HR News

Volume 16                                       No.51                                     October 31,  2014

HR NEWS: October 31, 2014

(From October 21 To October 31,  2014)

 DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

1. Dalit boy burnt to death: NHRC issues notices to Bihar Chief Secretary, DGP (2)

Mumbai: Taking suo motu cognizance of a media report that a 15-year-old boy was allegedly burnt to death after his goats ate the paddy crop of an upper caste man at Mohanpur village under Karakat police station in Rohtas district, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to Bihar’s Chief Secretary and Director General of Police and sought a report on this matter within four weeks. Taking cognizance of the press report, the Commission has observed that it amounts to serious violation of human rights if the contents of the report are true. Reportedly, one Kumkum Singh and his three associates forcibly entered the house of Juit Ram and set his son Sai Ram afire after pouring kerosene on him. The boy sustained 90 percent burns and was rushed to Bikram Ganj Government Hospital for treatment but he succumbed to his injuries. (DNA 22/10/14)

 

2. Triple murder of Dalit family rocks Maharashtra (2)

Pune: Three people were murdered and their mutilated body parts dispersed on a farm in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district. In what appears to be a case of caste violence, a Dalit family of three was savagely murdered and their mutilated body parts dispersed on a farm in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district, around 180 km from Pune. According to sources, the gruesome murders of Sanjay Jadhav (42), his wife Jayashree (38) and their teenage son Sunil (19) took place after midnight on October 21 in the sparsely populated village of Javkhede Khalasa-Kasarwadi in Pathardi Taluk. Relatives strongly suspect the incident to be a case of ‘honour killing’. “Rumours of an illicit affair between a married lady in an upper-caste household, who lived adjacent to the Jadhav’s farm, and a member in the Jadhav family, had been festering for more than a year. This may have led to such a savage retribution,” said a relative of the family. At the time of the crime, Mr. Jadhav, a mason by profession, was staying in his makeshift home on his acre-and-a-half farm plot with his wife and his son. Sunil, pursuing his Diploma in Dairy Science from Goregaon in Mumbai, had come over for Diwali holidays.  “We rushed to their home on Tuesday after some farm labourers informed us of their absence. We found blood spattered and household items strewn everywhere,” Dilip Jadhav, his elder brother, told The Hindu, recounting the horrific incident. Mr. Jadhav’s relatives mounted a frantic search for the trio at the Ahmednagar district hospital, but drew a blank when they reached there. “On returning to my brother’s field, we decided to search the well. We found some body parts floating in the water,” says Suresh Jadhav, another of Mr. Jadhav’s brothers. An ominous silence has descended on the village and the Dalit hamlet of Jadhavwadi in the aftermath of the triple murder, with tight police security in place for the funeral. The Pathardi police said they had dispatched teams to several places to locate the murderers. The homicide has traumatised Mr. Jadhav’s aged parents, Jagannath (75) and Sakharbai (70), who haven’t spoken a word since the crime. The incident has drawn sharp condemnations from the Dalit community. “There were no previous incidents of caste tension in Pathardi earlier. The sheer ferocity of the murders has profoundly disturbed the sentiments of the community,” said Sunil Salve, a local Dalit activist. “Sunil’s torso was found only on Wednesday evening, before which the family’s last rites could not be conducted. The murders simply beggar description,” said a stunned Anandraj Ambedkar, chief of the Republican Sena. Alleging that the police and district administration was corrupt, Mr. Ambedkar said that the Ahmednagar police did not do act when a Dalit youth was beaten to death earlier this year. When contacted, Ahmednagar Superintendent of Police Lakhmi Gautam said no arrests had been made so far.“We have not picked anybody as yet. Various angles are being explored,” he told The Hindu, refusing to comment on the possible motives of the killers. Ahmednagar has been a hotbed of atrocities against Dalits in the recent past, with a similarly gory precedent found in the January 2013 Sonai murder case. There, the mutilated bodies of three Dalit youths, who worked as sweepers, were found in a septic tank in Sonai village, hacked to death. Dalit leader and president of the Republican Party of India (A) Ramdas Athawale, while demanding a CID probe into the incident, has urged that Ahmednagar be declared as an ‘atrocity-prone area’. (The  Hindu 23/10/14)

3. He allegedly assaulted a seven-year-old Dalit boy at a temple in Nelamangala (2)

Bangalore: An atrocity case has been booked against the priest of Rudreshwara temple in Nelamangala who had allegedly assaulted a seven-year-old Dalit boy in the temple on Monday. The priest, Vijay Kumar, allegedly banged the head of Santosh against the wall when he went into the temple to collect ‘prasada’ which was being distributed. The priest, however, claimed the boy was caught stealing in the temple and had slipped and injured himself when they tried to chase him, according to the Nelamangala police. Initially, the boy’s parents and the temple administration had a meeting and decided not to file a complaint. The parents, however, filed a complaint later since the boy was admitted to the Nelamangala government hospital and the doctors registered it as medico-legal case. According to a senior police official, the boy’s father, a cobbler residing in Jayanagar (a Dalit colony) in Nelamangala, in his complaint said that though the priest had beaten up Santosh, he did not know about his caste background. The police, however, have registered an atrocity case against Vijay Kumar along with the charge of assault. The police are on the lookout for Vijay Kumar. (The Hindu 23/10/14)

4. Dalits have tough time in Panampatti (2)

COIMBATORE: For all its proximity to an industrial city, Panampatti, about 25 km from here in Kinathukadavu taluk, still witnesses discrimination of Dalits, allegedly by Caste Hindus. A casual visit to a small eatery revealed two entrances to it. While the main door was meant for the Caste Hindus, the other was a small gap on a broken wall a few feet away for the Dalits. There were separate enclosures for the Dalits to wash hands and dispose of used banana leaves. Enquiries revealed that the Dalits worked in farm lands of Caste Hindus or went to construction work in nearby towns and lived on Arunthathiyar and Maduraiveeran Streets. They also claimed that they cut each others hair or went to other saloons in nearby places. A construction worker said that though the Caste Hindus or eatery owners did not stop the Dalits from using the main entrance, the other entrance remained open. “We don’t go there because we don’t want to create trouble,” he said. Others said they avoided frequenting the eateries to avert humiliation. A Dalit youth said that when he questioned some Caste Hindus about the discrimination, they reportedly told him not to use the facility if he did not like the practice there. “Dalits are afraid to raise these issues as they lack unity and also because they work in the farm lands owned by Caste Hindus,” said S. Manikandan, of Thanthai Periyar Dravida Kazhagam . The party’s general secretary, K. Ramakrishnan, said that they would organise a demonstration in front of the Kinathukkadavu taluk office on October 31.  The Tamilar Viduthalai Iyakkam has planned to gherao the Collectorate here on Monday .When contacted, Coimbatore Superintendent of Police M. Sudhakar said there was no complaint from the villagers.  Collector Archana Patnaik said that special teams were trying to gather evidence on the allegation.  (The Hindu 26/10/14)

5. Two Dalits murdered; 3 injured in lathicharge (2)

Tirunelveli: Two Dalits, one a district secretary of a Dalit outfit, were allegedly murdered in different areas today, leading to violence by protesters and a police lathicharge to disperse them, injuring three persons. Mahesh, District Secretary of Mallar Meetpu Kazhagam was allegedly murdered by a gang at Purkidmal Nagar in the city while he was talking to his friends, while N Marimuthu was murdered at nearby Kottaram, police said. Mahesh had complained to the District Collector yesterday to initiate action under Protection of Civil Rights Act over a recent incident in which another Dalit youth was allegedly hacked and injured at Seevalaperi Pottal after a skirmish between him and caste Hindus, they said. They had also prevented the youth from being taken to a hospital for treatment. However, police intervened and and got him admitted. Police said that Dalits in Purkidmal Nagar blocked the road, demanding the arrest of the culprits responsible for Mahesh’s murder and pelted stones at buses, damaging two of them. Attempts to get them to disperse failed after which police lathicharged them, injuring three persons. Marimuthu, hailing from Kottaram near Melpakkam, 14 km from here, had demanded money from illegal sand miners operating in the area and might have been done away by them, they said. Armed reserve Police has been deployed in sensitive areas to monitor the situation, they added. (Business Standard 29/10/14)

TRIBALS

6. Tribal backlash severe blow to Maoist activity in Andhra-Odisha border area (6)

VISAKHAPATNAM: The incident in which angry tribals lashed out against Maoist atrocities and killed three of their Korukonda area committee members in the Maoist stronghold of Korukonda block on Sunday night has dealt a severe blow to the attempts of the Reds to regain their lost glory in the Andhra Odisha Border (AOB) area, said sources. According to sources, Sunday’s incident in the Korukonda block of Visakha agency would give enough room for the security forces to run a negative campaign against the Reds, who had only recently swung back into action following the decision of the Andhra Pradesh government to start bauxite mining in the Visakha Agency. Over the past few years the large scale arrests and surrenders of the Maoist rank and file had led to a lull in Maoist activities in the AOB. In fact, sources said that it is for the first time in the history of the Naxalite movement since the late 60s, that Maoist supporters attacked and killed Naxalites for their brutality. People first started revolting against their erstwhile heroes in the Visakha Agency after the Lakkavaram and Sagulu incident in GK Veedhi on February 19, 2013, where Naxalites opened fire and beat to death two tribals and severely injured five others. Two days after that incident one more tribal had succumbed to his injuries. According to a senior police official involved in anti-Maoist operations, ever since the Sagulu incident, the Maoists have been losing the faith and sympathy of the people in some of their stronghold pockets in Visakha Agency and the Sunday incident only added fuel to this fire. “They have already witnessed the people’s resistance in Sagulu. To revive relations with the tribals they used all kinds of strategies and were slowly increasing their presence in the Visakha Agency recently. But this incident will have wider repercussions for the Maoist movement not only in AOB, but also other stronghold areas across the country,” he said. “Such brutal tactics are only eroding their support base and taking them away from the people. No movement can sustain without people’s support,” said a former Naxalite on condition of anonymity. He said the cops would now cash in on the incident by pasting photographs and posters in every interior pocket to take up an extensive campaign against the Maoists. “People used to share their food and give us shelter when we were part of the movement in early 80s and 90s. They used to help us escape from police squads and protect us by shielding us during our journey from one area to other area. Now, the lack of ideology and affection towards the very people they claim to be taking up arms for, in addition to a dearth of able and knowledgeable leadership has been giving the movement a bad name,” he said. According to police officials, tribals were vexed with the dictatorial attitude of the Reds as well as the merciless killings of innocent tribals by branding them as police informers. “People have realized the destructive attitude of the Reds and have begun revolting against them because of their cruelty,” OSD naxal operations Vishal Gunni told TOI. “Once upon a time the movement was led by knowledgeable and committed leaders, who fought for the rights of tribals and were concerned only with their betterment. But the present movement is ridden with barbaric acts, showing the people the true colours of the Reds,” Gunni alleged. (Times of India 21/10/14)

7. Tribals kill three Maoists (6)

VISAKHAPATNAM: Tribals killed three Maoists in retaliation to the killing of a villager in the Agency area of Visakhapatnam district on Sunday night. The Maoists had abducted Sanjeeva Rao, a native of Veeravaram village and spiritual leader Jagganna Dora Simhachalam. They killed Sanjeeva Rao, after branding him as a police informer, near Balapam village. As the news of Sanjeeva Rao’s killing spread, about 300 villagers reached the spot. They surrounded the Maoists and questioned them for the killing. The villagers also demanded the release of Simhachalam. Surprised at the reaction, the Maoists pointed their weapons against the villagers and asked them to proceed to Korukonda village, where they intended to organise a ‘praja court’ and execute Simhachalam. At this juncture, the crowd, apprehending more killings, pounced on the Maoists and snatched their weapons. In the melee, three Maoists were stoned to death. The police recovered the AK -47 rifle of Sharat that was snatched by the Girijans in a damaged condition. Staff Reporter from Vijayawada reports: Director General of Police (DGP) J.V. Ramudu told mediapersons that the police were in no way involved in the incident and they reached the spot on receipt morning on receipt of information. Sanjeeva Rao, who joined in the mainstream, was not named in any incident since 2001. Last night, a group of Maoists cordoned Mr. Rao and another local, Simhachalam, and tried to abduct them branding them as police informers. The Maoist whose body was reportedly washed away in the stream was yet to be identified, said Mr. Ramudu. (The Hindu 21/10/14)

8. Forest dwellers agree to move out of Similipal (6)

Baripada, Oct. 22: Similipal authorities have taken an initiative to shift a tribal settlement from its core area — a major step for conferring the national park status on the wildlife sanctuary. A palli sabha (village council meeting) was held last week at Jamuna village in the core area of the sanctuary, which was the first tiger reserve of the state. The majority of the inhabitants agreed to leave the area. The consent for shifting was given by 56 of the 62 tribal families that attended the meeting presided by the local ward member. The block development officer (BDO) and Jashipur tehsildar, apart from forest officials, were also present. Jashipur BDO Dharmendra Mallick said: “Fifty-six of the 62 families had attended the palli sabha, and they agreed to shift. A resolution to this effect has been passed, and we will hand over a copy of the resolution to the wildlife authorities.” The buffer area of the sanctuary is home to 60 villages, but they need not be relocated. The shifting is required in the case of the four tribal settlements at Jenabil, Jamuna, Kabatkhai and Bakua located in the core area since 1973. While Jenabil residents have already relocated, three other settlements remain. “Though Similipal had been considered for the status of a national park earlier, there hasn’t been any formal notification because of the presence of three human settlements in the core area,” said field director of the Similipal Tiger Reserve Anup Nayak. The forest department has been trying since long to shift them, but the efforts suffered a setback when Maoists attacked the sanctuary in 2009 and again in 2010. “Following the Maoist attacks, the forest department employees were afraid to enter the core area. Some voluntary organisations also tried to mislead the tribal people staying there,” said a wildlife activist, adding that the tribal people had now begun to realise that the shifting would be in their own interest. “After sustained efforts, a palli sabha could be held successfully at Jamuna village, and the outcome was positive,” said Nayak. “According to the Wildlife (Protection) Act and guidelines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the core area of a tiger reserve should be free from human habitation and such habitations, if any, should be relocated through the consent of the residents,” deputy director of the tiger reserve Ajit Satpathy said. “After a series of visits to the village, the inhabitants were convinced about the forest department’s proposal of shifting. They have agreed to shift. A place has been identified for relocating them,” said honorary wildlife warden Bhanoomitra Acharya, adding that following relocation, the villagers could get the benefits of several government schemes. “Besides a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to each family, as approved by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the district collector will provide 10 decimal homestead land and a house under the Mo Kudia scheme to each family at the relocation site,” said a district official. Sanjukta Basha, another wildlife warden of Mayurbhanj, said: “The tribal residents of Jamuna village are encouraged by seeing the Janabil residents, who have been resettled in Udala. They have realised that their brethren are leading a better life now. Therefore, they have agreed to vacate the core area.” After the palli sabha’s success, the forest department’s next move will be to convince the inhabitants of Kabatghai and Bakua to move out of the core area. The department has started issuing identity cards to those staying in the buffer zone. The mission’s aim is to identify the genuine residents and prevent unlawful activities, mainly poaching and smuggling of timber and forest produce. Each identified individual above the age of five would be issued with an identity card. Nayak said: “The department has undertaken the drive to identify the genuine residents. After the identification process is over, the settlers will be issued with identity cards following approval of the gram sabhas.” The exercise will give forest officials a fair idea of the exact population in the buffer zone. The sanctuary authorities have, for the first time, introduced package tours for visitors. The cost of each package depends on the areas and the facilities. While the package costing Rs 4,000 includes visits to Ramtirtha, Gudugudia, Uski, Bareipani and Joronda waterfalls apart from Chahala and Brundaban, the one that comes for Rs 5,000 takes tourists to some more places. There are two other packages worth Rs 10,000 and Rs 12,000. (The Telegraph 23/10/14)

9. Seven tribal villages now open defecation free (6)

UDAIPUR: South Rajasthan may be a tribal dominant and a socio-economically backward area in the state but great things are happening here. Seven villages of Chittorgarh, Udaipur and Bhilwara districts have become Open Defecation Free (ODF) as 10,000 households have broken off from the traditional practice of defecating in the open after constructing pucca toilets at their homes. Project ‘Maryadaa’ is being championed by the state government and Vedanta group’s Hindustan Zinc, one of the global largest producer of zinc, silver and lead, with a mission to make Rajasthan an Open Defecation Free state. The project operates with an innovative methodology for mobilizing communities to progressively work towards stopping open defecation. “Vedanta ‘Maryadaa’ campaign joined the Prime Minister call for Swachh Bharat, we carried a special drive at Vedanta premises, colony and within community,” Anil Agarwal, chairman of the group, tweeted recently. Vedanta business locations carried out cleanliness drive and employees too joined the campaign in its townships. “Taking forward the Swachh Bharat campaign, Hindustan Zinc is constructing 30,000 toilets out of which 10,000 have already been constructed. Once we complete our initial target, 80 villages will become ODF in Rajasthan within two years,” Pavan Kaushik, the spokesperson informed. “I learnt about the negative effects of open defecation, and I did not want to be the one contributing to the pollution of the environment and exposing other people to risks,” said Kaisi Bai a poor tribal woman at Karget village, near Debari in Udaipur, who was among the first people to dig a pit. All the members of her family now use toilet and do not go in open for defecation. “My grandchildren do not suffer from stomach problems now after we started using toilet,” she said. Kaisi Bai had to spend only 900 rupees from her pocket, the rest of the expenditure, about Rs 8000 was met by Hindustan Zinc and the state government. Similarly, many households of Maton village at Maton mines, Rela, Nevatalai and Chanawda villages at Zawar Mines, Dabok, at Zinc Smelter Debari are the villages in Udaipur while Bansen at Chittorgarh Parasrampura village at Agucha Mines in Bhilwara have been facilitated by the project partners to become ODF. “I am very happy to have a lavatory. I find it very convenient using it instead of going to the bush. This gives me privacy to do my business with dignity” said Kanku Bai, another beneficiary. The project also emphasis on behaviour change as a more sustainable way to sanitation improvement. It triggers a realization in the community on the harmful consequences of open defecation and a desire to take immediate action. “The villagers required a great amount of persuasion and counseling for construction and use of toilets and importantly to maintain them amicably. Initially, no one was ready as they obviously preferred the easy way, open defecation. But women and children played important role and so the elderly people. It’s a collective effort to live a life of dignity” Kaushik added. Now all the households at the seven villages are are proud of their achievements. It is not easy for poor earning tribal families to spare money required to build their individual toilets when it can be had for free in the fields. Certainly there are going to be many more success stories on the lines of these villages, which has already taken a lead. (Times of India 26/10/14)

 

10. Tribal blocks to get Rs.10 crore each for development (6)

New Delhi: The government Tuesday launched a programme under which Rs.10 crore will be provided to each block for the development of various facilities for Scheduled Tribes.  The “Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana” (VKY) was launched by Tribal Welfare Minister Jual Oram at a meeting of the tribal welfare ministers of states and union territories. The scheme was launched on a pilot basis in one block each in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Telangana, Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat. Under the scheme, the Centre will provide Rs.10 crore to each block for the development of various facilities for tribals. The blocks have been selected on the recommendations of the concerned states and have very low literacy rate. “The scheme mainly focuses on bridging infrastructural gaps and gaps in human development indices between Scheduled Tribes and other social groups,” Oram said. The minister said blocks having at least 33 percent of tribal population will be chosen for the programme. (New Kerala 28/10/14)

11. Maoist victims stage protest (6)

VISAKHAPATNAM: A group of tribals staged a protest in front of the houses of three civil rights activists in the city on Wednesday to protest the alleged support to Maoists by civil rights activists. Around 20 to 30 tribals belonging to Veeravaram village and other parts of GK Veedhi mandal, one of the most Maoist-infested mandal, raised their voice against civil rights activists. The protesters included family members and relatives of Gemmeli Sanjeeva Rao, who was brutally killed by Maoists a week ago in the Korukonda block. It may be recalled that soon after Sanjeeva Rao’s brutal killing, enraged tribals had killed three Maoists, including a commander, Sindri Chinna Ranga Rao alias Sarat. The activists staged protests outside Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Council (APCLC) Visakha unit president T Srirammurthy’s house at Gajuwaka, as well as APCLC members G Raghuram’s house at Mangapuram Colony near Kalabharathi Auditorium and A Annapoorna’s house at Arilova. They questioned the civil rights activists on their reasons for supporting Maoists who have been killing innocent tribals and urged the civil liberties leaders to protect them from Reds. But the civil rights leaders alleged that the tribals were brought from Visakha agency by cops, who influenced them to conduct the protest. Interestingly, the presence of many Visakha Rural police cops involved in anti-naxal operations was visible in the protest areas. Speaking to media persons, one of the tribals Sanjeeva Rao asked why the civil rights leaders were not questioning the Maoist menace against tribals. “APCLC leaders have been raising their voice whenever any Maoist is killed or arrested, but never in support of tribals being killed at the hands of Naxalites,” he said. On the other hand, APCLC leader Raghuram accused the police department of creating another Salwa Judum in the Visakha Agency against Maoists and alleged that it was the cops who had brought the tribals to his house. “APCLC does not have any link with the killings of tribals by Naxalites or the killing of Naxalites by tribals. APCLC will send a fact finding committee to the Korukonda incident area,” he said, pointing out that APCLC has never told people or Naxalites to kill anyone and its only endeavour was to protect the democratic rights of the people. (Times of India 30/10/14)

WOMEN

12. ‘Marital and other rapes grossly under-reported’ (8)

New Delhi: Two of every three women in the study reported sexual violence by husband. Husbands commit a majority of acts of sexual violence in India, and just one per cent of marital rapes and six per cent of rapes by men other than husbands are reported to the police, new estimates show. In keeping with the widely held belief among women’s rights activists in India that sexual violence is grossly under-reported, social scientist Aashish Gupta with the Research Institute for Compassionate Economics compared National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) statistics on officially reported cases of violence against women with data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), which asked women respondents whether they had faced any sexual or physical violence. Since the most recent round of the NFHS was conducted in 2005, Mr. Gupta compared the NCRB statistics for that year with the extent of violence that women had admitted to in the NFHS survey. Mr. Gupta found that while 157 per 1,00,000 women reported to NFHS surveyors that they had experienced rape by men other than their husbands in the past 12 years, 6,590 — or nearly two of every three women — said their husbands had physically forced them to have sexual intercourse against their will. This meant that just 2.3 per cent of all rapes experienced by women were by men other than their husbands. For both marital and non-marital rapes, however, the officially reported figures were extremely low, Mr. Gupta said in a working paper he shared with The Hindu. Comparing the NCRB and NFHS data in 2005, just 5.8 per cent of rapes by men other than the woman’s husband were reported to the police, and just 0.6 per cent of rapes by the husband. Since marital rape was not recognised as a crime in India, it was probably reported as “cruelty,” Mr. Gupta found. While India lacks a “crime victimisation survey,” which in countries such as England has largely replaced police statistics as official crime data, Mr. Gupta’s findings are confirmed by other sources. The NFHS itself asks women who experienced violence if they reported it to the police; just 0.6 per cent said that they had. The Delhi-based women’s rights organisation Jagori made similar findings in a sample survey in Delhi in 2011 — just 0.8 per cent of women who had been sexually assaulted, stalked or harassed reported it to the police. “There have been some area-specific studies like ours, but the NFHS is really the only victimisation study that India has,” Kalpana Viswanath, researcher and executive committee member of Jagori, told The Hindu. “Our recommendation has been for the NFHS to expand their questions on violence and look at sexual violence other than rape too,” she said. Severe physical violence was equally under-reported, Mr. Gupta found. At the State level, Mr. Gupta looked at physical violence and marital rape, since the numbers on rape by men other than the husband were too small at the State level for statistical analysis. Delhi has the lowest actual incidence of violence against women and highest rates of reporting in the country. In general, States associated with gender equality — the North-Eastern States, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka — had both lower levels of actual incidence of violence and higher levels of reporting, but no State reached double digits in its extent of reporting. (The Hindu 22/10/14)

13. Sex determination cases: HRC suggests fast-track courts (8)

BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh Human rights Commission (MPHRC) has recommended to state government to form special fast-track courts to speed up trial in female foeticide and sex determination cases to curb illegal sex determination cases being carried out on the sly in some hospitals in the state. The commission has asked state to supervise 19 districts of the state to prevent the obnoxious practice. The commission also recommended that collectors of all districts be directed to take strong action against the crime. In 21 districts, sex ratio is skewed and number of female is less than 900 per 1000 compared to male. Gwalior, Sagar, Betul, Guna, Morena, Indore, Khargone, Khandwa, Bhind, Ratlam, Shivpuri, Bhuranpur, Chhindwara are among districts where the skewed sex ratio is more pronounced. In Tincha village of Indore, male to female ratio is 1000:571. All sonography centers, genetic and ultra-sonic clinic should be connected to main server of the district through satellite observation system, ultra-sound tracking technology and active tracker to monitor sonography, the commission said. To sensitize people about repercussions of sex determination, workshops should be conducted by hospitals and district committees after looking into reasons for anomaly. “Some hospitals in state are still indulging in illegal practice of sex determination. Illegal practice of female foeticide continues to take place in cities and districts. Strict vigilance and tough action are only way to curb the practice” said Rohit Mehta, spokesperson, MPHRC.  (Times of India 23/10/14)

