HR News

Volume 16                                       No.46                                     September 9,  2014

HR NEWS: SEPTEMBER 9, 2014

(From August 29  To September 9, 2014)

DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

 1. Four dalit huts set ablaze in Koppal (2)

HUBLI: The three-month long cold war between dalits and upper castes took to a fiery turn in Marakumbi village of Koppal district on Friday night, when four huts belonging to dalits were set ablaze. Koppal police arrested 52 people and registered cases against 96 persons. Tension was sparked after a few upper caste men quarrelled with some youths when they went to Gangavati town to watch the Kannada film Power. Bhimesh Hanumantappa, a dalit who filed a police complaint, said said clashes were common between the two communities. “Manjunath and some others, belonging to the upper caste, had a quarrel with some youths at the cinema. They presumed that dalit youths were behind the clashes in Gangavati. On returning to the village, Manjunath and 95 others attacked dalits and set fire to four huts,” he said. Channaveerayya, who was arrested, alleged that dalits themselves set fire to their huts and filed a complaint. “We were not in the village when the incident occurred,” he added. Gangavati Rural CPI Prabhakar Dharmatti said, “Two cases were registered — one against 96 persons and another against 67 persons. The accused belong to both communities. (Times of India 31/8/14)

2. 6 tea shop owners held for keeping separate tumblers for Dalits

Chennai: Dharmapuri police arrested six tea shop owners, including two women, on Saturday for discriminating against Dalits by serving them tea in separate set of glasses. A senior police officer said the arrests were made following raids they conducted at tea shops. The officer added that two persons, G Sivalingam (50) and Shanthi (30), were arrested in Pennagaram, a small town near Dharmapuri, about 300 km from Chennai. Subsequent raids in other parts of the district led to the arrest of S Sidhayyan (50), S Murugesan (55), V Veerabadhran (61) and C Devaki (49). Known as “double tumbler” system, tea shops in several villages have been maintaining a practice of keeping separate tumblers for Dalit customers. D Chellakannu, leader of the Untouchability Eradication Front in Madurai said a lot of shops continue to maintain such practices. “There are shops where Dalit customers have to take separate tumblers and wash them after use. Another practice is giving disposable glasses to Dalits while non-Dalits are served in silver tumblers,” he said. While untouchability continues to be rampant in many parts of Tamil Nadu, villages in Madurai and Dharmapuri districts are notorious for such practices. “Since local politicians are in favour of non-Dalits, who are mostly OBCs, many complaints go unheard or suppressed at the village level,” said the senior police officer. (Indian Express 1/9/14)

3. Two Dalit brothers beheaded at Chidambaram (2)

CHIDAMBARAM: Dalit brothers Kumar alias Ambulance Kumar, 40, and Rajesh, 30, of Annamalai Nagar here were hacked to death by a gang while they were asleep at home on Monday night. The killers also beheaded them, took the heads in sacks and kicked them around before dumping them on either side of the entrance of the Rajah Muthiah Medical College Hospital. When they were chased by some persons, they lobbed crude bombs at the house and at a hotel located in front of the hospital, injuring six of the relatives of the deceased and damaging a car and a van owned by Kumar, who was running an ambulance service and hiring out freezers for mortal remains. The injured were Muthamizhan, 21, of Pappireddipatti in Dharmapuri, a final- year agriculture student of Annamalai University; Vincent Paulraj, 22, an engineering student; Soundar, 27, of Arakkonam; Pandian, 27, of Cuddalore; Mani, 19, driver of Kumar; and Prabhakaran, 20, a third-year engineering student of Sankarapuram in Villupuram district. All of them are undergoing treatment at the Rajah Muthiah Medical College Hospital. The condition of Pandian was said to be serious. Pattabhi, Sivamani, Gajendran and Pathayiram have been detained for interrogation. The police also detected two unexploded devices on the scene and defused them. Superintendent of Police A. Radhika rushed to the spot with a contingent of police and arranged for taking the torsos and the heads to the Chidambaram government hospital for post-mortem. Meanwhile, the family members, friends and relatives of the victims gathered in front of the hospital and refused to take the bodies for funeral rites unless the attackers were brought to book. (The Hindu 3/9/14)

4. Dalit boy’s wrists cut for wearing watch to school in Tamil Nadu

MADURAI: A dalit boy was allegedly attacked and his wrists were cut by his non-dalit seniors in a village in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday night as he wore a watch to school on Monday. Police said Ramesh (16), son of Paramjothi of Thiruvalluvar colony in Thiruthangal in Virudhunagar district, was a plus one student at the Government Boys Higher Secondary School in Thiruthangal. His seniors allegedly questioned him when they found him wearing a watch. They removed it from his wrist and threw it away. The boy fought with the seniors over the issue, and tension prevailed on the school premises. Two days later, on Wednesday night, the boy was walking near the Thiruthangal railway station when a gang of about 15 boys, who are said to be his seniors, waylaid him. They allegedly cut his wrists with knives. The boy managed to escape from them and got first aid at a private hospital. He was later admitted to Sivakasi Government Hospital. This school is known for caste issues among the students. The dalit students are often pulled up by non-dalit students for issues like wearing slippers. The issues are often solved in meetings of the PTA, school authorities and education officials. Usually, such attacks on dalits are carried out by students who just passed out from the school. The Thiruthangal police registered a case and were investigating. (Times of India 4/9/14)

5. State creating a dalit-less Chennai: Evicted residents (2)

CHENNAI: The atmosphere was surcharged at a review meeting held by the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, with members of the community alleging that the government was on a mission to create a ‘dalit-less Chennai’ by evicting them to Okkiyam Thoraipakkam on Old Mahabalipuram Road where tenements built by the government lacked basic amenities. The review meeting by the National Commission for SC for Chennai district had officials representing various government departments such as Chennai Corporation, Slum Clearance Board and Police. The participants were up against the eviction of hundreds of families who were hitherto living along water bodies. With in-situ housing being ruled out, it is alleged that their education and daily earning is hit. “A majority of those living in slums are dalits, and by displacing them to far off places, the state is creating a dalit-less city,” said R Kannan of Movement of Slum Dwellers’ Right to Livelihood. “Let the government take up restoration of water courses, but it should also consider in-situ housing rather than throwing us out of the city.” This set off a series of allegations from the members, prompting NCSC member P M Kamalamma to seek reactions from the slum clearance board. The officers passed the buck to the corporation. Chennai Corporation is the nodal agency for identifying beneficiaries, the slum clearance board said, and the board’s role was confined to building tenements. S K Siva of Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front said, “It (eviction) is a sort of modern untouchability. Officials call us encroachers, but the contribution of dalits to this city’s development is unmatchable.” Later, Kamalamma visited the tenements at Okkiyam Thoraipakkam and pulled up the departments to provide more amenities. (Times of India 6/9/14)

6. Dalits face ‘boycott’ after landlords announce fine on those hiring them (2)

Sangrur: Punjab Scheduled Castes Commission member Dilip Singh Pandhi will on Monday visit Namol village in Sangrur, where trouble is brewing between Dalits and other villagers. Two days ago, the village landowners had allegedly announced that anyone who hires Dalits to work in their fields would be fined

Rs 10,000. Following the announcement on a loudspeaker, the district administration is on alert. The bone of contention is 6.5 acres of land in the village, which is reserved for Dalits. Sanjeev Kumar Mintu, president of Krantikari Pendu Mazdoor Union, said, “The landowners want the land to be auctioned according to their will, and they want to present some dummy Dalits for the auction. The actual users will be the landowners. So they have played this game of boycott. Already one auction has been cancelled because of the controversy.” The boycott was called off by the landowners after a meeting last night, sources said. Block development officer Charanjit Singh Walia had intervened and assured justice for Dalits. Similar trouble was reported in Baupar village, where Dalits faced boycott over the auction of land meant for Dalits. Baladkalan village also witnessed similar controversy over 117 acres of land. There was no boycott there, but a clash took place on the day of auction on June 27. The Zamin Prapati Sangrash Committee wants the land to be given to them after the paddy season. They have decided to pay 40 per cent of the total amount on which the land is auctioned. However, no decision has been taken yet. (Indian Express 8/9/14)

 TRIBALS

 7. Tribal undertrials: Don’t be a mute spectator, SC tells govt (6)

New Delhi: Regretting that the “system has gone from bad to worse”, the Supreme Court Friday censured the apathy being shown towards more than 36,000 tribal undertrials and called for a meeting of the Centre and all state governments to resolve the issue. “This is a very serious matter. It cannot be left to the court. This is the obligation of states and every state has to take care of undertrial prisoners. The system has gone from bad to worse but it cannot be allowed to go on any further,” said a bench led by Chief Justice of India R M Lodha. The bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton F Nariman, said such a dismal state of affairs could not be defended by an increase in jails and that the matter required comprehensive look from all the stakeholders. On being nudged, the counsel for the Centre said it would convene a meeting of home secretaries of all states to find a solution to the problem. The bench asked the Centre not to remain a “mute spectator” and act as a nodal agency. The court said the meeting would be convened within six weeks and a report shall be filed thereafter. It further asked the Centre to also adduce before the bench the status of all undertrial prisoners as on March 31, 2014 It was hearing a PIL filed by Jinendra Jain on behalf of society ‘Fight For Human Rights’, alleging that thousands of tribals were languishing in various central jails without any trial in Naxal-affected states like Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal. (Indian Express 30/8/14)

8. Scheduled Tribes Panel Visits 2 Irula Settlements (6)

PUDUCHERRY: Dr Rameshwar Oraon, chairperson, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, along with other officials undertook a field study to identify the tribal inhabitants and inquire into their living conditions, on Monday. The visit followed the Puducherry administration’s proposal to the Centre to include five backward tribe communities in the central list of Scheduled Tribes. The commission’s chief along with the secretary of  NCST, R Vijayakumar visited T N Palayam and Vathanur  to undertake an on-the-spot assessment. Dr Oaran went into a hut of an Irular family at TN Palayam and enquired whether the free rice and other schemes of the administration were reaching them. The commission officials also interacted with the tribal community members. T N Palayam has 41 huts and 300 tribal inhabitants. The NCST panel then visited another hamlet in Vathanur and made inquiries with them too. Speaking to the media, Dr Rameshwar Oraon said the Union government was in favour of recommending the inclusion of Irula community (including Villi and Vettaikaran) on the list of Scheduled Tribes and had sent the proposal in this regard to the commission. The Puducherry government has submitted a proposal to the Centre to include five communities — Irular (including Vettaikkaran and Valli), Kattu Nayakar, Malakuravar, Yerukkula and Kuruman — on the Scheduled Tribes list, he added. The Centre has sent the list to the Registrar General of India (RGI), who in turn recommended it to the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes to identify and undertake a study on the living conditions and submit a report at the earliest. Dr Oaran said the NCST would submit its report at the earliest and if its recommendations are accepted, then the President of India would issue a notification to include the five communities on the Scheduled Tribes’ list. He added that normally the commission’s recommendations are accepted by the Centre. Later in the day, they held discussions with representatives of the Scheduled Tribe communities, the anthropologists, sociologists, and officials of the administration in the presence of welfare minister P Rajavelu. (New Indian Express 2/9/14)

9. Tribal organisation decides to intensify agitation (6)

KALPETTA: The Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha (AGMS) plans to extend its ongoing ‘stand up’ agitation in front of the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram to other parts of the State. Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday, AGMS coordinator M. Geethanandan said the agitation, launched on August 9 demanding rehabilitation of the landless tribal people who had participated in the Muthanga land struggle in 2003, could garner the support of various socio-cultural movements in the country. As part of intensifying the stir, the AGMS would hold demonstrations at Muthanga, Aralam, Agali and Devikulam on September 10. Though the 800 landless tribal families who had participated in the Muthanga stir were entitled to land as per the Forest Rights Act, only 20 of them got land so far, Mr. Geethanandan said. The Kerala High Court and the State Human Rights Commission had also directed the government to give compensation to the agitators, but to no avail. However, many landless families, including non-tribal families, who had participated in land agitations in 2002-03 under the aegis of the Adivasi Kshema Samiti received land under the Forest Rights Act. Hence, the government should provide land and compensation to the families participated in the Muthanga agitation, he said. (The Hindu 4/9/14)

10. Primitive tribe in Telangana survives on forest animals (6)

Warangal (Telangana): They live close to the town but are miles away from civilization, living in utter poverty and inhuman conditions. They are Chenchus, a primitive tribe, in two villages barely 45 km from this town in the heart of Telangana state. The majority of the 57 families in Chenchu Colony, a tribal hamlet of Chennapur village, survive on rats, cats, dogs, squirrels and other animals they hunt. Similar are the conditions of 24 families of Bhavusinghpally village. The fruits of development have not reached the Chenchus, a majority of whom never stepped out of their villages till this week when Telangana assembly Speaker S. Madhusudana Chary brought them to Warangal to take them around. Though this aboriginal tribe mostly lives in the forests of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Odisha, the two Chenchu villages are located in the plain area. Their ancestors are believed to have come from deep forests and settled down over a century ago. Wretchedness is writ large on their faces. With no decent and proper roof available to them, the frail–looking men and women and their children are prone to many ailments. Some work as farm labourers in nearby villages but their earnings are not enough to make both ends meet.The Chenchus feel reluctant to speak to outsiders. “I don’t know what this tour is all about,” said Bandikoramma as she accompanied her son, daughter–in–law and other family members in the bus which brought them to the town. “They want to continue their traditions. But it is not just their hesitation to accept changes which is responsible for their pathetic conditions. Successive governments have also failed to ensure that development reached them,” said G. Bhaskar, a professor of economics at Kaktiya University, Warangal. The houses built by the government for them in 2001 were of poor quality and lacked toilets and even doors. Some families send their children to schools in other villages. Swamy’s two children walk four kilometres each day to reach their school. The village had no cement road or electricity till Madhusudhan Chary, the leader of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) from Bhupalapally constituency, took the initiative. After taking over as the speaker in June, he spent money from his salary to distribute rice, clothes, bulbs and fans among Chenchus. He ensured the construction of an anganwadi centre and a road.IANS (The Hindu 6/9/14)

11. Upset with school affairs, Bondas refuse to return (6)

KORAPUT: Even after four days of deserting the sevashram (residential school for the SC and ST students), not a single of the 302 students belonging to the Bonda tribe returned to the school at Mudulipada in Malkangiri district on Saturday. They left the school on Wednesday alleging massive maladministration by the headmaster, Bholanath Majhi. “Quality education has taken a beating. Classes are not being taken properly. When we complained about it to the headmaster, he asked us either to keep quiet or leave the school. So, we all left,” alleged Nakul Kirsani, a student. The Bondas are categorized under Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group. According to one student, except English and mathematics no other subject is being taught in the school. “If we complain about it then we are subjected to corporal punishment,” complained another student. The school is on the Bonda hill under Khairput block. The school run by the SC and ST development department has classes from I to VII. Though district officials visited the school on Saturday to inquire into the matter, they failed to persuade students to return. “We are inquiring into the matter and have recommended the government for disciplinary action against the headmaster,” said sub-collector (Malkangiri) Nruparaj Sahu. “By visiting villages our teachers are trying to convince students to return. We hope normalcy will be restored soon,” he added. Spread over an area of 137 sq km, the Bonda hill consists of 32 villages with a population of over 6,000. Children of all 32 villages depend on the Mudulipada sevashram for their academic activities. Only 8% of the Bondas are literate. (Times of India 7/9/14)

12. Social media stand up for tribespeople (6)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Adivasis on a ‘Stand Up’ stir before the Secretariat for the last two months, seeking implementation of the 2003 government promise to provide land to the landless tribespeople in the State, received a boost when activists of the social media group ‘Oppumaram’ joined them in their stir on Monday. The social media activists, who marched to the venue of the Adivasi stir, declared solidarity with the agitators and vowed to use the social media to garner support for it. Inaugurating the gathering, veteran journalist B.R.P. Bhaskar said the decision of the youngsters in the social media group indicated that the Adivasi stir was gaining in popular acceptance. Messages from writers Paul Zacharia, political commentator Jayasankar and noted social activist and writer T.T. Sreekumar were read out at the meeting. Greeting the agitators, Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha (AGMS) leader C.K. Janu said there was no question of the Adivasis ending their stir until the government kept its word. Ms. Janu pointed out that other than holding a preliminary meeting with them, the government had done nothing to address their demands. That the government would have to show tremendous political will to settle the issue was clear from the fact that half the land identified after the last agreement between the Adivasis and the government had been taken over by the land mafia, she added. The agitators had observed a fast on ‘Thiruvonam’ day on Sunday. (The Hindu 9/9/14)

WOMEN

 13. Norms made for sensitisation on date rape drugs: DCW to court

New Delhi: A set of guidelines has been prepared for sensitising people on ‘date rape drugs’, the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) has informed a court here. DCW has filed a report in the court following its last year’s judgement in a rape case in which it had expressed concern over the increase in number of cases where women were administered drugs and then sexually exploited. The court had stressed on the need for sensitising people on the issue of “date rape drugs” and had asked DCW to take up this issue with competent authorities including the Delhi Police Commissioner and the Delhi government. Advocate Vandana Chauhan, appearing for DCW, said in the report that the commission had sent letters to various departments and Department of Women and Child has constituted an advisory committee of experts on prohibition of drug abuse. “The committee expressed serious concern over date rape drugs. The advisory committee was of the view that school and college students and general public need to be made aware of the misuse of such drugs, the report said. “The advisory committee prepared a set of guidelines which enumerate the precautionary steps which should be taken by the potential victims. These guidelines have been circulated to various educational authorities,” it said. It also said the committee includes representatives from AIIMS’s Nation Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, Department of Education, Chairman of Health Care Foundation of India, psychologist and officers of Department of Women and Child Department and Prohibition. The court had passed the judgement in February last year while awarding 10 years jail term to a youth for raping a girl, known to her, after giving her drugs and blackmailing her by making indecent videos. (Zee news 31/8/14)

14. Real threat to women from own families (8)

LUCKNOW: While Bharatiya Janata Party and its detractors are busy debating the veracity of ‘love jihad’, there are so many other issues afflicting women in UP—from female foeticide to dowry death and maternal mortality—that miss the attention. Social indicators and crime pattern shows that the real threat to women in UP is actually from their families. Female foeticide, poor maternal care and dowry within their own family, together kill one woman or girl every four minutes in the state. Similarly, one third of the total rape cases, one third are from within the family or relative. Every day, foeticide kills 330 unborn girls in UP, poor maternal health 46 women and dowry six women – total 382 per day. This amounts to one killing per four minutes. Several government and non-government studies, including one by United Nation Population Fund, have revealed that the female foeticide is rampant in UP. The child sex ratio (number of girls against 1000 boys in 0-6 age group) declined from 916 in 2001 Census to 902 in 2011, a 14-point drop. This means, in UP, only 902 girls take birth and survive till six years against 1,000 boys. The national CSR is 919 and natural 945. On comparing natural CSR with that of UP, it comes out that in the past six years, 7.2 lakh girls were killed before taking birth in UP, which comes to 1.20 lakh every year, 10,000 every month and 330 daily. The skewed sex ratio, say experts, is one of the reason for rise in sex crime against women. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, rape cases increased by over three times in UP from 911 in 2003 to 3050 in 2014. And, of 3050 cases, in more than one third (1226) offenders were close family members, relatives or neighbours. Similarly, molestation increased by over six times from 1098 in 2003 to 7303 in 2014. The NCRB data also shows around six women are being killed daily for dowry in UP. Dowry deaths in 2003 were 1322, which increased to 2335 in 2014, a 75% rise. And, the cases of cruelty by husbands increased by over three times from 2626 in 2003 to 8781 in 2014. In comparison to other states, UP ranks first in the country in dowry deaths and fourth in cruelty by husbands. According to the latest Annual Health Survey the maternal mortality ratio of UP is 300, among highest in the country. In comparison India’s MMR is 212. The MMR is the number of women who die during pregnancy and childbirth, per 100,000 live births. This means every year 16,500 mothers die in UP while giving birth to their child, which amounts to 46 deaths per day. “Crime against women have increased tremendously in the past 15 years, during which period every big party has ruled UP. This shows that parties are only interested in dividing people for electoral gains and not in waging war against social ills, which is their duty in a democracy,” said activist Madhu Garg. (Times of India 1/9/14)

15. Sulabh begins ‘toilet for every house’ drive from Badaun (8)

Lucknow: Taking a cue from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech, Sulabh International on Sunday kick-started its nationwide ‘Toilet for Every House’ campaign from Katra Sadatganj village in Badaun that has been in the news for the killing of two girls when they ventured out of their homes in the dark to relieve themselves. Terming the entire campaign a tribute by the leading sanitation NGO to the two cousins whose bodies were found hanging from a tree in their village, Sulabh founder Bindeshwar Pathak said: “Absence of toilets in houses, particularly in rural areas, is behind such incidents of rapes and sexual assaults in villages … I hope this campaign will exhort corporate houses and big organisations to come forward and adopt villages and build toilets in each household.” After the gruesome killings of the two sisters in May this year, Sulabh International adopted the village and built 108 toilets, covering every house in the village that now has Sulabh’s unique and low-cost toilet. “This campaign is the most fitting tribute to the girls whose death triggered a national debate on women’s right to safe toilets. I hope the government wakes up to this mammoth challenge and starts building toilets in each household on a war-footing,” said Dr. Pathak. Quoting U.N. figures, he said of India’s over 1.2 billion population, only 665 million had access to toilets. “A U.N. study in 2010 found that more people in India have access to a mobile phone than to a toilet … It’s a shame. For the first time , the issue of toilet attained such an importance in the speech of any Prime Minister from the ramparts of Red Fort. So, I am confident that now everyone will have access to toilets in not too distant a future.” (The Hindu 2/9/14)

