HR News

sam-3

Volume 18                                                           No. 24                                           August 31, 2016

HR NEWS:  AUGUST 31, 2016

 (From August 21 to 31, 2016)

 DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

1. ‘Khaki terror’ forces Dalits to flee homes in UP village (2)

SAHARANPUR (UP): Every night since the last Independence Day, Dalit men in Saharanpur’s Usand village have been making their way to the nearby forest to spend the night while the women watch out for police jeeps. At least three Dalits have died in the village over the last week, allegedly in police excesses. While the police deny that any brutality took place, villagers here tell horror stories of how policemen and PAC personnel rained down on them with lathis and riot-gear. Tensions began on August 15 after a man from another caste told a Dalit to “deposit” his daughter as “collateral” for a debt he owed. When the two communities came face to face, the police was called. According to police, there was a riot-like situation in the village which needed to be contained “by use of mild force”, but residents allege police only targeted Dalits. “They came down on us heavily as if we were animals. We were beaten so badly and there isn’t a single Dalit house in the village which the police did not ransack. At least a hundred police and PAC personnel went on a rampage. The irony is that this took place on Independence Day. Sarita Devi, Rakesh Kumar and Chaman Singh were beaten so badly that night that they died. They were all Dalits. Such is the atmosphere of fear that we have started sleeping in the forest while the women watch out for police. Even the sound of an ambulance siren in the distance is enough to send our children scurrying for cover,” said Ravi Kumar. Saharanpur SSP Manoj Tiwari said, “From what I have learnt, members of two groups were at loggerheads. Some people even attacked the police, so we had to resort to use of force. We registered a case against around 20 unknown accused for attacking the police. It is possible that some of them are sleeping in the forest to evade arrest. As far as the fear of the people is concerned, I will visit the village and assure them that they have nothing to fear.” (Times of India 22/8/12)

2. Dalits thrashed again for refusing to lift carcass (2)

Ahmedabad: The cow vigilantes had also videographed the incident and it went viral on social media after a nationwide uproar over July 11 public flogging of four dalit youths at Una. Days after reports of a dalit boy being punished near Ahmedabad for saying his community had decided against removing carcass of dead animals, another incident of self-styled cow vigilantes thrashing two more Dalits for refusing to dispose of the carcass of a calf on Sunday, came to light. The latest incident took place in Mandal village of Rajula taluka in Saurashtra region. “A couple of days ago, a calf was found dead on the village roadside. Sarpanch Atabhai Ahir approached Nagji and asked him to dispose of the dead animal and he refused saying that the community had decided against disposing dead animals after the attacks on the community,” Soma Rathod, elder brother of Nagji, said. “This enraged the sarpanch and his men, who roughed up Nagji and Mayabhai Rathod.” Both, Nagji and Mayabhai were later admitted to a private hospital in nearby Mahuva town. “We have lodged a complaint against seven accused and have handed over the investigation to Rajula’s deputy superintendent of police of SC/ST Cell,” V M Zala, police inspector, Dungar police station, said. “We have also arrested the sarpanch and three others under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and other sections of IPC,” the officer said. This is the second attack on Nagji’s family. On May 22 last, a group of about 19 cow vigilantes had roughed up seven dalit boys, including Soma’s son, at Rajula for skinning dead animals at a place officially allotted to them by local authorities. The cow vigilantes had also videographed the incident and it went viral on social media after a nationwide uproar over July 11 public flogging of four dalit youths at Una. Though the victims gave a representation to the local administration and police on May 30 to take action against the culprits, no arrests were made. The aggrieved even took out a 70-km bike rally from Rajula to Amreli town on July 7. It is only after the video went viral and innumerable protest rallies shook the state after Una incident, did the police take action in late July. Soma complained that his family and community were constantly harassed and economically isolated by the villagers. (Deccan Herald 24/8/2016)

3. Discriminated by Dalits and caste Hindus, Irulas lodge complaint (2)

VILLUPURAM: Had the occasion not been grim, it would have been a heartening sight to see caste Hindus and Dalits joining hands together for a common cause. When sections from these two communities forged a union at Palapattu near Tindivanam on Monday, it reportedly turned out to be an alliance of oppressors against a marginalised community — in this case Irulas — whose crime was to attempt a renovation of their houses on a poromboke land. Along a pathway leading to the village crematorium in Palapattu is a settlement of Irulas, housing nine families on a government poromboke land. Trouble started on Monday when one of the families decided to renovate their dilapidated house. Murthy (30) and  Durga (28), an Irula couple, had been living with their sons Mohanraj (8) and Dhanasekar (2) in a thatched hut that was way past its due date of repair. When the couple started rebuilding the hut, Vaithyanathan (45), a caste Hindu man owning one acre of agricultural land adjacent to the poromboke land, along with his supporters, including a few Dalits, reportedly picked up a quarrel with them. The couple claimed that the group abused and attacked them, asserting that only they had rights over the poromboke land. Durga says that there are nine families, comprising 27 members, housed on the small tract. Over the years, lack of space and basic amenities has taken a heavy toll on them. Cramped for space, they had decided to renovate the hut, but all it managed to do was open the floodgates of abuse. After the incident, she lodged a complaint with the  Palapattu police, who registered a case and booked seven persons, including caste Hindus and Dalits. The officials were on the lookout for the accused, who have since absconded. The alleged attack on the community is not an isolated incident, but part of continued oppression dating well over three decades. A brief respite came in 2014, when some human rights activists and Irula Welfare Association members tried to shed light on their plight. The intervention drew flak from the intermediate caste, and even from the Dalits in the village, who restricted the activists’ entry to the Irula settlement. However, the escalating tension sent the official machinery into an overdrive, leading to the Collector and other senior officials making a beeline for the village. With the village in spotlight, the officials made a slew of promises to address the Irula community’s need for basic amenities, and even made available electricity connection and drinking water supply. However, this reportedly did not go down well with the caste Hindus and Dalits, who contended when they themselves were not getting such facilities, the minority Irulas could not get access to them. The result was that the Irulas’ access to road, drinking water and even power supply was restricted. When contacted, Tindivanam tahsildar Mathiazhagan said, “Efforts were made to give the community access to all the amenities, except patta, as we do not have enough vacant land to contribute to the Irulas. We are searching for a suitable site, and once it is decided, they would be relocated,” he added. (New Indian Express 26/8/16)

4. Dalits to burn Manu Smriti outside High Court: Jignesh Mevani (2)

Jaipur: Gujarat Dalit agitation leader Jignesh Mevani on Sunday said that Dalits will burn copies of Manu Smriti, the ancient legal text codifying the caste system, outside the Jaipur bench of Rajasthan High Court which has an idol of Manu on its premises. “We have an ultra-liberal Constitution and protecting it is the duty of the courts. But having an idol of Manu on the premises of a High Court speaks volumes about our judiciary as the book stands for patriarchy and casteism,” Mevani told The Indian Express. “Hence, we will burn copies of the text outside the gates of Jaipur bench of Rajasthan High Court,” said Mevani, who is also the convener of Una Dalit Atyachar Ladat Samiti. The Samiti was created following the public flogging of Dalits in Gujarat’s Una for allegedly skinning a dead cow. “Our slogan will be ‘Manu Smriti jalayenge, poora desh hilayenge’ (will burn Manu Smriti, and shake the nation). It’ll take place on December 6, the death anniversary of Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar,” Mevani said. “It’ll be a milestone in the history of the nation. We will campaign all over the country for it and lakhs of Dalits from across the nation will gather in Jaipur for the event,” he said. Before the protest, Mevani said that they will also get in touch with organisations with similar ideologies in Rajasthan, and those which are working for empowerment of the marginalised classes and communities.The idol was reportedly set up in 1989 by Rajasthan Judicial Officers Association. However, following objections, a Full Court Resolution directed that it be relocated. But this was, in turn, challenged by Jaipur-based Acharya Dharmendra. On August 13 last year, the matter was again taken up in the High Court after a period of 25 years. A bench of Chief Justice Sunil Ambwani, Ajit Singh and V S Siradhana issued notices to the Centre and state government, impleading them as respondents to the petition. “The matter is still pending before the High Court but it is not really an issue,” said Ram Manohar Sharma, President, High Court Bar Association. (Indian Express 29/8/16)

TRIBALS

5. Now, cops will work to uplift tribal people (6)

COIMBATORE: A month ago, when the state government passed an order to set up a separate wing in the police department to curb naxalite activities, Coimbatore district police not only followed the order but proactively started planning several activities to reach out to the tribals of over 30 villages that lie on the interstate border area. Besides trying to generate goodwill among them, officials were also on a drive to ensure that tribals did not get influenced by naxals. On Sunday, district police officials conducted a medical camp for tribals from Kuppepalayam and Attukal villages at an elementary school in Thondamuthur. It benefited 112 tribal men and 56 women.On Saturday, nearly 55 students from villages surrounding Anaikatti and Pillur Dam were taken on an industrial visit to various corporate companies such as Lakshmi Machine Works to provide them first-hand knowledge about their functioning. “Later, they were taken to the Karamadai and Thudiyalur police stations, where they were briefed on the functioning of police,” said inspector of Thudiyalur. This, he said, was mainly done to ensure that their relationship with police improves. Last week, police had secured jobs for nearly 10 tribal men at corporate companies and city hospitals. “We also conducted a camp where 48 drivers were trained and issued LLR. They will also be issued licenses soon. This is to empower them,” said a police officer. Two driving school instructors visit Mangarai daily to train youngsters there. The district police officials have also plans to set up a recreation centre for the tribals, with indoor games and libraries. “Many tribals are school dropouts. But there are graduates as well. They hardly have any sport facilities or infrastructure. This will help them bring out their talent,” said another police officer. Police officials are also set to conduct a workshop to create awareness on government exams and civil services exam among tribals. “We will bring experts from the field who will personally meet qualified tribal youths and inform them about various exams that they may write,” they said. (Times of Inia 22/8/16)

6. Agartala tense as clashes erupt during tribal forum rally (6)

At least 30 people were injured, some critically, dozens of vehicles torched and property destroyed in clashes between supporters of the Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) and a section of non-tribals in Agartala city on Tuesday. Security forces have been deployed in strength in the tension prone localities of the city. Trouble began after supporters at an IPFT procession got into an argument with shopkeepers at Surya Chowmuhani area around 3 p.m. The tribal party had organised a procession and rally demanding a separate State for the 33 per cent indigenous population. The violence soon spread to different parts of the city. At least 30 people were injured in the clashes and stone pelting, dozens of two and four wheelers were set on fire and many shops damaged. Shops and business establishments downed shutters even as residents ran for cover. Police were initially outnumbered but additional forces were soon deployed. Tripura Director General of Police K. Nagraj reached the Chowmuhani area and made an effort to pacify the mob. Security personnel brought the situation under control after about 30 minutes. “The situation is now under control; seriously injured people are being treated in hospital and security forces have been deployed across the city,” Mr. Nagraj told The Hindu at 7 p.m. Prohibitory orders under Section 144 have been enforced in the city. (The Hindu 24/8/2016)

7. ‘Government-run tribal schools in Khammam violating human rights’ (6)

HYDERABAD: AN inquiry was conducted on the mysterious deaths of 26 tribal children in the government-run tribal homes, that occurred over a period of two years in Khammam. Rupa Kapoor, member, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) on Wednesday paid a visit to three tribal residential schools in Khammam. “The situation is pathetic and needs urgent attention. There is a gross violation of human rights is what I have observed,” Rupa said.  The first, Tribal Residential School for Girls in Mustafa Nagar has 323 children crammed in a space meant for half the number. “Hostel and classrooms double up as one. They reside and study in the same place. There is not enough ventilation either,” she added. Rupa also pointed that kids were drying their undergarments inside and not out under the sun. “This is a sanitation problem. They are bound to contact diseases when clothes are not sun dried,” she added. With no proper infrastructure, food for the kids was being prepared out in the open with no cover. Adding to the misery, toilets are located outside the premises putting the girls in a much more dangerous situation. A few of these deaths were attributed to snake bites. Rupa confirmed this. “They are prone to snake bites considering the location of toilets,  especially in the night.” There is no care taker and are under the watch of a guard, added Rupa.  The Tribal Residential School for Boys located at Revathi Theatre Centre she visited after was relatively better said Rupa. However, it lacks basic requirements like tables, chairs, school bags or recreational facilities. Another school for girls is located 20 km away from Khammam town in Gollagudem village. “The huge building for 330 girls is spacious and airy. There is a space for play also, but they are prone to scorpion and snake bites. Located far from the city, they are not equipped to deal with emergencies,” she noted. The district collector has been alerted and has been asked to submit an Action Taken Report to the NCPCR in the next 15 days. “In case they fail to do so, further action will be taken. They have been given three months time for infrastructure development by when children should be shifted either to a bigger space or some of them should be moved,” she said. Officials complain that parents do not allow for transfer of children. “They should be provided counselling as they cannot survive in such crammed spaces,” she said. (New Indian Express 26/8/16)

8. Tribal outfits dead set against Netas using Dana as a pawn (6)

SAMBALPUR: Resentment is brewing among tribals of Western Odisha region at the way Dana Majhi case is being handled by Kalahandi administration and political parties. Members of several tribal outfits are peeved at Dana not being allowed to perform the death rituals of his wife, Amana Majhi. On Sunday, the NH-353 passing through Balangir was blocked for two hours at Bangomunda by members of Paschim Odisha Adivasi Kalyan Mahasangha over the issue. The blockade disrupted traffic on Gopalpur-Raipur route and roads to Balangir, Nuapada and Kalahandi.They also submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik demanding arrest of the Chief District Medical Officer (CDMO) of Kalahandi and dismissal of the District Collector for their insensitivity. General secretary of the outfit, Niranjan Bisi, said it was an inhuman act to prevent Dana from performing the ‘Dihi’ (third day death ritual) of his wife. “The administration should have acted sensibly and not forced him to come to Bhawanipatna to meet the Collector and the CDMO,” he said. While the family of Amana was supposed to perform third day rituals as per tribal tradition, Thuamal Rampur Block Development Officer on Friday took Dana and his 14-year-old daughter Chandni to the Sub-Collector’s office for inquiry into the incident and the reasons that prompted him to carry his wife’s body on his shoulders to his village, Melghara. The denial of right to the family to perform rituals for the sake of investigation came in for sharp criticism from all quarters. Dana had alleged that the Collector asked him whether he had killed his wife. “She asked what problems I encountered in the hospital. When I said I took my wife from the hospital after she died, the Collector asked me whether I had killed my wife,” Dana told the Congress team, which visited his village Melghara on Saturday.Kalahandi unit president of Paschim Odisha Adivasi Kalyan Mahasangha Parmananda Majhi charged the political parties with playing politics over death of a tribal woman. He said a seven-member team of the Mahasangha had called on Dana, who is confused and panic-struck. “If the State Government is committed to development of tribals, let it provide them basic amenities rather than all political parties using them as pawns,” he observed. Kalahandi District Adivasi Sangha president Kishore Chandra Bhoi was critical of political parties and said padayatras and fact-finding team visits can wait for 10 days. Apparently, Congress leader Bhakta Charan Das had said that he would begin a padayatra from Melghara to Bhawanipatna to create awareness among tribals of the district about their constitutional rights. (New Indian Express 29/8/16)

WOMEN

9. Child sex ratio set to fall to a little over 800 girls per 1,000 boys in Uttarakhand: Study (8)

New Delhi: A study conducted by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India has found that child sex ratio i.e number of girls per 1,000 boys is all set to fall drastically to a little over 800 by 2021 census. The report, “The State of Female Foeticide in Uttarakhand” has been presented by the Asian Centre for Human Rights. The sex ratio at birth (SRB) as per the Asian Centre for Human Rights was 861 in 2011-2012 and 867 during 2012-2013 respectively in Uttarakhand. If under-five mortality rate (U5MR) of 48 deaths per 1,000 births in India is taken into account in the context of Uttarakhand, the child sex ratio in the state would have reduced to 813 in 2011-2012 and 819 in 2012-2013. Uttarakhand has the seventh lowest child sex ratio (CSR) in the age group of 0-6 years among 35 States/UTs of India as per the 2011 census with CSR of 890 girls per thousand boys. As per the statement of Health Minister J P Nadda before the Parliament on March 3, 2015, not a single conviction was secured during 2009 to December 2014 under the pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act (PCPNDT Act), 1994 in Uttarakhand. On the implementation of the Nanda Devi Kanya Yojana (NDKY) launched in 2009 and renamed as Hamari Beti Hamara Abhiman (HBHA) in 2014, the report stated that the Uttarakhand government failed to achieve its primary objectives to reduce gender imbalance in child sex ratio, prevent female foeticide and provide social and economic security to the girl child. The scheme itself is designed not to have any impact. The NDKY is extended only to Below Poverty Line (BPL) families while the Above Poverty Line (APL) families who use and can afford sex selective abortion are completely left out. As per the BPL survey conducted by the Uttarakhand government during 2011-2012, there were a total of 6,19,718 BPL families, but as per the state government’s own admission, only 30,830 girls or 4.97% of the BPL families were given benefits under the NDKY in five years from 2009 to 2015. In terms of those born, as per the 2011 census, a total of 2,50,803 females in the age group of 0-2 years or an average of 83,601 girls are born annually in Uttarakhand. If only 30,830 beneficiaries were extended benefits under the NDKY from 2009 to 2015, it implies that 6,166 girls were given benefits annually against the birth of 83,601 girls i.e 7.37% of the girls born annually…  (Business Standard 22/8/2016

10. AISA expels member booked for raping scholar (8)

The All India Students’ Association (AISA) expelled student activist Anmol Ratan on Monday after a complaint was lodged against him in a case of sexual assault. AISA Delhi State Secretary, Ashutosh Kumar, said that the association would be unflinching when it comes to gender justice, even if it involves a leading member of the organisation. “We stand by the complainant and will extend all possible support in her fight for justice,” said Mr. Kumar. The JNU administration, meanwhile, said that it stood for the dignity of an individual, respect for women, and that it strongly condemned the rape on campus on August 20. The administration said that the incident has shaken the JNU community and tarnished the image of the university. The administration added that appropriate measures would be taken to prevent such incidents in the future. “The JNU community stands with the victim. The administration appeals to students, staff and teachers to remain vigilant against such incidents,” the university said. On Monday, the JNU and Delhi University campuses saw protest rallies being organised against the AISA activist with students burning effigies of the accused. Saket Bahuguna of the ABVP said: “How long will AISA continue to shame JNU and malign its name? Merely distancing itself from the culprit will not do justice with the rape survivor.” He added that AISA should help the police in nabbing Ratan and expose all his wrong-doings. Calling for speedy action, the JNUSU said that it stood by the complainant. It urged students to refrain from enquiring about details or the identity of the complainant. “The responsibility of women’s safety cannot be placed on women alone. It is the responsibility of the society to respect a woman’s integrity, freedom and consent. We have asked the Vice-Chancellor to strengthen and empower the Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH),” the JNUSU said. (The Hindu 23/8/126)

11. Triple talaq violates Article 21, woman tells SC (8)

NEW DELHI: Can an arbitrary and unilateral divorce through triple talaq deprive the wife of her rights in the matrimonial home and custody of her children, a Muslim woman asked in her petition before the Supreme Court on Tuesday while challenging the constitutional validity of the process to end a marriage. The court agreed to hear on Friday the writ petition filed by Ishrat Jahan from Howrah through advocate VK Biju, who mentioned it before a bench of Justices AR Dave and L Nageswara Rao. After the court suo motu started examining the effect of triple talaq on Muslim women’s rights, triple talaq victims Shayara Banu and another woman, besides Muslim women organizations, questioned the validity of the personal law practice. Significantly, All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) defended triple talaq and said the court had no jurisdiction to decide its validity. In her petition, Ishrat Jahan sought a declaration from the court that Section 2 of Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 was unconstitutional as it violated fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14 (equality), 15 (nondiscrimination), 21 (life) and 25 (religion) of the Constitution “in so far as it seeks to recognise and validate talaq-e-bidat (triple talaq) as a valid form of divorce”. This is the question also raised by Uttarakhand based Shayara Banu and another Muslim woman, and Rashtrawadi Muslim Mahila Sangh through its president Farah Faiz. Jahan added some critical questions to the main challenge. She said the Constitution, through Article 21 and its interpretation by the SC, guaranteed every citizen a right to life with dignity. Could a woman, divorced through arbitrary and unilateral triple talaq, be thrown out and lose her rights on a matrimonial home, Jahan asked. She said she continued to live in her matrimonial home with grave risk to her life despite her husband divorcing her through triple talaq. ..(Times of India 24/8/16)

12. Surrogacy bill will not be easy to implement, say women activists (8)

New Delhi, Aug 24 : Women rights activists said on Wednesday that surrogacy regulation bill approved by the Union cabinet was a step in the right direction but surrogacy was a complex issue and implementing the proposed law will be challenging. “Renting a womb has become a commercial exercise and not the way it should be. There is certainly a need for regulation,” said All India Democratic Women’s Association President Subhashini Ali. “In many countries, there is a counselling of people who want surrogacy, saying that the adoption option should also be considered. They are told all the many health hazards also. The person who is a surrogate, her rights have to be protected,” she Ali added. According to Sarojini N.B. from the organisation Sama, who has been closely involved with the issue, implementation of the bill is challenging. “The implementation of law is challenging. The ban (on commercial surrogacy) might push it underground,” she said. Sarojini feels that altruistic surrogacy with relatives can cause further exploitation of women in a patriarchal set-up. “Only ‘altruistic surrogacy’ with close relatives, i.e. within the ‘family’ is going to be allowed. There is enough evidence that shows the exploitative nature of the ‘family’ as an institution where women may be subjected to various kinds of patriarchal pressures, including coercion to act as surrogates. We need to look into it carefully,” she said. The director of the Joint Women’s Programme India and Vice President of the YWCA of India, Jyotsna Chatterjee said: “It’s good that commercial surrogacy has been banned. One of the major things is that it was almost becoming a malice like prostitution.” Raising issues concerning identity, she said, “If an Austrian man from Europe comes, and goes for a surrogate child in Mumbai, what is the nationality of the child? Will he/she be Indian or Austrian?” “Though surrogacy has been very helpful for women who have not been able to have their own children, like everything else it has become a fashion,” Chatterjee said. …  (New Kerala 24/8/16)