14. Women draw up charter against sexual violence (8)

Kozhikode: A discussion on the women’s protection Bill here saw women demanding sterner action against the guilty in cases of sexual abuse of minors and the elderly. They said these were not normal sexual harassment cases and the guilty should be chemically castrated in addition to the usual punishment under the law. The discussion was organised by the Kerala Women’s Commission and Awass, a cultural organisation, at Thiruvambadi here on Wednesday. Hundreds of women who took part in the discussion felt that the guilty in sexual harassment cases should be sentenced to life imprisonment along with a fine up to Rs.50 lakh. They demanded that moral education be included in the curriculum from kindergarten to post-graduation. Those trying to rescue the accused in such cases should be listed as convicts and sentenced to a minimum of three years in prison with a fine of Rs.5 lakh. These were part of a 52-point guideline drawn up at the discussion that would be submitted to the Assembly subject committee at a sitting at the Kozhikode Collectorate soon. Earlier, chairperson of the Kerala State Women’s Commission Rosakutty inaugurated the discussion as well as a women empowerment seminar. In her address, Ms. Rosakutty demanded fast-track courts at the taluk level for dealing with cases relating to violence against women, especially sexual harassment cases. President of the Thiruvambadi grama panchayat Eliyamma George presided over the programme. Around 400 women representing the 12 grama panchayats in the district attended the programme under the leadership of the respective grama panchayat presidents and vice presidents. (The Hindu 26/10/14)

15. Anti-dowry law caution to states (8)

New Delhi, Oct. 26 (PTI): The Union home ministry has asked all state governments and Union territories to be judicious in slapping the penal code’s stringent anti-dowry section in cases of matrimonial disputes as the provision might be used as “weapons rather than shields by disgruntled wives”. In an advisory to the states and Union territories, the ministry has asked them to instruct police officers not to automatically arrest a person when a case under Section 498A is registered but to first satisfy themselves if arrest is necessary under Section 41 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Section 41 of the CrPC gives the police powers to arrest any person without an order from a magistrate and without a warrant in case of a cognisable offence. Under Section 498A of the IPC, the husband of a woman or his relatives accused of subjecting her to cruelty can be jailed for up to three years and also fined. The home ministry advisory quoted a Supreme Court observation that said there has been a phenomenal increase in matrimonial disputes in recent years. That the offences under Section 498A were cognisable and non-bailable had lent it a dubious place of pride among the provisions that are used as weapons rather than shields by disgruntled wives, the ministry said. “All the state governments/Union territory administrations are requested to take effective measures to scrupulously enforce the directions/order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court as also advisories issued by the government of India from time to time,” the ministry said. The state governments have been asked to provide all police officers with a check list, including the reasons and materials that necessitated the arrest, while forwarding or producing an accused before a magistrate for further detention. The magistrate, the advisory said, shall peruse the report furnished by the police officer concerned and authorise detention only after recording his or her satisfaction. The advisory said the decision not to arrest an accused should also be forwarded to the magistrate concerned within two weeks of the date of the institution of the case. The ministry said failure to comply with the above-mentioned directions would, apart from rendering the police officers concerned liable for departmental action, also make the officers liable to be punished for contempt of court in proceedings to be instituted before the high court that has territorial jurisdiction over the case. The judicial magistrate concerned shall also be liable for departmental action by the appropriate high court if he authorises detention without recording the reasons, the ministry said, quoting from the Supreme Court order. (The Telegraph 28/10/14)

16. Man gets 5 years RI for abetting wife to suicide (8)

PANCHKULA: A local district court on Wednesday sentenced a man, Pardeep Singh, to five years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs20,000 on charges of abetting his wife to commit suicide. Additional district and sessions judge AK Sharma pronounced the verdict after finding Pardeep (34), a resident of Morni, guilty of the crime. Reena was found hanging from the ceiling of her house on December 23, 2013, when she was eight weeks pregnant. Her husband, the accused in the case, told police that he had a fight with her a night earlier, and they did not sleep together. Police booked him after a complaint from Sunil, brother of the deceased, who alleged that Singh used to beat his sister regularly for dowry. A case of dowry death was registered at the Chandimandir police station, but the police did not recover any suicide note from the spot. Pardeep was arrested the next day on December 24, 2013. He was later released from dowry allegations, but witnesses in the case confirmed that Reena used to be beaten up regularly by her husband. Reena had locked the room from inside, and no signs of struggle were found by the police. After the trial, Pardeep was convicted and sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment. (Times of India 30/10/14)

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

17. Scared of abuse, life is not easy for street children (14)

New Delhi: Even though facts and figures are the essence of the issue of child labour in India, it is important to get in touch with the ground reality to understand the apathy that street children face. Studies have found that one out of five children, employed illegally, is a rag picker. The same studies indicate that two out of five children are roped in by placement agencies as domestic labour. Another avenues which involve child labour are segregation and dismantling of e-waste. This newspaper explored the lives of three children who battle for survival every day in Delhi. Ragi, a nine-year-old boy lives with his best friends close to the dumps in South Delhi’s Nizamuddin area. He works for more than 12 hours a day. Life is not easy for Ragi and his friends. They spend most of the day on heaps of waste material dumped by the city. Ragi and his friends say that working as rag pickers has taught them a lot. “Yahan sab se darna padta hai, bade ladke nasha karke hume pareshaan karte hai,” says Karmi. While these children have to struggle for their livelihood they also have safeguard themselves from the elder boys who bully them for money and at times also molest them. The risk of survival is manifold as the garbage heaps mostly have toxic waste which exposes them to diseases. Ragi said they all fear for their lives as they recently lost a friend. “We do not know how Lucky died, he had started coughing blood and then he stopped coming to dumps regularly. Rest is history.” The matter of fact tone of Ragi gives away the fact that all these children know that they might have similar fate. Ragi ran away from his house in Uttar Pradesh when he was seven. Since then he has been living with two of his friends. Each of them have a unique story Sukku, a 12-year-old, works for a chaiwala in Lajpat Nagar. He was sold by his family to someone who introduced himself as an agent for placement service in Delhi. “My family sold me for Rs 500, from Jharkhand to Delhi, it was a journey I thought I would never survive. That man had sold me to another person who seemed very suspicious. I ran away. Then I came to Delhi. Its has been three years since then,” said Sukku. Interestingly, he feels safe with the owner of the tea stall. “He beats me when I break a glass, but that is fine. He also gives me food and I know he will not harm me. I don’t want to go back.” The owner of the tea stall said that the boy came to him for work and help. “He came to me on his own, he works during the day and is free to study at night. But he says he wants to have enough money to run his own tea stall when he grows up. How can I stop him from pursuing his dream.” One thing that is common between these children is that they all are aware of the consequences of the lives they are leading. Not all of them feel that they being ill-treated as for most of them it is the way of life. (Asian Age 21/10/14)

18. Child Rights Panel Moots Compensation (14)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : State Commission for Protection of Child Rights on Tuesday recommended the Additional Chief Secretary, Home Affairs, to grant Rs 25,000 each as compensation to two tribal children of Wayanad who were beaten up by the police for their alleged role in a burglary. The Division Bench of the Commission comprising acting chairperson Nazeer Chaliyam and member Glory George has directed the Additional Chief Secretary to handover the compensation to the parents of the children within one month. The children and their parents had given  statements before the Commission that the policemen manhandled them accusing them of stealing a laptop and camera from the school in which they have been studying. (New Indian Express 22/10/14)

19. Half a lakh children out of school in Tamil Nadu (14)

CHENNAI : Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s call to end child labour should be taken up in earnest by the state if it has to ensure that all its children are enrolled in schools. A door-to-door survey conducted by the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan wing of the school education department this year has revealed that 43,448 children are out of school in the state, and experts says prevalence of child labour is big stumbling in achieving 100% enrolment. Villupuram tops the list of districts with the most number of out-of-school children. As many as 3,085 children are not enrolled in schools in the district. It was not among the top five four years ago, but has overtaken Coimbatore, which held the number one position in 2010, this time. Coimbatore, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram and Salem complete the top five. Chennai comes ninth with 1,945 out-of-school children. Tamil Nadu is ahead of most states when it comes to enrolment of children. The state is known to have achieved more than 99% enrolment. Child rights activists said Villupuram, a predominantly agricultural district, is plagued by high prevalence of child labour. Tribals in the area tend to migrate across the district in search of work and take their families along. This prevents the children from joining regular school, and they eventually join their parents at work. “Poorly run government schools that do not have separate toilets for girls and boys, lack of a compound wall or even a teacher for every classroom do not encourage parents to send their children to such schools. They prefer to send them to low-cost private schools, but when finances run dry they pull them out,” said P B Prince Gajendra Babu, child rights activist and general secretary of State Platform for Common School System. Around 12.5% of the population in Villupuram belongs to scheduled castes. Frequent incidents of caste-related violence also make sending children to school unsafe. Alcoholism is rampant and unemployment high as the district ranks low in terms of industrialisation, activists said. R Vidyasagar, child protection specialist at Unicef, said in TN there is access to education, but some communities are not empowered to access it. “It is time the state looked beyond general schemes for bringing children to school. This is the last mile population and enrolling them in schools is the big challenge,” he said. The other districts with a high number of out-of-school children also have a large population of migrant labourers. The lack of identity proof makes them ineligible for social security, which ultimately results in parents sending their children to work to add to the family income. (Times of India 24/10/14)

20. Kids missing from city being sold as bonded farm labour (14)

New Delhi: Seventeen-year-old Aman has spent his teenage so far rearing cattle and toiling at a farm in Gurdaspur, Punjab. He would have joined college this year had he stayed home that morning six years ago. Aman was abducted from near Shalimar Bagh in Delhi when he was going for tuition. He woke up at a farmhouse hundreds of kilometres away and was forced into agricultural labour. He worked for 16 hours a day till he managed to run away last month. He is among hundreds of boys kidnapped from Delhi every year to be sold off to rich landlords by traffickers. The sad part is that families buying these boys believe they are giving them a better life. “I was forced to learn Punjabi and they hardly gave me any food or money. They woke me up at 5am daily and then locked me in a room again at 11pm without a ten-minute break during the day,” Aman told counsellors after his rescue. After several attempts to flee, the owners of the farm had let dogs loose on him. But he succeeded in breaching the fence one day and got help from army personnel to reach Delhi. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights had estimated in 2007 that two-third of the country’s child labour force was engaged in agriculture. That number has only increased since then. Children are stolen from the city and sold for anything between Rs. 10,000 and a lakh mainly in villages of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab. “There were two children who reached the Old Delhi Railway Station from Ballia in Bihar two years ago. They were caught by traffickers and put to work at a dhabha nearby. They ran from there but were caught again and taken to Meerut to work in sugarcane fields,” said Rakesh Senger, who heads the rescue team at Bachpan Bachao Andolan. According to Senger, it’s a growing racket whose existence and enormity becomes known only when a child is rescued. Thousands of children go missing from Delhi every year. Those trafficked land up in sex trade, begging and now at farms in neighbouring states. “Often children do not understand they are being exploited. Ask them if they were ever taken for an outing. They share how the owner once let them sit in a jeep and be driven around the farm,” said Senger. A decline in the number of agricultural labourers due to migration to cities and the convenience of employing a child has led landlords to get in touch with traffickers. “Children are silent workers. They can work for long hours at less pay. Their dexterity and nimble fingers are particularly used in fields of Bt Cotton,” said Soha Moitra, Director, Child Rights and You. She blamed the loopholes in the Child Labour Act, which does not ban employing children aged between 14 and 18 years in non-hazardous activity, for increase in such cases. “Agriculture is not considered hazardous. So children above 14 years can be engaged on farms. Also, there is a lack of regulation. The ministries of agriculture and labour should work together on this issue,” she said. Often such cases end with the rescue of a child. The employers seldom face action due to a lack of will and coordination among the police in different states. (Hindustan Times 26/10/14)

21. Push for child law review (14)

New Delhi, Oct. 28: The country’s apex child rights body has acknowledged that the laws on children are contradictory and initiated the process of a review. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has decided to set up a three-member working group to harmonise the laws and remove conflicting provisions. “The commission has observed that there are many gaps and discrepancies in various laws concerning the rights of children. The commission is, therefore, of the view that the provisions of these laws need harmonisation for better understanding and applicability,” Asheem Srivastav, member-secretary of the NCPCR, said in a letter to rights activists. The letter, dated October 24, invites them to be part of the proposed group. The aim of the group, likely to be given two months for the job, is to examine and review existing laws, identify gaps, discrepancies and contradictions, and prepare a “concept note” on how they can be harmonised. The discrepancies have long been a sore point between governments and child rights groups. According to them, the only time the problem was addressed was almost 30 years ago during the tenure of Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister, who had formed a committee under eminent activist Padma Seth to look into the issue. The matter has been on the backburner since. “This (review of the laws) has been our long-standing demand. Instead of amending the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the government has created special laws like POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act) and the JJ (Juvenile Justice) Act, which not only contradict each other but also create unnecessary confusion, harming children in the process. The recommendations of this (proposed) group will open the doors for repeal of redundant and contradictory laws,” said Enakshi Ganguly, a child rights activist. Others cited examples. Under POCSO, having sexual relations with a minor is statutory rape, but under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, child marriage is not invalid unless either party seeks annulment. While the IPC gives criminal immunity to children below seven — they cannot be arrested or prosecuted — no such provision exists under the JJ Act. This, activists say, keeps them out of the care and protection of the JJ Act that aims to reform minors. “Several laws in India regarding children contradict each other, particularly over the question of age. The sentence under each law is different, leading to confusion. In fact, there are laws dating back to 1933 and they should be repealed immediately,” said Bharti Ali, co-director of HAQ: Centre for Child Rights. Ali pointed to some discrepancies in rape laws. On the one hand, POCSO makes consent immaterial in the case of rape victims below 18. On the other hand, married girls between 15 and 18 cannot claim rape by their husbands because of lack of laws on marital rape, Ali said. Lawyer and activist Ananth Asthana, who has been approached by the child rights panel to be part of the review group, believes multiple laws have led to “chaos”. “The legislative exercise on matters related to children has been so multi-dimensional and multi-pronged that it has resulted in chaos. High time this is resolved. I am thankful to the National Child Rights Commission for having taken note of this.” (The Telegraph 29/10/14)

MINORITIES – GENERAL

22. HC poser on minority schools, EWS (7)

NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court has asked the state government to answer why unaided minority schools are exempted from providing free admission and tuition to students belonging to the economically weaker sections. HC’s notice came in response to a petition by an NGO challenging a single judge’s order upholding the government policy. In September this year, the court had held that irrespective of the lease deed, a minority school has no liability to admit students for free even if the lease deed of the government mentions that the land was allotted to the school at concessional rates. Civil rights organization Social Jurist, in its plea before a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw sought reversal of the order. While issuing notice to Delhi government, Delhi Development Authority, Land and Development Office and a private school, HC has given them time till November 3, the next date of hearing. Advocate Ashok Aggarwal, appearing for the NGO, submitted “all schools including unaided minority schools which are on public land allotted to them at concessional rates are obliged to provide admission to EWS students to the extent of 20% and to grant free-ship to them”. (Times of India 21/10/14)

23. Minority status sought for Zakir Husain college (7)

New Delhi: A city-based NGO for minority rights has sought minority status for the Zakir Husain Delhi College (ZHDC) in view of its historical background and its significant role as in imparting education to the Muslim community. The NGO, Nawa-e-Haque Welfare Association, has approached the Zakir Husain Delhi College authorities and its board of trustees, including former Union minister Salman Khurshid, and Delhi Congress MLA Harun Yusuf, to seek and push for minority status considering that about 70 per cent of the members of the institution’s governing body and staff administration belong to the minority Muslim community. “I request all concerned authorities of the ZHDC to initiate the process of getting minority status certificate from the concerned authorities so that 50 per cent seats can be reserved for minorities as per our constitutional laws,” the NGO said in its memorandum to the college authorities and its trustees. The letter emphasised that the ZHDC was a Muslim minority institution since its origin as its history could be traced with the founding of a madrasa, where the complex containing a tomb, a mosque and a madrasa could be visited even today outside the Ajmeri Gate near the Dargah of Hazrat Hafiz Sadullah. “Not without any specific reason, even today more than 70 per cent members of the ZHDC governing body and administrative staff belong to Muslim minority community including the top key posts,” it asserted. The memorandum added: “Let’s not ignore the fact that the administrative bodies of four Sikh and two Christian colleges affiliated to the University of Delhi struggled for their rights and today they enjoy their religious minority status.” The organisation said that it was a matter of “serious” concern that the governing body of the Zakir Husain Delhi College had never taken up the matter for grant of minority status certification with the concerned authorities besides the fact that a special commission was established by the Central government for this purpose which has awarded 9,973 minority status certificates since 2005 till date. (Asian Age 23/10/14)

24. Trilokpuri clashes: Hotbed of discontent since ’84 riots (7)

New Delhi: This is not the first time that Trilokpuri has been at the epicentre of communal violence. Thirty years ago, during the 1984 massacre, 350 Sikhs were mercilessly slaughtered here. Trilokpuri never quite recovered from it. The area has been reeling under tension since then, with locals claiming that clashes during festivities have become a recurrent feature over the years. On November 1, 1984, a mob came ripping through the neighbourhood of Block 32 in Trilokpuri. Nearly 350 Sikhs were dragged out their homes and killed; some burnt alive, others beaten to death. As violence broke out here again on Friday, a day after Diwali, locals residents claim that such an incident was only waiting to happen. Friday’s clash is also the biggest in the area in the last 30 years. Locals said the clashes so far have been restricted to bylanes and have never spread beyond. “This is the first time after the 1984 riots that an issue has flared up to this degree. Local fights over parking and use of speakers during namaaz and jagrans are daily affairs,” a resident said. “Such violence doesn’t require the excuse of a trigger. On August 15, there was a clash between two groups over kite-flying. Earlier this month, during Eid, there was a clash. Every time there is a festival, it is an excuse for people to instigate a clash,” Javed, a local resident said. Sunil Kumar Vaid, former MLA of Trilokpuri, said, “The area has been declared a sensitive zone by the Election Commission and Delhi Police. I have spoken out against the issue of bootlegging and gambling in the area. As a result, I got shot at and the Delhi Police assigned a personal security officer to me. The area requires maintenance of proper law and order.” “The area is predominantly a Dalit constituency. Muslims occupy about 20 per cent of the area. They are mostly concentrated in and around Block 20. During the Kanwariya procession, the Hindus go through the Muslim-dominated areas. This triggers an issue with Muslims protesting against the noisy procession. During Eid, the Hindus ask Muslims not to slaughter goats and this leads to clashes,” a source said. (Indian Express 26/10/14)

25. ‘Minorities now prefer BJP’ (7)

Kolkata: : A day after the attack on people from the minority community at Makra village in Birbhum district of West Bengal, State BJP president Rahul Sinha said on Tuesday that minorities in the State are shifting their allegiance from the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) to the BJP. “There are 28 per cent Muslim voters in West Bengal, of which 24 per cent support Trinamool Congress. The BJP is eating into the minority votes and this is resulting in attacks by the Trinamool Congress,” Mr Sinha said. State BJP leader said that after the Lok Sabha polls, two BJP activists were killed in Birbhum district on June 7 and October 9. He pointed out that Tausheer Sheikh, a BJP supporter was killed in a violent incident on October 27. While the AITC leadership said that the BJP is intimidating minorities to enter into its fold, the Congress leadership is of the opinion that the minorities joining BJP is a “temporary phenomenon”. “There are disgruntled elements in every party who change their allegiance, but what the BJP is trying is malign a particular committee so that it feels threatened and joins them,” AITC MP Sultan Ahmed told The Hindu . (The Hindu 29/10/14)

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

26. Muslim representation in Maharashtra assembly declines further (7)

MUMBAI: In an election where the hawkish All India Majlise Ittihadul Muslimeen (MIM) made an impressive debut, signalling a possible shift in Maharashtra’s Muslim politics, the number of Muslims voted into the assembly declined further. Both developments worried a section of community leaders. Before the Hyderabad-based Owaisi brothers successfully brought their party here, some Muslims had identified with the Samajwadi Party (SP) and some with the “secular” Congress and NCP. Now though, political observers say, the picture has changed. Many Muslims have deserted SP, while some have sided with Shiv Sena and BJP. Does MIM’s debut threaten Samajwadi Party? “MIM is like MNS, which came in with a bang in 2009, winning 13 seats, but has been reduced to one seat this year. MIM too will meet the same fate since it relies on its leaders’ rhetorical speeches. Muslims will tire of the rhetoric just as Maharashtrians lost faith in MNS,” said SP leader Abu Asim Azmi, who was the party’s sole winning candidate. Many see MIM’s victory as a result of Congress and NCP’s failure to address the issues faced by the Muslim community. “MIM fielded candidates in some areas with strong Muslim presence and tapped into the community’s anger. In several constituencies where Muslims make up a sizeable portion of the population, like Bandra (West), Kurla and Anushakti Nagar, a section of the community backed BJP or Sena candidates. It shows that saffron parties are no longer untouchables for Muslims,” said senior community leader Ghulam Peshimam. “A consolidation of votes along religious lines,” many believe, paved the victory of MIM’s Waris Pathan in Byculla and Imtiaz Jaleel in Aurangabad Central. “Congress and NCP wouldn’t field Muslim candidates from Muslim-dominated constituencies Byculla and Aurangabad Central, believing that these candidates would not get non-Muslim votes. MIM candidates’ victory proved that consolidated Muslim votes can be enough to secure a win,” said All India Milli Council’s M A Khalid. Khalid maintained that SP in Maharashtra was never Muslims’ preferred choice; it received support in a few constituencies with high concentration of north Indian Muslims. “If it was the first choice of most Muslims, Azmi’s son Farhan wouldn’t have lost in Muslim-dominated Bhiwandi East,” he said. (Times of India 21/10/14)

27. After Maharashtra show, MIM eyes UP Muslims (7)

LUCKNOW: After tasting blood in Maharashtra, where the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) won two seats, MIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi is all set to turn his attention to Uttar Pradesh. Not ruling out a formal launch of the party in UP ahead of the 2017 Assembly elections, the MIM-projecting itself as the next ” Muslim league” with a pan-India presence -will also launch its office in Lucknow in November. Other stops are West Bengal and Bihar, where elections are due soon. Speaking to TOI over phone from London, Hyderabad MP and MIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, said, “We have been building our base in Uttar Pradesh. In Maharashtra, we realized we could have done better if we had started sooner and changed our electoral a strategy. In UP, we have time to s strengthen our presence.” Owaisi’s UP dreams were fired by MIM’s show in Maharashtra where it bagged two seats, lost three by a narrow margin and finished third in nine constituencies. Overall, MIM polled over 5.13 lakh votes, even though it fielded, in many cases, political novices. The party also cut into the traditional vote banks of the Congress, the NCP and managed to wrest control of some areas where the BJP was believed to be strong. They also appear to have dented the Samajwadi Party in some places. And, the party’s dalit candidates also did well. Owaisi said he would visit Lucknow to inaugurate the MIM office in November, adding that he will also visit Azamgarh, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s parliamentary constituency, where he wants to address mass gatherings. Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the Azamgarh district administration had blocked Owaisi’s repeated attempts to enter the district citing law and order concerns. The two-time Lok Sabha MP, however, said, “I am a free citizen of the country and I intend to go to Azamgarh, come what-may.” The MIM strategy pivots on “sharp decline of Muslim representation in Parliament and the failure of secular parties to represent the community adequately”. “The absence of a credible Muslim voice in the party has lead to the social, economic and political marginalisation of Muslims. For this, we are asking the community to vote for us, instead of allowing their vote, and voice, to be splintered between the parties that they have traditionally voted for,” said Owaisi. Over the past months, in a series of speeches emphasizing the need for a pan-India Muslim party, Owaisi has talked about the “failure of the 25 crore Indian Muslims to make their presence felt in the LS elections.” For UP, he cited examples of how, despite being nearly 3 crore in number – about 19% of the state’s population – the community has failed to send a single Muslim to Parliament. They feel that Moradabad, Bijnor, Sambhal, Sharanpur, Muzaffarnagar and Meerut went to the BJP owing to a divided Muslim vote. Apart from the sharp oratory by the Owaisi brothers, the formal pan-India launch of the MIM, experts say, is expected to dent the Congress party the most. In UP, MIM is expected to eat into the vote share of regional parties that banked on Muslim votes; the SP and the BSP. (Times of India 23/10/14)

