HR News

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Volume 17                                               No. 21                                                      July 31, 2015

HR NEWS: July 31, 2015

 DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

1. Khap Panchayat Excommunicates Dalit Couple (2)

Madurai: Khap panchayat by Ramesh Babu, a caste Hindu, has ostracized a family from Arunthathiyar community for questioning his authority at Kattunayakanpatty village near Bodi in Theni district.  The last six months for Paramasivam, his wife Lakshmi and their three children who were forced to live in a makeshift thatched hut in a bushy area by the village tank bunds have been a nightmare. “We have been spending sleepless nights for months fearing for our lives. Snakes and other reptiles often enter our house at night. My children are scared of snakes and they refused to sleep in the house. They are now at my father’s place,” said Paramasivam. Though nearly 224 Arunthathiyar families live in the village, they refused to give a house on rent to the couple. They are scared of Ramesh Babu’s wrath. He is also the vice president of Theni panchayat union. “Twice I paid advance to my community members to rent a house, but they returned the money after Ramesh Babu threatened them,” claimed Lakshmi. As the khap panchayat passed an order directing the villagers not to speak to the couple; not to allow them to walk on the village roads or collect water from public taps; and sell grocery to them, the couple has been struggling for drinking water. “I am walking nearly 3 kms a day to collect water from Venkatachalapuram village,” Lakshmi said. “We have to face this hardship because my husband dared to question Ramesh for misusing the panchayat for his personal gain. Though the village panchayat president Panthanam belongs to our community, he keeps silence,” she said. After the couple petitioned the district police repeatedly, the police filed an FIR against Ramesh Babu under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act on February 2015, but so far they haven’t arrested him, said A Kathir, executive director, Evidence, a Madurai-based NGO working on Dalit issues. “Everything happens in the village as ordered by the khap panchayat,” said Kathir, adding that Evidence had sent a report to the DGP demanding immediate action. When Express contacted a senior police officer, he denied there were khap panchayats in the village. “Two caste Hindus tried to use Dalits for their personal reasons. We have found it was a mistake of fact and closed the case. The report has been sent to the collector,” he claimed. Kathir on the other hand claims, “Without asking the Dalit couple still living near the tank, how is it possible for the police to close the case as a mistake of fact? Nowadays Theni police close cases booked under the SC/ST Act as a mistake of fact. The police should re-probe the case to unearth the truth.” (New Indian Express 21/7/15)

2. Dalit groom seeks protection to ride horse to his wedding (2)

AJMER: Fearing an attack by people from upper castes, a youth from Dalit community has asked the district administration for protection during his wedding procession on Saturday in village Danta of Nasirabad block of the district. No Dalit in this village has ever been allowed to sit on a horse for the procession by the upper castes. On receiving this complaint, the district administration asked the Nasirabad police to intervene in the matter. Dalit villagers said they have earlier tried taking out retirement and wedding processions but they were beaten by the high caste groups every time. “Two months ago, a Dalit groom sat on a horse and wedding procession left for the venue but angry villagers tossed stones at them,” said Ramesh Bansal of Centre for Dalit Rights who visited the village. Rakesh is set to marry a girl from the same village on Saturday and lunch will be organized for the guests on Sunday. “We are have been told by the upper castes not to sit on a horse during the procession and have been threatened with consequences,” said Jasraj, Rakesh’s brother. He added that there have been several such incidents when the groom and his relatives have been beaten and punished for breaking village’s this law. About one dozen Dalit families came to Ajmer on Thursday and registered their complaint with the district administration seeking protection for the wedding procession and also for the ceremony. “A team of Centre for Dalit Rights visited the village and found that Dalits are not allowed to organize processions in the village. They found several instances when grooms were beaten or villagers threw stones from their terraces injuring groom’s relatives,” added Bansal. These families asked the administration to provide security during the procession as well as for the ceremony and lunch on Sunday. Meanwhile, administration directed police to control the situation and provide security to the Dalit family. Sources said that Rakesh’s family agreed to follow the village’s rule but the groom put his foot down to riding the horse to his wedding. “Since there are chances that the groom or his relatives can be harassed for breaking the rule, most of Rakesh’s relatives do not want to attend the wedding,” said one of the groom’s relatives. Danta village is highly populated with Gujjars and there are 275 houses of this community, 25 families of Rajputs, 25 Daroga families, 30 Mali households, 40 of Kumhars and 15 of Meghwals. Rajputs and Gujjars lead the village and pass laws for the village. “There is no threat to any community in the village and we simply ask them not to disturb the peace during any function,” said Katar Singh Gujjar, a resident of the village. (Times of India 25/7/15)

3. Woman Held for Chopping Fingers of Dalit Youth (2)

MANGALURU:  An upper caste woman was arrested on Monday in connection on charges of chopping the fingers of a dalit youth in Belthangady. The arrested is Pushpalatha of Kataje in Neriya village. The main accused Gopal Gowda, husband of Pushpalatha, is absconding. Belthangady police sources said the victim Sundar Malekudiya had objected to Gopal Gowda mowing grass on a piece of land in Neriya, claiming it belonged to him, on Sunday evening. A quarrel ensued that led to Gowda attacking Sundar with mower. As the machine was switched on, Sundar’s fingers were chopped off. It is alleged that Pushpalatha and Gowda’s sister Damayanthi threw chilli powder on Sundar and his family members during the incident. (New Indian Express 28/7/15)

4. Dalits Attacked During Temple Fest; 12 Booked (2)

THOOTHUKUDI: Owing to the fallout of caste clashes during a temple festival at Vadaku Konarkottai near Kayathar, 12 caste Hindus were booked for allegedly attacking Dalits, on Wednesday. As part of the celebrations at Kommandi Amman and Pudhuveetu Amman temples on Tuesday night, Dalits of Vadaku Konarkottai carried germinated plants- Molapari- in a procession  through Mettutheru inhabited by caste Hindus. They also burst crackers in the street as part of revelry. As one of the crackers fell in front of a caste Hindu’s house, some caste Hindu youth pelting stones in retaliation. With some of them sustaining injuries in the attack, Dalits too hit back. Police claimed that caste Hindus verbally abused the Dalits using the names of their castes. However, owing to the intervention of the village elders, the Molapari procession continued unhindered. Immediately, a police team headed by Kovilpatti ASP, Murali Ramba, rushed to the spot and carried out investigations. Dalits too submitted a petition at the Kayathar Police station on Wednesday morning and demanded action against the Caste Hindus. Following the probe Murali Ramba booked 12 Caste Hindus namley  Mani, Murugan, Sangilipandi, Muthusamy, Murugan, Mahendiran, Veerapandi, Veilpandi, Murugan, Veeriah, Mahendiran and Vijayapandi under the Scheduled Castes/Tribes(Prevention of Atrocities) Act. on Mednesday afternoon. Following the registration of the case against the caste Hindus , a peace committee meeting was conducted by officials of the revenue department during which  caste Hindus promised not to attack Dalits in future. Religious Outfits’ Members Booked for Hate MessagesA case has been registered against members of Hindu and Christian outfits for alleged hate messages against each other religions at Kurumbur on Wednesday. Police said that members of both tcommunities spoke ill of each other’s religion. Based on complaints from both sides, they were booked under 107 of IPC. (New Indian Express 30/7/15)

TRIBALS

5. ST status sought for Kaithi Lambadas (6)

ADILABAD: The Telangana State ST Commission headed by S. Chellappa began its three day visit to Adilabad district on Tuesday visiting Nirmal and Adilabad towns during the day. The Commission is here to accept representations from concerned sections of society on the question of admitting Kaithi Lambada community, also known as Mathura community and Valmiki Boyas into the list of Scheduled Tribes. Mr. Chellappa received representations from the leaders of the Kaithi community which supported the proposed move of the government to include the community in the ST list. On the other hand, various Adivasi organisations submitted representations opposing any such move by the government. At Adilabad, activists of Adivasi organisations such as Tudum Debba, Adivasi Teachers’ Association and Adivasi Samkshema Parishad made a vain bid to protest at the time of the entry of the Commission Chairman and members into the Collectorate where it conducted its proceedings. The slogan raising aboriginal tribal however, had to be content with staging the protest at the gates of the building as the Commission members made their entry through a different entrance. The Mathuras gathered in good number, including scores of women who came sporting traditional attire. The Commission will visit Utnoor, the ITDA headquarters and also the famous Jodeghat on Wednesday before ending its proceedings at Mancherial on Thursday. (The Hindu 22/7/15)

6. 1,347cr spent on tribal welfare but results missing (6)

THRISSUR: In the last five years, the Centre and Kerala government together have spent a whopping Rs 1,347 crore for the development of tribals in the state. However, though several welfare programmes have been tried, they have been found wanting, information received by an RTI activist in Thrissur has revealed. For example, the highest fund allocation of Rs 254 crore was for the education sector. Yet only 40% of tribal students in schools made it to SSLC, only 20% joined the Plus 2 stream and a mere 1.3% acquired degree-level education, a survey by the Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA) has revealed. Housing comes next with an allocation of Rs 248 crore, as per information collected by K Venugopal of Eravu in Thrissur using RTI. But again, a KILA survey shows that 16,027 tribal sub-families are being compelled to stay with their ancestral families as they do not have own land or a house. Of the existing houses, 55.32% are dilapidated, the survey found.  Yet another example of the skewed nature of allocation for tribal development is that while just Rs 1,000 has been provided to tribal women for buying autorickshaws, Rs 7 crore was spent on training the tribals to drive autos, Venugopal said. A closer look at the health standards of the tribals also paints a grim picture. Tribals in the state fare very poorly healthwise despite Rs 24 being spent on this front. The KILA survey found that 7,789 tribal families do not have access to any form of healthcare facilities. There are about 24,044 differently abled tribals in the state. Of these, 14,036 are physically challenged and 2,386 are mentally challenged. Activists say most of the funds have been pocketed by middlemen and very little has reached the tribals. “Unfortunately, the much-hailed decentralisation initiative of Kerala has only strengthened the bureaucratic regime in tribal welfare activities,” said M Geethanandan, leader of the Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha (AGM). (Times of India 24/7/15)

7. SC/ST atrocities Act to be made more stringent (6)

NEW DELHI: “Touching a Dalit or tribal woman in a sexual manner without consent” or “acts/gestures of sexual nature” against them would invite the stringent provisions of the Prevention of SC/ST Atrocities Act (POA). The Centre has decided to amend the POA along the lines of UPA’s ordinance, with the objective of strengthening the special law by including more crimes under the head of “atrocities”.In an important addition, the bill provides for presuming caste motive behind a crime and puts the onus on the accused to prove otherwise. As the legislation is set to be taken in Lok Sabha, minister for social justice Thaawar Chand Gehlot told TOI, “There is no change in the bill that was tabled in Lok Sabha (in July 2014). There is no dilution.” The proposed amendments have been a source of political wrangling ever since the newly-elected BJP government tabled the bill to turn UPA’s ordinance into law, but allowed it to lapse. Congress then accused BJP of trying to dilute the changes. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi recently wrote to PM Narendra Modi demanding the immediate passage of the bill. While sexual assault is part of the existing law, the bill makes it stringent by including “intentional touching without consent” and “using words or gestures” under assault of women. It also includes actions under the outlawed Devadasi system. According to experts, the additions under atrocities, by laying out new acts in specific terms, would curb the scope of misinterpretation by police or the accused. “These actions are criminal in nature but the atrocities law provides for stronger provisions: there is more protection for victims and witnesses, and there is a bar on anticipatory bail,” Dalit activist S Prasad said. The POA states that any non-SC/ST public servant who neglects his duties on crime against Dalits would be punishable with a jail term of six months to one year. Now, the changes specify the official’s duties as registering an FIR, reading out information given orally before taking the signature of the informant and providing a copy of the said complaint. In place of POA provision that a sessions court be deemed a special court to try offences, the bill states that exclusive courts be established in districts to dispose of cases within two months while appeals in high courts should be disposed of in three months. Also, it would be the duty of the state to provide protection to the victims and witnesses. (Times of India 28/7/15)

8. Tribal consent cannot be verified before giving away forests: Centre (6)

New Delhi: Whether consent from tribal village councils is essential before using forests could hinge on a case being heard by the National Green Tribunal on the Thoubal multipurpose dam project, which has been under construction since 1989 in Manipur. The tribal affairs ministry has told the court it does not have the power or a mechanism to verify claims of state governments that consent of tribals had been sought under the Forest Rights Act, 2006, before handing over forests to industry. An affidavit stating its position was submitted by the tribal affairs ministry to the tribunal in July 2014. This has become the main point of contention in the court hearings. The statement of the tribal affairs ministry is contrary to its position stated repeatedly over the past year to the prime minister’s office and the environment & forests ministry. The petitioners in the case, claiming the Thoubal project had come up without requisite clearances, pleaded through lawyer Ritwick Dutta the statement of the tribal affairs ministry be reviewed, as it would set a precedent over use of tribal forests. The court is set to hear more on this at its next hearing on August 4. The tribal affairs ministry is the nodal ministry for implementation of the Forest Rights Act. The environment & forests ministry issues clearances to industries to use forest land under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. As the Forest Rights Act supersedes all previous laws, the clearance process was brought in conformity by the environment ministry in 2009. The environment ministry ordered that the rights of all must be settled on a piece of land before it could be diverted, and the consent of village councils, the statutory authority under the Forest Rights Act, must be sought. Gram Sabha resolutions giving consent and the district authorities’ confirmation that all rights had been settled were to be sent to the environment ministry to be checked before any project was allowed on forest land. This process of seeking village councils’ consent became part of the Vedanta mining judgment of the Supreme Court during the United Progressive Alliance regime. After the National Democratic Alliance assumed office at the Centre, the environment ministry asked the Prime Minister’s Office that such consent be done away with through an executive order. But the tribal affairs ministry repeatedly held consent provisions could be done away with only by amending the Forest Rights Act. “The Forest Rights Act does not provide for any exemption to its provisions (of requiring prior consent from tribal people) for any category of forests, projects, persons, etc, in order to prevent any violation of law,” the tribal affairs ministry wrote…..  (Business Standard 30/7/15)

WOMEN

9. State closer to letting women work night shifts at factories (8)

MUMBAI: As a part of its Make-in-Maharashtra initiative, the state government is all set to officially allow industries and even factories to depute woman employees in night shifts—between 6pm and 7am, and all employees to work in extended or additional shifts to make more money. A copy of the Bill, which is an amendment in the Factories Act 1948, in this regard was released by the government on Monday, which is soon likely to be tabled for approval in the state assembly. TOI had reported in May the state cabinet’s decision to amend the Factories Act, paving the way for women to work at night. Following the amendments, factories with up to 20 workers will be able to operate even at night to maximize production by using cheaper electricity—power costs less at night than during peak hours. The Bill stressed that adequate safety measures—such as safe transport facilities for women—be in place before factories switch over to such practices. The Bill also proposes to enable workers to be eligible for paid leave after working for 90 days in a year instead of 240 days or more. Further, they do not need to take the management’s permission for overtime, the limit for which in three months will be increased to 115 hours from 75. “Increased use of technology and new innovations in the manufacturing sector has necessitated the changes regarding the safety and health of the workforce. To meet the rising need for increasing employment in the manufacturing, industry and capital goods sectors and to ensure ease of doing business for investors, the amendments aim at ensuring maximum benefits to workers, besides industrial and economic growth,” said a state official. The increase in the number of work hours for women will not only provide them equal opportunities, but also more employment opportunities. The Bill proposes proper monitoring of these establishments to ensure all safety precautions are in place, and leave and work hour benefits are passed on legitimately, without exploitation. “The chief inspector of factories will have powers to monitor the establishments and in case of breach of law, penal action would be taken,” said a source. (Times of India 21/7/15)

10. ‘Alcohol, Drug Abuse Triggering Domestic Violence’ (8)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: To spread awareness on the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence (PWDV) Act 2005, the Kerala State Social Welfare Board (KSSWB) has come out with a documentary, which was released on Thursday by Social Justice Minister M K Muneer. The minister said that 61 per cent of domestic violence cases was due to alcohol and substance abuse in families. He said that 16 per cent of the cases was attributed to extramarital affairs, 15 per cent to the influence of social media and 8 per cent to other causes. He said that dowry, which was once the primary reason for domestic violence, was at present counted in the 8 per cent. “The critical issue in the present times is alcohol and drug abuse,” he said. He said that earlier though alcohol and narcotic substances were readily available, it was when joint families gave way to nuclear families that the situation worsened. He said that the new family structure only led to parents and children growing estranged – the reason why old age homes was mushrooming, he said. Muneer said that a World Bank programme in which panchayats would be declared women-friendly and child-friendly, was about to be implemented. Towards that, cases of domestic violence and child abuse, as well the standards of health and nutrition, would be studied. He said that the government was planning an amendment in which Jagratha Samithis, panchayat-level committees to keep a watch on domestic violence, would be made mandatory. Ward members failing to take the initiative would be disqualified and would not be allowed to contest for five years, he said.“Most of the people do not know the provisions in the PWDV Act even though it was enacted in 2005,” said Kerala State Social Welfare Board chairperson Qamarunnisa Anwar. (New Indian Express 24/7/15)

11. 19,615 dowry harassment cases (8)

Thiruvananthapuram: As many as 19,615 cases of dowry harassment of women have been registered in Kerala over the last four years, the Assembly was told on Friday. As many as 2,596 cases were registered in Malappuram district, 2,402 in Kollam, 2,181 in Thrissur, 2,149 in Thiruvananthapuram, 1,893 in Kozhikode, and 1,252 in Ernakulam, Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala told K.V. Abdul Khader in a written reply. As many as 192 cases of cybercrime had been registered in Kerala this year till July 14, Mr. Chennithala told E.P. Jayarajan in a written reply. He said 466 cybercrime cases were registered in 2014, 390 cases in 2013, and 324 in 2012. (The Hindu 25/7/15)

12. Antenatal complications induced by domestic violence on the rise (8)

Hyderabad: Pregnant women facing natal complications caused by domestic violence is on the rise in the city, a closed group study done by an NGO revealed. The study that was done on 100 pregnant women who are under treatment in five different hospitals in the city revealed that domestic violence caused varied levels of complications to about 15 per cent of the women. The women who were monitored belong to all social and economic categories as there were engineers, nurses, teachers, farm and domestic workers among them, officials of Chaitanya, the NGO working out of Ranga Reddy district said. The antenatal complications faced are untimely bleeding, abrupt show placenta, inter uteral fetal death and also abortions. “While in most cases women failed to report domestic violence, maternal complications revealed these instances. Bleeding was the most commonly found result of domestic violence,” Ramya Reddy, the NGO spokesperson said. In most cases, the women were into their second or third pregnancy, she added. Marital problems and discord within the family lead to such cases, activists said. “Unwanted or accidental pregnancies cause conflict between couples and violence during the nine months. Most women do not talk about it unless the doctor pointedly asks,” said Anahita Mukherjee, a city-based activist dealing with maternal domestic violence. The study was done even as several gynaecologists are seeing a spurt in such cases. “There are several women who come us with such complications,” said Shanta Kumari, city-based gynaecologist. (The Hindu 27/7/15)

13. MCP cards made mandatory for private clinics too (8)

LUDHIANA: The Directorate of Family Welfare has made it mandatory for pregnant women all over the state to produce a ‘mother and child protection (MCP) card’ issued by the area’s auxiliary nurses and mid-wives (ANM) at the ultrasound centre for conducting the scan. Previously, pregnant women were required to show an identity card and ultrasound centres were also required to retain a copy of the same, along with the form. However, as many well-to-do families prefer to get mother and childcare treatment from private institutions, they did not bother to get the MCP card issued from the area’s ANM, thus hampering the registration of pregnancies with the Health Department. The new rule has been made to keep a check on illegal abortions and other malpractices. Civil Surgeon Dr Renu Chattwal said: “Pregnant ladies and their families can get the card from any of our government centres. This is now mandatory for patients going to private centres too. Whenever a new pregnancy comes to the notice of the AMN in a particular area, it becomes her responsibility to keep a track of the same.” The new circular will help the health department tally the number of pregnancies registered with the number of child births in a particular area in order to find out about any case of sex-specific illegal termination. Dr Neelam Sodhi, past president of Doctors Opposing Sex Selected Termination (DOSST), said: “This is a good step taken by the government. But it should do it with a fool-proof plan. Pregnancies should be registered before three months, because it is after three months that sex determination tests start. Moreover, there should be designated centres like civil surgeon’s office or any dispensary where ANMs can be reached for getting MCP cards.” This card can also be used for procuring birth certificates. (Times of India 30/7/15)

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

14, Operation Muskan Saves 58 Street Children in City (14)

HYDERABAD:The North Zone police have rescued 58 children from Railway and Bus terminals, as well as establishments and roads as part of Operation Muskan programme. Deputy commissioner of police (DCP), North Zone, N Prakash Reddy said that 14 of the 58 children were handed over to their guardians/parents. The rest were sent to rescue homes. Meanwhile, 14 cases were booked against the owners of various establishments which were employing the rescued minors. Operation Muskan was launched on July 1 in all police limits of the North Zone with the intent to rescue missing children and minors who were forced into beggary, child labour, prostitution etc. The DCP has instructed all ACPs and inspectors of North Zone to serve notices to all establishments warning them about the consequences of employing children for work. Child Welfare Department is running a Toll Free Number 1098 for the rescue of children victimised under various issues. If any person notices minors under the above mentioned conditions, they should inform the toll free number 1098 or the Zonal nodal Officer of North Zone D Balaji, inspector of police, Cell No: 9490616030, the deputy commissioner of police said. (New Indian Express 22/7/15)

15. TS And AP Top List of Child Rights Violators in Country (14)

HYDERABAD:Forcing a child to stand in the Sun or kneel down for hours or caning him or her to instill discipline continue to be accepted as a common form of corporal punishment in schools. Despite government ban on corporal punishment and directives to follow guidelines set under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, continued violation of child rights is a cruel persisting truth. The State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) has registered 91 cases of violation of child rights across the two Telugu speaking states in 2014-15. Out of these, 63 pertain only to corporal punishment. The Commission has pointed out that these were the cases that had turned “sensational” and thus taken up suo motu. State-wise statistics issued out by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) for 2014-15 is a shocker. When it comes to complaints relating to Right to Education (RTE) received by NCPCR as on 31 December 2014, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana together registered a whopping 796 cases of the total 1391 from across the country! The Telugu States are followed by Delhi which has 98 pending complaints on the same date. Similarly, NCPCR’s statewise details of complaints relating to Child Rights Violations or Deprivation during 2014-15 say 49 and 32 complaints were received from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana respectively. Of these, 17 and 21 are pending as on December 31, 2014. There are 56 types of punishments that are considered corporal by law and banned, says Achutha Rao, member of the SCPCR. According to him, the menace of corporal punishment is most prevalent in the Telugu States. “In every case, victim is the child. Private school managements, local politicians, education officers and policemen form a party and go against the victim’s parents,” he said, asking for strictest punishment for teachers involved in such cases. As of today, punishment for indulging in corporal punishment is imprisonment from 6 months to 3 years and a fine of Rs 25,000. “More than brutality in the name of punishments, a bigger threat is sexual offences. Only strictest of punishments can help innocent tiny tots,” he added. (New Indian Express 24/7/15)

16. 50% garden kids drop out: Study (14)

