: “We need to maintain absolute transparency in transactions pertaining to religious institutions. When financial dealings of temples are subjected to minute scrutiny, nobody is bothered to keep tab on churches and mosques.” Most of these religious institutions are being used as platform to perform religious conversion, he said. As per RSS instruction of Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal, all State bodies have been directed to spread awareness on ‘severe demographic imbalance’ allegedly reflected in analysis of Census 2011. “Although situation in Odisha is not alarming as in Assam, Bihar and West Bengal, the government need to be alert on issue of demographic imbalance which has potential to create rift among communities,” said Mr. Mohanty. He added that in three Odisha districts — Kandhamal, Sundargarh and Gajapati — religious conversion has resulted in rise of Christian population. “In Kandhamal, the Christian population is 20.31 per cent, in Gajapati and Sundargarh, it is 37.98 per cent and 20.31 per cent respectively.” “Often foreign funding to churches is used for conversion. After communal riots in Kandhamal, although the rate of conversion has gone down, it has been still going on under the nose of administration,” he said. Mr. Mohanty said the RSS demanded curbing of infiltration from across the border and preparation of a national register of citizens. “Foreign nationals should be prevented from acquiring citizenship rights and purchase of land.” Quoting the Census analysis, Mr. Mohanty said: “Christian population among three dominant religions has increased from 2.01 lakh in 1961 to 11.61 lakh in 2011 – a growth of 478 per cent. Muslims have grown by 323 per cent from 2.15 lakh in 1961 to 9.11 lakh. Compared to this, population of Hindus has made slow growth from 1.71 crore to 3.93 crore (129.52 per cent of growth rate) in the same period. In past 50 years, Hindu population of Odisha has come down from 98 per cent to 94 per cent.” As per the information, RSS has 71,992 shakhas in the country, which is 8,297 more than last year, There are 1,352 shakhas in Odisha which is 5 per cent more than last year. The RSS targets to increase number of shakhas by one-third by 2018. (The Hindu 7/11/15)

147. Bhagwat words untimely, voters feel BJP takes RSS orders: BJP MP (26)

Hours into the defeat, the first rumblings were heard in the BJP with at least three party MPs, two of them from Bihar, speaking out. Madhubani MP Hukmdev Narayan Yadav and Buxar MP Ashwini Kumar Choubey blamed the defeat on RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s “untimely” remarks on the reservation policy which, they said, made people perceive “BJP as the ghulam of RSS”. Kangra MP and former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Shanta Kumar too took a swipe at the leadership, saying the party blundered by not doing an “honest and serious self-introspection” after the rout in Delhi. Blaming Bhagwat’s remarks for the defeat, Hukmdev Narayan Yadav told The Indian Express: “People do not know the soil of Bihar. People (of Bihar) have fought against social disparity more than they struggled against economic disparity. They faced two things. One was the Jungle Raj of Lalu, the second the Aatank Raj of upper castes. Lalu convincingly told people that if Aatank Raj comes, everything you have will be snatched away. Your prestige will be taken away, you will be made a slave again. The backward castes of Bihar consolidated for social rights and social equality.”He said though Prime Minister Narendra Modi clarified his stand on reservation, it was already too late. “Lalu and Nitish made it (Bhagwat’s remarks) an issue. How could the BJP have prevented it from becoming an issue? People believe that BJP kuchch nahin hai, jo Sangh ka aadesh hoga, Sangh ka hukum maanne wala hai. Sangh ka ghulam hai. Sangh jo hukum karega to yeh maanega. Sangh ke pradhan ne kaha ki review reservation… (People believe that the BJP will follow whatever is the diktat of Sangh. It is the slave of Sangh. Whatever Sangh orders, it will follow. Sangh’s chief said that review reservation).”… (Indian Exprss 9/11/15)


148. Pak police arrest Lashkar-e-Jhangvi leader (12)

LAHORE: Pakistani police have arrested the last main leader of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi sectarian militant group. After the death of LeJ chief Malik Ishaq, his two sons and 11 other activists in a shootout with police this July in Muzaffargarh district of Punjab province, Haroon Rashid Bhatti said to be the “last main leader” of LeJ who was leading the outfit from Dubai has also been nabbed. The Punjab police had placed a Rs 2.5 million bounty on his head. The Punjab police’s Crime Investigation Agency (CIA) with the help of Interpol arrested Bhatti along with his four accomplices – Ahmed Yar, Ghulam Mustafa, Tariq Nawaz Dhilon and Ayaz Ahmed – in Dubai and brought them to Lahore yesterday. CIA chief Umer Virk said that Bhatti is the last top leader of LeJ and after his arrest “there is no other potential activist to lead this militant organisation”.He said Bhatti is a founding member of LeJ and a close associate of Malik Ishaq. “Bhatti and his accomplices had planned to attack Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Muharram processions,” Virk disclosed. He said Bhatti and other suspects were involved in a number of terror attacks in Lahore and elsewhere. Virk said they were also involved in the killing of 25 people when they opened indiscriminate firing at a funeral gathering of Shias in Lahore some years ago. Virk said the suspects were also involved in attacks on journalist Raza Rumi and playwright Asghar Nadeem Syed.He said the suspects are also behind the killing of police officer Tariq Kambo, Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat leader Maulana Shamsur Rehman Moavia and prominent Shia personalities. The suspects have been shifted to an undisclosed location for interrogation. (Times of India 23/10/15)

149. Do not discriminate between terror groups, Obama tells Sharif (12)

Washington: US President Barack Obama has told Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that his country should not discriminate between terrorist groups. “One piece that was important to the President is that Pakistan (should) not discriminate against terrorist groups. That’s something that we’ve made clear in the past and was reiterated yesterday in the bilateral meeting,” White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz told reporters at his daily news conference on Friday. According to officials in Washington, Pakistan only targeted terrorist groups that attacked the Pakistani State. Obama met Sharif at the Oval Office on Thursday for about 90 minutes. “Obama underscored that the United States is committed to a broad, sustainable, and enduring partnership with Pakistan that delivers progress for the Pakistani people and reinforces Pakistan’s democracy and civil society,” Schultz said. “Specifically on terrorism President Obama and Prime Minister Sharif both noted that our two countries are threatened by terrorist groups, and that the Pakistani people have suffered greatly,” he added. “These leaders committed to continue bilateral counterterrorism cooperation. Obama highlighted the importance of Pakistan undertaking effective action against terrorists that seek to undermine peaceful dialogue and destabilise the region,” Schultz said. Sharif left for Pakistan on Friday after concluding his four day official trip to the US. The State Department described his visit as a successful. “The visit overall highlighted our strong and growing relationship with Pakistan, and frankly, provided an opportunity to strengthen our cooperation on a range of issues,” state department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner said. “Obviously, first and foremost is security, but there are other issues of mutual interest, including cooperation on economic growth, trade, investment, clean energy, nuclear security, climate change, and regional stability,” he said. Pakistan, he said is deeply affected by terrorism and has taken steps to counter that terrorism in the recent past. “We want to see those efforts expand. But it’s such a complex dynamic. You’ve got Afghanistan and the Taliban’s continued presence there on one side. You do have tensions with India, and those need to be addressed,” Toner said. (Times of India 24/10/15)

150. US expresses concern over ISIS presence in Bangladesh (12)

Washington: The US has expressed concern over the presence of dreaded Islamic State terror group in Bangladesh after the militant group claimed responsibility for several terror attacks in the country, including the murder of an Italian aid worker, last month. Bangladeshi police had yesterday arrested four persons for their alleged involvement in the murder of an Italian aid worker here. “We certainly note with concern ISIS’s claim of responsibility for the attack. We take those claims seriously,” the State Department Spokesman John Kirby told reporters at his daily news briefing yesterday. Kirby was responding to questions about ISIS claim of a few terrorist activities in Bangladesh including killing of an Italian aid worker. “We’re working closely with the Government of Bangladesh and key partners to assess who is responsible for these attacks and to help bring them to justice,” he said. According to the State Department spokesman, it is difficult to say the degree to which the attacks on the foreigners was claimed by the Islamic State. Unknown miscreants carried out an unprecedented attack with improvised grenades on a Shiite procession in the old part of Dhaka on Saturday. This attack was also claimed by the Islamic State. “I’m not at a position where I can make that determination. But there’s an investigation going on right now that we want to ? if there’s a need to be helpful, we want to be helpful,” he said. “It’s by law enforcement authorities there in Bangladesh to confirm responsibility. It’s up to them to do this. But I think it’s prudent for us to take ISIL claims seriously, and we do,” Kirby said. The earlier attacks on the foreigners was claimed by the Islamic State. Unknown miscreants carried out an unprecedented attack with improvised grenades on a Shiite procession in the old part of Dhaka on Saturday. This attack was also claimed by the Islamic State. (Zee News 27/10/15)

151. Six Muslim youth booked for terror acquitted by the Lucknow special court (12)

LUCKNOW: A special court on Thursday acquitted six accused alleged to be member of banned terror outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (HuJI) for want of sufficient evidence. They were arrested by the Uttar Pradesh (UP) STF (STF) in 2007 and were in jail since then. In his order, special judge SAH Rizvi observed that the prosecution could not lay before him any evidence which could prove involvement of the accused in the terror activities in the country. “The recovery of the AK-47 rifle and other ammunition also appeared to have been planted with the accused in order to book them in false cases” said the judge. Those who have been acquitted are — Jalaluddin alias Pintu, Naushad alias Hafiz alias Sabir, Mohammad Ali Akbar Hussain, Aziz-ur-Rahamn Sardar, Shekh Mukhtar and Noor Mohammad. In the 51-page-verdict, the judge held that the prosecution could not place any evidence to show complicity of the accused in the terror acts or connection of the terror accused with HuJI. “The only evidence available on record is the confessional statement of the accused but that is not sufficient for conviction because the prosecution fails to prove the recovery at the instance of the arrested accused”, the judge said in the order. The court said that from record it is evident that the STF picked up the accused from different locations but showed recovery from other places. The whole evidence is unbelievable and appears to been planted. There are serious contradictions in the recovery and the statements of the prosecution witnesses, said the court. The STF had claimed that it arrested Jalaluddin and Naushad from Residency area on June 22, 2007 on a tip off and recovered AK rifle along with others arms, ammunition and explosive. It also claimed that on the basis of the information provided by the two, four other accused were arrested from different parts of the state along with arms and ammunition. During interrogation, the accused had confessed to have planned explosions at railway stations, religious places, bus stands and other important places in different parts of UP, STF said in the charge-sheet. Shahnawaz Husain, a member of Rehahi Manch organization, which provided legal aid to the accused, said five accused are from West Bengal — Jalaluddin, Mohammad Ali Akbar Hussain and Noor Mohammad are residents of 24 Paragna district, Seikh Mukhtar is from Nandi Gram and Aziz-ur-Rahamn belongs to Kolkata. Naushad is resident of Bijnore district of UP. “All were framed by the UP STF. Families of all these accused are living in a pathetic condition. We need to rehabilitate them now,” he said. (Times of India 30/10/15)

152. Ban condemns alleged attack on Russian plane (12)

Geneva: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the alleged attack on a Russian plane in “the strongest terms” and voiced his deep sadness for the victims of the crash in Egypt’s Sinai earlier on Saturday. Ban told a group of journalists here on Saturday afternoon that he has received the report that the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the crash of a Russian plane, saying it is a complete crime to target civilian airlines and a full investigation should be carried out as soon as possible. “I’d like to take this opportunity to offer my deep condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims and countries concerned,” Ban said after a joint press conference with the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer in an unprecedented joint call in wake of the world’s humanitarian crises here in Geneva. The Islamic State on Saturday claimed responsibility for the crash of a Russian plane earlier the day in Egypt’s Sinai, which killed more than 200 people on board. The Sinai-based group “Sinai State” that had announced loyalty to the IS said in a statement posted on Twitter that its militants managed to target the Russian plane and killed all its passengers, in revenge for Russia’s military operations in Syria. (Business Standard 1/11/15)

153. Chhota Rajan extradition: 6-member team arrives in Bali (12)

NEW DELHI/BALI: A special six-member joint team of the CBI, Delhi Police and Mumbai Police arrived in Bali, Indonesia today to seek the deportation of arrested underworld don Chhota Rajan. The special team is carrying all the relevant documents needed for Rajan’s deportation including his crime history and a court warrant against him. Earlier, first secretary consular at the Indian embassy in Jakarta Sanjeev Kumar Agrawal met underworld don Chhota Rajan. He is the first Indian official to meet Chhota Rajan after his arrest. The India-Indonesia extradition treaty was signed in 2011 but has not been implemented yet. Rajan was travelling with the identity of Mohan Kumar with passport number G9273860 when he was apprehended at the airport, after arriving there on a Garuda Indonesia flight GA715, by the Indonesian Police on a tip off from Australian authorities, they said. Indian ambassador to Indonesia Gurjit Singh said on Friday that the process relating to Rajan’s deportation to India has already begun but there is no deadline for it. Rajan has also hired a lawyer, Fransico Prassar, who met him at the detention centre two days ago. Rajan, whose original name is Rajendra Sadashiv Nikhalje, has been questioned by the Indonesian police several times in the last few days to confirm his identity and criminal acts in India. Rajan, one of India’s most wanted criminals and a leading figure in the Mumbai underworld, was arrested at Bali, Indonesia, on October 24. Rajan is wanted for at least 68 cases in Mumbai alone, including over 20 murder cases and other serious offences under MCOCA, POTA and the Arms Act. The sources said Rajan was in touch with various police officials for last six months seeking a passage to return to India as he feared for his life in Australia from Chhota Shakeel, a henchman of Dawood. In 2000, there was an attempt on his life when Dawood’s men tracked him down to a hotel in Bangkok but he managed a dramatic escape through the hotel’s roof. According to serving and former police officers, who have dealt with the Mumbai underworld, arrest of Rajan is a major success and his questioning is expected to shed light on hitherto unknown facts related to cases linked to his syndicate. (Times of India 2/11/15)

154. Intelligence Warns of ISI-IM Plan to Stoke Communal Tension (12)

NEW DELHI: ISI is planning to carry out vandalism at religious places in India to stoke communal tension in the country, Intelligence agencies has warned the Centre. The input, which has been shared with DGPs and IGPs of all the States, stated that Pak ISI is using Indian absconders, mostly drawn from Indian Mujahideen cadre, to execute the plan. “States like Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Gujarat, UP and Rajasthan have been put on alert to thwart any such attempts. The ISI, it seems, is planning to take advantage of the sensitive situation in the country by using IM’s sleeper cells. Since IM doesn’t have the firepower, the ISI is using the IM sleeper cells to disturb the peaceful atmosphere in the country,” sources told Express. Earlier, the ISI had used IM’s sleeper cells to flare up communal tension in Assam by spreading text messages and online posts falsely claiming atrocities against Muslims. It was also came to light that the ISI had used  used IM operatives to spread hate text messages against the northeast community in Bangalore after which several students from the region was attacked. “The operatives of IM, on the direction of ISI, have been making attempts to foment communal tension in different parts of India,” the intelligence input further stated. The intelligence input noted that IM absconders Iqbal and Riyaz Bhatkal, sheltered by ISI, has been in touch with a certain member of sleeper cells tasked to carry out vandalism at religious places. Although several other absconders crossed over to Afghanistan and said to have joined hands with Taliban, at least six of India’s most-wanted IM terrorists Mulla, Sultan, Iqbal, Riyaz, Shabbar and Saleem are staying at safe houses provided by ISI. It also have a team which handles propaganda wing for online posts and whatsapp messages to create panic among public. (New Indian Express 7/11/15)

155. Seven kidnapped people killed in Afghanistan (12)

Kabul : Militants affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) terror group killed seven abducted people in Afghanistan’s Zabul province, a police official said on Sunday. “The IS insurgents abducted seven civilians from Ghazni province one month ago and beheaded them on Saturday night in Arghandab district,” the official told Xinhua news agency. The bodies were handed over to the families. The reason for their abduction remains unclear, the official added. (Business Standard 8/11/15)