28. RSS body seeks to prove Indian Muslims are Hindus (7)

Jaipur: An RSS-backed organisation of genealogists is undertaking an ambitious academic exercise to prove that most Muslims in India are converts from Hinduism, a move that has met with robust scepticism from some social scientists and Islamic scholars. The Akhil Bharatiya Vanshawali Sanrakshan evum Samvardhan Sansthan (ABVSSS) says it will use oral interviews, historical records, genetic analysis and other genealogical documents to prove its theory which, in turn, can help bridge social divides. Genealogy is the study of families and tracing of ancestries to prove kinship and pedigrees and is considered by many as an inexact science. In India, genealogical records are legally tenable. The effort was agreed upon at a one-day national conference of genealogists held in the city on Monday. It is being patronised by Ram Prasad, the founder of ABVSSS, who says all Muslims and Christians in India are converts. “Ask any one of them about their lineage and their ancestors would be Hindu at some point of time,” he said. “I interacted with a number of Meo Muslims and they accepted facts about their conversion. And it was on the basis of their vanshawalis (genealogical records).” If the ancestral roots of Indian Muslims and Christians were dug deeper, claims Prasad, their exact origin and lineage could be found in some Hindu caste or community. But many believe such efforts are part of a wider ideological shift being pushed by Hindutva groups seeking to rewrite Indian history and social narratives. One such sceptic of Prasad’s genealogical proposal is Rajiv Gupta, ex-head of sociology department at University of Rajasthan who believes the information could be misused by “right wing forces” to create division. “It is an important danger. It can be used to rewrite history which may disturb (the) secular and social fabric of the country,” cautioned Gupta, while maintaining that gaining unbiased ancestral knowledge is good. Prasad, a Jaipur based RSS pracharak, said he first came across the possibility that all Indian Muslims are converts when he visited a mosque at Gulpada area of Bharatpur district in 2007. “There I asked Meos about their ancestry and many of them accepted their ancestors were Meenas (a Hindu community in eastern Rajasthan). Now Meos and Meenas have developed more social acceptance in that region,” he said. Prasad founded the ABVSSS in 2009 to further study genealogy and the organisation has been expanding ever since. Dr Sukhdev Rao, a genealogy writer and general secretary of the organisation, says a majority of Muslims in Rajasthan and its neighbouring states have started accepting their roots and it is leading to social bonding. Prasad’s organisation has already started the process to digitise genealogy records of a cross section of the population to preserve them for future generations. The organisation has formed units in 11 states and has even established a youth wing to carry forward its work on the origins of Muslims and Christians in India. For now, the reaction from the Muslim community appears to be mixed. “It is a fact that majority of Muslims are converted in India. Knowing history generates awareness but intention of the organisation (ABVSSS) should be clear,” said Mohd Iqbal Siddiqui, the media secretary of Jamat-e-Islami-Hind. “We welcome them if they want to create social harmony through genealogy.” (Hindustan Times 28/10/14)

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

29. Canon Law Society Meet Begins at Pala (7)

KOCHI: The Annual conference of the Canon Law Society of India began at the Alphonsian Pastoral Institute, Pala, on Monday. The meet, which was inaugurated by Finance Minister K M Mani, will conclude on October 24. Founded in Mumbai in 1985, for conducting studies and holding discussions on legal administration in the Church, the Canon Law Society of India gives membership to canon law experts in the three Catholic Rites in India -  Latin, Syro-Malabar, and Syro- Malankara. Oswald Cardinal Gracias of Mumbai and Rayappan Arulselvan of the St Peter Pontifical Institute, Bangalore, are patron and president of the Society, respectively. Over 200 delegates from all the dioceses in India are expected to participate in the conference. The opening session was presided over by Bishop of Pala Mar Joseph Kallarangatt.  National Minority Commission member Cyriac Thomas and Archbishop of Thrissur Mar Andrews Thazhath were also present. The sessions will be led by experts in canon law from various parts of the country. (New Indian Express 21/10/14)

30. Catholic Church demands ban on surrogacy in India (7)

MUMBAI: The Catholic Church in India is leading an appeal to the Central government to ban surrogacy in India along with a demand to not legalize euthanasia or mercy killing. Around 400 professionals including doctors, lawyers, nurses, social workers and priests had gathered at a national symposium on the subject of ‘Protecting, Preserving and Promoting the Gift of Human Life’ at St Pius X College, Goregaon. The conference from October 17-19 was organised by the Catholic Conference of Bishops of India (CCBI) Commission for Theology and Doctrine. The participants later issued a unanimous statement signed by Bishop Agnelo Gracias, who is chairperson of this commission. “Deeply saddened by the growing, dehumanising, alarming practice of surrogacy in India, we appeal to the government to uphold the dignity of Indian women and ban surrogacy in India as is done in several countries of the world. Surrogacy commercialises and demeans motherhood.” The delegates questioned the loss of dignity that surrogate mothers are subject to. TOI has reported that women who hire their wombs nearly always come from impoverished homes and live in slum colonies and are drawn by the promise of a few lakh rupees and a better future. Doctors make them live apart from their families in specialised surrogate hostels until the child is born. Fertility clinics do not allow the mother to see the newborn or breastfeed it lest she develop a bond with the child and refuse to part with him or her. The Church’s statement adds, “Vulnerable and marginalized women lured to rent their wombs are treated like commodities. This disregards their dignity as human beings, women, wives and mothers. The prolonged separation and confinement to surrogate hostels wrenches women away from their own biological families. The commissioning parents, agents and concerned medical centers control the delivery process through their monetary power invariably forcing unwarranted caesarian sections increasing maternal morbidity and mortality.” The panelists said, “The Indian government has banned the commercialisation of blood donation and organ transplantation, so the question arises as to why surrogacy has not been treated similarly. We strongly appeal to the Supreme Court, the Legislature and the Executive to ban surrogacy in India.” The community is also apprehensive of the reported move to legalise euthanasia. “We strongly condemn euthanasia which is a deliberate act of taking away a person’s life. We are opposed to it even when a person asks for his or her life to be terminated. Healthcare providers have a duty to ensure treatment which is necessary and appropriate,” the statement says. (Times of India 23/10/14)

31. Bastar Christians attacked by right-wing activists (7)

RAIPUR: After the controversial gram sabha resolutions banning non-Hindu religious activity in villages in tribal Bastar, there was fresh tension in Madota village after local Christians were assaulted allegedly by right-wing activists, leaving 12 people injured late on Saturday. Eleven of the injured are still undergoing treatment at a hospital in Jagdalpur, where they were brought in a truck. While the police recorded their statement, senior civil and police officials are tight-lipped about the clash. Chhattisgarh Christian Forum (CCF) president Arun Pannalal told TOI that the manner in which the attack was orchestrated raises suspicion that local officials were hand in glove with attackers. “An announcement was made through drum beats that residents of Kotwar village should assemble at 9am on Saturday to meet the sub-divisional magistrate, deputy superintendent of police and town inspector to discuss ways to douse tension between the two communities. They waited till evening, but nobody turned up. By evening, right-wing activists came in a truck and attacked Christians, accusing them of promoting religious conversion,” he said. Quoting local Christians, Pannalal said, a week ago BJP MP Dinesh Kashyap had visited Bhanpuri village and me gram sabha t local Christians. The MP washed their feet and then made a public announcement that they had completed the process of “ghar wapsi” or home-coming to the Hindu fold. Since then tension has been brewing between Hindus and Christians over prayer meetings at the local church. Pannalal said that Christian organisations have already moved high court challenging the resolutions adopted by the gram sabhas. “Now our writ is pending in the high court. We see this latest attack as a pressure tactic,” he said. Tribal Bastar was in focus in May this year after a number of gram sabhas, powerful bodies under the provisions of Panchayati Raj Act, adopted resolutions under section 129 (G) of State Panchayati Raj Act, banning “non-Hindu religious propaganda, prayers and speeches in villages”. (Times of India 27/10/14)

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

32. CPI (M) plans to agitate on refugee issue (13)

KOLKATA: The issue of refugees has once again become a topic of political debate in West Bengal with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) planning agitations demanding citizenship rights in the coming months. Senior CPI (M) leader and secretary of the North 24 Parganas district committee Goutam Deb said that the party will stage demonstrations outside the office of North 24 Parganas District Magistrate in which more than 20,000 refugees will participate. Commenting on the development, State President of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Rahul Sinha accused the CPI (M) of trying to gain political mileage. The All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) has also described it as a futile attempt of indulging in vote bank politics as none of the refuges seeking permanent status support the party. It is interesting that the issue of refugees particularly for those belonging to the Matua community, a socio-religious sect, which crossed over from Bangladesh, has come up after the death of AITC Kapil Krishna Thakur MP representing the Bongaon Lok Sabha constituency. Addressing a press conference here on Monday Mr. Sinha said, “Prior to the Lok Sabha by-poll, the CPI (M) has suddenly waked up to the Mautua issue.” Mr. Sinha also accused the CPI (M) of indulging in “narrow minded communal politics.” He claimed that having lost public support in Bengal, the CPI (M) is trying to capitalise on the refugee issue to regain political relevance. “In 34 years of its rule, the CPI(M) completely ignored the matuas. Mr Deb is not aware of the political realities of Bongaon area where the CPI(M) was close to getting its deposit forfeited in the Lok Sabha polls,” senior AITC leader and State’s Minister Jyotipriya Mullick said. On Friday, Mr. Deb declared that in December the CPI (M) will organise a gathering of “20,000 refugees” and submit a memorandum to the concerned District Magistrate demanding citizenship for them. He asked if the Centre can spend Rs.500 crore for those who came from Kashmir to Delhi, then why do refugees of North 24 Parganas have to live beside rail tracks. Earlier during the campaign for Lok Sabha polls, AITC chairperson and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was locked in in a war of words with BJP leader and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the refugee issue. (Th Hindu 21/10/14)

33. Now, Tibetans in exile can start enterprises (13)

Dharamsala: After getting the right to exercise their franchise in the Indian political system, Tibetans in exile can now start their own enterprises. A decision to this effect was finalised following the approval of the “Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy 2014″ by the government of India this week, an official said here Wednesday. According to the policy dated Oct 20, any Tibetan can undertake any economic activity, the official from the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) told IANS. For this, they are entitled to get a trade licence and permit. Matter concerning land lease and extending central and states benefits are also specified in the policy. Besides, it has clear-cut guidelines about the welfare of Tibetans in India. It also says Tibetan refugees may also be permitted to pursue and take jobs in any field for which they are professionally qualified. These fields could be nursing, teaching, chartered accountancy, medicine and engineering. The guideline is significant since the Indian government has tried to set a uniform policy in all states in dealing with the rehabilitation and welfare of Tibetan refugees, the official said. The CTA’s home minister Dolma Gyari thanked the Indian government for the “clear and positive” policy guidelines.

For the first time in Indian history, the Election Commission allowed India-born Tibetans to register as voters and participate in the general elections this year. Dharamsala and its nearby areas support 16,000-18,000 exiled Tibetans. Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has lived in India since fleeing his homeland in 1959. The Tibetan administration-in-exile, which is not recognised by any country, is based in this town in Himachal Pradesh. India is home to around 100,000 Tibetans. (Deccan Herald 23/10/14)

34. Number of Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar tops 100,000 (13)

YANGON: A growing sense of desperation is fueling a mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims from western Myanmar, with the number fleeing by boat since communal violence broke out two years ago now topping 100,000, a leading expert said on Saturday. Chris Lewa, director of the nonprofit advocacy group Arakan Project, said there has been a huge surge since October 15, with an average of 900 people per day piling into cargo ships parked off Rakhine state. That’s nearly 10,000 in less than two weeks, one of the biggest upticks yet. Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist nation of 50 million that only recently emerged from half a century of military rule, has an estimated 1.3 million Rohingya. Though many of their families arrived from neighboring Bangladesh generations ago, almost all have been denied citizenship. In the last two years, attacks by Buddhist mobs have left hundreds dead and 140,000 trapped in camps, where they live without access to adequate health care, education or jobs. Lewa said some Rohingya families have been told new ships have started arriving in neighboring Thailand, where passengers often are brought to jungle camps, facing extortion and beatings until relatives come up with enough money to win their release From there they usually travel to Malaysia or other countries, but, still stateless, their futures remain bleak. In Myanmar, the vast majority live in the northern tip of Rakhine state, where an aggressive campaign by authorities in recent months to register family members and officially categorize them as “Bengalis”, implying they are illegal migrants from neighboring Bangladesh, has aggravated their situation. According to villagers contacted by Associated Press, some were confined to their villages for weeks at a time for refusing to take part in the “verification” process, while others were beaten or arrested. But there seems to be a growing sense of desperation this year, with numbers nearly double from the same period in 2013. Lewa said a number of Rohingya also were moving overland to Bangladesh and on to India and Nepal. More recently, dozens of men were detained for having alleged ties to the militant Rohingya Solidarity Organization, or RSO, said Khin Maung Win, a resident from Maungdaw township, adding that several reportedly were beaten or tortured during their arrests or while in detention. Lewa said three of the men died. “Our team is becoming more and more convinced that this campaign of arbitrary arrests is aimed at triggering departures,” she said. (Times of India 25/10/14)

35. ‘Most Tamil refugees want to remain in India’ (13)

NEW DELHI: A survey by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, among the one-lakh-odd Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in India has found that 67 per cent of them want to remain in India. Only 23 per cent of the 520 families surveyed wanted to return to the island nation, while four per cent wanted to migrate to a third country where they had relations, said the TISS survey. The study titled ‘Exploring Durable Solutions for Sri Lankan Tamil Refugees in India’ was released by Rafael Garcia, Country-Director of Adventist Development and Research Agency, India, at the India International Centre here on Monday. The most preferred destinations for those who want to go back are Mannar and Vavuniya. Their top three priorities are basic amenities and livelihood opportunities followed by safety. Although 48.2 per cent of those who wish to return said they needed assistance from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), only 12 per cent of them have approached the agency. K.M. Parivelan, who led the study, said this was because the UNHCR puts them on a flight home and does not provide the logistics for them to take their belongings back. (The Hindu 28/10/14)

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

36. Ministries to put up RTI replies online from Oct 31 (1)

NEW DELHI: Taking transparency to another level, the government on Tuesday directed all its ministries and departments to suo motu display RTI applications and responses thereof, on their respective websites from October 31. However, the DoPT instructions in this regard do leave scope for withholding RTI replies that contain personal information relating to an individual. “It may be noted that RTI applications and appeals received and their responses relating to the personal information of an individual may not be disclosed if they do not serve any public interest,” said the DoPT note circulated to all Union ministries and departments on Tuesday. To facilitate uploading of RTI applications and appeals received and their responses on the website, a new feature has been added to the CPIO/FAA module on the ‘RTI Online’ portal on pilot basis for DoPT. Through this feature, an option is given to the central public information officers (CPIO) and first appellate authority (FAA) to upload the reply to RTI query and the first appeal respectively on to the department’s website. This particular feature will now be extended to other ministries and departments as well. To display the RTI applications received in the ministry/department and the reply given using this feature, web services will be provided through a URL to each ministry or department by NIC or DoPT. “The concerned ministry/department needs to consume this web service (by writing a program) to display the desired contest on its respective website,” the DoPT note said while asking the ministries and departments to take the help of NIC or DoPT experts in this regard. “An immediate action is requested so that the facility to upload the reply to RTI application and first appeal respectively on the website of the respective ministry/department may be started with effect from October 31, 2014,” directed the DoPT. (Times of India 22/10/14)

37. From Oct 31, get RTI replies online (1)

New Delhi: The Centre, in an attempt to achieve better transparency in governance, has directed all its ministries and departments to post responses to RTI applications on their websites. So far, only the RTI applicant seeking information from a ministry or any other office used to get the reply through post. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has issued an official memorandum recently directing all ministries and departments to take immediate action to ensure uploading of responses to RTI applications and first appeal on their websites starting on October 31. The DoPT,which issued the guidelines in April last year, has reminded the departments that the public authorities are obliged to proactively disclose RTI applications and appeals received by them and their responses on their websites. However, it added, the RTI applications and appeals received and their responses relating to the personal information of an individual may not be disclosed, if they do not serve any public interest. The DoPT has already initiated the process of uploading RTI responses on the RTI online portal through a new feature  which is being extended to other ministries and departments. For displaying the RTI applications and replies, an option is provided to the Central Public Information Officers (CPIO) and First Appellate Authority (FAA) to upload these information. (Deccan Herald 24/10/14)

38. 401 LS members yet to declare assets details (1)

New Delhi: Over 400 incumbent Lok Sabha members, including Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Lal Krishna Advani and Rajnath Singh, have not yet declared their assets and liability details, according to an RTI reply. Lok Sabha Secretariat said in an RTI query said the assets details of 401 members of Lok Sabha are still awaited. According to the Members of the Lok Sabha Declaration of Assets Rules 2004, a member is supposed to declare his assets within 90 days of taking oath. The Lok Sabha MPs who have not yet submitted the assets and liability details include Union ministers Sushma Swaraj, Uma Bharti, Nitin Gadkari, and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav. Lok Sabha Secretariat said no communication in this regard was sent to the members until September 26, when the RTI was received. According to the RTI reply, there are 209 BJP MPs who have not yet submitted their details. There are 31 members from Congress, 27 from TMC, 18 frm BJD, 15 from Shiv Sena, 14 from TDP, nine from AIADMK and eight from TRS. Seven members are from YSR Congress, six from Lok Janshakti Party and four from NCP, CPI(M) and SP each, three members from Akali Dal, RJD, and AAP each, and two each from JD(U) and Apna Dal. Action against the members who have not submitted their asset details are taken under the Assets and Liability Declaration Rules 2004, Provisions 5 and 6, and the Representation of the People Act 1951, Section 75(A). Other MPs who have not yet submitted their details include Union minister Harsh Vardhan, Radha Mohan Singh, Anant Geete, Anant Kumar, Ramvilas Paswan, Capt Amarinder Singh, Veerappa Moily, Mehbooba Mufti, Upendra Kushwaha, Kiren Rijiju and Supriya Sule. (Hindustan Times 26/10/14)

39. Women make up just 9% of RTI applicants (1)

Mumbai: A compilation of the data of RTI applications filed online has found that it is a male-dominated area as 91 per cent applicants were men and only nine per cent were women. Experts said as it involved writing and paperwork, women were not turning up in large numbers. The facility of filing RTI applications online was started in August 2013 for only central government establishments. Figures obtained from Department of Personnel and Training through an RTI application shows that numbers of applicants are dwindling. In August 2013, when the online facility was launched, 7,734 men and 489 women filed online applications. In August 2014, 6,993 men and 676 women filed online applications. In last 14 months, since online facility has been launched, a total of 1,08,306 men (91 per cent) and 10,353 (nine per cent) women have filed applications online. C.J. Karira, an activist, said, “Women have always been shy of those fields that involves interactions especially with government bodies. The nine per cent women are those who have filed application in ration card offices or hospitals and it may be personal.” Mr Karira said he was trying to encourage women to file RTI applications. A recent study had shown that there were only seven per cent women applicants in the country. Hence, women have bettered in online filed at least. Aftab Siddiqui, a city based woman RTI activist, said, “Women are genuine RTI applicants while I know of men who file 25 queries, most not related directly to them. I would say such men are defeating the purpose of RTI, while women applicants are choosy and focused. That is why women are in fewer number in this field.” Maharashtra is at third position in filing RTI applications (11,776) online while Delhi (21,528) and Uttar Pradesh (14,354) occupy first and second position. ..  (Asian Age 28/10/14)

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

40. Petition seeks effective implementation of RTE Act (11)

CHENNAI: Under the RTE rules, the Tamil Nadu Director of School Education is the competent authority to grant recognition to CBSE schools in the State. A notification to this effect issued by the School Education Department of September 19 was filed before the First Bench of the Madras High Court, comprising Chief Justice S.K. Kaul and Justice M. Sathyanarayanan, in response to a public interest litigation petition. The petitioner, A.V. Pandian of Thirumullaivoyal here, said there was a lapse on the part of the State government in implementing the Act for CBSE schools with reference to granting recognition. After the RTE Act came into force on April 1, 2010, all schools should obtain recognition from the competent authority. But the government failed to prescribe the authority to grant recognition to CBSE schools. In view of the notification of September 19, G. Sankaran, counsel for the petitioner, said no further direction was required other than effective implementation. The Bench disposed of the petition. (The Hindu 21/10/14)

41. Pvt group to conduct safety surveys in schools (11)

Bangalore: Alarmed by back-to-back incidents of sexual abuse and assault on children in schools, the RTE (Right to Education Act) Task Force, a group of  various organisations working for children and parents rights, will on its own conduct a drive to observe safety measures in schools. A team comprising parents—three women and two men will be formed, who will visit schools in their respective areas and inspect issues like whether staff details have been verified by schools, are they aware of POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act, 2012 and other measures. “We will be carrying permission letters from Commissioner of Public Instruction and Child Rights Commission. If they (schools) do not allow us inside in spite of this, then we will stage a protest in front of the school. Parents in each locality will have to organise themselves into groups and talk to children about safety measures in their schools. At times like these the community needs to step in and do its part in ensuring safety for children,” said G Nagasimha Rao, convener, RTE Task Force. (Deccan Herald 25/10/14)

42. Urdu teachers seek more posts (7)

KADAPA: Urdu teachers on Friday took out a rally from Koti Reddy statue and staged a demonstration in front of the Kadapa Collectorate, demanding that the government sanction more Urdu teaching posts. They alleged that not even a single post was sanctioned at as many as 12 Urdu schools in the Kadapa Municipal Corporation limits in the last 12 years. The protesters demanded that the government sanction posts of 26 secondary grade teacher, 21 school assistant and one headmaster at nine Urdu primary schools, two higher secondary and one high school in Kadapa and make recruitments through the District Selection Committee – 2014 in accordance with the Right to Education Act. They added that the government should recruit only eligible general category applicants. Kadapa MLA S.B. Amzath Basha, Mayor K. Suresh Babu, TDP State minority cell president Ameer Babu and District Congress Committee president Shaik Nazeer Basha expressed solidarity with the protesting teachers. State Teachers Union (STU) leaders L. Jamal Reddy, Iliyas and Sattar Faizi participated in the protest. The STU leaders said the foundation stone for the proposed Urdu University near Kadapa should be laid by November 11, the National Education Day. They demanded that the government set up Urdu anganwadi centres, adding that Urdu schools should be exempted from rationalisation. They also wanted an Urdu Special Officer to be appointed in each district. In a memorandum to Collector K.V. Ramana, the protesters called for the setting up of an Urdu Academy in the State and an Urdu junior college and a degree college for every four mandals. (The Hindu 25/10/14)

43. Experts demand RTE’s proper implementation (11)

New Delhi: Highlighting the lacuna in the implementation of the RTE Act, 2009, experts Tuesday launched a national campaign demanding the fulfillment of the “constitutional obligation of the government with regards to education within the stipulated time”.The campaign, Claiming Education for Every Child, beginning Nov 1, will run till March 2015 – the deadline for the act’s implementation. It was launched by Right to Education Forum, a civil society coalition of 10,000 grassroot organisations, educationists, national networks and teacher’s organisations. “The government is implementing the RTE like a scheme and not like a fundamental right. In 2014, The government admitted that even the minimalist norms it set for itself had been implemented in only 10 percent of the 1.3 million schools in this country. This being so, we do not perceive any sense of urgency or anxiety in the governments to make amends in haste,” Ambarish Rai, national convenor, RTE forum said at the launch. The Right To Education (RTE) Act, 2009, enforced with effect from April 1, 2010, secures the right of children to free and compulsory education till completion of elementary education in a neighbourhood school. It also lays down the norms and standards relating to pupil teacher ratios, buildings and infrastructure, school working days and teacher working hours. Rai pointed out that India lacks 1.2 million regular, trained and qualified teachers in government schools, adding that 10 percent schools are single-teacher schools. “Despite the Act strictly prohibiting the appointment of contract teachers, states are continuing the recruitment of lowly-paid contract teachers in gross violation of the RTE norms,” Rai said. He also highlighted the process of merger and closure of schools in different states to surrender assets to private players. Social activist Annie Namala emphasised the proper focus and inclusion of disadvantaged and marginalized groups in the implementation of the Act. “We need comprehensive thinking, and should consider it as a basic fundamental right,” she said. As a part of the campaign, 10 lakh grievances would be collected from different parts of the country highlighting the violation of different provisions of RTE Act. These grievances will then be submitted to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and State Commission for Protection of Child Rights(SCPCRs) for immediate action. A memorandum will also be submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a charter of demands highlighting some quick action points for the implementation of the Act. (Business Standard 28/10/14)

44. Govt’s confusion: To shut school or not (11)

BANGALORE: The future of 567 students of a private school in North Bangalore where a three-year-old girl was allegedly raped last week hangs in balance as the state government is in confusion whether to let it function or not. Primary and secondary education minister Kimmane Rathnakar said on Wednesday there is no provision to let the school offer nursery classes, and standard 6 and 7 either under the Right to Education Act or the Karnataka Education Act. So, 567 students of these classes may have to seek admission in other schools in the middle of the academic year. The school has total 962 students. The school had permission to run classes 1 to 5 in Kannada medium, but ran English medium classes from nursery to class 7 and offered CBSE syllabus. Rathnakar said he is trying to take a decision that will not affect the future of the students. “We will observe the Supreme Court’s judgment on the language policy (medium of instruction) to find out is there’s any option to let if function after violating the rules,” he said. Asked how the school’s TC will be valid for joining other schools, the minister said: “We will discuss this at a meeting tomorrow (Thursday).” According to a source in the education department, the government has identified eight nearby schools for admitting the students in the eventuality of the institution closing down. As of now, the government has given permission to the school to run classes 1 to 5. Kimmane said he will hold a meeting with the parents on Thursday and take a final decision regarding the functioning of school. However, anxious parents said they cannot afford to send their kids to another school. “We came to know that Rathnakar is talking tough on the irregularities. We agree that the school has committed a big blunder. But our children should not be made scapegoat for the school’s mistake,” a parent told TOI. The school worked for the third consecutive day on Wednesday, but only a few students turned up for internal exams. “The school management never informs us about the developments. Instead, they are trying to divide us. We are going to meet Rathnakar at 4 pm Thursday,” another parent said, adding “We will contact all other parents and ask them to attend the meeting. The core committee members will attend the meeting at Vidhana Soudha.” (Times of India 30/10/14)