Guwahati, July 24: A study carried out by Save the Children, a child rights NGO, has painted a gloomy picture of the education scenario in the tea garden areas of Assam. A baseline study conducted by Save the Children along with two voluntary organisations of Sonitpur district – People Action for Development and Promotion and Advancement of Justice, Harmony and Rights of Adivasis – has revealed that about 50 per cent children do not attend schools regularly. Sharing excerpts of the study, state programme manager of Save the Children, Chittapriyo Sadhu, today said about 40 per cent school management committees are non-functional and only 30 per cent schools have separate toilet facilities for girls. The study also found that educational opportunities in the tea garden areas are limited to lower primary levels and most of the schools do not conform to the pupil-teacher ratio according to the RTE Act, which is 30:1. Sadhu said despite being associated with an industry that commands a significant share in the world tea market, a huge population of tea garden workers still live below the poverty line and are secluded from mainstream development. He said the culture of exclusion is also rooted in the history of seclusion of the tea garden communities from larger social fabric of the state. “Children are the worst sufferers as they are often caught in the vicious cycle of limited scope for quality education, dearth of opportunities for age appropriate life skills and vocational skill development and exclusion from social protection mechanism,” he said. Sadhu, quoting the baseline study, said only 14 per cent of the girls and 12 per cent of the boys up to the age of three years access the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) services while just 19 per cent of the children access pre-primary education in ICDS centres, also known as Anganwadi kendras. There are 950 tea estates in the state accommodating approximately 60 lakh people, which account for 20 per cent of the state’s population. Almost 24 lakh children live in the tea gardens of Assam. “Children are affected by poor health conditions, which can be largely attributed to inadequate water and sanitation facilities, lack of awareness about health care practices and poor nutritional gain. Hence, incidences of under nutrition and infectious diseases are widely prevalent,” he said. According to a National Family Health Survey, about 60 per cent of the children are underweight and over 90 per cent of adolescent girls are reported anaemic. Manoj Kalinda, a Class X student from a tea garden at Gohpur area in Sonitpur district, rued the absence of an Anganwadi centre in their area. He said alcoholism among tea garden workers is a major problem that affects their children. (The Telegraph 25/7/15)

17. US highlights Satyarthi’s ‘relentless work’ for children (14)

Washington: Indian Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi’s “relentless work” and “peaceful struggle” to keep children in school, rather than in the workforce, has been highlighted in a new US report. “For more than four decades, Satyarthi has worked relentlessly for the rights of children and waged a peaceful struggle to keep children in school, rather than in the workforce,” said the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2015. “He has helped to free children trapped in bonded labour, assisted them with vocational training and education, and challenged public discourse in India on child labour and child trafficking,” it said. “His contributions have not only affected India, but have also changed the world,” it said. In 1998, he organised the Global March Against Child Labour, the world’s largest campaign against child labour that led to the adoption of ILO Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour, the report noted. The world was formally introduced to “Satyarthi and his work fighting child labour when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, together with child activist Malala Yousafzai”, the report said. But in 2007, the US State Department, it recalled, recognised Satyarthi’s contributions to the global fight against forced child labour by selecting him as one of 10 Trafficking in Persons Report Heroes. In January 2015, President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama met Satyarthi and his wife Sumedha. Obama, the report recalled, said “… true measure of Kailash’s efforts is not a single prize he has been awarded, but the tens of thousands of people who today live with freedom and dignity thanks to his efforts”.In 1980, Satyarthi founded Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement), which has removed more than 80,000 children from exploitation. Satyarthi also founded Good Weave in 1994, which now implements a certification scheme to ensure no child labour is used in the production of carpets in India, Nepal, and Afghanistan. (New Kerala 28/7/15)

18. RTE, laws against child labour have failed, says judge (14)

KALABURAGI: Principal District and Session Judge B.V. Patil has said that the Right to Education Act and the existing laws against child labour have failed to achieve their objective. Inaugurating a round-table conference on child labour, school dropouts and the present education system, organised by the Department of Public Instruction and Margadarshi Samsthe, a non-governmental organisation, on Wednesday, Mr. Patil said children were our greatest assets and their educational empowerment would strengthen India to face future challenges. Mr. Patil said that the high incidence of poverty in rural areas was one of the main reasons for the increasing incidents of child labour and raising number of school dropouts. “Children are forced to discontinue their studies and work to support the needs of their family. According to a survey, around 57 lakh children dropped out after completing their high school in India every year,” he said. Referring to the life of the former President A.P. J. Abdul Kalam, he said the way in which Dr. Kalam overcame abject poverty in his family through educational empowerment should be a model for every student in the country. (The Hindu 30/7/15)

MINORITIES – GENERAL

19. National Commission for Minorities asks Punjab Government to implement various schemes for minorities more effectively (7)

LUDHIANA: Ajaib Singh, Member of National Commission for Minorities, has urged the Punjab government to implement various schemes started by the Centre government for the benefit of minorities more effectively. He today visited the city and held a series of meetings with members of minority communities, officers from civil and police administration, besides others at Circuit House, here. While addressing a press conference here today, Ajaib Singh said that he also visited Mansa and Bathinda districts during his three-day visit to the state and met members of minority communities there. He said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has started a 15 Point Programme for the welfare of minorities and his main aim of this visit is review of the schemes in Punjab. He said that due to lack of awareness amongst members of minority communities, they are not able to avail benefits under several government schemes. He said that he would compile a detailed report in this regard, which would be sent to the Chief Minister Punjab Parkash Singh Badal for necessary action. Ajaib Singh said that the Punjab government should take serious steps for creating awareness amongst members of minority communities regarding different schemes. He said that due to lack of awareness, it is the people who suffer. He said that the state government should print pamphlets in Punjabi language and should distribute amongst members of minority community. He said that Minority Welfare Officers should also be appointed at all district headquarters of the state, who should deal with cases related to only the minorities. He said that the members of Muslim and Christian communities brought to his notice that there is shortage of burial grounds. He said that the state government should take steps so that this problem is redressed at the earliest. He also asked the government officers to compile a detailed report about the status of ongoing schemes for minorities in the state and submit it with the National Commission for Minorities. He added that in his meeting with Deputy Commissioner Ludhiana Rajat Agarwal, he has been assured that that the process of redressing several problems related to minorities is already underway. (Times of India 23/7/15)

20. Wasn’t allowed to rent flat because I am Muslim: Blind DU teacher (7)

New Delhi: A visually impaired Delhi University teacher has alleged she was prevented from moving into rented accommodation after the landlord found out she is a Muslim. In a video posted on YouTube, 30-year-old Reem Shamsudeen from Kerala asked Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to look into the matter and ensure that people do not face such discrimination because of their faith. Shamsudeen, an assistant professor of English in a college affiliated to Delhi University, said she had paid in advance so she and her mother could move into the rented flat after the summer vacation. When she arrived at the flat with her luggage, the landlord refused to give Shamsudeen the key, saying she could not rent the flat to a Muslim. Shamsudeen did not provide details about the location of the flat or the landlord in the video. “Of course this was a shocking experience, considering Delhi boasts of a cosmopolitan and metropolitan nature all the time,” she said in the video. The two-minute video went viral on social media and has got more than 15,000 views on YouTube. The teacher has since moved into another rented accommodation with her mother. Shamsudeen said while she had lived in Hyderabad for the past eight years to do her MA, MPhil and PhD, she had “never for once experienced this level of discrimination based on my religion”.Addressing Kejriwal in the video, she said: “I believe…the Delhi you promised accommodates every citizen, Bihari, Bengali, Malayali, Manipuri, Kashmiri, Goan, black, white, man, woman, transgender, gay, blind, deaf, homeless.“I hope no one…will have to encounter this kind of shameful and inhuman experience in future and I urge you…to kindly look into the issue.”Shamsudeen told Hindustan Times she had nothing further to say on the incident. “I have said everything in the video. I have nothing more to add to that. What happened to me was not an isolated incident,” she said. Sources in the college where she teaches said Shamsudeen is avoiding speaking about the incident because she does not want her case to be politicised. “She does not want the incident to get politicised. May be she is scared about her job,” said a teacher. Civil society activists have taken up Shamsudeen’s case with the National Commission for Minorities, which is looking into the incident. The activists have also asked the commission to issue a notice to the Delhi government and seek its response. (Hindustan Times 25/7/15)

21. Govt recruited 9,303 persons from minority communities in FY15 (7)

New Delhi: As many as 9,303 persons belonging to minority communities were recruited in central government, public sector undertakings and banks in 2014-15 fiscal, Parliament was informed today. A total of 9,303 appointments were made against the post for people of minority communities, i.E 8.5 per cent of the total recruitments in the country, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said in a written reply to Lok Sabha. According to the statement , 651 persons from minority communities were recruited by the central government ministries, departments and attached offices in the last fiscal. Similarly, public sector banks and financial institutions hired 5,572 persons belonging to minority communities and para military forces recruited 2,303 such persons. The department of post recruited 777 persons belonging to such communities in the last fiscal. However, there was no data available regarding such recruitment in the pubic sector undertaking. As per the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, minority communities include Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains. (Business Standard 27/7/15)

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

22. Muslim professor denied accommodation (7)

New Delhi: A Delhi University professor, who teaches English, has appealed to the chief minister to help her in finding an accommodation as she has been turned away for being a Muslim. Reem Shamsudeen is a visually-impaired assistant professor at a college affiliated with Delhi University. After the summer vacation got over in July, Ms Shamsudeen, along with her mother, was supposed to shift to a rented house. “Despite paying the advance rent to the landlady, when we arrived with our packed bags, she denied giving us the keys saying that she cannot rent out her flat to a Muslim,” the 30-year-old professor alleged. Before moving to Delhi in February, she was in Hyderabad for eight years. “I did my MA, MPhil and Ph.D from English and Foreign Languages University. Never for once have I experienced this level of discrimination on the basis of my religion.” Hailing from Kerala, Ms Shamsudeen is presently on ad hoc basis and has recently joined the Delhi University. “This issue isn’t just about me. It is the case of hundreds of Muslims and people from other minority groups who undergo this kind of harassment and discrimination.” Through a video, the professor has requested Mr. Kejriwal to look into the matter and help her get justice. “I believe the State you administer and the Delhi you promised accommodates every other citizen. I hope no students or other migrant in the city will have to go through this shameful and inhuman experience in future.” However, this isn’t the first time that cases of Muslims denied accommodations in the city have come to the fore. Surveys have pointed to various forms of bias, where residents display an aversion to those belonging to other castes and religions being in their neighbourhood. Even the Rajinder Sachar Committee in its recommendations in 2005 sought the setting up of an Equal Opportunity Commission to provide a legal mechanism to address complaints related to discrimination in matters such as housing. But the Commission was never set up. (The Hindu 24/7/15)

23. UP beautification plan near Babri site irks Muslims (7)

LUCKNOW/AYODHYA: The Akhilesh government has chalked out an elaborate plan to improve amenities and beautify the areas around the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya. However, even before the government can implement its plan, Muslims, particularly the litigants in the title suit, have opposed the proposal saying any maintenance activity at and around the disputed site would violate Supreme Court’s order for maintaining status quo and also hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims. The state government recently sanctioned funds for the repair and rebuilding of the barricades and some temporary constructions around the site to give it a fresh look. Two separate orders to this effect (copies are with TOI) were issued on July 8 for the police department to make necessary arrangements. A senior state government official confirmed the proposed beautification plan and said it would not violate the ‘status quo’ order issued by the Supreme Court. The entire work has to be completed before March 2016. Opposing the proposal, Khaliq Ahmad Khan, nominee of Maulana Fazlur Rahman, one of the main litigants from the Muslim side in the Supreme Court, told TOI: “It is not a picnic spot. It is a disputed land and the title suit is sub-judice before the Supreme Court. There was a mosque before December 6,1992, which was pulled down unlawfully by a gathering of communal mob, so beautifying it will hurt the sentiments of Muslims worldwide. The government should only ensure the security of the site and not try to turn it into a tourist attraction.” Senior lawyer and vice chairman of Babri Masjid Action Committee, Mushtaq Ahmad Siddiqi, said, “The Supreme Court in its order of March 30, 2003, has made it very clear that status quo would be maintained both on the disputed site and acquired land. So, why is the government so keen on beautifying such a disputed place?” Apart from the repair and beautification, the government has also sanctioned three noiseless generators of 124 KVA each to be installed at the site so that proper lighting arrangements could be made. The government has sanctioned Rs 33 lakh for the generator sets and Rs 76 lakh for the repair and maintenance and temporary constructions around the disputed site. This is the first attempt by any government since the Supreme Court had asked to maintain status quo at and around 2.75-km disputed site after the Babri Masjid demolition. So far, only soiled tarpaulin covering the site has been changed from time to time for protecting Ram Lala idols kept inside. (Time of India 25/7/15)

24. Muslim localities in city neglected: BJP (7)

MEERUT: The minority wing of BJP on Monday staged a protest at Commissionary Chowk here, demanding that the city’s civic bodies pay more attention to residential areas inhabited by Muslims. The party said Muslim areas are forgotten after Eid is over. The sanitary condition in these localities is deplorable, they said. “Muslims have become an economically backward community in this state and they live in relatively backward areas. There is a basic cleanliness problem in these localities. The administration takes token measures during the month of Ramzan and Eid but the situation goes back to square one after festive occasions,” said minority wing district president Dilshad Ahmed. “Muslim localities in Meerut are rife with disease that emanate from the lack of cleanliness. Encroachment is a major problem here and the administration has done nothing to address the problem. If something is broken in these areas, it remains broken. Nobody bothers to fix it. The road from Pilokhadi Pull to Samar Garden is broken and it hasn’t been fixed. Even the drains in this area are choked. Morever, there are heaps of garbage in the area that are a breeding ground for diseases. Since these problems will intensify in the monsoon, the administration must take immediate steps,” he added. When asked about the state of Muslims in BJP-ruled states, Ahmed said, “Muslims in Gujarat are happier than Muslims in UP. However, I am certain that things will improve for Muslims in the state since the BJP is going to come to power in UP after the assembly elections of 2017.” (Times of India 27/7/15)

25. Congress seeks ordinance on job quota for Muslims (7)

HYDERABAD: Welcoming the Telangana Government’s move to fill 15,000 vacancies, Leader of Opposition in Legislative Council Md Ali Shabbir demanded that the Government immediately issue ordinance to provide 12 p.c. quota each for Muslims and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in those jobs. At a press conference here on Monday, Mr. Shabbir reminded that Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao, during election campaign, promised to provide over one lakh jobs. He reduced the figure to 50,000 after he came to power. A year later, he assured to fill 25,000 vacancies and finally, he signed files pertaining to only 15,000 jobs. “We don’t know how many posts would actually be filled. But we welcome the move,” he said while demanding that Mr. Rao should honour the promise of giving 12 p.c. quota for Muslims and STs in jobs,” he said. He said once the vacancies are filled, Muslims and STs would be permanently deprived of opportunity to get Government jobs. Therefore, Government should issue and ordinance giving reservation to Muslims and STs , he said. (The Hindu 28/7/15)

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

26. Pastors assaulted in West Delhi (7)

New Delhi: Three pastors were assaulted, allegedly at the behest of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) workers, over offering prayers at a West Delhi neighbourhood on Saturday evening. Christian bodies have claimed that the incident was executed in line with “deliberate vendetta against their community.” On its part, however, the RSS said the allegations were “absolutely incorrect” and part of, what it claimed, continuing efforts to malign the RSS by false propaganda “upon absolutely cooked-up charges.” A senior police officer said two cases had been registered. The United Christian Forum (UCF) has decided to take up the matter with the Chief Minister’s office. At the centre of the incident is a Kerala-based pastor who has been visiting Shivram park in Nihal Vihar over the last eight months. His latest visit, with two other Delhi-based pastors of the Shalom Mission, according to a police source, was to offer prayers for the well-being of an unwell child of a local resident but “misinterpreted” as part of a “sustained conversion drive.” (The Hindu 21/7/15)

27. Pakistan stays execution of blasphemy-convict Christian woman (7)

LAHORE: Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the execution of a Christian woman over blasphemy as it admitted her petition challenging the conviction. A three-member panel of judges heard the case in Supreme Court’s Lahore registry and admitted Asia Bibi’s petition for full hearing after initial arguments by her defence lawyer besides staying her execution till the matter is adjudicated. Bibi, a mother of five, had a quarrel over a bowl of water with fellow Muslim women while working on a crop field. She was accused of uttering blasphemous words in the heat of arguments, which she denied. Bibi was arrested in 2009 for allegedly passing the blasphemous remarks and convicted in 2010. Her death sentence was maintained by the Lahore High Court in October last year which she challenged in the Supreme Court. Blasphemy laws were introduced by military rulers Zia-ul- Haq in 1980s and people accused under the laws are also targeted by extremists. When governor of Punjab province Salman Taseer criticised these laws in a meeting with Bibi after her first conviction, he first faced immense criticism from extremists and was later killed by his police guard in 2011. (Times of Insia 22/7/15)

28. Keralite nun refuses to take AIPMT without veil, cross (7)

Thiruvananthapuram: A Keralite nun was today denied permission to take the the All India Pre Medical Entrance Test (AIPMT) here after she refused to remove her veil and Holy cross as required under the CBSE’s new dress code. Sister Saiba, who was to take the test at the Jawahar central school here this morning, said she sought permission to write the examination with her veil and cross. However, the school Principal told her about the guidelines issued by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). She then requested for a separate room to write the examination without the veil and cross, but it was not accepted by the school authorities, she told mediapersons. “I requested that I may be given a separate room where I will remove the veil and cross and write the test, but that was not allowed,” she said. The Principal told her that she was also a Christian and understood her plight, but as per CBSE guidelines, veil and Holy cross cannot be permitted inside the examination hall. Many students were seen removing head scarfs, ear rings and all other articles banned before entering the hall at various examination centres in the state. They were allowed inside only after body frisking. The Supreme Court had yesterday refused to entertain plea of an Islamic organisation that Muslim girl applicants be allowed to wear ‘hijab’ (scarf), a customary religious dress, while appearing for the AIPMT. “Faith is something different from wearing some kind of cloth,” a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu stated, adding the AIPMT was being held again at its direction and some “reasonable restrictions” were needed. Kerala High Court had earlier granted conditional permission to two Muslim girls to appear for the test wearing hijab. In the backdrop of large scale irregularities in the AIPMT held in May this year, the apex court had directed CBSE to conduct a second test following which CBSE imposed a strict dress code, banning jeweleries, hair pins, head scarf or veils, shoes, watches and all electronic devices. Reacting to the incident, Syro Malabar Church spokesperson Father Paul Thelekkat, said it was “unfortunate” that the nun was not permitted to write the test. “The Catholic church does not consider veil as the most important religious symbol of the Catholic faith. At the same time, we do not subscribe to the view of the Supreme court Chief Justice that 3-4 hours without veil does not make any difference. It does make and it is up to the citizen to take the decision”, he told PTI here. (Deccan Herald 25/7/15)

29. Christian priest honoured with Dnyanoba-Tukaram Puraskar (7)

Mumbai: Fr Francis D’Britto, resident of Vasai, and belonging to the Vasai Diocese, was on Monday awarded the Dnyanoba-Tukaram Puraskar for his literary work. The Catholic priest is the first to get the award that was constituted in 2007. Born to Marathi-speaking parents, D’Britto’s work named ‘Subodh Bible’ has recently been re-printed for the third time, and has sold out. “I feel very happy about it because I feel this is recognition of Indian secularism, which respects all religions, and gives them equal respect. I feel happy to see that our government stands by the secular ideals of the Indian constitution. I am happy that I could make some contribution to Marathi literature by getting the Holy Bible to the Marathi reader,” D’Britto told dna. The priest is the second person- the first was British-born 17th-century missionary priest Fr Thomas Stevens- to have translated the Bible into Marathi. “His work was in poetry form, while mine is in prose. It has 1,800 footnotes to explain various concepts of the Bible for people to understand,” said D’Britto. The author priest had in 2013 won the state’s literary award for best translation. In April 2014, he was honoured with the Sahitya Akademi Award. D’Britto started his work in translation in 1997 and completed it in 2010. The translation work was his effort alone. (DNA 28/7/15)

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

30. SC refers migrants’ kids issue to bench (13)

New Delhi, July 21: The Supreme Court today referred the issue of providing Indian citizenship to children of illegal migrants born in this country to a Constitution bench. “We are referring to the Constitution bench the question as to the whether the children of illegal migrants would get the benefit of Section 3 of the Citizenship Act, as amended,” a bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice R.F. Nariman said. The two-judge bench, however, declined to entertain the plea of the Centre and the Assam government to extend the date of publishing the National Register of Citizens (NRC) by six months and reiterated that the NRC should be completed by January 1, 2016, as stated in its earlier order. The bench also clarified that all original inhabitants of Assam, including the tea tribes, and all other Indian citizens “who may have moved to the State of Assam, subsequent to 24 March 1971″ would be eligible for inclusion in the NRC subject to the condition that the applicants produce valid proofs “beyond reasonable doubt” to the satisfaction of the authorities concerned. The bench, which is hearing various pleas on influx of illegal Bangladeshi migrants to Assam, appointed a three-member committee, comprising former Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir A.H. Saikia and retired Gauhati High Court judges, Justice B. Biswas and Justice B.N. Choudhary, “to take care of any clarification that would be required for working out the modalities of the NRC.” Writing the order, Justice Gogoi said the committee could submit a report to it if any person causes any obstruction to the smooth preparation of the NRC. It asked all civil and police authorities to extend necessary cooperation towards this purpose. The bench referred the question of citizenship for children born to illegal migrants who entered Assam after 24 March, 1971 to the five-judge Constitution bench on a petition filed by one Deepak Kumar. Appearing for Kumar, counsel Somiran Sharma told the court that Section 6A (applicable to Assam) of the Citizenship Act, 1955 grants citizenship only to those migrants who came before March 25, 1971. The section, read with the Assam Accord of August 1985, clearly states that all illegal migrants coming after the midnight of March 24, 1971 “will be expelled in accordance with law” (Clause 5.8 of the Assam Accord)….(The Telegraph 22/7/15)

31. After Terror Threat in Hyderabad, Cops Step up Vigil on Rohingyas (13)

HYDERABAD: With intelligence inputs suggesting terror threat from Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar, who have sought refuge and settled in Hyderabad, city police have stepped up vigil on those living here. In fact, after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) nabbed Khalid Mohammed, a Rohingya, from Balapur last November in connection with the Burdwan blast case, the city police perception had changed. Caught off foot by the presence of the Jamat-Ul Mujahideen Bangladesh, an off-shoot of Rohingya Solidarity Organisation, in their backyard, they have taken a host of measures including fingerprinting,  employment status, demographic details and photographs while vigil has been stepped up. The city police, though, is tight-lipped about any recent intelligence inputs about members of the community being in touch with radical groups abroad. Police officials do not deny the vulnerability factor of Rohingyas, who, they believe could be easily exploited by extremists to take up radical paths. As many as 1679 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar live in parts of Hyderabad and Cyberabad according to police records. After their  exodus in June 2012 in the aftermath of ethnic violence between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar to various parts of India, including Hyderabad, and considering their susceptibility towards extremists outfits, the city police have been keeping a strict surveillance on the community. A senior police officer on condition of anonymity, said, “Since they are poor, uneducated and alien to the land here, they are likely to be exploited and might be used by hardliners. There is no hard evidence to suspect anyone and police are maintaining total surveillance.” Mazher Hussain, Convenor,  COVA, who has been working with the refugees said many of them are yet to be united with their relatives. “Their living conditions are pathetic. Most of them are illiterate or semi-literate and do daily wage jobs and earn Rs 6,000-7,000 per month,” said Hussain. “There is no hard evidence in the case till date against him. Other than offences relating to fake passport or Aadhaar, they have not been involved in any act threatening the security of the nation,” said a police official. (New Indian Express 23/7/15)