13. Woman burned alive for dowry in Muzaffapur (8)

Patna: A 24-year-old woman, Khushbu Kumari alias Shabnam, was allegedly burned alive by her husband and other family members at Kurhani Tola under Kurhani police station area in Muzaffarpur district on Sunday, around 71km from Patna. Police sources in Muzaffarpur said that the neighbours of Khushbu heard her screams on Sunday morning and spotted flames rising from the house, after which the police were alerted. The woman died by the time neighbours and police arrived to rescue her. “Khushbu’s body was recovered in a completely burned condition,” said Kurhani police station SHO Raman Kumar, adding it was yet not clear if she was burned alive or was strangulated before being set afire. The body has been sent for autopsy to SKMCH, Muzaffarpur, which would shed light on whether she was burned alive.The SHO said the woman’s mother, Anita Devi (50), has lodged a named FIR with the Kurhani police station. She has named Khushbu’s husband Jitendra Kumar Singh (26), brother-in-law Dharmendra Singh (22) and mother-in-law Manju Devi (49). He said Anita has informed police that Khushbu’s in-laws and husband were demanding Rs 5 lakh as dowry from her for the past two years.”She got married in 2012 and the couple had a nine-month-old boy,” the SHO said, adding Jitendra was a farmer. All the three accused escaped from the house after the incident. He said Khushbu was a native of Karpoori Gram village under the Mufassil police station area in Samastipur district. (Times of India 28/8/16)

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

14. Delhi street children beg to fund porn addiction, say NGOs (14)

New Delhi: Twelve-year-old Raju (name changed) was among the 50 boys Delhi Police picked up from the streets and brought to a de-addiction centre at Delhi Gate to be counselled to lead a normal life. Unlike other boys who are addicted to drugs, Raju is addicted to porn. He is ready to beg or commit crime to watch a short clip, he said. “My friend first got me into the habit. Initially, he used to show me a clip for Rs 10. As I got addicted, he raised the rate to Rs 20, and then to Rs 30 a clip. So I began to beg and pick pockets to fund my habit,” said the boy. The Delhi Police often picks up children begging or thieving on the streets and takes them to shelters, mostly run by NGOs. At the 10-12 prominent children’s shelters in the city, 80% are drug addicts and 10% are addicted to porn, say authorities. In addition, children also stay in shelters for the homeless. So, it is hard to estimate the extent of porn addiction among all children from the streets, counsellors at de-addiction centres said. Most of them are introduced to porn and drugs by their friends, who later abuse them for their gain, say counsellors. “It was one of my friends, who showed me how to do drugs. First, we used to only inhale drugs. Later, we graduated to injections. I had to take three doses a day. To sustain my habit, I used to snatch and steal at railway stations. Now, I am returning to normalcy. I don’t want to do drugs anymore,” said another child at the Delhi Gate shelter. “There have been a few cases recently where children were addicted to porn. The kind of questions they ask can shock anyone. We believe that there is a gang that makes them addicted and then force them into begging. The children are ready to do anything to watch porn,” said Society for the Promotion of Youth and Masses (SPYM) executive director, Rajesh Kumar. The group operates de-addiction centres. “Life is not easy on the streets and children earn to watch porn and buy drugs. There is a need to create awareness among them. It is important to take them off street and educate them. Sex education is also necessary,” said NGO Plan India executive director, Bhagyashri Dengle. The NGO runs four children’s shelters in Delhi. SPYM’s Rajesh Kumar said it is difficult to convince parents to send their addicted children to shelters because they are a source of income. “In most cases, the parents are drug addicts themselves, and they send their children to begging as a way of earning,” he said. A Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) survey said 80% children are forced into begging by their parents. (Hindustan Times 22/8/16)

15. MP children in distress can share ‘mann ki baat’ via postcard with child rights panel (14)

BHOPAL: Children of state can now also share their “mann ki baat” via postcard. Madhya Pradesh Commission for Protection of Child rights has introduced the “Mann ki baat via postcard” programme for children, who face any kind of trouble in their day-to-day lives. They just need to write about their problem on a post card and send it to chairman, Madhya Pradesh commission for protection of child rights (MPCPCR), Raghvendra Sharma. Schoolstudents will be provided postcards with the address of MPCPCR office. Complaint boxes will also be installed in schools where they can drop these post cards.”It all began this Independence Day. The decision has been taken to bring down the stress level in students. Also, in times of depression, children must feel that people are there to support them,” Raghvendra Sharma told TOI. “There has been a spurt in student suicide cases this year. Most of them were depressed and did not get the proper attention and counselling at the right time. We don’t want to lose more precious lives. We hope ‘Mann ki baat’ initiative will help students overcome stress and stand for their rights during tough times,” he added.  MPCPCR will also maintain the confidentiality on request.”If children find writing postcards difficult, they can directly call on my number or our office number for making complaints. Our office number is 0755-2559900,” Sharma said. MPCPCR is also requesting NGOs and schools to help them make the post cards with addresses available to students in different schools. (Times of India 23/8/2016)

16. Rescue operation brings smile to 18 child labourers (14)

KARIMNAGAR: Odisha police and Child Welfare department along with local police and ICDS officials, under Operation Muskaan, rescued 18 child labourers working at various brick kilns across the district. The rescue operation was carried out between Aug 17 and 24 wherein they raided several hotels, homes and brick kilns. A three-member team led by circle inspector Padma, after receiving information, rescued the minors from brick kilns of Jagtial, Raikal, Malayala, Kothapet, Sultanabad, Karimnagar and Huzurabad. Karimnagar Integrated Child Protection Scheme officer Parveena said the government had formed 12 teams to find the children who went missing from various villages of Odisha. They suspected that the children were working as child labourers in other states. Among 18 rescued children, two were handed over to their respective parents while others were taken to Odisha. District collector and district child protection society chairperson Neetu Prasad said that under Operation Smile Scheme phase-1, about 478 children were rescued and about 1,818 children were rescued from various places across the district under phase-2. (New Indian Express 26/8/2016)

17. High Court right, RTE can’t go against child: Activists (14)

New Delhi: The high court judgment on Siddharth International School does much more than just direct a school to admit a disabled child. Activists pointed out that the judgment will have a “far-reaching impact”, can help hundreds of kids and serve as a check on governments interpreting the law in a way that goes against children. The court made several important observations regarding “age-appropriate” class, distance and neighbourhood, and right to education for the disabled. It also said the 25% of EWS/DG ( economically weaker section and disadvantaged groups) quota in private schools benefits the 75% of fee-paying kids by making them “more sensitive and humane”. The original order to admit the child was that of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal’s. The school challenged it citing several issues, one of which was discrepancies in Priyanshu’s age documents. However, after deciding that the school does have a vacant EWS/DG seat, HC observed, “Discrepancy in the date of birth…in the present case is due to poverty, ignorance and backwardness of relatives.” The court further cited the RTE Act that no child will be denied admission “for lack of age proof”.”Sections 8(c) and 12 is for the benefit of the child and meant to ensure that he/she gets access to elementary education, despite any technical difficulties,” said the judgment. The school had also argued there is an “upper-age limit” for admission. Activists appreciated the HC judgment. “The court has interpreted the provisions of the RTE Act and it’ll have a far-reaching impact. Its stand on age-appropriate classes is not just for Priyanshu. It has also maintained that you can’t interpret any provision of the RTE in a way that goes against a child. This is binding even on governments,” said lawyer-activist Khagesh Jha. The court has even made it possible for children living in Delhi’s border areas to seek admission in its schools. The private school had argued that the boy stayed in Ghaziabad, faraway from the school, and had no means of commute. The DoE’s field visit “confirmed…there is a nearby and direct road from the house to the…school” and the neighbourhood norms were met.”The government itself denies admission to children living across the border. As per this order, only actual distance will count, not state borders,” said Jha. Priyanshu’s leg got amputated below the knee in an accident; his father died a few months later. His mother works in a factory that manufactures plastic spoons. She earns around Rs 5,000-6,000 a month. Although the court agreed that MACT “had no jurisdiction” to direct the school to admit, it chose to praise the presiding officer “for the empathy and sensitivity displayed.” (Times of India 29/8/16)

MINORITIES – GENERAL

18. Centre committed to development of minorities: Naqvi (7)

Vadodara, Aug 21 (PTI) Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi expressed concern over the poor financial status of minorities in the country, saying the Centres initiative Mission Empowerment is working towards the development of minorities, focusing on employment and education. Naqvi, the Minister of State for Minority Affairs, told reporters at Harni Airport here last evening that it is sad that over 50 per cent of minorities are living below the poverty line, but the Centre is committed to the development of every section of society. “Our Mission Empowerment (initiative) is focused on development of minority communities in all states. I have been discussing with the state governments on issues and implementation of minority welfare programmes…be it employment, education infrastructure, and scholarships,” he said. “We are against any negative agenda. We are for good governance only. We will not allow anyone to dent our agenda,” he said. Naqvi had made a halt at Harni airport before visiting Nadiad in Kheda district last evening where he addressed a gathering. (India Today 21/8/16)

19. Intellectuals must unite against intolerance: Nitish Kumar (7)

New Delhi: TARGETING THE BJP and RSS, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said on Tuesday that those who “never had faith in the Tricolour” are now taking out tiranga yatras. Praising the “award wapsi” campaign, he appealed to intellectuals to unite against “the current climate of intolerance” and work together on an “alternative narrative” to counter the Sangh Parivar ideology. “I feel good that those who never accepted the Tricolour, those who never had faith in the Tricolour that it was the national flag, are now taking out tiranga yatras,” said Nitish. He was speaking at the release of a book, Hum Bheed Hain, by late author Professor Raghuvansh. Sharing the stage with him was writer Ashok Vajpeyi, who was among those who returned the Sahitya Akademi Award last year to protest against rising intolerance.Addressing Vajpeyi, Nitish said, “You launched a big campaign against intolerance… the campaign should not stop… The issue of intolerance raised by you still exists.” “In the kind of situation that exists today, you will have to bring an alternative ideology. An alternative narrative will have to be created. Merely releasing books and recalling views of socialist authors like Raghuvanshji will not suffice,” he said. “In the current climate of intolerance, authors and intellectuals cannot confine themselves to just holding the pen. Majority of the people are not in agreement with what is going on today, but that voice of dissent is not being expressed prominently. People from all walks in life who believe in an alternative narrative will have to work together,” he said. Seeking to widen his footprint beyond Bihar, Nitish plans to attend such “conferences of intellectuals” across the country to counter the alleged attempts to “saffronise” the academia and educational institutions. “It’s not that what is happening today cannot be brought to an end. Some people used to think the same thing during Emergency. That time too, some felt that it would never end… We will have to fight… show solidarity,” said Nitish. Recalling how the Samajwadi movement “fell apart” due to “individual egos”, he said “those who claim to believe in socialism are a divided lot”. He stressed the need for socialist forces to unite. Amid the ongoing debate on cow vigilantism, Nitish said, “A campaign was launched as if they alone will protect cows while all others will get them killed… An attempt to create a certain atmosphere is being made.” He said people would have to unite against “this era of ‘prachar tantra’ (propaganda)”. Editor-author Om Thanvi was also present on the occasion. (The Indian Express 24/8/16)

20. Minorities panel slams Bombay HC verdict (7)

HYDERABAD: On a day the Bombay high court lifted a ban imposed on women from entering the sanctum sanctorum of the Haji Ali Dargah, chairman of the minorities commission Abid Rasool Khan on Monday said that this matter was not up to the courts to decide as the religious scriptures are more than specific on this matter. “Its more of religious obligation where something has been told that it should not be done; after that it’s the choice of the person to do it and face Allah on the day of judgement,” Khan said. Speaking in the context of a significant judgement, Khan maintained that Islam says it is not desirable for women to visit graveyard but stressed that there is no ban as such. “The Quran is more than specific on this matter. However, we have never barred any woman from entering the graves or shrines. But there must be certain decorum that they must maintain, during their visit,” he told TOI. He further added that there was no need for any judicial intervention as the religious scriptures have been more than clear on the do’s and dont’s of visiting such places. “If women still want to go and do it, then it’s their choice and they should be allowed to do it. We should not stop them from doing so,” Khan said. He saw women being allowed to go into the sanctum sanctorum of dargah as also being part of “evolutionary” process, noting that earlier it was desirable that women should not go to mosque to pray.”But later on, women are going to mosques and praying along with men in separate sections, including most of the mosques in Hyderabad and Saudi Arabia. So, this is evolution and how mankind changes evolutionary things”.”Women were earlier only at home and never used to go out, but today they are coming out and want to go to dargah, so let them go and pray,” he said. But Khan stressed that when women go to dargah, where a pious and revered saint is buried, they should maintain decorum and dignity. … (Times of India 27/8/16)

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

21. Tension during rally to Islamic conversion centre (7)

MALAPPURAM: A major possible clash between Hindu Aikya Vedi and the Popular Front was averted thanks to the timely intervention of the district police, in Manjeri, near here, on Saturday. The police registered cases against nearly 100 persons from each side when the Popular Front, numbering nearly 5,000, challenged the Hindu Aikya Vedi march taken out to an Islamic conversion centre in Manjeri. Divulging the details, the police said that the Aikya Vedi took out the procession about 9 am from the court premises only to be challenged by the activists of the Popular Front from the opposite direction. Vehicular traffic was also thrown out of gear for more than three hours as the two organisations took positions on the sides of the road, exchanging slogans in highly heated moments. The police added that the two groups were all set to confront in the middle of the city when they came close to each other and traded charges. A sub-collector, four DySPs, 10 CIs and a company of Malabar Special Police were in place as a preventive measure in Manjeri. “Had the police force not there, it would have been a real law and order issue,” said district police chief Debesh Kumar Behra. BJP leader Kumman Rajasekharan, accusing the conversion centre of undermining the communal harmony, led the protest to Sathya Sarani conversion centre, but was intercepted half way by a heavy posse of police personnel. “It is an illegal conversion centre. They are disrupting communal harmony by converting people to Islam. We cannot allow this to happen. This march is to register our protest against this,” alleged Hindu Aikya Vedi leaders. The Popular Front leaders, meanwhile, accused that Aikya Vedi was attempting to deliberately tarnish a centre which was running peacefully. They added it was the Aikya Vedi which was a real threat to religious harmony. (New Indian Express 21/8/16)

22. Triple talaq effect? 5 in 1,000 Muslim women divorced (7)

Divorce and separation rates are higher among Christians and Buddhists, and lowest among Jains, according to freshly released Census 2011 data. Although separation rates are higher for Hindus than Muslims, divorce is more prevalant among the latter. The share of those who have lost a spouse to death is the highest among Buddhists, followed by Christians. Widowhood rates are much higher among Hindus and Sikhs than Muslims. A complex web of religious and social factors is responsible for these trends, which are similar to those discovered in the previous Census. Although divorce is legally allowed for Hindus, it may still carry social stigma. This could be the reason why the separation rate for Hindus was 5.5 per thousand married people, while the divorce rate was pegged at just 1.8 per thousand. Separation includes wives abandoned by husbands. Among Muslims, it seems the triple talaq provision pushed up the share of female divorcees to five per thousand, against 2-3 per thousand for Hindus, Sikhs and Jains. However, Christians and Buddhists have similar rates of women divorcees. The rate of widowhood is directly linked to the well known demographic fact that women live longer than men. This results in two to three times the number of widows compared to widowers across all communities. Another factor at work is life expectancy. Muslims have the lowest average life expectancy of all communities and this results in the least number of widowed people, at about 73 per thousand married persons. Among Hindus and Sikhs, the share is about 88 per thousand, while it is higher for Christians (97) and Buddhists (100).An interesting dimension of the marital status details released by the Census relates to never-married persons across different communities. Among those who have attained the marriageable age, that is, 21 years for men and 18 years for women, Hindus have the lowest share, at 16% unmarried men and just 10% unmarried women. This indicates a very high drive towards early marriage, with many tying the knot before attaining the legal marriage age. Christians have the highest rate of unmarried persons of marriageable age, at 21% among men and 18% among women. But across all communities, a smaller share of women are still unmarried after the legal age than men, indicating the relentless pressure on women to get married. (Times of India 24/8/16)

23. SC entertains another petition on triple talaq (7)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court entertained yet another Muslim woman’s petition challenging the constitutional validity of triple talaq mode of divorce but refused to pass any interim order on her questions relating to her rights over her children and the matrimonial home after divorce. Appearing for Howrah-based Ishrat Jahan, advocate V K Biju said his client was in a pitiable condition as her husband, working in Dubai, uttered triple talaq to her over phone immediately after marrying for a second time.A bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said since the court was already hearing a bunch of petitions questioning the validity of triple talaq, it would issue a notice on Jahan’s plea and tag it with the pending petitions for elaborate hearing later. W hen Biju stressed on second marriage of his client’s husband, the bench said, “As long as Muslim personal law permits, men in the community can contract up to four marriages.” In her petition, Jahan asked whether arbitrary and unilateral divorce through triple talaq could deprive the wife of her rights over the matrimonial home and custody of her children. But the court refused to pass any interim order on these issues, including protecting her children who have been allegedly taken away by her husband.Jahan sought a declaration from the court that Section 2 of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 was unconstitutional as it violated fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14 (equality), 15 (non-discrimination), 21 (life) and 25 (religion) of the Constitution. This question was also raised by Uttarakhand-based Shayara Banu, Rashtrawadi Muslim Mahila Sangh through its president Farah Faiz and another muslim woman. Jahan has added some critical questions to the main challenge. (Times of India 27/8/16)

24. Body to appeal Surya Namaskar decision (7)

Mumbai: A prominent organisation working for the welfare of Muslims is all set to approach the Bombay high court against BMC’s decision to make Surya Namaskar (Sun salutation) compulsory in all municipal schools. The Jamiat-e-Ulema, Maharashtra’s contention is that the civic body’s decision allegedly violates fundamental rights of Muslim citizens enshrined in the Indian Constitution. “We are challenging the BMC’s decision of making Surya Namaskar compulsory in civic-run schools on grounds that it violates the fundamental rights of Muslims provided under the Constitution of India,” said Advocate Tahwar Khan Pathan, appointed by the body to file the petition. He added that Surya Namaskar is against Islam and is part and parcel of yoga which requires spiritual and physical bowing before the sun for bhakti (devotion) and the one performing it requires to recite shlokas (prayers) and hence, a Muslim cannot perform it. Advocate Pathan said that the decision is in violation of Article 25 (freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion) and Article 26 (freedom to manage religious affairs) of the Constitution of India and hence, they would raise this issue in court. Hafiz Nadeem Siddiqui, president of the Jamiat-e-Ulema, Maharashtra, said, “Today, everybody is aware of the condition in which BMC schools are working and due to which, the number of students is reducing in these schools. There is a lot of constructive work that requires the attention of BMC officials but instead of concentrating on these important aspects to improve the condition of municipal schools, officials are more interested in politics and in forcing controversial decisions on students.” Mr Siddiqui also said that the Jamiat had filed a similar petition in the Madhya Pradesh high court challenging the same issue and the government had filed an affidavit in the MP high court that they would not compel any student to perform Surya Namaskar. “We are hopeful of getting justice from the Bombay high court too,” he said. (Asian Age 30/8/16)

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

25. Chhattisgarh Catholic Council expresses concern over attack on Christians (7)

RAIPUR: Chhattisgarh Catholic Council has expressed serious concern over increasing incidents of attacks on Christian priests, religious places and institutions, alleging that the role of police is also not impartial. “We express community’s deep anguish over the recent incidents of attacks and unlawful actions. We urge the state government to take stern action against those responsible and to prevent recurrence of such incidents,” said a Council press release which was issued after a high-level meeting held in the state capital. The meeting was attended by Bishops of Raipur, Raigarh, Jashpur, Jagdalpur and Ambikapur Catholic Diocese, priests, nuns and representatives from different parts of Chhattisgarh. Unanimously condemning the incidents of attacks on Christians, the Council pointed out that there were incidents wherein a handful of people, belonging to so-called religious organizations, attacked Christian minorities and slaps false cases against them. “The role of police is not impartial as it often seemed to be under pressure from these groups. They register cases without proper investigation,” the council said. “Christian community feels insecure as the state government has neither taken any stern action nor issued any guidelines to deal with such situations. Morale of attackers are high,” Council alleged. (Times of India 21/8/2016)

26. Indian cardinal: victims of anti-Catholic pogrom were martyrs (7)

Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai has said that the Christians killed during a savage burst of religious violence in 2008 in the Kandhamal region deserve to be recognized as martyrs. Speaking to the AsiaNews service, as Christians in India prepare for an August 30 observance of the victims, the president of the Indian bishops’ conference voiced his hope that those killed in Kandhamal “may soon be raised to the altar of the martyrs.” The spasm of violence that tore through Kandhamal– a remote section of eastern Orissa state– began when a prominent Hindu-nationalist leader was killed, and his followers blamed Christians for the slaying. (Evidence later emerged that the crime was committed by a Maoist group.) Mobs of Hindu militants attacked Christian villages, leaving more than 100 dead and driving tens of thousands of people into hiding in the forests. The Indian bishops have called repeatedly for prosecution of those who incited the violence, and compensation of the victims. To date these pleas have been unsuccessful. Catholic Culture 26/8/16)