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER/POVERTY

45. Food Security Act rollout may be delayed (21)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The differences in opinion between the Central and State governments over fixing the number of Below the Poverty Line (BPL) cardholders are likely to delay the implementation of the Food Security Act in the State. The State government’s plan to implement the Act from November 1 is likely to be deferred at least by a month. While the State government had sought grain allotment for 14 lakh BPL families or the priority sector, the Centre had fixed it at 10.25 lakh families. Which means, about 3.75 lakh families will have to opt out of the public distribution system. The State government had earlier fixed the number of BPL families at 25 lakh. Official sources told The Hindu here that the Centre had offered to continue grain allotment for the 3.75 lakh families even after enforcing the Act but it would be given only at the rates fixed for the Above Poverty Line (APL) or non-priority sector families. Once the families moved out of the purview of the Act, the Centre could scrap the allotment without prior notice. “Kerala and Tamil Nadu have an efficient public distribution system which covers almost 58 per cent families. Whether the Centre will be able to honour its commitment on retaining the system is a matter of concern. Since the Centre is rapidly switching over to a mode of restricting subsidies to target groups, the commitment may be repealed any time,” the sources said. ‘Door delivery’ being one of the highlights of the Act, grain silos will have to be provided to store at least three months’ stock of around 2.98 lakh tonnes. Warehouses will have to be constructed in all districts and taluks for smooth grain distribution. The Food Corporation of India had said the storage capacity in three districts had already been enhanced to 15,000 and proposed to further increase it to 25,000 tonnes soon. But the Food and Civil Supplies Department was reported to be going slow on the process. But for the stamping of the BPL and APL cards into priority and non-priority cards, end-to-end computerisation and modernisation of the PDS had not made any palpable progress so far. It was unlikely to be completed before the year-end, the sources said. (The Hindu 22/10/14)

46. 6,000-crore worth project for migrant shelters (21)

NEW DELHI: The Union Housing and Poverty Alleviation Ministry has earmarked a special component for providing rental accommodation to the homeless and migrant workers in urban areas. Under its flagship Rs. 35,810-crore Housing for All by 2022 project, the Ministry will offer them a place to stay for a stipulated period and monthly rent. The Ministry, which has earmarked Rs. 6,000 crore for rental housing, has proposed different types of dwellings for families and individuals. “Rental housing has been proposed as in the absence of affordable spaces in urban areas, the migrant workforce is forced to stay in slums. The scheme envisages a house up to 30 sq.m. for families and a single room or dormitory for individuals. The Centre will fund up to 75 per cent of the construction cost of these dwellings,” said a Ministry official. The corporate sector can partner in the initiative as part of its corporate social responsibility activity. Urban local bodies (ULB) will be mandated to identify the beneficiaries, work out the specifications of the rental agreements and decide the rent. “The houses can be given on rent for a period of up to five years in case of migrant workers; the time stipulation will not be followed for the destitute and the homeless,” said the official. The ULBs will also be responsible for planning, execution and management of these rental accommodations; they will have to carry out city-wide surveys, GIS mapping of the city and available land. As per the government data, the housing shortage in the country is expected to go up from the current 18.78 million to 30 million by 2022, which means a shortage of one million houses in urban areas every year. “A consequence of rapid urbanisation has been an increasing number of people being forced to live in slums and squatter settlements,” said the official. (The Hindu 24/10/14)

47. Poverty reduction schemes implemented (21)

VELLORE: Poverty reduction schemes worth Rs.2108.15 lakhs have been implemented under Pudhu Vazhvu Thittam (PVT) in Vellore district, in the five selected blocks of Gudiyatham, Alangayam, Madhanur, Pernambut and Thimiri in Vellore district, according to R. Nanthagopal, Collector of Vellore district. Talking to newspersons at Madhanur during a press tour to Gudiyatham and Madhanur panchayat unions to see the progress of PVT on Friday, Mr. Nanthagopal said that under PVT, credit link has been provided to 5790 women’s self-help groups and economic loan-cum-direct loan to the tune of Rs.100 crores. Besides the village poverty reduction committees (VPRCs) established in the 207 selected villages, 638 special poverty reduction groups for differently-abled and vulnerable persons, and 11 special VPRCs for tribals have also been established to provide livelihood support to these special groups through credit link to the tune of Rs.56 crores. A total of 272 `Poocharams’ or Common Livelihood Groups (CLGs), which are groups comprising persons engaged in the same profession have been formed . A district level livelihood group has been formed to market the products made by the self-help groups which are members of the panchayat-level federations and the PVT. Padmamani, Project Manager, PVT said that the district-level group participated in all state-level and district-level exhibitions of SHG products and marketed the products made by the SHGs created under PVT. The Collector later presented a cheque for Rs.9.90 lakhs towards scholarship to the children of the SHG members. (The Hindu 25/10/14)

48. Permanent solution on food security in WTO rules is must: India (21)

UNITED NATIONS: In a stern message, India has told the UN general assembly that developing countries must have the freedom to use food reserves to feed the poor “without the threat of sanctions” and a permanent solution on food security with necessary changes in WTO rules is a must. “The issue of food security is central to the pursuit of poverty eradication and sustainable development in developing countries and must be treated with the same urgency as other issues, if not more,” counsellor in the Indian mission to the UN Amit Narang said in a UN general assembly session on ‘Macroeconomic Policy Questions: International Trade and Development’. He termed as “paradoxical” that just as the international community is assigning a high priority to food security as part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda there seems reluctance in addressing the important issue as part of global trade rules. “A permanent solution on food security with necessary changes in WTO rules, if required, is a must and cannot be kicked down the road,” Narang said. He said that India had participated actively and “in good faith” in the ninth ministerial conference of the WTO in Bali in December 2013 and the country remains committed to the Bali decisions, including the one on trade facilitation. “India is a signatory to all the Bali decisions and has no intention of going back on them. The concern that India has been constrained to flag, arises from the uneven progress on the Bali decisions,” Narang said. “While all focus seems to be on the agreement on trade facilitation, the same sort of commitment is not evident on other Bali decisions, in particular the agreement on food security,” he said. Narang stressed that the issue of food security must be taken forward in the WTO in the same time frame as other decisions taken in Bali such as trade facilitation. “Overall balance is important even in a limited package of outcomes. The Bali outcomes were negotiated as a package and must be concluded as such,” he said, adding that “developing countries such as India must have the freedom to use food reserves to feed their poor without the threat of sanctions.” He expressed hope that the international community will join hands for the implementation of the Bali decisions in a balanced manner and as a single undertaking. He said that India has stressed that trade and investment and an open, rules-based, transparent and non-discriminatory WTO-based trading system can play an important role in restoring global growth. (Times of India 25/10/14)

49. Scheme helped in transforming lives of beneficiaries (21)

AMANATHAPURAM: Pudhu Vazhvu Thittam, an empowerment and poverty alleviation project implemented in five blocks in the district since 2006, has helped the poor households and most vulnerable sections improve their standard of living if interaction with cross section of the beneficiaries was any indication. The project, implemented by the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj department was first introduced in Bogalur block in 2006 and later extended to Mudukulathur, Paramakudi, Kamudhi and Kadaladi blocks, covered target population of poor, very poor, differently abled and marginalised sections in 244 villages. Talking to reporters during a press tour on Monday, D Jerome, District Project Manager and S Assan, Assistant Project Manager said the project implemented under the Community Driven Development (CCD) approach has benefitted a number of poor and very poor families to earn additional income and provided livelihood to the differently abled and marginalised communities. S Sonia of Paramakudi block could not pursue her studies after she passed plus two due to poor family background. But with the help of the project, she completed a nursing course and was working in a private nursing home. In the last three years since April 2011, the targeted population were given financial assistance of Rs. 2.18 crore under the Village Poverty Reduction Committee (VPRC) scheme and Rs. 12.22 crore under Panchayat Level Federation (PLF) scheme. In addition, the beneficiaries were given special fund of Rs. 96.22 lakh, they said. As the project was implemented under CCD approach, the village people themselves implement and monitor the project after identifying different categories of beneficiaries, Mr. Jerome said. “The department played only the facilitator role,” he said. Under the VPRC scheme, each committee was given an assistance of Rs. 6 lakh to Rs. 15 lakh mainly for training and self employment. Under the PLF, each Self Help Group was given Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh loan, he said adding 80 per cent of the loan was given only for livelihood purpose. C Kannithai, a beneficiary in Kamudhi block said she got Rs. 3 lakh subsidised loan and had helped her husband, a carpenter, to set up his own unit. “The daily income has increased by three times and we are living happily thanks to Pudhu Vazhvu Thittam,” she said. B. Indira Gandhi in Kamudhi block was a farm worker and she has now owned a poultry farm. She had set up the farm availing subsidised loan from the bank and from PLF. She had repaid the loan and was making regular monthly income from the farm. (The Hindu 29/10/14)

50. One-third of Indian women and children under 5 are underweight: Report (21)

NEW DELHI: Global thinktank IFPRI on Wednesday said that one-third of Indian women and children under-five are underweight, though the country has made progress in combating malnutrition. International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has also suggested India’s central and state governments coordinate and accelerate efforts to tackle hunger and the causes of malnutrition to combat these grim statistics, and ensure that poor nutrition does not hold back human and economic development. “India is making progress against under-nutrition as seen in the 2014 Global Hunger Index recently released by IFPRI. Yet one-third of Indian women and children under five remain underweight,” IFPRI said in the statement. In the backdrop of these statistics, IFPRI is organising a two day conference ‘Together for Nutrition 2014′. Over 200 researchers, government officials and other delegates are expected to attend the conference and discuss ways to improve nutrition in Indian children and women. “India is home to a third of the world’s stunted children. There is a significant opportunity for us to help our children reach their full potential not only through direct feeding programmes but also through improved access to toilets and empowerment of their mothers,” Public Health Foundation of India Vice-President for Research and Policy Ramanan Laxminarayan said. Sessions at the conference will highlight research and programme experiences and moving the nutrition agenda forward through convergence, collaboration, and cooperation at the state, district, block, and community levels, the organisation said in a statement. Evidence and experiences will be shared from states as diverse as Bihar, Maharashtra, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and others, it added. (Times of India 30/10/14)

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

51. App to monitor rural job scheme (14)

NEW DELHI: Amid row over moves to tweak MGNREGS to stop doling out easy money, the Centre is to provide smart phones at half price to Gram Panchayat officials monitoring the rural job scheme. GP officers overseeing implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme can now own a subsidised smart phone, with the Union Government paying half its price. Rural Development Minister Nitin Gadkari seems all set to brush aside protests by civil society activists and a section of development economists and go ahead to tweak the UPA regime’s pet programme and stop “doling out easy money” to beneficiaries. His ministry has of late reworked and revived a proposal to provide smart phones or tablets to all Gram Panchayat functionaries as well as members of the technical and supervisory staff involved with implementation of the scheme across the country. The government will pay up to Rs 10,000 to each Gram Panchayat functionary or member of the technical or supervisory staff to purchase a smart phone or a tablet, which will at least have an Android Jellybean 4.1 operating system. Half of the cost of the phone will then be recovered from the functionary in 10 equal interest-free instalments. When the recipient pays back half the amount, he or she will own the device, according to a note the Ministry of Rural Development sent out to all the states. The Bharat Nirman volunteers who have been identified in various blocks will work as Local Level Monitors for rural development programme, it added. A Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) note says, the government is keen to launch the Mobile Monitoring System to improve supervision in implementation of the MGNREGS and provide for real-time data upload from the worksite to the scheme website. The scheme is intended to empower Gram Panchayats and other implementing agencies with live data from the MGNREGS worksites, allow online and real-time updating of database, provide for real-time visibility of data for complete transparency and facilitate easy verification of location of assets created with the help of geo-tagging. (Deccan Herald 21/10/14)

52. Unemployed seeking jobs reduce in October (14)

NASHIK: The number of man-days generated through the Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) fell by 8,000 in first week of October 2014, compared to the corresponding period last year, which had witnessed 24,036 employees. The man-days generated for the period this year was 16,806. While officials claim better water levels in fields was one reason, the assembly elections could also be a reason for labourers being diverted from MGNREGA. “The total man-days generated in the first week of the October shows a fall of 30 per cent when compared with 2013. This is huge and the major reasons for the fall are the availability of water in the fields and farms this year, compared to last year, and also because of the closure of nurseries that were included under the 100 crore plantation programme in 2013,” an official from the MGNREGA cell at the Nashik collectorate told TOI. Observers claimed that other factors, like the election period, could account for the difference in employment. “Last year, people were allowed to dig wells for personal use under the scheme. This ensured that an individual who wanted to dig a well for personal use would receive payment of labour for the same. Such activities in 2013 saw generation of employment for over 8,000 employees. This year, the number of beneficiaries is very low,” the official said. A similar trend can be observed for the nurseries under the 100-crore plantation programme. “The nurseries were the biggest source of employment in 2013. This year, the number has dropped – largely because of the government deciding to stop all the nurseries in the village development department. This actually benefitted villagers aged over 50 years and women, who could earn by undertaking such work in the villages, rather than toiling it out in the sun,” the official said. Digging up pits and the carrying out plantation has been the largest employment provider to people in the rural areas this year. “There are lesser labourers out in the field; plantation accounts for a large number of people being employed,” the officer said. He dismissed speculations that there were no works for the labourers. “The labour budget prepared by villages every year is readied at least a year in advance and hence there is no dearth of work. But labourers failed to turn out in large numbers, probably because they get more money in other areas – including agriculture,” the officer said. The chart shows that the biggest beneficiary for MGNREGA work in the current year was Peth taluka, where 3,286 labourers had benefitted from 62 works being undertaken. Of these, 32 works are related to forestation. Similarly, the highest number of works is being carried out in the Igatpuri taluka, where 2,320 labourers are beneficiaries. The total man-days generated in the first week of the October shows a fall of 30% when compared with 2013. This is huge and the major reasons for the fall are the availability of water in the fields and farms this year (Times of India 23/10/14)

53. MGNREGS works hit after Centre withholds salaries (14)

COIMBATORE: The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), the flag ship rural job scheme of the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance Government, has almost ground to a halt in the district. Despite assurances of continuing the scheme, the Central Government has not disbursed the salaries for workers in this scheme since the beginning of this financial year, sources in the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA), which implements the scheme, told The Hindu here on Sunday. While the agency had sought Rs. 100.20 crore to pay for an estimated 60 lakh man days in Coimbatore during 2014-15, only Rs. 1.20 crore had been allocated towards the administrative expense such as paying the salaries of staff overseeing the MGREGS implementation. Even this was below the required Rs. 3 crore. No explanation has been given so far by the Union Ministry of Rural Development despite queries, a senior DRDA official added. This seems to be the case not only in rest of the State but in other parts of the country as well. A source in the State Rural Development Department said that enquires had revealed that Centre had not provided salaries in many States. While revamping the rural job scheme towards productive asset creation linked to agriculture and allied activities, the new Bharatiya Janata Party Government had increased the annual outlay by Rs. 1,000 crore to Rs. 34,000 crore in the Union Budget. As a result, from a peak of 24,000 labourers, the district now recorded just around 1,500 workers who were turning up with the hope that their wages would be credited in the future. The payments were usually made every week on Tuesdays. The official said that while allocation for the entire State was in the region of Rs. 5,000 crore for the scheme, the figure for Coimbatore district would be in the range of Rs. 90 crore. As a pilot project, the rural job scheme was used in Coimbatore for agricultural activities since last financial year. A farmer was chosen in each of the 12 blocks under this project. The labourers carried out farm work such as removing weeds, spraying pesticides and harvesting besides dairy, poultry and rearing sheep, goats and pigs. As many as 1,324 farm ponds were created under this scheme. This resulted in a substantial reduction in cost of operations for farmers. However, all of this has now been halted, sources said. A greening campaign under which the labourers took up plantations of saplings alongside national and State highways besides at panchayat and Government land was also taken up under MGNREGS in Coimbatore. Nearly 7,500 saplings of mango, neem and other native species were planted in Sarcarsamakulam block alone, of which 87 per cent survived due to the maintenance done under this scheme. The State Government was considering continuing this initiative with local funds, sources added. (The Hindu 25/10/14)

54. Rajasthan labour law awaits President’s nod (14)

New Delhi: Big labour reforms across the country are just a signature away. The central government has cleared the various changes made to its laws by the Rajasthan government, and these were sent to President Pranab Mukherjee for his signature on Tuesday. He is expected to sign on within a few days. Once this is done, other states are expected to follow suit. Madhya Pradesh has already started the process of making similar changes along the lines that Rajasthan has. While Rajasthan had sent its labour law changes to the Centre some months ago, a mandatory process of consultation with various

ministries is required. Once this was over, the home ministry sent the Rajasthan law to the President. Rajasthan has made three sets of changes to the Factories Act, the Industrial Disputes Act and the Contract Labour Act. Under the changes, government permission will not be required for retrenchment of workers if the factory has 300 workers — this is 100 right now. Similarly, trade unions will need to represent at least 30% of workers in order to be recognised — this is 15% right now. And in the case of the Factories Act, it is to be applicable only to firms that have more than 20 workers as opposed to 10 right now. Under Article 252(2), even if the state law runs counter to the central law, the President’s assent ensures the state law prevails. So, once President Mukherjee signs on to Rajasthan’s laws, other states like Madhya Pradesh are expected to rush in their laws as well. (Financial Express 30/10/14)

RESERVATION

55. Reservation in urban bodies to clear air over mayoral candidates (25)

INDORE : Reservation for post of mayors in municipal corporations of state is scheduled to take place in the state capital on Tuesday. With this suspense over possible candidates for mayor in Indore will be clear. State has 14 municipal corporations and as per rule 50% seats of mayors seat will be reserved for women and 5% for SC, ST and OBCs. For last three terms Indore is having a mayor from general category. Only after reservation process will it be clear as to who would be among front runners for the post. Last three mayors of Indore were from general category. They were Kailash Vijayvargia (1999-2004), Umashashi Sharma (2004-2009) and incumbent Krishanmurari Moghe (2009-2014). BJP MLA from Indore II, who had won assembly election by record margin of votes is said to be front runner for mayor candidate of BJP if Indore’s mayor will be from general category, while Congress may field former MLA Satnarayan Patel. In case Indore’s mayor is reserved for OBC then former IDA chairman Madhu Verma may get BJP ticket for mayor post. “There are many strong candidates in the party, picture will be clear after reservation process is complete,” said a BJP leader. Similarly, reservation process for panch and sarpanch of Indore district would be conducted on Wednesday at respective panchayats. Indore district has 309 gram panchayats with 4360 panch and 309 sarpanch. Along with district will elect 100 janpad members and 17 jila panchayat members and 4 janpad president in the ensuing civic election. Reservation of seats for janpad members, jila panchayat members and janpad president would be held on October 24 at collectorate. (Times of India 21/10/14)

56. Caste Quotas Soon for All Outsourced Government Jobs (25)

BANGALORE: The state government will insist on caste quotas for private agency workers who provide services for its departments. Social Welfare Minister H Anjaneya told reporters on Tuesday that the decision was taken at a Cabinet sub-committee meeting earlier in the day. More than a lakh jobs are outsourced by government departments and state-owned boards and corporations. “An amendment will be brought in to enforce reservation,” the minister said. He said an amendment to the SC/ST and OBC Recruitment Act of 1990 will be tabled in the next Assembly session. He also said he would insist on the roster system in the Social Welfare Department without waiting for the legislation. The roster stipulates 18 per cent of all jobs for the SC and ST categories, 32 per cent for OBCs, including 5 per cent for minorities. The remaining is open for general merit. Anjaneya said the sub-committee has also decided to conduct a survey to identify post-2001 backlog posts reserved for SC and ST candidates. The last survey was done for 1984-2001 and more than 19,115 posts had been identified. It has come to light that 3,220 such posts are yet to be filled, he said. “This time, the survey will also cover backlog promotions from 1978 to date.” (New Indian Express 22/10/14)

57. College union, DUTA lock horns over appointments (25)

New Delhi: The DUTA’s opposition to the ongoing interviews for filling up 73 permanent teaching positions at Deshbandhu College on Friday infuriated the college teachers’ association. While the Delhi University Teachers’ Association claimed that the college is conducting interviews on the basis of a public advertisement, which is opposed to the government’s reservation policy, the college association accused the former of disrupting the selection process for three hours. “Out of the 73 posts advertised, only nine are reserved for SC and four for ST categories. This amounts to only 12.3 per cent of posts reserved for Scheduled Castes, and 5.5 per cent for Scheduled Tribes, which fall far short of the mandated requirement of 15 per cent and 7.5 per cent respectively,” the teachers’ body said in a statement. “Further, the two posts reserved for persons with disabilities have not been earmarked for specific subjects, which is in violation of the standing court order,” it said. The college association, however, said the recruitment process has the university’s approval. While slamming the DUTA leadership for holding up appointments, Ashwini Shankar of Deshbandhu College said, “Instead of working tirelessly for regularisation of teachers, she (DUTA president Nandita Narain) sought to perpetuate ad hocism in Delhi University and play havoc with the career of thousands.” As per the directions of the Delhi High Court to fill up 4,500 teaching positions in the university, Shankar said the interviews for 13 teaching positions, six of them unreserved and seven reserved ones, were conducted by the Department of Chemistry on Friday. DUTA said their intervention came after two other groups of the same college – Deshbandu College Teachers’ Welfare Association and the SC/ST Teachers’ Forum – approached them. “Responding to the teachers’ appeal, a DUTA delegation went to the college today and tried to meet the principal. But the principal refused to meet the delegation,” said the teachers’ group, adding the reservation roster was not placed for approval before the staff council or the college governing body. A complaint has been lodged with the SC/ST Commission, the group said. (Deccan Herald 25/10/14)

58. Petition against quota benefits for Arunthathiars (25)

CHENNAI : Legality of a quota within quota, providing 3% reservation for Arunthathiars within the 16% reserved for scheduled caste members, has been questioned by an advocate who says the sub-quota has robbed educational and job opportunities of many SC communities. Advocate G Saravana Kumar, an SC member, said the opportunities of other SCs are being taken away by Arunthathiars who enjoy 3% exclusive reservation and then compete for remaining posts within the remaining 13% meant for other SCs. A division bench of Justice Satish K Agnihotri and Justice K K Sasidharan, before which the matter came up on Monday, have issued notices to the state and the TNPSC, besides the registrar-general of the Madras high court. Tnn (Times of India 28/10/14)

59. ‘Respond positively to grievances’ (25)

Mandya: State SC/ST Commission Chairman E Ashwath Narayan said, action will be initiated against officials who do not help solve problems of people belonging to Scheduled Caste and Tribes. He was chairing a meeting, held to discuss the problems faced by people belonging to Scheduled Caste and Tribes, in the city, at the ZP Hall, on Wednesday. “All officials have been asked to respond positively to the grievances of the people of the communities. So, the people should make use of the benefits extended by the governments, shedding differences either as sub-castes or separate groups,” he said. Dalit leaders, who attended the meeting, aired several problems faced by the communities. They demanded filling of backlog job vacancies in the governments, severe punishment for those availing benefits by producing fake caste certificates, reservation in issuing contracts in government departments, regularisation of services of civic workers (pourakarmikas), and speedy issuance of compensation to atrocity victims. Venkatagiriaiah said, people belonging to backward castes should not be included under Scheduled Castes. “An authority should be constituted to protect Buddist places of worship. Steps should be taken to check atrocity against Dalits,” he said. M B Sreenivas said, at least 25 per cent of the works issued on contract by various government departments should be earmarked for Dalits. “Contract civic workers should be made permanent. Reservation should be provided in promotions in government institutions. Job reservation should be provided to Dalits in APMC and other cooperative organisations,” he said. Guruprasad Keragodu said, reservations had not been provided for Dalits in the recruitment for Mandya Institute of Medical Science. M Krishnamurthy said, the change in rules for provision of compensation to atrocity victims was not proper. “Earlier relief was provided as soon as a case was filed, now, it is paid only after the charge sheet is filed,” he pointed out. (Deccan Herald 30/10/14)

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

60. India wins re-election to UN human rights body (1)

United Nations: India on Tuesday got re-elected to the UN’s main human rights body for the period of 2015-17. India is currently a member of the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council and its term will end on December 31, 2014. It was seeking re-election to the UN body, the elections for which were held on Tuesday during the ongoing 69th session of the UN General Assembly. India was competing in the Asia group in which four seats were up for election. The other countries in the Asia group competing in the election were Bangladesh, Qatar, Thailand and Indonesia. “The support of member states for India’s candidature in the Human Rights Council elections would be greatly appreciated,” a note from the Indian mission had said last month. The Council members are elected for a period of three years by the majority of members of the General Assembly through direct and secret ballot. (Asian Age 22/10/14)