32. Pakistan’s Rohingya tears stoke India’s fears (13)

NEW DELHI: With Pakistan recently sponsoring a UN resolution expressing “serious concern” over the “plight” of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state of Myanmar, India is worried that Pakistan-based jehadi outfits like Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) will be further emboldened to radicalize the community and train its members for carrying out terrorist activities in Myanmar and elsewhere. Pakistan has, for some time now, been gathering support, both domestically and internationally, for Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. “ISI-backed terror outfits have been hobnobbing with Rohingya community leaders and organizing jehadi training along Bangladesh-Myanmar border,” a senior Indian intelligence official said adding that Islamabad’s open support to Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar comes hand-in-hand with its attempts to improve relations at the government level. “This is another instance of classic double speak that Pakistan is well known for,” commented the officer. Earlier this month, on July 3, Pakistan, in a bid to embarrass Myanmar, sponsored a resolution at the 29th session of the UN Human Rights Council, condemning “all violations and abuses of human rights in Myanmar, in particular against Rohingya Muslims”. It called upon Myanmar government to ensure protection of the community and take necessary measures to ensure accountability by undertaking transparent and independent investigation into human rights violations by it. The resolution urged Myanmar to protect places of worship, ensure return of refugees, grant full citizenship rights to Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state, and allow full access of humanitarian assistance to affected persons and communities. The sponsorship of the above resolution by Pakistan, castigating Myanmar, is not an isolated event. Pakistan-based terror outfits like LeT, JuD and Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FiF) have all been known for their deep links with Rohingya Muslims. In 2012, JuD had organized a ‘Difa e Musalman Arakan Conference’ in Karachi to mobilize its cadres for anti-Myanmar campaign. JuD chairman and 26/11 attacks mastermind Hafiz Muhammad Sayeed shared the dais with Maulana Abdus Qudus Burmi, chief of Harkat-ud-Jihad Islami, Arakan, and Noor Hussain Arakani (Rohinya Solidarity Organisation). Shortly after, a JuD team visited Bangladesh-Myanmar border to set up training camps for Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar. FIF vice-chairman Shahid Mehmood had in 201, along with JuD spokesperson (Sind) Nadeem Awan, visited the Bangladesh-Myanmar border to assess the condition of Rohingya Muslims. Though FIF was engaged in extensive activities among Rohingya Muslims displaced to Bangladesh, agencies here believe its cadres were working to radicalize the community and impart terror training in the garb of relief and rehabilitation work. (Times of India 28/7/15)

32. Lankan refugee observes fast (13)

TIRUCHI: A Sri Lankan refugee lodged in the Special Camp here went on a fast on Wednesday demanding that he should be released. Police sources said the inmate Hasan Mohamed (30) had completed his conviction period in a fake visa case booked against him. Seeking his release and his return to his homeland, Hasan Mohamed observed fast prompting a revenue official to hold talks with him. The official is said to have told Hasan that his demand would be conveyed to the State government. However, he continued with his fast, the sources added. (The Hindu 30/7/15)

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

34. Fresh Trouble for UP’s Suspended IPS Officer Amitabh Thakur (1)

LUCKNOW: In fresh trouble for suspended IPS officer Amitabh Thakur, an RTI activist today complained to Uttar Pradesh Lokayukta accusing him and his wife of having assets disproportionate to their known sources of income. RTI activist Sanjay Sharma submitted his complaint to Lokayukta N K Mehrotra. “Sanjay Sharma has submitted 60-70 page complaint today mainly alleging that Thakur misused his position as IG and both, he and his wife, possessed properties disproportionate to their known sources of income,” a Lokayukta office source said. Mehrotra, when contacted, said that he has not yet seen the complaint in detail and would start action only after an investigation. Activist Sharma said that he has given the complaint on three points and requested for a probe into the sources of income through which the couple bought “massive properties”.”Prima facie it appears that both the husband and wife posses some 57,000 square feet of residential land which cannot be bought by an honest public servant and so I have demanded that the sources of the income through which it has been acquired should also be probed,” he said. Thakur yesterday submitted details of his immovable assets as directed by the state government. According to the details, Thakur has one house at Gomti Nagar and a plot in Muzaffarpur (Bihar) — which he “got before” joining the Indian Police Service (IPS). While his wife has three properties in Sitamarhi and Patna in Bihar and six properties in Lucknow, “procured through her own income”.Thakur had submitted the details after a notice was slapped on him seeking information about his properties by the UP government. In the notice sent by IG (Personnel) B P Jogdand on Saturday dated July 16, Thakur was informed that an open inquiry has been initiated against him by the Vigilance Establishment and he needed to present the details of moveable and immovable properties of his own and that of his dependents on six given points by July 19. In a related development, Thakur’s plea for a CBI probe into the rape allegations against him has been referred to DoPT by the Union Home Ministry. According to his wife Nutan Thakur, an RTI activist, the MHA in a letter dated July 16 sent to Thakur stated that his “request was a subject matter pertaining to Department of Personnel and Training, which was CBI’s administrative authority, hence, DoPT is requested to take action as deemed appropriate.” The state home department, meanwhile, appointed an Enquiry Officer to go into the charges framed against Thakur, who dubbed the appointment as “against law” and said he would challenge it in CAT. Suspended on July 13, Thakur was served a 200-page charge sheet on July 15 charging him with dereliction of duty, arbitrariness and indiscipline, and he submitted a 30-page reply saying he was “not at fault”.”Their immovable properties should also be investigated,” Sharma said, adding he has also demanded a probe to see if any racket was going on through their NGOs since the woman who has levelled rape charges has claimed that she had been criminally assaulted on the promise of a job. Sharma, who has accused Thakur of misusing his office and position, said his complaints are based on the replies that he got to his RTI queries and also contain some points of those queries that remained unanswered. Meanwhile, Thakur called this action against the Rules and politically motivated and said he would challenge it before the Central Administrative Tribunal. The UP government has appointed Chairman, Police Recruitment and Promotion Board V K Gupta as the Enquiry Officer and appointed IG (Personnel) B P Jogdand as the representing officer. The Inspector-General rank officer had met Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs Anant Kumar Singh in New Delhi on July 13 and had sought a CBI probe into the rape case slapped against him. The IPS officer has alleged that ever since his wife’s Lokayukta complaint against state Mines Minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati, they were facing all kinds of charges including “false” rape case and threat by Mulayam Singh Yadav on July 10. Thakur stirred a political row by releasing the text and audio of the conversation purportedly carrying Mulayam’s voice. (New Indian Express 21/7/15)

35. Activist slams ACB probing graft charge against Ajit Pawar (1)

Mumbai: An RTI activist has slammed the Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), which is probing graft charges against Ajit Pawar, for not replying to his query that on what basis it spared the senior NCP leader from personal appearance for investigations in the case. When Jeetendra Ghadge filed an RTI query with the probe agency to know under which law Mr Pawar was granted the liberty to file a written reply, he received four intimations on various occasions within a month informing him about his queries being transferred within three ACB divisions.  The ACB is probing graft charges against Mr Pawar for his alleged role in the irrigation scam. Mr Ghadge had filed his set of queries on June 15, 2015 with Mumbai Division of ACB seeking details including whether Mr Pawar had sought exemption from personal appearance. To which, he received his first intimation on June 23 from Mumbai Division which stated that his queries pertained to Maharashtra division and hence it was being transferred. Again on June 26, Maharashtra division informed Mr Ghadge that his query was being transferred to Thane division as it had registered the case. On July 2, Thane division returned the RTI query to Maharashtra division saying that the information did not relate to this division. However, on July 9, Maharashtra Division again returned the RTI query to Thane division stating that case was registered with Thane division. Mr Ghadge, who has exposed irregularities in the irrigation scams through his RTIs, said, “This kind of unprofessional behaviour from ACB is not surprising and I will continue to raise such queries unless ACB is made an autonomous agency.” (Asian Age 25/7/15)

36. Wrong information to RTI applicant, panel orders probe (1)

CHANDIGARH: State Information Commission (SIC) has ordered an inquiry after employees of the state government’s finance department and local audit unit allegedly provided wrong information to an RTI applicant. The commission has asked the state additional chief secretary (finance) to take action against the erring officials after ascertaining who is guilty. Ambala resident Satish Sharma, who wanted information related to change of name of state transport department, had alleged that the staff kept him harassing by transferring his RTI application and supplying incomplete and misguiding information. “It is an ideal case of misinterpretation by sheer arrogance and negligence amounting to denial of information and harassment of the appellant for more than one year,” observed information commissioner Hemant Atri in a recent order. According to the commission, although the departmental officials tried to reply but they did so without proper application of mind and incomplete records. “The departmental officials, instead of going through the application with seriousness that it deserved, tried to pass it on each other and kept on delaying/misguiding the appellant,” Atri maintained. (Times of India 28/7/15)

37. Inform voters before deleting their names from list: CIC to EC (1)

New Delhi: The Central Information Commission has directed the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Delhi to prepare a set of guidelines that needs to be followed before deleting names from the voters’ list and inform the electors of the prosposed deletion giving opportunity to present their case. The Commission directed the CEO to pay a compensation of Rs 10,000 to one Sumit whose name was deleted from the voters’ list without him being informed even though he did not change his residential address. He could not vote in 2015 Assembly election here. “The voter has a right to know, first that his name was deleted, then the reasons for the decision to delete his name from the voters’ list. Such an arbitrary decision and denial of information even after deletion, followed by non-response to RTI request for that deletion would certainly amount to denial of very significant constitutional and statutory right to vote and right to information under the RTI Act,” Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu said. Issuing a show cause notice to the CPIO of the CEO’s office asking why a penalty should not be imposed for failure to furnish the information, Acharyulu also directed it to inform the appellant reasons for deleting his name from the voters’ list and if any inquiry was conducted into the matter. He also directed the CEO office to carry out an inquiry into the matter (if no such inquiry took place) and to inform the appellant what action has been proposed to be taken against officer responsible for the deletion of the name.  “Not only the appellant, each voter whose valid voting right is violated by arbitrary decision of the officer without communicating reasons and giving an opportunity to represent why his name should be removed, is entitled to such compensation if he was not allowed to vote on that ground, and restoration of voting rights within reasonable time,” he said. Acharyulu said principles of natural justice demand that the public authority should inform the persons concerned before depriving them of their right to vote, which is very fundamental to democracy, though not a declared fundamental right under part III of the Constitution. “This right has found place in the Constitution of India, hence it is a constitutional right. Since it has been recognised, provided and safeguarded for by the Representation of People Act 1950, it is also a significant statutory right,” the Commissioner said. After going through the website of the CEO, he said it does not provide for the process adopted by that office regarding deletion of names of electors from the voters’s list or what has to be done by the voter whose name has been deleted for restoring it. “Surprisingly the public authority, in this case the Chief Electoral Officer, appears to have no mechanism to inform the concerned voter about deletion of the name of the voter from the electoral list. Drafting and sending notices to each and every individual voter about their decision to delete might involve huge work, as there will be huge numbers,” he said. Acharyulu said the validity of appellants’ right to vote was proved when he was duly registered after his residence was ascertained and got confirmed when he cast vote twice within a span of two years. “The Commission records its appreciation for appellant, the young boy for his anguish at the unjust denial of opportunity to cast his vote and choosing the path of RTI to seek the reasons and restoration of right lost. In fact, he was performing his duty as an alert citizen of this democratic country to secure his most valuable right i.e right to vote,” he said. He said there is merit in the contention of the complainant that his right to vote was violated. “Such deletion of voter’s name without informing the reasons would seriously affect the democratic operation prescribed by the Constitution and Representation of People’s Act, 1950 which is the foundation of governance as per law,” he said. (DNA 30/7/15)

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

38. ‘Provide free education to all’ (11)

SALEM: The Tamil Nadu Science Forum (TNSF) urged the Government to take steps for providing free and quality education from KG to postgraduate level to create an efficient youth force. A resolution to this effect was adopted at the district conference of the TNSF held in the city on Sunday. Another resolution demanded starting of pre-KG classes in all the Government and aided schools in the State under the Right to Education Act. The meeting urged the Centre not to allow foreign universities to set their foot in India. The intrusion of foreign universities was not in the interest of the country’s younger generation. This concept would in no way help improve the education scenario in India. The meeting also discussed the mixing of effluents in the Yercaud tank and urged the Government to check this. A large number of households sans individual toilets. The Government should stop providing subsidies and freebies to weaker sections, and instead should allot the funds for the construction of individual toilets in the households. The meeting also adopted resolutions to put an end to adulteration in packed food items, and also to re-lay all the roads which are in a poor condition in the city and other parts of the district. Yercaud B. S. Elango, district president of the Tamil Nadu Science Forum, presided. S. Subramanian, State secretary of the TNSF, P. Sahasranamam, State executive committee member, V. Ramamoorthy, district secretary, and Balu Saravanan, district treasurer, spoke. The new office-bearers were elected on the occasion. (The Hindu 21/7/15)

39. Rajasthan school girls protest against ‘gender bias’ in education system (11)

Jaipur: On Thursday morning, students at three government girls’ schools in Bhim, Barar and Diver in Rajsamand district arrived even before the staff could, locked up the school gates and sat on demonstration against what they called ‘gender bias’ in the public education system. ‘Ladkon ka school adarsh bana, hamara kyun nahin?’ (Boys’ schools were made Model Schools, why not ours?), they asked and raised slogans against the dismal state of their science and computer labs, lack of teachers, no sports coaching and overall crumbling education system. Neha Kumari, a class X student of the secondary school in Diver in Rajsamand, pointed out, “The schools do not have teacher, so we perform poorly in our exams and fail. So our parents make us stay at home and get us married off at an early age. For us it is a double whammy.” Neha’s school until last year had just one teacher for more than 300 students, for Classes I to X but got three more this year which too stands at a teacher-student ratio of 1:100. All the three schools have been holding protests but received little support from the government so far. In October last year students at Bhim Girls’ Higher Secondary School staged a similar protest and were back to the same demand of more teachers on Thursday. But the protests met with threats of stern action from the local police. The students complained that pass percentage at this school for 2014-15 batch stood at 53 percent for Class X and 44 percent for Class XII. “We have no professors for political science over the past 17 years and none for home science over the last 13 years. There are also no professors for history and geography. In stark contrast, the government boys’ higher secondary school in Bhim, has a strong teaching staff of seventeen while our school has a staff of just four teachers for 700 students,” the agitating girls said. In neighbouring Barar girls’ school no appointments of teachers have been made for major subjects of Science and Maths for Classes IX and X. “The pass percentage of Class X students (2014-15) batch was 50 percent. We have held protests twice in 2013 and 2011 but no action was taken,” students at Barar maintained. All the three schools have been functioning in the absence of 70 per cent of the teaching staff, no water connections in the toilets and no developed playground. As the girls continued agitating, the sub-divisional magistrate and the block education officer agreed to hold a meeting with the girls. A delegation of five students from each of the three schools met the officials and demanded written orders on appointments of teachers. The block primary education officer issued an order on Thursday announcing appointments of new teachers for Hindi, History, Political Science, Geography and Science/Maths at the Bhim girls’ school. Assurance was given that teachers would be appointed on a temporary basis for vacant posts at the girls’ schools at Barar and Diver by Monday. (Indian Express 24/7/15)

40. 50% garden kids drop out: Study (11)

Guwahati, July 24: A study carried out by Save the Children, a child rights NGO, has painted a gloomy picture of the education scenario in the tea garden areas of Assam. A baseline study conducted by Save the Children along with two voluntary organisations of Sonitpur district – People Action for Development and Promotion and Advancement of Justice, Harmony and Rights of Adivasis – has revealed that about 50 per cent children do not attend schools regularly. Sharing excerpts of the study, state programme manager of Save the Children, Chittapriyo Sadhu, today said about 40 per cent school management committees are non-functional and only 30 per cent schools have separate toilet facilities for girls. The study also found that educational opportunities in the tea garden areas are limited to lower primary levels and most of the schools do not conform to the pupil-teacher ratio according to the RTE Act, which is 30:1. Sadhu said despite being associated with an industry that commands a significant share in the world tea market, a huge population of tea garden workers still live below the poverty line and are secluded from mainstream development. He said the culture of exclusion is also rooted in the history of seclusion of the tea garden communities from larger social fabric of the state. “Children are the worst sufferers as they are often caught in the vicious cycle of limited scope for quality education, dearth of opportunities for age appropriate life skills and vocational skill development and exclusion from social protection mechanism,” he said. Sadhu, quoting the baseline study, said only 14 per cent of the girls and 12 per cent of the boys up to the age of three years access the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) services while just 19 per cent of the children access pre-primary education in ICDS centres, also known as Anganwadi kendras. There are 950 tea estates in the state accommodating approximately 60 lakh people, which account for 20 per cent of the state’s population. Almost 24 lakh children live in the tea gardens of Assam. “Children are affected by poor health conditions, which can be largely attributed to inadequate water and sanitation facilities, lack of awareness about health care practices and poor nutritional gain. Hence, incidences of under nutrition and infectious diseases are widely prevalent,” he said. According to a National Family Health Survey, about 60 per cent of the children are underweight and over 90 per cent of adolescent girls are reported anaemic. Manoj Kalinda, a Class X student from a tea garden at Gohpur area in Sonitpur district, rued the absence of an Anganwadi centre in their area. He said alcoholism among tea garden workers is a major problem that affects their children. (The Telegraph 25/7/15)

41. New child labour law will hit girls, dalits and OBCs most (11)

It was a showpiece legislation when it was launched by the UPA government in 2009. The Right to Education, many hoped, would ensure a decent level of primary education to those who cannot afford expensive private education. The scheme started with much fanfare, but in a few years, reports started coming out that while enrolment in schools has shot up (almost 99% now), the quality of education has not kept pace. In the last 10 years, the 10th Annual Status of Education Report says, the overall situation with basic reading continues to be extremely “disheartening” in the country. The reasons are: Lack of adequate infrastructure, severe shortage of well-trained teachers and poor institutional support for teachers’ professional development. As if these problems were not enough, a new Centre-backed survey has revealed that around 60 lakh children between the ages of six and 13 years are out of school in the country. Alarmingly, 50% of them are from SC and ST communities and 36% are from Other Backward Classes. At 77%, a majority of out-of-school children are from rural areas. Besides, 15.57 lakh Muslim children are also out of school, comprising 25% unschooled children. The staggering data shows that despite all efforts, many children are not able to exercise their right to education. One reason is economic, of course. Poor parents often take their wards to work and they miss out on school. Another case in point can be of migrants’ children, who hardly get to stay at one place. Now, the proposed amendment to the Child Labour (prohibition) Act, which will be placed in Parliament any day now, will leave the door open for large-scale use of child labour by legitimising their work in households, purportedly outside school hours and during vacations. Girls, Dalits and OBC children will be the worst sufferers as a majority of child labourers are recruited from these social groups. Muslims and other marginalised communities are also forced into low-grade employment due to their low educational attainments. This amendment will also run against the NDA government’s Beti Bachao Andolan. Meanwhile, getting children to school is just one part of the battle, the larger battle is to retain and educate them well. On this, all indices show that India has been failing its children, especially the poor and marginalised. (Hindustan Times 30/7/15)

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

42. Government has accorded high priority to hunger: Paswan (21)

New Delhi: The central government has taken note of the United Nations annual hunger report, and accorded high priority to the issue of hunger, a union minister said on Wednesday. “The government has taken note of the UN annual hunger report. As per the report, India has 194.6 million undernourished people but the number has declined from 210.1 million in the base year 1990-92,” said Ram Vilas Paswan, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, in response to a question in the Lok Sabha. “The government of India has accorded high priority to the issue of hunger and malnutrition in the country and is implementing several schemes to improve food security in the country,” the minister said. According to the report ‘The State of Food Insecurity in the World’ by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation’, there has been a 7.4 percent progress in the country to achieve the World Food Summit target, Paswan added. “The government is implementing the National Food Security Act, 2013, to provide food security to our population. So far, 12 states/union territories have implemented the act,” he said. The act provides for coverage of up to 75 per cent of the rural and 50 per cent of the urban population to receive highly subsidised food grain under Targeted Public Distribution System. Despite India’s commitment to the Millenium Development Goals (MDG), the country has the maximum number of undernourished people in the world, according to the report. MDGs are the eight international development goals established by the UN in 2000 to eradicate hunger and poverty and to reduce child mortality. Even at the World Summit on Food Security at Rome in 2009, world leaders pledged to work towards eradicating hunger. (New Kerala 22/7/15)

43. NITI Aayog panel’s draft report treads cautiously on poverty (21)

New Delhi: The NITI Aayog taskforce on eliminating poverty has decided to tread the middle path on the contentious issue of whether to have a poverty number to identify the poor or just use deprivation indicators for decision making. In its draft discussion paper on mitigating poverty, which has been sent to the States for comments, the taskforce, under the Aayog’s Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya, has placed arguments both in favour of and against the need for a poverty number. “The Governing Council of NITI Aayog, which will vet the final draft, will take a final view on issues raised in the discussion paper,” a government official told BusinessLine. States are supposed to give their comments on the draft by mid-August. The panel includes NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy, Chief Statistician TCA Anant, economist Surjit Bhalla and secretaries from the ministries and departments of rural development, housing and urban poverty alleviation, financial services, MSME and skill development. The discussion paper also states that in case a poverty number is required, it may not be necessarily calculated by the NITI Aayog. It could be calculated jointly by the Rural Development Ministry, which would give the number for rural poor, and the Urban Poverty Alleviation Ministry, which would give the number for urban poor, or the statistical commission. “People have already started making calculations on rural poverty based on the recent findings of the Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC), 2011, of the Rural Development Ministry. Although the survey is a sensitivity analysis based on certain deprivation indicators, a number can be calculated if you decide on the indicators to include and add them up,” the official said.The Urban Poverty Alleviation Ministry is carrying out a similar census, which will also throw up a number for the urban poor. “We need to just calculate the aggregate to come out with a national poverty number,” the official said, quickly adding that a decision on the matter has not yet been taken. Giving arguments in favour of doing away with poverty numbers, the document has said that none of the anti-poverty programmes, such as the Indira Awas Yojna and the Antodaya Scheme, are contingent on using anti-poverty numbers. Moreover, the definition of poor might also differ between various sectors. A household that is considered poor for a housing programme may not qualify under a food programme. However, the document adds that poverty numbers may be needed for two reasons; one, if there is some percentage of subsidy in poverty schemes borne by the Centre and two, poverty numbers may be needed for particular States. Also when Sustainable Development Goals are in place — they may have targeted poverty reduction numbers — the country would need a baseline as a measure of its performance. The taskforce’s document has suggested to States that they use the Socio Economic and Caste Census survey, wherever suitable, for their welfare programmes. The SECC has automatically excluded 39.39 per cent of the rural population from the list of poor based on 14 parameters, included 0.92 per cent based on five parameters and has divided the rest on the basis of seven deprivation indicators. The Rural Development Ministry has reportedly classified 31.26 per cent of rural households as poor based on about four of the seven indicators. The Rangarajan committee, a technical expert group set up by the UPA in 2012, had classified 30.95 per cent of rural Indians as poor in 2011-12. (Business Line 23/7/15)