16. Dowry Deaths on the Rise (8)

BANGALORE: A 22-year-old pregnant woman committed suicide at her house in Jagjeevanram Nagar on Saturday. She reportedly killed herself after continuous harassment by her husband and his family for dowry. According to NGOs working for women’s rights, every day one woman dies in Karnataka due to dowry harassment. While there is more awareness now about dowry deaths and the laws to prevent it, sadly, little has changed in Karnataka in the last three years. A report recently released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shows that 267 people died due to dowry harassment in the state in 2011, 218 in 2012 and 277 in 2013. The situation is the same in Bangalore city, with no decline in reported cases. Vimochana, a women’s rights organisation campaigning against dowry for more than 10 years, says there is a pattern in the deaths. Explains Donna Fernandez, chairperson of Vimochana: “The registered number of dowry deaths are not indicative of the real scenario. Many women who have been murdered, the reason has been dowry. We need to consider this number too.” She said some specific categories of deaths such as suicides, murders, accidents due to stove burst etc,  are also directly connected to dowry. The number of deaths has been increasing for the last 10 years, but the government has been reluctant to do anything about it, she said.On April 7, 1999, a joint House committee, chaired by BJP MLA Pramila Nesargi, was constituted to investigate atrocities against women and dowry deaths, and make recommendations for their prevention. A report was submitted, but no steps have been taken till now, Fernandez rued. Speaking to Express, Alok Kumar, Additional Commissioner of Police (Law and Order), said since dowry death is a social crime, there is very little the police can do. “Karnataka’s population is increasing every year. Many migrants are settling here, leading to a change in family structures,” he said. Sometimes, people file false complaints and sometimes they don’t even report these cases, he said. Minister for Women and Child Welfare Umashree admitted that dowry deaths have not come down in the state and said, “We need more time to control this.” Amita Prasad, Principal Secretary to the Women and Child Welfare Department, said the department has no role to play in this. “Crime is the Home Department’s matter. If police are not working properly, then that is not our fault. The state has a separate women’s commission, why are they not active against these issues?” she asked. When contacted, Manjula Manasa, chairperson of the State Women’s Commission, said, “We are going to each district and urging people to lodge complaints against offenders.” (New Indian Express 4/9/14)

17. Over 29,000 complaints of crimes against women in last 3 years: NHRC (8)

New Delhi: Since January 2011, the NHRC has received over 29, 000 complaints of crimes against women in the last three years and the number continues to grow. NHRC Chairperson KG Balakrishnan expressed his dismay at the “Despite very strict laws to curb crimes against women, violations of womens’ human rights and sexual assault cases” continue to be a major “point of concern.” The Chairperson’s observations came during a three-day-long human rights event organized by the NHRC in New Delhi. The panel was discussing women and girl’s human rights and the work done by the NHRIs in this regard. During the same presentation, Commission Member, Mr. Justice D. Murugesan said since January, 2011 to 31st August, 2014, 29, 935 cases on women related issues had been taken up by the NHRC alone. Balakrishnan also expressed hope that there would be quick and effective implementation of APF’s five strategic objectives geared towards promotion and protection of human rights, particularly of the vulnerable sections of the society, for the next five years from 2015 to 2020 in the Asia Pacific Region. Ending gender-based discrimination and violence had been slotted as an over-riding priority in the on-going 12th Five Year Plan of the Government of India. (Hindustan Times 5/9/14)

18. Teach girls meaning of ‘Love Jihad’: Bhagwat (8)

Ghaziabad: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Saturday raked up the issue of ‘Love Jihad’ saying the girls should be taught its meaning and ways to save themselves from the “trap”, more than a fortnight after BJP avoided its mention in political resolution at its executive meet in UP. Addressing the closing session of the two-day All India Women Coordination Conclave at Krishna Dental College in Mohan Nagar here, the RSS chief exhorted the women to work towards their emancipation and empowerment. “Girls of the coming generation should be told the meaning of ‘Love Jihad’ and the ways to save themselves from their traps,” Bhagwat said. He also raised the issue of female foeticide. “Awareness drives should be initiated to eradicate the age-old tradition of female foeticide?with all force, as it has become a curse for?the Indian society,” the RSS chief said. Media coordinator of the conclave, Ghanshyam Sharma, told through a press release that 270 women delegates from most of the provinces attended the programme. (Hindustan Times 6/9/14)

19. Bihar: woman locked up in bathroom for 3 years (8)

Darbhanga: In a shocking case of human cruelty, a 25-year-old married woman was allegedly kept confined here in a bathroom for the last three years by her husband and in-laws for not meeting their dowry demands, police said on Monday. The victim was rescued yesterday by police from a house in Rambagh locality of Darbhanga town, around 140 km north east of Patna, they on Monday. The Women Police Station SHO Seema Kumari found her in tattered clothes, unkempt dry hair and with overgrown nails. “The woman could barely open her eyes in the sunlight, as she had survived in darkness and dim light, closeted in the small space. Though married, she had neither vermillion on her head nor ‘bindi’ on her forehead,” Kumari said. “The woman revealed that she was thrown into the bathroom and locked there. She was not allowed to see her child, and given leftover food irregularly. It was as if her in-laws were seeking revenge for not bringing ample dowry and giving birth to a girl child,” the SHO said. The woman hails from Patsan village in Andrathadi police station area in Darbhanga district. She was married to a Prabhat Kumar Singh in 2010. Soon after the marriage, her husband and in-laws allegedly started torturing her for more dowry, police said. The torture increased when the dowry demands were not met and peaked when she gave birth to a girl child. “She was never allowed to go to meet her parents. When her relatives visited Darbhanga to meet her, they were dissuaded or shooed away. She was also barred from interacting with anybody from outside,” Kumari said. “She immediately asked for her three-year-old daughter and wept inconsolably when the child could not recognise her,” the SHO said. The woman was rescued after much effort by her father Shyam Sundar Singh, who had finally complained to Darbhanga SSP Kumar Ekle, who in turn instructed the woman inspector to pursue the case immediately. The police has registered an FIR against the women’s husband, father-in-law Dhirendra Singh and mother-in-law Indra Devi and has taken them into custody. (Hindustan Times 9/9/14)

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

 20. 191 cases of crime against children reported (14)

Imphal, August 29 2014 : Even though Manipur witnessed 191 cases of crime against children in the last two years, only two accused involved in a rape case were convicted. According to a report compiled by the Manipur Alliance for Child Rights (MACR) based on newspaper reports, Manipur witnessed 191 different cases of crimes against children between September 2012 and August 17 this year. Of the 191 victims, 104 were girls while the remaining 87 were boys. These crimes included 36 cases of sexual assault and 99 per cent of the victims of sexual assault cases were girls. Child trafficking constituted 86 cases of crime against children. Out of them, 67 children have been rescued while 11 children could not be traced till date. Four children were freed after serving as child soldiers for some period. In the meantime, it was suspected that two children were recruited as child soldiers. Five children sustained injuries in different incidents of bomb explosion. Kidnapping attempts were made on two children while five children were molested. During the same period, 31 children have been subjected to physical assault.Four children were killed while three others were murdered after being sexually assaulted. One child died during communal clash. Nine children reportedly committed suicide even as six newly born dead kids were abandoned at different places. Talking with The Sangai Express, MACR convenor K Pradipkumar decried that rate of conviction in cases related to crime against children is dismally low whereas crimes against children have been rising at an alarming rate. Counselling and rehabilitation of the victim children is far from satisfactory. The State is unable to implement the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offence (POCSO) Act effectively, Pradipkumar said. Against 36 cases of sexual assault, two individuals involved in a rape case were convicted and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. Commando driver Yumnam William s/o Y Deben of Khagempalli Panthak and actor Thongam Arun s/o Th Jayenta of Thangmeiband Sinam Leikai were sentenced to 15 years imprisonment after they were found guilty for gang raping a girl inside a restaurant. Recording of statements of children who have been made victims of sexual assault either at police stations or other places by police personnel in uniform is not permissible according to the Juvenile Justice Act 2000, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Rule 2007 and POCSO Act 2012 . With regard to some cases where the victims were summoned to police stations for taking their statements, some police officers told The Sangai Express that there are juvenile police units in every district of Manipur as per the provisions of JJ Act. But all these units do not have adequate infrastructure. Police personnel assigned to juvenile police units are sent to other unrelated duties too. “It is against the law to summon rape victims, particularly children, to police stations for taking their statements and we are aware of it but we don’t have vehicles to go to the victim’s home or other places where the victim would find it convenient,” said one police officer. As such, the guardians/parents are requested to bring the victims to police stations for taking their statements, he added. To effectively tackle crimes against children, systematic changes are required apart from equipping all juvenile police units with adequate infrastructure, said the police officer. Quoting provisions of POCSO Act, Pradipkumar said that police should complete collection of evidence within 30 days after a crime against children has been committed. Trial of such cases must be completed within a year. Hospitals should admit and treat victims without waiting for registration of FIR, he added. (E-Pao 30/8/14)

21. Anti-child labour campaign begins (14)

GUWAHATI: With an aim to wipe out a social evil like child labour in Kamrup (metropolitan) district, Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (ASCPCR), in collaboration with two voluntary organizations, launched Red Signal on Monday. It is a campaign to create social awareness involving locals, ward councilors, labour department and school students. The other partners are WAY Foundation and MIND India. Guwahati is considered a transit point of child trafficking in the Northeast region. The aim is to set an example in Guwahati. The organizers would seek recommendations of youth. The three-month-campaign will include workshops involving children in the age group of 14-18 years. A series of group discussions will be conducted with the locals, ward councillors, labour department officials to chalk out constructive plan. “The demand for child labour is increasing by the day and there is a constant supply from NE and Guwahati serves as the transit point. The menace needs to be tackled. The problem is an obstacle in the social and economic development of the region as a whole. Even with so many stringent laws in place, this menace is spreading its tentacles as none of the laws are properly implemented,” said Runumi Gogoi, chairperson ASCPCR. “Law alone cannot do much. There is the need for social awakening among the people. Survey says most of the people who employ children as labourers are educated. People need to change their mindset. The youths have an important role to play,” said Mukesh Sahay, additional director general, CID. (Times of India 2/9/14)

22. Over 50 child labour rescue calls pending, says NGO (14)

NOIDA: Even as students of city schools get ready to listen to Narendra Modi’s speech to mark Teacher’s Day, more than 50 boys and girls of school-going age continue to slog as labourers in the city. Data with Childline, a child rights NGO working under the Union ministry of woman and child development, shows that their 24-hour emergency phone outreach service received over 50 rescue calls from February to August this year, on pace to match the 101 calls it had received throughout 2013. Satya Prakash, senior programme officer of Childline, said they had received calls regarding children employed as domestic help or at tea stalls in different sectors of Noida. Some children were also employed at water distribution outlets in the city, he said. Activists say that in many cases, it is very difficult to verify the claims, as many children work in houses and flats. They also blamed slow rescue operations on the apathy of the labour department. “We verified two cases where children were employed as labourers in the city. We wrote letters to the labour department last month but they are yet to respond to it,” said Satya Prakash. M K Joshi, assistant labour commissioner of Gautam Budh Nagar, said he had received the letters and has directed enforcement officers to conduct rescue operations. “Operations will be conducted soon and these children will be rescued in the next two-three days,” Joshi said. (Times of India 3/9/14)

23. CRY Helps Rid Child Labour in 83 Villages (14)

VISAKHAPATNAM: The Child Rights and You (CRY) has succeeded in making 83 villages across the state of truncated AP and Telangana free from child labour. It may be recalled that the unified state of AP stood sixth in the country insofar as child labour is concerned. Addressing a press conference here Wednesday, CRY regional director (South) Suma Ravi called upon the people to complement their efforts to root out child labour. She said the impact of CRY could be felt in 10 districts of AP and 481 villages in Telangana. “We have managed to ensure that 4,620 children are brought back to school in these states,” she added. CRY members produced five children of East Godavari and Vizianagaram districts who were liberated from the curse of child labour. The children spoke about their problems when they were labourers and how they managed to go to school with the help of CRY’s NGP partners. Rama, a 13- year-old from Kiligupeta village in Vizianagaram, expressed happiness over going back to school after a stint as a domestic servant in Kakinada. CRY’s AP and Telangana state leader Peter Suneel and other members were present. (New Indian Express 4/9/14)

24. National Commission for Protection of Child Rights seeks report from UP on riot-hit children

LUCKNOW: The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has sought explanation from the Uttar Pradesh government on complaints about children in riot-affected areas of western UP not being able to appear for exams despite assurances by authorities of Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Bagpath districts. The letter from NCPCR, a copy of which is with TOI, states that it has received a complaint that several students of the riot-affected districts are facing problems in getting admitted to schools in new areas they have been shifted to and taking examinations. The commission’s letter to UP government says that while former DIOS RK Tiwari had declared that fresh exams would be held on July 26 for those who has failed in class IX and XI and will be then promoted, he was transferred and the person who replaced him did not follow this. The letter has sought a reply and the action taken report. The commission, acting on a detailed survey and a report prepared by national convener of RTE Forum Ambrish Roy has sought explanation from UP chief secretary Alok Ranjan as well as district magistrates of Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Bagpath. (Times of India 5/9/14)

25. 78 sexual offence cases against children reported in Muzaffarnagar in 9 months (14)

Muzaffarnagar: At least 76 cases of sexual offence against children have been reported in last nine months in this western Uttar Pradesh district. According to police records, 78 cases have been registered in various police stations under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 and also various sections of Indian Penal Code from December 19, 2013 to August 30, 2014. Forty-nine out of 78 were rape cases and the rest were of eve-teasing and kidnapping in the district, the statistics said. A special court of Additional District Sessions Judge Manyank Chouhan has started hearing these cases. The victims’ statement in this connection has been recorded under section 164 of CrPc. (Zee news 8/9/14)

MINORITIES – GENERAL

26. Push for protecting languages whose speakers a minority (7)

New Delhi: At a time when the NDA and the PM have shown their preference for Hindi, and when the UPSC aptitude test CSAT has seen protests over the perceived advantages it grants English-medium students over those of Hindi medium, the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities in its 50th report has made a case for safeguarding linguistic minorities in various states. It has, in 27 recommendations, reaffirmed the status of the mother tongue, even if spoken by a minority in a state, and called for its inclusion in education up to the primary level, recruitment and state-level exams. The Constitution accords as much primacy to linguistic minorities as it does to religious minorities. Articles 29 and 30 speak of safeguarding that diversity. The Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities, set up in 1957, has in its latest report made a recommendation that could have far-reaching implications if followed — a call to states for “identification and declaration of Linguistic Minority Concentrated Areas”. The commission says states and UTs should declare/notify areas populated with linguistic minorities who constitute more than 15 per cent of the local population at the local level (district, municipal, taluk). Taking note of erosion across states of languages spoken by a minority, the commission has observed that in almost all states, learning the state official language has been made compulsory in the curriculum. It argues that instead, representation for redress of grievances in states should be allowed and encouraged in languages that may not be the main language of the state, but are spoken. The commission says it has been told by states that state services recruitment examinations do not allow the use of languages other than the regional language for answering questions. This, it has recommended, must change and “knowledge of state official language need not be insisted upon as a prerequisite at the time of entry into state services”. During enrolment of children in school, the commission has said, it is of the view that registering the child’s mother tongue should be made compulsory, along with asking the parents their preferences for first language and optional language. This, writes the commission, would be well within the three-language formula. It has emphasised a meaningful application for the three-language formula in schools and called for providing a “level playing field for linguistic minorities” and “facilities for instruction in their mother tongue at the primary stage of education within their territory.” The report has also called for encouraging the teaching of minority languages in schools by filling in teacher vacancies, improving the teacher-student ratio for languages in a minority, and enabling the availability of textbooks in those languages at the start of the academic session. “Our centuries-old multilingual, multicultural ethos has held the country together like the thread in a rosary of beads and this diversity is more emphatically presented in the multiplicity of languages spoken by people in different parts of the country,” said commissioner for linguistic minorities Prof Akhtar ul Wasey. “The point of zabaans is to foster samvaad, not vivaad.” (Indian Express 29/8/14)

27. BJP MP links riots to minorities (7)

New Delhi: Firebrand BJP leader Yogi Adityanath has attacked the minority community, saying riots happen wherever they are more than 20 per cent in number at a place. Defending his provocative speeches, the Gorakhpur MP, who is among the three party leaders entrusted with leading the BJP campaign for the coming by-elections in Uttar Pradesh, said Hindus would reply “in the same language” if they were subjected to attacks or forcible conversions. Talking about communal riots, he told Rajat Sharma in ‘Aap Ki Adalat’ programme on India TV that there are three categories of places where they occur, according to a press release issued by the channel. “In places where there are 10 to 20 per cent minorities, stray communal incidents take place. Where there are 20 to 35 per cent of them, serious communal riots take place, and where they are more than 35 per cent, there is no place for non-Muslims,” he said. The BJP leader is under attack after two CDs recently surfaced in which he is shown making inflammatory speeches. (The Hindu 1/9/14)

28. Minority Promoters an Unhappy Lot (7)

PALAKKAD: As many as 903 ‘minority promoters’ are on a warpath as they have not been receiving the honorarium for the last one year. It was on March 2013 minority promoters were appointed by the Kerala State Minority Department to empower and educate the minority communities in the state. The workers alleged that the government expelled them without providing the fixed honorarium of `4,000 a month. The minority promoters alleged that the government has to pay them each a sum of `48,000. The appointments were made on contract basis. Each panchayat got one minority promoter while municipality and Corporation got three each. Five communities – Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Parsis – are considered minorities as per the census of 2001 and Minority Promoters were appointed from all these communities. Among the 903 Minority Promoters, 760 are Muslims and 143 from the Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Parsi communities. “We worked to empower the minority communities by making them aware of various welfare schemes available for them and the ways to make use of it. It helped them a lot to evade exploitation. We didn’t expect such an attitude from the government,” said Rafeeque K, a minority promoter from Kasargod. They spent a good amount of money from their pockets to empower the minorities with the hope that the government would pay them the honorarium. With a sense of being betrayed, Joseph Peter, a minority promoter from Kollam, said, “We conducted surveys to study the issues of the communities and conducted classes and camps. The reports of these were sent to the government. But at the end of the day we were cheated.” The Minority Welfare Department officials informed that they had handed over the files to the government for getting the honorarium sanctioned. P Nazeer, Director of Minority Welfare Department, said that the authorities have framed a new system for the early disbursal of honourarium. “The delay will not occur again as we framed a new system according to which  the Collectors have to submit the reports on promoter’s performance on month end and the honorarium will be distributed accordingly  through the district administration,” he said. (New Indian Express 5/9/14)

29. Queer India stands up for other ‘minorities’ (7)

MUMBAI: “Coming out of the closet” is fast acquiring a whole new meaning as India’s queer community spotlights a variety of issues other than its own. The same colour, vibrance and bawdy humour with which the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community discussed alternate sexualities is now being put to use to talk of other matters that lie buried within a closet. The community does not see itself in isolation, but as part of the broader framework of human rights. Many prefer calling themselves “equal rights activists” rather than simply ” gay rights activists.” On Monday evening, Gaysi, an organization run by lesbian women, will host its annual entertainment programme, Dirty Talk, at a Mumbai cafe. In addition to a musical performance by India’s first gay choir, the open mic session will have people coming on stage to share their stories, crack jokes and engage in light-hearted banter. But the money generated from the event will not go to the LGBT community. Instead, it will go to acid attack victims. Hair-stylist Sapna Bhavnani, spokesperson for Stop Acid Attacks says that when people give towards their own cause alone, they’re often trapped in a bubble. ” Why should people support only one community? Both the LGBT community and acid attack survivors are fighting similar battles for their rights,” she adds. This year’s theme for Dirty Talk is Women in Contemporary India, says MJ, one of the event’s organizers. “As a lesbian woman, my identity as both a woman and lesbian are equally important,” says MJ. Dirty Talk hopes to address women’s rights and choices through jest. “If we said we were celebrating an evening for acid attack victims, I’m not sure anyone would turn up,” jokes Hairsh Iyer, one of India’s most prominent LGBT faces. He made it to Guardian’s list of most influential LGBT people worldwide for 2013. Iyer featured in an earlier edition of Dirty Talk themed “Survivors.” A victim of child sexual abuse, Iyer has spoken out on television in graphic detail about an uncle who raped him through his childhood, after which he received over 50,000 emails from other survivors sharing their stories. “There’s a selfish reason behind my speaking of what happened to me. Survivors of abuse often have blank spots in their memory. Barring a few graphic instances, I had blocked a lot of what happened to me from my memory. Speaking about it helped unblock my memory, and was a way of therapy for me,” says Iyer. He recently featured in a video which began with him talking of how much he ” loved cock.” This was not an attempt at obscenity. Mid-way through the video, he picks up a rooster to clarify what he’s talking of, and then proceeds to detail the cruelty meted out to chickens in meat industry. The video was shot for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) during the LGBT pride month in June this year, urged people to ‘wipe hate from their plate’ with a pledge to go meat-free. Discrimination against those who are different forms the basis of racism, sexism, homophobic behaviour and speciesism (a bias favouring one’s own species), says Poorva Joshipura, CEO, PETA India. ” Oppression of people who are not heterosexual and the oppression of animals are both examples of the abuse of power,” she says, Iyer has taken the idea a step further with an online page called the “Ministry of Miniscule Minorities,” which encourages those on the fringes of society to share their experiences. (Times of India 8/9/14)

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

30. Two booked for forcing wives to embrace Islam in Madhya Pradesh (7)

BHOPAL: Close on the heels of a national shooter claiming she was being coerced by her husband to embrace Islam, similar allegations of forced conversions have stirred the cauldron in Madhya Pradesh’s restive Chambal region. Two dalit youths, who converted to Islam and were also forcing their wives to change their religion, have been booked under the MP Freedom of Religion Act 1968. This is the first ever FIR on forced conversions in the region. The incident was reported from the state’s Shivpuri district where Maniram Jatav, 30, and Tularam Jatav, 19, have been booked under Sections 4 and 5 of the Act also known as Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantraya Adhinivam. Police said Maniram Jatav, resident of Shivpuri’s Khanidana village, embraced Islam two years ago, changed his name to Abdullah and started a small business in the area. Maniram also got his wife converted without completing any legal formalities, said police. Maniram then lured Tularam Jatav, a labour for religious conversion, said police. Tularam changed his name to Abdul Kareem in 2013. However, he was thrown out of his home by his family after the conversion. The matter surfaced after he subjected his wife to a month of torture for refusing to accept Islam, said sources. She reported the matter to her family who subsequently approached an organization and got a complaint registered. “Maniram is a convert and also the convertor. Investigations revealed that both of them had violated the law for religion conversion,” said SS Jadon, station house officer (SHO) of Khanidana police station where the FIR was registered. During investigations Tularam alias Abdul Kareem submitted an affidavit that he wanted to be a Hindu again. “Once an offence has been committed, it cannot be condoned. There is a laid norm for conversation to any religion, it should have been followed,” said the SHO. As per the Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantraya Adhinivam 1968, “Any person contravening the provision contained in section 3 shall, without prejudice to any civil liability be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees or with both; provided that in case the offence is committed in respect of a minor, a woman or a person belonging to the Schedules Castes or Scheduled Tribes the punishment shall be imprisonment to the extent of two years and fine up to ten thousand rupees.” Also, the district magistrate should be intimated about the same. “If any person fails with sufficient cause to comply with the provisions of the said Act, he/she shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees or with both,” the act says. Before the last assembly elections, the BJP government had proposed the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill, 2013 against the 1968 legislation mandating prior permission was compulsory and a stringent jail term for forcible conversions. While the 1968 legislation provided a jail term of one year for forcible conversions, the proposed Bill stipulates a jail term of up to three years or a fine up to Rs 50,000, or both, for conversion is done using force, allurement or any other fraudulent means. A similar move by the MP government to pass a similar amendment in 2006 was rejected by the President on grounds that it will violate freedom of religion guaranteed in the Constitution because it insists on prior permission. The issue of ‘love jihad’ has been raised again in the country after a national level shooter Tara Shahdeo alleged that she was tricked into marriage and tortured by her husband when she refused to convert to Islam. (Times of India 30/8/14)