61. Migrant Workers in UAE Exploited, Abused: Report (1)

MANILA: Migrant domestic workers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are beaten, exploited and trapped in forced labour situations, Human Rights Watch said in a report released Thursday. The UAE government, about to take up an influential new role in the International Labour Organization (ILO), has failed to adequately protect female domestic workers – many of them from the Philippines – from abuse by employers and recruiters, it said. The 79-page report documents how the UAE visa sponsorship system, known as kafala, and the lack of labour law protections leave migrant domestic workers exposed to abuse. Domestic workers, mostly from Asia and Africa, cannot move to a new job before their contracts end without the employer’s consent, trapping many in abusive conditions, the US-based rights body said. Labour-sending countries don’t fully protect the workers against deceptive recruitment practices or provide adequate assistance to abused nationals abroad, it said. “The UAE’s sponsorship system chains domestic workers to their employers and then leaves them isolated and at risk of abuse behind the closed doors of private homes,” said Rothna Begum at Human Rights Watch. “With no labour law protections for domestic workers, employers can, and many do, overwork, underpay, and abuse these women.” Human Rights Watch interviewed 99 female domestic workers in the UAE as well as recruitment agencies, lawyers and others. Human Rights Watch sent letters to 15 UAE ministries and bodies in January, April and August to seek information, request meetings and present its findings but received no response. The UAE government did have a short meeting with Human Rights Watch representatives in September but did not address any domestic worker issues. Domestic workers told Human Rights Watch about not being paid, not having rest periods or time off, being confined in the employer’s homes, and of excessive workloads, with working days of up to 21 hours. They described being deprived of food and reported psychological, physical and sexual abuse. Many said their employers treated them like animals or as if they were dirty and physical contact with them would be contaminating. In some cases the abuses amounted to forced labour or trafficking. “My boss started hitting me after two weeks of being there,” one worker said. “She hit me with her fist to my chest. She scraped her fingernails to my neck, and slapped my face. I was bruised on my neck. She sometimes pulled out tufts of my hair.” The worker said she remained there, hoping to be paid, but never was. At least 146,000 female migrant domestic workers – possibly many more – from countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Ethiopia work in the UAE. Some embassies or consulates in the UAE do not have shelters or adequate staffing to deal with abused domestic workers. In June 2014, the UAE authorities revised the standard domestic worker labour contract to require a weekly day off and eight hours of rest in any 24-hour period. However, the contract does not address other issues such as limits on working hours and is weaker than labour law protections for other workers that are enforceable by judicial authorities. (New Indian Express 23/10/14)

62. Shillong groups condemn ‘assault’ on woman (1)

Shillong, Oct. 24: Civil society groups today unanimously condemned the alleged assault on and arrest of a woman while expressing solidarity to the safety and freedom of sexually marginalised and oppressed groups in Meghalaya. The meeting, attended by various social organisations, activist groups and individuals condemned the recent brutal assault on Angelbeth Lyngdoh Nongpiur and her “unjust arrest” by Meghalaya police. According to the police, on October 11, one Mohan Pegu was allegedly abducted in a Maruti Zen Estilo car supposedly driven by Angelbeth from Lumparing here, near the Buddhist Temple. The police arrested Angelbeth from Jumar Lane, Laban, on October 15, based on an FIR lodged by Pegu’s wife Saralin Marbaniang. On October 22, Angelbeth’s father lodged a complaint at Laban police station that on October 15 he came to know through social media that unidentified persons had assaulted and molested Angelbeth at a public place in Shillong. Those who participated in the meeting included members of Thma U Rangli-Juki (TUR), Lympung Ki Seng Kynthei, CSWO, Seng Kynthei Laban-Lumparing, North East Network, Meghalaya State Network of Positive People, Samkami, WISE, Bethany Society and other individuals, including family members of Angelbeth. The participants were also dismayed at the “one-sided, insensitive and prurient reporting” of this incident in the local press and called upon the media to be sensitive towards marginalised and prosecuted groups like the LGBT community. “People expressed their revulsion towards the lynch mob, which not only grievously assaulted Angelbeth, but also voyeuristically recorded the assault on their mobiles and criminally circulated the clip. The meeting also expressed its concern at the arrest of Angelbeth on false charges,” Thma U Rangli-Juki (TUR) leader Angela Rangad said in a statement. “The police, rather than acting to defend human rights of the citizens and protecting individuals from moral policing and lynch mobs and voyeurs, have instead defended those who have violated human rights. The meeting urged the police to invoke the recent criminal law amendment act to book the culprits involved in the assault and circulation of the video clip,” Rangad added. She said the organisations have decided to fight to free Angelbeth from her “unjust arrest”, and bring the perpetrators of this “brutal and heinous assault” to justice. (The Telegraph 25/10/14)

63. NHRC asks UP govt to pay Rs 5 lakh to victim of alleged torture (1)

NEW DELHI: National Human Rights Commission today directed the Uttar Pradesh government to pay Rs five lakh to a victim of alleged police torture due to which he became permanently disabled. According to an official statement today, the state government, through its Chief Secretary, has been given six weeks time to submit proof of payment to the victim. “The case is related to a student, Ashish Kumar Madheshiya (17), who was picked up by police personnel of Pipraich Police Station of Gorakhpur district on January 23, 2010,” it said. During the course of inquiry, the Commission found that Ashish was illegally detained and severely tortured allegedly by the Station Officer (SO) and two Constables, which caused serious injury to his spine making him permanently crippled. As a result, the victim would not be able to walk in his lifetime without help from others. The Commission has observed that this is a case of grave violation of human rights allegedly committed by the police officials for which the State is liable and recommended monetary relief. NHRC has also asked the Senior Superintendent of Police, Gorakhpur to respond within four weeks with the status of the departmental action and charge sheet against the erring police officials in the court. (The Economic Times 27/10/14)

64. NE consultation on human rights held in Agartala (1)

Imphal, October 29 2014: North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) with support from Twipra Students’ Federation(TSF) organized a ‘North East Consultation on Human Rights: Soliciting People’s Opinion on Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958′ at the Conference Hall of Hotel Rajarshi in Agartala (Tripura) today. Biswajit Koloi, General Secretary of TSF welcomed the hundred strong delegation, consisting of student leaders, researchers, teachers, civil society leaders etc. Sinam Prakash, Secretary NESO, in the keynote address, pointed out the need for the whole north east to come together to fight against the draconian act. Anthony Debbarma of Borok People Human Rights Organisation, speaking as a resource person, detailed the atrocities committed under the shadow of AFSPA in Tripura. Babloo Loitongbam of Human Rights Alert, also speaking as the resource person, called upon the people of Tripura to stand in solidarity with Irom Sharmila in her unprecedented struggle. After a thread bare discussion, the consultation unanimously resolved to strongly condemn the discriminatory and racist nature of AFSPA particularly in its implementation in Tripura; demand the repeal of AFSPA and to call upon all the people of the North East to be united in this call; sensitize the student community of the North East on the human rights consequences of the prolonged imposition of AFSPA in the region; pressure the Members of Parliament from the North East region to raise the issue to repeal AFSPA in the Parliament during the forthcoming winter session; and ensure that the issue of repeal of AFSPA in the list of priorities of NESO. (Manipur: E-Pao)

JUDICIARY/ LAW

65. HC Directive to Implement SC Order on Plaints Against Judicial Officers (19)

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court has decided to implement the Supreme Court directive not to accept any anonymous complaints against judicial officers in Magistrate, Sessions and Munsiff courts in the state. A Supreme Court circular in this regard was forwarded by the Registrar of Subordinate Judiciary to all the courts in the state on Tuesday. As per the circular, the anonymous complaints against any member of the subordinate judiciary should not be accepted from now. Instead, the complaints have to be filed in the form of an affidavit with proper details against the officers, at the HC. Once such affidavits are received, the HC would appoint an officer who will look into the complaints and file a report in the court. Only on the basis of the report should action be recommended against the judicial officers. The court officials said that the SC came out with the circular after a large number of anonymous complaints were received at the HCs. Most of the anonymous complaints were found to be baseless. Some complaints would be sent owing to the enmity with the officials of the court. Often investigating such allegations is a wastage of time and serious consideration could not be given to complaints of genuine nature. (New Indian Express 22/10/14)

66. New law proposed for small factories (19)

New Delhi: The Labour Ministry has proposed the Small Factories (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Services) Bill to govern wages and conditions of work in small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The Bill envisages rules for wages, overtime hours, social security and appointment of factory inspectors in units employing fewer than 40 workers. While the government introduced the Factories Act (Amendment) Bill, 2014 in the Lok Sabha in August, the new Bill has been proposed to align the work conditions in the SMEs with the Factories Act amendments and allow enterprises to file compliance forms online as the government announced earlier this month. “There was a demand from the SME sector for a separate Act to govern them. In line with that, this Act will reduce the number of forms required for compliance with rules. It will allow the SMEs to employ women in night shifts based on the fulfilment of certain conditions. It will change the inspection system to one based on self-certification and inspections based on computer lots as announced by the government earlier this month,” a senior Labour Ministry official says. The Bill builds on the Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) Amendment Bill, 2011, which increases the number of laws under which units will be exempt from maintaining registers and filings returns, he adds. The Factories Act (Amendment) Bill is for allowing the States to raise the minimum number of workers employed to 20 where power was used and 40 for others, from 10 and 20, respectively. Based on the suggestions in a June 2011 report by an expert committee under former Planning Commission member Narendra Jadhav, the Bill removes prohibitions on women working on certain machines in motion and near cotton openers and allows the State governments to make rules allowing women to work night shifts in factories upon fulfilling certain conditions. It doubled the permissible overtime hours from 50 hours in one quarter to 100 hours and from 75 hours to 125 hours in certain cases. “The Small Factories Bill will bring the SMEs, which account for over 30 per cent of industrial production, in line with the amendments to the Factories Act,” an official says. The Ministry has invited public comments over the next 30 days. After the finalisation of the Bill, it will be sent to the Union Cabinet before being introduced in Parliament. Keywords: Labour Ministry, small and medium enterprises, Factories Act (Amendment) Bill 2014, Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) Amendment Bill 2011 (The Hindu 27/10/14)

67. Judicial officers visit schools to ‘teach’ law to children (19)

New Delhi: In a first, serving and retired officers of the Delhi Judicial Services visited various city schools on Tuesday and interacted with children, explaining to them the importance of law in society. The sessions were organised by the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA), which has launched legal literacy clubs in schools to educate students on the legal aspects of various issues. Students from Class 9 to 12 will be made part of the clubs. The judge who took the session at the Government Girls Senior Secondary School at Roopnagar focused on crimes against women. Girls spoke about harassment and how laws can help.  “The children have to be made aware that certain kinds of behaviour are crimes, but there is no point in telling them about the IPC, so we have to figure out how to say the relevant things without complicating them,” the judge, who conducted the session at the girls school, said. At a similar session at a boys school, students raised issues of “protection” against “false cases” and how it was the duty of all citizens to stop crimes against women. “What you see as ‘fun’ is actually eve-teasing that can get you jailed. Mistakes like these affect your life and that of everyone around you,” the judge, who conducted the session at the boys school, said. The judge and the principal asked the students to follow traffic rules, not ride motorcycles without licences and never overspeed. The DSLSA, along with the Education department, launched the legal literacy campaign on Monday, which was attended by school principals, lawyers and judges from district courts, the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court. The legal literacy clubs have been launched in Delhi government schools for now. Similar sessions are planned at central government schools, private schools and schools run by the New Delhi Municipal Council from November. The students who are part of the clubs would then act as “peer counsellors”, spreading awareness about laws and civic duties among other students. “The challenge before legal aid today is to convey to the children that they have a legitimate stake in local, national and international governance, that we are all equal citizens and we all have an equal say in how our lives and communities should be run,” Chief Justice of India HL Dattu said at the inaugural session on Monday. Principals said for the initiative to succeed, constant monitoring and several sessions should be held. “Also, police have to enforce laws. Boys ride bikes on roads, but no action is taken against them,” one principal said. (Indian Express 29/10/14)

68. Proposal to legalize prostitution to be placed before SC panel: NCW (19)

NEW DELHI: The proposal for legalizing prostitution in India will be placed before the Supreme Court constituted panel on Nov 8, National Commission for Women (NCW) chief Lalitha Kumaramangalam said on Wednesday. “The proposal for legalizing prostitution will be put forth in the National Consultation scheduled to be held on Nov 8 by Supreme Court panel …,” Kumaramangalam said in a statement. The apex court had constituted the panel after a public interest litigation was filed 2010 on rehabilitation of sex workers. In its order dated Aug 24, 2011, the court had directed NCW to attend the panel’s meetings. “The panel has to make certain recommendations for the possible amendments in Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA) in the light of conditions conducive for sex workers to live with dignity in accordance with the provision of article 21 of the constitution,” added the statement. The Supreme Court-constituted panel would deliberate on the existing provisions of ITPA, loopholes, implementation of the law and the impact of such implementation on the sex workers and their lives.  Kumaramangalam meanwhile denied media reports that she was planning to put forward the proposal of legalizing prostitution at the cabinet meet. However, activists expressed concern and discontentment over the NCW’s proposal. “Legalization of prostitution goes against the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) definition of ‘decent work’ and is considered as selling sex under distress. Instead of criminalizing the buying and selling of sex, we are giving more power to those who exploit sex workers and treat them as commodities that can be sold in a market,” Ranjana Kumari, director, Centre for Social Research said in a statement. (Times of India 30/10/14)

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

69. Report on custodial death wants SC fiat followed (1)

CHENNAI: The Campaign for Custodial Justice and Abolition of Torture has prepared a report on the death of Syed Mohammed in the S.Pattinam police station, Ramanathapuram, which it proposes to hand over to the Chief Justice of India and the Chief Justice of Madras High Court besides the National Human Rights Commission. The NGO’s fact-finding committee, which conducted a two-day inquiry with the local shop owners, police, relative of the victim and the local MLA, has stated that Syed Mohammed was taken into custody, tortured and killed before being shot at in the police station on October 14. The inquiry found that the police picked him up following a verbal complaint on that date from mechanic Aruldass who ran a shop near the police station. Around 4 p.m. the shopkeepers near the police station heard loud screams from within and then three gun shots. The committee, which interviewed witnesses, has recommended that all suspended or transferred police personnel be arrested and tried on murder charges. It also sought an additional compensation of Rs.10 lakh for the family and a government job for a family member. The report has demanded that the directions of the Supreme Court on encounter death be followed. These include filing an FIR, conducting a magisterial inquiry, submission of report to the judicial magistrate and conduct of trial after a full investigation. (The Hindu 21/10/14)

70. Government won’t dilute or partially lift AFSPA (1)

New Delhi: The Centre’s new policy on Jammu and Kashmir will clearly spell out the government’s firm stand on the contentious issue of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in the state as it will categorically rule out any possibility of either diluting the contentious Act or even partially lifting it from some parts of the state. Sources said the government may wait for the Assembly elections in the state, which are due by the end of 2014, before making public its comprehensive policy on J&K. The previous UPA government was said to be favourably inclined to withdrawing the AFSPA from some parts of the state despite stiff opposition from the armed forces. But the new dispensation at the Centre seems to be on the same page with the security forces even though the state chief minister Omar Abdullah again made a strong pitch two days ago for lifting the Act from some areas in the Valley. Mr Abdullah, sources added, also raised the issue of AFSPA during his meeting with home minister Rajnath Singh a few days ago. The state government’s view is that militancy in the Valley is at an all time low and the timing is perfect for partial rollback of the AFSPA. However, the move also has a strong political under current since Mr Abdullah’s National Conference will get a major electoral boost in the Assembly polls if the Centre does agree to his demand. But the BJP-led government at the Centre seems to be in no hurry to announce its policy yet as it is completely against any kind of changes in the present format of the AFSPA. “At a time when the situation along the international border and the Line of Control is so volatile particularly in wake of consistent ceasefire violations by Pakistan we need to strengthen the hands of our security forces. And the government is clear that any dilution in the AFSPA at this stage will only weaken our fight against terror in the Valley,’’ an official said. Intelligence reports already suggest that Pakistan wants to disrupt the Assembly elections in the state by engineering more terror strikes. Close to 2,000 militants are said to be waiting at launch pads and terror training camps along the border to sneak into India. It is also suspected that having suffered serious reverses in wake of India’s retaliation during the ceasefire violation Pakistan was waiting for an opportunity to strike again. Thus given the present security and political scenario in the Valley there is a firm view within the Centre that the AFSPA should in no way be tweaked. Consultations have already been held among the national security advisor and ministries of defence and home on the issue. (Asian Age 23/10/14)

71. Villagers Seek Head of Karnataka Official in ‘Encounter’ Death (1)

SALEM: Mild tension prevailed around midnight on Saturday, when the body of Palani, the vicitim of the Karnataka Forest Department’s firing, arrived at his native village, Chettipatti. A large crowd from neighbouring villages had assembled to witness the last rites. Around 11.35 pm, when the body was brought by the Tamil Nadu Police, the angry crowd raised slogans against the Karnataka Forest Department personnel. They demanded the arrest of Vasudeva Moorthy, assistant conservator of M M Hills. The people said they would not allow the body to be cremated till Vasudeva Moorthy was arrested. Local representatives of political parties such as VCK, DK and PMK engaged in a heated argument with the police. Police told the people that the Karnataka Police had booked cases on Tamil villagers for ransacking their check post and the forest range office. They said about fifty people figured in the FIR, and if police was to discharge its duty, those named in the FIR would have to be arrested. Salem DIG V Kulkarni, Salem SP R Sakthivel, and Mettur RDO Anish Shekar were present and interacted with the people. Talks was held with the community elders and local leaders, who in turn pacified the people. Around 12.20 am the body was finally taken into the village and the cremation ended around 3 am on Sunday. An uneasy calm enveloped the village even as police maintained vigil. Bus services to M M Hills and Mysore resumed on Sunday morning. In the evening, the focus shifted to Mettur where Nam Tamilar Party chief organiser Seeman was scheduled to hold a public meeting. Earlier, he addressed the press at Salem, where he said, Karnataka officials have expressed their bitterness against the Tamils. For even minor reasons Tamils in Karnataka are attacked and theatres screening Tamil films are vandalised. Tamils will not suffer for long and the Karnataka government and the people of the State should maintain patience. (New Indian Express 27/10/14)

72. ‘Pay woman Rs 2 lakh in custodial rape case’ (1)

CHENNAI: A woman who was allegedly raped and tortured by the Udumalpet police a couple of months ago is set to get an interim compensation of 2 lakh in two weeks, as a division bench of the Madras high court on Tuesday refused to interfere with a single judge order to that effect. On September 24, Justice V Ramasubramanian, besides awarding interim compensation and ensuring medical assistance to the woman, had directed the CBI to probe the grave allegations against police. He also made it clear that the state government could place all the seven police personnel connected with the incident under suspension. The government chose to challenge the order. On Tuesday, when the appeal came up before a bench of Justice Satish K Agnihotri and Justice K K Sasidharan, the judges declined to interfere with the order. After CBI informed that more than 50% of the investigation had already been completed, the judges permitted the agency to proceed with its investigation. They then adjourned the matter to November 28 for further hearing. During arguments, the bench said the mighty state should not fight against a poor family, and added that while 3 lakh each was being given to people who committed suicide there need not be any hesitation to pay 2 lakh interim compensation to a victim of custodial violence. The issue relates to a petition filed by Girija (name changed) saying that her mother was picked up by Udumalpet police on August 11 in connection with a murder case. During the interregnum period, seven policemen subjected her to torture and they even inserted lathis into her private parts, she said. After summoning the woman to court, Justice Ramasubramanian referred her to the hospital, before awarding interim compensation. (Times of India 29/10/14)

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

73. State likely to unveil new e-governance policy today (1)

Gandhinagar: The new e-governance policy of the Anandiben Patel government is expected to be unveiled on Monday. Under this policy, all government departments will be connected with the public on social media and at least one member per family will be made e-literate . Taking forward Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious agenda, the final draft says that the government also targets extending the scope of e-governance to the remotest area by 2019. The Gujarat government officials maintain that the project started by Modi when he was chief minister, has been given final shape as the eGovernance Policy 2014-2019, wherein all the departments will be encouraged to have a dedicated page on social media to ensure interactive communication with people. “The state government aims at suitably promoting the social media services to further improve citizen reach and feedback mechanism on the government services. An active presence of all the government departments on social media is recommended,” reads the draft policy, accessed exclusively by The Indian Express. As of now, all the departments have dedicated websites, but they are not yet live. The 2014-15 budget has already mandated all departments to earmark three per cent of their budgetary allocations towards e-governance. And, departments will be expected to prepare their respective Information Technology roadmaps. The sources maintained that the policy, to be formally announced on October 20, also aims to spread e-literacy among citizens. The government has proposed setting up of IT training centres through public-private partnerships which will offer short-term courses, to create the e-literates. Further, the government will ensure that children completing elementary education get an exposure to basic computer skills in school. The policy also proposes to strengthen e-governance by delivering 500 services through portals by way of various channels. For the same, it suggests to add more 20,000 civic centres to existing 15,000 in rural as well as urban areas. The state government plans to make available Government to Citizen (G2C) services within 2 kms and waiting period at service counters to be less than 30 minutes during this five-year period. (Indian Express 21/10/14)

74. Modi lauds media for turning ‘pen into broom’ (1)

New Delhi: In a bid to change the notion that he avoided the media, Modi sought to send out the message that he wants to rebuild his relationship with it. The occasion was “Diwali Milan”, organised by the BJP’s media cell at the party headquarters in Delhi. Recalling his days as a BJP functionary in Delhi, when he used to stay at the party headquarters as an office-bearer before becoming chief minister of Gujarat, Modi said, “I used to put chairs here for you people. Those were different days, when we used to interact freely. I had a beautiful relationship with you and it helped me in Gujarat.” He added, “Even though times have changed, I look for ways to deepen these old ties with the media. I will see to it that, time constraints notwithstanding, we interact with each other better.” Modi, who has had stormy ties with the national media since the 2002 Gujarat riots, said: “When I interact with the media, I get not only information, but also a different perspective. By interacting directly, one gets to know things which mediapersons cannot report. Not only does one get information but also vision, which is very valuable.” Modi praised the media for the coverage and reporting of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. “You have turned your pen into a broom for my Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan. I have read many articles on Clean India. Electronic and social media are doing a comprehensive debate on it. This is a service to the nation. This is a good example of how the media can play a constructive role.” He added, “Many governments are being forced to wake up. Writing about the Clean India drive is a big service to the nation. I thank you for it. Since Independence, it was believed that the government would do everything. But the media is encouraging people to work for the nation. There is now an environment where citizens are realising that they have to work together.” After his barely-10-minute-long statement, Modi moved into the crowd, mingling freely with journalists. Some of them jostled to take “selfies” with him, and Modi happily obliged. Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Piyush Goel, Dharmendra Pradhan, Prakash Javadekar and BJP president Amit Shah were also present at the venue. Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley had to leave midway to chair a meeting. (Deccan Herald 26/10/14)

75. UN condemns attack on journalist in DRC (1)

Head of UN Mission for Stabilisation of Congo (MONUSCO) Martin Kobler has strongly condemned the attack on a journalist working for the Congolese National Radio Television (RTNC). “The attack is a serious threat to media freedom and I want to strongly condemn it. I express my support to the Congolese press which should be allowed to operate freely,” the head of the UN mission said in a statement Monday. Philemon Gira, an RTNC cameraman based in Goma, the North Kivu provincial headquarters in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was last Saturday shot by unknown armed men who stole his camera. “It’s an unacceptable act that should never be repeated. Media freedom is governed by international and African conventions and such acts constitute serious violations of human rights,” Xinhua quoted Kobler as saying in the statement. According to Journalists In Danger, an organisation involved in promotion of media freedom in Central Africa, Gira was the object of a targeted attack. (Business Standard 28/10/14)

76. Decision to not give information to media on probe won’t protect victims:.. (1)

MumbaI: Dissatisfied with state government’s decision to not disclose information to media during the course of investigations in cases, the Bombay High Court Wednesday said the government’s stand is restricted to protecting the accused and that the decision will in no way protect the victim. The HC was acting on a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking restraint on trial by media, arguing it infringed on the right of an accused to have a fair trial. A bench headed by Justice A S Oka had earlier asked the government to consider issuing a circular that imposes restrictions on the police from giving media interviews or disclosing information acquired during an investigation. While acting on the PIL filed by advocate Rahul Thakur, the HC remarked, “The public prosecutor, police should not tell who’s the next witness; what witnesses disclosed in court or whether they are having a good case, and accused will be punished for so and so years.” After perusing the circular submitted by the state government, the judges said it was not protecting the victims and called a couple of clauses in the circular “vague”. According to the court, during the stage of investigation and trial, disclosing information about the victims, accused and their relatives, in addition to witnesses, might hamper the case. The court had earlier said the quality of investigation would suffer if a case is constantly under “media trial”. It had also said there was need for the police to refrain from disclosing the identity and photograph of an accused. The state government had earlier informed the HC that the central government had already issued a circular that prohibited publishing photographs. “Overzealous sections of the media had a tendency to infringe upon fundamental rights like privacy, fair trial and dignity of the citizens,” the PIL says. The petitioner contested the media portraying an accused as a convict even before the trial. Relying on judgments of the Supreme Court, Thakur said the right to freedom of speech was not an absolute right, but was subject to certain restrictions, and that the state could impose certain restrictions on liberties granted to the media. The petitioner also objected to police parading an accused before camerapersons from the media using gory pictures and revealing the names of accused and their kin. The HC, while asking the state to come out with a new circular, posted the hearing for October 31. (Indian Express 30/10/14)