27. Mother Teresa’s birth anniversary celebrated in Kolkata (7)

Kolkata, Aug 26 : Days before she is declared a saint by the Vatican, special masses and prayers marked Mother Teresa’s 106th birth anniversary celebrations here on Friday. Candles were lit and the nun’s grave at Mother House — the global headquarters of her Catholic order Missionaries of Charity — was decorated with flowers as the sisters and other eminent persons sang hymns, read from the Bible and recalled her celebrated life. Mother Teresa is set to be canonised by Pope Francis at the Vatican on September 4, a day ahead of her 19th death anniversary. By a coincidence, Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997, barely 10 days after her 86th birthday. A large number of people, including school children and residents of the various homes run by the MoC, congregated at Mother House, which wore a festive look. A special prayer card for the faithful read: “We thank you (Lord Jesus) for the gift of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, who will be canonised in this Jubilee Year of Mercy.” Similar programmes were organised at the other homes run by the Missionaries of Charity. The four-day Mother Teresa International Film Festival (MTIFF), which would feature 23 foreign and Indian films made on or inspired by the Nobel laureate, was inaugurated during the day at the state government-run auditorium Nandan. Paying homage, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted: “My deepest respect on the birth anniversary of Mother Teresa.” Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, Sister Prema, who is already in the Vatican, said in a message that the order was looking forward to the celebrations of the Mother’s sainthood with great joy. “It will be a moment when gathered around Mother we shall have an experience of universal family of the children of the one Heavenly Father. The difference of caste, creed, colour, rich, poor will not prevent us from rejoicing together in the honour bestowed on Mother,” said Sister Prema. Underscoring that the sainthood to be bestowed on the Mother would inspire the people in Kolkata as also all over the world to follow her example of humble services for everyone, she said: “Mother is with God and as she promised us she continues to light the light of hope and peace in everyone’s heart.” (new Kerala 26/8/16)

28. Mother Teresa’s canonisation portends more conversions: VHP (7)

New Delhi: Mother Teresa’s canonisation portends more conversions to Christianity, an issue that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should have considered before deciding to send a delegation to the Vatican, the VHP said on Sunday. “The canonisation of Mother Teresa is an alarm bell that now there would be more conversions in India and more funds (for conversions) would be routed to India,” Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) International Joint General Secretary Surendra Jain said here. He said granting of sainthood to a person based on miracles attributed to them was not “practical” in today’s times. “Do you expect miracles to happen in this age,” he wondered. Jain warned that with more conversions, there would be more unrest in the society. He said Modi should have considered the issue before deciding to send an official Indian delegation to the canonisation ceremony at the Vatican. “The issue of Mother Teresa’s services vis-a-vis religious conversions is not new. We have been raising it for years. I think the Prime Minister should have thought over it before he decided to send an official delegation to the Vatican,” Jain said. An official Indian delegation led by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is scheduled to attend Mother Teresa’s canonisation ceremony at the Vatican on September 4. On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ radio address paid tributes to the late Catholic nun for her services to the poor of India, saying that Indians should be proud that Mother Teresa is being officially declared a saint. The nun founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation that runs hospices in India. She died in 1997. (Business Standard 28/8/16)

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

29. More than three million displaced in Yemen – joint UN agency report (13)

New York, Aug 22 : A joint report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has found that the conflict in Yemen has resulted in the displacement of some 3,154,572 people, of which 2,205,102 remain displaced across the country and some 949,470 have attempted to return home. The crisis is forcing more and more people to leave their homes in search of safety, Ita Schuette, UNHCRs Deputy Representative in Yemen said in a news release on Friday, announcing the report. The news release added that due to the escalating conflict and worsening humanitarian conditions, displacement across the country has seen an increase of about seven per cent since April, with 152,009 individuals fleeing from violence during this period. The report, prepared by the Task Force on Population Movement, a technical working group led by the two agencies as part of the humanitarian response to the crisis in Yemen, also said that a significant number of those displaced are attempting to return home, a 24 per cent increase of some 184,491 individuals. However, it cautioned that movements remained fluid and correlated to moments of lulls or perceived improvements in the conflict. IDP returnees are considered to remain within the displacement cycle as long as they have not achieved a sustainable reintegration and their needs remain high, as is also the case for the non-displaced host community, said Laurent De Boeck, IOM Chief of Mission to Yemen. The news release further added that prolonged displacement had adversely impacted the communities hosting uprooted populations, substantially increasing pressures on already scarce resources. The majority of those displaced, some 62 per cent, are being hosted by their family and friends while others are using unsuitable shelters. It further said that for those displaced, the primary challenges continued to be the basic essentials: food, shelter and drinking water. .. (New Kerala 23/8/2016)

30. Greece says at least 41,000 asylum seekers on its territory (13)

Athens: Greece has at least 41,000 refugees and migrants who are seeking asylum, mostly Syrians eligible to relocate within the EU, the migration minister said on Tuesday. Yiannis Mouzalas told a news conference that Greek and UN services had recorded 54,000 refugees and migrants on Greek territory between June and the end of July. Over 41,000 of them on the mainland have expressed interest in asylum, or have made formal requests. Another 2,000 have agreed to be returned home. At the same time, there are another 11,000 people currently being processed on Greek islands after landing there from neighbouring Turkey. Mouzalas said the operation was designed to “begin to rein in the chaos”, which overwhelmed Greek authorities after a succession of Eastern European and Balkan countries shut their borders to migrants starting in February. Before the closures, and an EU-Turkey deal designed to stem the flow came into effect in March, over a million people had passed through Greece in 2015, primarily Syrians fleeing their country’s brutal civil war. The migration minister admitted that there are additionally “around 4,000″ people who are avoiding follow-up registration as they hope to cross the border with the help of smugglers. But Mouzalas denied reports that hundreds of people were being allowed to sneak across the border to Macedonia and Bulgaria. “This is a lie,” he said. “If 700 were leaving every day (as is claimed) we’d have no refugees left (in Greece).” (Zee News 23/8/16)

31. UN Chief to meet war displaced in Sri Lanka (13)

Colombo, Aug 26 : UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will meet war displaced people during a visit to Sri Lanka next week, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday. Ban will visit Sri Lanka from August 31 to September 2 at the invitation of the Sri Lankan government, Xinhua news agency reported. In Colombo, the Secretary General will meet Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and call on President Maithripala Sirisena. The UN chief will travel to the southern town of Galle where he will participate in an event involving youth under the theme “Reconciliation and Coexistence: Role of Youth”.He will also visit the northern town of Jaffna where he will meet Governor of the Northern Province Reginald Cooray, leader of the Opposition R. Sampanthan and members of the main minority Tamil party, the Tamil National Alliance, and a resettlement site. During the visit, the UN Secretary General will also meet several Cabinet Ministers, including Minister of Foreign Affairs Mangala Samaraweera, Parliament Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and leaders of political party as well as civil society representatives. (New Kerala 26/8/16)

32. Govt plans Rs 2000 crore package for people displaced from PoK (13)

NEW DELHI: With Prime Minister Narendra Modi pitching for the rights+ of those living in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir+ and Gilgit-Baltistan regions+ of Pakistan, the government has proposed a Rs 2,000-crore package for people displaced from PoK living in India. The home ministry is expected to place the details of the package before the Cabinet for approval soon, senior ministry officials said.It is learnt that J&K government has identified 36,348 such families which will get around Rs 5.5 lakh each. Refugees from Pakistan + , mostly from PoK, were settled in different parts of Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri districts over a period of time. They do not have the status of permanent residents. Some of the families were displaced during partition in 1947, and others during the 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan. The displaced people can cast their votes in Lok Sabha polls but not in the elections to the Jammu & Kashmir assembly. Jammu and Kashmir Sharanarthi Action Committee (JKSAC), an organisation representing the displaced people of PoK, has maintained that the package should not be seen as final settlement as Rs 9,200 crore was required to settle all of them. The NDA government had in January 2015 approved certain concessions for refugees from Pakistan settled in J&K after considering their problems. These includes special recruitment drives for induction into paramilitary forces, equal employment opportunities in the state and admission for children of refugees in Kendriya Vidyalayas. Modi had for the first time talked about the plight of people of PoK, Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochistan at an all-party meeting convened to discuss the J&K situation on August 12. Three days later, while addressing the nation on Independence Day, he again referred to the three regions under the control of Pakistan. The government has maintained that PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan are part of J&K. There have been reports that the government is planning to invite the diaspora from PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan for the next Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas to be held in Bengaluru. (Times of India 29/8/16)

33. Sri Lankan refugees stage dharna against patta cancellation (13)

TIRUNELVELI: Members belonging to 10 Sri Lankan refugee families living in Kalaignar Colony near here staged a dharna on the Collectorate premises on Sunday evening after the pattas of their lands were reportedly cancelled recently. The protesting refugees said 34 Sri Lankan refugee families living in Kalaignar Colony near Gangaikondan received free house sites for which pattas were given following the efforts taken by former Tirunelveli MLA Nainar Nagenthran in 2014. While a few of them had constructed houses under the Chief Minister’s Green House Scheme, the others might get the freebie soon. “Even as the economically weaker beneficiaries are waiting for the Green House, the pattas for the free land were cancelled on Saturday based on false complaints given by a few people. If our pattas are not renewed and given to us, we’ve decided to start living on the Collectorate premises,” said K. Sudha, one of the protestors. After Palayamkottai Tahsildar Balasubramanian met the protesting families and assured them that the issue would be taken up with the Collector to find an amicable solution, the protestors gave up the agitation around 6.30 p.m. and left the Collectorate. (The Hindu 29/8/16)

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

34. Maharasthra CM’s portfolios most ‘complaint-prone’: RTI reply (1)

Mumbai, Aug 22 : The portfolios handled by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis have received the maximum number of public complaints in the past two years, averaging around 12,205 per month, an RTI query has revealed here on Monday. RTI and social activist Anil Galgali had sought details of the number of complaints made to the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) and other departments and their current status. The CMO’s Public Information Officer (PIO) Vaishali Chavathe replied that in the 20 months since November 2014, the CMO has received 244,112 complaints relating to 31 government departments. Of these, the maximum complaints pertain to the Home, Revenue, Urban Development, General Administration and Rural Development departments. Three of these — barring Revenue and Rural Development — are handled by Fadnavis himself. According to the RTI reply, Home tops the list with 71,475 complaints, Revenue and Forests is a distant second with 24,293, followed by Urban Development’s 15,388, General Administration’s 9,461 and Rural Development at 9,368. While clocking an average of 12,205 complaints per month, the five departments alone account for 53.24 per cent of the total public complaints, the PIO said. Other major departments with many public complaints include Industry and Energy and Labour (8765), Housing (8608), Textiles and Marketing (7776), School education (7101), Animal husbandry and Dairy development (6382), Public Works Department (5166), Law and Judiciary (4640), Public health (4193), Social Justice (3877), Higher and Technical education (3693), Food and Civil supply (2875), Medical Education (2458), Finance (2288), Water resources (1830), Planning (1186) Directorate-General of Information and Public relations (1189). The other departments with lesser complaints include: Minorities Affairs (924), Tourism and Culture department (845), Tribal (807), Chief Secretary’s office (724), Environment (667), Employment and Self-employment (602), Water supply (597), Women and Child welfare (370), Marathi dept (181) and Parliamentary Affairs (107). However, Galgali said the CMO could not provide complaints pertaining to the Employment and Self-employment department for nearly 12 months since July 2015 onwards. In a letter to Fadnavis, Galgali drew his attention to the fact that “the problem of common man is not addressed by the respective departments, making them write to the CM for redressal.” “The CM should tighten the grievance redressal system in the respective departments, by passing instructions to the department heads, which will lead to lessening of the load on the CMO, which will enable the CMO to divert attention towards other pressing problems in the State,” Galgali urged. The increased numbers of complaints also highlights the inactiveness of the department heads for which remedial measures should be initiated, he suggested. (New Kerala 22/8/2016

35. RTI success stories to be made available for public? (1)

On the occasion of completion of more than 10-years of implementation of the RTI Act, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will release success stories of Right to Information (RTI) Act. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will release success stories of Right to Information (RTI) Act, during a programme to be held in October, to mark over 10 years of implementation of the transparency law enacted by the UPA government. The RTI Act, which was enacted in 2005, mandates time- bound reply to citizens query on governance related matters. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), which acts as nodal authority for the RTI Act, wrote on Tuesday to chief of Administrative Training Institutes of all state governments seeking success stories. The institutes impart training for promotion of the transparency Act. “RTI Act has been instrumental in ensuring greater and more effective access to information to all citizens of the country, especially the marginalised sections of the society,” it said. On the occasion of completion of more than 10-years of implementation of the RTI Act, the Central Information Commission is going to hold annual convention in October, the DoPT said. “To mark this event, the Commission proposes to bring out a volume titled ‘success stories of the Right to Information Act, 2005′, which would be released for public by the Prime Minister during the annual convention,” it said. The state administrative training institutes have been asked to forward all the documented success stories maintained by them, the directive said. (DNA 23/8/2016)

36. Chennithala objects to denial of Cabinet info (1)

KOCHI: Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala on Thursday came out in support of the State Information Commission’s directive to provide information on Cabinet decisions taken from January 1, 2016 and March 12, including the minutes of the meetings. In a petition filed in the High Court seeking to implead himself in the State government’s writ petition challenging the commission’s directive, Mr. Chennithala said that the State government could not interpret the provisions of the Right to Information Act to meet its attempts to cover up information from the public for political reasons. Mr. Chennithala, in his petition, said that the Right to Information Act, 2005, recognised that sharing of information by the government with citizens was beneficial to the functioning of democracy. Right to know provided under the RTI Act was treated as a facet of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 19 and 21 of the Constitution. Besides, the statement of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on the floor of the Assembly was contrary to the contentions advanced in the writ petition. He said that if the information sought for was not available with the office of the Chief Secretary and was available with other departments, the public information officer attached to the Chief Secretary’s office ought to have transferred the application to those departments. Mr. Chennithala said that the State government had not mentioned the alleged harm being caused to the protected interest in providing information as required under Section 8(2) of the RTI Act. In the absence of any such ground, the petitioners could not claim any benefits of exemption as per Section 8(1)(i) of the RTI Act. So, the government was liable to provide all Cabinet papers, including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries, and other officers. The High Court while admitting the government’s petition had restrained the State Information Commission from taking coercive steps against the Public Information Officer in pursuance to the order. (The Hindu 26/8/16)

37. RTI activist arrested for accepting bribe in Doon (1)

DEHRADUN: A joint team comprising personnel from the police department and the vigilance department arrested an RTI activist on Saturday for allegedly accepting Rs 20,000 as bribe from a forest department employee. The activist had claimed that he is in possession of sensitive documents related to forest department employees and threatened to make them public. Shafeeq Ahmed — a forest beat officer — told the police that he had been receiving phone calls from a person who introduced himself as RTI activist Vinod Kumar Jain. Jain claimed that he had documents which could prove that Ahmed had got a promotion based on forged certificates. He then demanded Rs 1 lakh from Ahmed to hand over the documents which he claimed that he had received after filling an RTI application. After several rounds of negotiations, both of them agreed to settle the matter for Rs 20,000. “The team arrested Jain while he was accepting the amount in Nehru Colony area,” said SSP Dehradun Sadanand Date. According to preliminary investigation Jain was found to have filed RTI applications with various government departments to collect information about their employees. “We are trying to collect more information about him and his properties and belongings,” added Date. (Times of India 28/8/16)

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

38. Region-wide campaign to press for education demands(11)

AURANGABAD:Socialist organisation Akhil Bharatiya Samajwadi Adhyapak Sabha has announced a region-wide campaign to press for different demands. Its demands include offering free education from preschool up to postgraduate level and expanding the reach of the RTE Act, 2009. “A rally covering different districts of the region will start from Aurangabad as a part of the campaign on August 23,” Sharad Javadekar, co-ordinator of Marathwada Shikshan Hakka Yatra, told newspersons on Saturday. “The week-long campaign will cover Aurangabad, Jalna, Beed, Osmanabad, Latur, Parbhani and Nanded districts of Marathwada. The main aim of the campaign is to sensitise masses about different issues plaguing the education sector. Through our region-wide rally, we will reach out to the masses of Marathwada with our agenda and seek public support to see desired changes,” he said. Elaborating on key demands of Akhil Bharatiya Samajwadi Adhyapak Sabha, its national vice-president Ajmal Khan stressed the need for increasing the age limit of RTE beneficiary students. “The age limit must be revised from the existing 6-14 years to 4-18 years to ensure even the poor and downtrodden have access to education. Such measures will lay a sound foundation for extending the benefit of free education further up to the postgraduate level,” he said. (Times of India 21/8/2016)

39. Region-wide campaign to press for education demands (11)

AURANGABAD:Socialist organisation Akhil Bharatiya Samajwadi Adhyapak Sabha has announced a region-wide campaign to press for different demands. Its demands include offering free education from preschool up to postgraduate level and expanding the reach of the RTE Act, 2009. “A rally covering different districts of the region will start from Aurangabad as a part of the campaign on August 23,” Sharad Javadekar, co-ordinator of Marathwada Shikshan Hakka Yatra, told newspersons on Saturday. “The week-long campaign will cover Aurangabad, Jalna, Beed, Osmanabad, Latur, Parbhani and Nanded districts of Marathwada. The main aim of the campaign is to sensitise masses about different issues plaguing the education sector. Through our region-wide rally, we will reach out to the masses of Marathwada with our agenda and seek public support to see desired changes,” he said. Elaborating on key demands of Akhil Bharatiya Samajwadi Adhyapak Sabha, its national vice-president Ajmal Khan stressed the need for increasing the age limit of RTE beneficiary students. “The age limit must be revised from the existing 6-14 years to 4-18 years to ensure even the poor and downtrodden have access to education. Such measures will lay a sound foundation for extending the benefit of free education further up to the postgraduate level,” he said. (Times of India 21/8/2016)

40. ‘Our full report on education has not been published’ (11)

New Delhi: Former Cabinet Secretary and head of the committee on the new education policy, T.S.R. Subramanian tells The Hindu that the government published only extracts of the report submitted by the committee , as the report was critical of India’s journey in education. The title of your committee on the new education policy was changed from ‘drafting committee’ to ‘evolution committee’. Now your report is being called ‘inputs’. Has its importance been watered down? I don’t know if the expectation was that we would praise the system. We have done wholesale criticism… The main reason why the report was not published and extracts were given was that this criticism should not come to the public. Unfortunately, there is nothing to praise. We showed the reality. It has nothing to do with A or B but shows 70 years of misgovernance.If a good policy comes, I don’t think credit needs to be given to anybody in particular. As a country we can’t wait now. See where Korea is. See what China has done. When will we change things? There were wide-ranging consultations last year and they are going on even now. Does it make sense? Hopefully, the system is poised to announce the decisions. I do not see this as a reopening of issues. I see it as consolidation of reactions. Inputs won’t come from Mars; so another three years’ examination won’t help. But I think the Minister is keen — he is correctly not looking at one person, source or report. Education policy is too important a thing to be attributed to one person, party or idea. It will affect the entire country. What matters is what solutions come. Cosmetic changes will be disastrous.Each of these 95 recommendations can be converted into policy, modified or rejected. It has details on how things are to be done. In 1986, they did not have a framework committee to convert policy into action points. There was no time-frame. It is for the Ministry to decide. But that, in my opinion, is absolutely essential. There should also be monitoring. Otherwise, any new policy will be in the air…. (The Hindu 26/8/16)

41. Delhi hits education low with failure rate (11)

The national capital may boast of the best education ecosystem in the country but a government survey has found that the failure rate at the higher secondary level among Delhi students is the highest in India at 7.50 per cent. Thanks to the government schools that have largely overlooked the quality aspects of education and maintaining standards. Delhi has around 5,600 schools, of which close to 3,400 are run by the government. These schools cater to the masses that come from different segments of the society. So it becomes all the more important to lay greater attention in the classes—individually as well as collectively to maintain standards of education. “Unfortunately, this is lacking,” admitted a vice-principle of a government school. Lack of effort to track the learning outcome in classes or initiative to address student absenteeism was also cited as some of the reasons for the state of education in the government schools. Of particular concern was the performance of students in the Science stream, where the failure rate was over 40 per cent. As per a report compiled by the District Information System for Education (DISE) under the HRD Ministry, the failure rate among the boys are 8.50 per cent and 6.39 per cent among girls, with the average rate at 7.50 per cent. The all India average in comparison is just about 1.78 per cent. Among the big states, only Karnataka has a retention rate of 4.58 per cent, but less than Delhi. “There is no accountability in the system. Unlike in private schools where teachers’ performance are assessed and students are evaluated regularly, government managed schools fail to do so despite education norms,” said an official of the HRD Ministry, who is also associated with the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan initiative. As part of its initiative to emphasise on infrastructure creation, the Kejriwal government had announced 8,000 additional classes in this year’s budget. However, question loomed large over the quality of education provided. Lawyer and education rights activist Ashok Agarwal raised serious doubts about the competence of the teachers, saying if an aptitude test would be conducted, 50 per cent of them would fail. “They function more like a government servant, forgetting their onerous task towards the student community,” he said. According to the survey, government teachers also lose a good number of days performing non-teaching activities, further hampering the learning process. It said that over 12 per cent of the teachers in the city are engaged in non-teaching assignments related to census duties and elections. This results in the loss of 21 days from activities. (New Indian Express 28/8/16)