31. ‘Cops framing Muslims for Vadodara riots’ (7)

VADODARA: Former M S University (MSU) professor and activist J S Bandukwala has alleged that the police are arresting innocent persons belonging to minority community after the recent communal riots in the city. Bandukwala and some minority community leaders met city police commissioner E Radhakrishnan on Tuesday and urged him to take action against the people who are actually involved in the riots. “Large numbers of Muslims have been wrongly arrested in the city after the recent communal riots. While riots have been happening during Ganesh festivals for the past 40 years, this time it is being done deliberately ahead of Lok Sabha bypolls here. The BJP is trying to polarize voters to win by a good margin,” Bandukwala alleged. He also said most of the minority community members arrested by the police are poor working class people. “Those actually involved in the rioting with the help of politicians should be arrested. I have urged the police commissioner to not arrest innocent persons,” Bandukwala added. Radhakrishnan said, “We are arresting people after proper verification. Why should we arrest innocent persons? Bandukwala and other minority community leaders claimed the police had made wrong arrests. When I asked them to furnish names of persons who were arrested wrongly, they couldn’t provide any names.” (Times of India 3/9/14)

32. SC order to release undertrials will come to aid of Muslim prisoners (7)

NEW DELHI: Muslim prisoners are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries of the government’s decision to facilitate release of undertrials languishing in jails for long. This is because the rate of undertrial Muslim incarceration is almost twice that of Hindus. Calculated on the number of undertrials per lakh population (of people adhering to that particular religion), while the Hindu undertrial rate is 21.5, the Muslim rate is 38.81, suggesting more Muslims keep languishing in jails without a trial as compared to Hindus. Another fact pointing to this is that while 17% of the convict population in jails constitutes Muslims, in the undertrial category it is 21%. In the case of Hindus, the reverse is true -71.4% of convicts are Hindus but only 69.9% of un dertrials profess the faith. Similarly, Sikhs constitute 4% of undertrials and 4.9% of convicts while Christians make 3.5% and 4%, respectively . This clearly indicates that Muslims, who constitute just over 13% of India’s population, are at a disadvantage as far as getting bail is concerned. (Times of India 6/9/14)

33. Al-Qaeda threat: expert warns against alienating Muslims (7)

NEW DELHI: Critical of the “high alert” being issued by the Union Home Ministry in the wake of the Al-Qaeda video, Mr Ajay Sahni, Director of New Delhi-based Institute of Conflict Management said such measures usually translate into harassment of Muslims, often offending and alienating them. Mr Sahni pointed out that de-radicalisation programmes in many European countries like U.K. and Belgium had failed. “There is no need for a knee-jerk reaction and to blindly ape the West. Our accommodative and pluralistic culture where Muslims and non-Muslims interact at several levels is the best guarantee against radicalisation of the youth towards extremist ideology. This multi-cultural thread has to be reinforced,” he said. “Muslims in India have never supported terrorism. Islam in India has been very organic for the past hundreds of years and Muslims and non-Muslims have co-existed peacefully. It is the strength of Islam in India that fringe elements, despite past 18 years of statements from outfits like Al-Qaeda, have been held back,” he said. However, he favoured strong covert measures against subversive elements who were trying to bring alien ideology to India. “The need of the hour is to drive home the message that all citizens are equal and their rights as citizens are being respected. Despite special schemes for Dalits and Muslims, they have remained poor and deprived. They should get all benefits as Indian citizens as our Constitution guarantees equality and justice to all citizens without any discrimination,” he pointed out. (The Hindu 7/9/14)

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

34. Christians appeal to CM to protect their faith, property (7)

ALIGARH: Perturbed by brief take-over of a Seventh Day Adventist church in Asroi village of neighbouring Hathras district by members of another religious persuasion, the Christians in Aligarh have appealed to UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav to intervene, to protect their faith and their properties. In a memorandum to the chief minister, the Christians have condemned the conversion of the church in Asroi to a temple. A similar attempt to convert another place of Christian worship was reported soon afterwards from Hasayn in the same district. Meanwhile, on Saturday, at Surajpur in Greater Noida, 10 pastors were questioned by police in connection with the “forcible conversion” of Hindus to Christianity. In the memorandum, the Christians have objected to the destruction of the identity of their places of worship, and condemned the activities of the Dharam Jagran Vibhag (JBV), a branch of the RSS, which was involved in the “re-conversion” of the 72 people in Asroi. “The series of atrocities did not end with Asroi. It was reported that at Hasayn the pracharaks wanted to conduct the same purification inside the church but were stopped by the police,” said Osmond Charles, an advocate. The JBV, meanwhile, has claimed that the church at Hasayn has become a “Harijan chatralaya” (hostel for Dalit students). The Christians are worried about the loss of their property, which had been donated by a man who converted to Christianity from Hinduism. “We are sending the memorandum to bring to the chief minister’s notice the jungle raj in the state, even though the ruling party stands for secularism. This should be controlled. We want to build public opinion, as there is no end to such attacks. Just two months back, Reverend Jaipal was attacked by Hindu right wing activists in Bulandshahr, and accused of forcibly converting people to Christianity,” Charles said. (Times of India 1/9/14)

35. Christians urged to give land for establishing cemeteries (7)

THENI: Demands for extension of benefits enjoyed by the Scheduled Castes to converted Christians, separate cemeteries for Christians in all taluks and speedy disbursal of bank loans dominated the special interaction meeting held at the Collectorate here on Tuesday. Presiding over the meeting, Tamil Nadu Minority Commission Chairman M. Prakash said Christians in several divisions demanded separate cemeteries for them. It was not possible, and they should come on a single platform to provide sites for this purpose. One site could be given in one taluk and two places in thickly populated areas, he said. Some converted Christians said they had enjoyed all benefits extended to the SCs by the government before conversion. The Chairman said Christians were classified as BCs. They could enjoy the benefits extended to the BC communities. Converted Christians could not get the benefits extended to the SCs, he noted. Commenting on the delay in disbursal of loans to minority women, he said files had to pass through 14 departments before loans were sanctioned. Reducing loan amount would speed up the process. A representative of a minority community complained that priest in Andipatti did not allow a Christian woman, who married a Hindu boy, to pray in the church though their in-laws and husband allowed her continue her religious practice. Mr. Prakash asked the woman to give him a complaint in writing to initiate action against the priest. She should be allowed to pray in the church and continued to live as a Christian. The State government had allocated Rs.1 crore to help 500 Muslims go on Haj trip and ordered supply of 40 kg of sandalwood for Nagore Dargah festival. About 4,100 tonnes of rice was allotted to more than 3,000 mosques during Ramzan period, he noted. Educational assistance of Rs.48.38 lakh had been disbursed to 2,970 students in primary and secondary classes and 272 students in higher secondary classes in 2013-14, said Collector K.S. Palanisamy. Commission Members Allah S. Syed Khameel Sahib and A.M. James accompanied Mr. Prakash. (The Hindu 4/9/14)

36. Prayer meet held in Kolkata on Mother Teresa’s death anniversary (7)

Kolkata: Special peace prayers were held today to observe the 17th Death Anniversary of Mother Teresa at the Mother House here. Prayers and floral tributes were offered at her grave. The Superior General of Missionaries of Charity, Sister Prema told ANI, “We remember her constantly for what she has given us and passed on to us.” Spreading the message of peace she said, “I think the message mother wants to give to the world is to give God the priority and after this the human being is valued and appreciated in the dignity which God has given them.” After the beatification of Mother Teresa, the Roman Catholic Church had declared September 5, the day Mother Teresa left her earthly abode, as Feast Day – a day for joy and celebration. Albanian born Mother Teresa made Kolkata her home and dedicated her life to the service of poor and destitute children. The Pope beatified the Nobel laureate in October 2003, paving the way for her canonisation, or being declared a saint. She qualified for beatification after Vatican officials acknowledged that she was responsible for a miracle in which an Indian woman was cured of stomach cancer through her intervention. She came to India in 1929 at the age of 18 and took up teaching and became an Indian citizen in 1948. She started working in slums and later set up her Missionaries of Charity, which was approved by the Vatican in 1950. Mother Teresa received several national and international awards for social service during her lifetime. They include the Magsaysay Award in 1962, the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize in 1971, the John F. Kennedy International Award in 1971 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. (New Kerala 5/9/14)

37. 15 Christians held in Pakistan on blasphemy charge (7)

Lahore: Pakistani police have arrested 15 Christians and booked 45 other members of the minority community under the controversial blasphemy law for allegedly desecrating Muslim graves in a village in Punjab province, sparking tension in the area. The case was registered after a local cleric filed a complaint alleging that the Christians had desecrated over 400 Muslim graves to occupy the land in Chak village in Faisalabad, about 150 km from Lahore. Condemning the police action, a rights group alleged that a “fake” blasphemy case was filed against them on the pressure of the cleric and Muslims as they did not want the land allocated to Christians. “In fact there was not a single grave in the land allocated to the Christians by the local administration for their graveyard,” Human Liberation Commission Pakistan Chairman Aslam Sahotra said. He demanded that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif look into the matter. (The Hindu 6/9/14)

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

38. 1.6 mn people displaced in Iraq: UN (13)

United Nations: More than 1.6 million people in Iraq have been displaced since the start of the year, a UN spokesperson said here Friday citing a report. “It is estimated that over 600,000 people were displaced in August alone,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said quoting The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in a report. The internally displaced people were living in over 1,500 locations across the country, often in extremely dire conditions, Xinhua quoted the official as saying. The rise in the number of displaced persons was due to fresh violence in various parts of the country, particularly Ninewa, Diyala and Anbar provinces, he said. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and its partners have conducted assessments for nearly 190,000 people since February, Dujarric said. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is hoping to deliver medicines and supplies to Al Alam district, in Salah Aldin Governorate. The shipment will help some 15,000 people for a month. The surge in violence between armed groups and government forces has left hundreds of thousands of people in need of assistance in Iraq. (Zee News 30/8/14)

39. Brus demand status like Kashmiri Pandits (13)

AGARTALA, Aug 31 – More than 30,000 displaced Reang/Bru tribal people from neighbouring Mizoram, sheltered in seven camps in North Tripura district, have demanded a status like Kashmiri Pandits or Tamil refugees. The Mizo Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF), the only organisation of the inmates, submitted a 13-point charter of demands including the status like Kashmiri Pandits or Tamil refugees to a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) delegation led by its Additional Secretary Rajib Gauba when it visited the camps, MBDPF general secretary Bruno Mesa said. Mesa said the inmates were living in “inhuman” conditions for the past 17 years since they trickled into the camps following ethnic clashes with the Mizos. “There is no school for the children. Though a few schools were being run by some NGOs, they closed down due to funds crunch. There is hardly any healthcare provision for the inmates. Infant mortality is high because there is no vaccine or nutrition for them,” Mesa alleged. He said, since repatriation would not be possible soon, the living condition of the camp inmates should be improved and they should be given proper healthcare and opportunity for education. For a permanent solution, the Bru people should be repatriated in their homeland in Mizoram with adequate land, compensation and proper security, Mesa said. There are 30,289 people in the seven evacuee camps. The MHA team would submit its report to the Ministry by September 12. – PTI (Assam Tribune 1/9/14)

40. No mass exodus of Assamese people from Meghalaya: Minister

Shillong: Meghalaya Tuesday said there was no danger to people from Assam residing in the neighbouring mountainous state and warned miscreants against spreading rumours about their safety. “There is no mass exodus of people from Assam residing in the state. I appeal to people not to pay heed to rumour-mongers,” Home Minister Roshan Warjri told IANS. “However, some migrant labourers engaged in the construction of the permanent campus of the Indian Institute of Management-Shillong at Umsawli left the place Monday night due to internal problems with the construction company,” he said. Meghalaya government officials said most of the migrant labourers were pushed back from a construction site after they failed to produce valid documents. Warjri said she had a telephonic conversation with Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi following media reports about the mass exodus of Assamese people from Meghalaya. “I informed him (Gogoi) that there is communal tension between the indigenous people of Meghalaya with communities from Assam residing in the state. The Assam chief minister assured me that his government would issue a statement to clarify the matter.” Atul Bora, president of Assam’s regional party Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), rushed to Shillong to discuss with the government the alleged mass exodus of communities from Assam residing in Shillong. “There was panic that people from Assam have been asked to leave the state. We have asked the home minister to provide security to Assamese people and they have assured us,” Bora told journalists. Shillong Socio Cultural Assamese Students’ Association leader Krishna Borah said communities from Assam residing in Shillong were “safe and secure”. (Business Standard 2/9/14)

41. Chin Refugees: Life is elsewhere (13)

Shivani Dass starts the book with a question, ‘Does it [a photograph] or can it really ever tell us anything beyond what it shows?… Or is it also capable of insinuating meanings that are not apparent to the eye, but can be understood effectively in retrospect?’ Dass’ photographs of members of Myanmar’s Chin ethnic minority living in exile in India attempt to answer these questions, and successfully so. These stories stay with you long after you have closed the book.  Dass takes you to Bodella, a village in west Delhi, where the lanes are crammed with hardware shops and ramshackle dwellings. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, of the 7,000 Chin refugees in India, nearly 400 of them live in Bodella. Dass embarked on this project with the idea of documenting the lives of both Chin and Rohingya refugees — part of Myanmar’s seven ethnic minorities — in Delhi. However, the Rohingyas weren’t very comfortable with the idea, so she turned her focus on the Chins instead. The opening image is of 44-year-old Ciin Lam Vung, from the Tiddim community, who fled Myanmar in July 2011. She crossed the border with the help of strangers with her four daughters and two sons. Her eldest, Ning Khan Lun, was pregnant at the time and gave birth to her daughter, Victoria, on arriving in India. Both mother and daughter work in a local tailoring unit. In the photograph, Vung forms a tiny figure standing on a muddy track, flanked by jaundiced walls. She is almost part of the background, a nondescript figure with no assertion of her individuality. The picture speaks volumes about the life of the Chin refugees in Bodella, where they live on the fringes of society, almost hidden in the back alleys of the village, camouflaged by webs of dangling wires and close set houses. Dass documented their everyday lives over a course of eight months. The images also show the subjects’ increasing comfort level with Dass — the camera transforms from an intrusive object to a friend with whom they can share histories, hopes and disappointments. For instance, Vung’s 3-year-old granddaughter, Victoria, initially frowns at the camera but later goes about her daily chores with ease, often coming close to the lens. The stories in the book have a common thread of political persecution. Most of the Chin refugees come from an agricultural background with limited access to education. However, the rise of the army and the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi after the general elections of 1989 wreaked havoc on their lives. Most made their way to India through north eastern states such as Mizoram and then travelled to Delhi in the hope of a better life. But, it has been a challenge for them to move from rural lives to urban dystopias. Today, only the informal economy is available to them and many find work as labourers in factories, as beauticians and security guards — a job pool for which they compete with other refugees and migrant workers from various parts of India. This double-edged life is marked by penury and health issues, with no money to access healthcare. The photographs capture shared spaces, often inhabited by 10  to 11 family members. The objects in the room frequently speak louder than the people inhabiting the pictures. In Vung’s house, a red velvet dress is seen hanging on the wall, maybe a frock that Victoria wears on special occasions. A chart on shapes and colours shares space on the wall with a poster of sayings such as ‘The lord will lighten my darkness’. In the middle of the ‘yellow gloom’, these are all signs of coping and looking ahead. Yet another photo series shows Biak Rem Sang, 38, who fled after his uncle was beaten to death by soldiers. He is surrounded by his sons Van Lal Cung Nung, 12, John Lal Ro Pui, 8, and daughter, Esther, 6. His wife, Suizi Sung, who works in a factory that makes mobile phone chargers, seems to be ailing and is confined to bed. There is a marked difference between the demeanour of the old and the young. The elders like Sang often stare vacantly into space or have a haunted expression, but the young look full of life and positivity. Their lives seem to be in constant transit, with half-packed suitcases and cartons shoved under the bed. Most, like 32-year-old Van Hup Mang, have shifted five times since they arrived in Delhi. Mang used to work as a security guard but was injured and now stays at home. Even today, he seems ready to shift at a short notice .In the midst of the images of despair, there are stray rays of sunshine in the form of Tint Swe’s clinic. His clinic is known among locals as the ‘Burmese Clinic’. A photograph of Aung San Suu Kyi adorns the wall behind his chair and the waiting room is full of ailing refugees. “Back home I was a physician as well as a member of parliament. I belonged to Suu Kyi’s party. One day the authorities came to arrest me, but I escaped,” said Swe, when I met him for an interview last year. Swe has been in India for the past 23 years and his name was on the blacklist till 2012, his house and clinic are still sealed. His clinic in Bodella, equipped with an examination and a labour room, receives 500 to 700 patients a month — mostly Chins, a few Karens and the rare Rohingya — where he treats them free of cost. The book captures the homes and hearth of the Chins in Delhi beautifully, but it would have been nice to see them at work, maybe at the factories or at the Refugee Assistance Centre in Bodella. An outsider’s gaze, maybe of the locals — the landlords, the grocers, the neighbours — who consider them as aberrations that disturb the daily flow of their lives, would also have made for interesting viewing. Also missing are pictures of the refugees at the Burmese Church. Housed on the top floor of a commercial complex in Bodella, the church binds the community together and also offers financial assistance to them during need. Business Standard 4/9/14)

42. 1,800 refugees still in Shamli camp (13)

LUCKNOW: A year after one of the worst riots in the history of the state, 1,800 refugees are still living in the relief camps of Shamli district. This is quite in contrast with the state government’s claim that all the camps in riot-hit Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts have been closed down. Shamli district magistrate NP Singh has confirmed to TOI that these 1,800 persons were still in the camps in his district and the administration were trying to motivate them to go back home. He claimed that no coercive measures were being adopted against them and the administration was taking care of their security, health and other needs. He said that most of the refugees were from adjoining areas like Baghpat and Muzaffarnagar and officials had written to the government that they were not genuine riot victims. Over 60 persons lost their lives and more than 50,000 got displaced after communal riots in Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Baghpat districts in September-October last year. There were hundreds of refugee camps set up for these displaced victims. The state government announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for their rehabilitation, but a large number of them didn’t want to go back – either out of fear, or because they had nowhere to go back to. A year on, 1,800 of them are still in the camps and their agony is that Shamli district administration has disowned them. Shamli DM has sent a detailed report on these camps to the state’s home department. As per this report, there are six relief camps in the district out of which two are regular and four satellite .Two regular relief camps are situated in Malakpur and Barnavi housing 131 families 654 persons and 43 families 221 persons respectively while the rest are in the satellite camps in Akbarpur Subheti, Issopur Khurgan Khathai river, Dhabedhi Khurd, and Bibipur Hatia. “Hume koi yeh bata de koi apna ghar baar chhor ke mahino jungle mein rah sakta hai kya aur kyon; koi DM or SP rahega kya? (Just tell me, will anyone leave the comfort of one’s home without any compelling reason and stay in the jungles for months? Will any DM or SP do that?,” asks Haji Dilshad, who was earlier convenor of one of camps in Shaml. “Has anyone checked that the ancestral houses and agricultural land of the refugees of the Shamli camps have been forcibly captured by rioters and the riots have reduced them into orphans? Now, administration is claiming that they were not riot victims and greedy persons,” Haji retorted. (Times of India 8/9/14)

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

43. Disclose report of Mudgal Committee on lobbying: CIC to Centre

New Delhi: The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Centre to disclose confidential file notings related to the constitution of the Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee which probed alleged lobbying by Walmart in India. CIC also directed the government to make public the committee’s report along with the steps taken by the Centre to prevent possible lobbying in the country by foreign companies. The one-member committee of former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court Mudgal was constituted by the UPA government to investigate alleged corruption charges against retail giant Walmart in India. The Committee had to probe if Walmart undertook activities in India in contravention of any Indian law and any other matter relevant or incidental to the case. The case came before the CIC on a plea by activist Subhash Agrawal, who had sought the information from the Corporate Affairs Ministry, which had refused to provide it. “Information needs to be provided under Section 8(2) of RTI Act which mentions providing of information if public interest overweighs the harm protected. “There is definitely public interest involved in the whole matter where media reports indicate attempt at lobbying by private foreign companies with even those in PMO,” Agrawal said in his appeal. Agreeing with Agrawal, Information Commissioner Yashowardhan Azad directed the ministry to provide the information, along with the file notings, related to the constitution of the committee. He also directed it to provide report of the committee along with the file notings. The Commissioner directed the ministry to forward the RTI application to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion for its response as regards the details of the steps taken to prevent any lobbying in India by foreign companies. (Business Standard 31/8/14)

44. Departmental Promotion Committee proceedings can be sought under RTI (1)

RAIPUR: In a significant decision, Chhattisgarh State Information Commission has ruled that proceedings of Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) shall be treated as non-confidential and open documents which can be supplied to information seeker under Right to Information (RT) Act. Allowing an appeal filed by Sarita Tiwari, deputy commissioner (Development), state’s chief information commissioner Serjius Minj also recommended to state government to review and re-consider General Administration Department (GAD) circular of 2006 that declared DPC proceedings as confidential. Tiwari had filed an application with public information officer of Chhattisgarh state Public Service Commission (CGPSC) seeking proceedings of DPC but was denied information on basis of a GAD circular which stated that DPC proceedings are confidential and it did not fall under the purview of RTI. After the first appellate authority also upheld the decision, the applicant preferred a second appeal with the state information commission. The state commission quoted in its order decisions of union public service commission (UPSC) and Central Information Commission (CIC) to point out that DPC proceedings shall be treated as non-confidential and open documents and allowed to be accessed by anybody who seeks it. Allowing second appeal filed by deputy commission, the state commission ordered PIO and first appellate officer of state public service commission to provide relevant documents as sought by the applicant, free of cost within 15 days. Besides, the commission also recommended that GAD circular be re-considered for withdrawal or cancellation. (Times of India 2/9/14)