156. Bail refused to Sadhvi Pragya (12)

Mumbai: The special court for Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act cases has rejected the bail application of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, a key accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case. Sadhvi had moved the application last month on the ground that she was suffering from breast cancer. However, special NIA prosecutor Avinash Rasal argued that she was getting proper medical treatment at government hospitals while in judicial custody. She owned the motorcycle used to plant the bomb and there was no evidence that it had been sold to anyone else at the time of the crime, he said. Recently, the court also rejected the bail pleas of Lt Col Prasad Purohit, Dyanand Pandey alias Swami Amritanand Dev, Rakesh Dhawade and Major (retd) Ramesh Upadhyay, all co-accused in the case. Twelve persons, including the Sadhvi and Purohit, were arrested for carrying out a blast at Malegaon, a predominantly Muslim town in north Maharashtra, on September 29, 2008, killing six persons and injuring 100.The accused have been booked under stringent MCOCA, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and Indian Penal Code. Following a Supreme Court order, a special court has been constituted to exclusively hear the case. Sadhvi is also an accused in the case related to the murder of RSS activist Sunil Joshi in Madhya Pradesh. – PTI (The Hindu 9/11/15)


157. Maoist couple surrenders in Chhattisgarh with AK47 rifle (12)

RAIPUR: A senior Maoist commander surrendered with AK 47 rifle along with his Maoist wife before police at red hotbed Bijapur district in Bastar region on Thursday. Active since 2003, Sannu Poyam surrendered with his AK47 as platoon commander cum platoon party committee secretary, abandoning the life of violence and lead a peaceful life. Sannu’s wife Maini Majji active as medical member of Local Guerilla Squad surrendered to join main stream. In a media briefing at police headquarters at Naya Raipur before RK Vij, ADG anti-Naxalite operation, Sannu said that there were about 14 Maoists in his platoon when he left. “I was immensely disturbed with cadre’s activities of destructing buildings, schools, extortion of money, compelling poor not to accept free rice from government and damaging roads. They used to snatch away rashan cards of poor tribals.” he said. Surrendered Maoist added that he felt hurt when a divisional committee member of Bhairamgarh area committee Santosh Anna was hanged to death in front of his own villagers at a Jan Adalat in 2013. Andhra Pradesh Maoists had accused Anna of supporting surrenders before police and sentenced to death, Sannu said. Sannu joined Maoist ranks in 2003 as member of tribal labour’s association and later became jan militia commander of area committee Bhairamgarh. He worked as instructor to train cadres in making IEDs. He added that extortion of Rs 50 lakh was done from tendu-leaves contractors and that the present deputy commander of platoon Lokesh who is an expert in planting IEDs on roads was given 50 detonators by secretary of south regional committee Ganesh Uikey. Sannu’s wife Maini Majji had joined Maoist ranks at the age of 23 in 2011 when she was persuaded by cadres to work for ‘janta’ (public). She had worked for a year as member of press team with west division committee. Later, she was trained for four months in medical treatment including injections, medicines and treating bullet injuries during police encounters. Studied till Class 7, Maini used to keep 0.315 bore rifle and had Rs one lakh reward on her head. RK Vij said that Sannu would be given Rs 11 lakh for surrendering as platoon commander with AK47, as part of state government’s rehabilitation scheme. In another development, a woman Maoist was arrested by district force from Dhurli area of Dantewada district in Bastar division. She carried cash reward of Rs one lakh on her head. (Times of India 22/10/15)

158. 8 Maoists arrested, one surrenders in Raipur (12)

RAIPUR: Two hardcore Maoists, among eight, carrying cash reward of Rs 5 lakh on their heads, were arrested on Saturday from different parts of Maoists’ hotbed Bijapur district in Bastar region. According to Bastar range IG SRP Kalluri, hardcore Maoists Aaytu Modiyam, deputy commander of local guerilla squad (LGS), had Rs 3 lakh reward on him and Kamlu Lekam, platoon member, had Rs 2 lakh on his head. All eight of the arrested Maoists were involved in cases related to murder and loot. In another development, a Maoist commander, Raghnath Gawde, surrendered with a country made gun and 13 rounds of cartridges before Bastar IG. Kalluri said that Gawde would be given Rs 10,000 as ex-gratia. Gawde had joined Maoist ranks in 1999 and he was asked by senior Maoist cadres of Andhra Pradesh to murder, loot, and harass tribals besides take up destruction of infrastructure. Fed up with partial behaviour of senior leaders of AP, Gawde decided to surrender. (Times of India 25/10/15)

159. CRPF jawan killed, another injured in gun battle with Maoists (12)

Raipur: A CRPF jawan was killed and another injured in a gun battle with Maoists in Chhattisgarh’s worst insurgency-hit Sukma district, police said on Monday. The skirmish took place on Sunday in forests under Maraguda police station limits while the paramilitary forces were out on an anti-Maoist operation in the region, Sukam additional superintendent of police Santosh Singh told PTI. A squad of Central Reserve Paramilitary Force’s 217th battalion had launched the operation late last evening acting on an information about digging of a road by ultras near its Maraiguda camp, located around 450 kms away from the state capital, Singh said. During patrolling, a group of armed cadres opened indiscriminate firing on security personnel leaving one of them dead and another injured, he said. However, Maoists fled to the core forests when jawans retaliated, he added. “The killed jawan was identified as Ashok Kumar Jat of constable rank,” the ASP said. Soon after getting the news, additional forces were rushed to the spot. Both the deceased and injured jawan were retrieved out from the forest through helicopter, he said. A manhunt has been launched in the region to nab the attackers, he added. (Hindustan Times 26/10/15)

160. Maoist posters create flutter (12)

WARANGAL: Wall posters that appeared near AP Rayons Factory in Kamalapur of Mangapet mandal caused commotion among people and police here. The posters were spotted in the wee hours of Thursday and they were issued in the name of Khammam-Karimnagar-Warangal (KKW) committee secretary Damodar. They featured a threat issued to Minister A. Chandulal, and TRS leader Umesh Reddy, holding them responsible for recent encounter in which Sruthi and Vidyasagar Reddy were killed by the police. They threatened to kill all those responsible for the encounter. The naxals, through the posters, demanded that efforts be made to reopen BILT factory. They accused the TRS leaders of making a lot of promises but delivering nothing. The leaders should not venture into rural areas without addressing the issues facing people, else they would be shot dead, the naxals said. Meanwhile, the police dismissed them as fake posters but reportedly summoned surrendered naxals and are inquiring. Combing in rural areas and forests abutting the tribal hamlets were also intensified by policemen. After a long gap, the posters by naxals are appearing in several parts of the district since one year. They appeared in Parkal and Mogullapalli mandals in which the naxals threatened the local contractors and politicians against encroachment of government land and illegal mining. In view of these posters and reported ongoing recruitment into Maoist party, the police launched full scale operations, both inside and outside forest areas. (The Hindu 30/10/15)

161. Naxal movements puzzle police (12)

ADILABAD: The killing of an Adivasi by naxalites in Tiryani mandal in Adilabad four days ago has spread a scare among tribals in Adilabad but experts say there is less chance of the Maoists regaining lost ground in the district. “The incidents will only generate antagonism among the aboriginal tribes towards the Maoists,” opines a police officer involved in anti naxalite operations here. The officer in question however, had no answer to what the ‘dedicated’ band of armed Maoists are doing in the district despite being on radar of the anti-naxal forces since the last three years. The dalam even had a close shave when its members escaped an exchange of with the police twice last year. The only answer which the security forces seem to have or are voicing openly is that the extremists want to tell the world that they are existing and are not a spent force in these parts. They nevertheless do not rule out that the Maoists could have something new up their sleeve. There are some 25 to 30 extremists moving in the Mangi forest which is at its thickest in Tiryani mandal and in the Vaipet area of Indervelli mandal. They are apparently operating as two bands called Mangi and Indervelli dalams and led by Adilabad Maoist Area Committee member Atram Shobhan alias Charles and Divisional Committee member Mylarapu Adellu alias Bhaskar. “The Mangi dalam definitely has good places to hide like the ravines of Rajulagudem. These places provide good shelter and there is plenty of water for the naxalites to survive for a comparatively long time,” another police officer added. This part is true because the heralding of autumn has not depleted the green cover any bit. “Visibility is restricted to 100 meters at many places in these forests,” he points out. (The Hindu 3/11/15)

162. 3 Maoists killed in Bastar (12)

RAIPUR: Three guerrillas of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) were killed and eight others were arrested from different part of restive Bastar region of Chhattisgarh on Tuesday, police said. “A joint team of the CPRF’s CoBRA, the District Reserve Guard (DRG) and the Special Task Force (STF) left Pollampalli police station in Sukma at around 4 a.m. on Tuesday to launch an anti-Maoist operation in Palamadgu and Arlampalli area. At around 9.30 am, the Maoists opened indiscriminate fire on this team near Arlampalli village. One uniformed Maoist was killed when the joint team retaliated the fire,” said a press statement issued by Sukma police. A Quick Response Team (QRT) of Sukma police headed by Additional Superintendent of Police, Irfan Khan left towards the spot on the incident as a backup party to the joint team once the news of the encounter reached the district headquarters. “At around 12 p.m., the QRT came under fire from the Maoists near Kanthipara village. The QRT, along with the joint team, retaliated the fire and forced the Maoists to flee into the forest. Two more dead bodies of uniformed Maoists were recovered upon searching the spot of the encounter. Two country made guns were also recovered from the spot,” added the press statement. “The deceased Maoists have been identified as Dudhi Bhima, Vetti Lachhu and Sodhi Muya and all three were residents of Arlampalli village of Sukma,” informed S.R.P. Kalluri, the Inspector General of Police, Bastar range. In a separate incident, eight Maoists were arrested by Bijapur district police from three different locations of the district. “Eight Maoists were arrested from Madded, Awapalli and Toynar police station limits of Bijapur today. The arrests were made through joint action by the respective police stations, 170th battalion of the CPRF and 204th battalion of the CoBRA,” said a statement shared by Mr. Kalluri. The arrested Maoists include Santu Kuhurami, the Madded area platoon commander of the Maoists and Maoists’ Madded area committee member Bhim Singh. Briefing the media in Jagdalpur after Tuesday’s successful operations, Mr. Kalluri said that the anti-Maoist operations had begun in Bastar. “The operations have begun in Sukma and all parts of Bastar would witness anti-Maoist operations now. During encounters, the outsider senior Maoist leaders don’t lead but they send local Dalams (units) to fight. This is how they have been surviving here but very soon they would be exposed,” he told reporters. (The Hindu 3/11/15)

163. Denying edu to tribals, kids of top Naxals studying in elite colleges (12)

Nagpur: The children of several senior Naxal cadres are either enrolled in prestigious educational institutions or employed in private firms with hefty pay packages. State Anti-Naxal Operation (ANO) cell has issued a press note highlighting the qualifications of such children and posts held by some of them in top private companies. The cops are highlighting this ambiguity in the Naxals’ campaign to the tribal population and their families. The press statement, issued by the government’s special information and public relation cell attached to ANO, claimed that Naxals have been opposing government sponsored education system in their strongholds, compelling many students from tribal families to join the rebel movement and arming them to fight against security forces and target the establishment. Naxals have also been strongly opposing Gadchiroli police’s Maharashtra Darshan Sohala, which is a tour operated for students, particularly from the families of martyrs, to expose them to the culture and development in other parts of the state. On the other hand, it’s learnt that some of the top Naxals have ensured that their own children get education and remain in the society’s mainstream. The press note also alleges that some Naxals are diverting party funds, amassed through extortion, for the benefit of their families and kin. Highlighting the dichotomy, the ANO press note claims that Naxal cadre Devkumar Singh alias Arvind Nishant, who shoulders the responsibility of distributing pamphlets and party literature, sent his son to IIT Kanpur, where he is completing his chemical engineering. Snehlata, daughter of company commander Mallerajji Reddy alias Gopanna, is now studying law after completing graduation in science. The elder son of dreaded cadre Vijay Reddy is employed with a top private company in Telangana state, enjoying a pay package running into lakhs, after completing his BTech. Reddy’s younger son too is completing his BTech. The press release also underlined the fact that Nachiketan, son of surrendered company commander KK Murlidharan, alias Rajendra, alias Gopi, too is working as a software engineer at Kochi in Kerala. Dandakaranya’s former Naxal leader Gudsa Usendi’s daughter Sneha too is employed with an IT company with a 5 lakh pay package after completing her BTech. Superintendent of police, Gadchiroli, Sandip Patil said that one of the members of the ongoing mass movement in the district has ensured that his son is getting educated in the United States of America. Inspector general of police, Nagpur and Naxal range, Ravindra Kadam said that the suicide by founder leader of the movement Kanu Sanyal itself shows the crippling frustration among the cadres. “It is likely that the senior cadres are fast realizing the futility of the movement and its ideology, so they are pushing their own children to the competitive world and academic careers,” said Kadam. “Going by the history, with 1967 as the base year, the movement is now led by the fourth generation leaders, who seem to have realized the emptiness of the system,” said Kadam. (Times of India 5//11/15)

164. Bauxite mining: Maoists threaten to kill minister (12)

HYDERABAD: AP panchayat raj minister Ch Ayyanna Patrudu on Saturday received a death threat from Maoists, who are opposed to bauxite mining in the Agency area of Visakhapatnam. The Maoists reportedly warned that Ayyanna Patrudu, who hails from north coastal Andhra, should prevail upon the state government to withdraw the permission for bauxite mining in Narsipatnam division of the Agency area. The outlaws have also demanded that the minister resign from the state cabinet. Following the threat call, the minister rushed to the state secretariat in Hyderabad to meet chief secretary IYR Krishna Rao. He informed Rao about the Maoist threat. He also briefed him about the mounting pressure from tribals in his assembly constituency to stop the bauxite mining project. Sources said Patrudu also brought to the notice of the chief secretary that people in his Narsipatnam constituency are under constant threat from Maoists. The minister then spoke to CM Chandrababu Naidu, who assured him that he would discuss the issue with tribal leaders before moving forward. Naidu also asked the minister not to panic and assured full protection to him. On Thursday, the AP government issued orders permitting mining of bauxite in Narsipatnam. The Maoists have been opposing the mining for long. They even kidnapped three TDP leaders recently and released them only after the government gave an assurance that it would not take up mining. Just after 10 days, the TDP government issued GO (No.97) giving permission to AP Mineral Development Corporation to take up bauxite mining in about 3,000 acres in Narsipatnam forest division. Several TDP leaders in Vizag district are learnt to have received threats from Naxalites. “It is not the final permission to start mining. Another permission from the mining department is required and we are not going to give it now. First, we will call all tribal leaders and discuss with them whether the state government should take up bauxite mining with the active participation of tribals or keep quiet. Based on their opinion we will move forward. Our CM assured me that he would not go against the sentiment of tribals,” Patrudu told TOI. TDP is facing rough weather in Vizag and Vizianagaram where bauxite mining has become an emotional issue with tribal families opposing the same. In fact, Naidu while in opposition, had visited the area and assured them that he would fight against the bauxite mining and even wrote letters to the Centre and the state governor. (Times of India 9/11/15)