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

42. Restore rice quota: Ramesh to Centre (21)

Thiruvananthapuram:Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala wrote to the Centre demanding the withdrawal of its decision to discontinue the interim food grain allotment to the state. Chennithala wrote to food and public distribution minister Ram Vilas Paswan protesting the Centre’s decision to stall the allotment of food grains. He demanded immediate sanction of 7,082 tonnes of rice and 2,849 tonnes of wheat for distribution among BPL category and 15,488 tonnes of rice and 5,049 tonnes wheat for distribution among APL category customers in the state. In his letter, the opposition leader said that the government’s decision citing that the state was yet to implement the national food safety act, would push lakhs of citizens in a consumer state like Kerala to starvation and poverty. He said the most efficient public distribution system was functioning in the state, where almost 97% of people were covered by the system and there were PDS shops in every two kilometres. “There will be all the more demand for the food grains due to the coming Onam festival season in the market. The shortage of rice and wheat in the market will also lead to black marketing and hoarding,” Chennithala pointed out in his letter. (Times of India 22/8/2016)

43. UN sounds alarm as 4.5 million people need food aid in Boko Haram-hit north-east Nigeria (21)

New York, Aug 24 : The number of people in need of food assistance in north-eastern Nigeria has nearly doubled to 4.5 million from March, according to a mid-August analysis by various agencies including the World Food Programme (WFP).All indications point to an extremely grave situation, said Abdou Dieng, the UN agencys Regional Director for West Africa, in a news release. As the rains set in and the lean season deepens, and more areas are opened up to access humanitarian aid, the full scale of hunger and devastation is likely to come to light, he added. In the states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, the number of people struggling with severe food insecurity, or in an emergency phase requiring food assistance to survive, has risen fourfold since March to exceed one million, the analysis found. The Boko Haram-related insurgency in these states has caused population displacement, disruption in livelihoods, and acute food insecurity. Moreover, it is estimated that at least 65,000 people in newly liberated but still inaccessible areas in Borno and Yobe are facing famine-like conditions. The situation remains fluid, with more people uprooted in areas where fighting goes on. Some formerly displaced people are meanwhile returning to find their rural homes uninhabitable: forced to stay in urban areas, they are entirely reliant on external assistance. Further burdened with spiraling inflation, families have to beg, run up debts or skip meals to survive. Many are reduced to consuming low-nutrient foods and then, only once a day. A worsening economy could push up the number of people in need of food assistance in the countrys northeast by another million as early as next month. A separate food assessment by WFP has warned of soaring prices in areas affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.WFP is scaling up its response, aiming to reach over 700,000 people with food and cash assistance in the coming months. This will include specialized nutritious food for 150,000 children under age five. WFP requires $52 million to continue providing life-saving assistance until the end of the year in north-eastern Nigeria. Dieng noted that tens of people have been killed or injured in Nigeria and in neighbouring Chad, Cameroon and Niger in the past days alone, an indication that Boko Haram violence is set to keep pushing more people into hunger and suffering. (New Kerala 24/8/2016)

44. Kalahandi’s tale of woes far from over (21)

Bhubaneswar: If Phanus Punji became symbol of Odisha’s abject poverty in 1984, more than three decades later, Dana Majhi’s story has shaken the state and grabbed international attention. Phanus, the poor woman had sold her sister-in-law Banita for Rs 40 and a saree to feed other members of her family in 1984. Then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had to fly down to Amlapali village (now in Nuapada district) to see for himself the poverty in which people lived in. The Phanus case made the Centre pump in huge funds by floating KBK (Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput) special scheme. But, 30 years later, the harrowing tale of Dana Majhi, who on Wednesday carried his wife’s body on his shoulders, after being deprived of a vehicle, has put Kalahandi back in international limelight. The state’s poorest district is still the poorest. The situation in Kalahandi has not improved at all. The remote villages remain as neglected as it was three decades ago. This shows the government’s lack of will to ensure that basic services reach the poor. “Successive governments are making publicity stunts in the name of Kalahandi and poverty and the end result is what we saw in case of Dana Majhi,” said human rights campaigner Biswapriya Kanungo. Between 1984 and 2016, the KBK region reported many starvation deaths, which the successive governments never admitted. In 2009, five members of Bariha family in Chabripali village in Balangir district died due to reported starvation. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) sent its special repertoire Damodar Sarangi to probe the matter. Two members of Supreme Court Food Commission had also visited Chabripali. But these cases, which were reported and probed, soon faded into oblivion with the state government turning a blind eye to it. State advisor to Supreme Court Right to Food Commission Rajkishor Mishra said the state government’s inclusive policy is a misnomer. The Dana Majhi incident only exposes how the poor are being excluded from availing basic services. “It is a very sorry state that in their names schemes are being made and they don’t benefit from them,” Mishra said. Dana’s wife Amang battled for life on a verandah in the TB ward in Kalahandi district headquarters hospital, Bhawanipatna and died. After death also, she was not given a dignified final journey. (Times of India 28/8/16)

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

45. Only 10% workers get minimum wage: BJP (14)

NEW DELHI: Leader of opposition Vijender Gupta has questioned the government’s decision to increase minimum wages in the city as it has not been able to implement the existing structure. “We welcome the government’s decision but I would like to question whether it can be implemented. Even now private firms working with the government are not paying the existing wages. A large number of these employees are working at Delhi Secretariat and Old Secretariat,” said Gupta, adding that the AAP government had not taken action against any errant company or contractor. Thousands of workers employed at liquor shops are also being made to sign for specific wages but are being paid much less, he alleged. The city has 60 lakh eligible workers but only 10% get the actual wage, claimed Gupta. He, however, emphasised that the government should ensure that industries didn’t shift to the neighbouring states with much lower minimum wages. “Delhi has 24 labour laws but only 10-11 labour inspectors. In 1970s, the labour department had 570 employees but today it has just 170. Is the government prepared to deal with labour issues to be created by the new rules?” asked Gupta. In response, labour minister Gopal Rai said the government was committed to implement the new structure revising the minimum wage from Rs 9,500 to Rs 14,000. Implementation of previous structures, Rai said, was lackadaisical as penalty provisions were weak with a fine of Rs 500 and a jail term of six months. “We have proposed to increase the fine to Rs 50,000 and the jail term to three years.” The Bill was among those returned by the Centre on technical grounds. Rai said the government was planning to draft a policy to ensure that all these workers get their stipulated wages. (Times of India 23/8/2016)

46. Rs. 1,850 crore lying unused with worker welfare board (14)

NEW DELHI: With over Rs. 1,850 crore lying untouched, the Board has spent just over three per cent of the funds on welfare schemes for construction workers. A major reason for the funds going untouched is that only 17 per cent of the estimated 10 lakh construction workers in Delhi are registered with the Board.“As of now, we have 1.7 lakh registered construction workers. The number is less because such workers are primarily floating population. While tracking and mapping them is an issue, getting them to register is also a problem as most of them are illiterate,” said A. Nedunchezhiyan, Secretary of the DBOCWWB.He also informed that until July this year, the Board had around Rs. 1,850 crore of unused funds. Records revealed that since its inception in September 2002 till August last year, the Board earned revenue amounting to Rs. 1,860.88 crore through cess deposited by government authorities, PSUs and other private agencies based on the construction cost of their projects. However, it could spend only Rs. 55.25 crore of the earnings on the welfare of construction workers. In fact, the Board’s expenditure on itself surpassed the permissible limit of five per cent of its total expenses, which stood at Rs. 169.85 crore. It spent Rs. 9.69 crore for administrative expenses whereas the sanctioned amount is Rs. 8.49 crore.When asked about the reason for accumulation of such a huge amount of unspent money, a senior official said: “This is the case with all States, and Delhi is no exception. As much as Rs. 24,000 crore of money collected as building cess is lying unused and it is an ongoing matter in the Supreme Court.” (The Hindu 23/8/16)

47. Can’t former tea vendor PM Modi feel our pain, ask street vendors (14)

New Delhi: Our Prime Minister says he was a vendor himself, a tea vendor, then why is he so indifferent to the continuing and illegal harassment of street vendors? Why don’t our protesting voices reach him?” says Jitender Bahadur Singh, a wiry man in his early fifties.Mr. Singh, who till recently used to sell readymade garments in Lajpat Nagar central market, was one of the scores of hawkers in Delhi who braved the rain on Wednesday afternoon to stage a protest march from Palika Bazaar to Jantar Mantar. His shop was shut down before Independence Day and he hasn’t been allowed to set it up again. With my business disrupted time and again, I have run up a debt of Rs. 1.5 lakh,” said Mr. Singh. The protest rally, organised by the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), was attended by vendors from Lajpat Nagar, Sarojini Nagar, Janpath and Sansad Marg, besides other parts of Delhi. They carried placards stating that shutting down of their businesses would leave them with only one option – begging. “The police harassment has become unbearable. We can’t even leave our stall for two minutes to go to the toilet – the cops come and confiscate our wares. They do this even without making a panchnama, which is illegal,” said Kanchan Devi, a street vendor from Sarojini Nagar market. Arbind Singh, national coordinator of NASVI, said: “Municipal bodies are neither respecting the judiciary nor the executive. Despite High Court stay orders against eviction, and provisions of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014 offering them protection from police harassment, vendors are being slapped with arbitrary challans of anywhere from Rs. 5,000 to Rs.10,000 and their stalls declared illegal.” Kuldeep Srivastav, a vendor from Lajpat Nagar, said: “Dalals have taken over the business of extorting street vendors. They do a round of the market on a scooty and collect money on behalf of cops or municipal officials or even local politicians. If you don’t want to be evicted, you have no option but to pay up.” Renu, who sells garments on Janpath, said, “I have been selling clothes from the same spot in Janpath since 2002. I have multiple documents to prove the legality of my stall. But ever since the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) got a new director of enforcement in February, the harassment has been acute. Nearly 4,000 vendors have been evicted in the NDMC area since then. The latest excuse for eviction is smart cities.” The NDMC area is one of the localities picked for development under the smart city mission. As per the Street Vendors Act, 2014, no hawker can be evicted from their spot until a survey of existing hawkers has been carried out, hawking and no-hawking zones demarcated, and identified hawkers issued vending certificates. (The Hindu 26/8/16)

48. 77 return from Saudi labour camps (14)

JAIPUR: Seventy-seven Rajasthanis stranded in labour camps in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia were evacuated from the country on Thursday. Krishna Kunal, the acting principal resident commissioner in New Delhi, said these labourers were stuck in labour camps after their company, Oger, went bankrupt. While 70 workers reached Delhi on Thursday, seven more were expected to reach the capital tonight, he said. The state government has ensured free transportation and food, and will give the evacuees an aid of Rs 1,000 to meet their immediate needs. Officer-in-charge Vimal Sharma is coordinating the effort under the Rajasthan Shramik Kalyan Prakosht. District collectors from places where these labourers belong have been put on alert and asked to attend distress calls from those returning home. The Rajasthan Skill Livelihood Development Corporation (RSLDC) will organize a skill upgradation and re-employment programme for these labourers. A workshop has also been proposed for the workers in Jaipur, he added. (Times of India 26/8/16)

49. Kerala Minister asks State to constitute minimum wages board (14)

VISAKHAPATNAM: Kerala Minister for Fisheries, Cashew Industry and Harbour Engineering and CITU vice-president J. Mercykutty Amma on Sunday said Andhra Pradesh should constitute a board for revision of minimum wages for the workers. During her visit to CITU office here, she told reporters that Kerala was successfully revising minimum wages for the workers engaged in 83 scheduled industries by constituting a board. She said for instance, the minimum wage for cashew workers in Kerala was Rs.400 to Rs.450 per day (all inclusive) whereas in AP it was Rs.165 plus DA (around Rs.215). “We also give pension to all at Rs.1,000 per month and offer ESI and Provident Fund facilities to all categories of workers. Ms. Amma, who was here to interact with industrial workers to make general strike on September 2 a success, during her visit to CITU office near Jagadamba junction paid rich tributes to two youth, who were killed in police firing at Basheerbagh during anti-power tariff hike agitation in Hyderabad 16 years ago. She later released a booklet brought out by CITU on the struggle undertaken by the workers of Brandix India Apparel City. Ms. Amma said the benefits being given by Kerala government were availed by 43 lakh workers belonging to organised and unorganised sector. She said they were implementing the best Public Distribution System by supplying 13 items including rice and pulses to the poor. Rice is given at Rs.4 per kg. The government is spending over Rs.1,000 crore on the subsidised rice scheme. The Minister said Kerala also had set up a board for migrant workers to take care of their requirements. She said minimum wages were being revised once in every three years. On the general strike, she said the working class of the country had decided to fight against the anti-people policies of the NDA government. The strike should be made successful to provide better working conditions and social security for the workers deployed in organised and unorganised sector. CITU State president Ch. Narsinga Rao, district general secretary S. Ramesh and city treasurer S. Jyothiswara Rao were present. (The Hindu 29/8/16)

RESERVATION

50. No admissions, appointments in Gujarat on 10% quota (25)

New Delhi, Aug 22 : The Supreme Court on Monday said the stay of Gujarat High Court verdict quashing 10 per cent reservation for the economically weaker sections (EWS) will continue but no admission or appointment would take place on the basis of the quota that was carved out in the wake of Patel agitation in the state. While directing the hearing of Gujarat’s appeal against the high court order on August 29, a bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud said the August 4 stay order would continue along with the undertaking that no admissions would be made on the basis of 10 per cent reservation. The Gujarat High Court, while staying its own judgement to enable the state government approach the apex court challenging it, had recorded an undertaking by the Gujarat government that no admissions would be made on the basis of 10 per cent reservations. At the outset of the hearing, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the Supreme Court bench that Gujarat government was challenging the August 4 high court verdict quashing May 1, 2016 ordinance providing for reservation for economically weaker sections amongst upper castes in the state both in education and employment. As Rohatgi told the court that the high court itself had stayed the operation of its own verdict, senior counsel Gopal Subramanium said that the stay was for two weeks which came to an end on August 17. The high court had stayed the operation of its own judgement as Gujarat government had sought two-weeks time to approach the Supreme Court. Telling the apex court that the judgement quashing the 10 per cent reservation was no more on hold, Subramanium said that the August 4 stay was subject to undertaking by the state government that it would not make any admissions or appointments under the ategory. … (New Kerala 22/8/2016)

51. Stay on Gujarat HC order on quota to remain, says SC (25)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday extended for a few more days the Gujarat High Court’s interim stay on its own judgment quashing an ordinance for 10 per cent reservation in education and government employment to the poor among the upper castes in the State. A Bench, led by Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, said the High Court’s August 4 order would continue to be in operation till August 29, when the court would hear the appeal. Meanwhile, the Bench got an assurance from Attorney-General Mukul Rohatg that there would be no admissions under the quota till further directions. (The Hindu 23/8/16)

52. Justice for backward communities: Creamy layer verification procedures to be enhanced (25)

KOCHI: Kerala PSC chairman K S Radhakrishnan on Wednesday said the creamy layer verification procedures should be enhanced to ensure equal justice for backward communities. “A section among the backward communities still remain backward as the benefits of reservation are enjoyed only by a section of them. Some people do not even get an opportunity,’’ he told a news conference convened to shed light on the PSC’s activities under his stewardship.‘’ The ST sections are lagging behind despite the several crore spent on their upliftment,’’ Radhakrishnan said. And he claimed that under his stewardship a major overhaul was carried out in the PSC. ‘’ In the past five years, many outdated practices which PSC had been following were dispensed with and timely ones brought in and the results of tests were announced in a time -bound manner,’’ he added.According to K S Radhakrishnan, the PSC had issued 4,398 notifications in the last five years. During the previous five- year period it was 3,753.  As many as 3,489 rank lists  were published during 2011-2016. “We conducted 2,783 examinations in 2011-16 and in 2006-11 it was 1,019.  Number of interviews held were 2,839 and  1,761 respectively,  an increase of 61 per cent. A separate syllabus for PSC, for the first time in its history, came into existence in 2013. Malayalam was made a a mandatory subject for most of the examinations,” he pointed out. The PSC chairman said it was during his stint that the PSC initiated steps to fill up 3,146 SC/ST vacancies which had been pending for the last 27 years.  Of these, Advice Memos  had been issued to 2,038 candidates. Recruitment to 609 tribal watcher posts for tribes living in forests was carried out on a war footing. For this the PSC members went to tribal settlements in forest  in person to receive applications and conduct the interview.Besides, the recruitment to 4,273  NCA posts which had remained vacant for several years was notified and recruitment procedures completed. Advice Memos were sent  for 2,714 posts. To complete the recruitment to the remaining 1,559 posts, the government has to take a decision on the 963 vacancies among them. …  (New Indian Express 26/8/16)

53. SC extends stay on order quashing Gujarat quota (25)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday extended by a fortnight the interim stay on a High Court order quashing an ordinance allowing 10 per cent reservation in education and government employment to the poor upper caste communities in Gujarat. A Bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D. Y. Chandrachud was asked by Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi to allow the stay order to continue till the next hearing. The court clarified that there would be no admission till further orders. The State appealed in the Supreme Court against the Gujarat HC’s order on August 4, quashing the ordinance meant to quell the Patidar agitation for quota in the State. It called the ordinance “unconstitutional”. The State contended that the judgment by a Division Bench, led by Chief Justice R. Subhash Reddy, did not consider the fact that the 10 per cent quota was based on “reasonable classification” and not reservation as such. (The Hindu 30/8/16)

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

54. Charging Amnesty International with sedition is a big mistake: Shashi Tharoor (1)

NEW DELHI: Congress Party MP Shashi Tharoor on Monday said that charging human rights watchdog Amnesty International with sedition is a big mistake. “Amnesty has not advocated violence. If anyone indulges in encouragement of violence and hate speech, they should definitely act against them, but sedition is a grave charge,” Tharoor told ANI. He said that national security in our country is not going to get compromised by few people shouting slogans. “As far as I am concerned this charge should not have been brought, and now that the Home Minister of Karnataka has decided to drop it, I think we should now turn the page and move on,” he added. Karnataka Home Minister G. Parameshwara had yesterday said Amnesty International was not wrong in organising the event and that did not amount to sedition. The comment garnered a strong reaction from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley alleging that some political parties were indulging in votebank politics for nefarious gains. Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said, “”My basic question to (Chief Minister) Siddaramaiah and Karnataka Home Minister G. Parameshwara is why are they interpreting sedition, it is their constitutional duty to register cases of sedition against not only Amnesty India, but also against its office bearers and participants, who raised anti-India slogans. They should book them immediately and take appropriate action.” On August 13, the Indian chapter of Amnesty International had organised an event as part of a campaign to seek justice for “victims of human rights violations” in Jammu and Kashmir. That event took an ugly turn with heated exchanges and a raising of anti-India slogans. Mounting pressure on the government post the incident, BJP activists staged protests in Bangalore and other places demanding that a case of sedition be registered against Amnesty International. Karnataka Police filed an FIR under Section 124 (a) of the Indian penal Code (IPC) amounting to sedition against Amnesty on August 15. The case was registered at the J.C. Nagar police station in Bengaluru. (New Indian Express 22/8/2016)

55. Crackdown on NGOs (1)

Non-governmental organisations (NGO) have been under pressure since the Modi government took charge at the Centre. Data from the home ministry showed it had cancelled registration of 13,972 NGOs since 2011 across 34 states and Union territories. Of these, 72 per cent or 10,046, NGOs were banned after May 2014, when the Modi government took over. Business Standard analysed the data, based on the names of NGOs. About 12 per cent of these banned NGOs had Christian names and two per cent had Muslim names. While in smaller states like Goa and Meghalaya, Christian names accounted for about 70 per cent of banned entities, among the top 10 states, 414 or 43 per cent of banned NGOs were from Kerala, followed by Tamil Nadu (354, 19.4 per cent) and Telangana (104, 15.7 per cent). Uttar Pradesh accounted for the largest number of banned NGOs, with 51 NGOs having Muslim names. But, this accounts for only 4.2 per cent of the state’s tally. Karnataka ( 39, 3.6 per cent) and West Bengal (31, 2.8 per cent) are the other top 10 states, with Muslim names high among banned entities. (Business Standard 22/8/2016)

56. ‘Government-run tribal schools in Khammam violating human rights’ (6)

HYDERABAD: AN inquiry was conducted on the mysterious deaths of 26 tribal children in the government-run tribal homes, that occurred over a period of two years in Khammam. Rupa Kapoor, member, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) on Wednesday paid a visit to three tribal residential schools in Khammam. “The situation is pathetic and needs urgent attention. There is a gross violation of human rights is what I have observed,” Rupa said.  The first, Tribal Residential School for Girls in Mustafa Nagar has 323 children crammed in a space meant for half the number. “Hostel and classrooms double up as one. They reside and study in the same place. There is not enough ventilation either,” she added. Rupa also pointed that kids were drying their undergarments inside and not out under the sun. “This is a sanitation problem. They are bound to contact diseases when clothes are not sun dried,” she added. With no proper infrastructure, food for the kids was being prepared out in the open with no cover. Adding to the misery, toilets are located outside the premises putting the girls in a much more dangerous situation. A few of these deaths were attributed to snake bites. Rupa confirmed this. “They are prone to snake bites considering the location of toilets,  especially in the night.” There is no care taker and are under the watch of a guard, added Rupa.  The Tribal Residential School for Boys located at Revathi Theatre Centre she visited after was relatively better said Rupa. However, it lacks basic requirements like tables, chairs, school bags or recreational facilities. Another school for girls is located 20 km away from Khammam town in Gollagudem village. “The huge building for 330 girls is spacious and airy. There is a space for play also, but they are prone to scorpion and snake bites. Located far from the city, they are not equipped to deal with emergencies,” she noted. The district collector has been alerted and has been asked to submit an Action Taken Report to the NCPCR in the next 15 days. “In case they fail to do so, further action will be taken. They have been given three months time for infrastructure development by when children should be shifted either to a bigger space or some of them should be moved,” she said. Officials complain that parents do not allow for transfer of children. “They should be provided counselling as they cannot survive in such crammed spaces,” she said. (New Indian Express 26/8/16)