45. Centre taps over 1 lakh phones a year; many more by states (1)

New Delhi: Big brother watching? Men speak on their mobile phones on a seafront in Mumbai. Reuters Reuetrs photo for representation only More than one lakh phone tapping orders are issued by the central government every year, but the total number of such interceptions can be of a ‘staggering scale’ after taking into account the directions from state governments, a new study has found. The study, ‘India’s surveillance state’, prepared on the basis of RTI replies given by the government, also found that 26 companies including foreign firms expressed interest in setting up Internet monitoring systems for the government. These included companies offering “far more potent surveillance technologies including phone interception, social media network analysis and data mining and profiling”.The study was conducted by Software Freedom Law Centre, a non-profit legal services organisation, and was released at recently held Internet Governance Forum in Istanbul. “…on an average, more than a lakh of telephone interception orders are issued by the central government alone every year. On adding the surveillance orders issued by the State Governments to this, it becomes clear that India routinely surveills her citizens’ communications on a truly staggering scale,” the 68-page report said. The state surveillance of citizens’ private communications is authorised by legislative enactments such as the Indian Telegraph Act and the Information Technology Act, which allow Indian law enforcement agencies to closely monitor phone calls, texts, e-mails and general Internet activity on a number of broadly worded grounds. The issue of phone tapping has often led to controversies in India including in 2010, when tapped conversations of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia with businessmen, politicians and journalists got leaked. Only a few agencies in India are authorised to tap phones and a rigorous screening process is said to be in place for grant of such authorisations. As per the report, Network Traffic Analysis (NETRA) storage servers will be installed at more than 1000 locations across India. The Controller of Certifying Authorities uses Section 28 of the IT Act, an ambiguous provision, to collect user data from technology companies. An RTI request revealed that they have made 73 requests under this provision in 2011. (Deccan Herald 4/9/14)

46. RTI activist shot at after seeking info from village head in UP (1)

Meerut: A 48-year-old RTI activist was shot at near his home in Tofapur village here after he had sought information from the village head about the development works undertaken in the area. The victim, identified as Kailash, was attacked yesterday and is now out of danger, police said. Resident of Tofapur, Kailash had twice sought information under the RTI from the village head about the development works undertaken in the area and the expenses on them, SHO, Inchauli police station, T S Yadav said. After being allegedly denied information by the village head (‘gram pradhan’), Kailash lodged a complaint in this connection with the State Information Commission in Lucknow and the SIC had fixed a hearing on September 5, Yadav said. The activist was shot at near his house when he was on his way to Lucknow yesterday, he said. He was taken to nearby hospital where the doctors removed the bullet he had sustained in the attack, he said. Four persons including the village head have been booked after a complaint filed by the family of the victim, police said. (Zee news 5/9/14)

47. Now, track your RTI appeal online (1)

CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu state information commission, often in the news for the wrong reasons, is now set to facilitate a system where applicants seeking information under the Right to Information Act can track their appeals. The system, through which case details will be provided to RTI applicants via SMS, is expected to be in place by month-end. Those filing appeals with the state information commission will receive an SMS mentioning the case number and the date of hearing. The commission now sends notices to applicants by post. The facility will be available to only those who mention their mobile phone numbers on appeals and make a specific request to avail of the facility. The commission had conducted discussions with Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (Elcot), National Informatics Centre (NIC) and mobile service providers like BSNL to develop the software and integrate the messaging service. Under the plan, every RTI petitioner will receive three text messages – the first when the case number is generated, the second after the case is posted for hearing and the third when it is disposed. Initially, an information commission official said, they would send only the first message to applicants on a trial basis. The petitioner will be able to track the application by the case number. “Applicants can also use case numbers to get information and check the status of the case on www.tnsic.gov.in,” he said. Details such as the names of petitioners and respondents, case number and address will be available on the website, he added. The commission, which each year receives as many as 56,000 appeals, is hamstrung by a severe shortage of manpower and funds. Asked if there was a plan to introduce an online appeal filing system for applicants on the lines of the a system in Bihar, he said a proposal had been sent to the government. “We haven’t received any response.” Under the system that is in vogue in Bihar, citizens can file RTI applications by simply dialling the Jaankari helpline number that was launched in 2007. The operator receiving the call drafts the application and sends it to the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the department concerned for providing the requisite information to the applicant. RTI activists in Tamil Nadu have for long been demanding that the government replicate that system in the state. (Times of India 9/9/14)

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

48. Check dropout rate among tribal students: DDC (11)

KALPETTA: A district development committee (DDC) meeting chaired by Collector Kesavendrakumar on Friday directed the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) officials to take steps to check the dropout rate among tribal students. The district administration had taken up the issue seriously and would convene a meeting of officials of the Education Department, Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, District Institute of Education and Training, and Rashtriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyan here soon, Mr. Kesavendrakumar said. The meeting directed engineers of local administrative bodies to submit estimates for projects of the district panchayat before September 15. Pointing out the pathetic condition of the district medical office building at Mananthavady, District Medical Officer Neeta Vijayan requested the DDC to shift the office to a nearby building of the Kerala Medical Services Corporation. The meeting directed the lead bank manager to ensure that all banks in the district followed the guidelines of the Reserve Bank of India in providing education loans to beneficiaries. The meeting urged the government to fill vacant posts of senior officials in the Revenue Department in the district. Senior officials of various departments attended the meet. (The Hindu 31/8/14)

49. CBSE evaluation system needs thorough review, says Haryana report (11)

New Delhi: The CBSE’s Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) system, which entails frequent evaluation of students, needs a “thorough review” in design and appropriateness, as well as in teaching training and implementation, says an impact evaluation report carried out in various government schools in Haryana. The CCE, which intends to help improve a student’s performance by identifying his/her learning difficulties at regular intervals and employing suitable remedial measures, was introduced by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in 2009 under the Right to Education (RTE) Act. Carried out in 500 government primary and upper primary schools in Haryana, the evaluation intended to quantify the effect of CCE and NGO Pratham’s Learning Enhancement Programme (LEP) that provides teachers with the “right tools and space” enabling them to teach according to a child’s competency level. “There are a variety of issues that affect the Indian education system — lack of physical, human resources and financial inputs, lack of teacher accountability, inappropriate pedagogy and curriculum, health, knowledge barriers of students and parents,” Shobhini Mukerji, executive director, Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J—PAL), South Asia, told IANS. The Haryana government partnered with research centre J-PAL to conduct a rigorous randomised impact evaluation of both CCE and LEP in two districts — Mahendragarh and Kurukshetra. The primary schools evaluated were divided into four groups of 100 each. Group one received only CCE treatment, group two received only LEP, group three received both programmes simultaneously and group four received neither. The students were tested on their abilities in basic Hindi and basic math — written and oral. The 100 upper primary schools surveyed were divided into two lots, one where CCE was in force and other where it wasn’t. (The LEP is applicable to only primary schools.) Sharing the results of the evaluation, Harini Kannan, senior research manager, J-PAL South Asia, said that the LEP demonstrates that government teachers can improve learning outcomes through changes in teaching practices. “The CCE programme had no significant effect on test scores for students in either primary or upper primary schools. The CCE scheme, in its current form, needs a thorough review in design and appropriateness, as well as in teacher training and implementation,” Kannan told. (The Hindu 1/9/14)

50. U’khand pvt schools asked to register with education dept (11)

DEHRADUN: Private schools in the city have been asked to adhere to the Right to Education (RTE) Act and register themselves with the state education department. In a letter to the department, the state commission for protection of child rights (SCPCR) has asked to initiate registration of all CBSE and ICSe schools in Uttarakhand. Private schools affiliated to these two prominent boards that had not registered with the department were violating RTE norms. “There is some confusion in the education department regarding the RTE Act. CBSE and ICSE are examination affiliation boards in India and have nothing to do with standards mentioned in the RTE which are compulsory for a school to function. Education being a state subject, recognising schools is the work of the education department,” said Ajay Setia, chairperson of SCPCR. The SCPCR has now asked the education department to submit a report regarding the current situation of the private schools and their recognition within 15 days. Post the implementation of the RTE Act in the state, all private schools were to be recognised by the state education department, if they met basic standards mentioned under section 18 of the Act. Schools that had been established before the Act came into force had to re-register themselves. The education department gives the schools recognised status and issues no-objection certificates only if they meet basic standards as per the Act. Thereafter, they can further apply to respective education boards for affiliation. (Times of India 3/9/14)

51. Delhi’s govt schools not hiring Urdu teachers, Muslim students forced to study Sanskrit (11)

NEW DELHI: Over 14,800 Muslim students across 100 Delhi government schools are being forced to study Sanskrit as there is no recruitment of Urdu teachers. Some schools, like the Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya, Sultanpuri Block H, have as many as 789 Muslim students; yet there are no Urdu teachers appointed. According to NGO Nawa-E-Haque.Despite, despite directions from Directorate of Education (DoE), a majority of schools don’t have Urdu teachers, thereby violating the Delhi School Education Act, 1973 and other constitutional laws, which grant the option of opting for one’s mother tongue as third language from class VI to X. On May 21, 2012, the welfare branch of DoE issued a circular directing heads of the schools to record the student’s language preference at the time of admission; and also directed the Post Fixation Cell (PFC) to intimate the DoE about requirement of teachers in the opted language. Again, on July 15, 2013, the assistant director of education (PFC) wrote to all deputy directors of education in every district for creation of posts for Urdu teachers in Delhi’s government schools. The deputy directors were asked to give the exact number of Urdu teachers required, based on current student enrolment, by July 24, 2013. Asad Ghazi, president of Nawa-E-Haque said that, based on an RTI with regard to a 100 schools, despite official orders, “A majority of Delhi government schools do not have provisions for teaching Urdu due to which Muslim students are left with no option except studying Sanskrit.” According to Ghazi, a representation and the first list of 100 schools have been forwarded to the DoE, National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, National Commissioner of Linguistics Minorities, Central Board of Secondary Education and Urdu Academy. He said that they are also working on a second list, where the situation looks no different. Of the 100 schools cited by the NGO, 50 of them have 100 or more Muslim students and 16 of them have 250 or more such students who are made to study Sanskrit. Despite many attempts, the director of DoE could not be contacted. (Times of India 2/9/14)

52. Madhya Pradesh govt decides to re-introduce board exams to Class V, VIII (11)

Madhya Pradesh government has decided to re-introduce board exams for classes V and VIII. Currently this is in contravention to Right to Education Act and mandates an amendment in the act. A decision to this effect has been taken in a bid to improve the deplorable state of education in government schools. Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his cabinet colleagues including school education minister Paras Jain, tribal welfare minister Gyan Singh and rural development minister Gopal Bhargava acknowledged poor performance of students of government schools and blamed it on absence of board exams in classes V and VIII. “It is necessary to re-introduce class V and VIII board exams to improve performance of students. However, this goes against Section 30 of RTE Act whereby no board exams would be conducted till class VIII. We have sent a proposal to the Union government to repeal this section accordingly,” said Chouhan. He also subtly criticized banning of corporal punishment under RTE Act and called it love of the teacher. “When we were late to school, our teachers used to punish us and even our parents supported them to make us better humans. Now teachers are scared to even raise a finger lest they be penalised for it. A student cannot develop without such discipline,” he said. Chouhan also advocated setting up of an education commission that will provide suggestions for improving the syllabus. “Commission will comprise experts who would recommend changes in syllabus to state government and other related matters,” he said. Minister of state Deepak Joshi said that 39,000 vacancies of teachers in the state will be filled up. At felicitation function, 12 teachers were given away Rs 25,000 each. Teachers conferred President’s Medals last year were also felicitated on the occasion. Deepti Agnihotri and Dhirendra Singh Tomar from Bhopal were among those felicitated. (Times of India 5/9/14)

53. ‘Minority’ Becomes an Excuse to Evade RTE Admissions (11)

CHENNAI: Although the number of admissions through RTE for this academic year has almost doubled since the last, exemptions for minority institutions and the very criteria for being a ‘minority’ are giving schools an escape route. Under the Supreme Court ruling in May 2014, minority institutions are not obliged to reserve 25 per cent seats for economically weaker students; the schools are supposed to have a certificate declaring them as a minority institution in order to avail the exemption. RTE awareness volunteers have found that some schools use the easy excuse of being a minority and deny admissions. Chennai has a list of 40 schools that officially have minority status, and around 30 others have applied for it, says A Subramanian, Inspector for Matriculation Schools. “But the number who claim minority status is far more,” says Kota Ashwim Kumar, a project coordinator from the NGO Bhumi, which has been actively working for RTE awareness and implementation.  “One school in Tondiarpet that we approached told us not to bother with the RTE quota in his school as they were definitely going to get the minority status,” he says. In States such as Karnataka, the Directorate of School Education has put up the list of recognised minority schools online, so that the public can easily check if the school’s claim is validated. But in Tamil Nadu, according to an official from the Directorate of Matriculation Schools, a list has been made and is still being updated. The idea of ‘minority’ itself had undergone dilution over the years. According to Subramanian, the minority tag used to be decided based on the population of the area and the percentage of students who fell under the official minority groups. “But after a Government order in 2008, the law was amended. Now, if the management of the school belongs to a minority community, it gets the minority status,” he says. “The Tamil Nadu government is being strict about granting minority status and has rejected many applications, but in some cases, the rejected applicant has taken the case to the Central government in order to fight for the status.” With many schools making the application that also leaves the question of what will happen to the students who get admitted through RTE in a school that later gets minority status. Subramanian responds that the department will protect the admission status of these children. “The exemption is not compulsory and we will reimburse minority schools that have given admission under the RTE,” he says. (New Indian Express 9/9/14)

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

54. Widespread poverty & joblessness a reality: Hamid Ansari (21)

Dehradun: Vice-President of India Hamid Ansari on Tuesday said widespread poverty and unemployment were realities in India and the fruits of development had reached people unevenly in the country. “While much has been achieved by us as a people in the decades of independence, the fruits of development have reached the public unevenly. We still have starvation deaths, which exist with high levels of malnutrition and under nutrition. Widespread poverty and unemployment are realities. So is the lack of basic civic amenities such as healthcare, education, water-supply, sanitation, transport and communication. Acute social and gender inequality and related discrimination are pervasive in our society. India ranks 135 out of 187 countries on the UNDP’s Human Development Index,” Ansari said at the inauguration of the 89th Foundation Course at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration in Mussoorie, near here. Stating that India had the dubious distinction of being home to the largest number of poor in the world with around one-third of the population below poverty line, he said this was compounded by the existence of the social discrimination and inequality based on caste, religion and region. “This does not mean that successive governments and generations of civil servants in independent India have not tried to address the maladies that afflict our economy and society. Programmes aimed at poverty alleviation, employment generation, literacy, food security, healthcare and shelter have been launched. Subsidies for food, energy and agricultural inputs have been provided at a heavy cost to the exchequer. Nevertheless, the outcomes of these programmes could have been better,” Ansari said. “Besides the magnitude and complexity of our developmental challenges, poor programme implementation or leakages in the public services delivery have been diagnosed as reasons for our under-achievement in the development agenda. The figures of leakage and wastage of resources are astronomical. If these are plugged and resources utilised more efficiently, realisation of our development goals could be hastened substantially,” he said. In this overarching philosophy of governance and public administration, Ansari said the civil service became the principal vehicle for delivery of public goods and services to the people. A politically neutral but committed to public service bureaucracy was thus a sine qua non for the smooth functioning of a democratic government, such as India, the Vice President said. (Business Standard 2/9/14)

55. Half of Delhi’s 18 lakh ration cards fake (21)

New Delhi: More than 850,000 of Delhi’s 1.8 million ration card holders are suspected to be bogus, a government enrolment drive has found out. Delhi government had launched the initiative to update their database and enrol people for providing subsidised ration under the food security scheme, which caters to nearly 6.5 million people in the Capital. After the scheme was rolled out last year, about 632,000 card holders under various categories  — below poverty line, Antyodaya Anna Yojana, jhuggi ration cards and resettlement colony ration cards — were automatically included and started getting subsidised ration. “Immediately after, we launched a drive asking everyone to come forward so that we could update their information but 152,000 didn’t come forward, despite several opportunities. We have now stopped their ration supply as we suspect these are bogus cases,” said a senior Delhi government official. In addition, the government asked 1.15 million people — under the above poverty line (APL) category — to enrol for the programme. These people weren’t part of the food security scheme when it was launched last year but received ration under existing plans. “Out of the 1.15 million, 700,000 didn’t enrol themselves, despite several reminders. We immediately stopped their ration in July. We suspect these card holders do not exist and some fair price shop owners were using them to divert food grains,” the official said. But enrolment is still on and if some of these defaulters are still able to provide details, they will be included, the official added. More than 500,000 new ration cards have been issued in the Capital to extend the food security scheme, he said. Delhi was the first state in the country to roll out the food security scheme in September 2013. Under the scheme – launched in two phases – the eldest woman in a family gets rice for Rs. 3 and wheat for Rs. 2 per kilogram respectively. Any family whose annual income is less than Rs. 1 lakh is eligible for the scheme. (Hindustan Times 3/9/14)

56. Telangana’s forgotten people: Primitive tribe survives on forest animals (21)

Warangal (Telangana) : They live close to the town but are miles away from civilization, living in utter poverty and inhuman conditions. They are Chenchus, a primitive tribe, in two villages barely 45 km from this town in the heart of Telangana state. The majority of the 57 families in Chenchu Colony, a tribal hamlet of Chennapur village, survive on rats, cats, dogs, squirrels and other animals they hunt. Similar are the conditions of 24 families of Bhavusinghpally village. The fruits of development have not reached the Chenchus, a majority of whom never stepped out of their villages till this week when Telangana assembly Speaker S. Madhusudana Chary brought them to Warangal to take them around. Though this aboriginal tribe mostly lives in the forests of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Odisha, the two Chenchu villages are located in the plain area. Their ancestors are believed to have come from deep forests and settled down over a century ago. Wretchedness is writ large on their faces. With no decent and proper roof available to them, the frail-looking men and women and their children are prone to many ailments. Some work as farm labourers in nearby villages but their earnings are not enough to make both ends meet. Like all others, Swamy of Chenchu Colony has no count of his age. “I don’t know. It may be 40 to 45,” Swamy told IANS. Working as a part-time labourer, he and his wife earn Rs.250 a month each to look after a family of four. Swamy was a sarpanch or village head of Chennapur a few years ago. People in the village say he was made the sarpanch as the post is reserved for a Scheduled Tribe but other people exercised the powers on his behalf. “We are just carrying on with our lives,” says a dejected Swamy who wears no footwear. The condition of others in the village can be imagined. The Chenchus feel reluctant to speak to outsiders. “I don’t know what this tour is all about,” said Bandikoramma as she accompanied her son, daughter-in-law and other family members in the bus which brought them to the town. “They speak Telugu. But when we go to their village, they hesitate to say anything and also get frightened on seeing outsiders,” said L. Raji Reddy, a former sarpanch who lives in Chennapur. “They want to continue their traditions. But it is not just their hesitation to accept changes which is responsible for their pathetic conditions. Successive governments have also failed to ensure that development reached them,” said G. Bhaskar, a professor of economics at Kaktiya University, Warangal. The houses built by the government for them in 2001 were of poor quality and lacked toilets and even doors. Some families send their children to schools in other villages. Swamy’s two children walk four kilometres each day to reach their school. The village had no cement road or electricity till Madhusudhan Chary, the leader of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) from Bhupalapally constituency, took the initiative. “I had promised that I will do my best to improve their condition. I am fulfilling this promise,” Chary told IANS. After taking over as the speaker in June, he spent money from his salary to distribute rice, clothes, bulbs and fans among Chenchus. He ensured the construction of an anganwadi centre and a road. He took interest in organizing the tour of the town and showed them historic places like Warangal fort, the thousand pillar temple and the Bhadrakali temple. A Telugu film was screened for them. Chary is also drawing up plans to provide better source of livelihood for the tribals. “I want to see light in their lives,” said the speaker. (Business Standard 5/9/14)

57. Wars in west Asia threaten world’s food security (21)

Millions of people could in future face starvation as an indirect result of the violent turmoil in the Middle East, which has the highest concentration of wild crop plants needed to produce new food varieties, scientists said. Civil wars raging in Syria and Iraq threaten future food resources because of the crucial role the region plays as the home of the wild plants continually needed to improve genetic quality of domesticated crops. The region, part of the Fertile Crescent, an ancient area of fertile soil and vital rivers stretching in an arc from the Nile to the Tigris and Euphrates and encompassing Iraq, Syria and the Lebanon, has the greatest diversity of “wild crop relatives” in the world. Yet many of these plants are endangered as a result of the civil strife, said Nigel Maxted of the University of Birmingham’s School of Biosciences. “The Middle East is where the basis of our future food security is located… Wheat is not a native UK species. It was brought from the Fertile Crescent centuries ago,” Maxted said. “If we’re trying to get food security in Europe, the issue is not conserving species that are currently found in Europe, but conserving species that are found in the Fertile Crescent, which is where the crops that we consume every day generally come from.” Experts from Birmingham University are involved in a new initiat tive by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to help I conserve the wild relatives of crops in countries where they are found, especially in conflict zones. “You can have a range of seeds, but the best thing is to conserve them where they are found,” Maxted said. The two sites with the richest concentrations of wild crop relatives anywhere in the world lie within Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel. The inventory indicates that, globally , about 21% of wild crop relatives face extinction. (Times of India 9/9/14)