44. Not enough on the plate: Nutrition plan for poor mothers buried? (21)

New Delhi: A nutrition plan within the National Food Security Act meant for pregnant women and lactating mothers, a vulnerable group that skews India’s hunger indices, looks quietly buried. It still runs as a trial in 52 districts, two years after the landmark legislation was signed into law. The Centre hasn’t yet begun budgeting for it to expand the maternal health scheme to cover the whole country. While a parallel scheme under the food law for children, the school lunch programme called mid-day meals, is funded jointly by the Centre and states, the maternal scheme has to be funded entirely by the central government. The maternity scheme, aimed at mostly anaemic pregnant women among the poor, provides for cash of 6,000 in instalments for medical expenses and nutritious food during the course of pregnancy. For up to six months after the childbirth, such mothers can also have a free hot meal that meets nutritional standards. Such benefits may look like largesse, but India is an outlier even among its south Asian neighbours when it comes to maternal mortality rate, or women who die during pregnancy or shortly after delivering. At 190 for every 100,000 live births, India’s figure is worse than Bangaldesh’s 170 and Bhutan’s 120. In contrast to images of Sudan’s scrawny children with distended bellies, hunger in India remains largely invisible because it is driven not by near-death starvation but by sweeping malnourishment and calorie deficiencies. Simply put, too little food lacking in essential nutrients has resulted in the world’s largest proportion of stunted children with poor brains. Worse, their poor health actually begins even before they are born: in the womb of their half-fed mothers. According to the Lancet medical journal, poorly fed mothers are more likely to give birth to underweight children (see graphic) and malnourishment in the first year of a child’s life is irreversible…. (Hindustan Times 25/7/15)

45. Caste data won’t be out any time soon, here’s why (21)

New Delhi: Dismissing suggestions that caste census report was not released to “hide truth”, government on Tuesday said more than 8.19 crore errors were detected in the data of which 1.45 crore faults continue to exist. A total of 8,19,58,314 errors have been found in caste particulars and all states and union territories have been communicated for rectification. The states have rectified 6,73,81,119 errors. However, 1,45,77,195 errors are yet to be rectified, a Home Ministry statement said today. Maharashtra with 69.1 lakh errors in the census data tops the list of states where the faults were detected. Currently, there are 13.9 lakh errors in census data in Madhya Pradesh, 11.6 lakh errors in West Bengal, 7.2 lakhs in Rajasthan, 5.4 lakhs in Uttar Pradesh, 2.9 lakhs in Karnataka, 1.7 lakhs in Bihar, 1.4 lakhs in Tamil Nadu which are yet to be rectified. On July 3, the government refrained from releasing the caste-based data in its first Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) released in eight decades. Union Rural Development Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh had said brushed aside suggestions that government avoided giving the caste count in the survey report due to political reasons ahead of Bihar polls. “There is no such thing. Connecting it with elections is not good,” he had said. However, opposition parties alleged that government was “hiding the truth from the country” by not releasing the data of SC, STs, Backward Class, Minority and Upper Class in the country so as to “minimise the quota for reserved classes cleverly in future”.The Home Ministry statement today said the government has reviewed the status of the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) on July 16 and it emerged that 46,73,034 distinct caste names have been returned in the SECC. “These include caste/sub-caste names, synonyms, surnames, clan/gothra names, phonetic variations, sections, sub-groups etc. These will have to be classified by experts having domain knowledge on these issues,” it said. Further, the government noted that the field work of collection of data has been completed and that the data relating to socio-economic features of households in rural areas was released by the Ministry of Rural Development on July 3. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, however, did not released any data relating to urban areas. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced formation of an expert group to classify and categorise the caste returns under the chairmanship of Arvind Panagariya, Vice Chairperson, NITI AAYOG. The members of the expert group would be finalised by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in consultation with the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. Further, the expert group will be serviced by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. “The government is fully committed to completing the SECC and requests the state/UT governments for its fullest cooperation to complete the rectification of errors. In the meanwhile, the classification of the available caste/tribe data will be taken up by the expert group,” the statement said. The Home Ministry had sought the approval of the Union Cabinet on May 9, 2011 for collecting the Caste Data along with the SECC. The then UPA government decided on May 19, 2011 that the data collection under SECC would be done by the state governments with the financial and technical support of the Government of India. The Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA) were designated as the nodal Ministries in the Government of India. The Office of the Registrar General, India (RGI) was directed to provide the technical and logistical support. Further, it was decided that after completing the field data collection, the data relating to caste/ tribes would be handed over by the RGI to an expert group to be constituted by the Government at an appropriate time for classification. Accordingly, as the field work is now substantially completed, the present Government has decided that it is now appropriate to constitute the expert group, the statement said. (Zee News 29/7/15)

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

46. Construction workers demand ESI, PF benefits (14)

VELLORE: Construction workers belonging to the Tamil Nadu All India Trade Union Congress Construction and Unorganized Workers’ Union staged a demonstration in front of the office of the Construction Workers’ Welfare Board here on Tuesday. They demanded among other things immediate implementation of Employees State Insurance (ESI) and Provident Fund (PF) schemes for the construction workers and other unorganized manual workers, levy of welfare tax for generating revenue for the unorganised workers’ welfare boards, payment of Rs.five lakhs to the families of members of welfare boards who died or were injured in accidents, allotment of free house sites and construction of houses for the members of the boards. The union members also demanded a ban on quarrying sand through lorries, and permission for quarrying sand only through bullock carts. (The Hindu 22/7/15)

47. Labour law recast to add more leave to maternity, gratuity to be made portable (14)

NEW DELHI: The Narendra Modi-led NDA government is looking to enhance maternity leave for working women from three months to six months, virtually double bonus payments to employees and make gratuity portable between jobs. These proposed changes in employment laws could buttress the Modi government’s credentials with the working class while it attempts to push through more ambitious reforms in labour rules that are blamed for hampering investment and job creation in the country. “The changes in the Payment of Bonus Act would raise the salary limit for getting a bonus from Rs 10,000 per month to Rs 19,000, and are at an advanced stage with a draft Cabinet note being moved earlier this month for comments from ministries,” said a senior labour ministry official. Separately, the government is initiating stakeholder consultations to amend the Maternity Benefits Act of 1961 and the Payment of Gratuity Act of 1972, the official added. Currently, companies are legally required to grant 12 weeks of maternity leave to employees though several leading employers offer additional time off and other benefits. For instance, Accenture offers five months off to new mothers while Flipkart offers 24 weeks paid leave. Citibank also offers a creche allowance to new mothers, as do some other multinational firms and investment banks. “The ministry of women and child development has been pursuing this with us extensively as it is primarily responsible for women’s welfare, so we are framing a proposal to kick off talks with employers and trade unions on enhancing the maternity leave to 24 weeks,” the official said. One option being considered is to limit the enhanced maternity leave to two children and an employee having a third child would be granted 12 weeks off, in line with the present norm. Similar tripartite discussions are also being launched on amending the gratuity law to do away with the requirement that employees serve at least five years in a single workplace to be eligible for the benefit. Employee representatives have been seeking a reduction in the five-year continuous service clause to qualify for gratuity and the social security committee of the Indian Labour Conference had endorsed the idea in May 2013. “While we are examining the possibility of reducing the five-year eligibility for gratuity benefits, this requirement would be redundant if we allow gratuity to be transferred from one job to another. So we are looking at both the options,” the official said. The Payment of Bonus Act of 1965, expected to be the first of the three laws for which amendments will come up for the Cabinet’s consideration, sets two numerical ceilings for limiting bonus payouts to workers. All employees earning up to Rs 10,000 a month are eligible for a minimum bonus of 8.33% of their annual salary and a maximum of 20%. This ceiling takes into account any productivity-linked bonus that employers may offer. The Rs 10,000 salary cut-off is only used for eligibility purposes and actual bonus payments are linked to a separate ‘calculation ceiling’. Bonus payments for anyone earning more than Rs 3,500 a month are made assuming his or her salary is Rs 3,500 per month. Both these thresholds were last revised in 2006. After tripartite consultations with employers and employees yielded no consensus late last year, the government had referred the Bonus Act amendments to an inter-ministerial group that has now recommended both thresholds be raised in line with changes in the consumer price index since 2006. The new ceilings under the Bonus Act are likely to be Rs 19,000 per month (salary limit for eligibility) and Rs 6,600 (salary limit for bonus calculation purposes). (Times of India 22/7/15)

48. AITUC conference to discuss anti-labour policies (14)

COIMBATORE: The 41{+s}{+t}National Conference of All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) that will be held in Coimbatore from December 15 to 18 will discuss issues pertaining to the anti-labourer policies of the Union Government. The other issues to be discussed are unemployment, helping labourers to get good wages, houses for all and bringing down inflation. Former Revenue Minister of Kerala and State president of AITUC in that State K.E. Ismail said this after inaugurating the reception office of the conference at the AITUC office in Kattoor here on Monday. Later, he addressed AITUC representatives on the arrangements to be made for the conference. The trade union leader said that the Centre along with corporates and bureaucrats had made the situation undemocratic for labourers.e said that the Government and corporates were trying to take away the right of labourers to an extent where staging a demonstration or voicing their views would be considered as a crime by tightening the labour laws against labourers. According to him, the Centre is trying to create an unhealthy atmosphere between castes and religions than focusing on welfare of labourers and the working class. “At the conference in Coimbatore, about 4,000 senior representatives of AITUC and Communist Party of India (CPI) will discuss these issues and pass resolutions to benefit labourers,” Mr. Ismail added. AITUC’s general secretary (Kerala) K.P. Rajendran, Tamil Nadu State president and former Member of Parliament K. Subbarayan, State general secretary T.M. Murthy and State secretary and Valparai MLA M. Arumugam were also present during the event. (The Hindu 28/7/15)

49. Construction workers demand unemployment allowance (14)

Mysuru: Construction workers, under the banner of Sri Basaveshwara Kattada Nirmana Kooli Karmikara Sangha, have urged the State government to either make available adequate quantity of sand or provide them jobs or give them unemployment allowance. Construction works have come to a halt in Mysuru and surrounding areas for want of sand because of which construction workers have been rendered jobless. Siddegowda, vice-president of the sangha, told The Hindu that supply of sand to Mysuru and other surrounding places had been hit for various reasons and the district administration had planned bringing sand from Hassan and other places, but had not done so. Construction workers decided to take out a procession from Kote Anjaneya Swamy Temple to Deputy Commissioner’s office on Thursday to urge the government to either make available sand or to give unemployment allowance to construction workers. (The Hindu 30/7/15)

RESERVATION

50. SC rejects Centre’s review against scrapping quota for Jats (25)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the plea of the Centre seeking a review of its March 17 verdict that set aside a notification to include Jats in the central list of Other Backward Classes (OBC) category in 9 states to accord quota benefits to them. A bench, headed by Justice Ranjana Gogoi, in the in-chamber proceedings, decided to reject the pleas filed by Jats’ bodies, saying that they lacked merit. The Centre had moved the apex court on April 2 seeking a review of its verdict after Prime Minister Narender Modi had met Jat community leaders and assured them of finding a solution within the legal framework. In its review plea, it had said that the Centre’s power to make available quota for a community is not dependent on the advice of National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC). While dismissing a petition by a group of Jat students seeking benefits of reservation under OBC category in post-graduate medical and dental courses two days ago, the apex court, however, had said NCBC’s recommendations would be ordinarily binding on the government. The government’s plea had further said the test laid down by the apex court in the Mandal judgement for determination of “social, educational and economic backwardness” of Jats had been complied with. The decision to include Jats in Central OBC list was taken after various state panels furnished reports favouring the inclusion, it had said. Earlier, a bench of justices Ranjan Gogoi and R F Nariman, setting aside the March 4, 2014 notification that had enabled Jats to claim reservation in nine states, had said that “possible wrong inclusions” cannot be the basis of further inclusion and reservation should be given only to the “most distressed”. (Zee News 21/7/15)

51. More OBCs to get schemes’ benefit (25)

New Delhi: Nearly 20 lakh people belonging to the Other Backward Classes are going to gain if the Delhi government accepts a proposal to revise the cut-off date for eligibility to enjoy social benefits from1993 to 2005. The schemes than can be availed by OBC members include stipend for students, reservation in jobs and educational institutes and Rs 5 lakh loans for self-employment. As per conservative estimates, about 60 per cent people in the city’s 1.8 crore population belong to the  OBCs. Bhupinder Singh, chairman of the Commission for OBCs, said: “Nearly two million OBCs are not considered for various incentives despite their holding valid certificates. We now have proposed to relax the eligibility date.” He said the proposal sent to the Delhi government will address the anomaly where OBC members – who settled in the city after 1993 – arepromptly issued certificates by the Revenue Department but the same document is not honoured by other departments while giving benefits to them. “Only those OBC members who settled in the city till 1993 and who hold valid certificate are benefitting from the social schemes,” he said. The Commission works as an advisory body for the government. It also examines and make recommendations on requests for inclusion and complaints of over inclusion and under-inclusion in the list of Other Backward Classes. According to the Commission’s proposal, OBC members who settled in the city between 1993 and 2005 should be able to enjoy the social schemes after they tender documentary proof of their presence in the city for over a decade. “Voter I-cards, driving licence, electricity bill or telephone bill will be considered as valid proof for establishing their presence in the city till 2005,” said a Commission member. Sources in the Department for the Welfare of SC/ST/OBC/Minorities said the Commission’s proposal may soon be presented at a cabinet meeting. “Hopefully, the proposal will go through,” said an official.  For educational development of the disadvantaged sections, the department provides free stationery to students from OBCs in schools, hostel facilities, scholarships, reimbursement of tuition fee for those studying in public schools, vocational training and pre-examination coaching. The department also bears half the expenditure on development charges paid by OBC families for electrification of their homes. (Deccan Herald 23/7/15)

52. SC/ST benefits available to Christians reconverting to Hinduism: Kerala HC (25)

KOCHI: A member of a scheduled caste or tribe (SC/ST) who had converted to Christianity from Hinduism can claim the rights and benefits available to SC/ST members if he reconverts, the Kerala High Court has held. The court’s decision assumes much significance in the backdrop of ‘Ghar Wapsi’ reconversion campaign introduced by the Hindu right-wing group Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) last year. Earlier this month, VHP had claimed that it had reconverted over 33,000 persons and had ‘prevented’ over 48,000 conversions. It was a petition filed by a father and daughter whose forefathers belonged to Hindu Cheramar community that was considered by the court. Those who approached the court were 46-year-old MA Chandraboss of Ramapuram in Kottayam and his 18-year-old daughter Alida. They were born as Christians as Chandraboss’ father had converted to Christianity. In 2009, Chandraboss and his family reconverted to Hinduism by undergoing ‘Shudhi Karma’ under the auspices of Arya Samaj. Chandraboss’ daughter Alida appeared for the common entrance examination this year and sought admission in the SC/ST quota. However, her claim to SC/ST quota was rejected on the basis of an anthropological report by a state government agency named Kerala Institute for Research, Training and Development Studies (KIRTADS). An appeal filed before the government against this also came to be dismissed. At the high court, their counsel G Krishnakumar argued that though they had converted to Christianity, they retained the essential character of the caste to which they belonged and suffered the disabilities and disadvantages of other members of their caste. Opposing the claim, state government submitted that the petitioners, having born into Christianity and having lived as Christians till their reconversion, are to be treated as Christians and not as a scheduled caste member. It is a conversion of convenience, the government counsel argued. Ruling in favour of the petitioners, justice K Vinod Chandran held, “The 2nd petitioners (Chandraboss’ daughter) definitely was brought up in her father’s house, may be as a Christian, but a Christian-Cheramar. There being generally no accepted caste discrimination in Christianity, the identity in the Cheramar community was essentially retained.” The court further said in the judgment, “It is to be noticed that Christianity, as it is generally understood, does not have any caste discrimination and the very fact that the 1st and 2nd petitioners (Chandraboss and his daughter) were all along issued with community certificates as belonging to Christian-Cheramar would indicate that they had their origin in the Hindu-Cheramar community. Considering the question of a Christian convert reconverted to Hinduism, this court in Ponnamma’s case (Ponnamma vs Regional Director, 1983) held that the child of parents who (had) converted to Christianity at the time of the birth of the child, could always convert back to Hinduism and claim the rights of the caste of her forefathers once she converts back to Hinduism. The rights of a child born as a Christian, to Schedule Caste parents who converted to Christianity, to reconvert to Hinduism and claim the rights available to a Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe, was affirmed by the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court.” (Times of India 27/7/15)

53. Claiming caste identity not at the cost of reservation: PT chief (25)

CHENNAI: There is nothing wrong in claiming one’s caste identity, but giving up the reservation benefits for the same is not acceptable, said Puthiya Tamizhagam leader K. Krishnasamy. Asked about the demand of a section of Pallars, one of the major sub-sects of Dalits in Tamil Nadu that they should be called Devendrakula Vellalas, Dr. Krishnasamy said he fully agreed with them. “The efforts to reclaim the name Devendrakula Vellalas should have begun long ago. Today every community enjoying the benefits of reservation continue to retain its caste identity. Devendrakula Vellalas can also do the same. But it should not come at the expense of reservation benefits,” said Dr Krishnasamy, representing a substantial section of the community. He said reservation was indispensable when a majority of the Devendrakula Vellalas continued to live in poor socio-economic conditions. “Reservation alone will further help them climb the social ladder,” he said. Dr Krishnasamy, however, disagreed with the argument that Devendrakula Vellalas were rulers and it was below their dignity to claim reservation benefits. “Every community in Tamil Nadu had functioned as rulers at one point of time or other. If a ruling community remained an oppressor it cannot take pride in their role. Tamil society was clearly divided on the land in which they lived. The division among them as the oppressor and oppressed appeared only after emergence of private property,” he said. (The Hindu 30/7/15)

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

54. Here’s proof that poor get gallows, rich mostly escape (1)

NEW DELHI: The fact that our legal system is skewed against the poor and marginalized is well-known. And to that extent, it’s only expected that they get harsher punishment than the rich. But here are figures that tell the full story. A first of its kind study, which has analyzed data from interviews with 373 death row convicts over a 15-year period, has found three-fourths of those given the death penalty belonged to backward classes, religious minorities and 75% were from economically weaker sections. The reason why the poor, Dalits and those from the backward castes get a rougher treatment from our courts is more often than not their inability to find a competent lawyer to contest their conviction. As many as 93.5% of those sentenced to death for terror offences are Dalits or religious minorities. The findings are part of a study conducted by the National Law University students with the help of the Law Commission that is currently engaged in a wider consultation with different stakeholders on the issue of death penalty and whether it should be abolished. Law panel chairman Justice A P Shah, himself a strong proponent of abolition of death penalty, is to submit a final report to the Supreme Court by next month. Senior advocate Prashant Bhushan said: “It is true that there is a class bias, otherwise why would we have so many people languishing in jail because they cannot afford a lawyer to get bail?” He said only 1% of the people can afford a competent lawyer. Afzal Guru hardly had any legal representation at the trial court stage, he added. Founder of Human Rights Law Network and senior advocate Colin Gonsalves holds similar views. “I think the finding that 75% of the death row convicts are poor is the absolute minimum. The rich mostly get away while the very poor, especially Dalits and tribals, get the short shrift.” The NLU students have interviewed all the death sentence convicts and have documented their socio-economic background. The psychological torture these prisoners face before they are hanged are some of the observations in the study. Prisoners on death row are not allowed to attend court proceedings most of the time. In many cases, those interviewed revealed they were unable to understand proceedings even when they got an opportunity to be in the court as there was not much interaction with their lawyers. “Gallows are only for the marginalized. The first thing when a person is arrested is his access to a lawyer. The poor don’t get that access while the well-off do and that completely changes their case,” said Suhas Chakma of Asian Centre for Human Rights. For the economically weak, legal aid or advice comes at the trial stage by which time it is too late, he added. Within the prison, death row convicts are put in separate barracks and kept in solitary confinement. They are not allowed to work unlike other prisoners or mingle with anyone else, leading to many psychological disorders. The result is startling. Many prisoners interviewed said they wanted to die and should be hanged without delay. A few mentally strong ones said if represented well they could escape the gallows. Between 2000 and 2015, 1,617 were sentenced to death by the trial courts – 42% of them from UP and Bihar. The conviction rate, however, at the stage of high courts and the SC was much lower at 17.5% and 4.9% respectively. Most death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment or acquitted. (Times of India 21/7/15)

55. UN experts denounce televised reprisals against human rights defenders in Venezuela (1)

New York: In retaliation for their activities in Venezuela and cooperation with United Nations and regional human rights bodies, a group of UN and Inter-American rights experts has underscored their condemnation at attempts by Venezuela’s State-controlled television to discredit and intimidate rights activists.  UN Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, and on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, joined Inter-American human rights experts Jos de Jess Orozco, Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, and Edison Lanza, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression in deploring what has become a clear pattern to intimidate and defame human rights defenders for merely promoting human rights in their country and for engaging with international and regional human rights bodies. In a press release the experts drew attention to what they see as systematic targeting of human rights defenders through a weekly TV programme, Con el Mazo Dando, transmitted by the State network, Venezolana de Televisin. In an apparent aim at intimidation, the host, President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, pitches on-air accusations against rights activists and civil society organisations. The network also publishes personal information on its website. Its high time to pull the plug on this shameful and televised harassment of rights activists in Venezuela, the experts declared. Recalling that United Nations and Inter-American human rights bodies are charged to monitor Venezuelas implementation of its international and regional human rights obligation, the experts point out that the Government is bound to respect and defend the rights activists participation in those proceedings. Any act to thwart such engagement, be it on- or off-air, directly contravenes international human rights law, they stressed. The experts called on the Venezuelan authorities to immediately cease the targeting of rights activists, saying: Human rights defenders and civil society organisations must be able to carry out their human rights work and cooperate freely and safely with international and regional human rights mechanisms without fear of intimidation and reprisals. (New Kerala 24/7/15)

56. Civil society members slam govt for “hounding” Teesta, Javed (1)

NEW DELHI: Civil society members including Prashant Bhushan, Aruna Roy, Harsh Mander and others rallied in support of Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand slamming the government for “hounding” the two activists for daring to raise their voice against it. Setalvad, who has been working for providing justice to Gujarat riot victims, along with her husband, has been facing legal action for allegedly diverting foreign funds. “The whole government machinery has been engaged in harassing and intimidating Setalvad and Javed. Is the government trying to say that look, these are consequences you will face if you dare to raise you voice against us?” asked Harsh Mander, director, Centre for Equity Studies, while addressing a joint press conference with other civil society members here on Monday. Citizens for Justice and Peace and Sabrang Trust, run by Teesta and Anand, were served notices by the home ministry about two months ago asking the NGOs why their registration under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) would not be cancelled as on-site inspection of records and books of accounts of the two found “irregularities and financial misappropriation”. Questioning the timing of government’s action against Setalvad, activists alleged that it is an attempt to thwart her efforts to bring justice to the victims since the cases she has been fighting have reached crucial legal stage. “Why is it all being done now after 12 long years? They want to divert the attention by engaging her legal charges. They want to hamper the cases of the victims as they have reached crucial stages and carry 25,000 pages of evidence against important people in the government,” Madhu Prasad, a retired associate professor of Delhi University, said. (Times of India 28/7/15)