165. Cop saves woman in traffickers’ grip (1)

NEW DELHI: Had it not been for an alert policeman, a young woman from Telangana would have fallen into the clutches of operators in what is reportedly the capital’s human trafficking den. The 22-year-old, who spoke neither English nor Hindi, was spotted in Shakur Basti, being heckled by a group of touts, by Constable Nagendra Mishra, who roped in translators to find her address and proceeded to reunite her with her family. Mishra was on patrol duty at Shakur Basti railway station three days ago when he spotted the young woman sitting in a corner of platform number 1 with her child, weeping. A few men loomed over her and aggressively tried to convince her to accompany them. The woman, however, seemed unimpressed by their exhortations. When he asked her the reason for her distress, the woman replied in Telugu which Mishra, himself, did not speak. Sensing trouble, Mishra shooed the touts away and brought her to the police station. There, too, none could understand what she said. Thinking quickly and well, Mishra called in a translator while he informed his seniors. Prafulla, a woman assistant sub-inspector, was assigned to look after the guest. Meanwhile, another cop, ASI Lalit Mohan, scanned her mobile phone and called up her husband. ACP (railways) O P Singh then contacted her hometown’s local police station in Bara Samkarnpeth, Telangana, and confirmed her address. Her photographs were also sought. The husband, one Sukhwinder Singh, reached Sarai Rohilla police station the same night. Police questioned him to confirm his identity and, once satisfied, relinquished the custody of the woman and child. Singh disclosed that they had had a love marriage and he worked in a factory in Mansha, Punjab. The woman’s mother had fallen ill and she wanted to see her but Singh could not avail leave from work. So he got her a ticket to Delhi and a second ticket from Old Delhi railway station to Hyderabad and told her to make the journey without him. However, the woman got down at Shakur Basti by mistake, when she heard other passengers on the train remark that they had arrived in Delhi. Because of her language problem, she could not figure out her next step. That was when touts surrounded her and Mishra spotted her just in time. DCP (Railways) Milind Dumbre, it has been learnt, is writing to senior special commissioner (law and order) Deepak Mishra to reward the policeman for his humanitarian gesture and commitment to duty. (Times of India 24/10/15)

166. Kidnap of minors on the rise in Bengaluru (1)

BENGALURU: There has been a steep rise in the cases of kidnapping of minors — in the age group of 10 to 15 — from Bengaluru in the last two years. While the number of such cases was 100 in 2013, it shot up to 220 in 2014. This year, till the end of August, of the 428 kidnapped minors, around 200 were in this age group, ringing alarm bells among experts.Though the police are probing all child-missing cases as kidnapping, the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) terms the situation “shocking”. The KSCPCR points to child trafficking gangs operating primarily from northern Karnataka that are targeting young children to engage in begging. Also, there are gangs combing areas for baby boys to sell them illegally to childless clients, or to those with no male children.The city police suspect the recent Bowring hospital newborn kidnapping was one such example, but the media glare on the case led the suspect to abandon the three-day-old baby, who was later rescued and reunited with his mother. (The Hindu 26/10/15)

167. Krupamani suicide: Police form teams to nab traffickers (1)

TANUKU (WEST GODAVARI): The death of 25-year-old Krupamani, of Velpuru village in Tanuku mandal, explains how rampant trafficking and flesh trade was in the district. Krupamani’s parents – Ramalingeswara Rao, Lakshmi and brother Raj Kumar – reportedly detained and tortured her to indulge in prostitution. Vexed with the series of developments back home, Krupamani jumped into an irrigation canal on October 19. The woman was married to Pavan Kumar five years ago and the couple had a three-year-old boy. Later, Lakshmi, who used to frequent her daughter’s house allegedly created differences between the couple and separated them. She brought Krupamani to her house and filed a dowry harassment case against Pavan Kumar. While Krupamani was staying with her parents during the trial period, they allegedly pestered her to indulge in prostitution. When she refused, the family sold her to a flesh trade organiser, Gudala Srinivas, who reportedly took her nude photographs and beat her severely. The victim managed to call her husband and narrated how her parents resorted to the cruel act and her situation in a prostitution den. A few months ago, Pavan Kumar, took Krupamani with him and the couple was staying separately. However, Srinivas, was continuing his efforts to abduct Krupamani with the help of her parents. He threatened to put her photographs in different social media websites, if she refused to listen to him. Unable to bear the torture, the couple lodged a complaint with Tanuku police recently. In a suicide note left behind, she explained the inhuman act and the torture meted out to her by Srinivas and her parents. Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) R.P. Thakur said that three teams have been constituted to nab the accused, who absconded soon after the incident. Speaking to The Hindu on Monday, West Godavari District Superintendent of Police Bhaskar Bhushan said that police received some specific clues on the movements of Krupamani’s parents, brother and Srinivas. “We will arrest the accused in a day or two and see that they are severely punished in the case,” the SP added. (The Hindu 26/10/15)

168. Child Welfare Officers Rescue At Least Two Kids Each Day (1)

CHENNAI: The Railways is the favoured mode of transport for trafficking children. However, railway officials at Chennai Central are astonished that at least two children are being rescued by child welfare officers at the station every day for the past three months when the service was initiated. The Childline Foundation of India, which runs a 24-hour helpline to rescue trapped and trafficked children known as Childline, has set up a permanent booth at the Chennai Central station, which is administered by the Royapuram-based NGO Brother Siga social service guild from July. Since then, they’ve rescued around 200 children, which is more than double the number at Chennai Egmore station. Overall, 900 children have been rescued in the Chennai railway police district this year alone. Though a detailed analysis of the cases by the Government Railway Police (GRP) is on the anvil, officials say that a majority of cases are those of children who run away from their homes because of a tiff with their family. “If the child is beaten up by parents, or fails an examination, they run away by taking a train and arrive at Central. We have informants on every shift to identify children who are roaming alone so that they don’t get into the hands of traffickers,” said a senior official of Government Railway Police (GRP) that has officers to track such cases. Officials have also discovered children being trafficked from West Bengal and Odisha or from tribal areas of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, who are allegedly employed as cheap labour at construction sites in Chennai and surrounding urban areas. The NGO has also encountered cases of teenage girls who have been abandoned at stations by boyfriends who had promised to marry them, sources added.  The GRP official also stated that major stations had a Child Protection Committee (CPC) of which the Station Manager was the officer-in-charge and members include porters, auto drivers and vendors. A specific procedure is followed to handle rescued children. Since they are already alone and frightened, a special counsellor is appointed by the NGO to provide emotional support to the child. At least one woman staff is present in all three shifts to handle cases of girls. Taking children to the railway police station is avoided as they would get even more frightened, the GRP official stated. “Officers-in-charge of tracking lost children roam the station in plainclothes,” he said. “Later, they hand over the children to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC). In case parents are not traced, they are sent to a government home.”  If passengers or visitors at stations spot any child in distress, they can contact the Childline helpline number 1098 or the GRP helpline number 1512. (New Indian Express 30/10/15)

169. Over 4700 child still missing in Assam (1)

Guwahati: Over 4700 children are still missing in Assam, who are untraced since 2012, a report said. The recently published report of Assam State Commission for Child Rights revealed that since 2012 to the month of October in 2014, a total of 4754 child are still untraced in the state. The commission said in its report that the child missing incidents have increased in Assam. The child labour rate in Assam is higher than national average. It is a very concern issue. The child labour rate in the state is 4.9pc against the national average 4.5pc , Runumi Gogoi, the chairman of the commission said. The report revealed that the child marriage incidents increased in several districts of the state in past years. The child marriage rate in Barpeta, Kokrajhar, Dhubri district are higher against the national rate, Gogoi said. The state commission and UNICEF had jointly organized a state level seminar of child rights issue in Kaziranga on Saturday. (New Kerala 1/11/15)

170. Child trafficking on rise in Assam: Report (1)

GUWAHATI: Poor parents sending their children away with traffickers, who promise them lucrative jobs, has almost become a trend in the state. CID reports say at least 4,754 children have gone missing in the past three years in Assam. The trend revealed in the report is worrying as the number of girls missing in the recorded time frame is almost double than that of boys. Those missing in the past three years include 2,753 girls and 2,001 boys. Massive internal displacement caused by floods and ethnic violence has taken a toll on the children in the state. In many cases, children were trafficked from the relief camps for flood and violence victims. “Last year alone, at least 129 girls were reported to have been forced into prostitution by traffickers who took them to metro cities in other states with the promise of lucrative jobs,” a CID official said. A total of 718 children were reported to be missing in the state in the last 365 days, with 23 in the last 30 days. Maximum cases of missing children have been reported from Baksa, Lakhimpur, Sonitpur, Kamrup and Kokrajhar districts. The CID reports also revealed that over 422 victims of human trafficking, mostly minors, had been rescued since 2011. The state police have arrested 281 middlemen since 2011, but the conviction rate in human trafficking cases in Assam remains awfully low at only two percent. “The laxity of the authorities to respond faster in such cases is the reason behind so many missing children not being traced before they are transported to other parts of the country. The numbers are only official figures, the actual ones would be more,” said Runumi Gogoi, chairperson of the Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (ASCPCR). Recently, Nobel Peace prize winner Kailash Satyarthi has urged the state government to adopt a stringent policy to check human trafficking. Satyarthi even suggested creation of a ‘Rehabilitation and Welfare Fund’ with the help of the state for immediate relief to the trafficked children. (Times of India 4/11/15)

171. Trafficking gang busted, 3 Jharkhand girls rescued (1)

NEW DELHI: The crime branch has busted a gang of traffickers in Shakurpur of northwest Delhi and rescued three minor girls. Police said the girls had been kidnapped from their village in Jharkhand and brought to Delhi. They were also forced into prostitution. Two persons have been arrested in this connection. According to joint commissioner of police (crime) Ravindra Yadav, the accused duo has been identified as Prabhakar Singh alias Prakash (24) from Ranchi and Mohammed Israfil (28) from Hazaribagh in Jharkhand. “The two accused have revealed that they have been in the business for the past five years. Singh frequented Gumla and other places in Jharkhand in search of minor girls. He would lure them with marriage proposal, sight seeing or money. He used to bring them to Delhi without informing their parents and handed them over to Israfil for Rs 15,000 each. Israfil would further employ each girl in exchange for Rs 35,000,” Yadav added. On November 5, police’s anti-human trafficking unit (AHTU) received a complaint from the child welfare committee, Gumla, and NGO Shakti Vahini about a 15-year-old minor girl being taken to Shakurpur. An FIR under abduction, slavery and other relevant sections was registered in this connection. “A team led by additional CP Alok Kumar and DCP Rajeev Sharma took immediate action and rescued the girl. The team was accompanied by the father of the victim, members of CWC and Shakti Vahini. The team received a tip-off about the prime suspect, Singh, from informers,” Yadav said. Subsequently, the police team conducted an operation and raided the fifth floor of house number 104 from where Dipika Placement Service Centre was being run. Singh and Israfil were detained from the spot and interrogated. “During questioning, they confessed to have been an integral part of the racket. On their disclosure, three girls, including the victim, were rescued from Shakurpur, Surajmal Vihar and Paschim Vihar during simultaneous raids conducted by our teams,” Alok Kumar said. Singh is suspected to have trafficked more than a dozen girls this year. “The three girls had been abducted in September itself. Israfil is a known offender and previously involved in three cases registered at Subhash Palace police station. Charges against him include gang rape, assault, abduction and trafficking,” said Rishikant from Shakti Vahini. The cops are now probing further to ascertain the identity of their associates. A search is also on to locate other girls they have trafficked. (Times of India 8/11/15)

172. Comprehensive law to tackle child trafficking on anvil (1)

NEW DELHI: The government is working on a comprehensive legislation to tackle all kinds of child trafficking as existing laws have “no focus” and have become “inadequate”.A senior official of women and child development ministry said trafficking is not only for sexual exploitation but also done for forcing children into labour and organ trade and the existing laws like Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act and Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences (POCSO) are inadequate in such cases. “There are problems of definition in the present legislations. Like, the law dealing with child trafficking for forcing them into labour hardly provides any effective provisions and even sexual exploitation is not properly defined in some of the acts,” the official said. The ministerial standing committee, chaired by the secretary, along with representatives from the ministries concerned, state governments and some NGOs as its members, thus decided to form a comprehensive legislation to tackle all kinds of trafficking. “We all came to a consensus that there should be a separate law dealing with all aspects of trafficking as the legal provisions currently are spread across four-five acts and there is no focus,” the official said. While WCD is the nodal ministry to finalise the law, home ministry will prepare a concept note on the issue. “The home ministry will give a concept paper on the legislation. Then we all ask the law ministry to draft the law,” the official said. The ministry is also working on constituting standard procedures or protocol for rehabilitation of victims. “Rehabilitation needs to be handled with sensitivity but there are no procedures to follow in many states. A decision to notify Standard Operating Procedures to deal with rehabilitation of victims has been taken,” the official said. The National Legal Services Authority had suggested roles of various stakeholders in the prevention, rescue and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking for commercial and sexual exploitation. (Times of India 8/11/15)


173. Central Vigilance Commission to do ‘Maan ki Baat’ on anti-corruption measures (5)

New Delhi: Along the lines of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Mann ki Baat’ programme, Central Vigilance Commissioner K V Chowdary would interact with people on Monday via radio on the issue of anti-corruption. Interviews of Chowdary and Vigilance Commissioner T M Bhasin would also be telecast on DD National during the vigilance awareness week, beginning October 26, to make people aware about the ill effects of corruption. The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has been laying stress on preventive vigilance and driving home the point that vigilance should not be seen in isolation but as a tool to achieve good governance and better operational results. Therefore, the theme for the vigilance awareness this year is ‘preventive vigilance as a tool of good governance’, a release issued by Personnel Ministry said. “In order to convey the importance of preventive vigilance and also the message that corruption ultimately ends in a tragedy, eight short episodes, each of half-an-hour duration, have been made which would be telecast during the vigilance awareness week on Doordarshan’s DD national channel and DDK, Delhi station,” it said. Interviews of Chowdary and Bhasin would also be telecast on DD national and DDK, Delhi respectively during the vigilance awareness week, the release said. Chowdary would be participating and taking questions from the public on the issues related to anti-corruption in the ‘Public Speak’ programme on FM Gold channel of All India Radio which would be aired live on October 26, 2015 from 9.35 PM to 10.05 PM, it said. The observance of vigilance awareness week will begin with taking of pledge on October 26 at 11 AM in all government and public sector organisations besides autonomous organisations and local bodies. Besides the regular activities of display of banners, posters, advertisements in the newspapers and organisation of activities such as lecture, panel discussions, competitions in government and public sector organisations, the Commission this year is reaching out to college and school students in a big way, the release said. “Debates, elocution or lectures are being organised in 100 cities and towns spread across the country. Chief Vigilance Officers (CVOs) of 101 organisations are involved in organising these competitions and each CVO has been assigned certain number of cities or towns with the instruction to organise these competitions in at least three colleges and two schools,” it said…. (Indian Express 21/10/15)

174. Corruption ruining edu dept: Experts (5)

MADURAI: Educationists in the city discussed in threadbare a host of problems ranging from corruption in education sector to disparity in salaries and low pay to teachers at a seminar held here on Friday. Emphasizing that state’s higher education department has become a more corrupt department, a speaker said, “Rs 20 lakh to Rs 35 lakh is paid as bribe to get a post of assistant professor in a government college. And to get teaching post in self-financing college Rs 2 lakh is paid as bribe.” All College Teachers Coordination Committee conducted a workshop in which more than hundred teachers working in the Madurai Kamaraj University’s (MKU) constituent colleges and self-financing colleges participated. Committee coordinator Aundipatti A Kathali Narasinga Perumal said there is a huge disparity between salaries of teachers working in government and government-aided colleges and the university constituent colleges and self-financing colleges in the state. Teachers in former category get Rs 40,000 to Rs 1.25 lakh as monthly salary. Whereas, teachers in the latter category get Rs 5,000 to Rs 15,000 as salaries. Due to such disparity and absence of facilities like library, laboratories, and playground, students studying in the constituent colleges are not availing quality education, he said. MKU Constituent College, Thirumangalam, vice-principal Karu Murugesan said, “Though many teachers possess necessary qualification, prescribed by the University Grants Commission (UGC), to be appointed as university teachers, they are unable to get appointed because of corruption.” MKU convener committee’ member V Venkatraman said the teachers in the constituent colleges and self-financing colleges are working more than the university and government college teachers, which is a sorry state in the higher education. “To get teacher post Rs 35 lakh is asked. Besides, teaching assistant post has been created in some institutions, which is interestingly nowhere mentioned in the UGC,” he said. Tamil Nadu Government Guest Lecturers Association’ Madurai Zone deputy general secretary R Thangamuniyandi said the higher education department has become a more corrupt department in the last 10 years. “Rs 2 lakh is given as bribe to get a teaching post in self-financing college. It is Rs 20 lakh bribe in the case of getting a post of assistant professor in the government colleges. No one talk transparently about it. It is due to intimidation,” Thangamuniyandi said. He added that chief minister J Jayalalithaa had during 2011 state assembly election assured to regularize guest lecturers but yet to do it. Head, department of business administration, Wakf Board College, G Selvaraj rued that there is no value for Ph.D scholars. Trade unionist R Murali Krishna said there are legal provisions about teachers’ rights but are not followed properly. Assistant Solicitor General G R Swaminathan said low pay to the teaching faculty is unconstitutional. If the issue is taken to the court, there will be remedy for them. (Times of India 24/10/15)