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

58. 56 bonded labour of Chhattisgarh rescued from J&K brick kiln

RAIPUR: Following several incidents of bonded labour and human trafficking in Chhattisgarh, fresh case of nearly 56 bonded labours of state being kept in confinement and forced to work without payment and food at Jammu & Kashmir has come to the fore. Cases of rescuing bonded labour of state has taken a toll in last two years with 350 labours rescued by a Delhi based NGO — Bonded labour liberation front. Director of NGO Nirmal Gorana told TOI that these 56 labours were sold off by Faggu to a contractor in Jammu who shuttled them from Jammu to Kashmir as per the requirement of work. “The lot of 56 includes 31 children with minimum seven month old baby to maximum 50 year old man. The children were also used as labours at brick kiln. While they lead their life with advance payment given to them in tits and bits, the contractor has neither paid them from last three months, nor has provided food or allowed them to return home,” Nirmal said. The natives of Chhattisgarh are on their return journey and after working for over a year, they have nothing to bring back home, in stead the little silver ornaments and utensils they had were sold off to arrange for food. Talking about insensitive attitude of Chhattisgarh government and administration at J&K Nirmal also alleged of receiving threats not to indulge amid non co-operative attitude of governments. Rather a divisional commissioner at Jammu claimed that they have not noticed any initiation by Chhattisgarh government on the issue while thousands of labour from state migrate to J&K through local brokers who violate interstate migrant worksmen Act. “But there was no monitoring or regulation being done against the local touts by labour department,” Nirmal alleged. Over 117 bonded labours were rescued from J&K in February this year by same NGO. (Times of India 29/8/14)

59. Minimum pension of one thousand rupees under EPFO; wage ceiling up at Rs 15K (14)

New Delhi: The much-awaited minimum monthly pension of Rs 1,000 and a higher wage ceiling of Rs 15,000 for social security schemes run by retirement fund manager EPFO will be implemented from September 1. The government’s decision to fix pension entitlement of Rs 1,000 under the Employees’ Pension Scheme 1995 (EPFS-95) will immediately benefit 28 lakh pensioners who get less than this amount at present. The move to enhance the minimum wage ceiling for becoming a subscriber of Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation to Rs 15,000 per month is expected to bring 50 lakh additional formal sector workers under the ambit of the body. “The government has notified enhancement of wage ceiling to Rs 15,000 per month, fixed minimum monthly pension at Rs 1,000 under EPS-95 and enhanced the maximum sum assured under the Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance (EDLI) Scheme to Rs three lakh,” EPFO’s Central Provident Fund Commission K K Jalan told PTI. Jalan said: “Now the maximum sum assured under the EDLI works out to be Rs 3.6 lakh including 20 per cent ad hoc benefit over the prescribed amount under the notification.” This means that in case an EPFO subscriber dies, his family will be entitled to maximum sum assured of Rs 3.6 lakh instead of existing Rs 1.56 lakh. Jalan said the notification regarding minimum pension, wage ceiling and EDLI would be effected from September 1. Thus all pensioners getting less than Rs 1,000 per month would get at least this much pension from October. The decision to provide the entitlement under EPS-95 was taken by the Union Cabinet in its meeting held on February 28. But it could not be implemented earlier because the model code of conduct came into force after the general election dates were announced on March 5. The decision will immediately benefit about 28 lakh pensioners, including 5 lakh widows. In all, there are 44 lakh pensioners under the EPFO scheme. The EPFO’s apex decision making body the Central Board of Trustees (CBT) had met on February 5 and decided to amend the EPS-95 scheme for the purpose. (The Financial Express 29/8/14)

60. Water conservation works under rural job act (14)

New Delhi: The rural development ministry Tuesday ordered district administrations to ensure that water conservation work like construction of check dams and de-silting of traditional water bodies are taken up under the rural job act to mitigate drought-like situation. The order was given by Union Rural Development Minister Nitin Gadkari in a bid to mitigate drought and drought-like situation and scarcity, an official release said. The minister ordered that 50 percent of all jobs taken up at district levels under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) should be for water conservation like check dam construction, de-silting of traditional water bodies, minor irrigation tanks and canals. The decision was taken in response to widespread criticism by parliamentarians and people’s representatives at the local level that MNREGA has become a source of corruption and that no productive assets are being created through the rural job scheme, the release said. Gadkari also directed his ministry to ensure that all payments and fund transfers to states be made on e-payment platform and on a just in time basis so that wage payment is not delayed beyond one week in any case. (Business Standard 2/9/14)

61. Gadkari orders sweeping changes in rural job scheme (14)

New Delhi: Union Minister for Rural Development Nitin Gadkari has “ordered sweeping changes” in the MGNREGA(Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act), mandating that 50 per cent of all the works that are taken up at the district-level under the scheme should only be for water conservation, according to an official statement released here. The Minister has taken this decision with a view to mitigating drought and drought-like situation, it added. The other changes that Mr. Gadkari plans to introduce include focussing the Centre’s efforts only on the 2,500 backward districts identified by the Planning Commission, a top Ministry source told The Hindu. He also instructed the officials to reverse a 2011 decision of the UPA government which allowed States to seek funds from the MGNREGA allocations for constructing Individual Household Latrines (IHHL) under the guidelines of the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan. When contacted, an expert warned that the Rural Development Minister’s move to dictate from Delhi what works should be taken up at the district level goes against the spirit of the Act even if his intention seems fine in a period of monsoon shortfall. “He could have instead called for educating Gram Sabhas on the need for water conservation works right now and let them make the final choice as the Act mandates,” the expert said requesting anonymity. Commenting on Mr. Gadkari’s decision to dictate to line agencies at the district-level, Rajya Sabha member and CPI (M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat told the The Hindu: “The decision is incremental dilution by Nitin Gadkari to completely destroy the MGNREGA… the Gram Sabhas deciding the works is critical to the Act, but he is centralising this and making changes to an Act passed by Parliament without reference to Parliament.” In a period of drought, the main effort of the Centre should have been to provide work and livelihood to those dependent on agriculture, and instead it has reduced fund allocations and is now telling States to target only certain districts, Ms. Karat said. The UPA government had in September 2011 approved sanitation facilities as one of the permissible works under the Act on the basis of requests from States, according to a Ministry circular. The Ministry source explained that the two schemes were converged as the rules under the Act provided for physical inspections to check if the IHHLs were actually constructed. Nirmal Bharat, however, had no such a provision by which the Centre could effectively find out what was happening to the funds it was allocating, he said. Though it could be argued, he said that even under the MGNREGA the physical inspections, audits and other checks remained largely on paper but at least the provision was there. (The Hindu 4/9/14)

62. Bank accounts for unorganised labourers in Chhattisgarh (14)

Raipur : Saving accounts of more than 1.4 million labourers, of unorganised sector, will be opened in various banks under Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana in Chhattisgarh. The decision was taken in the review of meeting of labour department that was chaired by Chief Minister Raman Singh. He opined that both Chhattisgarh Building and Other Construction Labourers Welfare Board (Chhattisgarh Bhavan Avam Anya Sannirmaan Karmkaar Mandal) and Chhattisgarh Unorganised Labourers Welfare Board should work for registration of labourers so that they could avail the benefited under different schemes. The meeting decided that the labourers would be encouraged to open bank accounts under Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana. The Chhattisgarh Building and Other Construction Labourers Welfare Board has registered 747,000 labourers and Chhattisgarh Unorganised Labourers Welfare Board has registered 664,000 labourers, till date. Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana would encourage the labourers to develop the habit of saving. Under the scheme, they would be provided accidental insurance of Rs 1 lakh and general insurance cover of Rs 30,000. The meeting also discussed child labourers’ issue. The chief minister said that rehabilitation of child labourers was important and the assignment should be taken with a serious note. Various departments of the state government would work with mutual coordination for identification and rehabilitation of child labourers and to provide them education facilities. Grade-III field-level officers of all the development-related departments would be given powers of labour inspector for identification of child labourers. The officers would conduct surprise inspections and file criminal case in labour courts against the employers, who are found to have hired child labourers of age 14 years and below, under rules and procedures of Child Labour Act. Singh said the industries involving jobs of life-risk should ensure security of labourers as top-most priority. The labourers should be provided required security equipment and should be trained in using these equipment. (Business Standard 7/9/14)

63. Govt contractual workers bereft of social security, leave (14)

New Delhi: Contractual workers employed with some of the Union ministries and departments are not extended benefits like Provident Fund, pension and other social security schemes, according to a reply to an RTI query. The employees working on contract or those hired via outsourcing from different agencies don’t have any provisions of availing extra leave apart from the mandatory national holidays and weekly-offs, the Ministry of Labour and Employment said in reply to a RTI petition. The employees also have no provisions for annual salary appraisal and are continuing on the same salary for years, it said. Moreover, after the end of their contract period they have to sit for an exam or an interview for the same post. The contractual workers are recruited by the ministries or departments directly while outsourced workers are hired via contractors or agencies. However, outsourced employees get PF benefit which is provided to them by the concerned contractor or agency through which they are hired, even though they do not get extra holidays. “Workers hired through outsourcing do not get any holidays except national holidays and weekly-off,” the Ministry said. It also said that the PF scheme is not extended to contractual workers. Till July 2014, a total of around 700 contractual or outsourced employees were working in the Union Ministry of Labour and its related bodies. However, the ministry did not reply on the number of such workers in other Central ministries and departments. (Zee news 8/9/14)

RESERVATION

64. Dhangars stage protest to push ST status demand (25)

NASHIK: Members of the Dhangar Samaj Aarakshan Kruti Samiti staged a protest at the district collectorate on Monday to push their demand for inclusion of the community in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category. Members sported black ribbons and submitted the requisition to the district collector. The members alleged that the state government was deliberately delaying decision regarding their demand, which has hurt the sentiments of the people in the community. Members of Dhangar, a shepherd community, have been consistently seeking their inclusion in ST category claiming that the community was already listed in the Centre’s ST list. They were only seeking implementation of the same in the state. They have threatened to boycott polls if the demand is not met. The Dhangar community has reservation under Nomadic Tribes in the state and is the only caste under the banner enjoying 3.5% of reservation. The ST category, however, has 47 different tribes with reservation of 7% and the SC category has 59 castes with reservation of 13% in the 52% reservation in the state. Bhaulal Tambde of the Samiti said that the issue has not been resolved since 1980, when the state government took back its recommendation to the central government that the community should be included in the ST category for reservations. “The Centre has included ?Dhangad’ in ST category and even the state government in the year 1976 had sent a letter to the central government saying that the ?Dhangar’ in Maharashtra was same and ?Dhangad’ and hence it be included in ST-fold. The government, however, withdrew its letter in 1980,” he added. (Times of India 2/9/14)

65. Gujjars plan a ‘final showdown’ with govt on quota demand (25)

JAIPUR: The Rajasthan Gurjar Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti has declared to launch a “final agitation” from September 28 to get 5% quota in government jobs for the special backward classes (SBC). The decision was taken at a meeting presided by the Samiti leader Kirori Singh Bainsla at his village near Hindaun late Tuesday night. “The state government has ignored two ultimatums of 15 days each to act on our demand. In the month-long period the government made no attempts to talk to us or make its stand known in any way, thereby letting us believe that it was not interested in a peaceful resolution of the issue. We, therefore, have no option but to launch an agitation,” Samiti spokesperson Himmat Singh told TOI on Wednesday. Singh added, “But this would be our final agitation; this time we will take our quota at any cost.” The SBC quota of 5% was currently stuck in Rajasthan high court as it was on contravention of the Supreme Court guidelines. The guidelines mandate that the total quota for socially backward communities in government jobs and educational institutes should not exceed 50%. Rajasthan already had a quota of 49% (21% for OBC, 16% for SC and 12% for ST), before the previous Vasundhara Raje government (2003-2008) passed an Act to add 5% quota for the SBC too. The Raje government did so following violent agitations by the Gujjars in 2007 and 2008 wherein around 70 people from the community were killed in police firing. “BJP’s manifesto for the 2013 assembly elections clearly mentioned that our demand will be fulfilled by getting the reservation Act covered by Constitution’s Schedule IX to take it out of the courts’ purview. After becoming the chief minister, Vasundhara Raje repeated the promise during Lok Sabha elections. Yet, in past nine months nothing has moved in the matter,” the Samiti spokesperson said. “Chief whip Kalu Lal Gurjar and MLA Prahlad Gunjal (both from the Gujjar community) are now misleading people that the matter was sub-judice so they cannot speak about it. If it were so, why did the BJP include it in its manifesto?” Singh pointed out. The Samiti also targeted education minister Kalicharan Sarraf and minister of state for social justice and empowerment Arun Chaturvedi for two recent government decisions. As per the Samiti, the government failed to give admissions to 800 SBC students under the Dev Narayan Gurukul Yojana. Further, the Samiti said, the government was allowing 50% seats in the schools exclusively meant for SBC children to be filled with students from SC and ST categories. “This is treachery with us and we are going to oppose BJP in the assembly bypolls on this matter,” spokesperson Singh said. The Samiti would lunch the agitation from village Katara-Ajij, which is 4 km from Bainsla’s village Mundia and 8 km from Hindaun in the heart of “Jagroti”?the region of 84 villages of Gujjar dominance in north-eastern Rajasthan. “For next 15-20 days we will hold small community panchayats across the state to prepare Gujjars for a final battle with the state government,” said Singh. The Samiti was bitter about the alleged phone calls being made by the police to their leaders to demand personal details like names and addresses of their relatives, their properties and occupations. (Times of India 4/9/14)

66. Kerala BJP Seeks Discontinuation of Ranganath Report on Dalits

NEW DELHI: Kerala BJP Sunday sought discontinuation of the Ranganath Mishra Commission report which has recommended inclusion of convert Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in the list of Scheduled Castes. Kerala BJP chief V Muraleedharan expressed hope that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will take part in the 152nd birth anniversary celebrations of Kerala Dalit icon Ayyankali here tomorrow, would articulate the government’s view on the report. He said that any move to implement the Ranganatha Mishra Commission report would “jeopardise the interests of Scheduled Castes”.”Ranganatha Mishra Commission report should discontinue.That view (of BJP) is well known. I hope on this occasion, Prime Minister may make some reference on this aspect,” Muraleedharan said, amid demands from a significant section of the society that the converted Dalits should be granted reservation under SC quota. Noting that Scheduled Caste status in the country was decided on the basis of untouchability which prevailed only in the Hindu society, he said no religious follower other than a Hindu should be granted any reservation as Scheduled Castes in the community. “We are not demanding that their (convert Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims) backward status should not be considered.If at all there is backwardness still existing after embracing other faiths, let them be given some other reservations. Not as part of the existing SC reservation,” he said. BJP has said that educational level of Scheduled Castes children remains much lower than that of convert Dalit Christians and Muslims and if they are granted reservation under SC Quota, the children of converts would grab major share of reservation in government jobs. The party also says that the convert Dalit Christians and Muslims would become eligible to contest election on seats reserved for Scheduled Castes, if the Ranganatha Mishra Commission report is implemented. The Kerala BJP also fears that implementation of report would encourage conversion and destroy the fabric of Indian society. Ayyankali’s birth anniversary celebrations are being jointly organised by the National Scheduled Caste Morcha of BJP and Kerala Pulayar Mahasabha, a Dalit organisation once close to CPI(M) in Kerala. (New Indian Express 7/9/14)

67. Appeal to extend reservation to all SCs without discrimination

PUDUCHERRY: The Puducherry Scheduled Caste (SC) People’s Welfare Association has appealed to Government to extend reservation to all SC people without showing any discrimination among them. The office bearers of the association led by its president M.Panchatchram submitted a memorandum to the Chief Secretary Chetan B.Sanghi on Wednesday. In the memorandum they said, the government had been conferring reservation benefits upon SC people living in the Union Territory from 1964 to 1995 without any discrimination. Such reservation had been abruptly denied to section of SC people who were treated as SC migrant from 1995 onwards. In 1998, the Supreme Court had asserted the right of SC people in the Union territory to avail reservation- without any discrimination against ‘migrants’. The association said in disregard to directions of the Supreme Court, the government issued two orders in 2005 which deprived the fundamental rights of reservation to SC people. By its latest judgement, the apex court has once again bailed out SCs. “As per 2011 census, the SC population is 1,96,325 which constitutes 15.73 per cent of the total population. The government should provide for 16 per cent reservation to all without showing any discrimination between them, said Mr.Panchatcharam. (The Hindu 8/9/14)

68. Transgenders to be part of RTE quota in private schools (25)

CHENNAI: D. Sabitha, secretary, School Education, recently said the State will include the transgender community in the 25 per cent reservation in private schools for economically backward sections, children from the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and orphaned children. Under the adult and continuing education programme, a pilot project in Salem, Erode, Dharmapuri and Villupuram has been started. “Rather than starting a separate programme for transgender people, we decided to include them in the regular education programme, promoting inclusive education,” said V. Balaji, director of the State Resource Centre for Adult and Continuing Education. Mr. Balaji said the adult education programme deploys transgender activists in each of the districts. “Since the transgender association has a census of the number of persons and the literacy levels of the people in their community, it makes things easier for us. We have also trained transgenders to be resource persons,” he said. Activists say these are all positive steps, but more needs to be done. Though their inclusion has been mandated by law, transgenders still face practical problems when it comes to enroling in schools and colleges. In spite of the notification for the inclusive education of transgenders under the Right to Education Act in 2011, so far, not a single transgender has been enroled in schools through the scheme. Problems such as having to use the common toilet with others or even the general lack of sensitivity are among the stumbling blocks being cited by transgender activists. “Tamil Nadu has always been ahead when it comes to promoting transgender rights. This year, both Anna University and Madras University have allotted seats for transgenders. Encouraging the transgender population to study will help,” transgender activist Stella Mary from Dharmapuri said. R. Jeeva from the We Community Action Network (We CAN) said, while there were a number of very useful schemes in place, there was a need to make transgender rights part of policy decisions. “So far, there have been no budgetary allocations in educational institutions for transgenders or a separate policy on what happens if they are sexually harassed or ragged,” she said. Others feel that there is a need for a gender counselling centre. According to transgender activist Priya Babu, “Many transgender students go through harassment including sexual abuse and ragging. With a gender counselling centre, these students will be able to access help readily. Also, if the institution appoints one transgender teaching or non-teaching staff member, the stigma associated with them will also come down.” Another serious problem that transgender students face is the lack of toilets. “When they are young, transgender students are confused about which toilet they should use, which creates a lot of psychological issues. There has to be a separate toilet for transgender in schools and colleges,” she said. (The Hindu 9/9/14)

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

69. Amnesty accuses Islamic State militants of ethnic cleansing in Iraq (1)

BAGHDAD: Amnesty International has accused the militant Islamic State group of carrying out a systematic campaign of mass killings, abductions and ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq that could amount to war crimes. The rights group said the extremists, who in June overran parts of northern and western Iraq, have systematically targeted religious minorities. In a report on Tuesday, Amnesty said the Islamic State group fighters expelled Christians, Shiites, Yazidis and others from their homes. The report documented several cases where the militants carried out mass killings of Yazidi men, rounding up men and boys and killing them in groups. The report also documented the abduction of hundreds of Yazidi women and children. It said the fate of most of the abducted women and children is still unknown. (The Hindu 2/9/14)

70. NHRC to host annual meet of rights groups today (1)

New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission will on Wednesday host the 19th annual general meeting of the Asia-Pacific Forum (APF) of the National Human Rights Institutions. The meeting aims to promote cooperation, coordination and promotion of human rights issues in the Asia-Pacific region. The forum that includes 15 NHRIs and six associate members across the Asia-Pacific region will discuss their collective agenda on human rights of some vulnerable sections of the society in the next five years. “There will also be a dialogue of the representatives of the NHRIs with Asian NGO Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI) to discuss practical and constructive ways in which they can engage and cooperate on the APF’s Strategic Plan,” a news agency quoted National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) secretary general Rajesh Kishore as saying on Tuesday. “On the last day of the meeting on September 05, specific decisions will be taken on human rights issues related to women and children,” he had said. The APF was established in 1996 when four NHRIs of India, Australia, Indonesia and New Zealand met in Darwin, Australia. The NHRC is hosting the meeting for the third time. It organised the second and the seventh APF annual general meeting in 1997 and in 2002, respectively. (Zee News 3/9/14)

71. NHRC gets highest no of complaints in Asia-Pacific (1)

NEW DELHI: The National Human Rights Commission deals with the highest number of complaints every year, way ahead of its counterparts in the Asia Pacific region. The largest among them involve human rights violations by police. On the eve of the annual general meeting of the 21-member Asia Pacific Forum (APF) hosted by the NHRC, J S Kochhar, joint secretary of the panel, said, “The NHRC gets about one lakh complaints every year.” India is a founding member of the APF based in Sydney. Official data show NHRC registered 1,01,010 cases in 2012 and 1,00,112 cases in 2013. Up to July 31, 2014, the number stands at 61,790 cases. These cases belong to various categories, including rights violations by police, defence and paramilitary forces, violations against women and children and also violation by mafia/underworld. Of these, the highest number of 86,647 cases registered in one category between 2012 and 2014 deal with rights violations by police. In 2012, 34,330 such cases were registered, 33,753 cases in 2013 and 18,564 cases till July 31 this year. Cases of rights violation registered against defence and paramilitary forces are a fraction of those against police. For instance, 136 cases involving defence forces were registered in 2012, 134 cases in 2013 and 65 cases till July 31 this year. Between 2012 and July 31, 2014, 500 cases were registered against paramilitary forces. The next category that notched the highest number of cases involves rights violations against women: 7,110 cases in 2012; 9,269 cases in 2013 and 5,718 in 2014. Speaking to reporters, NHRC secretary general Rajesh Kishore said, “During the three-day meeting, specific decisions will be taken on human rights issues related to women and children.” There will also be a dialogue of the representatives of national human rights institutions with Asian NGO Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI) to discuss practical and constructive ways in which they can engage and cooperate on the APF’s strategic plan for next five years. (Times of India 4/9/14)

72. Islamic militants killed 770 Iraqi troops: Human Rights Watch

An international rights group says Islamic State militants carried out a mass killing of hundreds of Iraqi soldiers captured when the extremists overran a military base north of Baghdad in June. Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday that new evidence indicates the Islamic State group killed between 560 and 770 men captured at Camp Speicher, near the city of Tikrit. The New York-based watchdog says the number of slain Iraqi soldiers is several times higher than previously reported. Earlier, Human Rights Watch said between 160 and 190 men were killed. Human Rights Watch says the new number is based on analysis of new satellite imagery, militant videos and a survivor’s account. In June, the Islamic State group claimed it had “executed” about 1,700 soldiers and military personnel captured from Camp Speicher.  (Indian Express 5/9/14)