57. Accept verdict, but also give justice to riot victims’ (1)

MUMBAI: Eminent citizens and Muslim community leaders who sought commutation of Yakub Memon’s death sentence to life imprisonment, said the best thing to do now was to accept the Supreme Court’s verdict and maintain peace. The leaders said both Memon and many members of civil society exhausted all possibilities but the SC upheld the death sentence to Memon. Many called hanging “medieval and barbaric” way to deal with an accused and demanded its abolition. Community leaders, while appealing to people to accept the court’s verdict gracefully, also demanded justice for the victims of December 1992 and January 1993 riots which preceded the serial blasts that rocked the city. “We must accept the court’s verdict but this also makes it necessary that those guilty of riots which preceded the blasts are brought to book. Killers of Rajiv Gandhi and former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh should also be hanged,” said M A Khalid of All India Milli Council. MIM legislator, advocate Waris Pathan said: “We took the initiative to oppose death penalty to Yakub as some mitigating factors were not considered before the verdict was given. The prosecution concealed a vital fact that Yakub had surrendered, as former intelligence officer B Raman revealed. But now that Yakub will walk to the gallows, the government must do justice to the victims of riots too.” Asif Farooqui, director, National Wakf Development Corporation, said accepting the verdict of judiciary of the country one lives in is what Islam also mandates. “The thing to do now is to have patience and maintain peace as Islam believes that post-death everyone is answerable to Allah. The case is now in Allah’s court,” said Farooqui. Many vehemently opposed the death penalty and demanded its abolition. Tushar Gandhi, activist and great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, said hanging is “nothing but judiciary-sanctioned murder and must be abolished. I am opposed to death penalty because execution is like evil countering evil and two evils cannot make a good. It is a medieval, barbaric practice to bring the accused of a crime to justice,” he said Gandhi. He added people in power were scared to take a bold decision. “People in power are hostage to mass hysteria and allow even unethical and medieval system like death by hanging in this time and age,” added Gandhi. Senior advocate Majeed Memon who had also opposed death penalty to Memon said: “It is now the end of the matter. It is ironic that on 11th July the Law Commission of India organized a debate on whether the death penalty should be abolished and the overwhelming view of the participants was for its abolition. The Law Commission will soon submit its recommendations to the government. It is sad that Memon’s execution verdict comes before the recommendations are accepted.” (Times of India 30/7/15)

JUDICIARY/ LAW

58. Rajya Sabha adopts motion to withdraw bill on cheque-bounce cases (19)

NEW DELHI: Rajya Sabha on Tuesday adopted a motion to withdraw a bill on which an ordinance was issued last month to enable lakhs of persons file cheque-bounce cases in the place where the cheque was presented for payment and not the place of issue. Finance minister Arun Jaitley moved the motion for withdrawal of the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, 2015 for further amending it, amid ruckus in the House over the Lalit Modi controversy. The motion was adopted by a voice vote. The bill was passed by Lok Sabha on May 13 this year and was tabled in the Rajya Sabha on the same day. On June 10, the Union Cabinet cleared an ordinance to further amend the Negotiable Instruments Act to enable filing of cheque bounce cases in the place where the cheque was presented for clearance or payment and not the place of issue. There are an estimated 18 lakh people facing cheque-bounce cases across the country. The ordinance was necessitated as a bill to help the litigant in a cheque bounce case was passed by Lok Sabha in earlier this year but it could not go through the other House. Transport minister Nitin Gadkari had said the Supreme Court had passed a judgment that if a cheque was received from someone and it bounces, then the jurisdiction for initiating action lies in the state where it was issued. “There are 18 lakh such cases in various courts … Government had brought a bill in this regard in Parliament. Rajya Sabha could not pass it. So, to give relief to these people, government has brought this ordinance,” he had said. Gadkari also said that if there were three cases of bounced cheques against one person, then all these cases could be brought to one place and clubbed. (Times of India 21/7/15)

59. Death penalty better than keeping a person in jail for entire life, says SC (19)

New Delhi: The award of life imprisonment with a rider that it means “remainder of life” on Thursday came under sharp attack from the Supreme Court which said that it would be better to award death penalty to such convicts. “All of us live in hope, if this is the prevailing situation then there will be no hope for such convicts. What is the point in keeping a man in jail for his whole life?… Give him the death sentence. That will be better,” a five-judge constitutional bench, headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu, said. The remarks came while hearing a petition of the centre against the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to set free convicts of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case in which the court today allowed states to exercise power of remission in certain class of cases. During the hearing, the bench asked the Centre about the rationale behind providing life imprisonment till the death. “We follow the reformatory penal system,” the bench said, adding that if there is no scope of remission, then why a convict, serving life term, would try to reform himself. (Firstpost 24/7/15)

60. Govt mulls amending law for video recording of court proceedings (19)

NEW DELHI: The Narendra Modi government may consider legislative proposals to introduce video recording of court proceedings, besides making it mandatory for high courts to disclose judicial statistics to bring in more transparency in the functioning of the judiciary. The proposal to bring in relevant amendments in law was discussed at an advisory council meeting chaired by law minister Sadanada Gowda on July 15. The meeting was attended by law commission chairman Justice A P Shah and the secretary general of the Supreme Court (SC) among others. The suggestion of video recording was made by Justice Shah, former chief justice of the Delhi high court, who firmly believed there was no reason for opposing such a proposal as it would only help in bringing more accountability to the judiciary. “A proposal may be considered to undertake audio-video recording on a pilot basis in some district courts because such a step can enhance transparency in the justice system,” he observed. The law ministry had earlier failed to convince the apex court to include audio-video recording in Phase-II of the e-Courts project. Computerisation of courts is an ongoing project and Phase-I has already been completed in which more than 14,000 courts have been connected to the centralised national judicial data grid. In Phase-II of e-courts, the government had proposed to include audio-video recording. But the Chief Justice of India had rejected the demand. Later, in a judgment in January this year while dismissing a related petition, a CJI-headed bench had observed that there was no need for video recording of court proceedings. After the July 15 meeting, the law ministry has again decided to write to the SC’s e-Committee “to explore whether video recording can be taken up on a pilot basis in some district courts” as suggested by the law commission chairman. The government has also been facing difficulties in collection, maintenance and disclosure of judicial statistics. Statistics such as the number of adjournments granted by each judge and causes for delay in delivery of judgments are not shared by the judiciary. In several cases, judges have reserved orders for months without specifying reasons. The worries for the government are on account of pendency of cases which remains at 3.15 crore across all courts despite several initiatives taken in the past decade—including increase in the strength of judges and number of courtrooms. As law minister during UPA-II, Kapil Sibal was the first to push for audio-video recordings of court proceedings so that witnesses don’t retract on their statements and there are recorded reasons for judges granting adjournments, which have become a routine. The SC secretary general mentioned in the July 15 meeting that the apex court had recently dismissed the petitions seeking approval for video recording of judicial proceedings. “The view was that our court system has not reached the level where the video recording of court proceedings can be permitted,” he said. (Times of India 26/7/15)

61. Yakub Memon’s plea: SC judges give split verdict, case referred to larger bench (19)

NEW DELHI: A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court is likely to decide 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict Yakub Memon’s fate on Wednesday after a two-judge bench on Tuesday remained split. Justice A R Dave dismissed Yakub’s plea seeking stay of death warrant and told the Maharashtra governor to decide the mercy plea before July 30, the day scheduled for his hanging. But, Justice Kurian Joseph himself dug out a point which was not raised by Yakub in his petition and on that basis held that the apex court did not follow correct procedure in dismissing his curative petition. Justice Joseph said since procedure was not followed the curative petition dismissal was not proper and required fresh decision. Hence, the death warrant needed to be stayed, he said. In view of the split decision, the 2-judge bench referred the issue to the CJI for setting up an appropriate bench on Wednesday to hear Yakub’s plea seeking stay of death warrant. Memon, the lone death convict in 1993 Mumbai blasts case, in his plea had claimed he was suffering from schizophrenia since 1996 and has remained behind the bars for nearly 20 years, much more than a person serving life term has to spend in jail. He had sought commutation of death penalty, contending that a convict cannot be awarded life term and the death sentence for the same offence. The apex court had on June 2, 2014 stayed the execution of Memon and referred his plea to a Constitution bench as to whether review petitions in death penalty cases be heard in an open court or in chambers. Twelve coordinated blasts had rocked Bombay, as the city was then known, on March 12, 1993, leaving 257 dead and over 700 injured. (Times of India 28/7/15)

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

62. Police arrest 16 for Sonitpur beheading (1)

Guwahati: Police have so far arrested 16 people for beheading a 60-year-old woman in Sonitpur district. The woman — Purnima, alias Moni Orang — was lynched by a group of villagers after being branded a witch in Bhimajuli, about 250 km from here, on Monday. “Today (Tuesday), we arrested nine women from the village. We are keeping a watch on the area and more persons may be arrested. We have deployed enough personnel to keep the situation under control,” Biswanath Chariali SP Manabendra Dev Roy told TOI. Earlier, on Monday, police arrested seven villagers in connection with the killing. The main accused, a village quack who allegedly instigated the villagers to kill the elderly woman, is absconding. On Tuesday morning, villagers, especially women, gathered in front of the police station and sought the release of the arrested villagers. They claimed that they killed Poni as she practised ‘witchcraft’ and ‘black magic’ and brought ‘ill luck’ to the village. The mob dragged Poni out of her house and beat her up before beheading her, said police. It initially prevented police from reaching the spot. “We have not done anything wrong by killing the old lady. We demand that the men and women who have been arrested be freed at the earliest. Police have nothing to do with this case. Let us solve our own problem,” said a villager as they shouted slogans against police. Local police stations have been asked to take measures to prevent such incidents from recurring. A press statement by the Assam Police headquarters said officers have been directed to organize a meeting with different tribes and communities to spread awareness against the evil practice. (Times of India 22/7/15)

63. AFSPA protest rocks Kohima (1)

Kohima: Over 10,000 students and representatives of various organizations joined a mass protest rally organized by the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) here on Thursday in protest against the recent violence in Phek district and for repeal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). The rallyists, comprising mostly school and college students, marched on the streets of Kohima town shouting slogans such as ‘we want peace’ and ‘we don’t want Army rule’. As the rallyists marched out of the Kohima Local Ground to the Raj Bhavan to submit a memorandum to the governor, the city came to a standstill for several hours. There was a light drizzle but this couldn’t deter the rallyists. The student leaders, led by NSF president Subenthung Lotha, met governor P B Acharya and submitted a memorandum. The rally was organized in protest against the killing of two students in Assam Rifles’ firing at Wuzu village of Phek district on July 16 and also to press for repeal of AFSPA. The memorandum also demanded punishment for those responsible for the Wuzu incident. “The Nagas are aghast by the Wuzu massacre. Comprehending the dangerous fallout of prolonged war, we appeal to your esteemed office to hear our democratic voice and to fulfill our immediate demands,” said the memorandum submitted to the governor. The memorandum demanded that the armed forces — both military and para-military — be recalled to their respective camps. Two students — Tuzali and Aso — were killed and a woman, Esther Vitsiirho, injured in firing by personnel of the 46th AR at Wuzu village of Phek district on July 16. Addressing the rally at Kohima Local Ground, leaders representing Naga Hoho, Naga Mothers’ Association, Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights, Pochury Students’ Union and Naga Students’ Federation voiced their resentment against the ‘inhuman action’ of AR personnel. (Times of India 24/7/15)

64. Install CCTVs in lock-ups, prisons: SC (1)

NEW DELHI: In a fillip to the fight against custodial torture, the Supreme Court on Friday directed the State governments to install closed circuit TV cameras in jails and consider the same in police lock-ups and police stations. A Bench of Justices T.S. Thakur and R. Banumathi, in its verdict on a public interest litigation plea, passed a slew of directions including the installation of CCTV cameras in jails within one year. The Bench also directed that two women constables be posted in all police stations. The court asked the State governments which have not set up Human Rights Commissions to fill up vacancies in the panel within three months. Noting that many States and Union Territories like Himachal Pradesh, Meghalya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi have not set up their own state human rights commission, the court also asked Union Territories to set up the panels expeditiously. Dilip K. Basu in his PIL plea sought prison reforms and filling of the vacancies of the state human rights commission. Court order came after a detailed note given by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who was amicus curiae in the case. (The Hindu 25/7/15)

65. Cops rape and kill her, later label her a Naxal (1)

Raipur: A tribal girl raped and then killed, allegedly by policemen at Nawadih in north Chhattisgarh district of Balrampur in 2011, had nothing to do with Naxals, a judicial probe into the incident has found. The one-member judicial commission headed by retired district and sessions judge Anita Jha, probing the incident, has dismissed the claim by the police that Meena Khalkho (13) was killed after being caught in a cross-fire between Naxals and security forces on the outskirts of the village of Nawadih on July 6, 2011 and that she was a Maoist. “There is no police record to establish that Meena Khalkho was a Naxal. There was also no evidence to support the claim by the police that an encounter took place between Naxals and security forces at Nawadih on the day, since there were no reports of any casualty or injury to policeman in the incident,” the commission said. The commission, which submitted its report to the state government recently, found that Meena was raped and then killed. She succumbed to injuries caused by police bullets, the probe revealed. The state government has earlier withdrawn 17 policemen deployed in the area and attached them to the local district headquarters following the incident. Holding the police guilty of rape and murder of the minor tribal girl, the commission sought strong action against the erring policemen. The commission also sought further probe by the crime investigation department. Meanwhile, the Opposition Congress has demanded a CBI probe into the incident in the wake of findings by the judicial commission. (Asian Age 28/7/15))

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

66. Two Myanmar newspaper editors fined for insulting President (1)

Yangon (Myanmar), Jul 21 (AP) A Myanmar court today fined two editors of a weekly newspaper 1 million kyat (USD 809) each after finding them guilty of violating the country’s media law by insulting the president. The case was one of several seen by press freedom advocates as an effort to intimidate the media ahead of a general election scheduled for November. Nine other staff members of the weekly Myanmar Herald were acquitted in the case, which was filed by the Information Ministry last November after publication of an interview with a political analyst who described President Thein Sein as a fool.  The paper’s chief editor, Kyaw Swa Win, and the deputy chief editor, Arnt Khaung Min, were fined by a court in the capital, Naypyitaw, for violating the media law by printing articles affecting an individual’s reputation. “The judge said we are guilty of tarnishing the image of the president and we were charged under the media law for not being ethical,” Arnt Khaung Min said by phone. “We have to be cautious because the harassment on media freedom has increased, but we don’t feel threatened by such repression,” he said, describing the pre-election climate for the media as very bleak. “We will continue to do our job.” The London-based human rights group Amnesty International said last month that the government’s efforts to restrict freedom of expression had intensified over the past year. Myanmar started moving in 2011 from a half-century of military rule to democracy, but many of its political reforms, including media freedom, have stalled. About 10 journalists are serving jail terms ranging from two to seven years, a journalist was killed in military custody and more than a dozen others are facing trial, including a group of 17 editorial staffers from the influential Daily Eleven newspaper on contempt of court charges. The Daily Eleven, taking advantage of new press freedoms after the military regime made way for a civilian elected government in 2011, has published a series of stories on alleged corruption, abuse of power and inefficiency in the judicial system. The outspoken CEO of the Eleven Media Group, Dr Than Htut Aung, was attacked last week by assailants who used slingshots to shoot steel bolts at his car, damaging the vehicle but leaving the publishing executive unhurt. The motive of the attackers remains unclear, though the attack has contributed to a chilling atmosphere for journalists. The press freedom group Reporters Without Borders last week named Thein Sein as one of the world “leaders who publicly threaten journalists.” (Zee News 21/7/15)

67. Supreme Court takes freedom of speech to the Net by striking down much abused Section 66A

New Delhi: IN a landmark judgment expanding the contours of free speech to the Internet, the Supreme Court struck down Tuesday the much abused Section 66A of the Information Technology Act which authorised police to arrest people for social media posts construed “offensive”or “menacing”. Shreya Singhal, a law student who had filed the first petition challenging the validity of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, was jubilant after court verdict. She said it was a day for triumph of free speech. Shreya Singhal, a law student who had filed the first petition challenging the validity of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, was jubilant after court verdict. She said it was a day for triumph of free speech. Calling it “open-ended and unconstitutionally vague”, the bench of Justices J Chelameswar and Rohinton F Nariman said nothing short of quashing the law “in its entirety” could suffice since Section 66A “arbitrarily, excessively and disproportionately” invaded the right to free speech, right to dissent, right to know, and had a “chilling effect” on constitutional mandates. “As Section 66A severely curtails information that may be sent on the Internet based on whether it is grossly offensive, annoying, inconvenient, etc, and being unrelated to any of the subject matters under Article 19(2) must, therefore, fall foul of Article 19(1)(a), and is declared as unconstitutional and void,” the bench ruled while allowing a clutch of petitions, including one by law student Shreya Singhal who first approached the top court in November 2012. Article 19(1)(a) gives people the right to speech and expression whereas 19(2) accords the state the power to impose “reasonable restrictions” on exercise of this right for reasons like interest of the sovereignty and integrity of the country, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, defamation or incitement to an offence. Testing the validity of Section 66A on the grounds mentioned under Article 19 (2) for curbing the right to free speech, the court said this law had “no proximate relationship to public order” and failed to pass the muster of the “clear and present danger” test. It also struck down a similar law in Kerala: “Section 118(d) of the Kerala Police Act is struck down being violative of Article 19(1)(a) and not saved by Article 19(2)” “…what has been said about Section 66A would apply directly to Section 118(d) of the Kerala Police Act, as causing annoyance in an indecent manner suffers from the same type of vagueness and over breadth, that led to the invalidity of Section 66A, and for the reasons given for striking down Section 66A, Section 118(d) also violates Article 19(1)(a) and not being a reasonable restriction on the said right and not being saved under any of the subject matters contained in Article 19(2) is hereby declared to be unconstitutional,” it said…….  (Indian Express 25/7/15)

68. Man held for ‘attacking’ scribes in inebriated state (1)

HYDERABAD: A businessman, Ashish Singh Chopra (23), was arrested for attacking two television journalists at Banjara Hills when the latter filmed him, while he was caught by the traffic police at Banjara Hills for driving in an inebriated state on Saturday night. According to the police, Ashish, who was driving a Hyundai car, was waved down at Banjara Hills Road No.12 by a traffic police team. “Initially, the man did not cooperate with us and created nuisance. But, when we conducted a breather analyser test, his Blood Alcohol Content level was recorded at 88 mg in 100 ml of blood,” Banjara Hills traffic Inspector C. Uma Maheshwar Rao said. The permissible BAC limit is 30 mg in 100 ml of blood. On noticing that a couple of reporters from a vernacular news channels, were filming him, the businessman walked up to them and hit one of the reporters. Enraged by the attack, the media persons sat in front of his car demanding the police to arrest the attacker. On information, a patrol car from Banjara Hills police station rushed to the spot and bundled the businessman into a patrol car and shifted him to the police station. The police registered a case under Section 341 (wrongful restraint), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 506 (criminal intimidation) against Ashish. (The Hindu 27/7/15)

COMMUNAL RIOTS

69. Tension in Rajouri over burning of IS flag by VHP, Bajrang Dal (7)

Jammu: Muslims in Rajouri threatened to observe a bandh on Tuesday if the police failed to arrest the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal activists behind the burning an IS flag — which had holy inscriptions written on it — on Eid. However, clarifying that it had no intention to hurt the sentiments of Muslims, the VHP, on the other hand, asked the protesters to demonstrate against the IS for writing holy inscriptions on its flag. “We had only burnt the IS flag. We did not know as to what was written on it in Persian,’’ said the state VHP patron, Dr Ramakant Dubey, and its provincial president, Leela Karan Sharma. Led by Khateeb (prayer leader) of the local Jama Masjid, Ghulam Rasool, the protesters demanded the arrest of people who, as they claimed, first wrote the holy inscriptions on the flag and then burnt it. It is being alleged that some VHP and Bajrang Dal activists made an IS flag using a black piece of paper, and wrote the holy inscriptions on it by hand, followed by the words “IS” and “Hai Hai’’. Later, local Muslim leaders clarified that while they had no objection to the burning of the IS flag, they were protesting against writing of holy inscriptions by hand. The protesters asked the police to register a case and arrest the culprits by Monday evening. With tension mounting in the town, which is prone to communal flare-ups, the district administration has deployed police and CRPF personnel at all vulnerable places. Several sensitive spots have been barricaded. DIG (Rajouri-Poonch) A K Atri said the administration was trying to defuse tension by holding meetings between leaders of both the communities. (Indian Express 21/7/15)

70. Communal violence shows 24% jump in first five months of 2015, shows govt data (7)

NEW DELHI: Communal violence in India has registered a jump with incidents rising by 24% and related deaths too up by 65% in the first five months of 2015 as compared to the corresponding period of last year, when the UPA government was in the saddle. As per latest data collated by the Union home ministry, 287 communal incidents were reported from across the country this year until May 31, as compared to 232 over the same period in 2014. Deaths due to communal clashes during January-May 2015 rose to 43 from 26 and the number of injured too were higher at 961 from 701 in the first five months of last year. The states that reportedly accounted for a major portion of the increase in communal clashes were Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra and West Bengal. This is for the first time that data has reflected negatively on the state of communal harmony under the Modi government. Earlier, a comparison of the annual data for the year 2014 and 2013 had shown a fall in incidents to 644 from 823 respectively. Deaths in 2014 too dipped to 95 from 133 and injured were fewer at 1961 as compared to 2,269 in 2013. Many argued that the lower communal violence in 2014 as compared to 2013 was not really a verdict on the effectiveness of Modi government to control riots, considering that UPA was in power until mid-May 2014. (Times of India 22/7/15)

71. Communal tension erupts in Dhar city, normalcy restored (7)

MHOW: Communal tension erupted in Dhar city on Friday night after a group of miscreants attacked a youth of another community in a city locality over an old case of enmity. The youth was critically injured and was immediately rushed to a private hospital where he is undergoing treatment there. Dhar kotwali police station in charge Ajit Tiwari, when contacted on phone, told TOI that the situation arose in Dhanmandi locality at 10.30pm on Friday when a group of four youths attacked Shubham Thakur, a resident of hanmandi square with rods and sharp edged weapons. In the incident, Shubham received serious injuries in the abdomen and back. Soon after this, a large number of people of the two communities gathered at the spot and stone pelting was started from one side. On getting the information, Dhar collector Jaishri Kiyawat, SP Rajesh Hingankar along with a large police force reached there and the situation was brought into control before any other untoward incident could take place. As per the police and the administration officials, the situation in Dhar was normal but police force has been deployed at all communally sensitive points in the town. (Times of India 25/7/15)

72. A deep divide vulnerable even to rumour (7)

Jamshedpur: To Many in Jamshedpur, the Sankat Mochan temple at Mango, where recent communal riots began, marks the point where “Hindustan” ends. “What you see beyond this mandir and this road in front is the territory of Pakistan,” said Goraknath Tiwari, pujari at the temple, as he points at a couple of broken panes at the main gate. Mango beyond this point is dominated by Muslims with small populations of Hindus an Sikhs. It is not the pujari who gave it the name “Pakistan”. From the taxi driver and the auto driver to the police constable on the road and the worker in TISCO, many others use this description. It is a pointer to how deep the divide runs and to how a small rumour could trigger such violence. Various narratives qualify this “Hindustan-Pakistan” divide in various ways. For one, said Bhalla, an old resident who admits having been booked for taking part in the vicious communal violence of 1979, “at Hindu homes in Jamshedpur, you will find swords, lathis or, at the most, choppers for self-defence. But at homes in Mango,” he guessed, “you will find revolvers, rifles, firearms, bombs.” The divide appears to have become starker of late. Arun Singh, the VHP convener for Jamshedpur city, accused Muslims of being involved in eve-teasing, snatching and eloping with Hindu girls. He said it is these incidents that have led to rising anger among Hindus. Singh has been booked in four FIRs for instigating violence, though he has not yet been arrested. On the other hand, Sheikh Badruddin, a central committee member and a general secretary of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha’s minority wing, accused Hindutva groups of recent whisper campaigns about growing “encroachment” of Jamshedpur city. “One need not take the name of the community that is supposedly encroaching. Muslims and encroachment are synonymous here,” said Badruddin. Police investigations have concluded that there was no incident of any “eve-teasing of a Hindu girl”. It was purely a rumour, its origin uncertain, police say. Senior superintendent of police Anoop T Matthews, the area of whose jurisdiction, East Singbhum, includes Jamshedpur city, said the trouble actually began with a fight between two groups of antisocials, one led by a certain Waris and the other by Shibu alias Asif Akhtar. They clashed at Azadnagar on July 19 and at Mango on July 20. Both groups are wanted for extortion, snatching, arson, assault and other such crimes. And both have Hindu and Muslim members……  (Indian Express 29/7/15)