175. Crop survey reveals startling lapses, corruption on ground (5)

BHOPAL: Three-day drought survey by chief minister’s mandarins has come as an eye-opener for BJP government. Survey revealed large-scale corruption and policy non-implementation in rural areas which culminated into the grave agrarian crisis. During special tour to farmland, bureaucrats of all cadres found two serious flaws, intermittent power cuts and non-availability of water for irrigation. Basics of agronomics were nowhere followed and farmers were denied aid from cooperatives, banks and other societies. Shockingly, while influential farmers could stem the tide, poor peasants were left hapless. “The severity of drought could be assessed from dried bore-wells and non-availability of power in almost all districts,” said a senior bureaucrat. This flies in the face of government claims of grants worth crores, reaching farmers. More startling were claims by irrigation department. Projects shown as achievements were only on paper. A senior bureaucrat who went to remote villages of Chambal region to assess irrigation projects found that tall claims were false. “There was no electricity when needed for irrigation, no canals repaired in far-flung areas, no public distribution system (PDS) and no help from cooperative or farmers’ society during crisis,” said a senior official. These reports have upset chief minister too. During “Mann ki baat” on Wednesday, Chouhan reiterated his decision to help farmers. “Farmers will get immediate relief from debts and financial help to cope with crisis,” he said. But officials feel that a basic structure of rural society has been affected due to large-scale corruption and it would take ages to bring about change. “Initially, we suggested changes in agriculture pattern and alerted the administration to see farmers got benefits through important schemes,” said a senior official of agriculture department. State government spokesperson and parliamentary affairs minister Narottam Mishra told reporters that government was keen do away with flaws and take immediate action to console farmers. “Government will leave no stone unturned to provide relief to farmers,” he said. Outcome of survey would be discussed at a group meeting on Thursday. All officials have been instructed to file their reports by Friday. A committee to assess crop loss will prioritise action to be taken and implementation of programmes. On October 30, government will prepare a draft proposal and plan of action on basis of suggestions received. It is also said chief minister would talk to officials one-on-one on issues like non-implementation of schemes and corruption on the ground. (Times of India 29/10/15)

176. Bar bribery probe against Kerala finance minister to continue (5)

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 29 (PTI): A special Vigilance Court here on Thursday ordered further probe into the bar bribery case against Kerala Finance Minister K.M. Mani, rejecting the investigating agency’s final report seeking closure of the case. Enquiry Commissioner and Special Judge John K. Illekadan, declined to accept the final investigation report by Vigilance and Anti-corruption Bureau which had exonerated Mani stating there was no evidence to corroborate the charges that he had demanded Rs 5 crore and accepted Rs 1 crore as bribe for renewal of licence to 470 bars serving Indian made foreign liquor in 2014. The Vigilance Bureau had filed its final report in June holding that there was no evidence to frame a charge sheet against K.M. Mani and the case should be closed. The court order comes just a month before civic elections scheduled on November 2 and 5. Communist Party of India (Marxist) veteran and Opposition leader in the Kerala Assembly V.S. Achuthanandan and eight others had filed petitions challenging the closure report holding that there was enough evidence to prosecute Mani in the case.   The case was registered against Mani, chief of the Kerala Congress (M), the third largest partner in ruling United Democratic Front, on the basis of a complaint filed by Achuthanandan. Biju Ramesh, working president of Kerala State Bar Hotel Owners Association had levelled the charges of bribery. The Vigilance Bureau conducted a quick verification and registered an FIR in the case. Since the scam came to light in November 2014, the state has witnessed a series of agitations by CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front Opposition demanding resignation of Mani. The Assembly had also witnessed unprecedented violence over the issue when LDF members tried to prevent Mani from presenting the budget on March 13 last. (The Telegraph 30/10/15)

177. ‘No question of protecting culprits’ (5)

RAICHUR: Denying the allegations that the government was making attempts to cover up the multi-core borewell scam unearthed in Raichur Zilla Panchayat by delaying the submission of investigation reports to government, Minister of State for Medical Education and Raichur in-charge Sharan Prakash Patil said that there would be no question of protecting the culprits. Addressing presspersons at district police headquarters here on Sunday, Dr. Patil said, “We don’t tolerate corruption, no matter how big it is. Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department has asked the Chief Executive Officer to frame the charges based on the investigation report and submit it to the government. The latter would do it shortly,” he said. When asked about the investigation conducted by Assistant Commissioner M.P. Maruthi on the same issue, Dr. Patil, who was unaware of it, asked Deputy Commissioner S. Sasikanth Senthil about it. Mr. Senthil, in turn, said that the Assistant Commissioner’s report had thrown light on irregularities and misappropriation of funds in only a couple of taluks and expressed the need for a larger enquiry that would include all the taluks in the district. The Minister then replied that an action would be taken against all the corrupt officials after the comprehensive investigation. Responding to the demand of Kannada organisations for Statehood for the Hyderabad-Karnataka region in view of denial of Indian Institute of Technology to Raichur, Dr. Patil said that the demand cannot be taken as that of the entire region. “It is true that denial of IIT to Raichur is an injustice. But, demanding a separate Hyderabad Karnataka State is not a solution for it. We need to settle the issue democratically, but not dividing the State. United Karnataka is our strength. It is with united Karnataka that the entire State can achieve development,” he said. Tungabhadra Command Area Development Authority chairman A. Vasanth Kumar, Zilla Panchayat ECO Richard Vincent D’Souza and others were present. (The Hindu 2/11/15)

178. SC transfers corruption case against Himachal CM Virbhadra Singh to Delhi HC (5)

New Delhi: Supreme Court on Thursday transferred the corruption case against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife to the Delhi High Court “to protect the institution from embarrassment” and “to avoid further controversy”. Seeking the transfer of the case out of Himachal Pradesh, the CBI had alleged that the judge, who had stopped them from arresting Virbhadra and his wife, had been his lawyer earlier. A bench led by Justice FMI Kalifulla, however, chose to steer clear of the controversy and said that the matter should be heard by the Delhi High Court “in the interest of justice” and to ensure no further allegations are levelled against the court. Initially, Virbhadra’s counsel Kapil Sibal opposed it on the ground that the order would mean lack of trust in Himachal judges and that it would set a wrong precedent. But the bench rejected his contention, saying image of the institution cannot be allowed to get sullied and that for its image, the case should be moved out of Himachal Pradesh. The bench finally recorded a consent order, with counsel for Virbhadra and CBI agreeing to have the matter heard by the Delhi High Court. The CBI’s plea to allow custodial interrogation of the Chief Minister and his wife will also be heard by the Delhi High Court. The agency had come to the top court against a High Court order of October 1 whereby it was retrained from arresting the couple or questioning them without the court’s permission. The CBI was also asked not to file its final investigation report without its approval. (Indian Express 5/11/15)

179. Graft Case: Court Asks CBI to Verify Death of Two Accused (5)

NEW DELHI: A special court has asked CBI to verify whether two of the five persons it summoned as accused in a graft case in which ex-Union minister P K Thungon was awarded a four-and-a-half-year jail term have died. Special judge Ajay Kumar Jain had summoned five persons as accused on July 21 while convicting Thungon and three others in a cheating and corruption case lodged by CBI 17 years back. These five persons were scheduled to appear before the court yesterday and the judge was informed by the prosecutor that two of the five accused, Neilakuo Suokhrie and Khrienguozo Angami, were reported to have expired. “Investigating officer is directed to verify the death of accused Neilakuo Suokhrie and Khrienguozo Angami and submit the death verification report of accused persons on next date of hearing,” the judge noted in his order. Meanwhile, the court was also informed that the Delhi High Court has stayed its order summoning two accused, K Konngam Konyak, the then minister of state in Nagaland for irrigation and flood control, and Mezakrol in the case. During the hearing, the counsel for one of the accused, Bendang Wapang, appeared before the court and filed a plea seeking exemption from personal appearance for his client. The court allowed his plea for the day only.All these five accused were not charge sheeted by CBI in the case, in which Thungon and three others were convicted and sentenced by the court, due to want of sanction to prosecute them and also on the ground that no prosecutable evidence was found against them. However, while convicting Thungon and three others, the court had summoned these five persons as accused. 69-year-old Thungon and three others were sentenced for offences under sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy) read with 419 (cheating by personation), 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery of valuable security), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating) and 471 (using as genuine a forged document) of IPC and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The three other convicts were Tali AO, C Sangit and Mahesh Maheshwari. (New Indian Express 5/11/15)

180. 65 public servants convicted in Haryana for corruption (5)

Chandigarh: As many as 65 public servants have been convicted in 51 cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act in Haryana in last one year. “Keeping in view the State government’s commitment towards providing good governance by putting a check on corruption, 65 public servants and eight others have been convicted in 51 cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act between October 26, 2014, and October 18, 2015,” a State Vigilance Bureau spokesperson said. A total of 213 cases have been registered by the Bureau during this period and raids were conducted in relation to 190 of these cases, he said. Between this time period, 124 inquiries were registered of which 80 have been finalised. On the basis of these inquiries, 23 cases have been registered against public servants, the spokesperson said. Detailing enhanced measures taken by Haryana Government during the first year of its tenure, Chief Vigilance Officers were appointed in all departments and reports were sent to the government for change in procedures to stop or curtail avenues for corruption, he said. Moreover, 151 source reports were generated against public servants for malpractices. A large number of these reports were sent to the departments concerned for action, the spokesperson added. – PTI (The Hindu 9/11/15)


181. Anti-dengue fogging drive not effective, affects health: CSE (9)

New Delhi: With over 12,500 dengue cases in Delhi, a green NGO on Tuesday claimed that the ongoing fogging drive in the city was “not effective” in fighting the vector-borne disease, and has rather “harmful” effects on health, as the gas contains “95 per cent” of diesel in it. Saying that fogging only creates a “false” sense of security and is a way of “appeasing” people at the cost of their health, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) urged the government to focus on systematic preventive measures towards clean environment and sanitation. Its assessment said that 4.5 lakh litre of diesel could be used this year for fogging, which comes to 4,500 litres of diesel per day and is also equivalent to the usage of diesel by 2,000 cars in a day. Quoting medical experts, CSE said that the direct inhalation of diesel fumes, combined with insecticides, can exacerbate asthma or bronchitis among those with respiratory ailments while pregnant women, small children and old people are most susceptible to aggravation. “We looked into the issue when community members approached us and shared their observations and experiences. We found that fogging is ineffective in containing dengue and has a harmful effect on the health of people,” CSE Deputy Director General, Chandra Bhushan said. Till October 17, at least 12,531 reported cases and 32 deaths have officially been recorded in Delhi, the highest number of cases since 1996. The rise in cases from 778 in August to 6,775 in September and 4,925 by mid-October alone indicates the negligible effect of fogging, CSE claimed. It said that fogging knocks down only the adult mosquito and not the larvae that are the source of breeding. Larvicide measures, on the other hand, are recognised as an important intervention to prevent large-scale spread of dengue. Elaborating further, CSE said that fogging mix usually contains around “95 per cent” of diesel along with an insecticide mostly malathion while at times, petrol is also added. “This means a vehicle-mounted container typically has 95 liters of diesel which is used up in one round of fogging. Several rounds by the vehicle in a day could mean several hundred litres of diesel per vehicle,” it said. “Fogging only creates a false sense of security among people and diverts attention from preventive action for dengue by the state and community. It is only a way of appeasing people at the cost of their health. “The government needs a systematic sanitation drive and emphasis on clean surroundings so that mosquito does not get breeding grounds. The community has a very important role in play in controlling dengue by keeping private premises clean,” Bhushan said. CSE said that targeting adult mosquitoes offers temporary control and that too in limited settings and under ideal conditions and unless repeated frequently, fogging cannot control the next batch of adults out of the larvae. … (Indian Express 21/10/15)

182. Environmentalists sore over felling of trees in Kali valley (9)

HUBBALLI: Felling of trees in the lush green Kali valley in Uttara Kannada district by the Forest Department has irked environmental activists. The Forest Department has felled 1,000 teakwood trees on 500 acres in the Lalguli-Douginala forest area as per the working plan. The area is close to the Dandeli Reserve Forests and has been declared an elephant reserve in 2014. Felling of trees here was in violation of the provisions of the Indian Forest Act, Environment (Protection) Act, Wildlife Protection Act and the Biological Diversity Act, the former chairman of the Western Ghats Task Force, Anant Hegde Ashisar said. The Forest Department argues that the teakwood trees were planted by them. However, they were 80-100 years old. Many miscellaneous tree species too have grown over the years there. Many rare medicinal plants too were destroyed and wildlife species such as wild bees had lost their natural habitation, he said. Mr. Ashisar alleged that the opinion of the village forest committees was not sought before executing the working plan. The Kali valley, where over one lakh acres of forest was destroyed for various projects, is one of the most ecologically vulnerable areas in the region. A report on the carrying capacity of Uttrara Kannada district by the scientists in the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, T.V. Ramachandra and M.D. Subhas Chandran, too had warned against further destruction of forests. “It is a pity that the Forest Department has executed the working plan with scant regard for ecological issues and experts’ opinion,” Mr. Ashisar said. Principal Conservator of Forests Vinay Luthra said the working plan was a scientific document and according to its prescribed norms, only the planted teakwood trees were cut down. The environmentalists were objecting for the presence of teakwood in that region all these years. The miscellaneous species which have come up over the years have not been touched. The department would plant saplings of teakwood and local species there, Mr. Luthra added. (The Hindu 24/10/15)

183. Tackling pollution needs multi-disciplinary approach: Centre (9)

NEW DELHI: Asked by the Supreme Court whether cracker bursting time could be restricted to between 5 pm and 10 pm on Diwali to curb pollution, the Centre on Tuesday diplomatically parried it, saying air pollution was a multi-dimensional problem requiring a well thought out action plan. On a petition filed by three Delhi-based toddlers, a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu had asked solicitor general Ranjit Kumar to respond to six suggestions given on the petitioners’ behalf by senior advocate A M Singhvi. Though the petitioners had sought complete ban on fireworks during Diwali, the bench had said it was considering limiting the cracker bursting time and asked the Centre to respond. While not answering the SC’s question, the ministry of environment, forest and climate change said, “Air pollution may be prevented and controlled by a multi-disciplinary approach through a joint effort of various ministries, departments and municipal bodies and, particularly, by the participation of general public.” (Times of India 28/10/15)