73. Amnesty International accuses Ukraine rivals of war crimes (1)

KIEV: Amnesty International accused rival fighters in the Ukraine conflict of war crimes including indiscriminate shelling, abductions, torture, and killings, in a report compiled ahead of the ceasefire deal.”All sides in this conflict have shown disregard for civilian lives and are blatantly violating their international obligations,” Amnesty Secretary General Salil Shetty said in the report published today. The London-based rights group also charged that Russia – accused by the West of secretly sending in troops and heavy weapons to support the rebels – had been “fuelling separatist crimes” in Ukraine. It said its researchers on the ground had interviewed people fleeing the fighting in a string of cities across the war-ravaged eastern industrial belt. Civilians they spoke to said Ukrainian government forces had subjected their neighbourhoods to heavy shelling. “Their testimonies suggest that the attacks were indiscriminate and may amount to war crimes,” it said. “Witnesses also said that separatist fighters abducted, tortured, and killed their neighbours.” Much of the report was devoted to Amnesty’s charges that Russia had been fuelling what it described as an “international armed conflict,” both through direct interference and by supporting the separatists. It said it had satellite images and testimony that provided “compelling evidence” of the flow of Russian weapons, claims also made by Western leaders and NATO but dismissed as propaganda by Moscow. “Russia must stop the steady flow of weapons and other support to an insurgent force heavily implicated in gross human rights violations,” it said. Amnesty said it had also received credible reports of abductions and beatings carried out by volunteer battalions operating alongside regular Ukrainian armed forces. “Civilians in Ukraine deserve protection and justice,” Shetty said. “Without a thorough and independent investigation, there’s a real risk Ukrainians will harbour the scars of this war for generations.” (The Economic Times 7/9/14)

74. NHRC to hold open hearing, camp sitting in Bhopal (1)

BHOPAL: A high level delegation of the National Human Rights Commission, led by its Chairperson, Justice K.G. Balakrishnan will hold an open hearing and camp sitting in Bhopal from September 10 to 12. Besides the Chairperson, the team would comprise of Members, Justice Cyriac Joseph, Justice D. Murugesan, and S.C. Sinha and senior officers of the Commission. The programme would be held at RCVP Noronha Academy of Administration and Management. On the first day, the Commission will hear 74 complaints of aggrieved people belonging to Scheduled Caste communities and the problems faced by them in seeking justice from the Government agencies. These complaints were received in response to the public notice published in the national and local dailies. In connection with these complaints, the responses of the concerned authorities have been called, which will be taken up during the open hearing in the presence of senior officers and the complainants. On the second day, 45 pending cases will be taken up in a camp sitting by the full Commission at the same venue. These cases include matters relating to the stampede at Ratangarh temple in Datia district of Madhya Pradesh last year due to alleged inaction by the State Government, deaths in police custody, indignity to women, and discrimination against SC children in schools. On the concluding day, the Commission will hold a meeting with local NGOs on human rights issues for one hour from 10.00 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. and thereafter have discussions with the Chief Secretary, Director General of Police, district magistrates, superintendents of police, and other senior civil, police and jail officers on the issues raised by the NGOs and on the issues raised during the open hearing and the camp sitting. The three-day programme is being held in different States as a follow to the recommendation of a panel that the Commission organise such sessions at least once a year so that victims of atrocities could present their experiences and grievances in seeking justice from Government agencies and to enable human rights bodies, non-governmental organizations, social workers and activists apprise the Commission of difficulties encountered by them in taking up their complaints. (The Hindu 8/9/14)

JUDICIARY/ LAW

75. Even if no longer Indian citizen, divorce only under Hindu Marriage Act if married under it (19)

MUMBAI: Once a couple marries under the Hindu Marriage Act, they can only get a divorce under the same law even if they are no longer Indian citizens, the Bombay high court has held. Hearing a petition filed by a man against his wife, both British nationals of Indian origin and doctors, a division bench of Justices Vijaya Kapse Tahilramani and V L Achliya recently upheld a family court order granting interim custody of the couple’s 3.5-year-old daughter to the woman. The daughter too is a UK citizen. “The Court at London is not the competent court of jurisdiction to decide the issue of dissolution of marriage between two Hindus married in India as per the Hindu Vedic rites,” observed the judges. Dr Seema Deshpande, who had come back to India with her daughter in 2012, had filed a petition before the Bandra family court seeking divorce and the child’s custody. Dr Vinod Ranade, her husband, claimed that a London court had ordered the child’s return to the UK. “Once the provisions of Hindu Marriage Act apply, they would continue to apply as long as the marriage exists and even for the marriage’s dissolution. The Hindu marriage gives rise to a bundle of rights and obligations between the parties to the marriage and their progeny,” added the court. Ranade’s lawyers had claimed that since all three were UK citizens, their domicile was in that country. The HC, however, said that prima facie the wife seemed to have returned to her original domicile in India. The court said that Ranade could submit evidence on domicile before the family court. It also pointed to Supreme Court judgments that held that the domicile at the time of marriage and not at the time of initiating legal proceedings would matter. The HC refused to disturb the family court order granting interim custody to Seema. It pointed out that the Bandra court had passed its order before the London court and the former would take precedence. It also said that the child’s welfare would be paramount, more than the couple’s legal rights. “The minor is a 3.5-year-old girl. It is doubtful if Ranade will be in a position to take better care of a girl child so young. On the other hand, Seema, who is in India, has the support of her sister, mother and other relatives who can help her in looking after the child,” said the HC. It said the child was brought to India, where its mother tongue is spoken and where the social customs are the same as her parents’. Seema and Ranade married in 2009. The same year he became a UK national, while Seema got her citizenship in 2010. Their daughter was born in 2010. The couple started staying separately in 2011 and Seema returned to India the following year with her daughter and filed a petition seeking divorce. The HC stayed its orders for five weeks to enable Ranade to file an appeal. (Times of India 1/9/14)

76. Why law can’t assure sexual bond (19)

CHENNAI: Marriages cannot be made to work by court orders and medical certificates, say jurists responding to a recent suggestion by the Madras high court that pre-marital clinical examination should be mandated to test against sexual impotence. In a judgment, the court suggested to state and Central governments that they should amend marriage laws and provide for the testing so that those who are “impotent” or suffering from dangerous and incurable diseases don’t enter into wedlock. Justice N Kirubakaran, taking note of the high incidence of impotence-related marriage failures, described such marriages as “avoidable human tragedies.” He said women were the worst sufferers, and that these dysfunctional marriages violated their basic right to a decent and meaningful life. “The first brick of legislation is definition of the offence or the issue it seeks to address. How do we frame a straightjacket definition of impotence or frigidity?” asked a jurist, adding, “Enacting a new law can never be an answer to set right new complexities.” Fast tracking impotence-related matrimonial cases in family courts can be done by tweaking existing procedural formalities, said a former judge of a family court. Judicial separation is an honourable way out, so why should courts feel agitated about it, asks former judge of the Madras high court K Chandru. Impotence is a myth, he said, adding, “Given a situation anyone may feel impotence or frigidity.” Despite the legal requirement, at present registration of marriage cannot be made compulsory, he said. “What is the consequence of not registering a marriage? Nothing. Leave alone courts, even governments cannot tamper with personal laws,” Chandru said. Conceding that in the Hindu Marriage Act, impotence is ground for divorce, he said most of the pending matrimonial issues pertain to adjustment problems relating to work pressure, lifestyle and spouses’ inability to live together. “Are we ready for a pre-marital clinical examination to assess the mental capacity of prospective couples to live together,” he asked. “I have a handled a case where a celebrity couple had a child, but the wife still said her husband was impotent. In the same breath, she said he was having an affair with a young girl although he did not engage in full-fledged sex with her,” a senior jurist told TOI. “On the basis of this case, how do you define impotence? Sex is more a psychological issue than a mere physical act. It is very complex, and a pedestrian understanding of the issue will help none,” he said. “In the US, traffic rule violations could entail inquiries and blood tests, but in India an undertrial can refuse blood sampling. When, without his consent a blood sample cannot be lifted, how can we accord legal sanction for pre-marital clinical examination for impotence and diseases,” asked advocate V Kannadasan, a former special public prosecutor at the human rights court in Chennai. “Marriage in Indian context does not involve two individuals alone. It is an alliance between two families. No self-respecting family would consent for such pre-marital clinical examination. Any law without social acceptance and compliance is doomed to fail,” said advocate M Antony Selvaraj of Masum Associates. “Moreover which doctor will test a couple and issue a testimonial certifying that they are fit to be spouses and lead a healthy sex life? There are no fool-proof methods as yet to check sexual potency,” Selvaraj said. Counselling, for both would-be and married couples, is the answer, he said. Another jurist said institutionalizing live-in relationships, allowing prospective couples to spend a short period together and preparing them for a life-long alliance is a possible solution. “But, will our society permit this,” he asked. (Times of India 2/9/14)

77. Child marriage worse than rape, says Delhi court (19)

New Delhi: Child marriage “is an evil worse than rape” and should be completely eradicated from society, said a Delhi court while ordering registration of a case against a girl’s parents for getting her married at a tender age. Metropolitan magistrate Shivani Chauhan issued the direction while hearing a case of dowry harassment filed by the girl’s parents against her husband and in-laws. While ordering lodging of case, the court held that “giving and taking dowry is punishable under the law”. The court directed the police to register a case under the appropriate provisions of the “Prohibition of Child Marriage Act” and under the Dowry Prohibition Act against the parents of the 14-year-old girl as well as her in-laws, against whom a domestic violence case was already registered. “Child marriage is an evil worst than rape and should be completely eradicated from the society. This would not be possible if the stakeholders like State fail to take appropriate action against the offenders. “The court is not expected to sit as a mute spectator and let the evil perpetrate,” the magistrate said while directing the DCP, South, to file status report by October 19. The court pulled up the girl’s parents, saying that they too had committed a “serious offence”. “There are serious outcomes of child marriage. It is the worst form of domestic violence against the child, not only by the respondents (husband and his family)but also by her own parents. “Child brides have a diminished chance of completing their education and are at a higher risk of being physically abused, contracting HIV and other diseases, and dying while pregnant or giving birth,” the magistrate observed, adding that luckily this girl was “healthy”. “… But this does not in any way diminish the seriousness of the offence which her own parents, relatives and the husband are alleged to have committed upon her person,” the court added. (Indian Express 7/9/14)

78. SC stays execution of Nithari killer Surinder Koli (19)

NEW DELHI: ​The Supreme Court has stayed the execution of Nithari killings convict Surinder Koli by a week. ​The bench comprising justices H L Dattu and A R Dave passed the order in the intervening night of Sunday and Monday, staying Koli’s execution on a appeal by him. Koli, whose mercy petition was rejected by the President, was to be hanged on Monday morning in the Meerut jail, sources said on Sunday. “We will withhold the execution of Surinder Koli for 7 days and then wait for further orders,” SM Rizvi, Meerut Jail superintendent said. Koli was transferred from the Dasna jail in Ghaziabad district to Meerut on September 4 for the execution of his death warrant issued by the CBI court.Although jail officials were tightlipped about the exact date of execution, speculation was rife that the Nithari killer may be hanged at 5.30am on Monday, sources said. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Ghaziabad issued a death warrant to Koli after his mercy petition was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee. Koli was shifted to Meerut because of the absence of hanging facilities in Dasna. Koli was convicted for the murder of a girl Rimpa Halder who went missing in Noida in December 2006. After a police investigation, she was found to have been murdered by Koli. During the probe, the skeletal remains of many other children were recovered from a drain adjacent to a house in Noida where Koli worked as domestic help for businessman Moninder Singh Pandher. Both Koli and Pandher were sentenced to death, but later the Allahabad high court acquitted Pandher and upheld the death sentence of Koli. Koli’s sentence was then upheld by the Supreme Court. He filed a mercy petition before the President which was turned down. (Times of India 8/9/14)

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

79. Plea alleges rape-torture of woman in police custody (1)

CHENNAI: An allegation of custodial rape and torture has hit the Tamil Nadu police. Shocked at the narration of how a middle-aged woman arrested by the Udumalpet police in Tirupur district was allegedly tortured by seven policemen, who even inserted a lathi into her private parts, the Madras high court has ordered a probe by a district judge into the incident. Justice V Ramasubramanian, pointing out the allegations made Girija (name changed) that her mother was subjected to worst form of bestial treatment by police, on Thursday asked the district judge of Coimbatore to take the woman for medical examination in a government hospital and file a report by September 3. Girijay said her mother, employed in a hotel and earning Rs 200 a day, was living in a house in Udumalpet on rent. Her trouble started when houseowner Leelavathy was found murdered on August 10. Girija, who was living in Madurai district with her husband and sick father, said police informed her over phone on August 14 that her mother was being arrested in connection with the murder. Girija said it was when she met her mother at Coimbatore central prison that she came to know about the horrible third-degree harassment in custody. “When my mother tearfully narrated the torture meted out to her, it sent chills down my spine. I started trembling and shivering,” she said in her affidavit. She said her mother was tortured by seven policemen. “They injected a needle into her fingers, nails and hand. They beat her mercilessly and hanged her upside down after removing all her clothes except her inner skirt. The policemen behaved like beasts and beat my mother with lathi on her thighs, back, legs and all over her body.” … (Times of India 31/8/14)

80. Sharmila’s fast may’ve spurred AFSPA rethink (1)

New Delhi: Saying that the long struggle of human rights activist Irom Sharmila has impacted the government’s thinking on the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in Manipur, Union minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju called for finding a way out, keeping in mind security issues. The minister did not deny a rethink on the AFSPA. Mr Rijiju told a news channel that the government has to admit Ms Sharmila’s struggle but also find a way out. Ms Irom Sharmila, who recently walked free after a court order, was re-arrested for “attempt to suicide” and sent to 15-day judicial custody. Immediately after her freedom, Ms Sharmila had continued with her fast, staging a protest not far from the jail hospital which she left after her release. She said that the AFSPA imposed in Manipur is a “draconian law” which must be withdrawn. On the refusal of several UPA-appointed governors to shift to the north-eastern states, especially Mizoram, the minister, who is from Arunachal Pradesh, said those governors must “apologise to the nation”. “It is a very emotive issue for me. When a person is posted to the Northeast and he refuses to go there, that person loses the moral authority to speak on equality in the country. If people like governors and IAS and IPS officers will only choose serving in metropolitan and comfortable cities, then they don’t deserve to be in their position,” he said. (Asian Age 1/9/14)

81. Women’s panel slams LIC for not settling widow’s claim (1)

BHOPAL: Women’s panel has slammed Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) for being insensitive to settling claims of an Indore-based man, who after he was tortured in lock-up, committed suicide in 2010. The company has since refused claims of wife even though the national human rights panel and a judicial inquiry instituted had found it a case of custodial death. State Women’s Commission (SWC) is also mulling registering an FIR against LIC officials under Section 406 of IPC (criminal breach of trust). Aashish Sharma from Indore committed suicide in lock-up after he was beaten and tortured by cops. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and a judicial inquiry reports have found this to be to be a prison death because of torture. Slamming LIC officials for lack of empathy, chairperson Upma Rai told TOI, “The man was harassed, beaten and tortured to the extent that he hung himself. However, despite such reports from established committees, insurance company is yet to provide relief to the victim’s wife.” Appearing before the commission, manager claims of Indore division D K Jain pleaded helplessness stating that ?suicide clause’ in LIC’s company policy did not allow them to cash out the claim as Aashish’s ?suicide’ happened within a year of buying the policy. “We will summon Indore’s divisional manager of LIC in next hearing. Also, FIR under section 406 is being discussed by the panel as the company has broken the policy holder’s trust,” Rai said. In another case, a Bhopal-based woman, resident of Shahpura and married to a Canadian NRI was duped by her husband when she found out that he already had a wife. After fighting for four years in Canada court, she managed to retrieve her passport, which was kept by her husband. The woman has a 10-month-old baby and moved SWC on Wednesday. SWC has ordered Mahila Thana to register cases under sections 495, 420 and 376 (forgery, rape and dowry harassment). “After registering of FIR, the man could also be extradited if needed,” Rai said, adding “there has been a steep increase in the number of such complains from NRIs.” (Times of India 4/9/14)

82. Four lakh prisoners stuck for long without conviction to walk free (1)

New Delhi, Sept. 5: The Supreme Court today ordered the release of prisoners detained without conviction for at least half the maximum term the alleged offence entails, the order expected to benefit up to four lakh accused. The relief doesn’t apply to people accused of murder, terrorism or repeat rapes, where the death sentence is a possibility, but is available to suspects in crimes such as first-time rape and armed robbery. The formal process for the release must start by October 1, the order said, providing huge relief for India’s “undertrials” — those awaiting trial or being tried — who make up at least two-thirds of the country’s prisoner population. “Because of the inability of the government we are suffering all round,” the court said, underscoring how the states had failed to implement an eight-year-old law under which today’s order came. It cited the shortage of courts and judges that was slowing justice delivery and boosting the undertrial population, ruing that many states don’t “even look at the letters we write to them” to enhance the judicial infrastructure. It directed judicial magistrates and chief judicial magistrates to visit jails every week from October 1, examine how long each undertrial has been in detention, and order the release of those who meet the half-the-maximum-term criterion. After two months, the magistrates must send compliance reports to the registrars-general of their high courts, who will forward them to the secretary-general of the Supreme Court “without delay”. The apex court will take a re-look three months from now. The bench of Chief Justice R.M. Lodha and Justices Kurien Joseph and R.F. Nariman passed the order in the light of Section 436A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2005. The directive came during the hearing of a public interest plea filed by Jammu and Kashmir politician and senior advocate Bhim Singh on the prolonged imprisonment of Pakistani prisoners in India. Singh told the media the order would benefit nearly four lakh prisoners. A month ago, the same bench, hearing the same plea, had directed the Centre to draw up a comprehensive framework to fast-track the criminal justice system. Today, the court agreed with attorney-general Mukul Rohatgi that releasing prisoners was the state governments’ responsibility but regretted that its repeated orders for more courts and judges were being ignored. “Yes, it is broadly a job of the state government…. But in a federal structure, finance is the main problem. They want expenditure to be borne. This cannot be done by the Chief Justice of India,” Justice Lodha said. “Many of them (the states) even do not look at the letters we write to them for creating infrastructure. Many orders have been passed over the past 10 years…. We have 15 to 20 per cent recurrent vacancies in the subordinate judiciary (trial courts).” The bench gave the attorney-general three months to come out with “a road map” for improving the judicial infrastructure. Rohatgi had earlier said the Centre was “in the process” of calling a meeting of chief ministers and state law ministers to nudge them to comply with Section 436A, but still urged the court to pass an order. “The chief ministers and chief justices of the high courts may be sensitised in that order,” he told the court. Rohatgi suggested that all the pending criminal cases in the trial courts be transferred to the respective high courts at one go for fast disposal. But the apex court said the law left no room for this. “I don’t think we have a readymade solution — it needs a multi-pronged strategy. The time has come for a concrete resolution,” Justice Lodha observed. Prolonged detention of undertrials, who the law says must be presumed innocent until found guilty, not only violates the constitutional right to liberty but has clogged the jails and worsened inmates’ living conditions. Three in four of the inmates in Tihar, the country’s biggest and best-known prison, are undertrials. Many of them have spent over five years in jail. Human rights activists have long been stressing the need to decongest the jails and speed up trials. (The Telegraph 6/9/14)

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

83. Woman scribe accuses former MLA of sexual assault (1)

DEHRADUN: A woman journalist working in a local magazine on Saturday accused former MLA Yashpal Singh Rawat, currently chairman of Pauri Nagar Palika, of sexually assaulting her on August 23. She alleged that Rawat also threatened her with severe consequences in case she complained against him. Following her complaint, a case under Sections 354 (a) (sexual harassment), 294 (obscene act and songs), 506 (criminal intimidation), 376-511 (rape and attempting to commit offences) was registered against the former MLA at Dalanwala police station. However, the probe was later shifted to Pauri. Dehradun SSP Ajay Rautela said, “Following the complaint made by the woman, a case has been registered but since it falls in the jurisdiction of the police in Pauri district, the probe has been shifted.” As per the woman’s complaint, Rawat had approved an advertisement worth Rs 3,000 for her magazine for August 15 and had called her to his office on August 23 for some queries. She claimed that during the conversation, he caught her hand and molested her. According to the complainant, the nagar palika chairman tried to rape her and when she protested, he threatened to get her entire family arrested by using his “influence”.”I was scared to inform police since he has good connections in the political corridors,” she said at the SSP office. She added that the former politician called her twice on August 24 and asked her to forget the issue and “come along with him to a hotel to have fun.” The woman maintained that the former MLA called on her mobile phone on several occasions on August 26 and threatened her. “After returning to my husband’s residence at Dehradun, I could muster the courage to lodge a complaint against him,” she said, while adding that she has enough evidence against Rawat. Meanwhile, Rawat termed the allegations “baseless” and said that someone was trying to “tarnish his image”. “Till recently, I was not even aware who this woman was. She had approached me in connection with an advertisement for a magazine. I fail to understand from where did this matter crop up,” he said. (Times of India 30/8/14)

84. U.S. appalled by murder of another journalist (1)

Washington: The U.S. is appalled by the brutal murder of another American journalist, if a video purporting his beheading by the Islamic State terrorists is genuine, the Obama administration has said. “We have seen a video that purports to be the murder of U.S. citizen Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The intelligence community is working as quickly as possible to determine its authenticity,” National Security Council Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said. “If genuine, we are appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American journalist and we express our deepest condolences to his family and friends. We will provide more information when it is available,” Meehan said after the video surfaced on social media websites yesterday. If found genuine, this would be the second brutal murder of an American journalists by ISIS, an al-Qaeda splinter group which has seized hundreds of square miles in Iraq and Syria. “This is something that the administration has obviously been watching very carefully, since this threat against Sotloff’s life was originally made a few weeks ago. Our thoughts and prayers, first and foremost, are with Sotloff and Sotloff’s family and those who worked with him,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. “The US has dedicated significant time and resources to trying and rescue Sotloff. I’m not in a position to confirm the authenticity of that video or the reports at this point, obviously, since I just walked out here,” he said. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of Sotloff and all those who have suffered under ISIL’s barbaric behavior,” Senator Lindsey Graham said. Describing Sotloff as a man of enormous courage and decency, Senator Marco Rubio said through his execution, ISIL has demonstrated yet again its limitless capacity for cruelty and its unbridled hatred of freedom-loving people everywhere. The Committee to Protect Journalists said the beheadings on camera in a two-week period of first James Foley and then Steven Sotloff appear to be an acceleration of a pattern — dating at least to Daniel Pearl’s killing in 2002— of criminal and insurgent groups displaying the murders of journalists to send a broad message of terror. Leaders of the Maryland Muslim community joined representative of the Council on American—Islamic Relations (CAIR) to condemn the killing of Sotloff by ISIS. (The Hindu 4/9/14)