COMMUNALISM

73. ‘Bahu Laao, Beti Bachao’ to counter ‘love jihad’ (26)

AGRA: Ajju Chauhan, state convenor of the Bajrang Dal, said in February this year that a ‘Bahu Laao, Beti Bachao’ campaign would soon commence to protect Hindu women from “love jihad”. He was speaking soon after the hullaballoo of the “ghar wapsi” incident in the city last December. On Monday, members of his outfit distributed pamphlets outside city schools, warning young girls to be wary of the “wiles” of Muslim youth. The pamphlet warns that Hindu girls are “trapped” in relationships and then sold in in Arab markets. Children of Chirag School for Special Children, Sanatan Dharam School and a few other educational institutions in the Sadar area of the city received these pamphlets on Monday. “We visited women’s colleges to create awareness about ‘love jihad’. In the next phase, members will approach mothers of marriageable Hindu men, persuading them to get daughters-in-law from Muslim or Christian families,” said Ajju Chauhan alias Avneendra Pratap Singh, state co-convener of Bajrang Dal. He said by getting women from other religious groups as daughters-in-law, Hindu families would be giving those women the opportunity of experiencing the “rich cultural tradition” of Hinduism. The ‘Bahu Laao, Beti Bachao’ campaign, he said, was aimed at stemming the tide of “love jihad”.Members of the Matra Shakti Durga Vahini, a women’s group of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), also joined the campaign in Agra on Monday, urging schoolgirls to be wary of Muslim men who changed their names and wore lockets with pictures of Hindu gods to lure them into marriage. The leaflet that was distributed in Agra claimed that around one lakh girls in India had already fallen victim to “love jihad”. It said many of them were later trafficked, sold in Mumbai, Kolkata and Saudi Arabia. The leaflet also contained phone numbers at which readers could reach for help, in case anyone received information about a victim of “love jihad”.Maulana Shahabuddin Razvi, national general secretary of the All India Jamat Raza-e-Mustafa based in Bareilly, told TOI on Monday that Muslims had no money for their own welfare, so it was outrageous that they could carry out and fund a “love jihad” campaign. He sought action against members of the Bajrang Dal for fomenting communal trouble. “If we had that kind of money, we would give it to our brothers first. All these allegations are so false they do not even deserve a response. Action must be taken against the people responsible for this,” Razvi said. Circle officer Asim Chaudhary of the Sadar police station said distributing such communally sensitive literature is illegal. He said action would be taken against the organization responsible for this. “We are getting in touch with people who received the pamphlets. An FIR will be lodged against the Bajrang Dal,” Chaudhary told TOI. (Times of India 21/7/15)

74. Mamata trains gun on ‘communal’ BJP (26)

KOLKATA: Under attack for doing little for minorities, Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday chose the July 21 platform to list her “work” for the minorities and backward sections. Mamata also took on the BJP for “riot-mongering” and spreading the “poison of communalism”.”Bengal cannot be divided, Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Sikh-Buddhist-Jains — all are our brothers and sisters. An eye for an eye, a riot for a riot is not our ideology,” Mamata said. Calling upon her party workers to put up a dignified fight against the Centre, she added, “I challenge them (opposition parties). If they can fight us let them fight. Else apply lipstick and take rest,” a combative Mamata said. In an obvious reference to BJP, she blared, “Those who don’t have an ideology spread the poison of communalism.” Mamata didn’t stop at that. She also reminded that 45,000 Imams get a monthly salary, a university and an airport in Kazi Nazrul Islam’s name have come up, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Technical Institute, Aliah University and Haj Houses have been set up in her regime. Only a few days ago, senior cleric Quari Fazlur Rehman had said, “Work for minorities remained in desks and never translated to the grassroots.” BJP national-secretary Sidharth Nath Singh retaliated, “Mamata Banerjee should introspect before raising her finger on BJP on communal politics. Under her rule, Imams were to be given monthly salary and minority hospital was to be set up. Heinous crimes like rape of a nun was given communal colour. Her actions smack of a communal agenda.” CPM’s Surjya Kanta Mishra claimed that the Trinamool and BJP had reached an understanding to assist each other. (Times of India 22/7/15)

75. Ten most aggressive fringe elements of the Parivar (26)

Far more belligerent than the Sangh Parivar, seldom caring if their words and actions cause grave embarrassment to the PM, these outfits, from the well-known VHP to the little-known Hindu Makkal Katchi, created their own peculiar and occasionally disturbing narrative. ET picks the 10 most aggressive members of the Fringe Parivar.  Dharam Jagaran Samanvay Samiti Truth be told, reconversion is a long-running campaign led by this ‘conversion’ wing of RSS. But the Ghar Wapsi made it to headlines only after Modi Sarkar came to power. In a much publicised event in Agra, the outfit led by Rajeshwar Singh converted 300 Muslims to Hinduism in late 2104. Though a major Ghar Wapsi event in Aligarh scheduled on December 25 was cancelled, the programmes were said to continue in much less-publicised fashion. The group was told to steer clear of media to avoid controversy, and after the Centre found itself on backfoot, Sangh asked Singh to take it easy.  Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha One of the oldest Hindu organisations in the country, the group decided to honour its most famous member Nathuram Godse by insisting his statues be installed in different cities. Their statement backed by BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj that Godse was a patriot led to an outrage in Parliament. The group also celebrated February 14 as “Prem Vivah Diwas” meant to encourage people in love with those from a different religion to marry on that day, and let their non-Hindu partners return to “the fold”. Vishwa Hindu Parishad The mothership of fringe outfits. Starting December last year, leaders of the group made statements that urged “minorities to return to their roots.” In February, it said it will implement in Goa its Ghar Wapsi programme to bring back into the Hindu fold “Christian brothers whose forefathers were forced to adopt Christianity 400 years ago in Goa.” The group openly declared film stars such as Kareena Kapoor, who had married a Muslim, were a bad influence on society. National Hindu Movement The group held demonstrations in various places in Goa and Maharashtra, urging all Hindu parents not to “deprive” their children of Hindu culture by admitting them in convent schools. Rashtriya Hindu Andolan This Maharashtra-based umbrella organisation of many Hindu groups carried out protests across the country against the screening of Aamir Khan starrer PK as they found it offensive to Hindu sentiment. The group has been protesting for years for removal of ‘secular’ from the Indian constitution. Rashtrawadi Shiv Sena The group led the protest against ‘Alishan Pakistan’ expo in New Delhi, an attempt made by industry groups to normalise relations between the two countries. The group demands that India boycott all Pakistani products. Shiv Sena Hindustan The group in May 2015 defaced and blackened signages of roads named after Muslim kings Akbar and Firoze Shah in New Delhi. Members of the group said they had a problem with roads being names after “unpatriotic” people. Hindu Janajagruti Samiti The group considers itself a cultural custodian of Hindu culture and has protested against six Hindi movies this year, including PK, Singham 2 and many TV shows. The group offers crash courses on “how to protect Hindu girls from Muslims” and “how to perform Ghar Wapsi” and has also accused PM Modi of being soft on minorities. Hindu Dharma Sena The group was accused of vandalising a church in Jabalpur in March 2015 and five of its members were arrested. The group had accused the church of converting close to 200 local tribal people into Christianity. Hindu Makkal Katchi One of the extreme right groups in Tamil Nadu that came to light for opposing writer Perumal Murugan’s book, ‘Maathorubagan’, the group continued its protests even after the writer announced that he has given up writing, citing pressure from fundamentalists. Hindu Rashtra Sena The group was accused of distributing provocative pamphlets in Pune last year which led to unrest in the city, also the murder of a 28-year-old techie. (Times of India 26/7/15)

76. VHP chief Togadia attacks PM Modi over ‘saree, shawl’ diplomacy with Pakistan (26)

Jaipur: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop all diplomatic dialogue and act like former PM Indira Gandhi in dealing with Pakistan. VHP chief Praveen Togadia said Tuesday that India’s foreign policy towards Pakistan was marked by failure. He asked the PM to put an end to diplomacy of “sarees, shawls and mangos” and order a cross-border strike on Pakistan.“India’s foreign policy towards Pakistan has failed. We failed to punish those responsible for Mumbai attacks and that has encouraged them to send more terrorists across the border,” Togadia said.“We had faith that under PM Modi, India would bring back and punish Dawood Ibrahim but that has not happened,” he said. “Instead, Pakistan  is sending Jihadis armed with AK-47 rifles to attack India… India should stop all dialogue and teach Pakistan a lesson,” said Togadia. The VHP chief said Modi should show political will like Indira Gandhi and further divide the neighbouring nation. Condemning the terrorist attack in Punjab, Togadia said India must learn from US, which carried out strikes in Pakistan to hunt down former Al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden. “We believe PM will prove his strength by ordering a cross-border strike on Pakistan to bring back terrorists wanted in India,” he added. Togadia also slammed actor Salman Khan and AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi for speaking for clemency to Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon. He said both Salman and Owaisi should be sent to Pakistan. “Salman has proved that he is a Muslim first and Owaisi’s speeches show that terrorism has a religion,” he said. He also said that those waving IS and Pakistani flags in the Valley needed to be shot down. (Indian Express 29/7/15)

TERRORISM

77. UN concerned about Canada’s new anti-terror law (12)

TORONTO: A United Nations human rights body is raising concerns about Canada’s new anti-terror legislation, saying it could run afoul of international human rights norms. The Anti-Terrorism Act, passed by parliament in June, makes it easier for intelligence officers, border guards, and law enforcement officials to monitor and arrest potential terror suspects in Canada. The United Nations Human Rights Committee said in a report released on Wednesday that it is concerned that that the law grants the government sweeping powers but does not contain enough legal safeguards to protect people’s political and civil rights. Critics say the bill will make it easier for security officials to place Canadians under surveillance. (Times of India 23/7/15)

78. Death toll rises to 37 after blasts in Nigeria (12)

ABUJA: The death toll from multiple bomb blasts at two bus stations in the northern Nigerian city of Gombe on Wednesday has risen to 37, with 105 others injured, a Red Cross official said on Thursday. No one claimed responsibility for the attacks, but they bore the hallmarks of the Islamist group Boko Haram, which has killed thousands of people in the past six years as it tried to establish a caliphate in the northeast. The first bomb, which exploded around 7 p.m., was detonated by a suspected suicide bomber at a mosque at Dadin Kowa motorpark as people gathered to pray, two witnesses said. Another two blasts occurred at the gate of the major Duku bus station and a small market nearby. “Twin explosions … led to 37 dead, and 105 injured are currently receiving treatment at the specialist hospital and Federal Medical Centre, Gombe,” said a Red Cross official. At least 50 people were killed in two bombings at a market in the same city last Friday. The bombings on Wednesday were the latest in a string of attacks by suspected Boko Haram militants in the past few weeks in the northeast of Africa’s most populous nation, which has the continent’s biggest economy. Attacks have also been carried out in neighbouring Chad, Niger and Cameroon. Two suicide bomb attacks killed at least 13 people and injured 32 others in northern Cameroon on Wednesday. Separately, at least nine people were killed in the community of Pompomari, near the large town of Biu in Borno state, in a raid on Wednesday night by suspected Boko Haram militants, military and police sources said on Thursday. Borno, which borders Gombe state, is the heartland of the Boko Haram insurgency. Militants attacked another village near Biu, called Buratai, earlier this week, the hometown of the new chief of army staff. (The Hindu 24/7/15)

79. Six Including Police Superintendent Killed in Terror Attack in Punjab (12)

GURDASPUR: In the first major terror strike in Punjab in eight years, heavily-armed militants in army uniform today sprayed bullets on a moving bus and stormed a police station, killing six persons, including an SP, and injuring eight others in Gurdaspur bordering Pakistan.   Two militants were killed and another seriously injured in the gunbattle with security forces that stretched for over 10 hours as the terrorists, who went of a rampage at around 5 AM, were holed up in a vacant building adjacent to Dinanagar police station. The terrorists have killed six persons three civilians and three policemen including Superintendent of Police (Detective), Baljit Singh, a Punjab provincial service officer, police said.    Official sources said it was too early to say which terrorist outfit had carried out the strike, but finger of suspicion is on Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba as the modus operandi of the militants was similar to the attacks in Jammu region in recent past.      According to Punjab Police IG (Counter Intelligence) Gaurav Yadav, SP Baljit Singh succumbed to bullet injuries sustained in the gunbattle. Police said out of the eight injured brought to civil hospital at Gurdaspur, seven seriously injured were referred to Amritsar. They all were aged between 15-54 years. One militant was killed and another seriously injured in the operation, Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, Abhinav Trikha, said. According to police, the attackers first targeted a roadside eatery and took off in a white Maruti 800 with Punjab registration number. They shot dead a roadside vendor near Dinanagar bypass.  They opened fire on passengers of a moving Punjab roadways bus before targeting a community health centre adjacent to Dinanagar police station. The gunmen barged into the Dinanagar police station and opened indiscriminate fire. The militants also targeted another part of the complex where the families of police personnel reside and hurled grenades.  An alert has been sounded along the international border in Punjab and Jammu as the terrorists are suspected to have infiltrated from there, the sources said.     Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval about the situation.   Singh said he will make a statement on the issue tomorrow in Parliament, where members today sought a detailed government response. (New Indian Express 27/7/15)

80. Gurdaspur attack : Identity of terror outfit not known (12)

NEW DELHI: Even as the government concluded on Monday that Pakistan had a hand in the terror attack in Gurdaspur, different sections of the Central government and intelligence agencies offered different theories on the identity of the group involved. Top intelligence sources told The Hindu that preliminary findings suggest it is the handiwork of a Pakistan-based terror organisation. “The modus operandi of carrying out the attack, apart from the nature of weapons used, is very similar to the one employed by Lashkar-e-Taiba militants,” said a senior intelligence official. Dressed in army fatigues and armed with assault rifles, the terrorists were carrying dry fruits, suggesting that they had come well prepared for a long battle with Indian security forces. They also had GPS location trackers on them. “Preliminary findings indicate that they sneaked in through the Jammu border,” said the official. The group — which initially targeted a tempo and then hijacked a car before storming the Dinanagar police station, — is suspected to have planted five improvised explosive devices found on the railway tracks connecting Dinanagar to Pathankot. Though the local police are currently investigating the case to establish the identity of the three terrorists who were killed by the Punjab special operations team in a 12-hour gun battle, a National Investigation Agency (NIA) team has also been sent to survey the spot. While security and intelligence agencies see the hand of a Pakistan-based terror group, speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior BJP Minister said the Centre had been receiving intelligence inputs that there are Khalistan supporters in Canada who are trying to regroup and create tension in Punjab. The Minister told The Hindu that this input from the agencies had been duly shared with the Punjab Government. The Minister also acknowledged that the Centre’s attempts to usher in peace in Jammu and Kashmir and the ground that the militants have lost in the State has not gone down well with those “interested in destabilising India”, referring to cross-border terror activities. “The general elections and the State Assembly elections have shown that the ordinary people in Kashmir want development and they have no sympathy for the terror outfits. The desperation of those who are against peace has made them strike in other border States,” the Minister said. (The Hindu 28/7/15)

81. Yakub Abdul Razak Memon shouldn’t have been hanged (12)

This morning, Yakub Abdul Razak Memon was hanged. For many, the execution of a man convicted for the killing of 257 people will be a reason to celebrate. It ought not to be. India’s use of the death penalty demeans that most cherished idea on which our republic rests, the idea of justice. The execution of Memon must compel us to question our most fundamental beliefs. The wounds inflicted on March 12, 1993, can be healed only by justice — but what the hangman offers is only a crude approximation of that cherished ideal, the bedrock of our life as a republic and as a people. Leave aside high moral or spiritual principles. The decision to execute rests on caprice.  For one, former judges like Ajit Shah have argued that the Supreme Court has applied inconsistent criteria in its delivery of the death sentence, and often erred in its understanding of precedent. Even the judges who heard Memon’s clemency appeal, after all, were divided on whether he deserved it. Then, judges’ understanding of what constitutes a death penalty crime has varied widely. Rabindra Pal, who burned alive Graham Staines and his two infant sons, was, for example, given a life sentence after judges held that the missionary’s proselytising was itself a mitigating circumstance. Bias also stains the dispensation of the death penalty: of 385 prisoners handed the sentence between June 2013 and January 2015, three quarters belonged to economically or socially vulnerable communities. The great philosopher Moshe ben Maimon argued that to execute anyone on less than complete certainty of their guilt would reduce justice “to the judge’s caprice”. That caprice is precisely what the death penalty is, everywhere it is in effect. In the United States, over 145 people sentenced to death since 1939 have been released after new evidence emerged of their innocence. The tide of acquittals of prisoners on death row has swelled as genetic science improves. Nor does the death penalty serve any social purpose, beyond vengeance. The United States’ National Academy of Sciences, in the most thoroughgoing meta-study to date, has shown there is no correlation between the death penalty and violent crime. Israel — beset, like India, by terrorism — hasn’t executed anyone since 1962. Its first application of the sentence was in the case of Meir Tobianski, a soldier executed on treason charges in 1948 — and established, a year later, to have been innocent. Though the US and China retain the death penalty, the global trend is 58 for to 140 against. Today is the right day for India to honour the liberal heritage on which great nations are built, and take a step towards joining the right side of this divide. (Indian Express 30/7/15)

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

82. Kin of suspected Maoists allege torture by police (12)

COIMBATORE: Families of the three suspected Maoists arrested by rural police under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and booked under NSA lodged a complaint with the district revenue officer alleging torture by police. The officer T Christu Raj forwarded the petition to senior police officials for investigation. The families said the trio had been taken for interrogation in connection with a ‘man missing’ case but police detained them under the Unlawful Activities Act. The family members also alleged that the arrested men were tortured under the pretence of investigation. P Ganapathy, 39, from Pollachi, D Sigamani, 26, from Angalakurichi and Selvaraj, 55, from Sulthanpet, all members of Jaathi Olippu Viduthalai Munnetra Iyakkam, were arrested under the UAPA act on June 12 for recruiting a tribal youth, A Santhosh Kumar, 23, into the Maoist movement last year. The families of the arrested, however, claim police had foisted the cases on them. “Sigamani had completed BSc BEd and was looking for employment. A police team from the Aliyar station came to our house and took custody of him, accusing him of being a Maoist. Following his arrest, the rural police often came home to interrogate us,” said D Priyanka, Sigamani’s younger sister. A senior police officer, seeking anonymity, said it was based on the confession of S Kannan, arrested earlier along with four other Maoist leaders, that Santhosh Kumar, now said to be missing, had joined the movement. Sigamani, Ganapathy and Selvaraj had helped recruit him and so had been arrested under UAPA. On May 4, in a combined operation of the Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu police had arrested Maoists R Roopesh, his wife Shyna and his three associates, Anoop Mathew Geroge, Kannan and C Veeramani in Coimbatore. Indira, 29, Ganapathy’s wife, said her husband worked towards eradicating caste bias and was part of a progressive movement. “At 3am on July 12, a police team said they wanted to interrogate Ganapathy in connection with a ‘man missing’ case. I had asked if they had the summons for interrogation. The inspector gave a written statement that he had taken my husband for interrogation. But the same evening he was detained under the Unlawful Activities Act,” she said. She further said six months ago, police kept her husband under illegal custody for 12 days. He was eventually released and asked to sign at the Aliyar police station every day for one month. Six months later he was arrested for being a suspected Maoist. (Times of India 21/7/15)

83. Naxals kill surrendered cadre in Gadchiroli (12)

Nagpur: Naxals killed a surrendered cadre in Kotmi area of Gadchiroli Tuesday on the suspicion that he was responsible for the recent spate of surrenders and arrests in the area. Madhav Pada, 38, who had surrendered in November 2014, was stabbed to death near Zuri village, about 4 km from the new Kotmi police outpost. The Naxals left a note near Pada’s body, blaming him for the setbacks. Kotmi police station was opened in February this year in the “most feared Naxal bastion” of Kasansur in Gadchiroli. “They suspected Pada to be behind the unprecedented scale of surrenders and arrests,” said Inspector General of Police Ravindra Kadam. Asked how Pada could be killed by Naxals despite the presence of two prominent police stations in the vicinity, Superintendent of Police Sandip Patil said, “Though it’s true that Naxals are feeling the heat in the area, we are not claiming they are completely out of the place. In fact, there is encounter in the area every 15 days, which shows the Naxals are trying hard to retain their foothold.” He added, “While it is true that the spate of surrenders in the area started with Pada, who was a prominent militia commander, he was not instrumental in getting others surrender and arrested. That is perhaps why he did not expect the Naxals to harm him and went to meet them.” (Indian Express 24/7/15)

84. Top Maoist commander killed in Jharkhand (12)

RANCHI: A top Maoist commander Sylvester Minz, carrying a cash reward of Rs 15 lakh on his head, was killed early Saturday morning in an encounter with security forces at Dipatoli village under Chainpur police station in Gumla district, 100km from here, police claimed. A key aide of Sylvester however was nabbed in the battleground after his boss was killed. Police recovered the AK-47 Sylvester reportedly carried along with one 315 rifle at the spot. Police spokesperson and ADG (operations) S N Pradhan confirmed the development. Pradhan claimed Sylvester was secretary of Bihar Jharkhand North Chhatisgarh special area committee of the CPI Maoist. “Sylvester and his team had come to the village to rest last night. The police got the wind of their arrival and a quick response team was formed to raid the location. A gunbattle ensued when the forces surrounded Dipatoli village and asked the Maoists to surrender,” CRPF IG Jharkhand sector Rakesh Kumar Mishra said. The police are however confused about the exact rank Sylvester held in CPI Maoist. A senior police officer said Sylvester was secretary of the powerful Koel Shankh zone of the CPI Maoist. The zone has its jurisdiction over Gumla, Latehar, Lohardaga, Garhwa and Simdega districts, all in the northwest of Jharkhand. The absence of Sylvester will have a big effect on the functioning and power of the Koel Shankh zone or Bihar Jharkhand North Chhatisgarh special area committee, two of most powerful Maoist organizations in Jharkhand. Aged around 45, Sylvester was virtually a terror and police considered it too challenging to catch him. He had given the cops many slips in past which made Sylvester even more dreaded Maoist. He is involved in dozens of cases. “In rainy season Maoists usually come to villages at night to take rest because the forest is inhospitable in the rainy season,” a police officer said. Gumla SP Bheemsen Tuti said the encounter took place between 5am to 6am. “Dozens of Maoists were present in the village when the encounter took place. Many of them escaped taking advantage of the hilly terrain when the police gained an upper hand in the encounter,” he said. Tuti said police arrested sub-zonal commander’ Dilbar Nayak who was with Sylvester. By virtue of his rank Dilbar carries a cash reward of Rs 5 lakh on his head. “A search operation has been launched in the area,” he said. The operation was carried out by CRPF 218 battalion and CoBRA 209 battalion with Gumla police. No security personnel suffered injury in the encounter. (Times of India 25/7/15)