184. Idol Immersion Pollutes Environment, an ‘Illiterate Attitude’, Says Madras High Court (9)

Chennai:  Decrying the practice of immersion of idols in water, the Madras High Court today observed that it pollutes the ecosystem and poses a threat to fish and birds and termed it is “an illiterate attitude towards water that should be put to an end.” Justice S Vaidyanathan made the observations while hearing the bail pleas of two men who had been slapped with attempt to murder charges and arrested for a clash during a ‘Vinayaka Chaturthi’ idol immersion festival last month. Conceding that enforcing every environmental law at every stage of idol-making is a Herculean task, the judge suggested that artificial ponds could be built in specific areas for immersion of idols during festive season. “It undoubtedly is an effective way of putting an end to the pollution of water bodies,” he said. The judge said though religious significance is attached to the traditional practice of immersing idols in water bodies, it has its own ill-effects as well. “On account of the immersion, materials like clay, bamboo, grass, wood, metals, jute, colours, painted cloth, flowers, incense sticks, dhoop, camphor and ash are released into water bodies. Added clay results in siltation of lakes and toxic chemicals used to make idols tend to leach out and pose serious problems of water pollution,” he said. On the adverse impact of such materials on marine and other micro organisms, he said pollution from immersion of such idols also damages the ecosystem, kills fish and other marine life and poses danger to those dependent on water like birds, animals and human beings as it reduces the oxygen level in water. “It is not rational, prudent and judicious to pollute an already scarce commodity. This illiterate attitude towards water should be put to an end.” The judge noted that the government had taken strict steps to implement guidelines of the pollution control board regarding immersion of idols in water bodies. As per guidelines, he said, idols should be made from natural materials as described in the holy scripts. Use of traditional clay for idol making rather than baked clay and plaster of paris, may be encouraged, allowed and promoted. Pollution Control Board norms also say painting of idols should be discouraged. “In case idols are to be painted, water soluble and non-toxic natural dyes should be used. Use of toxic and non-biodegradable chemical dyes for painting idols should be strictly prohibited,” he pointed out. Use of thermocol or any non-biodegradable items for decoration and idol making should strictly be avoided as it leads to exothermic self-accelerating decomposition creating environmental pollution, he said quoting the guidelines (NDTV 29/10/15)

185. TOI Poll: 89% say toxic air making Delhi and NCR unliveable (9)

NEW DELHI: Delhi’s rising air pollution level is correspondingly increasing the potential health hazards for residents across NCR. An ever-increasing vehicular population and a large number of trucks criss-crossing the city are the perennial culprits choking the residents. Several other factors including the burning of paddy by farmers in Punjab – combined with smog, have also further degraded the quality of air. Delhi will record largest number of premature deaths in the world, due to pollution Smoke, dust, particulate matters (both PM2.5 and PM10), sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide combine to make a deadly cocktail of poison – one that poses a serious threat to the residents of NCR. In fact, several studies have repeatedly shown that the air quality of the NCR region is among the absolute worst in the world. So does that mean Delhi and the satellite cities around it are indeed becoming unliveable? An overwhelming 5291 of 5913 respondents (89.41%) to a TOI poll question agreed that the capital of the country is becoming unliveable due to its toxic air. Only 419 respondents disagreed to the question – Has Delhi-NCR become unliveable due to pollution? Response to the poll on social media went on similar lines with 1143 of 1341 netizens (85.23%) raising their concerns about the deteoriating air quality. .. (Times of India 3/11/15)

186. CSE calls for equity in climate negotiations (9)

NEW DELHI: With nations from across the globe gearing up for a crucial climate summit in Paris, the Delhi-based think-tank, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on Thursday called for “equity between developed and developing countries” in the upcoming negotiations and appealed negotiators to negotiate strongly to get a kind of deal in the French capital next month which addresses the development needs of countries in South Asia and Africa. “Climate negotiations are considered by governments to be a soft issue while trade negotiations are given priority. It is critical that countries from South Asia and Africa send their best people and negotiate hard on climate change,” said Sunita Narain, director general of the CSE. She was speaking at a gathering of around 100 journalists from India, South Asia and Africa who have been attending the CSE’s two-day annual media briefing on Climate Change. Many issues including countries’ climate action plans – called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) – and inadequacy of the commitments made by the rich countries were discussed in the gathering in the context of the upcoming summit (COP21) in Paris where countries are expected to sign a global climate deal. “This year, too, the climate change negotiations are very important. The world is already looking at the prospect of not containing global warming within 2 degrees Celsius. Recently, the emission plans of 146 countries were put out by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). These emission reduction plans will not contain temperature rise below 2 degrees,” said Chandra Bhushan, the CSE’s deputy director general. Bhushan also flagged that there was a 25% ‘ambition gap’ until 2030. He said only 250 billion tonne of carbon budget will be left after 2030. “Much of Africa and India will not have met their development needs by 2030,” he said. Emphasising the importance of viewing cumulative emissions by countries rather than the current annual emissions, Narain said, “It is due to the emission by developed countries such as the United States that the world has reached this state where it has to restrict emissions and global warming”.Keeping the ground realities in view, the CSE has long been demanding that the “fairness and equity” must be the key for ensuring that the developing countries meet their development needs while the world contains global warming. (Times of India 5/11/15)

187. Rain brings no relief from deteriorating air quality (9)

New Delhi: Even after scattered showers in the city on Thurs-day, the air quality was recorded to be “very poor.”System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research stations in densely-populated urban areas such as the Delhi University, Pitampura, and IGI Airport, as well as those in relatively isolated zones, such as Dhirpur, showed extremely high levels of pollutants. Permissible levels of PM (particulate matter) 2.5 and PM 10 are 60 and 100, respectively. Consistent exposure to anything beyond that can seriously harm respiratory system. The quantity of fine particles which can penetrate deep into the lungs reached alarming levels on Thursday afternoon. Areas in and around Delhi University had PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels at 357 and 301. Around the same time, northwest Delhi’s Pitampura had PM 2.5 at 302 micrograms per cubic metre and PM 10 at 271. The readings at Dhirpur were recorded at 325 and 340, respectively. A senior met department official said that the showers were not enough to disperse the particles in the air and the advantage gained in the next few days due to favourable conditions may be lost due to the possible spike in pollutants during Diwali. Chief project scientist of System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) Gurfan Beig had on Wednesday forecast PM 2.5 levels at 252 and PM 10 at 413, classified as “severe.” However, the organisation also noted there will be some relief thereafter and the pollution level will see a marginal decline till November 7. The figures by SAFAR are a round up of figures from 10 stations across the capital. The Delhi government has written to the Union environment minis-try and requested it to issue directions to the Haryana and Punjab governments to stop crop burning in their states, one of the major factors leading to smog in the capital. (Asian Age 6/11/15)

188. Climate change could result in 100 million poor: World Bank (9)

Stockholm: Climate change could push more than 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030 by disrupting agriculture and fueling the spread of malaria and other diseases, the World Bank has said in a report. Released yesterday, just weeks ahead of a UN climate summit in Paris, the report highlighted how the impact of global warming is borne unevenly, with the world’s poor woefully unprepared to deal with climate shocks such as rising seas or severe droughts.”They have fewer resources and receive less support from family, community, the financial system, and even social safety nets to prevent, cope and adapt,” the Washington-based World Bank said. How to help poor countries — and poor communities within countries — deal with climate change is one of the crunch issues in talks on a global climate accord that’s supposed to be adopted next month in Paris. Those who say that rich countries aren’t doing enough to help the poor said the report added emphasis to demands for billions of dollars in so-called climate finance to developing countries. “The statistics in the World Bank report are suitably shocking and I hope they force world leaders to sit up and take notice,” said Mohamed Adow of Christian Aid. “The Paris deal needs to support the poor and vulnerable communities to cope with unavoidable climate crises better, and to be more resilient to a changed climate.” Despite pledges to rein in emissions of carbon dioxide and other global warming gases, climate change isn’t likely to stop anytime soon. Carbon emissions are expected to rise for many years as China, India and other developing countries expand the use of fossil fuels to power their economies. But efforts to protect the poor, such as generally improving access to health care and social safety nets, and targeted measures to upgrade flood defenses and deploy more heat-tolerant crops could prevent most of the negative consequences of climate change on poverty, the bank said. “Absent such good development, climate change could result in an additional 100 million people living in extreme poverty by 2030,” the report said. Stephane Hallegatte, one of the authors, told The Associated Press that one of the unique features of the report was that instead of analyzing the macro-economic impact of climate change it was based in part on surveys of 1.4 million people in 92 countries. “When we ask people why they fall into poverty there are three major factors,” he said. “Agricultural shocks, including an increase in food prices; natural disasters such as floods, droughts, storms; and health issues, including malaria, diarrhea. (Business Standard 9/11/15)


189. Tribal farmers of Dantewada turn barren lands into green fields (20)

RAIPUR: Despite the challenges of uneven land, irregular irrigation source and facilities, dearth of knowledge of selection of best seeds, fertilizers and modern technology, tribal farmers of Dantewada, South Bastar district succeeded in shaping up their dream of organically growing horticulture produces and pulses under district administration’s scheme called ‘Mocho Baadi’-organic farming, initiated in 2013-14. Dantewada is renowned for its tribal culture, dense forest and Maoist-hotbed. By taking up occupation of agriculture, tribals have created opportunity out of challenges. Previously, only rice crop were cultivated and harvested once a year for which the farmers were dependent on rain-god. Veggies, pulses and oilseeds cultivation had no existence. Besides non-fencing facility and free movement of animals declined local’s inclination towards farming. Moreover, poverty, insufficient supply of cereals led to rise of malnutrition in Dantewada. Hence, conserved environment and rich soil fertility of Dantewada district made local admiration launch organic farming movement to address the problem. Now 247 farmers are harvesting two crops of rice a year. Agriculture PR assistant director Baghel said, “Initially the farmers were made aware about of organic farming along with its scope and financial scope. Different departments of administration also coordinated to provide facilities like irrigation pumps, dug well and ponds, vermin-compost tank, constructed concrete-floors in cow stables for collection of cow’s urine for making fertilizers and encouraged farmers to take up organic farming whole-heartedly.” So far 850 farmers of 37 gram panchayats of four development blocks have benefitted under this scheme.ation. Ludruram Nag, a farmer, said, “By growing veggies, oil seeds and pulses in our fields the intake of nutrition has improved.” (Times of India 23/10/15)

190. Farm suicide toll already 129 more than 2014 (20)

Nagpur: Vidarbha continues to top the farmers’ suicide chart in the state. The count has touched 1,256 till October last week in Vidarbha, though Marathwada is emerging as another Vidarbha with 800 farmers having ended their lives. The toll in Vidarbha for entire 2014 was 1,127. Marathwada has been reeling under severe drought and water crisis. On the other hand, Vidarbha has recorded hardly 10 to 20% deficit in rainfall. However, activists here claim that it was an erratic monsoon which took the toll. A dry spell in September, when a round of showers is needed to ensure proper growth of plants, damaged soyabean, which is the second major crop of this region. Out of the total deaths here, the state government has confirmed that 703 suicides were on account of agrarian distress. In 2014, a new benchmark was created with 749 suicides in this category, before that 2006 was considered to be the worst year for Vidarbha’s farmers, when 658 deaths were reported in the farm distress category. In Marathwada’s eight districts, over 510 deaths have been included in the farm distress category. The eleven districts of Vidarbha are divided between Amravati in west and Nagpur division in east Vidarbha. West Vidarbha, which has Yavatmal district, infamous for farmers suicides, has already crossed the toll of 2014. There have been 556 deaths till October 21 this year, which is one more than the entire toll in 2014, say government records. Inquiry is pending in 156 other cases, to ascertain reasons for the suicides. East Vidarbha, which is relatively better off in terms of agrarian crisis, has also registered 147 suicides considered to be due to agrarian distress, as against 197 last year…. (Times of India 24/10/15)

191. Debt Drives Five More Farmers to Suicide in Karnataka (20)

BENGALURU:Crop failure and the inability to repay loans continues to drive farmers across the state to suicide. Five farmers ended their lives on Sunday Mysuru: A 28-year-old farmer from Karunakuppe in Hunsur taluk committed suicide by consuming poison on Sunday. Ravi had five acres of land and had grown tobacco. Ravi was unable to pay Rs 6 lakh borrowed from banks and some moneylenders. He consumed poison at his home in the morning. Yadgir: A farmer allegedly committed suicide by consuming poison at Gonal in Surpur taluk in the district on Sunday. The deceased is Lingappa Devendrappa (60), who had four acres of land. His familiy members said he had borrowed Rs 4 lakh to cultivate cotton and was upset over crop failure. Mandya: A 42-year-old farmer in Mosalekoppalu of Bookanakere hobli hanged himself in his house on Sunday. Mahadeva had borrowed Rs 1 lakh from a bank and Rs 1.5 lakh from private lenders. His crops had withered after a borewell he had drilled dried up. Dharwad: A 70-year-old farmer Fakkirappa Koppad hanged himself at his residence at Hebballi village in Dharwad taluk on Sunday. He had 10 acres of land and borrowed Rs 8 lakh including Rs 2.5 lakh from the Karnataka Vikas Grameena Bank.Hassan: Chikkegowda (65), a farmer of Singapatna village in Hassan taluk, allegedly committed suicide by consuming poison on Saturday night. He was unable to repay loans to a cooperative bank due to crop loss, said sources. (New Indian Express 26/10/15)

192. Five debt-ridden farmers end life in single day in Odisha (20)

BHUBANESWAR: Five farmers allegedly committed suicide on Monday, a day after chief minister Naveen Patnaik assured farmers in the state of all possible help to mitigate their sufferings and told them not to worry about unpaid loans. With this, the cases of alleged suicides of debt-ridden farmers over crop loss over the past two months rose to 38, giving enough fodder to the opposition and farmer organizations to target the BJD government’s handling of the drought. One Pabitra Bariha (19), a native of Sirabahal village under Bhatli block of Bargarh district, died at the district headquarters hospital on Monday. He was hospitalized after he consumed pesticide on Sunday evening. Second of three siblings, Pabitra was involved in his family’s farming of paddy on five acre land and vegetables on three acres. The crop got ruined because of deficient rainfall. The Bariha family had taken Rs 1.5 lakh loan, including Rs 50,000 from private money lenders, family sources said. Bargarh district collector Anjan Manik said the death would be probed by revenue officials to verify if it was due to crop loss. Considered the rice bowl of Odisha because of its vast tract of irrigated farmland from Hirakud water reservoir, Bargarh has reported the highest number of alleged farmer suicides this year, at 17, including seven in October alone. Bhatli block, where the latest incident of suicide was reported from, is not irrigated; it depends solely on monsoon rain. A 26-year-old farmer, M Bidyadhar Patra, allegedly hanged himself at Birasinghpur under K Nuagaon police station limits in Ganjam district. Patra had cultivated the land of others as a share-cropper but suffered crop damage due to lack of rain. Baidhar Pradhan, a resident of Sankulei village under Sadar block in Dhenkanal district, died at SCB Medical College and Hospital, Cuttack, a day after he consumed pesticide allegedly due to crop damage by drought. One Bayadhar Mahalik (55), a resident of Sundarpaur under Chandbali block, also died at SCB. He allegedly consumed pesticide at his farmland on Saturday. Family sources said the marginal farmer owned one acre land and had cultivated another five-acre on share-cropping. He had taken Rs 50,000 as loan from a cooperative society, family sources said. Satrughna Behera (45), a farmer of Tikarpada village near Keonjhar town, allegedly took poison and ended his life triggering protests by locals. Hundreds of farmers blocked the national highway 215 demanding compensation for his family. Satrughna had allegedly taken Rs 80,000 as loan and cultivated two acre paddy and two acre vegetables. He leaves behind wife, two daughters and a son. Keonjhar block development officer BDO Pradip Kumar Dang said the incident would be probed. The opposition parties, BJP and Congress, questioned the government’s sincerity in tackling the crisis. BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra said farmer suicides had gone up after Naveen announced a Rs 1000 crore package for farmers, exposing the people’s lack of trust on the government. Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee president Prasad Harichandan said the government’s initiatives for farmers were confined to announcements alone. Paschim Odisha Krishak Sangathan, a farmers’ organization, threatened to stage protests across the 11 worst-affected districts on November 9…. (Times of India 27/10/15)