85. Crucial issues affecting journalism discussed (1)

GUWAHATI, Sept 7 – “At a time when there is no opposition to speak of, either within Parliament or outside, when a reconfiguration of power is being effected between the executive and the judiciary, and when all kinds of regressive social and political forces are making their presence felt, India needs fearless, objective, professional journalism.” Touching the core of some of the most critical issues affecting journalism and functioning of media organization in India, Siddhartha Varadarajan, distinguished academic, journalist and former editor of The Hindu, delivered the 10th Brajamohan Sarma Memorial Lecture in Guwahati today on ‘Crisis of media in India.’ Organized in the memory of the Late Brajamohan Sarma, a philanthropic social worker and advocate, the annual lecture event saw a galaxy of distinguished personalities deliberating on the topics of significance. The list included Prabhat Patnaik, Dhiresh N Choudhury, Patricia Mukhim, Dr Hiren Gohain, Sitaram Yechury, Jayati Ghosh and Brinda Karat, among others. Asserting that the media has lost its moorings when it was most needed, he said that it was drifting aimlessly, buffeted by the fickle headwinds of a business and governance model that prefers risk aversion, trivia, entertainment, ephemera and opinion mongering in the guise of news. Making a comparative analysis of the growth of the Indian print and electronic media and the inroads of web journalism, he said that the apparent good health of media was also subjected to big financial crisis in terms of most of the news channels making losses and the obsolete business model of print media, which was very lowly priced, largely dependent on advertisements, low news gathering costs, revenue squeezing tactics like paid news and use a media property to develop additional business interests. “Journalists at the media company are unlikely to be able to do critical stories about the businesses their owners are involved in,” he said. Terming the Indian media as the watchdog that does not bark, he said that the silence with which the media accepted the appointment of Amit Shah as the president of the BJP despite his being chargesheeted in a serious murder case, and many decisions of the NDA government, passing below the radar, were just a few examples. “If the business and governance model is the Achilles’ heel of Indian journalism, surely the future lies in creating media that operates within a different financial and structural framework. “Can we think of a model of journalism where the reader as citizen consciously decides to pay for news that she knows is essential to the political and social health of the society and country she lives in? Patient, philanthropic capital, coupled with citizens who recognize the intrinsic value of journalism and are willing to pay for what they read – this is the direction the media in India needs to take,” he said. Rishikesh Kalita, who secured highest marks from Bajali High School in HSLC examination, was also presented the Brajamohan Sarma award. Every year, one meritorious student from Bajali High School, where late Sarma had studied, is given the award. (The Assam Tribune 8/9/14)

86. Print Media is Dying in USA, Says Expert (1)

BANGALORE: Digital media is becoming popular in India, said Mandy Jenkins, digital journalist and media trainer. Delivering a talk on ‘New Media and Social News’ at Karnataka Media Academy here on Monday, Jenkins said, “Print media is dying in the US. Newspapers are shutting shop. Earlier, newspapers were competing with television and radio. Now, they have to compete with the likes of Candy Crush,” she remarked. “With low penetration of Internet and literacy, there is still a long way to go (in India). Print media needs to adapt to new and emerging trends such as participatory journalism to elicit opinions of readers,” Jenkins observed. (The Indian Express 9/9/14)

COMMUNAL RIOTS

87. Communal Tension Flares up in Biramitrapur (7)

ROURKELA:  The bordering Biramitrapur town in Sundargarh district witnessed a communal flare up on Monday after members of a particular community took to the streets protesting smuggling of cows. The protesters brought life in the town to a standstill and demanded strong action against the accused. With the situation remaining grim, three platoons of police forces have been deployed in the area with Sundargarh SP Dayanidhi Gochchhait, Panposh Sub-Collector HS Behera and Biramitrapur Tehsildar G Gopal Krishna trying to pacify the agitators. Sources said at around 8 am, two pick-up vans laden with eight cows and three buffaloes were intercepted on Raiboga road by members of the community. Alleging that the cattle was being taken to a slaughterhouse, the agitators beat up the drivers of the vehicles and handed them over to Biramitrapur police. They demanded action against those behind the smuggling. On the other hand, supporters of the drivers, belonging to another community, laid siege to the police station. Both communities stopped short of a direct confrontation after police swung into action and brought the situation under control. Later in the day, those protesting the smuggling of cattle formed several groups and effected a complete shutdown of the entire Biramitrapur town, located on the border of Jharkhand and infested with Jharkhand’s banned outfit People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI). SP Gochchhait claimed that the situation was under control and precautionary measures have been taken to arrest the situation from flaring up. He said efforts are on to restore normalcy. Sources said Monday’s tension is believed to have stemmed from the simmering anger after a youth of a community eloped with a girl of another community which is protesting the cattle smuggling. Till the filing of the report, the situation in the town remained grim as hundreds of people gathered on the streets. (New Indian Express 2/9/14)

88. 97 cases of communal violence reported in 2 years (7)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Data provided by the ministry of home affairs indicate that the number of cases related to communal violence in the country has increased by 23% in the last two years while deaths due to communal violence too registered a rise of 41% in the same period. Uttar Pradesh topped the states with 247 cases registered last year, a 109% increase in the last two years. The number of deaths in the state increased by 97%, from 39 deaths in 2012 to 77 deaths last year. Maharashtra — with 88 incidents of communal violence — came second, followed by Madhya Pradesh with 84 and Gujarat with 68 incidents. Incidents of communal violence in Kerala dropped to 41 in 2013 from 56 in 2012. While one person was killed and a total of 65 persons injured last year, 71 were injured in 2012. No deaths were reported in 2012. In 2012, 56 incidents of communal violence were reported in the state. A total of 71 persons were injured in all but no deaths were reported. Hardly any case of communal violence was reported in northeastern states like Assam, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Union territories like Daman and Diu. Experts said the data reveals that the onus of controlling such violence lies with the respective state governments and that the increase in numbers indicate failure on their part, especially in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. In Muzaffarnagar district, for example, over 60 persons were killed in communal clashes last year. The Supreme Court had held the state government prima facie responsible for not taking appropriate action to prevent the riots. The court also flayed intelligence agencies under the Central government for not passing sensitive information to state agencies which may have prevented the riots. “The UPA government had proposed the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Bill, 2011, to prevent and control targeted violence, including mass violence. The bill would have given protection to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and religious minorities in the country against organized violence, but it did not see the light of the day,” said D B Binu, an RTI activist who filed a query on the issue. The bill also proposed constituting a national authority for communal harmony, justice and reparation. “The authority was supposed to monitor the effectiveness of steps taken by public servants for prevention of communal and targeted violence, record information on offences committed by public servants and monitor investigation and prosecution,” he said. (Times of India 5/9/14)

89. Yogi slams SP for riots in west UP (7)

NOIDA: Accused by opposition parties of making provocative statements, BJP MP Yogi Adityanath courted more controversy in Noida on Sunday when he equated the rise in communal violence in western UP with the increasing population of a particular community. In the city to support BJP candidate Vimla Batham, Adityanath, the face of the party’s campaign for the September 13 bypolls, said the UP government had failed to maintain communal harmony because the ?population of a certain community had risen several times’. “Under the leadership of Akhilesh Yadav, UP has so far has witnessed 450 communal riots. Why are there no riots in eastern UP?” he said at a public meeting in Sector 45. “We will not tolerate harassment of Hindus in the state at any cost. Various parts of UP witnessed communal riots but eastern UP remained untouched. If anybody tries to touch Hindus in eastern UP, he will have to face the consequences,” he added. Adityanath also accused the state government of ?funding’ one community. “The UP government is biased towards one community. Rather than funding one particular community, the government should spend the money on improving the electricity situation in the state.” Turning his focus to problems of water and power in Noida, he said, “There is a need to improve hard water in Noida. Nothing has been done to improve electricity supply either. UP puts the blame on the Centre for not supplying enough power but the fact is that UP is not paying for power.” (Times of India 8/9/14)

COMMUNALISM

90. BJP mounts pressure, Sena says alliance is bound by Hindutva

Mumbai: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continued to mount pressure on ally Shiv Sena by discussing the observers’ report from Maharashtra ahead of the much-awaited seat-sharing between the two for the upcoming assembly polls. Though the BJP said it discussed seats where it has been contesting over the years, the party is learned to have shortlisted names for the remaining segments in case the ‘fragile-than-ever’ alliance ends in view of BJP’s demand for a half share in the 288 seats going to polls. BJP’s demands are expected to unsettle Sena further because the party’s mouthpiece Saamana said in its editorial on Monday that their alliance was bound to stay intact because of its basic foundation of Hindutva. “The resurgent Sena has digested the poison repeatedly. The BJP knows that we two are bound by the thoughts of Hindutva and we will never separate,” the editorial said. The development in the BJP’s state parliamentary board which met on Monday is crucial in view of party president Amit Shah’s visit to Mumbai on September 4. Sources said state BJP has prepared a report for Shah’s perusal. Shah also is not too keen on appeasing Sena much, and has left senior leaders from both sides confused over his plans to meet Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. State president Devendra Fadnavis said Shah was not scheduled to interact with Thackeray, but his party colleague Vinod Tawde said the two would definitely meet. When asked, Sena leader Diwakar Raote, who addressed a press conference on Monday, refused to comment on the BJP’s posturing. One of the allies, Swambhimani Paksha expected the Sena to meet its demand for 12 seats in a couple of days. Party’s leader Sada Khot said Thackeray has promised him a fair share. (Hindustan Times 2/9/14)

91. RSS member’s murder: Bandh hits normal life across Kerala (26)

Thiruvananthapuram: The hartal called by Sangh Parivar in Kerala in protest against the murder of an RSS district functionary in Kannur paralysed normal life across the state on Tuesday. Protesters disrupted vehicular traffic in many places, and forced offices and shops to close down. Unidentified persons hurled bombs at shops in two places in Kannur district, where police are keeping tight vigil in the wake of the murder. RSS Kannur district leader E Manoj was hacked to death on Monday morning at Kathiroor near Thalassery. Another RSS worker had sustained injury in the attack. Stranded Passengers at ThiruvananthapuramCentral Railway Station during the hartal called by RSS in Kerala. (Express Photo by Shaju Philip) Stranded Passengers at Thiruvananthapuram Central Railway Station during the hartal called by RSS in Kerala. (Express Photo by Shaju Philip)  BJP senior leader P K Krishnadas alleged that CPI (M) was behind the murder. The party was worried over the flow of its workers to the BJP. The brutal murder was committed with the connivance of the CPI (M) national leadership. the murder was a bid to shatter the peaceful situation prevailing in the district. BJP also found fault with the police investigation, saying the investigating officer was a pro-CPI (M) man. (Indian Express 2/9/14)

92. VHP wants Pakistani lifestyle exhibition in Delhi scrapped (26)

NEW DELHI: The upcoming Pakistani lifestyle exhibition at PragatiMaidan, ‘Alishan Pakistan’, could face trouble from Hindu groups. Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has written to event organiserFICCI, LGNajeeb Jung and Delhi Police commissioner BS Bassi that the event must be called off unless it is called ‘Terrorist Pakistan’ instead of ‘Alishan Pakistan’. The four-day exhibition is taking place at Pragati Maidan from September 11-14 with over 150 exhibitors. In a letter addressed to FICCI chairman, state secretary general VHP-Delhi Ram Krishna Srivastava has said that the sentiments of Indian citizens would be hurt if promotion of any product of Pakistan, which has been attacking India by various means, was carried out. VHP spokesperson Vinod Bansal said, “An exhibition like this could have been allowed if it was named ‘Terrorist Pakistan’, ‘Anarchist Pakistan’ or ‘Kapoot Pakistan’ but not ‘Alishan Pakistan’.” The letter says, “This exhibition would promote products of the country which is continuously attacking us directly and indirectly. The activities of last fifteen days have been even more intolerable. It is not only violating ceasefire but also promoting separatists on our soil.” Bansal said if the exhibition was not cancelled in its present form then by calling Pakistan “Alishan” (Magnificent), we would be promoting jihadi terrorism and gun culture reigning in Pakistan. (Times of India 4/9/14)

93. Sangh re-converts Dalit Muslim converts (26)

Shivpuri: A day after they were arrested for converting to Islam, four Dalits were “re-converted” to Hinduism by VHP and Bajrang Dal activists in a ceremony at the Hanuman Temple here on Thursday. Calling it “Ghar Vapasi”, the Hindu organisations also brought in over half-a-dozen other Dalits who had expressed their willingness to embrace Islam, and subjected them to a “purification” ceremony amid chanting of mantras by the temple priest. The four converts — Maniram Jatav, his wife Makhobai Jatav, their son Nilesh Jatav and another relative Tularam Jatav — claimed that nobody had forced them to return to their original faith. On Wednesday, they were arrested under the state’s anti-conversion law for not informing the district authorities in Shivpuri before converting to Islam. They were later released on bail. They claimed that they had converted to Islam because they were being discriminated against by upper castes. Meanwhile, Maniram’s two other sons refused to participate in the “re-conversion” ceremony today. They said efforts were on to persuade them to return to Hindu fold. “I decided to return to my original faith after Hindu leaders in our area promised that we would not be discriminated against in future,’’ said Maniram. Before the ceremony, the Bajrang Dal workers made him shave and wear new clothes. “No religion teaches discrimination. I have read the Gita, Bible and Quran. We faced a lot of difficulties and chose to convert to Islam but now we have been promised a better future,’’ he said. Maniram remained a Muslim for 14 months. “Didn’t Lord Rama spend 14 years in exile,’’ said Manoj Sharma, Bajrang Dal district convenor. “I told them that nobody would even lift a finger against them in future,’’ he said. “Our activists will become active and stop such discrimination in every village. We will ensure nobody converts to Islam and will make every effort to bring those who have already converted back to the Hindu fold,” said Sharma. The officer in charge of Khaniyadhana Police Station, Y S Jadaun, said the Jatavs had probably decided to re-convert under pressure from their own community. Bajrang Dal workers said they had convinced them to re-convert by putting pressure on their community members. They said a meeting of the Ahirwar community has been called on Sunday to convince members to stop converting.. (Indian Express 5/9/14)

94. Teach girls meaning of love jihad, says RSS chief (26)

Ghaziabad: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat Saturday raked up the issue of ‘love jihad’, saying that girls should be taught its meaning as well as ways to save themselves from the “trap”, more than a fortnight after the BJP avoided its mention in a political resolution at its executive meet in UP. Addressing the closing session of the two-day All India Women Coordination Conclave at a college in Mohan Nagar here, the RSS chief exhorted women to work towards their emancipation and empowerment. “Girls of the coming generation should be told the meaning of love jihad and the ways to save themselves from their traps,” Bhagwat said. (Indian Express 7/9/14)

95. Shiv Sena forms ‘love trishul’ to counter ‘love jihad’ (26)

BAREILLY: UP president of Shiv Sena Anil Singh has said that his party would form a ‘love trishul’, a gang of people meant to act and intervene early each time a case of ‘love jihad’ is reported. Anil Singh said the ‘love trishul’ coming up in the city would be a first, and the force would then spread across the state, so that young Hindu women at risk of conversion after being trapped in relationships are saved. The term ‘love jihad’ gained currency in about 2009, when cases of forcible conversion of women were reported from Kerala and Karnataka. Ever since, there have been reports of such alleged cases of forced conversion of women in other states too. The Shiv Sena’s move comes after the case of national-level shooter Tara Sahdev was reported from Jharkhand. Talking to TOI, Anil Singh said, “Islamic organizations are known for promoting their religion, and now pose a new challenge to Hinduism. ‘Love trishul’ will be the ‘Brahmastra’ against all ‘anti-Hindu’ activities, and will safeguard youth from the dangers posed by Islamic organizations.” Pankaj Pathak, district president of the Shiv Sena, said, “We are aiming to promote awareness among youth of all communities, as the main aim of Islamic organizations is to promote their own religion by converting others.” Pathak said, “We will ask school and college administrations to issue identity cards to parents and guardians, so they can take their wards back home. This is just a beginning, and we will take all possible steps to safe guard Hindutva.” (Times of India 8/9/14)

TERRORISM

96. All militants united for peace in Garo Hills: ANVC(B) (12)

Shillong, Aug 31: ANVC(B) Sunday stated that militants are uniting for peace in Garo Hills in spite of differences, and opined that the region will have peace only when Central Government intervenes. The outfit also claimed that Police has once again taken custody of the arrested 24 ANVC(B) cadres who were kept in Tura Jail for the second time after three bodies were recovered from near Oragitok recently. According to ANVC(B) Publicity Secretary Doang D Shira, “This is clear that Police are trying to divert the fake encounter issue by creating yet another situation in Garo Hills and divert the public mind from the main issue like they did in the case of late Balsan and late Witson.” Urging NGOs, Church Leaders, Civil society groups and others to take up the matter and get the facts right from the victims before any untoward incident takes place, he said there is no way Garo Hills will ever have peace if State Government continues to adapt such strategies. “Looks like, Garo Hills will have Peace only when Centre Government intervene. Time is coming for the people to put faith in the Centre Government for lasting Peace in Garo Hills. State Government has made life hell for the people. All militants have refrained from violence and killing yet something or the other keeps cropping up. These acts are not works of militants but of local goons who do not love our birthplace. Therefore, as militants are uniting for peace in Garo Hills in spite of differences,” he said. (Megalaya Times 1/9/14)

97. 3 JeM militants killed in Kashmir (12)

Srinagar: Three Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants, including a top commander, were killed in an fierce gun battle between ultras and security forces in the Pulwama district of South Kashmir on Tuesday. On Monday evening, the police received information that the militants were in the Hanjan village of Pulwama, around 40 km from here, after which security forces cordoned off the area and launched a search operation. “The militants hiding in the area fired at the search party and triggered an encounter. The cordon was strengthened while searches were stopped overnight,” the police said. Reports said the intermittent exchange of fire went on between the two sides throughout the night and as search operations resumed this morning, hiding militants fired at security forces indiscriminately to break open the cordon. In the crossfire, three militants, who have been identified as JeM district commander Altaf Ahmad Rather, Showkat Ahmad and Farooq Ahmad, were killed. The slain militants were locals and according to sources, one of them had joined militant ranks on August 19 this year. A senior police officer told Deccan Herald that the JeM commander was involved in several militant activities. “Altaf was one of the group members involved in the attack and was involved in a weapon snatching incident at a police guard in Pakharpora shrine this year,” he said. (Deccan Herald 3/9/14)

98. We are prepared to face al-Qaeda threat: IAF chief (12)

New Delhi: IAF chief Arup Raha on Friday said there was a threat from terror groups such as al-Qaeda but the country is ready to tackle such outfits. “There is a threat perception from such agencies but the nation is prepared for it,” he said when asked about the al-Qaeda threat to start operations in India. He was talking to reporters on the sidelines of a seminar on the role of Air Force in the 1965 war with Pakistan. U.S. media and intelligence agencies had said on Thursday that al-Qaeda has established a new branch to wage jihad in India, revive its caliphate and impose sharia in the Indian sub-continent. The creation of the group called “Qaedat al-Jihad in the Indian Subcontinent” was announced by As Sahab, al-Qaeda’s official media outlet, in a lengthy video posted on social media outlets. Al-Qaeda is active in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but the group’s leader Ayman al Zawahiri said “Qaedat al-Jihad” would take the fight to India, Myanmar and Bangladesh. Security agencies feel the video could be an attempt by al-Qaeda to carry out fresh recruitments in the sub-continent as it stares at diminishing influence vis-a-vis the ISIS. (The Hindu 5/9/14)

99. Terror threat scan reveals 170 soft spots in Ahmedabad (12)

AHMEDABAD: The city police have identified more than 170 places, including vital installations, in Ahmedabad where security needs to be beefed up. The police have made this assessment following the release of the video in which the al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is threatening of terror attacks in Gujarat and other places in India. “We have identified 170 points as sensitive. These include vital installations like premier institutions, offices run by central and state governments, religious places as well as entry and exit points to Gandhinagar,” said Ahmedabad police commissioner Shivanand Jha. Senior officers of the city police have also been instructed to supervise security arrangements at such places. “Armed police personnel will be stationed at all these 170 points. Local police have been instructed to spend more time patrolling their areas,” said Jha. Meanwhile, sources in the intelligence agencies confirmed that the al Qaida videotape is authentic. “We have received information that the al Qaida, with the help of local extremist outfits like SIMI and the foot soldiers of Indian Mujahideen, can carry out terror attacks in Gujarat,” a source said. The sources also claimed that al Qaeda is using Gujarat to regain lost ground. “If a terror attack is carried out in Gujarat, the terrorists will not plan it with the help of local youths. They are more likely to use youths lured into terrorism from other states in India,” said a source in the intelligence community. A top police official, who was part of the anti-terror operations after the serial blasts of July 2008, said that local youths who were part of the module which had carried out the blasts, were the first to confess and spill the beans. This had led to the arrest of top members of the module. Meanwhile, all three physical layers of security – the BSF, intelligence agencies and the police – have been asked to stay on high alert in areas of the state bordering Pakistan and Rajasthan. “Senior officials of central intelligence are in constant touch with the state police,” said a senior police official. Sources in the police confirmed that after the Al Qaeda video threatening of terror attacks surfaced, a series of meetings was held between the BSF, intelligence agencies, the Army and the local police in the border areas of Gujarat. A source in the police said that during the monsoon, infiltration via desert areas is almost impossible because of the slush. “Areas of greatest concern for us are the sea coast and Rajasthan from where terrorists can infiltrate into the state,” said a source. (Times of India 7/9/14)