85. CRPF to buy 6,000 bikes for anti-Naxal operations (12)

Neemuch(Madhya Pradesh): The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has decided to buy around 6,000 motorbikes to mobilise troops engaged in anti-Naxal operations and reduce dependence on jeeps and other four-wheelers, which fall prey to landmines causing casualty to the security forces. The bikes will be given to every battalion and strike units deployed for anti-Naxal operations, in the next few months, in the worst affected Left Wing Extremism areas of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha. “The Union Home Ministry has sanctioned purchase of 5,920 motorcycles for deployment in Left Wing Extremism areas. Security personnel have been asked to totally cut down travel on four-wheelers in these areas as it gives out their movement and large vehicles get easily trapped in land mines which either leads to killing or maiming of troops,” a senior official said. Bikes, the official said, are being used in the Maoist—hit areas by forces for sometime now but this is the single largest purchase of the two—wheelers for this task sanctioned by the government. “Movement on bikes will give CRPF personnel the much needed stealth in movement and even save them from getting trapped in mines and Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blasts as they can easily pass over them without putting pressure on their trigger mechanism leading to the explosion,” they said. The official said bikes are the new “force multipliers” for troops in ground operations. Apart from these, 36 bullet—proof vehicles would be procured by the country’s largest paramilitary force for counter—insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and North Eastern states under the same government sanction. The force, which has been in the recent past entrusted with the security duties of VIPs like BJP President Amit Shah and Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari, Rajiv Pratap Rudy among others and former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi would also be getting 40 new bullet—proof vehicles for these specialised duties, the official said. – PTI (The Hindu 28/7/15)

TRAFFICKING

86. Nobel laureate reaches out to trafficking victims (1)

Guwahati: The state is going to be the first in the country to get a rehabilitation and welfare fund under the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation for the rescue and rehabilitation of victims of child trafficking and slavery. The fund will be set up with the help of the state government, Nobel peace prize winner Kailash Satyarthi said here on Tuesday. He met chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Tuesday morning and sought his support to begin the mission in Assam, from where, he said, a large number of children are trafficked. The Nobel laureate plans to begin work in the state with around Rs 2 crore initially. “The northeast, particularly Assam, has become a hub of trafficking with hundreds of children going missing. The problem is increasing. A large number of tribals are being trafficked from the state to cities like Delhi and Mumbai. Middlemen and unscrupulous placement agencies are involved in sending girls from the state to brothels and making them work as labourers,” Satyarthi said. Satyarthi’s ambitious children’s foundation aims to create, implement and advocate child-friendly policies to ensure the holistic development and empowerment of children. To achieve its goal, the foundation has been encouraging the government, businessmen, civil society, children and youngsters to participate in formulating strategies and action points to protect children from the worst forms of abuse. Satyarthi has been instrumental in bringing the issue of child trafficking from the northeast to the forefront. His efforts have led to the rescue of 71 children from Assam. Of these, 44 boys and 27 girls hailed from Sonitpur, Lakhimpur and Nagaon districts of the state. While some of them were being made to work as domestic helps, others were rescued from commercial enterprises like restaurants and circuses. Satyarthi also appealed to corporate houses and industries to support his mission in Assam with financial assistance. Considering recent incidents of child labourers and victims of child marriages from the state being rescued in Delhi, Punjab and Haryana, Satyarthi said he has urged the chief minister to appoint a senior officer at Assam House in Delhi to help trafficked children. During his discussion with the chief minister, Satyarthi urged the state government to start a statewide action plan that will encompass a definitive role, responsibility and accountability of government departments on trafficking. He also urged the government to take responsibility for ensuring safe migration of children. (Times of India 22/7/15)

87. CID to map human trafficking source, destination points (1)

HYDERABAD: The Crime Investigation Department is planning to map source and destination points of human trafficking to which scores of women from Telangana and neighbouring States, are falling prey. The map would contain the transit route the traffickers take while shifting the women. It would also explain the places where the traffickers halt before reaching their destinations, said CID Additional DGP V. Satyanarain. Addressing a press conference here on Friday, he said there is a proposal to form Anti-Human Trafficking units in each of the district headquarters of the State. Explaining the recent raid by the CID on brothels in Chandrapur of Maharashtra carried out with the help of the local police and a NGO, Mr. Satyanarayan said traffickers lured unsuspecting women and even minor girls to Maharashtra assuring to secure them jobs. After reaching Chandrapur, the women and girls were detained in brothels and forced into prostitution. On a tip-off, the CID sleuths raided the brothels in Gowtham Nagar of Chandrapur and rescued 31 women and eight minors. Out of the 46 traffickers, 44 were caught. Two more accused were still at large. Out the arrested traffickers, 30 were women. Seven boys, found assisting the traffickers at the brothels, were also detained and handed over to the Maharashtra police for further action. The arrested traffickers were brought to city and presented before a local court. (The Hindu 25/7/15)

88. Police bust trafficking racket, rescue 14 minors (1)

HYDERABAD: Gopalapuram police rescued 14 minor boys, hailing from Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa and Assam, when they were brought to the city by organised gangs to employ them in factories. Railway police noticed 75 youngsters deboarding Janmabhumi Express at Secunderabad railway station on Sunday morning. Looking at the nervous boys, cops became suspicious and asked them their whereabouts. The boys told them that some people had paid their families to employ them at various factories in Hyderabad. The boys were handed over to Gopalapuram police for further probe. “Of the 75 youngsters, 14 were minors. We shifted the minors to rescue home and let off the others. The culprits, who brought them here, managed to escape,” Gopalapuram inspector S Ramchandra Reddy said. “The children from Bihar were promised a monthly salary of Rs 5,000 while the others were supposed to be handed over to local gangs, who in turn would hand them over to employers. We are recording the statements of those rescued,” North Zone additional DCP PY Giri said. A case under sections 374 (unlawful compulsory labour) and 370 (buying or disposing of any person as a slave) of IPC and section 26 (exploitation of juvenile or child employee) of the Juvenile Justice Act has been registered by police. (Times of India 27/7/15)

89. US questions India’s trafficking record (1)

NEW DELHI: A report by the US State Department has noted that India does not fully comply with the minimum standards set by US law for foreign governments for elimination of trafficking in persons. “The Government of India does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. However, it is making significant efforts to do so,” said the report released in Washington. The State Department every year brings out the Trafficking in Persons Report, which, according to US government, represents “an updated, global look at the nature and scope of trafficking in persons and the broad range of government actions to confront and eliminate it”. The US uses the report to engage governments of other countries in dialogues to advance anti-trafficking reforms and to combat trafficking and to target resources on prevention, protection and prosecution programs. Like its previous versions, the 2015 report too placed India on the Tier II, indicating US assessment that the country still do not fully comply with the minimum standards set by the Trafficking Victim Protection Act of America, but is making significant efforts to do so. The report notes that India “continued to fund shelter and rehabilitation services for women and children” throughout the country, trained prosecutors and judges, and upon order of the Supreme Court, several states launched searches to trace the whereabouts of thousands of lost and abandoned children, some of whom may have been trafficking victims. “However,” it observes, “the government’s law enforcement progress was unknown” as it “did not provide adequate disaggregated anti-trafficking data and official complicity remained a serious concern.” The report said India is not only “a source”, but also a “destination and transit country” for “men, women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking”. “Forced labour constitutes India’s largest trafficking problem; men, women and children in debt bondage—sometimes inherited from previous generations — are forced to work in industries such as brick kilns, rice mills, agriculture, and embroidery factories,” it added. According to the report, ninety per cent of India’s trafficking problem is internal, and those from the most disadvantaged social strata – Dalits, members of tribal communities, religious minorities, and women and girls from excluded groups – are most vulnerable. It notes that trafficking within India continues to rise due to increased mobility and growth in industries utilizing forced labor, such as construction, steel, textiles, wire manufacturing for underground cables, biscuit factories, pickling, floriculture, fish farms, and boat cutting. (Deccan Herald 29/7/15)

90. Nepal gang trafficked 250 women to Gulf (1)

NEW DELHI: The gang that was caught last week for human trafficking from earthquake-hit parts of Nepal has revealed that over 250 women were sent to Gulf countries in the past four months to be employed as bonded labourers and sex workers. On July 21, CISF personnel at IGI Terminal 3 had apprehended seven Nepalese women who had arrived in an international flight from Ahmedabad. They were supposed to fly to Dubai, but their immigration stamp from Nepal was found forged. During questioning, it was found that they were brought to Delhi by an agent who had promised them a job in Dubai. Investigations also revealed that they managed to get through airport immigration with the help of two officials from Air India — Kapil Kumar and Manish Gupta — who were subsequently arrested. Further interrogation revealed that the agents had brought 21 other women and were residing at a hotel in Mahipalpur. A raid was conducted and the men arrested. DCP IGI, MI Haider said that the women had travelled to India in a bus with an agent through Raxaul border in Bihar and then reached Gorakhpur in UP. They would change buses frequently to avoid suspicion. After reaching Delhi, they took a flight to Ahmedabad. After a couple of days, the women were made to board an international flight to Delhi and then take a connecting flight to Dubai. While being questioned by immigration officials one of the women mentioned Kathmandu, but they failed to provide the boarding passes. Officers then called CISF personnel and the women were arrested. The case was handed over to Delhi Police. A team led by SHO IGI Gagan Bhaskar found that two trafficking agents, Vishnu Tamang and Neupani Ishwor, would lure the women from earthquake-hit areas on the pretext of providing them jobs. For every woman, the agents and Air India officials would earn Rs 4,000-5,000. The Nepalese agents would take one year’s salary of the women in Dubai through gold loan and international finance companies. Upon reaching, passports of these women would be seized by their employers. Police are trying to figure out why Ahmedabad was chosen by the gang and probe is on regarding this. Nine boarding passes to Colombo were also recovered from the women. The identities of the women are being established to help them get back to their families. “We have also traced similar gangs, including both Indian and Nepalese men, and they’ll be soon arrested,” a police officer said. (Times of India 30/7/15)

CORRUPTION

91. Plea for CBI probe into graft in Lokayukta: NGO told to file affidavit (5)

Bengaluru, dhns: A division bench of the High Court headed by Justice N Kumar on Tuesday directed the Samaja Parivarthana Samudaya (SPS), which has filed a PIL seeking a CBI inquiry into the complaint of corruption in the Lokayukta, to file an affidavit regarding hearing of the petition that took place before another bench on Monday. The bench issued this direction after the counsel for SPS submitted that the State government had misled the bench comprising acting Chief Justice S K Mukherjee and Justice B V Nagarathna, which heard the petition on Monday. When the matter came up for hearing before the division bench comprising Justices N Kumar and Srinivase Gowda, the bench sought to know the reason for posting the PIL before it. K V Dhananjay, the counsel for the petitioners, submitted that the matter should be heard separately as it is different from the petition which seeks that the FIR registered by the Lokayukta police against Y Ashwin, son of Lokayukta Justice Y Bhaskar Rao, be quashed. “But it has been placed before this bench as the government counsel on Monday misled the bench, saying that a similar matter is already being heard by another bench. As a result, this matter has been clubbed along with that petition,” he said. However, Additional Advocate General A S Ponnanna refuted the allegations, saying that the bench was not misled and the State government had just furnished the facts. The bench then directed the petitioner to file an affidavit regarding what transpired before the division bench headed by the Chief Justice on Monday and adjourned the matter. (Deccan Herald 22/5/15)

92. CBI files case against 52 in Vyapam scam (5)

NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday registered yet another case against over 50 persons for their alleged involvement in the Vyapam scam. “The case has been registered under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, the Information Technology Act, the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Madhya Pradesh Recognised Exams Act. “In all, 52 persons have been named,” said a CBI official. The case was earlier registered by the State’s Special Task Force following allegations that some Vyapam employees altered the Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) answer sheets of the Transport Constable Recruitment Test in 2012. The CBI has so far registered 13 cases and instituted five preliminary enquiries in the scam.On Tuesday, the agency registered two preliminary enquiries into the suspicious death of two accused persons, Aditya Choudhary and Mahendra Sarawak. (The Hindu (23/7/15)

93. Ex-union minister Thungon jailed for corruption (5)

New Delhi: A special court here on Monday sentenced former union minister P.K. Thungon to four and a half years in jail in a 1998 corruption case, and said scam after scam has become the “norm of the day”.Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) judge Ajay Kumar Jain also slapped a fine of Rs.10,000 on Thungon. The court also handed three-and-half-year jail terms to two other convicts — C. Sangit and Tali A.O. — while another convict Mahesh Maheshwari was sentenced to jail for two and a half years. Thungon, then minister of state for urban development and employment in the P.V. Narasimha Rao government, along with the other accused, was involved in misappropriating money meant for an irrigation project in Nagaland. The court said the case highlights the institutionalised corruption involving the politicians and bureaucrats. “This case unfolds and bring out in the limelight the known fact that how central grants allocated to public welfare of the states are misappropriated by the highest public functionaries including ministers at the centre, states and top bureaucrats that too with full impunity,” the court said. “The entire records were fudged and nobody dared to complain, despite the fact it is in the knowledge of both at the central as well as state government level.” The court said the “most sad part is that its knowledge is apparent both at the centre and state levels, but no action was taken. On the other hand, the entire government machinery worked to shield the offences committed by the ministers, and the bureaucrats.” The CBI sought maximum punishment for Thungon, saying four more cases were pending against him. Special Public Prosecutor J.S. Wadia, requesting the court to award severe punishment to the convicts, submitted that Thungon by holding a high ministerial post was obliged to set an example, but was instead found connected with such heinous offences. However, Thungon’s counsel sought leniency saying his client was 68 years old and suffering from low blood pressure and poor eyesight. Thungon’s counsel K.K. Patra said his client’s family was dependent on the former minister and he was the only person who has to take care of his wife who was suffering from many diseases and had a brain stroke and hence needs constant care. Thungon and the others were held guilty of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery of valuable security, forgery for purpose of cheating and using as genuine a forged document under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. According to the CBI, Thungon connived with officials of Nagaland’s irrigation and flood control department in placing a bogus order for sausage wire for a project during 1993-94. Investigations revealed that no wire was supplied to the department but payments were made against bogus delivery. A case was registered against them on 1998. The CBI court observed that Thungon was chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh as well as a central minister, and in those capacities, he was found to have been involved in the present offence. “The poor people of Nagaland were cheated through the acts of the convict. However, his contributions for integration of Arunachal Pradesh with the rest of the country and the health of his wife and his suffering during investigation and trial for the last 20 years are also to be taken into consideration,” the court said, while deciding the quantum of sentence. (Business Standard 27/7/15)

94. Private companies won’t be in anti-graft law net (5)

NEW DELHI: The government has virtually ruled out amending the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) to extend it to the private sector, a move that was recommended by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money to check the circulation of unaccounted wealth in the education and religious institutions. Sources in the government indicated that extending the scope of the anti-corruption law to companies and private individuals could be detrimental to the interests of business and the overall economy at a time when the government is looking to accelerate growth. Although Indian industry is yet to comment on the issue formally, the fear is that including private entities within the purview of “public servants” could result in misuse of the provisions. Currently, in case of corruption cases, officials and ministers are charged under PCA along with provisions of other laws, while private sector executives are charged for conspiracy and for other offences. In fact, the government has already introduced a bill in Parliament to amend PCA as top government officials repeatedly cited some of the draconian provisions to argue that decision-making was hampered. Top sources in the government have in fact acknowledged that the law has been a major hurdle in pushing through decisions such as sale of residual stake in Hindustan Zinc, where the government currently holds nearly 30% stake. The clarification on amending PCA comes a day after the government sought to calm jittery investors over the concerns expressed by the SIT on use of participatory notes (PNs), a derivative instrument used by overseas investors. “It is too early to say what view the government would take. But, it will certainly not make any knee-jerk reaction, particularly one that can have any adverse impact on investment environment,” finance minister Arun Jaitley said, adding that the policy response would be a well-considered one. On Monday, TOI had reported that the India Inc and foreign institutional investors may not be comfortable with the two recommendations made by the panel. Apart from the government, even Sebi is said to against blanket sharing of information related to beneficial ownership, fearing that there could be misuse by other agencies. “Sebi has indicated that it can share the information if there are specific issues raised by the tax department,” said a source. Similarly, the other recommendation regarding restricting transfer of ownership of PNs has also been rejected on the grounds that it is not feasible. (Times of India 29/7/15)

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

95. Parliamentary panel flags Mumbai’s weak links; Urges environment ministry to take urgent anti-pollution steps (9)

NEW DELHI: A parliamentary panel has flagged a number of environment-related issues which, it found, have been causing damage to Mumbai and Visakhapatnam and asked the Union environment ministry and respective state governments to take up urgent steps for improving infrastructure and strengthening pollution mitigation measures in these two coastal cities. The panel, which submitted its report to the Parliament on Tuesday, felt that these cities can be saved only when concerned authorities strictly adhere to environmental laws while clearing any development activity, keeping in mind the vulnerability of the coastal region. Though the panel – parliamentary standing committee on science & technology and environment & forests – picked up specific issues for Mumbai and Visakhapatnam taking into account the topography of these cities, it flagged some common problems as well like inadequate capacities to treat solid waste, vehicular pollution and noise pollution which have been affecting the city dwellers. Raising its concern over the decreasing mangrove cover in Mumbai, the Panel urged the authorities to take all necessary steps to save and protect these areas from further encroachment. “Necessary steps should be taken by the concerned authorities to prevent garbage dumping in wetlands and mangroves”, said the panel, chaired by Congress MP and former Union minister Ashwani Kumar. The panel, comprises of MPs from all major political parties including BJP, Congress and left, has prepared its report after talking to all stakeholders including local civic authorities, NGOs and pollution experts during their visits to these two cities early this year. Referring to rising noise pollution in Mumbai, the Committee recommended “scientific noise profiling of the city”. It noted that the permissible limit of noise levels in the residential areas of Mumbai at 120 decibels hardly leave any elbowroom when the toleration level of human ears is also 120 decibels. “Considering the toleration level of human ears, the Committee is of the view that the permissible level of noise needs to be reduced”, said the report, submitted by the panel, while noting that the noise pollution in the city is one of the factors “adversely” affecting the health of inhabitants. The Committee also took up the issue of 4G telecom towers in view of objections raised against its installation by the people and civil society organisations in Mumbai. It recommended that the organisations should be taken into confidence and their apprehensions on adverse effects of electromagnetic field radiation allayed before proceeding further on installation of 4G towers. In case of Visakhapatnam, the panel noted that the coastal city has a number of pharmaceutical companies which cause the problem of bio-medical waste. It said earnest effort should be made for scientific disposal of bio-medical waste and pharmaceutical companies should follow best waste incineration practices. It also expressed its concerns over the loss of green cover in the city during the cyclone Hudhud last year. The panel suggested that intensive efforts should be made to bring back green cover in the coastal city through participation of public and private sector companies. It also flagged how the inadequate capacity of Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) in Visakhapatnam has been polluting the city’s water bodies. (Times of India 22/7/15)

96. India launches biological diversity preservation initiative (9)

New Delhi: A new initiative has been launched by the Indian government to highlight the economic consequences of the loss of biological diversity and the associated decline in ecosystem services, an official statement said on Thursday. The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity TEEB-India Initiative (TII) focuses on three ecosystems — forests, inland wetlands and coastal and marine ecosystems – and has been implemented under the Indo-German biodiversity programme. “The outcome of the pilot projects will be fed into the sectoral synthesis for the three ecosystems. It will be released at the Brazil-India-Germany TEEB Dialogue, being hosted by India in September 2015,” the environment, forests and climate change ministry said in a statement. “The overall study report will be released at the 21st session of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) being held in November-December, 2015 at Paris,” said the statement. (Business Standard 23/7/15)

97. Call to set aside report of environment panel (9)

GUWAHATI, July 25 – The Department-Related Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forest, headed by Dr Ashwani Kumar, has recommended non-implementation of the report of the High Level Committee (HLC) formed by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), which studied six environment-related legislations. The 31-member Standing Committee said that the report was prepared in a hurry by the High Level Committee, headed by former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanium, which was not validly constituted. It needs mention that earlier civil society groups and experts had raised serious concerns over the report of the High Level Committee of the MoEF&CC. The Parliamentary Standing Committee has found such concerns prima facie valid. The Standing Committee maintained, ‘an impression should not be created that a committee whose constitution and jurisdiction are in doubt, has been used to tinker with the established law and policy’. The Standing Committee is of the view that the period of three months allotted to the High Level Committee for reviewing the six environmental laws was too short and that there was no convincing reason for it to prepare the report in such a hurried manner without comprehensive, meaningful and wider consultations with all stakeholders. Some of the essential recommendations of the HLC have come under doubt and would result in an unacceptable dilution of the existing legal and policy architecture established to protect the country’s environment, the Standing Committee said. It has recommended that if the government wants to consider specific areas of environmental policy afresh, it may consider appointing another committee by following the established procedures, placing in it acclaimed experts in the field and giving it enough time to enter into comprehensive consultations with all stakeholders so that it can make recommendations in a credible and well-considered manner. (The Assam Tribune 26/7/15)

98. A double whammy for environment (9)

KOCHI: The State government’s move to amend the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act, 2008, to regularise paddy reclamations till 2008 has drawn sharp reactions from water conservation experts, farm scientists, and environmental activists. While the world is struggling to conserve farmland, Kerala is throwing away even the little it has now, said K. Krishnankutty, former Chittur MLA, a key member on the committee that drafted the Kerala Agricultural Development Policy in 2013. The draft policy called for incentivising conservation of farmland as it declared “farmlands as precious diamonds”. Mr. Krishnankutty said as per an estimate of the United Nations Organisation, a hectare of paddy land offered economic benefits to the tune of Rs.22 lakh a year in terms of their usefulness in ecological balance, water conservation, and conservation of biodiversity. “It was not just an incentive, but an invitation to people to reclaim paddy lands. If this time it was 2008 for regularisation of paddy land reclamations, it would be 2015 next time,” hydrologist A. Achuthan said. A senior government official said it was a double whammy for environment in Kerala as two water conservation structures, paddy fields and hillocks in the midlands of Kerala, took hit for the same purpose. “The hillocks are great water retainers and they are razed to fill paddy lands, which hold up to five lakh litres of water per hectare at 5 cm of water depth.” John Peruvanthanam of the Western Ghats Protection Samithy said paddy field reclamations had been most intensive over the last decade. “People are taking advantage of the situation in which there is no databank on waterbodies and paddy lands in the State. Even the fields that were reclaimed yesterday will be regularised by the government,” he said. An official of the Department of Agriculture said there was no data on which to decide which areas were reclaimed before the cut-off date proposed by the government. The draft list of waterbodies and paddy land in the State had not seen the light of day, he added. Meanwhile, acreage under paddy crop has shrunk to 1.99 lakh hectares in the State during 2013-14, with Kollam, Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram, and Malappuram districts accounting for the sharpest fall. (The Hindu 29/7/15)