COMMUNAL RIOTS

77. HC seeks response of Centre, J&K in Chattisinghpora Sikhs massacre (7)

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir high court on Monday sought response of the Centre and the state government on a petition seeking a probe into the killing of 35 Sikhs in Chattisinghpora area in March 2000.A division bench of the high court comprising justices Mohammad Yaqoob Mir and MH Attar issued notices to respondents including the Centre and the state government to reply to the petition within two weeks. The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed by one Sardar Avtar Singh Sodhi, a resident of Mehjoor Nagar area here. The Lashkar-e-Toiba militants massacred 35 Sikhs at Chttisinghpora village of Anantnag district on March 20, 2000 — a day before then US President Bill Clinton was to arrive on his maiden visit to India. In 2010, an LeT associate David Headley, who was arrested in connection with the 2008 Mumbai attacks, reportedly confessed to the National Investigation Agency that the outfit carried out the Chattisinghpora massacre. Headley is said to have identified an LeT militant named Muzzamil as part of the group which carried out the killings apparently to create communal tension just before Clinton’s visit. The other major relief sought by the petitioner is reservation for Sikhs of J&K in all state departments and all other state institutions including the legislature, judiciary and executive. The petitioner has also pleaded for directions to the respondents for welfare of the Sikh community living in the state which included appointment of a board for welfare of the community, appointment of a commission to investigate the problems of Sikhs and to suggest appropriate measures for their improvement in social and economic sectors. He has also sought setting up of the Punjabi language department in the University of Kashmir and financial assistance to deserving students from the community for higher studies abroad. The petitioner has also sought directions for providing similar benefits to Sikhs to which other minorities are entitled to in rest of India under the National Commission for Minorities. (Hindustan Times 20/10/14)

78. Love affair sparks riots in Vadodra, 9 injured (7)

VADODARA: An alleged love affair between a girl and a boy belonging to different communities sparked communal clashes at Dhaniyavi village in Varnama on Monday morning. Nine persons including four policemen were injured in the rioting that broke out at about 11am. Police fired three rounds in the air to disperse the rioting mob. Over 24 persons have been detained and many more are likely to be rounded up in coming days. Over 32 weapons including swords and a licensed gun were recovered from the spot. According to the police, the two communities were at loggerheads over last few days after the allegations of an affair between a boy and a girl surfaced. “The communities had settled their differences earlier and father of the girl had even refused to register a complaint. However, on Monday morning they fought again,” said district superintendent of police (rural), Sandip Singh. Locals claimed that a similar attack happened on Sunday night in the village. “To ensure peace, we tried to strike a compromise. But we were attacked without any provocation in the presence of the police. Even women were present when the attack happened,” said an injured person. Another local said that the boy was accused of sending text messages to the girl and someone from the girl’s family informed her father. The injured persons were admitted to Makarpura hospital. Four cops including police sub-inspector, P V Solanki suffered head injuries. Security has been beefed up in the village to avoid any escalation. An injured person claimed that one of the reasons behind the clash was political rivalry between the two communities and that the affair was just a pretext to attack them. (Times of India 21/10/14)

79. Delhi’s Trilokpuri colony tense after communal clashes, one in critical condition (7)

New Delhi: Delhi’s Trilokpuri colony tense Ads by Google Used Cars at Low Price Get best deal in 2nd hand cars. Shop for the right used car today! cartrade.com/Used-Cars Free Trading Seminar Learn and Earn in Financial Markets Register for Seminar in Gurgaon www.mtrading.in/free-seminars New Delhi, Oct 26: Delhi’s Trilokpuri area remained tense on Sunday, Oct 26, though no violence was reported, police said, a day after five people were shot at during a communal clash, leaving one in critical condition. But police denied the area was curfew-bound. “The situation is tense but under control. No fresh violence or clashes have been reported,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Ajay Kumar told IANS. Police had detained around 70 people till Saturday night after two groups of Hindus and Muslims pelted stones at each other Friday. After a brief lull, clashes erupted again and five people were shot at Saturday evening. Three of the wounded were identified as 16-year-old Ajit, who has a back injury, 15-year-old Arjun, who is in critical condition with a head wound, and Praveen, whose age is not known. Following Thursday’s clash over Diwali celebrations, the authorities imposed prohibitory orders banning illegal gatherings. Trilokpuri residents said there was “a curfew like situation”. Delhi Police denied this. “There is no curfew like situation, but section 144 of CrPC (prohibiting unlawful assembly of people) is imposed in the area,” spokesman Rajan Bhagat told IANS. The whole of Trilokpuri, divided into 36 blocks, were being manned by more than 1,000 security personnel – from Delhi Police, Rapid Action Force and Central Reserve Police Force. Over 30 police vans, water cannons and riot control vehicles have also been deployed. Some of the roads where street clashes took places were strewn with stones and broken bottles Sunday. Though police said the five were injured in mob firing, their families blamed the police. “Arjun was shot by police when he was returning from a nearby block. He had gone for tuition and was returning around 1 p.m. Saturday,” his mother Malar told IANS. Ajit’s mother Anjali also claimed that her son was shot by police. Police said 14 people, including 13 police personnel, were injured in the stone-pelting. They were admitted to hospitals. Trilokpuri residents expressed anger over the police action, and accused officials of not apprehending the real culprits. “Most of the people staying in block 27 were nabbed from their houses. They were badly beaten up and dragged out of their houses. All of them are innocent,” Trilokpuri resident Md. Fahim told IANS. (One India 26/10/14)

80. Six held as VHP, Christians trade charges over Bastar clash (7)

Raipur: The VHP and Christians have accused each other for the violence in Madhota village of Bastar district when nearly two dozen people were injured in a clash between the communities Saturday night. Four members of right-wing groups and two Christians have been arrested. The present controversy is rooted in an attempt by the right-wing groups to take these converted tribals to the Hindu fold. A fortnight ago, Bastar BJP MP Dinesh Kashyap had visited the area and initiated “ghar vapasi” of neo-Christians. Since then, the area has been simmering and the Bastar administration had called a meeting of both communities on Saturday when the clash took place. “We were sitting outside our church when Dinesh Kashyap came with several persons and attacked us,” said Deva Madia, a converted Christian who is recovering at a hospital. Kashyap admitted he led the event but denied he was present on the spot Saturday. “I am in Raipur. I am still to get details about the incident,” he told The Indian Express. However, locals claimed his presence at the village. (Indian Express 28/10/14)

81. Drone helps police scan Trilokpuri locality (7)

NEW DELHI: Even as curfew remained in force in Trilokpuri on Day 5, the police carried out massive door-to-door search operations and recovered a huge amount of weapons and bottles of acid. For the first time, Delhi Police used a drone during the riot investigations. The search operation started on Monday evening after procuring warrants. Cops formed several teams comprising a senior officer, women personnel and constables, who were supported by Rapid Action Force sleuths. By Tuesday evening, the cops had searched 609 houses in eight blocks. Most recoveries were made from blocks 15, 20, 26, 27 and 28. Sources said intelligence officials were also present in plainclothes. A police officer said around 70 bags containing around 1,000 bricks and stones were seized from the rooms and terraces of the houses. Besides, cops seized five bags of acid bottles, around a dozen swords and meat cleavers and two dozen knives. Five people were arrested. Cops said the drive will continue till all suspects are arrested. The drone was a huge help as it could hover around multiple terraces and scan them within minutes. Delhi Police have procured two more drones with night vision after its use helped nab suspects and scan the area. The curfew was lifted between 2pm and 5pm during which essential supplies were distributed to people. Cops will also lift the curfew from 11am onwards for Chhath Puja. However, this will only be allowed if nothing sensitive is observed, an officer said. Police are sanitizing the entire area so that tensions don’t escalate again. Cops have also asked for the mobile and CCTV footages and appealed people to maintain peace through loudspeakers. Special commissioner (law & order) Deepak Mishra said he was monitoring the situation closely and appealed to people to not indulge in rumour mongering. “We have been getting hoax calls and a team is probing them. Those found to be creating panic and mischief will not be spared,” Mishra said. Joint commissioner of police Sanjay Baniwal said they hope to restore normalcy in the area in the next few days. (Times of India 29/10/14)

COMMUNALISM

82. Shiv Sena laments: NCP insulted Hindutva, mocked RSS and BJP wants its support (26)

Mumbai: Hitting out at NCP’s decision to extend outside support to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Maharashtra, the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena today charged that the offer made by the Sharad Pawar-led outfit is to ensure that its “scam-tainted” leaders enjoy full protection. “Until yesterday, BJP was a communal force and was mocked to be a party full of half pant wearing individuals by the NCP. They insulted Hindutva by mocking the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) diktat of wearing half pants. Are they now really concerned about providing stability to Maharashtra? They only want to ensure that their corruption is not brought out in front of people,” the Sena said in an editorial in its mouthpiece ‘Saamana’. Terming NCP leader Praful Patel as an opportunist, Sena said his party doesn’t even qualify to have an opposition leader. “PM (Narendra) Modi had campaigned extensively against the NCP and called it a ‘naturally corrupt’ party that has looted Maharashtra. Vinod Tawde (BJP leader) had even threatened to unearth the scams of the Congress-NCP and send corrupt leaders to jail. And so, a party which does not even qualify to have an Opposition leader is resorting to such opportunism,” the mouthpiece said. Reminding the BJP of Sena’s firm commitment towards a unified Maharashtra, it said that a massive mandate for the BJP in Vidarbha does not mean that people in that region have voted for a separate statehood. “BJP has got a huge mandate in the Vidarbha region which has increased their tally substantially. But we cannot believe that this mandate is for a separate statehood for Vidarbha. BJP may have MLAs there but the Sena has MPs from the region who are committed to having a unified Maharashtra. Their stand remains firm and will never change,” the Sena said. (Financial Express 21/10/14)

83. BJP has a majority, should fulfil commitment to Ayodhya: VHP (26)

ALLAHABAD: Vishwa Hindu Parishad today demanded that the BJP, having achieved a majority on its own in the Parliament under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, fulfil its commitment to the Ayodhya issue by facilitating the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site. “When the BJP was in power during 1999-2004, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee used to cite coalition compulsions while explaining his inability to facilitate the construction of a Ram temple. “Narendra Modi has no such compulsions. He may be having people from other parties in his government but the fact remains that BJP got a complete majority under his leadership,” VHP patriarch Ashok Singhal told reporters here. He said that the Modi government should now exercise its powers to resolve the issue which has been inordinately delayed due to judicial intervention. “The VHP has always held that courts cannot settle matters of faith and the government should facilitate construction of temple at the Sri Ramjanmabhoomi by getting passed an act of Parliament to this effect,” he said. Singhal’s statement comes a couple of days after Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), considered to be the apex body of the ‘Sangh Parivar’” of which the VHP is a part and the BJP is the political offshoot, had expressed hope that the Centre will “take the Ram temple issue seriously”.Although Modi has in the recent past refrained from making any statement on the Ayodhya issue, which had figured prominently in the BJP’s election manifesto, a number of party leaders including former national president and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh have gone on record to state that the party was committed to building a Ram temple at the site referred to as Sri Ramjanmabhoomi. The former VHP president, a staunch supporter of Modi since the days when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat whom he has been fondly referring to as “Hindu Hriday Samrat” (emperor ruling the hearts of Hindus), also appealed to the Muslim community to “come forward and cooperate with the majority community”.”The Muslims should understand that the Hindus have no issues with them except Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura. They would do the country a great service if they themselves renounce the wrongful claim on Hindus’ places of worship in these holy cities and acknowledge the majority community’s right to carry out its religious activities at these disputed sites”, the octogenarian said. (The Economic Times 22/10/14)

84. 5 Bajrang Dal men booked for abducting woman (26)

Mangalore: The Konaje police here have registered cases of abduction and attempt to outrage the modesty of a woman against five Bajrang Dal activists and a youth, based on a complaint filed by a woman from Elyarpadav near here.  The woman, a Catholic Christian, had married Roshan Shetty at Arya Samaj here on October 16 in the presence of some Bajrang Dal activists. The girl’s parents too had visited the wedding venue where a tiff occurred between both the parties and the girl had stood firm on her decision to marry Shetty. She had told reporters that she was marrying him by her own volition. She escaped from a hotel where she was staying with Shetty for three days and returned to her parents. On Wednesday, however, she filed a complaint at the Konaje police station, alleging that five Bajrang Dal activists and Shetty had drugged, abducted and forced her to marry the latter. She said in her complaint that she knew him and she had gone to meet him in the market to give some money. It was then that he forced her to drink some juice laced with a sedative. She also stated that the activists had threatened to harm her parents if she refused to marry Shetty. She has named Bajrang Dal leader Jagadish Shenava for forcing her to sign a few papers at the deputy commissioner’s office on October 17.  The police have registered cases against Shetty, Shenava, Dinesh Kadri, Sharath Amblamogaru, Ganesh Kumpala and Praveen. Mangalore City Police Commissioner R Hitendra said the investigation was on. (Deccan Herald 25/10/14)

85. Congress slams BJP, RSS condemns article (26)

NEW DELHI: The Congress on Saturday slammed RSS and BJP for their alleged “distasteful, malicious distortion of history” and demanded a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over an article in an RSS mouthpiece, which suggested that Nathuram Godse should have targeted Jawaharlal Nehru instead of Mahatma Gandhi. Distancing itself from the article that appeared in the Malayalam edition of its mouthpiece ‘Kesari’, the RSS, meanwhile, said it did not endorse the views expressed by the writer, B Gopalakrishnan. “RSS strongly condemns the controversial article published in ‘Kesari’ Malayalam journal in Kerala on October 17, 2014. The views published therein are exclusively that of the writer and the RSS has nothing to do with it,” RSS’s national prachar pramukh Manmohan Vaidya said in a statement. Terming the article, “barbaric and illegal”, Congress general secretary Ajay Maken asked Modi and BJP to immediately make their stand clear in this regard. “Silence on their part would only point towards their complicity. The argument by the BJP leader that Godse should have killed Nehru instead of Mahatma Gandhi reaffirms that the basic tenets of their ideology are hatred and violence,” he said adding that it was difficult to find such perverse discourse anywhere except the darkest corner of a bankrupt mind that the RSS and BJP have been thriving upon. Writer Gopalakrishnan, who was a BJP candidate in the recent Lok Sabha elections, also claimed that Nehru never had any genuine attachment with the father of the nation. Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat should come out with a statement to clarify their stand on it or “expel” its author and sack the editor of the journal. Further, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh said in a tweet: “Is it the beginning of rewriting Indian History? BJP/RSS and Modi must come out with a categorical statement on this. I know they won’t.”… (Times of India 27/10/14)

TERRORISM

86. Security Agencies Monitoring Al Qaeda, ISIS Developments: NSA (12)

NEW DELHI: There is no threat from either al Qaeda or ISIS of a magnitude which the country cannot deal with, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval today said but asserted that security agencies were keeping a “very close watch”.His comments came in response to a question at the Munich Security Conference (MSC) here on whether there was any major threat to India from al Qaeda and ISIS. “There is nothing as big or small terrorism. It is not on the basis of geography, but on the basis of groups, it is on the basis of capabilities and tactics. Any group, about whom we have information, that has the capability and intention to strike against would be our biggest targets,” he said. “I don’t think threats are of magnitude from either one of them which we are not in a position to cope,” he said. The NSA’s statement comes in the backdrop of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s video message about the creation of an Indian branch of his militant group to “raise the flag of jihad” across South Asia. There have been reports, some of which have been confirmed, of Indian youths, especially from Kalyan in Maharashtra, joining the ISIS. Concerns were raised after ISIS flags were recently raised in Kashmir. Doval, however, added that security agencies were keeping a close watch on the developments of both these terror groups. “But, we have to watch very very closely in case any of  these relationships develop and in case they start targeting India or interest of India, we will have to take a very serious view,” he said. (New Indian Express 21/10/14)

87. National security adviser set to visit Burdwan Monday (12)

New Delhi: One of the masterminds in the blast, Mufazzal Hussain, is the man who had set up two madarsas in Murshidabad which were primarily acting as a front for terror camps and some of the Jamaat cadres were being trained here for making the IEDs. Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JuM) is a banned terror outfit in Bangladesh and is suspected to have links with other bigger terror groups like HuJI and even Al Qaeda. NIA chief Sharad Kumar reached Kolkatta on Friday morning and went to Burdwan where he met the investigating team. Sources said the NIA D-G was given a detailed account of the probe and also what the accused persons, Hasem Molla, alias Badru Alam, Molla, Razia Bibi and Alima Bibi, have disclosed during interrogation so far. The NIA took over investigations into the case following directions from the MHA even as the TMC-led state government was reluctant for the Central anti-terror agency to conduct the investigations. The NIA is now closely investigating another aspect into the case as a large amount of cash recovered from the house in Burdwan has apparently been traced to a bank robbery in Telangana a few months ago. “We are trying to find out if there is a link between this terror module and the bank robbery as some of the cash from that incident has been recovered from the house,’’ an official said. (Asian Age 25/10/14)

88. NIA files chargesheet in ISI spy case (12)

Chennai: A preliminary charge sheet was filed by the National Investigation Agency in a court here in a case of alleged attempts to spy for Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI, and carry out sabotage activities in South India. The charge sheet was filed against Zahir Hussain, Siva Balan and Mohammed Saleem before a designated NIA court yesterday. The charges against them include offences under the IPC and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. Over 40 persons have been cited as witnesses and out of them the identity of 20 have not been disclosed. Totally, there are nine accused in the case including an official of the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo. “The investigation against others including the fourth man in the case Rafiq, who is also in jail is continuing,” Public Prosecutor for NIA cases, CSS Pillai told. Counterfeit currency and an unlicensed gun were recovered from Rafiq. Cases under Arms Act were also booked against him. “We are probing if Rafiq has connection with arms dealers,” the prosecutor added. On April 29 this year, Zahir Hussain, a Lankan national, was arrested by the Tamil Nadu police here. Documents including maps of Chennai city, photos of vital installations, and counterfeit currency were allegedly seized from him. The case was taken up later by the NIA. Subsequently, a Sri Lankan national Siva Balan, Mohammed Saleem and Rafiq were arrested. Last month, with the arrest of Arun Selvarajan, another suspected ISI operative here, the probe into the Pakistan- commissioned espionage ring came a full circle, the agency said. After his arrest, NIA said it was probing Selvarajan as part of the Thameem Ansari case. Ansari, another suspected ISI spy module, was arrested in September 2012. “A request to extradite Mohammed Hossaini, a Sri Lankan, is pending with Malaysian authorities. He is also an accused in the Zahir Hussain case,” the prosecutor said. (Zee News 25/10/14)

89. 8 LeT militants arrested in Kashmir Valley (12)

SRINAGAR: Eight Lashker-e-Toiba militants were today arrested by the security forces in North Kashmir, weeks before the first phase of Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir. With the arrest, the security forces claimed to have busted a module of the terror outfit and “averted a major terror plan of the militants”.A huge cache of arms and ammunition was also seized. “Police in Sopore (in Baramulla district), with the help of 30 Rashtriya Rifles(RR), have busted a recruitment module of militant outfit Laskhar-e-Toiba, thus averting a major terror and subversion plan of the militants. “Eight members of the module were arrested from different parts of Sopore town and adjoining areas,” a police spokesman said here. He said the militants, all local, were recruited into the outfit which was trying to execute militant activities. “The local boys were recruited into the outfit, which is building a network of LeT operatives. “They were bent upon executing various militant actions in and around the township in conspiracy with one foreign terrorist of LeT, Umer Khitab, a Pakistani national, who is operating in Sopore. Khitab has been taking directions from another LeT man Hanzulla, also a Pakistani national,” he said. Three of them Rayees Ahmad Bhat, Sajad Ahmad Bhat and Shabir Ahmad Kumar are residents of Harwan, Sopore. While remaining five, Lateef Ahmad Gujar, Zubair Ahmad Gujar, Mohammad Qasim Gujar, Mohammad Iqbal Gujar and Hakim Din Gujar are residents of Gujarpatti Zaloora village, the spokesman said. He said eight UBGL, five Chinese grenades and 100 AK-47 rounds have been seized from them, adding involvement of these militants in “other actions of terrorism and subversive actions is being probed”. (Times of India 27/10/14)

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

90. BJP woos Chhattisgarh Naxals who surrendered (12)

Raipur: A latest move by ruling BJP in Chhattisgarh to woo Naxals who surrendered to join the party has baffled not only the Opposition but also a section of saffron party leaders. After Chhattisgarh home minister Ramsevak Paikre “welcomed surrendered Naxals” to join his party last week, AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh accused BJP of creating base in tribal-dominated Bastar, a Maoist stronghold, with the help of left wing radicals. “BJP’s move to draft surrendered Naxals has clearly established the party’s nexus with Maoists that helped the saffron outfit win elections after elections in the conflict zone of Bastar in Chhattisgarh,” Mr Singh said. However, criticism by Congress has not deterred the saffron outfit from maintaining its stand, taking a strong section in BJP by surprise. On Tuesday, BJP MP from Bastar Dinesh Kashyap restated that his party would welcome to surrendered Maoists. (Deccan Chronicles 22/10/14)

91. National Investigation Agency report reveals chilling details of Naxal planning (12)

NEW DELHI: A three-month long conspiracy culminated into the meticulously planned Naxal attack, which was rehearsed over six days, on the convoy of senior Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh last year, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has concluded after conducting a probe for nearly 16 months. “Presence of Salwa Judum founder and Congress leader Mahendra Karma in the convoy was one of tempting and lucrative reason for CPI (Maoist) in taking decision to attack the convoy of Congress. The previous and post conduct of the accused persons establish their intention, conspiracy, preparation, and execution to lay ambush on the Congress Parivartan yatra to avenge against Mahendra Karma,” says the 36-page NIA chargesheet, that was accessed by ET. It was submitted in a court in Bilaspur on September 23 and says Naxals celebrated with a “macabre dance of death” on the spot after killing Karma. About 24 persons, including senior Congress leaders like the state congress president Nand Kumar Patel, his son Dinesh Patel, former union minister VC Shukla, Mahendra Karma, Uday Mudaliyar and a dozen police personnel were killed. The NIA says over 150 Naxals armed with AK-47 and INSAS rifles, hand grenades and huge quantity of explosives for making landmines trapped the Congress convoy and the mayhem carried on for two hours. It says a big attack was planned for over three months and after concrete information of Karma’s movement in Darbha was received a week before the actual attack, detailed rehearsals were carried out by the Maoists for six days on how to execute it. “A decision to carry out a big attack in Darbha region was hatched in the meeting of South Regional Unified Command (SRUC) of CPI (Maoist) held from February 16-25, 2013, somewhere in forest area near village Pidia of Bijapur district and various Maoist formations were asked to assemble in Darbha”, the chargesheet says. A week before the attack, Naxals got “information” of possible movement of Karma and other Congress leaders in Darbha to participate in Parivartan Yatra and decided to target it, the NIA says. “In pursuant to the conspiracy to attack Parivartan Yatra, Maoist commanders conducted recce of Sukma – Jagdalpur Highway (NH221, now NH-31) and identified a suitable spot in Jheeram valley for ambush. The rehearsal / mock drills for the attack was carried out for fivesix days in the forest area near Ekkum-Chikpal. During mock drills, cadres were divided into various teams/groups like Assault group, Stop Group, Signal Group, Blast Squad, Seizing party and Senior Commanders briefed them about the terrain, possible situation, their individual role, snatching tactics & escape routes,” the NIA says. The NIA Investigation has also brought out that Maoists planted a landmine (IED) under the NH- 221 near the culvert as well as at different places for defensive measures as well as to inflict causality on probable reinforcement/ rescue team. (The Economic Times 24/10/14)

92. Maoists losing ground in tribal hamlets: DGP (12)

VIJAYAWADA: The Maoists are losing ground in their stronghold areas in tribal hamlets along the Andhra-Odisha Border (AOB), Director General of Police (DGP) J.V. Ramudu has said. To substantiate his statement, the DGP recently told the media that villagers of Korukonda in A. Annavaram police station limits in Visakhapatnam district thrashed four CPI-ML Maoists to death to avenge the killing of an ex-militia member and a local tribal person, Gemini Sanjeeva Rao, on October 20. “The revolt of tribals against the naxalites, when a big number of armed militants were gathered was a rare incident. The inhuman act of the Maoists prompted the attack,” said Mr. Ramudu. Asked whether naxals were still active in the State, the police chief said except for remote villages, the Maoist movement was very much under control. When police are chasing naxalites, they are escaping into forests in the neighbouring States, he said. “The attack on naxalites by tribals is an example on how villagers are opposing the Maoist activities. Earlier, the extremists had damaged a pipeline and were involved in some other anti-development activities in the same village, which was strongly opposed by the locals,” said the DGP. However, the dalam headed by Maoist district committee member Sindri Chinna Ranga Rao alias Sharat (who was killed by the locals) shot dead one Sanjeeva Rao, branding him as a police informer. They had alleged that the ex-Maoist was campaigning against the Maoists in the area, thereby damaging the movement. The DGP denied the allegations that Sanjeeva Rao was a police informer, and made it clear that he had not been involved in any Maoist activities for the past 13 years. Sanjeeva Rao had not passed any information on the Maoists to the police, he added. (The Hindu 26/10/14)