57. Odisha: Dead woman’s legs, hip broken for easy transport; probe ordered (1)

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha Human Rights Commission has started a probe into a case of hospital workers in Balasore district allegedly breaking a body at the hip so that they could carry it in a bundle.On Thursday, the panel’s chairperson, justice BK Mishra, issued summons to the inspector general of railway police and the Balasore district magistrate over newspaper reports and TV images that showed two hospital sweepers breaking the bones of a body and wrapping it in a sheet. District magistrate Pramod Das said he asked for a report from the railway police over the incident, which comes on the heels of outrage over a tribal man being forced to carry his dead wife on his shoulders in Kalahandi district. The body was of Taramani Barik, an 85-year-old widow, who died after she was run over by a goods train near Soro railway station in Balasore district. The doctors at the Soro Community Health Centre declared her dead. Railway officials, who wanted to take the body to the district headquarters hospital in Balasore town (30km away) for an autopsy, found no ambulance or vehicle. A junior railway police official asked sweepers at the health centre for help. As the body had stiffened, sweepers allegedly broke the leg and hip bones so that it could be neatly packed into a bundle. They then carried the body in the sack all the way from the hospital to the railway station on their shoulders on a bamboo pole. The woman’s son, Rabindra Barik, alleged that the railway police treated her mother in the most inhumane way after her death. “They should have shown some dignity. The sweepers who broke the bones should be punished,” he demanded.In Kalahandi, Dana Manjhi had to wrap his wife’s body in a cloth and walk to his village Melghara in Rampur block, about 60 km from Bhawanipatna district headquarters, after hospital authorities did not provide a mortuary van or an ambulance. Manjhi, who was accompanied by his 12-year-old daughter, was spotted by some local reporters who called up the district collector and arranged for an ambulance for the remaining journey. (Hindustan Times 27/8/16)

JUDICIARY/ LAW

58. Lawyers protest delay in setting up of Dumka high court (19)

DUMKA: Lawyers of the district bar association expressed their reservations against the state government’s delay in setting up a high court bench in Dumka. They formed High Court bench sthapna sangharsh samiti in a meeting of the district bar association on Friday for this purpose. State Bar Council member and former district president of the district bar association Gopeshwar Prasad Jha said the sangharsh samiti was formed to mobilize the lawyers practising in different district and sub-divisional courts of Santhal Pargana. “The demand for setting up a high court bench dates back to the undivided Bihar but the respective state governments remained reluctant towards the matter even after one and a half decade,” Jha said adding any further delay in that regard only amounted to the denial of justice to a vast section of local litigants.He said most of the litigants from Santhal Pargana cannot afford the cost of approaching the Ranchi High Court . “Poverty coupled with the distance between Santhal Pargana and Ranchi ultimately discourage them to a great extent in moving ahead for appealing against the judgments delivered by the district courts” Jha who has been made one of the convener of the lawyers’ body. .. (Times of India 21/8/2016)

59. Triple talaq violates Article 21, woman tells SC (19)

NEW DELHI: Can an arbitrary and unilateral divorce through triple talaq deprive the wife of her rights in the matrimonial home and custody of her children, a Muslim woman asked in her petition before the Supreme Court on Tuesday while challenging the constitutional validity of the process to end a marriage. The court agreed to hear on Friday the writ petition filed by Ishrat Jahan from Howrah through advocate VK Biju, who mentioned it before a bench of Justices AR Dave and L Nageswara Rao. After the court suo motu started examining the effect of triple talaq on Muslim women’s rights, triple talaq victims Shayara Banu and another woman, besides Muslim women organizations, questioned the validity of the personal law practice. Significantly, All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) defended triple talaq and said the court had no jurisdiction to decide its validity. In her petition, Ishrat Jahan sought a declaration from the court that Section 2 of Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 was unconstitutional as it violated fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14 (equality), 15 (nondiscrimination), 21 (life) and 25 (religion) of the Constitution “in so far as it seeks to recognise and validate talaq-e-bidat (triple talaq) as a valid form of divorce”. This is the question also raised by Uttarakhand based Shayara Banu and another Muslim woman, and Rashtrawadi Muslim Mahila Sangh through its president Farah Faiz. Jahan added some critical questions to the main challenge. She said the Constitution, through Article 21 and its interpretation by the SC, guaranteed every citizen a right to life with dignity. Could a woman, divorced through arbitrary and unilateral triple talaq, be thrown out and lose her rights on a matrimonial home, Jahan asked. She said she continued to live in her matrimonial home with grave risk to her life despite her husband divorcing her through triple talaq. ..(Times of India 24/8/16)

60. Regulation of surrogacy must but Bill needs a rethink, say experts (19)

Hours after the Union Cabinet passed the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, it has invited mixed reactions from doctors and surrogate mothers. The draft Bill, which aims at protecting the rights of surrogate mothers, bans commercial surrogacy and has proposed that candidates for the same will be limited to “close relatives” only. Speaking to dna, Sunaina (32), a surrogate mother who is carrying a baby, expressed her concern over the Bill. “I will get Rs4 lakh once I deliver the baby. My family was in need of the money. I have two daughters, one eight and the other four. The government should ensure that surrogates like me as well as couples wanting children benefit without exploitation. With this new Bill, both will suffer.” The most recent birth via surrogacy that the city has seen has been of actor Tusshar Kapoor’s son. Before him, actors Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan too got sons via the same method. To prevent exploitation of women, especially of those in rural and tribal areas, the government has prohibited foreigners from commissioning surrogacy in India. As per the Bill, only married Indian couples with proven infertility will be allowed to take the help of surrogate mothers. Dr Daisy Alexander, principal of Rizvi Law college who has done her PhD in surrogacy, welcomed the decision. She said, “It was necessary to regulate surrogacy. During my thesis, I found that women were used as a commodity. Touts were exploiting them and making money. Many did not receive post-natal care.” According to IVF experts, out of 100 IVF cycles, 2-3% need surrogacy. “Surrogacy is suggested if the woman’s uterus is damaged or absent. Regulating surrogacy is a good move, but the point that only close relatives will be allowed to become surrogates needs to be reviewed. Most couples will not have close relatives who will agree to do this,” said infertility expert Dr Aniruddh Malpani. He added that misuse of surrogacy and exploitation of surrogates by some doctors has led to such a Bill. Agreeing with him, Dr Bipin Pandit, gynaecologist and member of the Maharashtra Medical Council said surrogacy is a legitimate scientific treatment of assisted reproductive technology. “How many close relatives will be willing to become a surrogate mother? Couples who have no choice but surrogacy for becoming parents will suffer,” said Pandit. The Bill will be introduced in Parliament in the winter session. “I am happy that the Bill has been passed. I still have to look at it in detail, but it seems that it will be possible for those who genuinely need it. The only outcome we will need to look at will be how many women agree to bear someone’s child for nine months for altruistic reasons,” said Dr Duru Shah, president-elect of the Indian Society of Assisted Reproduction. In 2012, India’s surrogacy market was estimated to be worth more than $400 million a year, according to a report backed by the UN. Each birth costs as much as Rs12 lakh, out of which the surrogate mother gets only Rs3.5-4 lakh, apart from Rs5,000 a month for her food and nutrition supplements. The rest of the money goes towards the lawyer, doctor, lab tests, ART bank and hospital charges. In 2012, about 6,000 surrogacy births took place. The rise in surrogacy births is not just linked to infertility. A surrogate mother, after having the embryo formed out of the parent’s sperm implanted in her womb, is kept away from the family till the delivery and is under care of the clinic. The law governing death during pregnancy is vague and there is no insurance. All these are covered by the agreement. (DNA 25/8/16)

61. Bombay High Court dismisses government appeal in blasts case (19)

Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Monday dismissed the state government’s appeal against the acquittal of three people accused in the Mulund blasts case, and a simultaneous plea seeking the enhancement of their jail terms. The court rejected the state’s requests on technical grounds. A division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Amjad Sayed dismissed the appeal filed against the acquitted accused — Mohammed Nadeem Paloba, Haroon Rashid Lohar and Adnan Mulla — saying the appeal has been filed for the enhancement of punishment for the convicted accused, and the state should challenge the acquittals through a separate appeal. The court also dismissed the appeal against the three convicts since even though they were convicted with less than the maximum punishment prescribed under the law, they had already undergone more than the maximum possible punishment for which they had been convicted. Senior counsel Yug Mohit Choudhary, along with advocate Sharif Shaikh, had pointed out to the court on the last date of hearing that some convicts — namely Mohammed Kamil, Noor Mohammed Ansari and Anwar Ali — were facing a maximum punishment of three years only. They had also pointed out that during arguments on the quantum of punishment, the public prosecutor had said that he was leaving it to the court to decide their punishment and the trial court had awarded them two years’ imprisonment. The court was informed that these convicts had already undergone eight years of imprisonment during the trial. (Asian Age 30/8/2016)

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

62. CBI takes over probe into Bulandshahr gang-rape (1)

NEW DELHI: The CBI on Friday registered a case in connection with the gang-rape of a woman and her daughter at Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh. “The case has been registered following an Allahabad High Court directive on August 12. Sections 395, 397, 376D and 342 of the Indian Penal Code, besides Section 4 of POCSO Act have been invoked,” said a CBI official. The Allahabad High Court ordered a CBI probe into the gang-rape incident after observing that the police investigation so far was “unsatisfactory”. The agency has taken over the investigation of the case that was registered at Kotwali Dehat police station in Bulandshahr on the allegations of abduction, dacoity and gang-rape of the woman and her daughter by about half-a-dozen assailants in the fields of Dostpur village in the intervening night of July 29 and 30. The Uttar Pradesh Police claim to have arrested five of the accused and one is absconding. Police arrested Raesuddin, Sahbaz and Zafar Singh two days after the incident and later arrested Saleem Bawariya, the alleged leader of a Bawariya gang, and two others Zubair and Sajid.The incident had taken place when six members of a Noida-based family were travelling to Shahjahanpur in UP. At the national highway passing through Bulandshahr, their car was stopped by criminals at Dostpur village. The assailants dragged the 13-year-old girl and her mother out and raped them in a field nearby. The victims and their entire family identified the accused after they were shown around 50 photographs of criminals in the area. The incident evoked huge outcry and received widespread criticism over the law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh. (New Indian Express 21/8/2016)

63. NHRC demands action over police ‘torture’ of tribals (1)

CHENNAI: Taking suo motu cognizance of a media report that the Tamil Nadu police illegally detained a 17-year-old boy of the kurava community and two of his family members in Chennai in connection with a burglary, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought action from the state government. “The police tortured them in the most inhuman way, purportedly on the ground that they belonged to a tribe dubbed by the British as criminals under the Criminal Tribes Act, 1871. The law is extinct now but presumably the mindsets remain unchanged as the boy is learning what it meant to be born a kurava,” said a release issued by the NHRC. (Times of India 24/8/2016)

64. No need for CBI probe into prisoner’s death, says HC (1)

CHENNAi: More than four years after a PIL sought CBI probe into the death of Raja of Dindigul while in police custody, Madras high court has concluded that probe by the central agency was unwarranted since the reports by the judicial magistrate and police did not indicate any foul play. Raja was in police custody on June 7, 2012, when he attempted to flee but fell down and suffered grave injuries. He succumbed to injuries later. Advocate P Pugalenthi, director of Prisoners Rights Forum, filed the present PIL seeking CBI probe, besides registration of murder case against all the police personnel involved in the ‘custodial torture’ and death of Raja. The mandatory magistrate report had already been filed, and now The CB-CID came out with a finding that it was not a case of custodial death, but grave injuries were suffered by Raja during his attempt to escape from custody. The first bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice R Mahadevan, recording the details, said: “In view of all the facts and circumstances, we are not inclined to accept the plea of counsel for the petitioner for investigation by CBI.” The CB-CID’s report revealed that they had taken note of the judicial magistrate’s findings as inputs before concluding that it was not custodial death. Noting that a copy of the status report should be given to Pugalenthi, the judges said it is for the judicial magistrate to consider the final report filed in his court by the police authorities The bench also recorded the fact that departmental proceedings had been initiated against the police personnel of special crime team, for their casual and lethargic attitude towards the custody of the accused. It tempted him to attempt an escape, the bench said. (Times of India 26/8/16)

65. Torture slur on police (1)

A 25-year-old man is struggling for life at a government hospital in Sitamarhi after he was allegedly subjected to third-degree torture in police custody for three days. Prem Ranjan was allegedly picked up by the police from his village Dumari Kala that falls under the jurisdiction of Majorganj police station on August 22 for interrogation in an extortion case. Victim’s father, Satya Narayan Singh (65), a retired government employee, alleged that his son was tortured at the Majorganj police station for three days and then produced before the court on August 26, completely violating the stipulated limit of 24 hours. “My son was being forced to confess the crime, but he refused to do so. Enraged over this, the cops subjected him to third degree by pouring hot tea on his private parts and also subjected him to electric shocks,” the father said over phone on Monday. The jail officials shifted Ranjan to the Sadar hospital after his condition deteriorated on Sunday. “He had complained of severe pain in his private parts when he was being admitted to the district jail on August 26,” a senior prison official said. The father said a police team headed by Sitamarhi additional superintendent of police (operations) Sanjeev Kumar had detained his son for questioning in connection with the extortion money allegedly demanded from a private road construction company. Dharmaveer Singh, the munshi (caretaker) of the construction firm, was shot dead by a gang of armed criminals in Sitamarhi on June 20 this year for failing to pay the extortion money. New Kshatriya Sangathan Fauz, a local criminal gang, claimed responsibility of the incident. Apart from Ranjan, three others, including Manish Kumar and Badri Singh, residents of Hariram village in Sitamarhi, were detained for interrogation. The police, however, lodged an FIR against the accused on August 25 and forwarded them to jail the next day. Sitamarhi superintendent of police S. Hari Prasath said he would look into the allegations against the police. “I have not received any official complaint from the victim’s family in this regard,” the SP said over the phone from Sitamarhi. This is not an isolated case. Three policemen were forwarded to jail a few months ago for harassing an accused in custody in Bhagalpur. Baburam, the superintendent of police of Aurangabad, is facing department proceedings for harassing a youth in custody when he was posted in Sheikhpura as police chief. A Sitamarhi social activist, Guddu Pandey, said: “Police contributed to the maximum number of complaints related to violation of human rights in the state.” (The Telegraph 30/8/16)

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

66. Nationalism being questioned in the name of freedom of expression: Amit Shah (1)

Mangaluru, Aug 21: BJP President Amit Shah today said nationalism was being questioned in the name of freedom of expression and “propaganda” against nationalism could not be considered as freedom of speech. “It has become a fashion for some people nowadays to question nationalism. This is being done in different places and new theories are being planted. “Nationalism is being questioned in the name of freedom of expression,” he said, addressing a gathering at Mangalore University auditorium as part of BJP’s ‘Tiranga Yatra’ and ‘Balidana Smarane’ (honouring martyrs) campaign here.(ALSO READ: Amit Shah slams Nehru-Gandhi family for lack of development in country)  Shah said, “Some people were also campaigning on social media on whether nationalism was necessary or not” and that he would like to tell them that independence would not have taken place if there was no love for the national and patriotism. “The propaganda against nationalism could not be considered as freedom of speech,” he said. “The entire nation should unite to uphold patriotism. Freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev and many more sacrificed their lives for the country,” he said. Shah appealed to the youth to read the history of the country and understand how many people sacrificed their lives for it. The programmes were being organised to pay tribute to the freedom fighters, to inspire the youth to follow in their path and to remind the youth that the independence the country achieved was because of the sacrifice of lakhs of people, he said. “This should be an inspiration to the youth to live their life for the country. To live for the nation was the message of this Yatra,” he said. Shah also said Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his foreign policy has emphasised on trade along with culture. The economy of the nation was moving in the right direction, he added. (India.Com 21/8/16)

67. Baloch leaders booked: JKNPP calls on Centre to slap sedition charges against separatists (1)

Jammu: Calling on the Centre to respond to Pakistan in kind for booking Baloch leaders for siding with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) asserted that all anti-national elements, including the separatists in the Valley, must be booked on charges of sedition. “The Baloch leaders who have been fighting for the cause of the people regarding the denial of the basic rights of Balochistan, thanked the Prime Minister for raking up their cause and projecting the sufferings of the people of Balochistan. And Pakistan, taking an extreme step of booking these people for sedition charges, this is ridiculous,” JKNPP leader Harsh Dev Singh told ANI here. Emphasising that this clearly shows the frustration of Pakistan, which is facing lots of pressure from within the country, he further said that Pakistan was booking only those people for sedition who are thanking PM Modi. “The separatists and the anti-nationals who have been persistently waging war against India, who have launched the India-hate campaign in Kashmir, are propagating in favour of Pakistan. No action has been taken against these people,” Singh said. He called on the Centre to ensure to all those who have “waged a war against India” are booked under sedition. Five cases have been registered against Baloch leaders-in-exile in Balochistan`s Khuzdar area for allegedly backing PM Modi`s remarks on the atrocities in Pakistan`s Balochistan province.The cases were registered against Baloch Republican Party`s (BRP) Brahamdagh Bugti, Baloch liberation leader Harbiyar Marri and Baloch Students Organisation chairperson Karima Baloch. The complaints were filed by Munir Ahmed, Maulana Muhammad Aslam, Muhammad Hussain, Ghulam Yaseen Jatak and Muhammad Rahim at five police stations in Balochistan`s Khuzdar area, reports the Dawn.Acting District Police Officer Khuzdar Muhammad Ashraf Jatak said the petitioners claimed that Bugti, Marri and Karima Baloch had `supported` PM Modi`s August 15 speech. The Baloch leaders-in-exile were booked under Sections 120, 121, 123 and 353 of the Pakistan Penal Code which refer to “concealing design to commit offence punishable with imprisonment”, “waging or attempting to wage war or abetting waging of war against Pakistan”, “concealing with intent to facilitate design to wage war”, and “assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty”.PM Modi, in his Independence Day address, had thanked the people of Balochistan, Gilgit and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir for the goodwill they have shown towards him. He had in an all-party meeting on Kashmir said the “time has come that Pakistan shall have to answer to the world for the atrocities committed by it against the people in Balochistan and PoK”.His statement about atrocities in Balochistan has hit a nerve with Pakistan, which has now voiced that it would raise the Kashmir issue at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Last week, Balochistan Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri slammed the Indian Premier`s remarks days after Baloch leader Bugti appreciated `support` given to the Baloch people. (Zee News 23/8/2016)

68. Mizoram bans politicians from lecturing in colleges (1)

AIZAWL: The Mizoram government has issued an order prohibiting politicians from delivering lectures on political issues in colleges and universities of the state. The order was notified soon after Zoramthanga and Lalduhawma, the heads of opposition parties MNF and ZNP respectively, delivered lectures in colleges across the state. The order, issued by the director of higher and technical education department R Lalrosanga on August 18, said such lectures upset students and disturb the environment in colleges. “Teachers in government colleges were notified that they should refrain from inviting politicians to deliver lectures in their concerned subjects,” the order said and added that teachers who disobey the order would be penalized. The government order has not gone down well with teachers, students, unions and opposition parties protesting strongly. Intellectuals accused the Lal Thanhawla government of attacking freedom of speech. The Mizo Students’ Union, Aizawl City College Joint Students’ Union and Mizo Zirlai Pawl or Mizo Student’s Federation met state higher and technical education minister R Romawia on the issue. The student leaders quoted Romawia as saying the state government would reconsider its decision. The opposition parties also slammed the government for imposing restrictions on students “as they (the students) should be able to differentiate between political historical facts and propaganda.” Academicians said the restrictions would handicap students, especially those studying political science. (Times of India 24/8/16)

69. Watchdog calls out India for failing to protect journalists facing threats (1)

New Delhi: Indian journalists hold placards during a protest against attack on journalists in Mumbai. The Committee to Protect Journalists counted 27 journalists killed for their work since 1992, and noted it was still investigating more than two dozen cases to determine if those journalists’ deaths were also work related. (AP)  India is failing to help and protect journalists who are facing violent threats or attacks for their work, an international watchdog agency said Monday, noting a pattern of resistance in investigating crimes targeting reporters. The Committee to Protect Journalists counted 27 journalists killed for their work since 1992, and noted that it was still investigating more than two dozen cases to determine whether those journalists’ deaths were also work-related. Most at risk are small-town journalists investigating corruption, rather than journalists in big cities like New Delhi or Mumbai. Read | Reporting under duress: Journalists in India work amid increasing danger The New York-based watchdog said in a report released Monday that it could find only one case in 10 years in India in which a suspect was prosecuted and convicted for killing a journalist, but that the suspect was later released on appeal. “Perpetrators are seldom arrested,” said Sujata Madhok, a member of the watchdog. “The torturously slow Indian judicial system, together with corruption in the police force and the criminalization of politics, makes it possible to literally get away with murder.” The watchdog’s findings are supported by another report, released in 2015 by India’s own media watchdog, the Press Council of India. That report found that even though the country’s democratic institutions and independent judiciary were strong, people who killed journalists were getting away with impunity. “The situation is truly alarming,” the Press Council said, warning that the trend could hurt India’s democracy, and pressing Parliament to pass a nationwide law ensuring journalists’ safety. .. (Hindustan Times 30/8/16)