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

99. This Region in Western Ghats Has Seen No Farmer Deaths in Last 3 Years (20)

BENGALURU: While the number of farmer suicides in the state is rising with every passing day, there is one region in the state that has not witnessed even one such case. Mundaje and a few surrounding villages in the Western Ghats, having a population of around 30,000, haven’t seen any farmer suicide due to non-repayment of loans in the last three years. N S Gokhale, president of the Mundaje Primary Agricultural Credit Society was in the city on Tuesday to meet officials and ministers and apprise them of the steps they have taken to have zero farmer deaths. He believes that the main reason why farmers in the state are committing suicide is because of loan defaults, which they are unable to pay on time due to several causes. In this regard, the bank has extended a  loan repayment scheme to farmers in the region. Under the scheme, a farmer who has availed a loan can register with the cooperative bank. Once he does so, he will have to repay 30 per cent of the loan to the cooperative. The society will then add another 30 per cent to the amount while the remaining is paid back by the farmer. For instance, if a farmer has a loan of Rs 1,000, he has to pay Rs 300 to the society. The society will then add another Rs 300. The remaining Rs 400 can be paid back by the farmer from the profit he secures after he sells his produce. Gokhale said there are around 4,000 farmers in the Mundaje area who have registered with the society, which has, in turn, benefited them greatly. “The main reason for the spate of farmer suicides in the state is their inability to repay loans.  If the government, for instance, releases Rs 1,000 crore towards agriculture, the next year, they release Rs 1,200 crore, thinking that they are helping towards ensuring that farmers do not have any problems. However, the fact is that farmers are still neck-deep in debt,” he said. “Currently, a farmer has to pay only 30 per cent, though many of them say that they can pay more. However, this will also increase our load. For the past three years, we have been paying the remaining 30 per cent on our own, whereas ideally, it should have been shared equally between us, the state and the Central government. The government is spending crores on the waiver of interest on loans. Instead, if they initiate the scheme that we have been running, they will save a lot in the long run,” Gokhale said. However, repeated meetings with government  about implementing the scheme have been futile. “All we are saying is that let them (government) implement it on a pilot basis in any district. Based on the outcome, after a period of twelve years, (which we have set as the benchmark), let them take a final call. The last we heard  was that our file had been closed as they believe that the costs will be too much,” society vice-president V T Sebastian said. Cooperatives Minister H S Mahadeva Prasad said a proposal in this regard had been submitted a few months ago. “We will still have to go through it in detail. Mostly, we are concerned with giving subsidies on interest, and this scheme is quite new. I have been busy with the session. Once it is over, I will have time to go through the proposal,” he said. (Indian Express 22/7/15)

100. Four more farmers commit suicide in State (20)

Tumakuru/Mandya/Ballari: A 45-year-old farmer allegedly committed suicide in Thayappanahatti in Sira taluk of Tumakuru district on Thursday. Siddeshwarappa had taken a Rs.1.5-lakh loan, from a bank and from a private moneylender. His wife had taken part of the loan from self-help groups, the police said. His borewell did not produce water and he was depressed leading to him ending his life. In Mandya, debt-ridden sugarcane farmer H.B. Kempegowda (38), committed suicide by hanging from a tree at Bidarahosahalli in Maddur taluk early on Thursday. The farmer had borrowed Rs. 68,000 from a bank for a wedding and for cultivation, the police said. In Hubballi, two more farmers in despair over their mounting financial debts allegedly committed suicide in Haveri district. The deceased were identified as Manjunath Bhimakkanavar (38) of Kerimattihalli in Haveri taluk, and Dilleppa Kenchaller (56) of Medleri village in Ranebennur taluk. Manjunath Bhimakkanavar had taken a loan of Rs. 1.5 lakh, but his crops failed. Manjunath had been farming on 1.5 acres of land owned by his father. Delleppa of Medleri village, who owned 2.3 acres of land, had taken a hand loan of Rs. 4 lakh, and was reportedly upset over the crop failure, sources said. (The Hindu 24/7/15)

101. Deve Gowda to fast in Delhi over farmers’ plight (20)

Bengaluru: Former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda will sit on an indefinite fast from Monday in Delhi to protest the government’s apathy towards the plight of farmers, many of whom have committed suicide due to severe indebtedness. “Gowda will sit on an indefinite fast from Monday at Jantar Mantar in the national capital to draw the government’s attention on the farmers’ plight, as he has not been given an opportunity to speak on them in parliament so far,” Janata Dal-Secular spokesperson Ramesh Babu told IANS on Sunday. The octogenarian JD-S supremo is a fifth-time lawmaker in the Lok Sabha from Hassan parliamentary segment, about 180 km from here. “Though Gowda wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan seeking time to raise the farmers’ issue, there was no response till Friday while many distressed farmers were resorting to suicide,” Babu said. About 100 farmers have so far committed suicide since June across Karnataka over various reasons, including debt, lower prices and non-payment of arrear by sugar mills. “Gowda will continue with his fast till the government and the speaker respond to his demand, as the central and state governments are indifferent to the farmers’ welfare due to misplaced priorities and undue importance to other sectors,” Babu said. Expressing anguish over the rising number of farmers’ suicides in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the JD-S president blamed the central and state governments for failing to address their concerns. “Even for the Congress, farmers don’t count much for its leaders and lawmakers as evident from its priority to disrupt parliament than compelling the government to bail them out from agrarian crisis,” Babu quoted Gowda as saying. (Business Standard 26/7/15)

102. 7 Farmers End Their Lives Across Karnataka Over Mounting Debts (20)

BENGALURU:   Farmers continued to take their lives over crop loss or mounting debts with seven incidents of suicides coming to light in the state on Monday. Three farmers committed suicide on Monday, taking the toll so far to eight in the district.  The deceased are Jagadish Naik (38) of Bandilakkanahalli in Belur taluk, Keshavamurthy (38) of Doddabemmatti in Arkalgud taluk and Shivanni (60) of Dodderi village in Channarayapatna taluk. Naik killed himself by hanging after he failed to clear loans of Rs 3.55 lakh. Keshavamurthy ended his life by consuming poison after his ginger and tobacco crops grown were destroyed due to a disease. Shivanni committed suicide by consuming poison after failing to repay Rs 2.3 lakh. A farmer committed suicide by hanging at his house in Maidur village of Hirekerur taluk on Monday. The deceased Girish Ballear (33) had taken loans of Rs 4 lakh. This is the 16th farmer suicide in Haveri since June. A farmer from Karikere village ended his life by consuming poison on Monday. Srinivasa Reddy (60) had grown onion. He is said to have suffered heavy losses due to the lack of rain.A farmer committed suicide by hanging at SI Agalahalli in Maddur taluk on Monday. Sanna Boregowda (45), was depressed after he lost his sugarcane crop due to lack of water. He had taken loans of Rs 3 lakh from a cooperative society and lenders. (New Indian Express 28/7/15)

103. Centre implementing capitalist agenda, says farm activist (20)

KHAMMAM: All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) joint secretary Vijoo Krishnan slammed the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre for allegedly failing to address the agrarian crisis and prevent farmers’ suicides across the country, including the BJP-ruled States. The gravity of the issue can be gauged from the fact that around 60 farmers committed suicide in Haryana, known as green revolution State, in April this year. The BJP is implementing anti-farmer policies at the behest of capitalist forces, he charged. A two-day dharna christened “Aakroash” will be held in New Delhi on August 10 and 11 to bring the issue of farmers’ suicides and agrarian distress on to the national agenda, he said. Mr Krishnan was speaking at a seminar on “Agriculture sector – BJP-led NDA government’s policies” organised by the Telangana Rythu Sangham here on Tuesday. (The Hindu 29/7/15)

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

104. PM relents, may agree to amend Land Bill (4)

New Delhi: The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, deliberated on Tuesday a proposal to amend the Land Bill to give flexibility to the States to frame their own laws for land acquisition, a demand various Chief Ministers aired at the July 15 meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog. To help break the impasse on the Bill, the Cabinet decided on adding a provision to enable the States to frame and pass their own laws, a top government source told The Hindu. So if a State decides to include in its law consent of landowners and those dependent on the land and a social impact assessment before acquisition, it will be free to do so. Mr. Modi, at a meeting of National Democratic Alliance partners on Monday, admitted that the amendments to the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, had not gone down well with the people and made his government look anti-farmer. Sources in the ruling alliance said he had acknowledged that the perception needed to be corrected at the ground level and he would not proceed with the Bill without engaging the allies in a dialogue. The Shiv Sena and the Shiromani Akali Dal had expressed reservations on many of the provisions of the draft Bill. At the NITI Aayog meeting, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal stressed the importance of the landowners’ consent and social impact study, and demanded that the decision to include these or not in the law be left to the State governments.A Joint Parliamentary Committee is examining the draft Bill. The committee will meet on Wednesday when the Secretaries of Legal Affairs, Rural Development and Industrial Policy and Promotion and top Railway officials, who did a no-show at its July 16 meeting, will present the government’s views on the draft Bill as well as respond to complaints and grievances of individuals and organisations. The proposed provision to enable the States to frame and pass their own laws can be introduced under Section 254 (2) of the Constitution, which allows the States to frame and pass specific laws on a Union Act. At present, 78 laws are in use in various States on the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, all passed by them under Section 254 (2). A source said that if the government succeeded in pushing the Bill through after adding this new provision, then the BJP-ruled States of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan could take the lead. “The enabling provision is aimed at encouraging cooperative federalism among the States … Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan will move quickly to use it to complete the land acquisition for key projects such as the industrial corridors that could then be showcased … in this way, these States will be able to enhance their attractiveness to other States.” The feedback to the government from international investors is that while the delay in pushing the Land Bill through Parliament is not a showstopper for the economy, it does send out the message that despite its majority, the Modi government is unable to push legislation, a source said. (The Hindu 22/7/15)

105. Villagers rebuild betel vines on land acquired for POSCO project (4)

BHUBANESWAR: Many villagers in the area earmarked for the POSCO steel plant project in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district have started rebuilding their betel vines which were demolished by the authorities to acquire on the land for the proposed steel mill. The number of rebuilt betel vines has so far touched the 1,000-mark and many families are now busy in the process, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) spokesperson Prashant Paikray told The Hindu on Friday. The rebuilding process had started when the PPSS gave a call in this regard after Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO) completed land acquisition for the project in 2013. Twenty-four families in Polang village had reoccupied the land and built betel vineyards in 2014 and cases were registered against them for reoccupying the land despite being paid due compensation. The process, however, has gathered momentum in the three gram panchayats of Gadakujang, Nuagaon and Dhinkia during the past few days in view of the recent media reports stating that POSCO has suspended its Odisha project. No fresh case has been registered against the villagers for reoccupying the acquired land in the recent weeks, Mr. Paikray said. The administration had left hundreds of people without any source of income after it demolished around 2,400 betel vines during 2011-2013 while acquiring 2,700 acres of forest land which the villagers of three gram panchayats had been occupying for decades together. Though no one was sure about POSCO project’s future, the PPSS is determined to continue its agitation till the project is formally withdrawn from the locality and the villagers are provided rights over the land as per the Forest Rights Act, said Mr. Paikray. The PPSS, which has been strongly opposing land acquisition in the three gram panchayats, is also demanding withdrawal of 370 cases that were registered against the villagers during their agitation against the project. As the villagers continue to reclaim the land they had been cultivating in the past, the PPSS has decided to carry out a plantation drive along the shoreline as the villagers were prone to cyclone. More than two lakh trees had been felled by the administration while acquiring land for POSCO. (The Hindu 25/7/15)

106. Farmers take out rally in Kinnaur to protest eviction (4)

SHIMLA: The farmers of Kinnaur district on Saturday staged a rally at Rekong Peo, demanding the implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006. The farmers, who came together under the non-political District Forest Rights Sangrash Samiti, said the tribal farmers and traditional forest dwellers could not be evicted from forestlands under Section 4(5) of the Forest Rights Act. This Act had been implemented in Kinnaur since 2008. The Samiti blamed the Himachal Pradesh government for not presenting the facts effectively before the High Court. It maintained that 1,370 individual and 54 community claims were pending at the district level and 1,107 cases were pending before the village forest rights associations. But the government was bent upon removing the encroachments before settling these claims. The Samiti would move the Supreme Court, its leaders said. (The Hindu 26/7/15)

107. Bring Private Sector Under Land Acquisition Act: Builders Association of India (4)

KOCHI: The Builders Association of India demanded that the private sector be brought under the purview of the Land Acquisition Act. The managing committee meeting of the Association held here on Friday observed that the Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act – 2013 and the relevant  amendments to its provisions in the Amendment Bill – 2015 should be made applicable to projects undertaken by private bodies also. “Over the past one year, the Central Government has launched several infrastructure projects, including the ‘100 Smart City’ project. For the success of such projects, involvement of the private sector is imperative,” stated the BAI. “The BAI feels that the Real Estate Regulation and Development Bill – 2013 would only add one more layer of approvals; increase transaction cost and make housing more expensive for consumers. As the Bill is regulated by a multiplicity of laws, consumer rights are adequately safeguarded through the Consumer Protection Act – 1986. The Bill proposes to cover commercial/industrial and related projects, along with residential projects. The commercial sector and the related segments have the resources and expertise to evaluate and conduct the required due-diligence, and they are safeguarded by provisions of various laws. Hence, if there be an issue that requires regulation, it may best relate only to residential projects and not commercial/industrial projects ,” said BAI chairman Lal Chand Sharma. (New Indian Express 27/7/15)

RIGHT TO HEALTH

108. 13 dead, 22 affected by Japanese Encephalitis in Assam (3)

Jorhat (Assam): Altogether 13 persons have died and 22 have tested positive for Japanese Encephalitis (JE) in Assam’s Jorhat district during the last 10 days, Joint Director of Health and Family Welfare Dr Mobibur Rahman said here today. While seven persons died in Jorhat Medical College and Hospital (JMCH), six others passed away at Jorhat Christian Medical Centre (JCMC), Rahman said. Among those who have tested positive, 18 are admitted in JMCH, two at JCMC while two others are undergoing treatment at two private nursing homes here, officials here said. Of these 22, four were minors and five women and all are residents from the district’s rural areas. The Joint Director said they have so far distributed 33,000 medicated mosquito nets in the affected areas and in JE prone areas and organised 205 health awareness camps. The situation was being closely monitored and blood samples collected to ascertain whether there were more cases of JE in the district. Spraying of DDT and fogging have been initiated in over 45 villages in and around the Jorhat district. (Deccan Herald 21/7/15)

109. 27,000 kids in M.P. succumb to diarrhoea every year: NHM (3)

Indore: A top National Health Mission (NHM) official said here on Monday that nearly 27,000 children succumb to diarrhoea every year in Madhya Pradesh due to lack of awareness about the disease. “We lose nearly 27,000 infants to diarrhoea every year in Madhya Pradesh. There was lack of awareness regarding it and people harbour wrong notions to treat it as well,” NHM’s M.P. director Faiz Ahmed Kidwai said at a media workshop organised by UNICEF here. He said that the wrong notion of treating diarrhoea was prevalent in rural areas, especially tribal-dominated settlements. In such areas, he said that people stop feeding their infants after their kids experience frequent bowel movements, which worsens the condition. In the absence of feeding, children’s bodies become devoid of water and fluid. Mr. Kidwai that Madhya Pradesh was home to one crore infants adding that Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) to spread awareness regarding diarrhoea are going to make door-to-door visit. He said that these workers plan to spread awareness regarding prevention and treatment of the disease and distribute Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) packets. These workers would also dispel the wrong notion of treatment prevalent among rural and tribal folk, he said. He said that diarrhoea accounts for 11 per cent deaths of infants in India. Kidwai said that Madhya Pradesh is among the States which account for large number of infants’ deaths. – PTI (The Hindu 28/7/15)

110. Doctors call for mission to eliminate hepatitis (3)

NEW DELHI: Viral hepatitis kills nearly three lakh people across the country every year. An estimated 40 million are currently infected with hepatitis B virus and another 12 million with hepatitis C virus. Still, our country does not have a national policy or programme to eliminate the disease. On World Hepatitis Day on Tuesday, public health experts called for a national programme on the lines of the HIV/AIDS and pulse polio programme to reduce the disease burden. The experts said mass awareness and guidelines for immunization and safe injection practices are essential to reduce the incidence of viral hepatitis. According to Dr S K Sarin, director of Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, there are five main hepatitis viruses –types A, B, C, D and E– of which B and C are most deadly as these can lead to liver cirrhosis and cancer. “We have preventive vaccine for hepatitis B. For hepatitis C, there is no preventive vaccine but the infection can be cured with anti-viral treatment if diagnosed at an early stage,” he said. ILBS, which is a World Health Organization collaborating centre on viral hepatitis and liver diseases, plans to train doctors for identifying hepatitis C at an early stage based on its clinical presentation and evolve a standard treatment methodology. Dr Samir Shah, founder of the National Liver Foundation, said the current figures on viral hepatitis have been extrapolated from testing carried out in blood banks. “We need large field studies for better epidemiology data at the national and state levels for policy making and targeted programme implementation,” he said. WHO’s national professional officer for anti-retroviral therapy Dr B B Rewari said the government should use the infrastructure for HIV screening and treatment to identify hepatitis C cases. “Governments need to ensure adequate and equitable access to hepatitis prevention and control measures. However, the responsibility also lies with individuals. Nearly 65% of people living with chronic hepatitis B and 75% of those with chronic hepatitis C are unaware that they are infected. We are living with this risk and, unless we act now, it can prove catastrophic,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO regional director, said. (Times of India 30/7/15)

HIV/AIDS

111. AIDS Awareness to be Made Mandatory in Kerala Schools (3)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala government has decided to make awareness about dreaded disease AIDS mandatory among school students of class 8 to 12, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy today said. Instructions in this regard had been given to the Education Department, he said, at a high-level official meeting convened in his chamber at the Assembly. “Kerala will be a model in AIDS control,” Chandy said. Thanks to the activities of the health department, there was a 57 per cent drop in the number of AIDS cases in the state during the last 10 years. In the past year, the spread of HIV from mother to child had been reduced to just two, he said. Free treatment at hospitals and anti-retroviral therapy (ART) centres helped in controlling spread of AIDS. Presently, there were 27,173 HIV patients in the state, he said. The benefits for them would be increased and awareness strengthened, he said. The meeting was informed that the children of HIV patients will be included in the social security mission ‘Sneha Poorvam’ scheme and they would be given financial help ranging between Rs 350-to Rs 1,000 every month as educational scholarship. State Health Minister V S Sivakumar was among those who attended the meeting, officials said. (New Indian Express 21/7/15)

112. Hospital, 2 doctors fined for labelling lawyer HIV positive (3)

AURANGABAD: The Aurangabad district consumer forum recently ordered city-based Apex Hospital and two medical practitioners to pay a compensation of Rs 15 lakh to a lawyer for falsely reporting that he had tested positive for HIV without conducting further confirmatory tests. Holding the hospital and the medical practitioners responsible for “medical negligence”, the forum also directed them to pay Rs 25,000 for the costs incurred by the lawyer while fighting the case. The hospital and the two doctors have, however, denied any wrongdoing and said they would appeal against the verdict. The lawyer, Subhash Mohanrao Pachlore, of Harsul in Aurangabad, was admitted to the hospital by his wife and relatives on July 11, 2007. He had a history of headaches, giddiness and loss of consciousness. A physician at the hospital, M A Majid, sent Pachlore’s blood sample to a pathology laboratory for the HIV test. Pachlore told the forum that when he was being discharged from hospital three days later, the physician told his wife in the presence of relatives about the laboratory report indicating the HIV-positive status. He said the hospital discharge card also mentioned the HIV positivity. Pachlore took the HIV test again at another pathology laboratory on July 14 but the findings were negative. In 2009, he filed a complaint with district forum against the hospital and the medical practitioners at the hospital and the first laboratory. The forum headed by K N Tungar and comprising of members Sandhya Barlinge and Kiran R Thole observed, “The respondents were negligent in rendering their service to the complainant. They have acted negligently by disclosing a false positive report to the complainant, his wife and their relatives. They are guilty of causing mental and psychological agony to the wife of the complainant. The complainant and his wife must have experienced huge affliction during such a long period and lost their peace of mind.” Physician Majid told TOI that Pachlore had been hospitalised for cortical venous sinus thrombosis. He claimed that after the first HIV test was reactive, it was repeated the same day. “The second finding was negative. Pachlore’s wife was counselled and informed as he was drowsy and irritable. He was discharged after three days,” he said. Majid said Pachlore had faith in the hospital as he got re-admitted for fever three days later. “He has suppressed this fact. Due to poor legal representation, the district forum imposed a fine on us in 2010. We appealed in the state forum and the fine was reduced to Rs 5 lakh. We challenged it in the national forum, which quashed both the orders and sent the matter back to the district forum saying that no proper opportunity was given to the respondents and that no medical expert evidence was taken by the lower courts,” he said. Majid said they had got their deposit with interest on the order of the national forum. “The complainant went to Supreme Court for a stay on the judgment of the national forum, which was dismissed in 2011. However, the district forum did not consider the medical expert evidence and has passed this judgment against us. There was no negligence on our part. We are shocked by this judgment and will appeal in the state forum again,” he added. (Times of India 23/7/15)

113. Dr Suniti Solomon, member of team that detected first HIV case in India, passes away (3)

CHENNAI: Dr Suniti Solomon, who was part of the team that detected the first HIV case in India in 1986 and had worked tirelessly for AIDS patients, died in Chennai on Tuesday morning. Dr Solomon had practised public health for years along with her husband Dr Victor Solomon, who was an eminent cardiologist. Dr Victor Solomon died in 2006. For close to three decades Dr Solomon used science to save lives, and lost hers to cancer, in three months. “She was diagnosed with cancer three months ago. She continued her battle till the last minute,” said a person closely associated with the doctor’s family. She was aged above 70 years and is survived by her son Sunil Suhas Solomon. Dr Solomon, who belonged to the illustrious Gaitonde family, and her colleagues documented the first evidence of HIV infection in India in 1986 when she served as a professor of microbiology at Madras Medical College and Government General Hospital as a professor of microbiology. She also set up the first voluntary testing and counseling centre and an AIDS research group in Chennai. She held prestigious posts in various national organisations that worked for HIV positive people and was the principal investigator of several pioneering HIV research studies. These include the US National Institute of Mental Health’s multi-country HIV/STD prevention trial and measuring stigma in health care settings in southern India. Her experience covered a wide range of aspects related to HIV infection, from biomedical to socio-economic. “She dealt with science in the most honest manner and had a high sense of commitment for completion. We have lost a prolific and erudite scientist,” said Dr S Sudnararaman, who worked with her in the 80s and 90s. (Times of India 28/7/15)

114. How Kalam saved HIV affected siblings (3)

Kendrapara: While nation mourns the death of the “peoples’ president”, an orphaned girl from a far flung village of Odisha remembers the gesture of A P J Abdul Kalam towards her HIV positive siblings ten years ago. “For me, he was a saviour. My younger brother and sister were HIV/AIDS carriers. My infected siblings are alive today, thanks to the timely intervention of Kalam uncle,” she said requesting not to be named. “I was overwhelmed with joy when the postman had brought me a letter signed by the then President and a draft of Rs 20,000 in June, 2005. I had written to Kalam uncle highlighting the plight of my siblings,” the woman of Olaver village in Kendrapara district recalled. “At that time, I was hardly 11-years-old while my siblings were six and four-years-old. As my parents had passed away, I was looking after them. I had learned from media that he was people’s president. He loved children. I wrote a letter to him,” she said. Kalam intervened and the local administration came the rescue of the family. Help later came in from various quarters, she said. The Chief Minister’s office had also come forward to grant Rs 20,000 financial grant. President’s gesture had also brought about a change of heart of the health officials, the woman said. “They had begun to pay added medical attention towards my brother and sister.” “My siblings have successfully fought against AIDS since past one decade. The presidential intervention had given a new lease of life to them. We are deeply sad over his demise. I feel as if I have lost a close member of my family,” she said.A resident of Ramnagar district too remembered Kalam and condoled his death. “We are bonafide citizens of this country. But the administration had branded us Bangladeshis and had been served notice to leave India on January 15, 2005. We dispatched post cards to the then President Kalam,” Prafulla Mistry said. “The President intervened and sought a report. A month later, the deportation drive was put on hold. We believe that union government suspended deportation because of presidential intervention. His death is a personal loss to us,” Mistry said. (Deccan Herald 29/7/15)