93. Orissa Maoist who helped abduct BJD MLA ‘surrenders’ (12)

Bhubaneswar: Prominent Maoist leader Nachika Linga, who in 2006 formed Maoist frontal organisation Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS), surrendered before the police on Tuesday in his native village Bhaliaput in Koraput district. Linga (42), a tribal leader from Narayanpatna block of rebel-hit Koraput district with 49 cases of violence including abduction and murder against him, shot to prominence in April 2012 when he helped the Maoists abduct BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka two years ago. He had gone  underground after allegedly leading an attack on police in 2009. Inspector general of police (south-western range) Y K Jethwa said the police had persuaded Linga through intermediaries to surrender. “During negotiation, we had told him he would be produced before court as he has 33 non-bailable warrants pending against him,” said Jethwa. Of the 49 cases against him, Linga has been chargesheeted in 43. Social activist Prafulla Samantara, however, claimed that Linga was arrested from Bhaliaput and police’s story of surrender is false. He urged the state government to withdraw “false” cases against Linga as he was not a member of any banned organisation. In March this year, Linga was supposed to surrender in Narayanpatna block in presence of social activists, but he did not surface due to presence of police and paramilitary officials in large numbers. Sources said that though Linga helped the Maoists in Hikaka’s abduction, differences between him and the rebels cropped up soon over his plans of joining electoral politics. In March, the Srikakulam-Koraput Divisional Committee and Narayanpatna Anchalika Committee of the Maoists had publicly denounced him. The Maoists then had termed Nachika’s surrender move as “drama” that would serve his own interests at the cost of interests of the tribals. Maoists had also accused Linga of weakening the tribal agitation by joining hands with BJD. (Indian Express 29/10/14)

TRAFFICKING

94. Jharkhand couple held for trafficking (1)

New Delhi: A couple accused of trafficking minor girls and several others from Jharkhand has been arrested by the Delhi Police Crime Branch. It is alleged that Panna Lal Mahto (31) and his wife Sunita Kumari (37) supplied about 5,000 minors from Jharkhand for working as domestic helps in the Delhi-NCR region for the past eight years. It was from the arrested couple’s house in Shakurpur that Jharkhand MLA Yogendra Saw was held earlier this month. Mr. Saw, an accused in over a dozen cases of murder and other crimes, was allegedly harboured by his close aides Mahto and Sunita while on the run. Mahto and his wife had floated several placement companies, including illegal ones, the police said while adding that Sunita’s sister too had been arrested on October 13 for her involvement in trafficking activities. “The Jharkhand Police had approached the Crime Branch for the arrest of these most wanted human traffickers – Panna Lal Mahto and his wife Sunita Kumari – who were running a racket of supplying children. Non-bailable warrants had also been issued against them. Finally, on Sunday a trap was laid by the police team and both were successfully held from their hideout in J.J. Colony, Shakurpur, where both of them had come to collect their belongings,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Ravindra Yadav. The two were also wanted in two separate cases. “It has been revealed that Mahto was running several sub-units to expand the human trafficking network in Delhi in order to make quick money,” said Mr. Yadav. Mahto was earlier arrested in 2006 by the Jharkhand Police for human trafficking and was in jail for about five months. While Mahto studied till Class XII, Kumari is a graduate and has also in the past worked with NGO Nehru Yuva Kendra, the police said. The arrested duo would be produced before a court here on Monday where the Jharkhand Police will seek their transit remand. (The Hindu 21/10/14)

95. Traffickers use abductions, prison ships to feed Asian slave trade (1)

Some 21 million people are victims of forced labour across the world, according to the International Labour Organisation. — AFP It’s unclear exactly how many people are being coerced onto the boats. But seven men who said they were taken by force described being held until the boats filled up with hundreds of people in what are effectively floating prisons. When Afsar Miae left his home near Teknaf in southern Bangladesh to look for work last month, he told his mother, “I’ll see you soon.” He said he expected to return that evening. He never did. When he reported for work at a house on the outskirts of Teknaf, a man there gave him a drink of water. Soon, his eyelids sagged and his head started spinning. When he awoke, it was dark. He had lost all sense of time. Two Bangladeshi men then forced him and seven others onto a small boat and bound them. “My hands were tied. My eyes were blindfolded,” said Miae, 20. The boat sailed through the night until it reached a larger ship moored far offshore. Miae was thrown into its dark, crowded hold by armed guards. He and his fellow captives survived on scraps of food and dirty water, some of them for weeks. The ship eventually sailed toward Thailand where, as Reuters reported last year, human-trafficking gangs hold thousands of boat people in brutal jungle camps until relatives pay ransoms to secure their release. Testimonies from Bangladeshi and Rohingya survivors provide evidence of a shift in tactics in one of Asia’s busiest human-trafficking routes. In the past, evidence showed most people boarded smuggling boats voluntarily. Now people are being abducted or tricked and then taken to larger ships anchored in international waters just outside Bangladesh’s maritime boundary. It’s unclear exactly how many people are being coerced onto the boats. But seven men interviewed by Reuters who said they were taken by force described being held until the boats filled up with hundreds of people in what are effectively floating prisons. Two of the men were taken to trafficking camps in Thailand. The experiences of these men recall the trans-Atlantic slave trade of centuries ago. Miae and four other men who were held on the same ship as him described being kept in near total darkness and being regularly whipped by guards. Two men from another boat said they were forced to sit in a squatting position and that the hatch to the hold was only opened to remove dead bodies. Miae and 80 other men were abandoned, starving and dehydrated, on a remote island by their captors, who appear to have fled for fear their operation had been exposed, according to two local Thai officials who were involved in rescuing the men in Phang Nga, located just north of the popular tourist island of Phuket. “Their conditions were beyond what a human should have to go through,” said Jadsada Thitimuta, an official in Phang Nga. “Some were sick and many were like skeletons. They were eating leaves.” More than 130 suspected trafficking victims, mostly Bangladeshis but also stateless Rohingya Muslims from western Myanmar, have been found in Phang Nga since Oct. 11, according to Thailand’s ministry of social development and human security. Prayoon Rattanasenee, the acting governor of Phang Nga province, said that interviews conducted by the police, rights groups and his own people revealed that the victims were “brought by force. Many were drugged but we don’t know the exact number,” he told Reuters. . … (Asian Age 23/10/14)

96. NCW chief for legalising sex trade (1)

NEW DELHI: The chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW), Lalitha Kumaramangalam, has advocated legalising sex work to regulate the trade and ensure better living conditions for women engaged in commercial sex work. Legalising the trade, she says, will also bring down trafficking in women and lower the incidence of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Ms. Kumaramangalam said she would put forth the proposal at the empowered committee meeting of the Cabinet on November 8. “It [legalisation] is meant to regulate the trade. A vast majority of women in sex trade are trafficked; if it is legalised then commercial trafficking can be dealt with stringently,” she told The Hindu. In the absence of regulation, she said sex workers were forced to serve clients in unhygienic and unhealthy conditions and without condoms, which led to the spread of HIV and other STDs. “For instance in Sonagachi [red-light area] in Kolkata, which is the best organised cooperative of sex workers, there is no security for the children; clients are reluctant to use condoms and become carriers of disease. All this can be changed, if we regulate the profession,” she said. The NCW chief said legalisation would cover various aspects — from working hours, remuneration and health care of sex workers to education and economic alternatives for their families. “There is a need to offer employment alternatives to the women in the sex trade,” she said. While she asserts that legalisation will also help weed out middlemen and brothel owners who exploit the women, activists campaigning for a ban on the trade disagree. “Legalisation of prostitution will only embolden the traffickers. Based on our experience, we know that women are abused, coerced and tricked into commercial sex trade. These women are not working by themselves, they are part of a brothel and there are pimps involved. And it is these people who make profit from the sex work; by legalising the trade, we will end up serving them,” said Tinku Khanna, of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, a grassroots movement to end sex trafficking. Supreme Court lawyer and president of NGO Shakti Vahini Ravi Kant not only demanded an end to the profession, but also strict punishment for those who force women into the trade. “The sad part is that in spite of the various recommendations from the Supreme Court, no genuine efforts have been made by any government to see that this social malice is eradicated,” he said. (The Hindu 28/10/14)

97. Orphanages using trafficked kids to get foreign aid, SC told (1)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court was informed on Wednesday about an organized child trafficking racket which supplied children from impoverished regions of north and northeast to orphanages and schools in southern states to enable them to receive foreign donations. Giving instances of child trafficking and sexual abuse of trafficked children in orphanages, amicus curiae Aparna Bhat focused on the state of affairs in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh to request the Supreme Court to order a CBI inquiry. She said National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had found that “states of Manipur, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh were the source states in the northeast from where children as young as five-years-old were trafficked for education. The destination states of these children were TN, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala”. Bhat said recently, Rajasthan Commission for Protection of Child Rights rescued 28 girls and a boy aged between 5 and 17 years from an illegal child home called ‘Grace Home’ in Mansarovar area of Jaipur. “Another 20 boys were rescued from another child home, a pastor who was running these homes was arrested. FIRs were lodged in Nagaland and Manipur and trial is pending,” she said. “Of the rescued girls, 23 were from Manipur’s Ukhrul district and the rest from Nagaland, Assam, Punjab, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh while all the boys were from northeastern states. Fourteen children were found to be sexually abused. Only one girl has given a statement before a magistrate while others were too traumatized to record their statements,” Bhat said. She also referred to four schools in Mangalore and Mysore in Karnataka – Vivekanand English Medium School, Shri Ram Vidya Mandir, JSS Institution and Pejawar Sarvajanik Uchitha Vidyarthi Nilaya – indulging in similar practice. Quoting the NCPCR report, Bhat said, “Most such orphanages/homes raised donations against the photographs of children sent to donors. There is no regulation on the activities of middlemen who arrange and transport children from the northeastern states on the pretext of providing them better education. “In these circumstances, investigations should be handed over to a central agency like CBI which should file reports before the Supreme Court. There is also a need for parallel rehabilitation process for displaced or trafficked children to avoid their further harassment during investigation.” (Times of India 30/10/14)

CORRUPTION

98. CBI files revised closure report in Birla coal block case (5)

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Tuesday filed a detailed and comprehensive revised closure report in a coal block allocation case involving industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and others in a Delhi court. The report was filed before Special Judge Bharat Parashar who posted the matter for Nov 10. After filing the report, the CBI said that the closure report contains a detailed account of the investigation being carried out in the case. It also told the court that the final closure report deals with everything collected by the agency during its investigation. The court, during the last hearing, had sought clarifications from the investigating agency whether an element of criminality was involved while allocating the coal blocks to the Birla-promoted Hindalco. The CBI had booked Birla, former coal secretary P.C. Parakh and others on charges of criminal conspiracy and corruption in the allocation of coal blocks in October 2013. But it filed a closure report in the case Aug 28, saying: “The evidence collected during investigations did not substantiate the allegations levelled against the people named in the FIR (First Information Report).” The court earlier also sought to know on what basis did the CBI  draw such a conclusion to close the case and what kind of investigation it has conducted. (Deccan Herald 21/10/14)

99. Four-time increase in graft cases in most state depts. (5)

MUMBAI : There has been a nearly four-time rise in corruption cases in most state departments, compared to last year. The state revenue department continues with the dubious distinction of being the most corrupt, followed by the state police. According to the last 10 months’ statistics, there has been a 123% rise in corruption cases in the state this year, and it is higher in Mumbai. At least 270 offences of corruption were registered against revenue department officials, compared to 148 last year; 246 cases of corruption were recorded against police officials in the state, compared to 155 last year. The gram panchayat samiti department’s figures doubled, from 31 to 72 this year. Fifty-five Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation officials and 10 private persons were trapped this year accepting bribes, compared to 37 last year. The latest among them were four civic engineers caught accepting a bribe of Rs 15 lakh from a builder in Byculla. Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director-general of police Pravin Dixit claimed the increase in corruption cases was due to awareness programmes. “Initially, people were apprehensive if action would be taken against a public servant. Now, people’s faith in us has increased due to swift action on complaints, registration, verification and successful traps. A man walked in at 3pm on Monday, with a complaint, and by 7pm we trapped two Thane Municipal Corporation officials,” Dixit said. The ACB registered 1,005 offences of bribery, compared to 583 last year. The case of superintendent of police (Arthur Road jail) Vasudev Barkule and his deputy Pradeep Pathrikar being trapped in a bribery was one of the biggest blots on the state police. The duo was demanding Rs40,000 to clear a candidate in the jailer’s exam. ACB officials expressed surprise over the rise in cases involving the health and education departments. While 34 officials of the health department were caught, there was an equal number in the education department. The most prominent case this year was the arrest of Khalsa college principal Ajit Singh and his personal secretary Nikhita Vaid, for accepting illegal donations. (Times of India 27/10/14)

100. Give us names of foreign bank account holders by Wednesday: SC (5)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday directed the central government to furnish, in a sealed cover by Wednesday, the names of all Indian foreign account holders given by the German, French and Swiss authorities. A bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai and Justice Madan B. Lokur told Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that the government need not do anything but just disclose the names to the court and it will decide whether the matter should be investigated by the income tax authorities or by the Central Bureau of Investigation. As Rohatgi said that the veracity of the disclosed accounts is being investigated by the income tax authorities, Chief Justice Dattu said: “Why do you want to have the trouble of investigating. You give it to us. We will direct the CBI or the income tax authorities to undertake investigation in a month’s time.” “We don’t want the money that belongs to this country to go outside,” he added. “I have the list of 500 names, some of them are very sketchy,” Rohtagi told the court trying to hold his ground. The government had told that court Monday that it could not disclose the names to the apex court even in the proceedings under the constitution’s article 32 under which the apex court could be moved for upholding fundamental rights. “First give us the names, we will get them investigated. Not just one, two or three (names), give us in a sealed cover what you have got from French, German and Swiss governments,” the court told Rohatgi, wondering why the government was having “protective umbrella” for the account holders. The attorney general was told to give the names by Wednesday. “It will never happen during our time,” the court said expressing its misgivings on government’s assertion that under the SIT’s supervision, the income tax department will issue statutory notice to the people with foreign bank accounts whose names were disclosed by the foreign government. “We will never know that,” the court observed as Rohatgi said the government would come to the court after concluding the investigations. The court refused to modify its earlier order saying: “By this application you want to re-argue the entire case.” It said that it too had the same concern as petitioner Ram Jethmalani, while noting Rohatgi’s submission that the government was “not interested in holding back any name. We have disclosed all the names and details to the SIT headed by two former judges of the apex court. Once we get their (accounts) veracity checked, the process would be set into motion”.Faced with a situation where he was unable to persuade the court on the government’s intention to unearth black money and reveal the names of those who stashed it in tax havens, Rohatgi told the court: “Tell me that what can I do to allay your impression that we want to hide something.” Finding that the court was unrelenting on its insistence to get the names, he said: “The court will have to take the responsibility that that I will not be able to enter the treaty” scheduled to be signed with US in December wherein confidentiality of information is integral. “We are not that helpless. We will deal with the problem when it comes,” Chief Justice Dattu said brushing aside the contention. (Business Standard 28/10/14)

101. Centre submits black money list to Supreme Court (5)

New Delhi: As revealed to it by the French government, the Centre on Wednesday submitted to the Supreme Court names of the 627 Indians who are holding accounts in foreign banks. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi handed over two sealed envelopes to the apex court bench headed by Chief Justice H.L. Dattu. Mr. Rohatgi said that half of these account holders are Indian residents and these accounts concern till 2006. He said that action has been initiated into the matter. Some of them have paid taxes while others are under investigation. The court directed that the sealed envelopes containing 627 names, including correspondence with the French government, be given to Special Investigation Team (SIT) chairman Justice M.B. Shah and vice chairman Justice Arijit Pasayat. The SIT was set up by the apex court July 4, 2011. The court said the SIT will move into the matter in accordance with the law. On Tuesday, the central government was directed by the Supreme Court to furnish in a sealed envelope the list of all individuals and entities in its possession who have accounts in overseas banks, legitimate or otherwise. The directive to this effect came a day after the government gave the court the names of seven individuals and one company, alleging they had funds in bank accounts abroad over which proceedings had been initiated for tax evasion. (The Hindu 30/10/14)

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

102. Green policies can curb unbridled urbanisation: expert (9)

Thiruvananthapuram: The Indian ruling classes had instigated environmental disasters, ignoring the warnings about the dire effects of climate change, said political economist Amiya Kumar Bagchi Indian policymakers will have to try and develop renewable energy sources and promote bio-fuels and small hydel projects to put the brakes on the process of urbanisation that is responsible for the creation of slums and the displacement of people, eminent political economist Amiya Kumar Bagchi has said. Delivering the third Foundation Day lecture at the Centre for Development Studies here on Monday, he said investing in the abundant solar and other sources of renewable energy such as wind power and tidal power could help minimise the impact of unsustainable extraction of non-renewable resources and slow down the process of urbanisation. “Properly implemented, this strategy can generate decent jobs for the majority, long before we can foresee the end of market-driven, in equalising economics and politics.” Such moves would also be in consonance with the advice of climate scientists who have warned of the dangers of playing havoc with Nature, he said. Unlike China, Prof. Bagchi said, India no longer had the capacity to go down the accelerated industrialisation path by extracting resources from other countries. Besides, our whole environment is facing near collapse. Pointing to the unbridled promotion of luxury tourism and housing all down the steep slopes of the Himalayas from Arunachal Pradesh to Himachal Pradesh up to the Pir Panjal range in Kashmir, he said the Indian ruling classes had instigated environmental disasters, ignoring the warnings about the dire effects of climate change. Prof. Bagchi said privatisation of education was churning out students with no knowledge of the subjects for which they received degrees. (The Hindu 21/10/14)

103. Acts protecting environment should not be relaxed: Activists (9)

MADURAI: Environmental activists in Madurai have urged the Centre to spend more time to listen to the opinions of all stakeholders from across the nation before making changes in the laws related to environment. The ministry of environment and forests had in August welcomed suggestions as the government had proposed a review of the laws. The review would be done by a committee headed by a former Cabinet secretary. The suggestions are to be sent before the end of October. At a meeting facilitated by Samam Kudimakkal Iyakkam, a Madurai-based organisation, representatives from many NGOs working on the environmental front in Madurai and neighbouring districts took part and shared their views. The activists suspected the move by the central government and the way the work is speeded up is creating suspicion in the minds of many. The present laws protecting the environment should not be weakened in the review, they urged. They passed a set of resolutions at the end of the meeting and the same would be sent to the ministry for consideration. Opinions from people from all sectors including tribals, farmers, fishermen and environmental activists across the nation should be taken and considered seriously before making any changes in the existing laws. The time given by the ministry for public opinion is insufficient and should be extended. Industries, factories and companies creating environmental hazards should be checked and stringent action should be taken. Dyeing units and leather factories in several districts are creating environmental pollution, the resolutions said. The Forest Rights Act, 2006, which gives rights to tribals to eke out their livelihood and ensure their rights on the forest, should not be changes, the resolution said. M Arunachalam, head, department of environmental studies, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University addressing the activists said that lack of data on water bodies and the changes which took place in recent years has resulted in the failure to preserve them. Emphasising the preciousness of water and water bodies he said that such data would have helped to study the ecosystem. (Times of India 25/10/14)

104. ‘Swachh’ turning into photo op for many (9)

ADILABAD: The Swachh Bharat or Clean India drive in Adilabad has come more as a photo opportunity for officials and others than a chance to clear the place of weeds and garbage. The effort is also unlikely to achieve the desired success as it does not envisage control on garbage production. The standard practice of going about the garbage and weed clearance drive here is to inform the local press photographers of the day’s programme wherever it would be taking place. Officials and local people concerned line up with brooms for the benefit of the photographers. While the top officials participating in the programme leave soon after the photographers, those who have been shouldering the responsibility for the cleanliness drive stay for a bit longer. The best of efforts so far has not resulted in cleaning of over 50 per cent of any given premises since the drive started on October 2. Places like the huge premises of the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Adilabad, still have garbage strewn around despite a few hours of cleaning done under the drive. Evidently, the huge campus requires a concentrated and more prolonged effort in cleanliness which is its dire necessity. As most offices are located in urban areas and mandal head quarters the drive is mainly focussed on such places. There is hardly any cleaning done in rural areas. One example is the litter spread in the forest land which was cleared to accommodate a community kitchen at the remote Jodeghat village in Kerameri mandal when Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao came visiting on October 8. Though officials have come to the place after his visit, they have not bothered to clear the place of the garbage. “The Swachh Bharat will mean hardly anything unless there is control on garbage production,” opines a Municipal official. “Adilabad town continues to produce 66 tonnes of garbage every day though we are nearly a month into the Swachh Bharat drive,” he adds. (The Hindu 26/10/14)

105. Cabinet approves ratification of bio-safety protocol (9)

NEW DELHI: India will ratify a protocol which promotes innovation in agricultural and healthcare research and development that is safe for the environment, bio-diversity and human beings. The Union Cabinet on Wednesday gave its approval for ratification of the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur supplementary protocol on liability and redress to the Cartagena protocol on bio-safety. The protocol provides international rules and procedure on liability and redress for damage to biodiversity resulting from living modified organisms. It would promote sound application of biotechnology making it possible to accrue benefits arising from modern biotechnology while minimizing the risk to the environment and human health. “The proposal will protect the interests of all Indians without distinction or differentiation,” said an official statement. The proposal is based on the principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity and Cartagena Protocol on Bio-safety, both internationally negotiated and binding legal instruments. The objective of the supplementary protocol is to contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health, by providing international rules and procedures in the field of liability and redress relating to living modified organisms. (Times of India 30/10/14)

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

106. Crop failure drives two farmers to suicide (20)

KHAMMAM: Upset over successive crop failure, a farmer ended his life in a state of depression in Wajedu mandal headquarters in Bhadrachalam division on Tuesday. The police identified the deceased as Kuppa Narasimhulu, 40, a chilli grower of the mandal headquarters town. The incident comes close on the heels of the suicide of another distressed farmer at Komararam in Yellendu mandal on Monday. Sources said that Narasimhulu had taken three acres of land on lease and sowed chilli a couple of months ago. He suffered huge financial losses due to the failure of his chilli crop for the second consecutive time due to extended dry spell. He was terribly upset over the mounting financial problems and the future of his children, sources added. Suicide in Adilabad Adilabad Special Correspondent adds: A farmer from Kumari village in Neredigonda mandal, Penta Narayana, aged about 50 years, committed suicide by hanging himself at his residence on Tuesday apparently perturbed over crop failure. According to police, he also ran into debts worth Rs. 2.5 lakh. (The Hindu 21/10/14)

107. Six farmers commit suicide in Vidarbha (20)

Nagpur: An activist Thursday blamed official apathy for the suicide by six farmers in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region. DH file photo. For representation purpose  An activist Thursday blamed official apathy for the suicide by six farmers in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region. Four of them were from Yavatmal district and one each from Akola and Amravati districts, Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti president Kishore Tiwari said. The deaths occurred Wednesday. “The farmers voted overwhelmingly for the BJP in both the Lok Sabha and assembly elections hoping their suffering will be mitigated,” Tiwari told IANS. He said the Bharatiya Janata Party promised during the election campaign to address issues such as debts, market prices of cotton and soyabean, and compensation for crop failures. But continuing official apathy has forced the farmers to take their lives, Tiwari said.The activist urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Vidarbha. He said the monsoon was delayed by two months this year and a dry spell after Sep 15 had hit the crops badly. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 3,146 distressed farmers committed suicide last year in Maharashtra — the highest number for any state. (Deccan Herald 23/10/14)

108. Govt allows field trials for GM mustard, brinjal (20)

New Delhi: The environment ministry has allowed field trials of two varieties of genetically modified (GM) brinjal and mustard, almost 18 months after the previous government ordered a freeze on such tests. In a reply to an RTI query early October, the ministry said on August 21, it permitted the Delhi University to hold trials for a mustard variety and Maharashtra-based Bejo Seeds Pvt Ltd to test Bt brinjal. The decision does away with the uncertainty surrounding the biotech sector. Environment minister Prakash Javadekar had been saying the government had not taken a decision on field trials while maintaining “science cannot be stopped”. There is a huge debate surrounding GM crops that are strongly resisted by organisations that question their safety and cite concerns that the country’s food security could be compromised due to monopolising farm biotech MNCs. The Supreme Court is hearing a public interest litigation that has sought a ban on open field trials. The ministry’s nod came after the country’s biotech regulator, the genetic engineering appraisal committee (GEAC), approved trials of more than 30 varieties in two batches this year. The go-ahead, a ministry official said, was an indication of the positive outlook of the Modi government towards the use of “science” to boost agriculture production. The process of field trials, a necessary step to evaluate a GM technology’s efficacy and safety before commercial approval, had nearly come to a halt during the previous UPA regime. The DU’s Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants, headed by former vice-chancellor Deepak Pental, got the permission to conduct trials for a new variety of GM mustard two years after filing an application with GEAC, the ministry said. Nod for Bejo Seeds came after a year. Former environment minister Jairam Ramesh had imposed a moratorium on commercial release of Bt brinjal in 2010. “Either the minister is being misled by the bureaucrats, or the public is being misled by the minister. For gains of few companies, people and farmers are being blindfolded. Mr Javadekar should come out in public and end this double-talk,” said Manvendra Singh, a Greenpeace campaigner who filed the RTI plea. The UPA government’s decision to freeze trials was wrong as these were conducted in labs and that, too, after state governments’ permission, the official said. “The Supreme Court had never asked the government to impose the moratorium,” the official said. Several states such as Haryana, Maharashtra and Punjab have asked agriculture universities to ensure that the GEAC safety conditions for field trials were complied with, the reply said. GM crops are those in which genetic material is altered to provide some perceived advantage either to the producer or consumer, such as pest resistance or better nutrition. (Hindustan Times 26/10/14)