COMMUNAL RIOTS

70. Hindus, Muslims clash in Bareilly over use of loudspeakers in mosque (7)

Communal tension gripped Uttar Pradesh’s Bareilly town on Friday afternoon after Hindus and Muslims clashed over the use of loudspeakers for ‘azaan’ or call for namaz in a mosque. A group of men from the Hindu community entered into an argument with the Muslims at the mosque in Hafizganj area. The situation took a violent turn after both groups indulged in stone-pelting and firing, sources said. At least 20 people were injured in the clash. “The first team was dispatched from the local police station as soon as we came to know about the incident. Later, additional forces were sent to control the situation,” superintendent of police (rural) Yamuna Prasad said. Over 300 men from both the sides indulged in violence and fled the spot when additional police force reached there. Reports of clashes from neighbouring areas continued to pour in till late in the evening. Local police, who were in Shahjahanpur to ensure security arrangements ahead of Union home minister Rajnath Singh’s visit, were called back by the evening to ensure law and order. Police have started the process of identifying and arresting those who were involved in the clash. “Our teams are investigating the matter and those who indulged in violence will soon be behind bars,” the SP said. Sources claimed that tension was simmering in the area since last week after some Hindus opposed the use of loudspeakers for ‘azaan’. Though the situation was defused after the intervention of local police but the issue remained unsolved. (Hindustan Times 21/8/16)

71. Muzaffarnagar riot refugees build homes (7)

ALIGARH: After spending two to three years in relief camps, over 130 families affected by the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots have finally got a new address as they hope to restart life by building new homes at ‘Yeh Mera Ghar’ colonies in Kandhla and Kairana. The Uttar Pradesh government had given victims a compensation of Rs 5 lakh, with which some families bought plots of land adjoining each other. Each family was also given Rs 1.95 lakh for construction material. Most of the work, from digging the foundation to laying the bricks and putting the cement on them was done by the families. Sadbhavana Trust, Lucknow, Vanangana from Chitrakoot and Delhi-based activist Farah Naqvi were core partners in this relief effort and invited Hunnarshala Foundation from Kutch, Gujarat, to assist the construction work. “I was at Juala camp for two years and came here every day to build a two-room house. My son, Mohammad Munawwar, 22, wanted blue, pink and green colours for the house. I couldn’t say no. After all, we were getting a roof over our heads for the first time in three years,” said Hadeesa Bi, originally from Hasanpur in Muzaffarnagar. (Times of India 22/8/16)

72. Hardik accuses Modi of using Patidars for ‘orchestrating’ 2002 riots (7)

Ahmedabad: Hardik Patel shot to limelight when he successfully mobilized his community for the agitation demanding reservation benefits in college admissions and government jobs. (PTI files) Patidar quota stir leader Hardik Patel on Wednesday shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing him of using the community for “orchestrating” the 2002 Gujarat communal riots.Patel sent the letter from Udaipur where he is in six-month exile as per the bail condition of the Gujarat high court in connection with a sedition case. In the letter dated August 24 (a copy of which is with HT) with subject ‘Modiji you have stabbed the Patidars in the back’, the 23-year-old has mentioned six cases reported during the 2002 riots wherein Patidars in large numbers have been convicted and awarded life imprisonment. “We all know that Narendra Modi has orchestrated the 2002 riots. Reaping the benefits of the communal riots, first he became the CM and then went on to become the PM,” said Hardik in the letter. “Patidars who were accused in these cases are languishing in jails. When Modiji is PM now, he can seek clemency from the President for the accused Patidars. But he won’t do so now as he wants to project himself as a secular person to India and the world,” he added. According to the list mentioned the letter, 31 Patidars in Sardarapura massacre case, nine in Ode-I massacre, 23 in Ode-II massacre, 25 in Dipda Darwaja case, six in Naroda Patia and 11 in Mehsana case have been awarded life imprisonment. Patel, a resident of Viramgam, shot to limelight when he successfully mobilized his community for the agitation demanding reservation benefits in college admissions and government jobs. Twice the agitation had turned violent, resulting in death of 13 Patidar youths and damage to public properties to the tune of Rs 44 crore.He was booked for sedition in October 2015 and stayed in jail for nine months before getting bail in July this year with a condition to remain outside Gujarat for six months. (Hindustan Times 25/8/16)

73. Over 13k Muzzaffarnagar riots victims not on electoral rolls, claim activists (7)

Meerut: With the process of voter registration for 2017 UP polls set to begin soon, an uphill task is awaiting the Shamli district administration which has to ensure that all the riot-displaced people of neighbouring Muzaffarnagar district make it to the electoral rolls. Activists put the number of displaced people in Shamli at 13,000, a figure which the district administration termed as “exaggerated”. “We have been working with Muzaffarnagar riots victims since 2013. Getting their documents in order is an uphill task. After the riots, around 6,000 families were forced to shift their base. Of these, close to 2,800 families came and settled in Shamli district,” said Akram Akhtar, project manager of an NGO, Afkar India Foundation. “It has been three years to the Muzaffarnagar riots. But around 13,000 people still don’t have voter ID cards. These people are not on the electoral rolls, and the elections are almost upon us,” Akhtar added. He alleged that the district administration has done several surveys, but skipped the areas where riot-displaced people live. “I think, this was only done out of convenience. I hope that this time, these people will be able to get their names on the list,” Akhtar said. When contacted, Shamli district magistrate (DM) Sujeet Kumar said several people have been included in the voter list and the 13,000 figure is exaggerated. “It is true that some people may not have voter IDs, but the figure of 13,000 people is exaggerated. Perhaps the activists are quoting old figure. In the last couple of years, several displaced people have been registered as voters,” the DM said.He also said that the administration will launch a campaign to include more voters. “We are starting a drive from September 15. We will set up camps in rural areas so that people can easily register to vote. As far as displaced people are concerned, they are citizens of the country. We will ensure that they are able to exercise their right to vote,” Kumar said. Activists in neighbouring Muzaffarnagar claim that riot-victims faced similar problems there, but on a smaller scale. “We don’t have the final figures yet since we are in the middle of conducting our survey. But riot-victims in Muzaffarnagar have also not got their voter ID cards yet. The number, however, is much less than in Shamli.” (Times of India 26/8/16)

COMMUNALISM

74. If India is your country, cow is your mother: Raghubar Das (26)

Kolkata: Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das addresses the media during the State’s investment promotion event Momentum Jharkhand, in Kolkata on Friday.Jharkhand Chief Minister, while stressing that there should be no violence in the garb of cow vigilantism, says cattle smugglers may be involved in the recent events of violence over cow protection. Amid the raging controversy over cow vigilantism, Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das on Saturday said those who consider India as their country should treat cow as their mother. Mr. Das, however, stressed that there should be no violence in the garb of cow vigilantism and said cattle smugglers may be involved in the recent events of violence over cow protection. “The entire Sangh Parivar is on the same page on the issue of cow protection. Those who consider India as their country will treat cow as their mother,” Mr. Das told PTI during an interview. On whether there were differences in the Sangh Parivar over the issue of cow slaughter and cow census, Mr. Das said, “The Sangh Parivar is united on this matter. Cow is our mother. Those who are living in India and are Indians, those who consider India as their country, for them cow is their mother.” Mr. Das’ comments come in the backdrop of a controversy over cow vigilantism and attacks on Dalits over the issue. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 6, 2016 hit out at cow vigilantes, saying he felt enraged at such “anti-social elements” who indulged in crimes by the night and masqueraded as cow protectors by day. Mr. Modi’s comment had drawn sharp reactions from VHP international working president Pravin Togadia, who said by dubbing them as “anti-socials” the Prime Minister had insulted them. “What our Prime Minister has said on this issue is right.. …  (The Hindu 21/8/2016)

75. Mohan Bhagwat directs all RSS-affiliated organizations to work in tandem (26)

AGRA: In the backdrop of some Hindu organizations taking objections to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “anti-socials by night and gau rakshaks by day” remarks against cow vigilantes, RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat on Tuesday directed all organizations affiliated with the Sangh, including VHP and the BJP, to work in tandem and maintain proper coordination. Addressing about 236 workers and leaders of Braj and Meerut region from its 33 affiliated organizations, Bhagwat said though each of the organisation works independently, proper coordination amongst them was must for nation building and progress. Bhagwat said all Swayam Sewaks should work selflessly and give their best to the country. According to a press note issued by RSS, Bhagwat encouraged workers of all the organisations to meet each other in a “friendly manner” often to ensure even if independent, are coordinates to achieve the common goal of India’s progress. During the meeting the representatives of the organizations affiliated to the Sangh, including VHP, BJP, Vidya Bharti, Akhil Bhartiya Majdoor Sangh, Kisan Sangh, Sehkar Bharti, Krida Bharti, Purva Sainik Sewa Parishad, Rastriya Sikh Sangat, Vigyan Bharti and Laghu Udyog Bharti, briefed the RSS supremo about the work done by them in the last two and half years.According to political observers, Bhagwat’s directions to all organizations for maintaining coordination, despite their independent operations, is a clear message to the VHP and the Bajrang Dal, to refrain from publicly airing their resentment against PM’s remarks on cow vigilantes. Recent statements by some VHP leaders decrying the PM’s remarks had caused embarrassment to the BJP, as it gave an impression of rift within the Sangh. (Times of India 24/8/16)

76. It’s up to Centre to frame law on cow slaughter, says Parameshwara (26)

MANGALURU: Stating that it was for the Centre to frame law on cow slaughter, Home Minister G. Parameshwara has said that law will take its own course against Hindutva groups attacking cattle transporters. “Nobody can break the law,” he said while speaking to presspersons on Friday. Dr. Parameshwara said there were larger issues relating to illegal transport of cattle and demand for ban on cow slaughter and only a law could address it. “If the Union government comes out with a comprehensive law, we will welcome it,” he said. The State police are on the alert following reports of residents of Kasaragod joining the IS terror outfit. “If we get any information about any organisation influencing people then we will definitely work on it.” On his promise of removing orderlies, he said the proposal of providing Group ‘D’ employees as followers to senior police officers has been placed before the Finance Department. Dr. Parameshwara said he was yet to receive the Criminal Investigation Department report into the death of Deputy Superintendent of Police M.K. Ganapathy and on the allegations by him of harassment by the former Minister K.J. George and IPS officers A.M. Prasad and Pronab Mohanty. (The Hindu 27/8/16)

77. RSS begins sale of new uniform at Rs 250 a piece (26)

New Delhi: RSS is set to replace khaki shorts, its trademark attire for 90 years, with brown trousers from October 11 and the sale of the new dress has already been launched with each piece costing Rs 250.According to sources, around 7 lakh trousers are to be provided in first phase to the members of RSS, which is the ideological mentor of the ruling BJP. The RSS will formally adopt the new “Ganavesh” (uniform) from Vijayadashami, the organisation’s foundation day that falls on October 11 this year. “Around 2 lakh full pants have already reached offices of organisation in various states that is being provided to all its members,” head of the RSS’ communications department Manmohan Vaidya said.mThe trousers will replace the knee-length khaki shorts that members of the RSS, the BJP’s ideological mentor, have worn for the last 90 years. The decision to switch to the brown trousers was taken in March this year at the annual meeting of the organisation’s highest decision-making body, the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha. The Sangh has announced that it would do away with its traditional trademark “khaki” knickers that it has used for over nine decades and replace them with the brown trousers, that would be matched with white shirt, black cap, brown socks and bamboo sticks. The new full pants have been stitched in different parts of the country, but the raw material has been bought from the textile town of Bhilwara in Rajasthan, the sources said. The new uniform that will be sported by all RSS members at the annual Vijaydashmi celebrations will see a sea-change in the uniform and the organisation is preparing for the transition. (Indian Express 29/8/16)

TERRORISM

78. NIA reveals why ISIS bigger threat to India than Pakistani terrorists – Read details (12)

New Delhi: The Islamic State (IS) terror group is a bigger threat to the country than the Pakistani militants, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which has arrested scores of terrorists in various raids against the terror network, has revealed. “The sheer number of cases and recruitment attempts that have come to light in less than two years clearly show the level of threat we are facing. “Daesh has become the biggest terrorist organisation,” the Times of India (TOI) quoted NIA DIG Alok Mittal as saying. In the rest past, the agency had arrested dozens of IS operatives and sympathisers in different parts of the country. Mittal said, “The NIA has registered eight cases so far. Chargesheets have been filed in six of them, while the remaining two are under investigation.” Though there is no official confirmation regarding the number of youths radicalised by the terror network, but according to an estimate, the figure is in the range of 7,000 to 8,000. Mittal, a 1993 batch IPS officer, was awarded the ‘President’s Police Medal’ at the Independence Day celebrations in Delhi for his anti-Daesh efforts. Around 50 people, like Mumbai businessman Ashfaque Ahmed (26) and his two cousins, have already left the country, and a few hundred are prepared to travel to Iraq and Syria, where the extremists control large swathes of territory. Such recruits pose major security challenge as there are fears that they may carry out lone-wolf attacks on their return, the report said citing the officer. Some of the recent attacks in Europe have been blamed on people who had previously travelled to Syria. “There is a high possibility of lone-wolf terror activity in the country. Recently, we arrested a Daesh operative from Kolkata, Abu Musa, who had planned to travel to Srinagar and stab foreign tourists,” the report said quoting Mittal. Indian security agencies were focused on Pakistan-based militant groups such LeT, Hizbul Mujahideen and Indian Mujahideen, but after the Kalyan engineering student Areeb Majeed’s arrest in 2014, authorities started to seriously consider the threat from Daesh. Majeed was radicalised online and travelled to Iraq to join the group. He later returned to India. Majid’s arrest was our first success. He is currently facing trial, Mittal said. …  (Zee News 22/8/2016)

79. Centre okays NIA probe into cases of missing from Kerala (12)

Thiruvananthapuram: The Union Home Ministry on Tuesday gave the nod for the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to take up the cases registered in Kerala’s Kasargode and Palakkad against some youth, who along with their families, left their homes during May-July with the intention of joining terror outfit Islamic State. The Home Ministry order points out that the preliminary inquiry has revealed that the aforesaid accused persons have entered into a criminal conspiracy to support and further the terrorist activities of IS. At least 21 people including women and children have been reported missing from these two districts and it was the Kerala Police which first registered the cases after some of the missing people sent messages to their families here about their whereabouts, while some of them had said that “they have reached the Islamic State”. Of the 21 people, 17 are from Kasargode district in the northern tip of Kerala, and four from Palakkad district. The Kerala government had also completed all the formalities and requested the central government to initiate a NIA probe. (Business Standard 23/8/16)

80. At least 11 police killed, 70 wounded in southeast Turkey PKK bomb attack (12)

Istanbul: Eight Turkish police officers were killed and 45 people injured on Friday when a car bomb blamed on Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants exploded outside a police building in the southeast of the country. The bomb attack caused immense damage to the headquarters of the special anti-riot police force in Cizre, with television pictures showing a thick plume of black smoke heading into the sky. Eight police officers were killed and 45 more people wounded, two of them seriously, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported, quoting the local governorate. Television quoted the health ministry as saying 12 ambulances and two helicopters had been sent to the scene. Early pictures showed that the police building had been completely gutted by the power of the blast, reduced to a shell surrounded by a pile of rubble. Adjacent buildings sustained severe damage and some were still on fire, television pictures showed. Anadolu said the bomb had gone off 50 metres away from the building at a control post. It said the blast had been carried out by the PKK. Security forces closed the main road to Cizre from the provincial capital of Sirnak to the north after the attack, Anadolu added. The Turkish security forces have been hit by near daily attacks by the PKK since a two-and-a-half year ceasefire collapsed in 2015, leaving hundreds of police officers and soldiers dead. The PKK has kept up its assaults in the last weeks after the unsuccessful July 15 coup by rogue elements in the military aimed at unseating President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The latest attack comes two days after Turkish forces launched an unprecedented offencive in neighbouring Syria which the authorities say is aimed both at jihadists and Syrian Kurdish militia. Turkey on Thursday shelled the Kurdish militia fighters in Syria, saying they were failing to observe a deal with the US to stop advancing in jihadist-held territory. Ankara sees the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia as terror groups bent on carving out an autonomous region in Syria and acting as the Syrian branch of the PKK. The government has vowed to press on with the campaign to eradicate the PKK from eastern Turkey after a purge in the army for those responsible for carrying out the coup. Over 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK first took up arms in 1984 with the aim of carving out an independent state for Turkey’s Kurdish minority. It is proscribed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and the United States. (Business Standard 26/8/16)

81. NIA seeks custody of ISIS woman recruiter (12)

NEW DELHI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has sought custody of a 29-year-old woman Yasmin Ahmed for her alleged role behind recruitment of youths from Kerala to terror group Islamic State (ISIS). Sources said that the agency has approached NIA court in Kochi seeking police remand of Yasmin for further interrogation.  “We have sought police remand as it is alleged that Yasmin is behind recruiting many youths for terror organization,” said sources adding that the court would take up the matter on September 6. Yasmin was arrested by Kerala police from Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi on July 31 when she was about to leave the country for Kabul. She was taken into custody just before she was about to board a plane to Kabul where her husband Abdul Rashid, also allegedly linked to ISIS, resides. A senior agency officer said that her interrogation will lead to many other accused allegedly involved in propagating and recruiting youths across the country, especially in Kerala.  The agency has recently taken over the case of mass disappearance of youths from various parts of Kerala und under mysterious circumstances and had registered a first information report against unknown people and the terrorist organization — ISIS.  Further, the officer said that Yasmin is the second wife of main accused Abdul Rashid, a native of Kasaragod, and is alleged to have played a key role in the recruitment of about 21 youth from Kerala in ISIS. The agency and other anti-terror units of various states have so far arrested 54 people after registering cases to investigate their alleged links with Islamic State. The officer further stated that they are in touch with the special investigation team, who had interrogated Yasmin where she made some revelations.  “During interrogation, she is alleged that the terrorist outfit is in touch with clerics and youths in Kerala and other parts of the country. She also revealed that ISIS is secretly running terror classes in Kerala and at least 40 people have been indoctrinated,” said the NIA officer adding that the terror outfit is using various platforms to propagate its ideology and to attract youths. Yasmin, who hails from Bihar but and was a school teacher in Kerala, also told special investigating team many ISIS recruiters have held classes on Kerala. Rashid is believed to be behind the disappearance of youth from Kerala.  Yasmin was top go along with the group but due to some problem with her four-year-old child’s travel documents she could not leave the country. She came to Kerala three years ago after she found a job at a school in Malappuram, where she met Rashid. (New Indian Express 30//8/16)

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

82. Naxal Killed In Face-Off With Security Force In Chhattisgarh (12)

Raipur:  A naxal was gunned down in an encounter with security forces in Errabor police station area of Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district while a CRPF jawan was injured in a pressure bomb blast laid by Maoists in the same area. “The face-off between a small action team of ultras and a joint team of security forces took place about 2 kms deep inside the forests from the spot where the explosion took place at around 8 AM,” Sukma Superintendent of Police Indira Kalyan Elesela told PTI over phone. CRPF’s head constable Dilip Kumar Boro belonging to 212th battalion had sustained injuries in the explosion while a team of paramilitaries was heading for security duty at the weekly market of Errabor village, he said. Security forces were tasked to ensure security to the weekly market, located just about 200 meters away from the Errabor police station which lies at 500 kms away from here. Following the blast, a separate team of security personnel, comprising CRPF, Special Task Force (STF) and district force, launched an intense combing operation in the forests around the village anticipating movement of ultras, he said. Ultras, who were present at the spot during the blast, opened indiscriminate fire on security forces following which they retaliated leading to the death of an ultra, he added. During searches, the body of the rebel besides a country-made weapon was recovered from the spot, he said adding the operation was still underway inside the jungle. The injured head constable was admitted to a local hospital and his condition is stable, he added. (NDTV 21/8/2016)

83. Man’s body recovered after anti-Maoist operation in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district (12)

Raipur: A man’s body, alleged to be that of a Maoist, was on Wednesday recovered after an anti-Maoist operation by security forces in the dense forests of Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district, police said. The body was recovered on Wednesday morning after a gun battle between suspected armed rebels and securitymen near Ponga Bhejji village when a joint team of Special Task Force (STF) and district force was out on an anti-Maoist operation in Dornapal police station area, Sukma Superintendent of Police Indira Kalyan Elesela told PTI. Based on specific inputs that Kerlapal Area Committee of Maoists had planned to carry out an attack on security forces, the composite squad involving 70 personnel launched the operation from Dornapal to the interior forest on Tuesday night, the SP said. While security forces were advancing to Ponga Bhejji village, around 450 km from Raipur on Wednesday morning, a group of suspected armed rebels opened fire on them following which a gun battle broke out between both sides, he added. However, the group soon escaped into the dense forests, he said. “During searches, the body of a male Maoist clad in a ‘uniform’ was recovered along with one automatic pistol and one muzzle loading gun,” the SP said. The identity of the man is yet to be established as operation is still underway in the region, he added. (The Hindu 24/8/16)

84. Naxal killed during encounter with security forces in C’garh (12)

Raipur: A joint team of security forces today gunned down a Naxal during an encounter between them and the ultras in Chandometa forest of Chhattisgarh’s Bastar district. The skirmish took place this afternoon on the foot of the densely forested Chandometa hills, Inspector General of Police, Bastar Range, S R P Kalluri said. Chandometa is located on Chhattisgarh-Odisha border around 55kmfrom Darbha Police Station. Acting on a specific input about the presence of Maoist commanders Vinod and Sanju along with 20 cadres in the area, an operation was launched last evening by the composite squad of District Reserve Group (DRG) and Special Task Force (STF), he said. Today, when the security forces were advancing to the specified location at the bottom of the hill, a gun-battle broke out after a group of Maoist cadres opened fire on them, the IG said, adding thatthe encounter lasted for about half-an-hour following which rebels escaped. During the search, the body of a male Maoist along with weapons and contraband were recovered from the spot, the IG said, adding the identity of killed rebel is yet to be ascertained as forces are still carrying out the operation. He is the fourth ultra to be killed this month in three encounters in the region bordering Odisha. Two Maoists were killed on August 1, while another was killed on August 16 in that area, Kalluri said. (Business Stanard 28/8/16)