193. Odisha Government to Probe 41 Cases of Farmers’ Suicide (20)

BHUBANESWAR: Amidst a State-wide confusion over the number of farmers who committed suicide allegedly due to crop loss and loan burden, the State Government on Thursday said it is investigating into the causes of 41 such cases while the number of drought hit districts has increased to 21. “We have received reports on 41 farmer suicide cases. The Government is investigating to find out the causes behind the deaths,” Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) GVV Sarma told mediapersons here. The farmers’ deaths have been reported from 15 districts. Stating that district Collectors have already sent their reports on the death of 41 farmers, Sarma said the Government’s priority is to tackle the situation arising out of the dry spell condition. Different departments have been directed to work in coordination to face the drought situation that has gripped 139 of the total 314 blocks spread over 21 districts where crop loss was 33 per cent or more based on the eye estimation report, he said. The SRC said eye estimation on crop loss was done as per the guideline of the Odisha Relief Code. The affected farmers would be provided subsidised agriculture inputs based on the final crop cutting report, he added. The SRC maintained that each affected farmer would be identified and his/her loss estimated as per the guidelines of State Disaster Response Fund. On the farmers suicide allegedly due to loan burden, Sarma said the police and district administration have been told to keep a vigil on the local money lenders. Action would be taken against the money lenders operating in villages without valid licence, he said. (New Indian Express 30/10/15)

194. 53 villages in Chhattisgarh’s Marwahi parched, farmers on edge (20)

RAIPUR: With a farmer reportedly committing suicide due to bad crop and debt at village Darra in Balod district on Friday night, situation in Bilaspur and Gariyaband districts is no better. Baiduram Kewart, a farmer in village Dharhar in North Marwahi region of Bilaspur district in Chhattisgarh along with hundreds of other farmers have seen crops yellowing. About 90% fields in at least 53 villages in North Marwahi received only six to eight days of rainfall during the monsoon leading to extreme drought. Nearly 10,000 farmers in 43 villages of Karhanni, Patharri, Dediya, Maladand, Beljhiriya, Bhalumada, Chachedi, Dharrhar couldn’t even sow seeds while village Changeri received only half an hour rainfall in monsoon. A team of ten members, headed by joint secretary, seed, Government of India, visited the region on Friday and found that Marwahi and Gariyaband were one of the worst drought-affected areas that call for immediate assistance, else situation may worsen. Talking to TOI, former agriculture minister Chandrashekhar Sahu, who visited the place with team said, “Situation in Marwahi is too bad to ignore, while few patches have weak crops waiting for harvest, others look deserted. All farmers in the region should get Centre’s agriculture insurance benefits for the loss. We have asked state relief commissioner to help farmers arrange for seeds in next khareef season, provide clean drinking water and assist in animal husbandry.” TOI spoke to a few farmers, who said that they were left with only 15-day of fodder for cattle while all ponds had dried up. “We are drawing muddy water from hand pumps, which is a sign that ground water resource is depleting at fast pace. Moreover, people foresee health hazards with dirty water, pulses and vegetables available at high prices,” said Vansdhari Puri, a panchayat member of village Dharahar. Though Chhattisgarh government had declared 93 out of 144 tehsils as drought-hit in September, with sudden spell of rain, it was assumed that danger of drought was averted. Retired chief climatologist at Indira Gandhi Agriculture University ASRA Shastri, however, said, “State might have received good rain in September, but this rain wasn’t evenly distributed. Farmers have already lost 30% in their production due to the dry spell.” He added that several patches in Narharpur of Bastar division, Pandariya and Bemetara of Durg division and Udaipur block of Ambikapur division faced similar situation. Talking to TOI, Pradeep Sharma, convener, Akal Mukti Abhiyan said, “There’s no water in region, farmers are migrating out to work or have engaged themselves in MGNREGA jobs to earn livelihood. Children are suffering from malnutrition and others are dropping out from schools to help parents in MGNREGA jobs. While water conservation has become significant, locals say that they are forced to migrate to work in brick kilns in Uttar Pradesh as MGNREGA payments are never regular or organized.” One problem of drought leads to many more. According to Tuleshwar Markam, vice-president of Gondwana Gantantra Party, “Unorganized labour migration causes mass-selling of cattle, which in next season would again be a challenge for them to buy cattle for fields, hence, it turns out to be continuous migration of people, leaving farming behind.” However, about 28 civil society members and NGOs together formed a platform called Chhattisgarh civil society consortium for drought relief and have started working with villages to assess major issues and magnitude of drought. Society will develop support system, help inter-community participation to assist each other and fight crisis. (Times of India 1/11/15)

195. Odisha government gets death report of 48 farmers (20)

Bhubaneswar: The Naveen Patnaik-led Odisha government on Tuesday confirmed receiving the death report of 48 farmers, even as two more farmers committed suicide. The government said it would issue a white paper on the death of farmers. Even as the state government has declared a drought package of Rs.1,000 crore, it has failed to deter the farmers from committing suicide in Odisha. Panaka Purti of Hatisingeda village in Dhenkanal district committed suicide by hanging on Monday night. Kunja Hansa of Baijalpur in Kalahandi district also hanged himself allegedly due to crop loss and debt burden, said their family sources. Ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) spokesperson Pratap Keshari Deb said the government has received the death report of 48 people so far while an inquiry is going on to ascertain the actual cause of deaths. Stating that the government was concerned about the rising number of such deaths, he said the government would issue a white paper on the deaths. Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers in Balangir district on Tuesday showed black flags to Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy during his visit to the district to assess the drought situation. Accusing the government of failing to tackle the drought and check rising incidents of farmers’ suicides, the activists shouted ‘Go back Minister.’Police sources said they have arrested four BJP workers over the incident. (Business Standard 3/11/15)

196. Rs 7000 crore farmer relief proposals to be tabled in the House: MP CM (20)

JHABUA: A day ahead of a special session of Madhya Pradesh Assembly, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Wednesday said that proposals to the tune of Rs 7,000 crore to provide relief to farmers in the midst of agrarian crisis, will be tabled in the House for clearance. “Proposals amounting to Rs 7,000 crore in farmers’ interest will be tabled in the House for clearance tomorrow,” Chouhan told reporters here as the state government geared up for the day-long session. “Our priority is to provide relief to farmers whose crops have been damaged due to scanty rainfall and other reasons in the state. For farmer’s sake we have convened the session,” he said. The CM said that the state was working for turning agriculture in profitable business under which it is providing zero per cent interest loans to the farmers, among other facilities. “The agriculture growth rate of MP has been excellent at over 20 per cent consecutively in last four years which is a rare feat,” he said. Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Satyadev Katare said, “We welcome the move of the ruling party to hold the special session, following our demand.” He claimed that the condition of farmers was so worrisome in MP that 2230 of them have committed suicide in last 7 months in the state according to a survey of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh – a body of Sangh Parivar. He said that had the MP government been serious, such a huge number of farmers might not have ended their life. “The farmers are in distress since last three successive years due to crop failure. As the government has failed to address their woes, they are taking the extreme step,” Katare alleged. He said that the state government should come out clear regarding the relief amount it is going to receive from the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre for Madhya Pradesh farmers. Katare said that though Chouhan and his Cabinet colleagues have had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other Union cabinet ministers seeking help for the farmers, no relief has yet trickled in MP. The previous UPA government had given adequate relief amount to Madhya Pradesh whenever the state faced some crisis, he added. (Times of India 4/11/15)

197. Farmer suicides: kin want Rs. 10 lakh aid (20)

ONGOLE: Families of farmers, who have committed suicide in Prakasam district, staged a demonstration here on Friday seeking a compensation of Rs. 10 lakh each. Leading the protest, Andhra Pradesh Rythu Sangam State secretary N. Ranga Rao alleged that preoccupied with the construction of new capital city, the government had become lax in providing succour to the farmers’ families, despite 266 debt-ridden ryots including 210 tenant farmers had committed suicide in the State. Further, the ‘diluted loan waiver scheme and penal interest on farm loans’ had added to the woes of the farmers, he said. Only two of the families 37 farmers, who had ended lives, had received compensation of Rs. 5 lakh each so far, CPI(ML) New Democracy-district Secretary Ch.Venkateswarulu pointed out. In the hope of getting the compensation amount, the families were running from pillar to post to produce 13 documents as insisted upon by revenue officials, All India Kisan Sabha district Secretary V. Hanuma Reddy said. Speaking on the occasion, Kavulu Rythu Sangam district Secretary P. Hanumantha Rao expressed doubt on the sincerity of the government in bailing out the distressed families. “The enhanced relief package declared by the GO62 is far from implementation. As a result, 10 children in the farmers’ families are in the verge of discontinuing their higher studies,” Rythu Sangam district Secretary D. Gopinath said. (The Hindu 7/11/15)

198. Mass marriage to stop farmer suicides! (20)

Mysuru: It was a mass marriage, but it was not organised by any religious institution or a single private person. Over 6,000 people flew to Nanjangud Srikanteswara Kalamandir, where an air of celebration prevailed. It was a big day for 116 couples, including five specially challenged, and 107 couples who were children of farmers. They all entered wedlock at the simple mass marriage, “Shubharamba,” organised by Mysuru district administration entirely through private sponsorship. The district administration had conducted a survey among farmers who ended their lives recently. They found that frivolous expenditure for weddings leading to unnecessary loans and a stressful life was one of the major reasons behind their suicides. So Deputy Commissioner C Shikha, decided to change that with the support of District-in-charge Minister V Srinivasprasad. They formed a team of district-level officers led by probationary DC Shilpa Nag and organized a mass wedding for all communities, irrespective of their financial status, on Sunday. The purpose to transform the mindset of people, especially farmers, to embrace simple weddings, and also to support farmers who are in distress at the time of drought and prevent farmer suicides. The oath of Kuvempu’s Manthra Mangalya was administered to the couples by Mr Srinivasprasad, who said, “Weddings should not become a matter of prestige, but a simple occasion to unify hearts and build beautiful lives. We will recommend to the State government to extend this initiative to other districts.” Except for five couples from Mysuru district, and three from other districts including Ramanagar, Chamarajnagar and Hassan, 107 couples were children of farmers from all taluks of Mysuru district. (Asian Age 9/11/15)


199. Locals oppose NPCIL’s Chutka n-power project (4)

Chutka (Mandla) :Even though the fallout of Bhopal gas disaster continues, another project that poses similar risks is underway — a nuclear power project in Chutka village of tribal-dominated Mandla district. Sanctioned in 2009, the project is to be developed by Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) in the face of stiff opposition from villagers of Chutka, Tatighat, Kunda and Manegaon. This region is predominantly Gond Scheduled Tribe land, which suffered an earthquake of a magnitude of 6.7 on the richter scale in 1997. Most of the tribals living in the region were displaced by the Bargi Dam in 1984 and now struggle to survive as marginal peasants and farm labourers. Supported by anti-nuclear activists, the villagers are now planning to launch another round of protests against the proposed project starting the last week of this month. They are not ready to go through another bout of the frustrating resettling process that the implementation of the project would entail. They are also not willing to give up the fertile land and fishing sites at the nearby Bargi dam reservoir. The site also falls in near Kanha Tiger reserve that provides some additional income to villagers when tourists arrive in large numbers during winter. The villagers have been launching a series of protests and have tried to disrupt the district administration’s efforts in conducting initial surveys of land acquisition process since 2013. Also, the Gram Sabha resolutions (copies are available with Business Standard) of each village Panchayat in January last year have rejected the proposed project and put 26 stringent conditions before giving consent to the government demand for land and properties. “They ignore us completely. What will we do with the measly Rs 3 lakh an acre that they are offering? They had deployed a large police force during “Jan Sunwai’ (public hearing) on one occasion and we were not allowed to speak. We will not settle for less than Rs 60 lakh an acre as compensation, along with five acres of land to each adult member of affected family,” says Dadulal Kurapey head of Chutka Parmanu Sangharsh Samiti, which is opposing the project for years…. (Business Standard 22/10/15)

200. Rights panel asks govt to speed up land acquisition (4)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state human rights commission (SHRC) has asked the national highway wing of state PWD to speed up works to acquire land for widening the road from Kazhakkoottam to Kesavadasapuram. The NH wing of state PWD has informed SHRC that an estimate of Rs 548 crore for widening the road in 24 metres prepared by Natpac had been submitted to the state government. The commission was hearing a complaint filed by T Udayakumar of Pangappara to solve the traffic congestion on the Kazhakkoottam-Ulloor stretch. Widening of Kazhakkoottam-Kesavadasapuram is one of the crucial works that has to be completed ahead of the light metro project. On delay in widening the stretch, the NH stated that the National Highway Authority of India had begun widening of the stretch from Kazhakkoottam to Karode as NH. “The Kazhakkoottam-Kaliyikkavila stretch is be a state highway and it could be developed only using state fund. The Kazhakkoottam-Kesavadasapuram road is part of this Kazhakkoottam-Kaliyikkavila state highway,” officials attached to the NH wing said. The Kazhakkoottam-Kesavadasapuram road, a major corridor to institutions like Technopark, has a width below 15 metres. The stretch experiences heavy traffic congestion during peak hours. However, widening of the stretch is not an easy task. Acquiring land from the core areas of city is considered a near impossible challenge even by officials of Trida, which is responsible for land acquisition works. The market value of land along the stretch is so high that even the state planning board had advised the government to consider an alternative route for light metro. Market price of the land along the stretch is between Rs 10-25 lakh a cent. The DMRC, which prepared the detailed project report for light metro, has suggested breaking the route considering the need for widening the stretch. First phase will cover Technocity to Kazhakkoottam and Kesavadasapuram to Karamana. The stretch from Kazhakkoottam to Kesavadasapuram will be developed in the second phase considering the road widening work involved. (Times of India 24/10/15)

201. Govt to award 100 highway projects by next year (4)

NEW DELHI: After a rough patch, highways building through PPP model is set to take a leap with government planning to launch 100 such projects next year, Union minister Nitin Gadkari said today. Asking investors to change their perception about public-private-partnership (PPP), the road transport and highways minister said all problems pertaining to the model have been addressed and this year seven projects worth Rs 11,500 crore have already been awarded in contrast to a nil last year. “The government will award 100 projects on PPP model next year. Under the hybrid model, we will give you on platter projects with land acquisition and environment clearances. Forty per cent cost will be borne by us while 60 per cent will be funded by you. Of the 60 per cent, banks will provide 30 per cent of the requirement,” Gadkari said at India PPP summit by FICCI. He said investors need not worry at all and just “change their perception about PPP” as in the present hybrid model even the toll collection will be done by the government adding PPP has received good response this year. The Minister said the government was planning to float tenders for about 18 projects by December. He said 95 per cent problems pertaining to PPP projects have been addressed and of the 283 projects, 44 were terminated. About Delhi-Jaipur Highway, he said the Rs 1,700 crore project will be completed by December as 85 per cent of the long-delayed project is completed while problems related to Delhi-Haridwar and Ranchi-Jamshedpur highways were being addressed. He said highways ministry has no dearth of funds but was lacking on two fronts – shortage of contractors and capacity constraints. Expressing commitment to transform highways network, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will do “bhoomi pujan” for access-controlled Rs 7,000 crore eastern highway project to decongest Delhi soon while Delhi-Meerut highway will be developed as a green expressway with 14 lanes on NH-24. The national highways length would be increased to 1.5 lakh km from 1 lakh km at present as it does not match up to the 10 per cent annual growth in vehicles, he said. He added that apart from Buddha circuit, 1000 km of highways will be constructed to link ‘char dhams’. Besides, one per cent of the highways construction cost will be set aside for plantation along the roads, which in turn would generate five lakh employment. He added that government also plans to build a number of expressways including Delhi-Mumbai, Mumbai-Nagpur, Delhi-Ludhiana and Bengaluru-Chennai. The Minister said both shipping and highways would contribute at least 2 per cent to the country’s GDP. Also, he added that all the 12 major ports and SCI, DCI and Cochin Shipyard would post a profit of around Rs 6,000 crore this year. . (Times of India 27/10/15)