109. Widows of farmers take to the streets (20)

NALGONDA: The widows of farmers who committed suicide complained that the district administration is denying them ex gratia and other benefits given to the kin of victims by refusing to recognise the death of their husbands as those of farmers’ suicide. Widows and family members of suicide victims led by Human Rights Fourm (HRF) leaders have staged a protest before district collectorate here on Monday and presented a representation to officials during the grievances day on Monday. Speaking to The Hindu, Joythi (45), widow of Reddymasu Levan, and native of Kammagudem village of Kattangur mandal, said that her husband died on October 29, 2013 by consuming pesticide as their cotton fields were damaged due to heavy rains in the last week of October. Though Reddymasu Levan, a tenant farmer, cultivated cotton in 10 acres in hired land, his widow, said the authorities never visited their house for verification. The case of Gandicheruvu Sumalatha, 25, from Kakulakondaram village, is also similar. Her husband, Narasimhulu, also committed suicide by consuming pesticide last year, but officials paid her no ex gratia. HRF State secretary G. Mohan said that a three-member committee comprising respective RDO, DSP and Assistant Director of Agriculture Department should visit the houses of victims for verification, according to GO No. 421 issued by State government in 2004, but in most of the cases the committee never did that. Mr. Mohan further said that the State government is trying to hush up the number of suicides. According to GO, he said that the government should pay Rs. 1 lakh ex gratia, besides one-time loan settlement up to a sum of Rs. 50,000. “The kin should be given priority while implementing all the welfare schemes initiated by State and Centre, besides the children should be admitted in government welfare hostels to provide free education, he said. Recently, a fact finding committee led by district president of HRF, Ch. Guravaiah, visited families of 24 suicide victims who have revealed that they were denied the benefits without proper verification. HRF activist N. Sulochana, said the State government paid ex-gratia to only 480 families against 1,887 farmers who committed suicide, as recorded by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) between 1999 and 2012. (The Hindu 28/10/14)

110. Commonwealth forum seeks supportive policies for agriculture (20)

Chandigarh: The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Wednesday urged all participating countries for a supportive policy framework for sustained agriculture growth. It also stressed for collective efforts to implement comprehensive policies in support of farmers. Speaking on the role of parliamentary agricultural committees (PACs) in Asia region at a workshop here Wednesday, Tony Worthington of University of Greenwich (Britain) said that for Asian countries, agriculture could act as a catalyst of growth and poverty reduction. Opposing the policy statement of G-20 focussing on capacity strengthening of institutions, Worthington said that unless work on grass-root individual extension work is done, no permanent solution for growth was possible. While pointing out that agriculture, which was the most labour-intensive profession for Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Malaysia, was the engine for growth in these countries, Worthington said that it was imperative to focus on this sector to tackle the growing pangs of unemployment. He noted that half the labour force of Bangladesh, Pakistan, and over 60 percent population in India was engaged in agriculture sector and Commonwealth countries have to focus on increasing agricultural productivity to keep pace with increasing population growth in the subcontinent. Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said that in a parliamentary system, parliamentary committees were a much needed institutional arrangements that allowed parliament to exercise its role more effectively and efficiently, besides assuring accountability of the executive to the people. Bangladesh parliament Speaker and CPA chairperson Shirin Sharmin Chaudhary said that agriculture was the lifeline of any nation and its development was of paramount significance. Advocating the need to help peasantry in general and the poor farmers in particular, she said all governments should come forward to bail them out from the existing worldwide crisis by extending liberal incentives. (New Kerala 30/10/14)

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

111. BJP voice for airport land rate cry (4)

Durgapur; The Bengal BJP has decided to back a demand for a higher compensation by a group of villagers whose land has been identified for the approach road to the proposed airport in Burdwan’s Andal. Naresh Konar, a BJP state committee member in Andal, told the 600-odd villagers on Sunday that the party would back their demand of Rs 1 crore an acre. The Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Limited (BAPL), the airport promoter, has offered Rs 7.5 lakh to Rs 11 lakh an acre. The decision by the BJP, which has been eyeing the principal Opposition’s space, comes at a time the airport project is likely to miss its fourth deadline in November. BJP sources said the party’s decision was an attempt to remind Mamata Banerjee of her days in the Opposition when she had rallied behind landlosers in Singur and Nandigram. “Mamata became the chief minister riding on her movement against forcible land acquisition in Singur and Nandigram…. But what about those whose plots have been identified here? We will support the villagers’ demand,” Konar told the gathering of villagers at a Vijaya Sammilani organised by the Andal Krishi Jami Raksha Committee, the villagers’ forum. The 4.1km approach road from NH2 to the proposed airport would require around 100 acres. Asked about Konar’s claim to support the villagers’ demand, BJP state president Rahul Sinha said: “We don’t know about the chief minister’s deadlines. We just want the government to consider the demand of the villagers.” Sinha added: “Trinamul had backed the landlosers in Singur when the party was in the Opposition. But it is not doing so after coming to power. This is double standard.” The Rs 10,000-crore project — with Singapore’s Changi Airports International as a partner — was supposed to come up within three years of the Left Front government handing over 1,818 acres to BAPL in 2009. However, the project has missed three deadlines — in 2012, 2013 and April this year. A similar problem over a compensation package has also prompted residents of another village to refuse to part with their land that has been identified for the shifting of eight transmission towers blocking the runway. Sources in Trinamul said although Mamata showed little interest in the proposed airport initially, she started backing it after realising that it was probably the only mega-project in the state. In August, she visited Singapore at the invitation of Changi Airports International to scout for investments from the Southeast Asian country. During the trip, Mamata had announced that the first flight would take off from Andal in November, a plan that no longer looks feasible with the authorities allegedly having pushed the deadline to January 2015. Andal, where the BJP has decided to raise its pitch over the compensation package, comes under the Asansol Lok Sabha seat, one of two constituencies the party won in Bengal this time. Brokers dealing with land described the villagers’ demand of Rs 1 crore an acre as “justified”, saying it was well below the current market rate. “According to the current market rate, a cottah sells for Rs 4 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. An acre is around 60 cottahs, which means the price can be up to Rs 3 crore an acre. The villagers are demanding a third of that,” a broker said. The Andal unit of Trinamul accused the BJP of inciting the villagers to delay the project further. Andal block Trinamul president Kanchan Mitra said: “I would request the villagers not to get carried away by the BJP. It is trying to get a political mileage over the issue.” (The Telegraph 21/10/14)

112. Rehabilitate Tribal Families in SOG Camp: NHRC to Govt (4)

CUTTACK: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the State Government to rehabilitate seven tribal families languishing in the Special Operation Group (SOG) Camp at Chandaka on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar. Acting on a complaint of Rights activist Akhand, the Commission has asked the Chief Secretary to ensure their rehabilitation within eight weeks. Akhand had alleged, seven tribal families had been stuck on the premises of SOG camp and subjected to restrictions due to security measures. The family members were unable to move freely. The State Government had set up the SOG in 2004 and allotted 62 acres land at Tulasideipur village for their training. At the time of acquiring land, house of the seven tribal families remained in the camp’s limits. The Commission had taken cognizance and sought a report from the State Government in the matter. The IG of Police (Operations) admitted the presence of the families. As per his report, Khurda administration has been moved to shift these families to a nearby alternate location, with rehabilitation facilities that they may be entitled to as per law. The report concedes the restricted movement of the members of these families because of strict security arrangements in the campus, due to Naxal menace. Considering the report, the Commission noted that “the seven families should be rehabilitated at the earliest because they are facing difficulties since long. From report of the IG (Operations), it appears that the district administration was intimated as early as in 2011, but no action has been taken so far.” The State Government should take prompt necessary action in this regard and the Chief Secretary should submit a report on rehabilitation of the families, the Commission directed. (New Indian Express 26/10/14)

113. Two decades on, land acquired for NH development remains untouched (4)

KOCHI: It is just impossible to develop all national highways in Kerala at 45-metre width, due to prohibitive cost of land acquisition and stiff resistance to the proposal that is building up all across the State, key stakeholders in the State’s NH-development process have said. The State government had recently decided to develop NHs at 45-metre width, as against its declared stand to develop NH stretches in Kerala at 30-metre width in places where land acquisition for 45-metre wide NH is facing stiff resistance from land owners. NGOs fighting against 45-metre-wide highways speak of how fresh land acquisition at places where 30-metre-wide land is available is next to impossible. “Land owners on NH 17 will fight another round of acquisition tooth and nail since their houses were pulled down for acquiring land at 30-metre width. They rebuilt their houses in whatever small plots were available. We cannot comprehend yet another attempt to evict people since many people have not got full compensation amount for plots surrendered 25 years ago,” said Hashim Chendampilly, convener of NH Samara Samity, a conclave of NGOs. He said NH 17 is hardly six-metres wide in places such as Vadakkekara, while land acquired at 30-metre width is lying idle and weed- infested. “Both land owners and commuters are angry at the state of affairs.” Sources in PWD said land acquisition was the biggest challenge since only eight hectares of land was acquired in NH 47 and NH 17 during the past 13 years. “The government says the total compensation to land owners would be Rs. 13,500 crore (at the average rate of Rs.4 lakh per cent). But this would scale up to well over Rs. 50,000 crore since the market rate for most plots facing NHs ranges from between Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 1 crore. It is doubtful whether NHAI would pay this since State government is hard-pressed for funds.” Rather than waste time on the project, priority must be given to widen Cherthala-Kazhakoottam reach of NH 47 and also Edappally-Kuttipuram reach of NH 17 into four lane. Land acquired at 30-metre-width over two decades ago was lying idle in these busy but narrow and highly-accident-prone stretches, they said. Other highway corridors can be developed at 30 or 45-metre width, depending on the availability of land. Already, the 270-km NH 47 stretch from Edappally to Walayar is being developed at 45-metre width. A senior PWD official suggested construction of an elevated 4-lane corridor on a BOT basis in the next stage of development in 30-metre highways. This would cost approximately Rs. 150 crore under current estimates and can be realized through user fee. (The Hindu 29/10/14)

114. Acquired land can’t be returned under existing law: Moloy (4)

ANDAL/ASANSOL: Land once acquired cannot be returned unless the existing law is amended by the Supreme Court or the Centre, former state law minister and currently in charge of labour department Moloy Ghatak told Andal airport township land-losers on Wednesday. Speaking to land-losers who were demanding higher compensation for 20-22-acre prime land abutting NH2 and leading to the nearly-ready airport through the proposed township, the Asansol MLA urged them to consider the interest of the state. “The farmers were demanding higher compensation. I told them that Andal and Singur land acquisition was done by the previous government and explained that there is no scope for returning the land under the present law. Only if the Supreme Court or the Centre introduces a new law can acquired land be returned,” Ghatak told TOI on Wednesday evening. Ironically, it was during Ghatak’s tenure that the state government had introduced the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act 2011 to enable the state government to return to farmers the land that had been leased to Tata Motors. The Act was subsequently challenged by the Tatas and is currently being heard in Supreme Court. Return of Singur land was one of the primary planks on which Trinamool rode to power in 2011. The land in Andal that Ghatak was trying to negotiate is crucial for the Aerotropolis project as the main arterial road cannot be linked to the highway without it. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee is keen to showcase a completed airport to Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong and FM Tharman Shanmugaratnam when they come visiting during the forthcoming investor meet Biswa Banga scheduled on January 7-9, 2015. Sources said Mamata is keen to present the airport as her government’s achievement and hopes that it will inspire confidence among investors. In fact, the CM wants the airport to become operational on January 7 so that Loong and Shanmugaratnam witness a test flight land. Loong had, during Mamata’s visit to Singapore in August, enquired about the delay of the Andal airport project in which Changi Airports International, Singapore’s airport operator, has substantial stake. Mamata had then assured him that the state would do everything to ensure its speedy completion. At a review meeting presided by the transport secretary recently, the controversy over the land that is proposed to be the project entrance was discussed. Ghatak convened the meeting of disgruntled land-losers on Wednesday. Of the 1,600-odd owners of the 20-22 acres in question, 1,500 have accepted cheques. But the remaining 100 are demanding higher compensation as they believe their prime land should fetch more than the uniform Rs 10.5 lakh per acre doled out to all land-losers. (Times of India 30/10/14)

RIGHT TO HEALTH

115. Ebola: US issues new treatment protocols (3)

Dallas/Washington/Paris: The United States issued stringent new protocols on Monday for health workers treating Ebola victims, directing medical teams to wear protective gear that leaves no skin or hair exposed to prevent medical workers from becoming infected, as another US patient recovered from Ebola and was discharged from hospital. The new guidelines from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta come as 43 people who were exposed to the first patient diagnosed in the United States were declared risk-free, easing a national sense of crisis that took hold after two Texas nurses who treated him contracted the disease. Under new protocols, Ebola healthcare workers also must undergo special training and demonstrate competency in using protective equipment. Use of the gear, now including coveralls, and single-use, disposable hoods, must be overseen by a supervisor to ensure proper procedures are followed when caring for patients with Ebola, which is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids but is not airborne. Meanwhile, a new device similar to a simple pregnancy home-test could allow doctors to diagnose a patient with suspected Ebola in under 15 minutes, its French developers said Tuesday. Trials at a high-security lab have validated the technique and prototype kits should be available in Ebola-hit countries by the end of October for a clinical trial, France’s Atomic Energy Commission said. The diagnostic tool works by monoclonal antibodies reacting to the presence of virus in a tiny sample, which can be a drop of blood, plasma or urine, it said. (Asian Age 22/10/14)

116. 24% of global missed TB cases in India: WHO (3)

LONDON: One in every four missed cases of tuberculosis (TB) globally is in India.The World Health Organisation has found that India tops the list of the world’s missed TB cases. Almost 24% of the world’s missed TB cases are from India, according to the Global TB Report 2014 released on Thursday. Ten countries accounted for 74% (2.4 million) of the estimated “missed” cases globally in 2013. The number of missed cases is defined as the difference between the estimated number of incident cases and notified (new and relapse) cases in 2013. Of the nine million incident cases of TB estimated to have occurred in 2013, only 5.7 million were both detected and notified to national TB programmes (NTPs) or national surveillance systems giving a case detection rate of 64%.WHO says that this leaves a gap of approximately 3.3 million people with TB who were “missed”, either because they were not diagnosed or because they were diagnosed but not reported. WHO said “Improvements in case detection in India would have a global impact, given the size of the TB burden in the countries and the sizeable gap between notified cases and estimated incidence. A recent study in India suggests that about 50% of detected cases are not reported to the NTP, a finding confirmed in a recent prevalence survey in Gujarat (unpublished data)”. Meanwhile, WHO revised its estimate of how many people have TB by almost 5,00,000. In 2013, some 9 million people had developed TB around the world, up from 8.6 million in 2012.About 1.5 million people had died in 2013 from TB, including 3,60,000 people who had been HIV positive, the WHO said in its global report. In 2012, there had been 1.3 million tuberculosis deaths. The WHO said its report underlined that a “staggering number of lives are being lost to a curable disease and confirms that TB is the second biggest killer disease from a single infectious agent”.”One of the biggest issues facing organizations tackling the disease was the number of undiagnosed cases. The fact that three million people are missing out on treatment every year explains why there are still so many avoidable deaths from tuberculosis,” said TB Alert chief executive Mike Mandelbaum…. (Times of India 24/10/14)

117. Preventive healthcare important to cut medical bills: PM Modi (3)

Mumbai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday inaugurated a hospital in Mumbai and stressed that preventive healthcare should be given importance by encouraging measures like washing hands among children to reduce the burden on the nation’s healthcare systems, saying that small steps like these this will have an impact. He also raised concern over India’s high child mortality rate and said it is a serious issue. The prime minister also talked about the ‘Make in India’ initiative, saying that the domestic production of medical equipment will cut the cost of healthcare. Talking about medical facilities to the poor, he said that a poor face immense difficulties, if a poor person falls ill the entire family can starve; and pointed out that the tele-medicine facilities will ensure best treatment for the poor. “Tele-medicine enables expert opinion even for people living far away. We need to integrate this and give good facilities to people,” PM Modi said. Earlier, the prime minister inaugurated the hospital, now in its 90th year, located in south Mumbai, which has been re-built by Reliance Foundation, led by its chairperson Nita Ambani, into a modern 19-storey tower with two heritage wings. Nita Ambani termed it “a historic day” in the life of the hospital which was re-dedicated to the people of Mumbai. “Narendra bhai, we assure that this hospital will become a centre of good health and global levels of health-care, respect for life, modern technology combined with love and compassion, with dignity to all,” she said. “This will not just be a hospital but an institution of care,” she said, adding that words like religion, caste, social strata, age and gender will not interfere with the kind of treatment patients receive. “We won’t just treat health, we will also respect life,” and at this institution quality will meet affordability, she added. Founded in 1925 as Mumbai’s first general hospital, it has a rich heritage — it saw the freedom struggle and the Second World War, and Mahatma Gandhi was among its frequent visitors. The hospital celebrated its silver jubilee with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as its chief guest and the golden jubilee celebrations were graced by Jayaprakash Narayan. Now in its 90th year, the prime minister is inaugurating its new avatar, the foundation said. The 345-bed, multi-specialty tertiary care hospital has six thrust areas: cardiac sciences, nephro-urology, neuro sciences, oncology, orthopaedics and spine, and women and child health. Earlier, Mukesh Ambani, his wife Nita and other family members welcomed Modi near the entrance to the hospital, along with Maharashtra Governor C.V. Rao. The ceremonies were performed before a galaxy of film stars, business honchos, cricketers, politicians and other celebrities from different walks of life. Present at the inauguration were Kokilaben Ambani, Amitabh Bachchan, Gulzar, Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Paresh Rawal, Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha, Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai, Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Praful Patel, Kajol, Rani Mukherjee, Sonali Bendre, Asha Bhosale, M.S. Dhoni, union minister Nitin Gadkari, and Maharashtra BJP leaders Devendra Fadnavis and Vinod Tawde among others. (Zee News 25/10/14)

118. Harsh Vardhan to urge global experts to unite for fighting TB (3)

Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan will urge global healthcare experts to unite to fight the real threat of tuberculosis (TB) during his visit to Spain where he is slated to attend some of the important international healthcare events. The minister will deliver the keynote address at the World Health Organization (WHO)’s symposium on tuberculosis entitled ‘Moving out of the box to end global TB epidemic: With post-2015 strategy’. In his address, Dr Harsh Vardhan will stress the importance of community driven solutions to TB, the disease which is considered the biggest killer worldwide. Its incidence is the highest in India, a country which reports 230 cases per 1 lakh population. “I look forward to this visit because I have already geared up the Ministry to accept the challenge of eliminating the TB scourge and meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) by 2015,” said Dr Harsh Vardhan before leaving. He said he would highlight the need for building up community-led action strategies for fighting TB in all parts of the world, including India. “The highest priority accorded to our anti-TB drive by making mandatory notification of TB cases, banning of commercial serological diagnostic tests for TB, web-based notification and tracking of cases, restriction of open market sales of TB drugs and prevention of irrational use, have already caught the imagination of global experts,” the Minister pointed out. During his four-day stay in Spain, the Minister will also address delegates at the World Conference on Lung Health. He will meet with the Health Minister of South Africa, Aaron Motsoaledi, along with representatives of the STOP TB Partnership & Results. He will also co-chair a high-level meeting of the BRICS forum with Motsoaledi. Organ donation, which is highest in Spain, will also feature in Dr Harsh Vardhan tour agenda. The minister is expected to discuss the possibilities of a memorandum of understanding with the National Transplant Organisation of the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality of Spain for sharing of knowledge on organ donation.  (Business Standard 28/10/14)

HIV/AIDS

119.  HIV through blood transfusion at Junagadh hospital: Parents object to CBI’s closure report

AHMEDABAD: The parents of the thalassemic kids who had contracted HIV through blood transfusion at Junagadh Civil Hospital filed a protest petition on Monday and questioned the conclusion arrived at by the CBI after a two-year-long probe. The petition, which was filed before a special CBI court in the city, accused the agency of shielding the ruling party’s MLA, Mahendra Mashroo, who was managing Sarvodaya Blood Bank that had provided blood for these kids. Twenty-seven parents have termed the CBI probe incomplete. The CBI has exonerated the laboratory, blood bank and hospital staff. But the petitioners’ counsel Paresh Waghela said that mere absence of mens rea (criminal intention) on part of those responsible for this blunder was not enough to spare them. It was because of their negligence that more than 30 children contracted HIV and five of them have died so far. Advocate Waghela said that the CBI had found 529 of total 1,227 blood donors and traced the donor who had HIV positive. The 2011 reports showed that he was HIV negative. When CBI could locate one person, it proves that there was a problem in the system and there were people responsible for the same. (Times of India 21/10/14)

120. 30 HIV positive children get new clothes, sweets from IOB (3)

Nagapattinam: The faces of 30 HIV positive children from different parts of the district lit up when Collector T. Munusamy gave them new sets of clothes and sweets at the Collectorate on Monday. Presiding over the function, the Collector said the Indian Overseas Bank had been providing sweets and new clothes every year to the HIV affected children in different parts of the district to celebrate Deepavali like other children. The IOB had spent Rs. 600 for every child for new clothes and sweets so that they could celebrate the festival of lights. Senior regional manager of IOB Balamurali, Lead bank manager Kathirvel, and district supervisor of Tamil Nadu AIDS Control Society Sakthivel participated in the function. (The Hindu 22/10/14)

121. 25% of HIV patients detected with primary drug-resistant TB (3)

Mumbai: An alarming 25% of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) patients from the city detected with drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) were primarily infected with the resistant form of TB bacteria which does not respond to the known anti-TB drugs. The findings were part of a new study released by international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). The study, published in PLoS One, an international journal, is the first to measure the burden of drug resistant TB infection in high HIV-burden settings in the city. MSF said the study was conducted between February 2013 and January 2014 at seven Anti-Retroviral Treatment centres in Mumbai. Researchers collected sputum of 1,724 patients with TB symptoms. The study reveals the proportion of DR-TB to be 25% among new cases of TB and 44% among previously treated TB cases. According to Dr Petros Isaakidis, MSF principal investigator of the study, the DR-TB epidemic may be driven by primary transmission rather than the lack of adherence to TB treatment. “Such studies will help shape the national response with specific interventions for those populations most at risk of getting DR-TB,” said Dr Arun Bamne, co-author of the study and former executive health officer of Mumbai’s public health department. Conventionally, patients, who opt out of anti-TB treatment, develop resistance to the known TB drugs and are classified DR-TB cases. However, with the increase in the number of such cases, many healthy individuals are primarily contracting the resistant strain, making it challenging to treat them. “Lifetime risk in getting TB in immune-compromised patients such as HIV is 8% to 10 %. There is a very strong association between TB and HIV and so the burden of TB in HIV patients is always high. TB is a global epidemic and the rise of primary drug resistance should be addressed,” said Dr Om Shrivastav, director, infectious diseases department, Jaslok Hospital, Peddar Road. (Hindustan Times 28/10/14)

122. HIV is a war, not a punishment,say experts (3)

The experts while speaking at a two-day seminar shun the notion that HIV patients are different from the society. They talked about the rights of such patients, various precautions to be taken by them, need to consult a doctor and side effects of taking medicines without consulting a doctor etc. The seminar was conducted by the branch of Etawah based NGO in collaboration with Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society and Uttar Pradesh Welfare for People Living with HIV/AIDS Society. Speaking at the seminar Dr Chaman Kumar Vanvani, senior medical officer, Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) centre, said, “Patients suffering from HIV/AIDS have to face a lot of societal pressure, which results in negative impact on the treatment. HIV is a war that can be won with the help of each one of us, it should not be considered as a punishment. It is very important that these patients are aware about their rights and different facilities that are being provided by the government,” he said. AIDS-related stigma and discrimination refers to prejudice, negative attitude and maltreatment directed at people living with HIV and AIDS. The consequences of stigma and discrimination are wide-ranging: being shunned by family, peers and the wider community, poor treatment in healthcare, psychological damage and negative effect on success of HIV testing and treatment, he added. The doctor said that the HIV deadly virus can be tackled just like any other disease. “The government provides free counselling and antiretroviral drugs to such patients. These are available at the ART centres all over the country. If someone is suffering from frequent fever, skin problems or any other type of illness, he should immediately go for HIV test. Once the virus is detected in the human body, the person needs to consult a doctor. Eating healthy diet rich in protein and anti-oxidant can help a sufferer lead a long life. Also, one should go for CD4 count test every six month to keep a track of the level of antibodies in the body,” he said. The doctor debunked the myth that HIV and AIDS are same. He said that just like many other diseases HIV and AIDS are two different stages of the disease. The event was attended by about 50 patients of the city. (Times of India 30/10/14)