85. Seek solution through democracy: Ahir to Naxals (12)

Chandrapur: Union minister of state for home affairs Hansraj Ahir called upon Naxalites to put down arms and join the mainstream to seek a solution to their problems through democratic means. Talking on the sidelines of his recent visit to Gadchiroli for ‘Tiranga Yatra’, he urged Naxals to use their strength to defend the borders of the country instead of fighting their own people. Ahir said ballot is more powerful than bullet in democracy. “While a bullet can only take a life, the ballot has the power to elect a government that is responsible to resolve every problem in a country. We gained independence because of the sacrifices and martyrdom of freedom fighters. After 70 years of freedom, they (Naxals) are still fighting with their own people.” “There is a pro-people government at the Center and state. So stop killing your own people. Put down your arms and come stand with us so that your problems could be resolved,” he said. Ahir said, “Trianga Yatra has been organized all over the country to remember the sacrifice and martyrdom of freedom fighters. Now, the country faces greater threat from external forces like Pakistan. Still government is forced to spare large chunk of its paramilitary forces to deal with Naxal menace in troubled areas like Gadchiroli. Instead of wasting your might in fighting with your own people (police), join the mainstream and use your strength to defend your own country,” Ahir urged the Naxalites. He suggested them (Naxals) to use democracy and rights enshrined in the Constitution to raise their problems and seek its solution. “Bullet is not the solution of any problem. Even we are not happy firing bullets at Naxalites. There is no need of firing bullets in the country as whoever sheds the blood, it is the blood of our countrymen,” he said. (Times of India 30/8/16)

TRAFFICKING

86. Human trafficking racket: Rickshaw puller ‘scout’ among 3 more arrested in Delhi (1)

New Delhi: Delhi Police have arrested three more persons in connection with the alleged kidnapping and sale of a 12-year-old girl from northeast Delhi 10 years ago, taking the number of those held in the case to 11. The girl, who was sold at least 12 times, raped, and married off twice, found her way back home on July 26 and was reunited with her mother and sister. Among the three held in the second phase of arrests is a rickshaw puller, Ramesh (28), who used to act as a scout for the human trafficking racket while roaming around bus stands and railway stations, said police. “He would look out for minor girls moving about alone and offer to take them where they wanted to go. However, he would take the girls to his house and contact Babli (an accused held in the case) and sell each girl for Rs 10,000,” A K Singla, DCP (northeast), said Monday. Singla added Ramesh had been arrested in 2006 in a similar case. “There are more cases where his name has cropped up. Ramesh said he came to know of this racket from other rickshaw pullers. We are investigating if more rickshaw pullers are involved,” said Singla. The two others were arrested from Punjab. (The Indian Express 23/8/2016)

87. Four held for abusing, trafficking minor girl (1)

PANAJI: The Ponda police in Central Goa has arrested three men and a woman, all from Maharashtra, for trafficking and sexually abusing and exploiting a minor girl, for over a month. The four — Datta Dilip Suryavanshi (30), Zopadpatti, Kolhapur; Raju Shivaji Jadav (22), Ganesh Colony, Kolhapur; Amol Somnath Patil (20), Banda, Kolhapur; and Manisha Datta Suryavanshi (25), Zopadpatti, Kolhapur — were arrested on Tuesday and remanded in police custody by a local Ponda court on Wednesday. Charges have been filed against them under various sections including the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. According to the police, the four arrested along with six others, including another woman, trafficked a 15 year-old girl from Mumbai to Kolhapur and from Kolhapur to Goa, confined her at various places on the way, for more than one month, and allegedly forced her into prostitution by using the premises during their stay as a brothel. The police has registered cases against two other persons who collected the juvenile victim from a Panaji bus stand and took her to a hotel, as also against the owner of the hotel and three unknown persons who forced her to have sex with them. The girl has been sent to Apna Ghar at Merces in north Goa. (The Hindu 25/8/2016)

88. Assamese child saved from car showroom (1)

MALAPPURAM: Raising suspicions about a possible child trafficking racket, a team of officials rescued an Assamese child engaged in labour at a car showroom at Manjeri, near here, on Thursday. The child, who looked between 14 and 15 years, had produced an identity card certifying that he was an adult. Jaffer Malik, Perinthalmanna Sub-Collector who ordered the raid, said that the ID card issued by Maheripar panchayat in Assam looked blatantly fabricated. “It’s apparently a fake ID. It naturally raises doubts about a racket. We will investigate it with the help of Assamese authorities,” said Mr. Malik. This was the third similar case in recent weeks in the district involving Assamese children. In an earlier case, the child had slipped the net of the authorities by misleading them with a fake certificate. A meeting convened by Mr. Malik the other day had decided to conduct joint raids in the wake of complaints about immigrant children being engaged in hotels and restaurants in the district. The Assamese child was caught during Thursday’ s joint raid involving police and labour officials, Child Protection Unit, Child Welfare Committee, and Childline. “As it is a joint raid, we could act upon it quickly,” said Mr. Malik. Child Welfare Committee member examined the boy and sent him to Government Children’ s Home at Tavanur. District Child Protection Officer Sameer Machingal said that it would be a short-term placement. Further course of action for the child will be decided later, he said. The Child Rights Commission in Assam, when contacted by its Kerala counterpart after a child labourer was rescued on July 21, said that it could not locate the child’ s address given in the ID and certificate. “No doubt it’s a fake ID. But what raises concern is the involvement of some people in pushing these children into labour by fabricating certificates for them,” said Mr. Sameer. Mr. Malik said that the joint raids on hotels, bakeries, restaurants, and other business establishments would be strengthened in the coming days as part of curbing child labour. (The Hindu 26/8/16)

89. 25 per cent rise in trafficking cases: NCRB (1)

New Delhi: Human trafficking has emerged as the fastest rising crime, an increase of over 25 per cent in 2015, according to the latest report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Telangana have reported the highest number of such cases. However, the overall incidents of crime in 2015 increased by merely 1.4 per cent as compared to 7.5 per cent in 2014. (see box)  The NCRB’s annual report is likely to be released by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday. According to it, nearly 6,500 incidents of human trafficking were registered across the country in 2015 — up from 5,400 such cases in 2014. Human trafficking, according to the NCRB, includes crime such as “importation of girls from foreign country, procuration of minor girls, buying of minors for prostitution, selling of minors for prostitution” and crimes under Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956. A Home Ministry official said that the sharp rise in number of human trafficking cases is due to special focus of both the state and the Central governments on stemming the menace. In December last year, the Supreme Court had asked the Centre to complete within six months the consultation process for a comprehensive law on prevention of human trafficking. “The numbers show that the state governments are taking the issue seriously, and more such cases are being registered. Earlier, many cases would go unreported,” the officer said. The NCRB report has been delayed by two months. The report is generally published every year in June. Sources said the delay was due to West Bengal and Delhi as they sent their data on crimes as late as June…  (Indian Express 30/8/16)

CORRUPTION

90. Top IT official named suspect in Kerala corruption case (5)

Thiruvananthapuram: The Central Bureau of Investigation’s ongoing inquiry into the “bribe for favourable tax assessment” scam has touched the top echelons of the Income Tax department in Kerala. In its First Information Report (FIR) filed in the CBI Special Court here, the agency has named Chief Commissioner of Income Tax Anil Goel as a prime suspect in the graft case.It has indicated how a network of shady chartered accountants, powerful businessmen and corrupt IT assessors dominated the department and made it, arguably, a symbol of sleaze in public eye. The other accused are Balachandran, owner of a textile showroom in the capital, his auditor, K.I. Koshy and Sarat, an IT officer. The CBI’s case was that in September last the suspect IT officers “entered into criminal conspiracy to collect illegal gratification from various high value IT assessees under their jurisdiction.” The agency alleged that Mr. Goel met Mr. Koshy in his office and “threatened to order an IT survey” on Mr. Balachandran’s new showroom and “in order to avoid the same demanded Rs.15 lakh.” He allegedly directed Mr. Koshy to meet Mr. Sarat and “settle the matter in consultation” with him. The “demand for Rs. 15 lakh was reduced to Rs. 10 lakh and the money was delivered to Mr. Sarat for onward transfer to Mr. Goel,” the CBI alleged. The CBI told the court that the suspect officers had “negotiated with a number of business firms, their auditors and proprietors and collected huge amounts of bribe” to protect the businesses “in matters pertaining to their IT assessment.” It alleged that on at least three occasions in September/October 2015, the IT officials had transferred Rs.29 lakh to Mr. Goel’s wife, Juhi Goel, in Mumbai. (The CBI has named her a suspect in the case). They “threatened IT payers under their jurisdiction with adverse action to facilitate the illegal transfer of the tainted money from Thiruvananthapuram to Mumbai,” the investigating agency said. (The Hindu 22/8/2016)

91. To clamp down on black money, government set to ban cash transactions over Rs 3 lakh (5)

NEW DELHI: The government is set to ban cash transactions over Rs 3 lakh as it seeks to clamp down on black money in the economy following recommendations from the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team. The government, however, is yet to decide on the SIT’s other proposal to bar cash holdings over Rs 15 lakh due to opposition from trade and industry, sources told TOI. “There are concerns that this will result in harassment by tax officials,” an officer said. The Rs 3 lakh-limit is aimed to ensure that transactions are made using credit or debit cards, cheques or drafts which can be easily tracked. Despite the crackdown on unaccounted money, authorities continue to unearth several transactions involving purchase of jewellery or even cars in all-cash deals. The finance ministry is also trying to promote use of plastic money and recently did away with transaction charges+ for government services. In the past, businesses have cited payments to workers, especially smaller players, to justify large cash holdings. But the argument is seen to have become weak in the wake of a spurt in number of bank accounts, especially after Jan Dhan was launched two years ago. The government has already initiated several steps, including banning cash advance of more than Rs 20,000 for property transactions. The move came after income tax raids revealed unaccounted cash was often attributed to “recently concluded property transactions”. A similar limit has been placed on repayment of bank loans. The SIT had suggested the twin moves citing examples of countries such as France and Italy, that allow transactions up to a certain limit.The largest beneficiaries and conduits for Black money are political parties that spend 1000”s of Crores on Elections but reveal only a fraction of the expenditures and “donations” they re… Read Moreprakash The panel argued that cash transactions of over Rs 20,000 were rampant and often tax was not being deducted at source as prescribed under the law. “Question of levying penalty will arise only when such transaction comes to knowledge of I-T department because it is difficult to find out or locate the same,” the SIT said in its report. (Times of India 22/8/16)

92. Vigilance court nod for probe into bar bribery case (5)

Thiruvananthapuram: The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) on Saturday received permission from its special court here to further investigate the controversial bar licence renewal bribery case. The development is fraught with political and legal implications for the Kerala Congress (M) leader and former Finance Minister K.M. Mani, the prime accused in the case. It has also denoted a remarkable turnaround in the agency’s declared stance that there was no evidence to prosecute Mr. Mani. (The court had twice turned down its inquiry reports absolving Mr. Mani of all guilt in the case). The agency’s abrupt reversal of its position on the case came on August 23 when R. Sukeshan, Investigating Officer (IO), filed a confidential report in the court. Mr. Sukeshan said a further investigation was necessary in the case to unearth the “incriminating evidence which were purposefully concealed or distorted by some material witnesses”. The “new facts touching the allegations involved in this case, which were not considered by the IO earlier, is forthcoming”. He could not “obtain expert scientific analysis of the materials collected during the investigation” to form an opinion due to “imposition of an outer time frame” by the court. Mr. Sukeshan’s report remained classified. However, the conjectures about its particulars were many and varied.One version aired by television channels said the report detailed a conspiracy at the top level in the Vigilance to sabotage the case. The surmise apparently spurred prominent ruling front leaders, notably V.S. Achuthanandan, to demand prosecution of the “suspect officials”. Elaborately quoting several judgments, A. Badharudeen, Inquiry Commissioner and Special Judge, Vigilance, ruled that further investigation was permissible if an IO obtained further documentary or oral evidence even after he filed the final report in the case in court. The report on such an additional inquiry could be termed a “supplementary report”. The court has not stipulated any deadline for the Vigilance to file its report. (The Hindu 28/8/16)

93. Chopper scam: Middleman says will to meet Indian cops in Dubai (5)

New Delhi: Embattled middleman in the VVIP chopper scam Christian James Michel has written to CBI, saying he is willing to meet with Indian investigators in Dubai and has sought the withdrawal of Interpol Red Corner Notice against him in case the meeting takes place. In the letter to CBI on August 25, the English law firm representing him, said Michel is ready for a meeting at the Indian consulate in Dubai too. Claiming to be innocent, he said he might have some information which could enable the Indian authorities to progress with their probe into the scandal. Michel, against whom there exists a non-bailable warrant, said he is reluctant to come to India for the proposed questioning as he fears that “a long period of time might elapse”, between his questioning here and withdrawal of criminal charges or conclusion of criminal trial, during which he will be detained against his wish. “Michel vigorously denies having been involved in any wrongdoing relating to this matter — and in particular, we are instructed that he denies making or facilitating any corrupt payments to inducements relating to this matter,” the letter read. The British national has also claimed that he has not received any communication from the Indian authority regarding the charge sheet against him in court and the issuance of non- bailable warrant. Subject to certain conditions, Michel has offered to return to India not less than 7 days before the scheduled start of any criminal trial against him and attend every court hearing which he might be required to attend “until his innocence or guilt has been established”.The conditions for the same are that within two days of the meeting with investigators in Dubai or through video conference, they shall ask Interpol to withdraw the Red Corner Notice against him as long as he sticks to his promise of appearing in court. He also wants that no authority shall arrest or otherwise detain him in relation to this matter until he is found guilty and subsequently sentenced. Michel had allegedly played a key role in swinging the Rs 3,727-crore deal for AgustaWestland to supply 12 VVIP choppers to India in 2010. AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Italian defence giant Finmeccanica, allegedly paid more than Rs 370 crore as kickbacks to secure the deal. (Deccan Herald 30/8/16)

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

94. Gurgaon: Polluting industries to be moved out of housing areas (9)

Gurgaon: The Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) will conduct a survey from Monday to identify polluting industrial units that are operating in residential areas. The survey is being initiated after the state government ordered to work out modalities for relocating industries from residential areas to comply with the pollution control norms which state that industrial units should operate outside residential zones. In Gurgaon, there are 2,000 industries that mix with residential zones. On March 5, the Centre framed a new policy based on pollution load and asked all states to classify non-polluting industries under a new category according to their requirements. Apart from the existing ‘Red’, ‘Orange’ and ‘Green’ categories of industries, the HSPCB introduced a new category – White – that does not requires environmental clearance. “As we have new parameters to identify industries, which are the source of pollution in the city, we are conducting a survey to recognise the units that should be removed,” Bhupender Singh, regional pollution officer, HSPCB, said. The new criteria is developed under the guidance of the Ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEF) based on the pollution index, which is a function of emissions (air pollutants), effluents (water pollutants), hazardous wastes generated and consumption of resources. An official of HSPCB said after analysis of the survey report, notices will be issued to the units for relocation. The white category industries may continue as per existing norms of the pollution department. The units under the orange category would be given two years to comply with pollution control norms. “A span of six months will be provided to green units to shift out of the residential areas. We do not have any red category units in residential areas of the city,” Singh said. (The Hindustan Times 22/8/2016)

95. ‘Ultimately, melting ice caps affect coastal regions’ (9)

Panaji: Over the years, the vast ice cover around the North Pole has shrunk due to global warming. This has led to rise in sea levels which ultimately affects coastal regions like Goa, said Goa Science Centre and Planetarium, director, M M K Balaji. “Due to the melting of the ice caps, the water is denser than the normal sea water, raising the sea level. This ultimately affects coastal regions as they are likely to submerge. Goa will definitely feel the impact,” he said. He further added that from 1950 till date, the average global temperature has been increasing continuously. “Since then, it has increased by 0.9 degrees celsius,” said Balaji. He attributed a number of factors that are adding to global warming. “In Goa, there is rampant deforestation and conversion of agricultural land into developmental zones for real estate. Air pollution owing to dense traffic also increases chlorofluorocarbons (CFC). All these factors indirectly impact the arctic region,” he said. Explaining this phenomenon, through a series of stunning images of the Norwegian Young Sea Ice Expedition 2015, the centre in collaboration with the Royal Norwegian consulate general has organized an exhibition titled ‘On Thin Ice’. In January 2015, the Norwegian Polar Institute sent its research vessel into the North Pole. On board were researchers who wanted explanations for climate change. These researchers took measurements in the constant polar night and concluded that people living in low-lying coastal areas will be affected as a result of melting glaciers. The exhibition consists of the knowledge gathered from this expedition. The Goa Science Centre is organizing the exhibition till September 22 at its premises in Miramar. From Goa, the exhibition will travel to Delhi and then Norway. (Times of India 23/8/16)

96. Large-scale changes in land use land cover weakening Indian monsoon: IIT study (9)

Mumbai: Large-scale changes of land use land cover (LULC) from forest land to crop land and the loss of green cover in north-east and north-central India has caused the weakening of the monsoon, a new study carried out by the Interdisciplinary Program in Climate Studies (IPCS) at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, has revealed. Led by Professor Subimal Ghosh and Supantha Paul of IPCS, the study looks at changes and variability of Indian monsoon and its association with local factors such as recent changes of land use land cover. The study has been published in Scientific Reports by Nature Publishing Group. Satellite data revealed large-scale changes of LULC in India. Large-scale deforestation has been observed when the LULC map derived from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectro-Radiometer for the 2000s is compared with that derived from Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer for the 1980s. The data reveals a significant decrease in leaf area index, a technical term used to measure green cover. A regional simulation of Indian south-west monsoon with two different LULC of 1980s and 2000s, keeping large-scale circulation same, reveals statistically significant reduction in monsoon rainfall over north-central and north-east India with the changes in forest cover. Large-scale conversion of forest land to crop land resulted in conversion of deep-rooted vegetation to shallow-rooted vegetation that further reduces evapo-transpiration (ET), a local moisture source to precipitation. The precipitation generated from local evapo-transpiration is known as recycled precipitation. The recycled precipitation contributes to around 25 per cent of total monsoon precipitation during the end of the monsoon in the months of August and September. Prof. Ghosh said, “Due to large-scale deforestation, there is significant reduction in the recycled precipitation and hence in total precipitation. Our earlier study published in the Journal of Hydrometeorology showed that the recycled precipitation is quite high in north-east and north-central India. Impact of deforestation is quite prominent in those areas due to reduction in ET and recycled precipitation.” He said LULC changes have significant implications on future rainfall projections and should be taken into account while developing climate models. “For Indian monsoon, impacts of LULC change are critical and need to be considered for regional projections and planning.” The study also warned that if deforestation continues unabated, the conditions of drying of the Indian subcontinent due to warming of Western Indian Ocean could become more critical. This needs to be seriously considered in the development of national policy of regional climate change mitigation. (The Hindu 25/8/16)

97. Order industries to bear cost, CPCB requests NGT (9)

Kochi: The central pollution control board (CPCB) has pleaded to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to direct polluting industries to bear the remediation cost to save Periyar in Eloor area. The board submitted that its state-level body would inspect secured landfill areas, effluent collection tanks, hazardous wastes, raw material storage areas and any other waste spills/dump areas at Eloor. It would direct the industries to remove the waste found on its premises and move the same to a common treatment, storage and disposal facility (TSDF). The treated effluents should not be discharged through Kuzhikandom canal as it may continue to wash the sediments further down the creeks. The flow has to be contained to facilitate remediation activity. Therefore, the industries should be directed to submit a time-bound action plan to stop discharging treated effluents to the canal, the board submitted. The CPCB also apprised the green court that decision on seeking funds from the Centre and state governments for remediation works would be made once the remediation objectives, plans and its detailed project report (DPR) was finalized. The deadline for completion of the DPR is December. Regarding the future course of action in the Eloor-Edayar area, the board said remediation measures have been given utmost priority. It said that multiple contaminants including DDT, endosulphan, chlorobenzenes and metals such as manganese, vanadium, zinc and chromium have been found in soil, groundwater, sediments and surface water and immediate steps needed to be initiated to rejuvenate the water body. (Times of India 27/8/16)

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

98. Rs 1,100-cr project to curb farmers’ suicides: Fundkar (20)

The Maharashtra government has decided to launch a Rs 1,100-crore pilot project for Yavatmal and Oismanabad districts to curb farmers’ suicides. Agriculture Minister Pandurang Fundkar announced on Friday, after inaugurating the new hostel of the Vasantrao Naik College for Biotechnology here.Expressing concern over the farmers’ suicides in Yavatmal and Osmanabad districts, Fundkar said the move was aimed at “empowering the farmers”.”The state government has sanctioned a Rs 1,100 crore-pilot project for both the districts aiming to empower the distressed farmers thereby curbing the spate in suicides,” he said. “The project would help the farmers to start ancillary business along with their farming so that they could enhance their earnings to lead a dignified life”, he added. Fundkar said several agriculture colleges across Maharashtra were being run without necessary facilities to train the students and the state government will soon act against them. “Such colleges would be identified and their recognition would be cancelled if they fail to improve their existing facilities,” he said. (Business Standard 21/8/2016)