202. YSR Congress slams land acquisition move (4)

VIJAYAWADA: YSR Congress has opposed the government’s move to acquire land from farmers under land acquisition for capital construction. YSRC spokesperson K. Parthasarathi found fault with the government’s move to acquire farmers land under land acquisition even after gathering 30,000 acres under land pooling. “The government is resorting to forcible acquisition. It has got huge land bank and efforts are being made to denotify 50,000 acres of forest land and yet the multi-crop lands of poor farmers are not being spared. This is objectionable and we will stand by all the farmers,” said Mr. Parthasarathi while speaking to The Hindu over phone. The land acquisition ordinance has elapsed and the government has to acquire lands under 2013 land acquisition act, which does not permit acquiring multi-crop lands, he said. (The Hindu 30/10/15)

203. Odisha approves creation of land bank for industries (4)

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha cabinet on Monday approved creation of a 100,000 acre land bank that will facilitate industries to set up their projects without any land hurdles, an official said. The Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO), the nodal agency for land acquisition, would identify the land in several districts of the state for use of industrial purpose, said chief secretary G.C. Pati. He said IDCO has already applied for alienation of 10,000 to 12,000 government land for industrial purposes. The government has divided land allotment for land bank into two categories. While land for immediate requirement for industrial infrastructure development would come under category-A, land to be reserved at the district level with collector for subsequent allotment to IDCO or industrial units would come under category B, said the chief secretary. “Land under category-A shall be allotted to IDCO on long term basis with a moratorium on payment of premium for five years, or till the land or any part of thereof, is sub-leased by IDCO to the industries, whichever is earlier,” said Pati. For category-B land bank, IDCO may request the collector to reserve the suitable government land for industrial purpose. A district level committee headed by collector shall assess the requirement for other development projects of the government like health, educational institutions, said Pati. Idco has accorded priority to districts like Jagatsingpur (Paradeep), Bhadrak (Dhamra), Cuttack, Khurda, Dhenkanal, Angul, Sundergarh(Rourkela), Jharsuguda, Jajpur (Kalinga Nagar) and Balasore for creation of land banks, said sources. The government can resume the land if the leasehold land is not used for the industrial purpose for more than five years. The cabinet also approved that the industries drawing water from reservoirs would contribute to Water Conservation Fund (WCF) in five equal installments in coming five years, beginning the current financial year. The government has made a provision that industries drawing more than or equal one cusec of water would contribute deposit of Rs.2.5 crore per cusec of water allotted to the industries towards WCF. (Business Standard 2/11/15)

204. Gujarat okays IOC’s proposal to acquire land for expansion (4)

VADODARA: The Gujarat government has approved a proposal of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOC) Gujarat Refinery seeking acquisition of 75 acre land for its expansion projects, a top company executive said. The expansion plans are for raising its crude refining process to 18 MMT per year from the existing 13.7 MMT per year, IOC Gujarat Refinery Executive Director S K Dhar Gupta said. The refinery located at Koyali village on the outskirts of Vadodara city needs a total of 130 acre land for its expansion projects, of which 55 acre have been acquired, he said. The proposal was lying before the state government for over past two years and was cleared recently. The refinery authorities had sought clearance for purchasing the land needed for the expansion project vital for meeting the norms of government’s Auto Fuel Vision Policy- 2025, he said. Spread over 1,950 acre, the Gujarat refinery facility includes Asoj and Dumal terminal operations and five primary Atmospheric Distillations Units. “We need 130 acre if we want to achieve the target of 18 MMT per year and we are confident on acquiring it. We have started holding talks with locals in the villages and their response is good and process is on to acquire the land,” Dhar Gupta said. “In order to maintain the growth trajectory, the Refining Capacity augmentation through brownfield expansion from refinery’s current nameplate capacity of 13.7 MMT per year to 18 MMT per year is also under growth plan and will be executed considering BS-V compliance by 2019-20,” he said. The capacity expansion project will include new units like AVU (Atmospheric & Vacuum distillation Unit) of 9 MMTPA capacity along with few bottom up-gradation secondary units, he said, adding that the expansion will lead to improvement in distillate yield thereby enabling production of more value- added products from the refinery (Times of India 4/11/15)

205. TN to Implement New Land Acquisition Act (4)

CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu government is likely to implement the new Land Acquisition Act for the first time to compensate owners of lands acquired for the `495 crore Phase II of Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) between Velachery and St Thomas Mount. After the Madras High Court ordered compensation under Section 40 (3) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013 within three months before taking possession of the land, it is learnt that the State Government is treating this as a special case. Official sources told Express that this was decided during a meeting chaired by the Additional Chief Secretary and Commissioner of Land Acquisition last week while deliberating on the recent HC judgment. Top officials, including the Revenue and Law secretaries, have agreed to treat this as a special case as they are worried that if the directive of the High Court is not followed, it could put the project in jeopardy. “If the compensation is not paid within three months, the land acquisition may lapse and a major transport infrastructure project may be jeopardised,” sources said. This could mean that the  project cost would escalate further. The Centre is providing `165.24 crore. According to sources the State is willing to pay interim compensation under Section 40(3) of the new Act. The Act stipulates payment of interim compensation at 80 per cent of the compensation estimated by the District Collector to the land owners. Officials expect that the land value as per the new act would definitely be higher than the market value fixed earlier by the land  acquisition officer. It is learnt that the average sale price would be determined taking into consideration the highest sale price. Under old act, the lowest sale price or guideline value would be taken into consideration for fixing the market value. The proposed alignment and extension of Phase-II took place in 2008 and till now 3.7 km out of the 5 km stretch of MRTS line has been completed. The project has been pending over acquisition of 500 metres of land. There was much hope last year immediately after the High Court cleared the way after dismissing the petitions challenging the acquisition of land and deviation in the project. (New Indian Express 5/11/15)

206. Govt Mulls Acquiring 300 Acres in Tullur thru LPS (4)

GUNTUR: Despite stiff opposition from farmers, the state government is planning on acquire 300 acres of land in Tullur mandal of the district, which is in bits and pieces, and preventing continuity of land for construction of buildings. The government announced that it would invoke the Land Acquisition Act-2013, if necessary, apparently to force the farmers into parting with their lands under Land Pooling Scheme (LPS). Though agriculture minister P Pulla Rao had stated that the land acquisition notification would be issued in the beginning of November, it looks as though the government wants to make the farmers agree to land pooling system, as it does not entail payment of compensation to them. According to sources, the district officials are asking the farmers to cooperate with the government by giving their lands under LPS and on the other hand, it is allegedly threatening that they will have to lose benefits that would accrue to them, if they opted for LPS, and would have to be content with marginal amounts of money payable to them as compensation under the Land Acquisition Act. Guntur in-charge collector Cherukuri Sridhar, who convened a meeting with about 20 farmers from Tullur mandal recently, reportedly urged the farmers to part with their lands under LPS as soon as possible. “As some bits of lands, which were not taken over by the government, are coming in the way of capital development, the government can wait no longer. It is up to you to respond positively and part with your lands under LPS so as to get the government benefits. Lest, you have to lose the opportunity as the government will invoke the acquisition act at any time,” the official told the farmers. However, the farmers, who initially declined to part with their lands under LPS, said that they have no objection for giving away their lands if the government offered some more benefits. Saying that the government, despite pooling 55,000 acres of land so far (including 33,000 acres of farmers and 11,000 acres of government lands, 8,000 acres of endowment lands and the remaining in the name of assigned lands), the farmers sought to provide benefits to them accordingly. “At present, the government is offering 1,200 sq yards and 1,450 sq yards of developed plots of dry land (metta) and wet land (zareeb) donors. But, we sought the government to enhance the same to 1,800 sq yards for all the 22,000 farmers, who parted with their lands under LPS,” a farmer who participated in the meeting told Express. They also demanded allotment of 10 acres for developing as a commercial hub so as to utilise the income on it for the welfare of the needy farmers. The government should appoint a committee for the same. The in-charge collector, however, expressed inability to enhance the area of plots to be provided to farmers citing that it will result in further decrease in the land required for construction works, sources said. (New Indian Express 9/11/15)


207. By 2030, India will account for 17% of world’s under five deaths: UN (3)

MEXICO: The United Nations has issued a dire warning to India over its abysmally high infant and maternal mortality rate. UNCEF has projected that if current trends of under-five mortality rate continue, by 2030 just five countries will account for more than half of all under-five deaths — India (17 per cent), Nigeria (15 per cent), Pakistan (8 per cent), Democratic Republic of the Congo (7 per cent) and Angola (5 per cent). According to UNICEF, if mortality rates stay at the present day levels, 69 million children will die before the age of 5 during the next 15 years; about half of those children will die within their first month of life. According to their latest estimates, released in the side lines of the Global Maternal Health Conference in Mexico, in 2015, 5.9 million children will die before the age of 5 globally. Based on current population projections, 6.6 million children will die worldwide in 2030 if rates remain at 2015 levels. Of these under-five deaths, nearly a third will be in South Asia. The warning comes weeks after UNICEF revealed that one in every 21 children being born in India are dying before reaching their fifth birthday as the country recorded the highest number of under five deaths in 2015 globally. The under-five mortality rate (U5MR) in India is about seven times higher than in high-income countries where 1 in 147 is dying. A study published in the Lancet showed that 1 in 5 under five deaths took place in India in 2015 (20% of the global deaths) – numbering to 1.2 million children. There was also a silver lining to it – U5MR in India dropped from 126 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 48 in 2015 – a 62% reduction. This is higher than the average global reduction of 53%.Infectious diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhoea are still main killers of children under age five in India. In 2015, pneumonia is estimated to account for about 15% of the 1.2 million under-five deaths in India. Diarrhoea accounts for about 9%.UNICEF says that 70% of the global decline in under- five deaths since 2000 is attributable to tackling key infectious diseases. Between 2000 and 2015, the annual number of under-five deaths fell from almost 10 million to 5.9 million. Although infectious diseases still cause a large — and largely preventable — portion of child mortality, the annual number of under-five deaths from leading infectious diseases declined from 5.4 million to 2.5 million over the last 15 years. In 2015, nearly 4 million fewer children under 5 will die from all causes than in 2000. The report said “About 70% of that decline is the result of lower death tolls from pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, sepsis, pertussis, tetanus, meningitis, measles and AIDS”. (Times of India 20/10/15)

208. 1,076 new dengue cases in Delhi: Report (3)

New Delhi: As many as 1,076 new dengue cases have been reported in the last five days in Delhi, taking the total figure to 13,607, municipal authorities said here on Friday. According to a new report, areas under North Delhi Municipal Corporation recorded the highest number of 4,833 dengue cases. “South Delhi witnessed 3,928 cases while areas under East Delhi MC recorded a lowest 2,552 cases,” said the report from the three municipal corporations of Delhi. Also, the number of people suffering from dengue in areas adjoining Delhi – Gaziabad and Faridabad – stood at 2,567. The national capital witnessed the highest number of dengue cases since 1996 at 10,683 till October. The report said that till October 17, the number of houses found positive for mosquito breeding stood at 2,22,732. (Business Strandard 23/10/15)

209. UNICEF team makes documentary on malnourished Muzaffarnagar kids (3)

Meerut: A team from UNICEF arrived in Muzaffarnagar on Monday and visited Chandpur villages to study the condition of malnourished toddlers and take stock of the steps taken by the district administration to improve their condition. The team of UNICEF and State Nutrition Mission arrived at Chandpur to shoot a documentary on the matter. District magistrate N C Shukla had started an anti-malnutrition drive in May this year. The state government plans to frame the picture of malnourished children which has changed after providing them with health care and nutrition. For this purpose, two villages of Muzaffarnagar district have adopted by the district magistrate. In a bid to curb the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and Mother Mortality Rate (MMR) in the district, the DM had launched a drive, ‘Jeevan Rakshak Camp’, on May 26. These camps were organized in all the 285 Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) centres. In December 2014, a total of 1,319 children were recorded as malnourished in the district. Shukla, who has taken charge as DM in April 2015, had doubts on that figure and launched an intensive drive to find out the actual number of malnourished children. The result was shocking as 8,615 children were found to be underweight and malnourished in Muzaffarnagar. “We provided all these children with medicines and other nutritious food items. The children are examined periodically at ANM centres, and their condition is recorded along with their medical tests. To make sure that the drive does not stop, the DM not only adopted two villages himself but all the other administrative officials were instructed to adopt two villages each. We got a tremendous success in beating malnourishment in the past four months. The government also recognised our efforts, and hence the decision to shoot a documentary in Muzaffarnagar,” chief development officer Avnish Sharma said. Advisor of state nutrition mission, Mustafa Kamal, said the documentary shooting would continue for two days and it will be broadcast in all the districts of the state. “Muzaffarnagar will be presented as a role model for other districts,” he said. (Times of India 27/10/15)

210. India recorded largest number of TB cases in 2014 (3)

United Nations: India recorded the largest number of Tuberculosis cases in the world last year, according to a report by the WHO that said 1.5 million people died in 2014 from the disease which ranks alongside HIV as a leading killer worldwide. World Health Organisation’s Global Tuberculosis Report 2015, released on Wednesday, said that of the 9.6 million new TB cases in 2014, 58 per cent were in the South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions. India, Indonesia and China had the largest number of cases at 23 per cent, 10 per cent and 10 per cent respectively of the global total in 2014. Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa also had high numbers of TB cases last year. Nearly 1.5 million people died from the disease last year, including 140,000 children, according to the report. “Most of these deaths could have been prevented. The disease ranks alongside HIV as a leading killer worldwide,” it said. Approximately 90 per cent of total TB deaths (among HIV- negative and HIV-positive people) and 80 per cent of TB deaths among HIV-negative people occurred in the African and South-East Asia Regions in 2014. India and Nigeria accounted for about one-third of global TB deaths (both including and excluding those among HIV-positive people), the report added. The report noted that globally, TB prevalence in 2015 was 42 per cent lower than in 1990. The target of halving the rate compared with 1990 was achieved in three WHO regions, the Region of the Americas, the South-East Asia Region and the Western Pacific Region and in nine high-burden countries of Brazil, Cambodia, China, Ethiopia, India, Myanmar, the Philippines, Uganda and Vietnam. In 2014, there was a marked increase in global TB notifications for the first time since 2007. The annual total of new TB cases, which had been about 5.7 million until 2013, rose to slightly more than 6 million in 2014, mostly due to a 29 per cent increase in notifications in India, which followed the introduction of a policy of mandatory notification in May 2012, creation of a national web-based reporting system in June 2012 and intensified efforts to engage the private health sector. The report said that intensified efforts, such as those already being made in India, are needed to ensure that all cases are detected, notified to national surveillance systems, and treated according to international standards. It said that in order to reduce TB’s overall burden, detection and treatment gaps need to be closed, funding shortfalls filled and new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines developed. Effective diagnosis and treatment saved 43 million lives between 2000 and 2015, according to the report, the 20th in a series of annual evaluations produced by WHO. (Asian Age 30/10/15)

211. Bengal among two worst states in infant mortality (3)

KOLKATA: Though chief minister Mamata Banerjee claims that there has been an increase in delivery rates in the hospitals of the state but the recently released report by the civil registration system by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs shows the abysmal condition of the neonatal care in the state. According to the report West Bengal is the second worst state so far as infant mortality is concerned. According to the recently published ‘Annual Report on Vital Statistics of India based on Civil Registration System-2013′- around 1.87 lakh children below the age of one died in the country in 2013. The figures, based on the registration of deaths with authorities, showed Maharashtra tops the list with 22,159 deaths of children below the age of one closely followed by West Bengal, with 18,992 deaths. Apart from these two states Uttar Pradesh stands third that registered 18,760 deaths followed by Karnataka and Odisha that registered 15,221, and 15,076 death respectively. The report is even more alarming because there has been a steady increase of infant mortality rate in the last three years that rose from 11998 in 2010 to 18992 in 2013- a period when several deaths were reported in different state government hospitals allegedly because of malnutrition and inadequate neonatal care system. Though Mamata Banejee claimed that the deaths were the rate of infant mortality was much higher during the Left Front regime than in her tenure. In 2008 there were 25554 deaths reported in West Bengal – highest in the last ten years and that the then Left Front government introduced the sick neonatal care unit (SNCU) in Purulia’s district hospital which showed the way in reducing neonatal mortality rate (NMR). Started as a research project in 2003 by Institute of Post Graduate Medicine Education and Research (IPGMER), Society for Applied Studies (SAS) and UNICEF, the unit which was operation in 2009 brought down newborn death rate to almost 54% in the first year of its operation. In 2010 the figure came down to 11988 strongly proclaiming the success of this mechanism popularly known as Purulia model. Inspired by the success of this model was replicated across the country. The central government even started SNCU in 6,000 districts of the country under NRHM. Starting from Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the Purulia model has gone to Alwar, Dosa and Bharatpur in Rajasthan and Hosangabad in Madhya Pradesh. More such units are coming up Bihar and Orissa. But unfortunately enough there was no substantial development in this field so far West Bengal is concerned. There was a steep rise in deaths of children in the last three years. When asked about the steep rise in infant mortality, West Bengal Minister of State for Department of Child Development and Women Development Branch and Social Welfare, Sashi Panja said, ” I cannot say about the figures but in the last three the state government has taken some very strong measures to minimize the morality rate. The State Plan of Action (SPAC) has taken the responsibility of the children starting from their nutrition upto their education. Not only that there is a 1000 days programme for the pregnant mothers where the government will take care of the pregnant mother, their delivery nutrition and the health of the child upto two years. This will take some time but it will definitely give returns”. (Times of India 1/11/15)

212. State names panel to probe ‘medical negligence’ death (3)

MUMBAI: The state government has formed a nine-member committee to investigate an alleged case of death due to medical negligence. The committee will look into the circumstances surrounding the death of Navendu Shrivastava who died in 2012. On December 12, 2012, Navendu was admitted to Fortis Hiranandani hospital in Vashi for piles treatment. A committee had been formed earlier to investigate the complaint of Shrivastava’s wife, Rucha. The previous committee submitted a report that they could not confirm that “the cause of death as mentioned by the hospital was the same”.It also mentioned that there were discrepancies in the patient’s case papers. The current panel comprises director of medical education and research directorate and the other members including the joint director of the medical education and research directorate, the dean of BG medical college, Pune, and five experts in the medical field who either of the associate professor rank or above and one-member secretary who the chairman will nominate. The committee has to submit their report in 30 days, said a government resolution issued on Tuesday. The committee members will get meeting allowances from the medical education and research directorate budget. (Times of India 4/11/15)

213. Newborn deaths: Private hospitals’ doctors get notices (3)

RAJKOT: Two private doctors in Bhavnagar were served notices by the district collector Banchhanidhi Pani seeking explanation as to why they referred newborns so late to the Sir T Hospital, which resulted in deaths of many. The notices were served after the deaths of 44 newborn children at the government hospital since October. Pani said there were some cases where the newborns were referred to this hospital by private doctors when their condition was serious and chances of survival were slim. Alarmed by sudden spurt in deaths, the state government sent a three-member team to Bhavnagar, held a meeting with the doctors and inspected relevant records of the pediatrics department. “We have checked all records of the pediatric ward and scrutinized every aspect. However, we found nothing against the doctors or the hospital. We have appointed two more pediatricians and seven nurses for the ICU to provide round-the-clock services,” Pani told TOI. All the neonatal deaths were due to natural causes, he added. A senior health department official in Bhavnagar said that many private doctors may have deliberately kept the newborns at their hospitals just to earn more money and referred them to the government hospital when their condition worsened. (Times of India 6/11/15)

214. China smog almost 50 times WHO recommendations (3)

Beijing: A swathe of China was blanketed with dangerous acrid smog today after levels of the most dangerous particulates reached almost 50 times World Health Organization maximums. Levels of PM2.5, the tiny airborne particles considered most harmful to health, reached 860 micrograms per cubic metre in Changchun, the capital of Jilin province in the northeast, today. The World Health Organization’s recommended maximum is a 24-hour average of 25 micrograms. The Changchun city government said on social media it was initiating a “level three” emergency response, telling schools to stop organising outdoor activities, and reminding residents to “take green transit”, stay indoors and “take health precautions,” without further specifications. China’s chronic pollution problem has been linked to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths, and has become a major source of popular discontent with the government. PM2.5 particulates can play a role in heart disease, stroke, and lung ailments such as emphysema and cancer. Levels of the particulates reached 1,157 micrograms per cubic metre in Shenyang, capital of the neighbouring province of Liaoning, on Sunday, data from city’s own environmental protection bureau showed. The extreme smog was caused by the city’s coal-powered public heating system being switched on with the onset of winter, and by heavy pollution blown in from other provinces, it said on a verified social media account. The official news agency Xinhua blasted the city’s emergency response as “useless” in the face of “such severe haze and pollution”.It quoted a Shenyang resident as saying: “When you go out you feel the air burns your eyes, your throat hurts, so you go buy a mask, but it’s not really clear what we should specifically be doing.” Calls made to Shenyang’s Environmental Protection Bureau went unanswered. (Asian Age 9/11/15)


215. HIV positive auto driver ‘infects’ 300 women in Hyderabad (3)

HYDERABAD: A 31-year-old auto driver caught by police for committing burglary at his friend’s house has shocked the investigators when he told them that he is suffering from a life-threatening disease and had unprotected sex with 300 women, including several housewives, after realizing that he was infected with the HIV virus. The 31-year-old culprit is a resident of Mirjalguda in Malkajgiri. According to police, the auto driver had married thrice and all his wives deserted him due to his wayward habits. Merwya Carl, a software engineer from Seven Hills Colony in Uppal, lodged a complaint with the Uppal police on October 17 alleging that burglars stole five-tola gold jewellery from his house. On August 5, 2015, Carl and his wife left the city on some personal work and they realized about the burglary after returning home on October 17. While leaving the house, Carl gave keys of his house to a group of friends with whom he parties at home when the family members were away. The auto driver is also part of the group. Police summoned all the friends of Carl for questioning. During interrogation, the auto driver confessed to have committed the offence. Police recovered the stolen booty of five-tola gold from his possession. When police grilled him about the other crimes committed by him, he informed them about gambling cases booked against him at the Lalaguda and Malkajgiri police stations. “He also confessed that he has been suffering from HIV disease, which he came to know about several months ago. The auto driver also claimed he visits prostitutes daily and has illicit affairs with several other women, with whom he practiced unsafe sex even after realizing about his disease,” Uppal inspector (Detective) Khaja Moinuddin said. The culprit told police that after realizing about his disease, he had unprotected sex with over 300 women, including some housewives, whom he came in contact while taking their children to school in his auto. The culprit was remanded in judicial custody. The Uppal police also caught a 22-year-old thief, G Mahesh, during vehicle check at Ramanthapur on Tuesday while he was travelling on a stolen bike. Based on his confession, police recovered 11 stolen bikes from his possession. The culprit committed the offences in the past year at Uppal and Nacharam areas. (Times of India 21/10/15)

216. Suspect in SI murder case is HIV+ve : Police (3)

Bengaluru:  Harish Babu, the suspect who stabbed sub-inspector (SI) Jagadish to death, is HIV+ve, said a top police source. A senior police officer said, “During interrogation, Babu said that he is suffering from Aids and produced a medical certificate which said that he was HIV+ve. The certificate was issued by Victoria Hospital and when we checked with a few doctors at the hospital, they confirmed that the certificate was from Victoria Hospital. Babu had undergone the test around eight months ago. Whenever he was arrested thereafter, he used to produce the certificate and tell the police that he was HIV+ve and escaped interrogation.” “After killing SI Jagadish, Babu and co-accused Madhu went to Doddabidarakallu where Thimmakka, Madhu’s mother, was residing and took a gold chain weighing 12 gram from her. They told her that they were in a crisis and that will be back in a few days, before leaving the place. They went to Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh, mortgaged the jewels with jeweller Hanumantharamu and took Rs 5,000 from him. They hid the revolver and clothes in Hanumantharamu’s house and went to Mantralayam in Andhra Pradesh. We recovered five bullets of the revolver stolen from Jagadish,” the officer said. The officer said that they took the suspects to the crime spot, recorded their statements and made video footage. Again they will be taken to the spot on Sunday. (Deccan Herald 24/10/15)

217. AIDS Society to Work from Vijayawada (3)

HYDERABAD: With the Telangana government changing the name of the Andhra Pradesh State AIDS Control Society in Hyderabad as the Telangana State Aids Control Society, the Andhra Pradesh government has formed ‘AP State AIDS Control Society’ for taking up aids control programme in the reorganised State. The new society would operate from Vijayawada. According to a GO issued here on Monday, in order to get funds from the National AIDS Control Organisation to take up HIV/AIDS control programmes in 13 districts of AP, the government had set up the new society. (New Indian Express 27/10/15)

218. Tuberculosis ranks alongside HIV as leading killer worldwide: WHO report (3)

Geneva : In 2014, tuberculosis (TB) killed 1.5 million people, 400,000 of whom were HIV-positive, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Wednesday, ranking the disease alongside HIV as a leading killer worldwide. WHO said in a report that the fight against TB is paying off, however, with this year’s death rate nearly half of what it was in 1990, Xinhua news agency reported. According to the WHO’s Global Tuberculosis Report 2015, most of the improvement came since 2000, the year the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) were established. In all, effective diagnosis and treatment saved 43 million lives between 2000 and 2015. Worldwide, TB incidence has fallen 1.5 percent per year since 2000, for a total reduction of 18 percent. The report highlighted the need to close detection and treatment gaps, fill funding shortfalls, and develop new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines. Global advances included the achievement of the MDG that called for halting and reversing TB incidence by 2015. The goal was reached globally and in 16 of the 22 high-burden countries that collectively account for 80 percent of cases. “The report shows that TB control has had a tremendous impact in terms of lives saved and patients cured,” said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan. “These advances are heartening, but if the world is to end this epidemic, it needs to scale up services and, critically, invest in research,” she added. “Ending the TB epidemic is now part of the Sustainable Development Goal agenda,” said Eric Goosby, UN Special Envoy on Tuberculosis. (Business Standard 29/10/15)

219. 57 Percent Fall in 10 Years, AIDS Can be Tackled by 2030: Minister (3)

NEW DELHI: The Union Health Ministry on Friday said that India had shown an overall reduction of 57 per cent in new HIV infections in the past decade and expressed confidence that the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat could be tackled by 2030. “We can confidently say that there is a probability of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030,” Union Health Minister J P Nadda said at a conclave on AIDS attended by many leaders from Africa. “If we had met 15 years ago, we might have been discussing how the AIDS epidemic was growing out of control. But today, thankfully, we are meeting in a changed world and can claim that AIDS epidemic can be controlled. All of us can be proud of this achievement,” he said at the India-Africa Forum Summit to “End AIDS Epidemic by 2030”. Nadda said India had shown an overall reduction of 57 per cent in estimated annual new HIV infections (among adults) in the past decade. “It is heartening to know that significant decreases have been observed in a number of African countries as well,” he said. Observing that India and Africa have exchanged notes on combating AIDS, he said these exchanges helped India formulate successful strategies. India learnt from Africa’s early experience in responding to AIDS by increasing awareness and providing services to key populations and expanding access to treatment, he added. Nadda said that India was committed to ensure that people living with HIV in Africa have access to anti-retroviral medicines. “India’s pharmaceutical industry was vital in making the dream of access to quality drugs at affordable prices come true. “Millions of lives have been saved from AIDS — in India and in Africa — and we continue to rely on this ability to produce quality drugs in the future,” he added. Kenya’s President Uruhu Kenyatta said that India and all African countries account for three-fourths of the HIV infected population in the world. “African countries benefit from India’s primary production of generic medicines,” he said, adding that there was a need for a India-Africa framework for health partnership. (New Indian Express 1/11/15)

220. ‘Chemsex’ putting people at risk of HIV, STIs (3)

London: Experts have raised concerns over the rising incidence of ‘chemsex’ – sex under the influence of illegal drugs and often with multiple partners – as it may put users at risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. The practice is exclusively seen among gay men using a combination of drugs such as mephedrone, GHB, GBL and crystal meth to enable them to have sexual sessions lasting hours or even days. “Although some services are now developing specific chemsex and party drug clinics, the lack of data limits the advice that clinicians can give,” the authors noted in the paper. “Addressing chemsex related morbidities should be a public health priority,” say the specialists working in sexual health and substance abuse in London. Despite the different funding streams, creating centres of excellence for sexual health and drug services “could be a cost effective solution to diminished resources in both sectors,” they wrote in the paper. “ It could also be a source of data for further research into chemsex that would help commissioners in their decision making,” they concluded. The research published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) warned that people who engage in chemsex are putting themselves at risk of not only sexually transmitted diseases but also serious mental harm due to drug dependency. (Zee New 4/11/15)

221. HIV-affected man slashes throat, dies (3)

PALANI: A 50-year-old man slashed his throat with a blade on the court campus on Thursday, and died at Palani Government Hospital in the afternoon. The deceased was identified as Muruganandham (50) of Old Ayakudi. Police said that the deceased, an HIV-affected person, had been depressed for some months. Earlier, he had cut his hands and legs near the bus stand, police station and in the market area, threatening that he would spread HIV to people. Petty cases were pending against him. Initially, the local people hesitated to shift him to hospital. Later, 108 ambulance personnel took him to hospital. A case has been registered. Tension gripped the court campus in the morning. (The Hindu 6/11/15)

222. Maharashtra ignores WHO guideline (3)

Mumbai: Despite World Health Organisation’s (WHO) new guideline to provide antiretroviral therapy for everyone diagnosed with HIV regardless of CD4 cell count, state ART centers are ignoring it, a move that can lead to more deaths. Anita Mehta, 32-year-old, resident of Thane succumbed to HIV infection last month after struggling for a year. She would have survived for a few more years had she started the treatment at an earlier stage. Like her, hundreds of HIV-infected patients die due to delay in treatment. To address this issue, WHO had on October 1, released a new guideline calling for universal antiretroviral treatment to all patients irrespective of the CD4 counts. In a press conference, Gottfried Hirnschall, director of WHO’s department of HIV/AIDS had reportedly said, “These new recommendations will have tremendous impact on peoples’ lives, if rapidly implemented. So we must work together to support countries to translate them into action and results.” However, ART centres in Maharashtra are yet to implement the new guideline, as National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) has not given them the nod yet. “We follow NACO’s guideline so until they give us the go-ahead sign, we can’t provide universal treatment to patients irrespective of their CD4 count. So far, we have not received any notice from the government,” said Dr Srikala Acharya, director of Maharashtra AIDS Control Society (MDACS). Currently, as per the old NACO’s guideline, an HIV patient is given free treatment at ART centres only with CD4 count below 350. However, experts opine that this new guideline will help in decreasing the mortality rate of patients with HIV. “However, NACO has made two exceptions in their guidelines — HIV patients with tuberculosis or pregnant are given treatment without considering the CD4 count,” said Dr Acharya. “If this guideline is implemented, it will be extremely fruitful for patients. But we are no one to comment on the matter as the power lies with Centre to act on the guideline,” she added. “It is essential for HIV patients to start the treatment at the earliest. It increases the chances of having longer life. Also, early treatment might also improve their health by increasing their immunity system,” said Dr Udaykumar Jadhav, HIV expert from the state. (Asian Age 9/11/15)