99. Family of farmer who killed himself seek police protection (20)

BENGALURU: A senior police officer on Tuesday visited the family of farmer Shivanna, who committed suicide on Sunday, at Gavinagamangala in Magadi taluk and recorded their statements. The 52-year-old farmer had ended his life by consuming poison. In his suicide note, he blamed the son of DG&IGP Om Prakash for abetment of suicide and a couple of police officers before his death. In their statement to the police officer, the family asked for protection as Shivanna had named some influential people in his suicide note. Speaking to Express, Shivanna’s daughter Mamatha said, “Circle inspector Nandish recorded the statements of my mother and brother. We need police protection as my father was facing threats to life. If anything happens to our family, Lokesh and his family will be responsible,” she said. “We also asked the police officer to take action against Lokesh and his wife, who assaulted my father as they are responsible for his death,” she added. (New Indian Express 24/8/16)

100. 2 indebted farmers end lives in Mansa (20)

MANSA: Reeling under debt burden, two farmers ended lives in Mansa by consuming poisonous substances. Mansa is rattled by suicides due to mounting debt as more than 30 cases of farmer suicides have been reported in last one year after failure of cotton crop in October 2015. One of the victims, Gurmail Singh (56) of Khudal Kalan village, owned 2.5 acres of land and owed Rs 8 lakh to banks and moneylenders. He gulped a poisonous substance on Thursday morning at his home. His elder brother Sukhdev Singh said, “Gurmail was under stress for being unable to repay the loan. He had taken the loan few years ago for the marriage of his elder daughter. Now, he was to marry off another daughter.” Other farmer Satpal Singh (37) of Kahangarh village owned 1.5 acres of land and had debt of Rs 2.5 lakh. His brother Pappu Singh said Satpal was in depression for failing to repay the loan and committed suicide on Wednesday night by consuming poisonous substance. Farmer outfits BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) and Punjab Kisan Union (PKU) mourned the suicides of both peasants due to debt. PKU president Ruldu Singh Mansa demanded a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each for the bereaved families. (Times of India 26/8/16)

101. Farmers join hands to claim dam water rights (20)

Nashik: Once bitten, farmers on the banks of the Godavari left bank canal are twice shy. Taking a cue from the lesson during the last drought, the farmers have come together to form a front – Water Users’ Association – to seek water for agriculture from the water resources department. The department, in turn, will establish the farmers’ right over water in the dams. In 2015-16, when Maharashtra experienced one of the worst droughts in its hisyory following poor rain in the two preceding years, the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRRA) had asked the water resources department to release water from the Gangapur and Darna complexes. But the water entitlement was low. “The Godavari Left Bank Canal irrigates about 12,000 hectares of land but the demand registered with the canal is only for irrigation of 4,500 hectares. This means that about one-third of water of its total capacity was required for irrigation. The MWRRA has released more amount of water downstream,” a senior water resources department officer said,  He added that the farmers have now come forth to complete their registrations and raise their demand for water with the department. “The farmers, along with other water users, have decided to form the association and enter into an agreement with the department for water for irrigation purposes. The MWRRA will take into account the demand and decided the water sharing model for the people in Nashik and the users downstream,” said Rajendra Jadhav, president of Nashik-based NGO Jalchintan.”We have a federation of the WUAs, of which, 24 are working on Waghad project. Similar ones have also been established on other projects as well. The benefits of the system are tremendous given that every farmer gets his applied share of water and it also brings down losses of water,” Kawle said.As many as 25 Water Users’ Associations will be formed on the Godavari Left Bank Canal.The farmers and the gram panchayats have also been asked to form WUAs and place their demand for water. (Times of India 28/8/16)

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

102. Upper Narmada project: Land row forces rethink (4)

JABALPUR: Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) is likely to revisit Upper Narmada Project and cancel a contract of a private company in view of mounting opposition to land acquisition and dam construction. Under the project, 18,616 hectare land in Anuppur and Dindori districts is to be irrigated and around 1,300 families in 27 villages of Anuppur and Dindori districts are to be displaced.In a petition filed by Hari Singh Marawi of Uper Narmada Bandh Prabhavit Sangh, an NGO, objected to land acquisition process. The petitioner made fresh submission of minutes of meetings of NVDA officials. As per minutes of the meetings, NVDA officials said progress of work is negligible. Instead of extending time line for project completion for contractor, it would be better to terminate the contract, the minutes said. NVDA awarded the contract for developing the dam to Hyderabad-based firm Medha Engineering Infrastructure before completion of land acquisition process. The company has not been able to start work due to protests by locals and legal hassles as several petitions are pending in courts, the minutes said. The officials said as chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan initiated micro-irrigation and piped canal project, there is a need to re-evaluate requirement for water through micro-irrigation in Anuppur and Dindori districts. Calling separate tenders for canal and dam after evaluation would be better, officials said in minutes of the meeting. Sources said first survey for project was carried out in 1970-1972 and another survey in 1979. In 1994, approval for the project were received. Since then there were many protests against land acquisition and a string of cases were filed. Marawi filed a petition alleging, “It was a forceful attempt of NVDA to snatch our ancestral land. We have registered protests at all levels and will continue to resist.” (Times of India 21/8/2016)

103. Landowners allege disparity in compensation (4)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: People who had surrendered their land for the widening of Kottukal-Karode stretch of Kazhakkoottam-Karode bypass have submitted a complaint to MP Shashi Tharoor the other day alleging disparity in compensation. The Kovalam-Karode Bypass Action Council has stated that there was a huge difference in the compensation for the land acquired for Vizhinjam harbour and NH widening.Action council chairman V Sudhakaran alleged that fair price was fixed for the land as per the old land acquisition act. “The old land acquisition act of 1956 had elapsed on September 26, 2013 and the land acquisition proceedings for Kovalam-Karode stretch began on April 3, 2014. A district level purchased committee (DLPC) was formed to fix land value. However, the officials concerned arbitrarily cancelled the decisions in DLPC,” he alleged. The action council stated that a plot near the PWD road in Kottukal village got Rs 7.25 lakh for the Vizhinjam harbour project, but a nearby plot, which was acquired for NH, was given only Rs 3.25 lakh, which was arbitrarily decided by the district administration. The issues began in the DLPC convened by the then district collector K N Satheesh in November 2013. A group of landowners in Chenkal and Karode areas raised demands for better compensation. Following this, the collector cancelled the DLPC for all places including Kottukal, Kanjirampara and Thirupuram. The action council members allege that the value fixed by the DLPC was cancelled after people in these three villages agreed to surrender the land in DLPC rates. The fair price was later fixed by the district administration, stating that owners who had complaints could file for arbitration. The fair price was much less than the amount fixed in the DLPC. For example, the amount agreed for A class land (plot having access to PWD roads) was Rs 5.15 lakh/cent in DLPC. But only Rs 3.25 lakh/cent was given later. The approved rates for B class land (access to panchayat road) was Rs 4.75 lakh/cent, C class (interior portions) 4.275 lakh, paddy land 3.77 lakh and wetland 3.42 lakh were also slashed. (Times of India 23/8/16)

104. 763 farmers, landless poor move High Court (4)

SANGAREDDY: About 763 farmers and landless poor from Vemulaghat in Toguta mandal of Medak district, the lone village fighting against Mallannasagar, have approached the High Court seeking implementation of Land Acquisition Act – 2013, while acquiring their land for the reservoir. This is the only village which has consistently opposed proposed construction of reservoir falling in the limits of Gajwel and Dubbak constituencies of Medak district. About 67 farmers had already approached the High Court a few days ago seeking implementation of LA Act stating that they were not ready to hand over land under GO 123 to the State Government. Responding to their petition, the court directed the government not to go for forcible acquisition from those who approached the court under LA Act. It has also stated that it would be implemented for those who will approach the court as well. Soon after the court direction, the villagers formed a group and decided to approach the court. After working for more than one week, they have approached the High Court filing fresh cases. In addition to the existing 67 petitioners, another 472 persons have approached the court seeking implementation of LA Act stating that they would get justice only under that. Along with them, more than 291 land less labour also approached the court seeking justice stating that they would get compensation only under the Act but not under GO 123. K. K. Mahender Reddy, the advocate representing the farmers, said that the case would come for hearing on Tuesday. (The Hindu 23/8/16)

105. Non-tribal residents of Ranchi facing eviction from homes (4)

Ranchi, Aug 28 : More than a lakh non-tribal residents of Ranchi district in Jharkhand are set to lose their homes if an administrative order to restore tribal land to tribal people is executed. The district administration has this month served notice to people who purchased land from a tribal owner — through a Scheduled Area Regulation (SAR) court settlement — to prove that the deal was not fraudulent or illegal. Failure to prove the legality of the deal would result in eviction of all non-tribals from the property in question. Such notices have been served to residents of Vidyanagar, Yamunanagar, Ganganagar, Kishoreganj, Kantatoli, Maulana Azad Colony, Chutia and other places in Ranchi district. According to official data, about 1.50 lakh of the 2.70 lakh houses in Ranchi stand on tribal land. The notices have been served as part of a drive to enforce the Chotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act 1908, which applies to Ranchi district and prohibits transfer or sale of tribal land to non-tribals without permission of the deputy commissioner. However, Section 71A of the CNT Act does allow possession of tribal land by a non-tribal in case the latter had built on the land before 1969 and has been staying there ever since. In such cases, the SAR court fixes a compensation against the land and possession is regularised. Many tribal sellers of land and non-tribal buyers took advantage of this provision of law to regularise their deals that actually took place after 1969. Fake documents were used in such deals to establish pre-1969 possession. After such a deal is signed, the tribal land owner files a fake case in SAR court claiming compensation. During the court’s investigations, the seller and the buyer claim that the deal took place before 1969. The SAR court then directs compensation to be paid and the deal is regularised. Many such deals are believed to have taken place in cases where a tribal owner was a willing seller. Plots of land were thus purchased by non-tribal people from tribals and houses were constructed. Many non-tribal buyers also got mutation of their land done. The present BJP goverment, led by Raghubar Das, had taken a decision to end the SAR courts to stop such abuse of the law, but later changed its mind. It was decided that the SAR courts will continue to function, but with stricter compliance with the law… (New Kerala  28/8/16)

RIGHT TO HEALTH

106. Abandonment of kids, elders in government hospitals on the rise (3)

HYDERABAD: Most of the government hospitals in the city are spread across vast acres of land and are often crowded. Some people take advantage of this and abandon their old-aged parents and disabled children there. Recently, on August 7, a four-year-old girl who was mentally retarded was abandoned at Niloufer Hospital premises. At least one case is reported at the hospital every week, and similar incidents were reported at MNJ Institute of Oncology and Regional Cancer Centre, Gandhi Hospital and Osmania General Hospital (OGH). Officials of the hospitals said that family members scout for places which are not under CCTV surveillance, to leave their children or wrong address is submitted when patients are admitted at the hospitals. Thus, they do not leave a trail which leads to them. “Most of the times, it is mentally retarded children who are left by their parents at the hospital. We come across at least one case every week. We medically check all such children, offer the required treatment and inform the police who in-turn apprise Shishu Vihar,” said Dr C Suresh Kumar, superintendent of the Niloufer Hospital. “In some cases, people who come from far away places admit their old-age patients, stay here for a day or two and say that they will come back but they don’t. We do not stop them from leaving their patients alone as they come from long distances and have work to attend. We try to counsel such family members by tracing their address. If they do not come, we send the patients to Palliative Care unit,” said Dr N Jayalatha, superintendent of the MNJ Cancer Centre. Nampally Police said that they make an entry into the general diary when informed of such cases and infants are handed over to Shishu Vihar. (New Indian xpress 23/8/16)

107. 20 die of diarrhoea in Chhattisgarh district (3)

Raipur: At least 20 people have died in north Chhattisgarh’s Sarguja district due to diarrhoea in last two weeks. According to Sitapur Congrss MLA Amarjeet Bhagat, five people died due to the disease in last two days. “The deaths have been reported from Mainpat area in my constituency. It’s a hilly area and almost all the deceased were tribals. The district administration has set up a medical camp but it is not enough. More than 50 people have been admitted in hospital and one camp is not enough to tackle this,” Mr.Bhagat told The Hindu. Chhattisgarh Health Director R.Prassana and Health Secretary Subrat Sahoo visited the affected area on Tuesday, however, made conflicting statements about the number of deaths in last 15 days. In a late evening statement, Mr.Prassana denied that there was any epidemic in Mainpat area. “Around 20 deaths have been reported over a period of one month. Out of which only five to six are due to diarrhoea. Other deaths were due to old age and other ailments. Medicines were made available and chlorination of hand pumps was done a month ago,” he claimed. Mr. Prassana blamed brewed liquor and unclean surrounding for diarrhoea and said that “change in behaviour” of people was needed to avoid these issues. Mr.Bhagat informed that Asgav, Paigam, Suflaga and Narmadapur villages had been the worst affected. (The Hindu 24/8/16)

108. Over six lakh people die due to cancer in India: Government (3)

NEW DELHI: With over six lakh people succumbing to cancer and more than ten lakh new cases are reported in the country, the government today said air pollution and unhealthy lifestyles are among the major risk factors for the disease. It said that around seven percent of all deaths in the country are due to various types of cancers. “As reported by World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 1 million new cases are reported in India while about 6.8 lakh people die due to cancer in India,” Minister of State for Health Anupriya Patel said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha. She said that as per WHO-NCD Country Profile 2014, “about seven per cent of all deaths are due to various cancers”.She said that as according to WHO regional office in South East Asia, the region has 14 of the world’s top 20 polluted cities. “However cancer is a multi factorial disease, the risk factors of which include ageing population, unhealthy lifestyles, use of tobacco and tobacco products, unhealthy diet and air pollution,” she said. She said that the government has constituted a steering committee on air pollution and health. Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change has also approved a new mission on health under National Action PLan on Climate Change, she said. She said the Ministry of Petroleum has also initiated a scheme to provide free LPG connection to women belonging to BPL households under ‘Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna’ to reduce air pollution. (The Economic Times 26/8/16)

109. Violence the biggest cause of injury to women (3)

HYDERABAD: Violence against women (VAW) in India is very high at 35.1 per cent. The latest National Family Health – 4 Survey in Telangana shows that 43/100 women experienced spousal violence and 5.9 per cent of them faced the trauma during pregnancy. Violence continues to be the biggest cause of injury, even leading to death, for women between 18 and 45 years. Reports say one in three women experienced physical/sexual violence in their lifetime. Besides, sexual violence leading to unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortions, neglected pregnancies sans proper antenatal care contributed to a major chunk of maternal mortality and near miss mortality especially in India. At a national conference on Fertility Regulation and Women’s Health here on Saturday, an initiative to raise awareness and stop violence against women – DHEERA, was launched here by the Obstetrics and Gynaecological Society of Hyderabad (OGSH) on Saturday. A cyclathon was flagged off and hundreds of orange balloons were released.Flagging off the cyclathon, ICOG Secretary Dr. Shantha Kumar said Saturday’s initiative by several organisations working to prevent VAW was a significant step. Other eminent personalities present were Chairpersons, Lalitha Kumaramangalam (National Commission for Women), and Tripurana Venkataratnam (Women’s Commission, Hyderabad Telangana, Additional Commissioner of Police, Swati Lakra. (The Hindu 28/8/16)

HIV/AIDS

110. Better understanding of housing may help minimise HIV risk (3)

New York: Understanding housing background and the multiple dimensions of homelessness can help better identify who might be at greater risk of transmitting or contracting HIV, says a new study.The study, published in the Journal of HIV/AIDS and Social Work, highlighted the link between homeless and HIV-risk behaviours. The research looked specifically at residents of single-room occupancy (SRO) housing as they considered themselves homeless, even though they have a place to live, because of uncertainly derived from factors that include concerns about rent increases and an inability to continue to afford even minimal housing such as an SRO. “It’s a transient population that’s bouncing into and out of SRO buildings and other locations, such as staying in overnight shelters or on the street. But on the other end is the long-term resident, who may have been stably housed for 20 years,” said Elizabeth Bowen, Assistant Professor at the University at Buffalo. When thinking about how to help minimise HIV risk, the researchers mentioned that it’s important to target the right people.”The long-term residents might need help in other areas, but the research suggests that they’re not engaging in the same risky behaviours, such as drug use or having multiple sexual partners, as the residents who had been homeless more recently or who still considered themselves to be homeless,” Bowen added. This information is critical to social workers trying to identify who might be most in need of help. Bowen said the link between health and housing goes beyond HIV to include many chronic long-term health issues, both physical and mental. SROs might be affordable, but the rent for this type of housing still represents a large percentage of a resident’s income, which is often exclusively Supplemental Security Income. (Business Standard 23/8/2016)

111. Groom HIV positive, bride calls off wedding (3)

TIRUVANNAMALAI: Hours before the wedding of a 30-year-old man, the bride and her family called it off after they came to know from the officials that he had concealed the fact he was HIV-positive. Friends and relatives of the groom had erected banners announcing the wedding. On seeing the banners, a person telephoned collector and district revenue officer S Palani on Sunday night and alerted them that the groom was HIVpositive. “I received the call at 9.30pm on Sunday. The caller said that the groom is under treatment for HIV. I immediately contacted SP (R Ponni) and joint director of medical services to verify the information and directed the revenue officials to trace the bride’s family and explain the issue to them,” the collector told TOI.The officials verified records with the Integrated Counseling and Testing Centre in the Government Hospital. According to the records, he was under treatment since July 30, 2014. “At 1.30am on Monday, we collected the groom’s medical reports. We contacted him on the number that we found in the report. He told us that he would come and meet us in person within an hour, but he did not turn up,” tahsildar of Chengam M Kamaraj. In the meantime, the officials managed to trace the bride’s sister’s contact number and alerted her. However, she refused to believe them. “By the time we called the bride’s family, he had already told them that rival ‘party workers’ were trying to stop the marriage by spreading lies about him. So, we rushed to the marriage venue,” he added. Medical officer Senthil Kumar, along with Chengam DSP and tahsildar, told the bride and her family members of the groom’s condition. The girl then decided to call off the wedding. TNN”The family was thankful for saving the girl’s life. We are also happy as our continuous effort to collect the medical reports, trace the families within seven hours, that too in late night, turned fruitful” the collector said.The girl’s family sought police protection to return to their village safely. The girl was married off to another man, reportedly a relative, in their native village on the same day. (Times of India 24/8/16)

112. 405 babies of HIV infected mothers born wihtout infection (3)

Aizawl: Out of 437 babies whose mothers were tested positive for HIV, 405 were born HIV negative, officials of the Prevention of Parents Child Transmission Centre (PPTCTC) said today. The figures were revealed in a statistics report related to births from 2011 till July this year, the officials said. All the pregnant women were tested at the Aizawl Civil Hospital and a record was maintained, they said. The PPTCTC was established at the Hospital in 2005 where experts undertook counseling and treatment of pregnant women infected with HIV. The PPTCTC also provided Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) and Multi Drug Regiment (MDR) treatment to the young patients. EID service commenced from 2011 and blood samples of 437 infants were tested at the NICED Laboratory in Kolkata, of which 32 were found to be infected with HIV through their mothers, the officials said, adding, all the babies were given regular treatment and were in good health. Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) Plus Centre was established at the Aizawl Civil Hospital in 2006 where 4,099 HIV positives including 187 minors were registered. Among those who received ART, 1,005 people have died, including 23 minors, since 2011. (Deccan Herald 25/8/16)

113. Woman alleges hospital forcibly discharged HIV-positive husband (3)

​Mumbai: The wife of an HIV positive man has alleged her husband was forced to take early discharge from a civic hospital despite a deteriorating health condition, which ultimately led to his death on Sunday evening. The incident has again highlighted how discrimination against HIV/AIDS patients is not a relic of the 90s, but an everyday horror unfolding in city hospitals. Anju (name changed), 28, also HIV positive, rushed her husband all the way from Naigaon (near Vasai Road) to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Municipal General Hospital (previously called Shatabdi Hospital) in Kandivli, with fever on Friday evening, thinking it had better doctors and facilities. To her surprise, doctors insisted his condition did not warrant hospitalization for more than a few hours and discharged him by Saturday afternoon. Burning with fever, her husband could not even leave the hospital compound. Anju immediately brought him to the same hospital’s emergency department, where the doctor said he had to be re-admitted. He was taken to the male medicine ward and started on intravenous fluids. A resident doctor told TOI he had developed septicaemia (infection of blood) and everything was done to save him. The doctor however could not explain why he was considered fit to be sent home. He passed away on Sunday, leaving behind a shattered and hapless family. Anju had no idea what he was suffering from as she was never told by the doctors. “The doctors seemed to be in a mad hurry to send us out of the hospital. I was not allowed to sit close to him, on a stool or even the floor. The nurse would come every hour and ask me to get out of the ward. But how could I leave my husband alone? He was restless and in great discomfort,” said Anju, who has three children aged four, seven and eight years. Both she and her husband have been on anti-retroviral therapy (ART) since the past eight years. The couple learnt about their positive status when Anju was pregnant with her first child. Anju, a homemaker, further alleged they were allotted a bed next to a patient who was lying “lifeless” in the ward for more than two to three hours. “I informed the nurses more than once the man was dead but we were not allocated any other bed,” she said. Medical superintendent Dr Krishnakanth Pimple said he will look into the details of the case. “As a public hospital, we more than often treat HIV-positive patients. So there is no question of discriminating against them. But we will inquire into her allegation and see what went wrong,” he said. He also added it is a protocol to keep patients for more than two hours in the ward before they are moved to the mortuary. Anju said without her husband, who was the sole breadwinner, the family is now staring at an uncertain future. “Two of my children are HIV-positive. How will I ensure nutrition and treatment for them?” she said. She is paranoid her family and in-laws, on whom she now has to rely for financial support, will find out about her HIV status, which has also prevented her from filing a police complaint against the hospital. (Times of India 30/8/16)