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

100. Jharkhand Police’s initiative against Naxals successful: DGP

Jamshedpur: The “stringent steps” taken by the Jharkhand Police against naxal activities have yielded results, with the state recording 35 per cent decrease in naxal-related incidents this year compared to the previous years, Director General of Police Rajeev Kumar said on Sunday. Barring a naxal-related incident in Dumka district, parliamentary polls held in three phases in Jharkhand four months ago were satisfactory, with the voting percentage registering an increase and no report of naxal incidents in the first two phases, Kumar said at a press conference. All the nefarious designs of the ultras, barring one incident, had been foiled and voters turned out in large number despite a poll boycott call given by the extremists outfit because of the steps taken by the police, Kumar said. There had been an improvement in containing the naxal activities in the state and several naxals were arrested following the anti-naxal operation launched by the police, he said. On the national-level Shooter Tara Shahdeo incident, Kumar said the police investigation was going on in the right direction and assured that no accused would be spared as police have been discharging its responsibility sincerely. To a query about Jharkhand government’s decision to recommend the case to CBI, he said the victim had requested for it. The DGP who was here to inaugurate the Integrated Surveillance and Response Centre (ISRC) at Crime Control Room on the premises of Sakchi police station assured of more such comprehensive steps in the future to curb the naxal activities. (Zee News 1/9/14)

101. Hazaribagh police nab five Naxals; arms, ammunition seized

Hazaribagh: The Hazaribagh police arrested five Naxalites from the border areas of the district on Monday night. They seized two country-made carbines and live cartridges. The Naxals confessed their involvement in  many cases in Hazaribagh, Ramgarh, Chatra and Koderma districts. At a press conference hereb on Tuesday, SP Hazaribagh Manoj Kaushik said that the police got the information of a new Naxalite group active in different areas of Hazaribagh. On a tip-off the Giddi police raided a house in Chumba village of Dadi block. As the police reached, the Naxals tried to run away but the police team managed to nab them. The SP said that the police recovered two country-made carbines, 10 live cartridges, six mobiles and some posters from them. Kaushik said that they have confessed that they were involved in kidnappings in Barkagaon and other seven cases. They also confessed that they collected levy five times from different business firms. The arrested have been identified as Raj Kumar Gupta, Sandeep Sao, Nakul Sao, Prakash Kumar Sao and Ram Chandra Sao. All the four are between 20 to 22 years of age. The SP said they had formed a new organisation named Jharkhand Tiger Group (JTG). (Pioneer 3/9/14)

102. Centre to introduce plan to deal with Naxalism (12)

Jaipur: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday indicated that the Centre would introduce a comprehensive plan to deal with the issues of Naxalism, terrorism and insurgency. Singh said he has been brainstorming with sitting and retired officers and has prepared a comprehensive plan, and invited suggestions from the heads of police training academies and police officers on the issue. “There has been a drastic change in situations since independence… There are challenges of terrorism, Maoism and insurgency and to meet these challenges… I invite your suggestions on our website,” he said. “I have been brainstorming with sitting and retired officers and a comprehensive plan is almost ready,” he said while addressing the heads of police training academies of different states at a national symposium here. The Union Minister said there was a need to make perceptional change in the image of police. “People see reflection of government, Chief Minister and Prime Minister in cops… even a police constable regulating traffic reflects the (functioning of the) government hence the police should ensure that their behaviour is proper,” he said. (The Hindu 4/9/14)

103. 23 CRPF men, cops ‘left without a fight’ as Naxals ambushed colleagues (12)

Raipur: The inquiry into a Maoist attack six months ago at Tahakwada in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district — in which 11 CRPF and four police personnel were killed — has found that most of the survivors, who followed the first section that was ambushed, instead of helping their trapped colleagues stayed behind and later deserted them. The probe ordered by IG CRPF (Chhattisgarh) H S Siddhu has found 23 of the 28 survivors prima facie guilty of “inaction and lack of satisfactory counter-action”. The paramilitary force has already suspended 17 of its personnel as reported by The Sunday Express, and suggested the police to act against six of its men for dereliction of duty. “In our communication to the state police, we have recommended disciplinary action against them,” said the IG office in a statement to The Indian Express. The probe report also said that the deceased personnel fought bravely and has recommended gallantry award to 10 of the 11 CRPF personnel killed in the encounter. Forty three personnel — 31 CRPF and 12 Chhattisgarh police — had left Tongpal police station on March 11 morning when they were caught in an ambush on a National Highway with open fields on both sides. Fifteen securitymen, who comprised the first line of the party, died on the spot, while most of the others deserted their embattled colleagues, the probe has found. Of the five survivors who were let-off in the probe, three could have been charged with “non-action” but they had suffered injuries in the gunbattle. It is probably the first instance when over half of a police team involved in an anti-Naxal operation has been found guilty of “lack of satisfactory counter-action”. The inquiry also noted that “there was delay in sending reinforcement”. Tongpal police camp was only four to five-minute drive from the spot, but the reinforcement party did not arrive in time. “These comprise around 25 personnel (both CRPF and police) who were present at the camp. They have not been suspended now, but will face a separate departmental enquiry,” said a CRPF officer. “The role of Tongpal thana in-charge is also under scanner.” The state police, however, said they were waiting for the CRPF report. “We are yet to receive the CRPF report,” Bastar IG SRP Kalluri said. Interestingly, while 15 securitymen had died in the ambush, the Maoists snatched 18 rifles indicating that those who survived could not even manage to save their weapons. Six AK-47s, some of which were fitted with under barrel grenade launchers, 18 magazines of the same rifles, one light machine gun with 10 magazines, nine INSAS rifles with 30 magazines, two SLRs with six magazines and two wireless sets were looted — sufficient to raise a company of the Maoists. (Indian Express 8/9/14)

TRAFFICKING

104. Raising Funds for Victims of Trafficking (1)

CHENNAI: Artitude, a series of art shows across borders, has raised `1.58 lakh for rehabilitation of trafficked victims. After successful shows in New Delhi, Mumbai and Sydney, the exhibition was recently held at Art Houz, a leading art gallery in the city. “We are a conclave of like-minded artists, who get together every now and then to stir the art lovers’ emotive responses in an effort to awaken the spirit of self awareness through their shared associations, conflicts and cultural investigations, all wrapped in pursuit of a visual language,” says Kalpana Yuvarraaj, one of the 13 eminent artists who showcased their painting. Sponsored by Art Houz, the artists Augustine, Dhakshinamurthy, Viswam, Srinivasan, Rohini Yuvarraaj, Thara Ganesan, James Manikkam, Shyam Sharma, Sonali Mohanty, Rajashekar, Nelson Kennedy, Kumar and Kalpana Yuvarraaj contributed 70 per cent of the sale proceeds to the trafficked victims. Soroptimist Chennai, an NGO that works for women’s rights, education,  trafficked victims, ragpickers and child labourers, would be given the amount and they will, in turn, carry out their respective projects that aim at rehabilitating trafficked victims. The show was inaugurated by Lakshmi Krishnamurthy, a senior artist and head of the department of the visual arts department of Kalakshetra. Three works of Kumar, Augustine and Srinivasan were sold for a total of `1.58 lakh. (New Indian Express 30/8/14)

105. Gogoi calls for proper mapping of human trafficking areas (1)

Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Monday called for proper mapping of areas from where incidents of trafficking of children and women are reported. Gogoi, who chaired a review meeting with officials of the state social welfare department, pointed out that the growing incidents of trafficking of women and children in the state was a matter of concern, an official spokesman said. He directed the officials to properly map the areas from where such incidents were usually reported and take immediate remedial measures to check them. The chief minister also asked the officials to expedite the process for setting up of fast track courts for solving issues like child labour and Nirbhaya Distress Cell to help women in distress in each district, the spokesman said. Gogoi, meanwhile, also directed Principal Secretary, Home and Political Department M G V K Bhanu to institute a vigilance inquiry into the substandard quality of newly built Anganwadi centres under ICDS at Titabor, following a report submitted by the Jorhat Deputy Commissioner. Officials of the department were also asked to ensure implementation of welfare schemes for persons with disabilities. The officials informed Gogoi that 1,800 posts have been identified in different departments for recruitment of persons with disabilities, the spokesman said. (Zee News 2/8/14)

106. Human trafficking caters to demand for brides (1)

Jhajjar/New Jalpaiguri: Last year, she was raped by someone she called mausa (uncle) in front of and on the bed of a woman she called mausi (aunt). Then, the mausa sold her off as a bride to a 45-year-old widower, father of a three-year-old, in Haryana. Price of the exchange: Rs.70,000. Haryana, with the country’s worst sex ratio of 879 girls to 1,000 boys, now has to increasingly import brides from poverty-stricken states such as Assam, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Odisha. It’s the same story in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh where female foeticide is high and the sex ratio skewed. According to the 2013 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report, 24,749 children and women between the ages of 15 and 30 were kidnapped and sold into marriage across the country (Hindustan Times 4/9/14)

107. 4,000 children trafficked from Bihar every month: DIG (1)

MUZAFFARPUR: Inaugurating a two-day seminar-cum-training on trafficking here on Monday, Tirhut DIG Ajay Mishra said nearly 4,000 children were being trafficked out of Bihar every month and the police are yet to ascertain the number of people involved in the process. The DIG directed police officers of Muzaffarpur district to treat trafficking as more heinous than loot and dacoity as traffickers are living in society and it is very difficult to identify them unless they are unmasked by society or media personnel. The DIG pointed out that initially the criminals committed crime for money but now with the rise in demand for human beings, they are supplying children for sexual exploitation and labour. Muzaffarpur DM Anupam Kumar stressed on the need to sensitize police officers on child trafficking. “Each complaint related to trafficking must be investigated without delay,” he said adding the police should coordinate with NGOs on trafficking and give priority to solving such cases. “Don’t take it in a routine way,” he advised police officers. Addressing police officers, SSP Jitendra Rana said children, mostly girls, are enticed by traffickers on the lure of finding them jobs. Instances prove that some family members are also involved in this trade to earn quick money. A large number of labourers leave Muzaffarpur each year to earn higher wages but many of them do not return home. Additional SP Rajiv Ranjan said the police officers will be trained to prevent and detect cases of trafficking adding laws relating to trafficking will be highlighted. Vigilance SP Anil Kumar Sinha and municipal commissioner and IAS officer Himanshu Sharma gave a few tips to police officers on prevention of kidnapping of children. (Times of India 8//9/14)

CORRUPTION

108. Will scrapping of RTOs curb corruption? (5)

Dalals or middlemen are ubiquitous entities in almost all Indian public dealing departments, but they have a special role in transport offices where no work gets done without their aid and, dealings take place openly. To arrest this age-old tradition which has worked in favour of both transport personnel and middlemen, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari has now proposed a partial closing down of Regional Transport Offices or RTOs. RTOs are responsible for a gamut of functions in relation with transportation, including conducting driving tests, issuing licences, checking for the age and fitness of vehicles and issuing certificates, renewal of licences in case of repeated traffic violations and cancellation etc. A host of these functions, as per the Ministers, will now be transferred online and only the handful which require physical dealing will now be taken up at RTOs. Though motorists, long harassed at RTOs, are happy with this move, not all activists are convinced that it will put an end to corruption in the transport department. Pulkit Sharma, an IT executive, says, “The last time I went to an RTO office for renewal of my licence, I had to make rounds on at least three days. Yet, I couldn’t meet any official. Lastly, I had to give money to a tout to help me. I am sure this move by the Government will give us some relief.” Vipin Kumar adds to this, “In Delhi RTOs, work at least gets done with the help of touts. Rates are fixed and the touts take guarantee for your job to be completed. If you travel to other states, if a tout doesn’t like your face, he’ll ask you for more money and then vanish.” RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agarwal is not very optimistic about the move, “Fra­nkly, I am not sure if this will help. A lot of things have already been transferred online and some other tasks like driving tests, pollution tests etc will need face to face dealing. How will you stop corruption from taking place?” “The major chunk of brib­ery, in fact, takes place at toll booths, especially on highways. Why doesn’t the Government do something about this?”  Lawyer and activist Ashok Agarwal concurs, “What is required is accountability and punishment. Otherwise, people will find a way to make money from online also.” (Deccan Herald 1/9/14)

109. India losing $1 trillion annually to corruption: Study (5)

New DelguL Last year, $20 trillion disappeared into secret off-shore tax havens across the world — an amount that can save 3.6 million lives annually. A study conducted by the UK-based NGO, ONE, has found that corruption, tax evasion and corporate malpractices is leading to monetary losses of the scale that could wipe out poverty in a few years. The study found that developing countries such as India are losing $1 trillion every year through “a web of corrupt activity that involves shady deals for natural resources.” According to Global Financial Integrity, India lost an average of $34,393 million due to illegal financial flows between 2002 and 2011. India was in the top five countries losing money, behind China, Russia, Mexico and Malaysia. The loss is pushing governments to cut down on funding critical programmes like health care, inhibiting private investment and reducing economic growth. Estimates drawn up by ONE show that countries like India are contributing nearly $3.2 trillion of the money being held secretly in off-shore accounts. Interestingly, bringing back black money has been on the agenda of the BJP and was repeatedly referred to during the party’s campaign before the Lok Sabha elections. ONE is now asking G-20 countries, of which India is a member, to take steps that will prevent the siphoning-off this $20 trillion from the global economy. It wants governments to publicise information about shell companies that are created to funnel illegal deals. It also recommended that governments should crack down on tax evasion and make the leasing of public resources transparent. (Hindustan Times 3/9/14)

110. CBI Probe Sought in Fake Degrees Scam of Bihar Teachers (5)

PATNA: A petition was Wednesday filed in Patna High Court seeking a CBI probe into the recruitment of 40,000 teachers who allegedly used fake degree certificates to get jobs in government schools. Petitioner Ranjit Pandit said he filed the public interest litigation (PIL) as the state government had failed to act against the errant teachers. “I have requested the court to direct the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate into the matter,” he told media persons here. The petitioner said he has collected documents as evidence through Right to Information (RTI) queries to prove that thousands of teachers used forged degrees to get jobs in government schools in Bihar. In July, state Education Minister Brishen Patel admitted that over 1,000 teachers used fake degrees to get jobs in government schools. Patel had said the government will not only sack them but they will be sent to jail for faking their education qualification. Nearly 2.5 lakh teachers were recruited on contractual basis for Classes 1 to 12 between 2006 and 2011 and 34,540 on a regular basis in 2011-12 after the Supreme Court passed an order in 2010. (New Indian Express 3/9/14)

111. Specialisation key for Lokpal search (5)

New Delhi: The Central government shall provide such assistance as may be required by the search committee in efficient discharge of its functions in accordance with the provisions of the Act, the notification said in regard to the new Lokpal search committee. “The search committee will now consist of at least seven persons of standing and having special knowledge in anti-corruption, public administration and vigilance among others, it said. As per the earlier rules, it was the job of an eight-member search panel to draw up a panel of persons for consideration by the selection committee. Now with the notification being issued, the government will go ahead with the process of appointment of the chairperson and members of the Lokpal, official sources said. The government has also done away with the time limit of 30 days given to the search committee for recommending the names, after receiving the list from the DoPT, to the selection committee. The search committee will have to give the list of names, which could be considered for appointing chairperson and members of the Lokpal “within such period as may be decided by the selection committee”. The search committee shall, as far as possible, in case of members recommend a panel containing names at least three times the number of vacancies to be filled, the new rules said. (Asian Age 4/9/14)

112. Will put Saradha scam culprits behind bars: Amit Shah (5)

Kolkata: Hitting out at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over the Saradha Ponzi scam, BJP president Amit Shah today alleged associates of Banerjee are involved in the scam and steps will be taken to put them behind bars. “You (Mamata) are not protesting against duping of 17 lakh investors in the Saradha scam and coming down on the streets, because your own associates and stooges are involved. We need an answer to who took away the Saradha scam money. “We are not afraid of anyone because our workers are not involved in any scam. Whether it’s Saradha or anything else, we will do the work of arresting and putting the culprits behind bars,” Shah told a rally in central Kolkata. “You have to reign in your workers and associates who are involved in corruption and scam. If you can’t do that then please step down. The BJP will provide good governance in Bengal. The countdown has already started and the people of Bengal will show you the way out in the 2016 Assembly polls,” he said. “More than 2,000 farmers had lost their land in Nandigram and Singur and you had gone on fast protesting against that injustice. But in this Saradha scam more than 17 lakh people of Bengal have lost their deposits. “Why don’t you (Mamata) feel like sitting on a fast against this scam? Why aren’t you coming down on the roads for those who lost their savings?” Shah asked. The BJP president’s comment comes at a time when the CBI and the ED were tightening their grip in the multi-crore Saradha Ponzi scam probe. Shah alleged that Bangladeshi infiltration has gone up by five times in the Trinamool regime as Mamata Banerjee was only pursuing politics rather than developing the state. “Bangladeshi infiltration has gone up by five times in the TMC regime. If one Bangladeshi infiltrator comes here, then he takes away the job of a Bengali youth and education of a youth. But Mamata is more interested in politics than development of Bengal. She has to stop infiltration and rising crimes in the state,” he said. Shah, who was in the city to address the BJP’s state committee meeting and a rally for the upcoming by-elections to Chowringhee and Basirhat South seats, said both the seats should be won by BJP to raise the voice against injustice and crime against people inside the Assembly. “Both the seats have to be won by BJP to have the voice of people heard in the Bengal Assembly. Under the TMC regime, there can’t be any development in Bengal. The people had given opportunities to CPI(M), CPI, Congress and TMC. So now give a chance to BJP to make the change,” he said. Accusing the erstwhile Left regime of “ruining Bengal”, the BJP president said the much-hyped political change was of no use as both Trinamool and the Left were “cousins”.”People brought a change by bringing in Trinamool after Bengal was ruined by the Left for 34 years. But there has been no change and development for the people as Communists and Trinamool are cousins”. (Deccan Herald 7/9/14)

113. Exposing corruption does not defame judiciary: Katju (5)

New Delhi: Former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju, who recently court a controversy for talking about “judicial corruption”, today attacked his critics, questioning how exposing graft defames judiciary while corruption by judges does not. Referring to criticism that he was trying to defame judiciary by exposing corruption, he said sarcastically that this is a new definition of defamation. “A high judicial authority recently said that some people are trying to defame the judiciary. Perhaps he was alluding to me,” the Press Council of India Chairman wrote on his blog. “So doing corruption by Judges does not defame the judiciary, but exposing such corruption defames it. This is a new definition of defamation!,” he wrote.  (Zee news 8/9/14)

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

114. Centre sets up panel to review environment laws (9)

New Delhi: Government on Tuesday constituted a high-level committee to review various environment laws in order to bring them in line with “current requirements”.The committee has been set up in the backdrop of government taking serious measures to fasten the environment clearance process for achieving economic growth without compromising green issues. The four-member panel, headed by former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanian, has been asked to review five key green laws concerning protection and conservation of environment, forest, wildlife, water and air among others. The Environment Ministry has asked the panel to submit its report in two months. “Based on experience gained in the implementation of aforesaid Acts, it has been decided to constitute a high-level committee to review these Acts and suggest appropriate amendments to bring them in line with their objectives,” said a Ministry order. The panel will review the important green laws enacted between 1971 and 1986. These laws include Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981. According to the Terms of Reference, the committee will assess the status of implementation of each of the Acts vis-a-vis the objectives. It will also examine and take into account various court orders and judicial pronouncements relating to these Acts. “The panel has been asked to recommend specific amendments needed so as to bring them in line with current requirements. It has also been asked to draft proposed amendments in each of the aforesaid Acts to give effect to the proposed recommendations,” the order said. The members of the committee include former Environment Ministry secretary Viswanath Anand, Justice (Retd) AK Srivastav and senior advocate of Supreme Court KN Bhat. (DNA 2/9/14)

115. Campaign to clean up e-waste kicks off (9)

GURGAON: Any city official will tell you that the biggest environmental question of this age is how to efficiently manage the ever-increasing volume of e-waste in this city. Despite the pollution board’s repeated warnings, and with a litany of e-waste regulation norms in place, an abundance of Gurgaon’s e-waste still ends up in the informal sector, where it is then illegally sold as scrap. To bring some such facts to light and raise the general level of awareness on e-wastes, a Gurgaon-based NGO called Advit Foundation, in collaboration with local corporate players, has launched an e-waste management campaign here. The aim is to educate members of society ? at school-level and in residential, commercial and industrial settings ? about the deleterious effect of unrecycled e-waste on the environment and personal health. “The campaign has been initiated in a number of residential complexes and educational institutions in Gurgaon. The entire pool of e-waste that is collected from these places, during our activities there, is then sent to an authorized e-waste recycler for safe disposal,” said a spokesperson for Advit Foundation. He added that as of today, around 93% of e-waste generated in Gurgaon finds its way to the informal sector where it is not handled with due process and is disposed of without any attention to safety measures. “We’ve a target of collecting five tonnes of e-waste over the course of this project. In future, we’ll partner many more RWAs, schools and commercial firms to take forward this initiative,” the spokesperson added. Material research firm Pluss Polymer is collaborating in this project, and has recently held a volunteer-based programme on e-waste recycling in a residential society in DLF phase III. “We kicked off the first phase of our ?erase the e-waste’ campaign at the Belvedere Towers, where nearly 100 kg of e-waste was collected,” said one of the organizers (Times of India 3/9/14)

116. Mountain of trash may be driving Himalayas to disaster (9)

SHIMLA: Lalpani, a reserve forest, lies four kilometres off Shimla. For all the protection it is supposed to get, there is a giant heap of rubbish festering in it, a proof of neglect and contempt for environmental laws. Lalpani is not an isolated pocket. It’s the same with the rest of the Himalayas. Tourists tend to mindlessly leave behind huge mounds of polythene bags, glass, metal, coal residue, juice wrappers, processed leather, empty oxygen cylinders and ash. Can the thoughtlessly tossed juice cans or plastic bags add up to something bigger? Scientists say yes. “Non-biodegradable waste absorbs heat which results in temperature rise that can melt glaciers to form new glacial lakes. These lakes pose the threat of glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF). But we don’t know when the lakes could burst,” says Prof RK Ganjoo, a Jammu University specialist in quaternary geomorphology, climate change and glaciology. The Hindu Kush-Himalayan region stores more snow and ice than any other part of the world outside the polar regions (thus the name ‘the third pole’). The Nepal Himalayas, on the other hand, occupy 800 km of the central section of the Himalayan range and the Indian stretch has more than 5,000 glaciers of different sizes and shapes. Experts say that continuous storage of huge quantities of water has turned these lakes on high mountains into potential “water bombs” for the population living downstream in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Nepal. There are 249 glacial lakes in HP and 11 have been identified as ones with potential risk of breaching. Experts said that these lakes need regular monitoring. “A lake burst would cause flash floods which could sweep away people, houses, roads and bridges in Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and India,” says a recent report prepared by Himachal Pradesh government. The increase in atmospheric temperatures is the main reason for higher melt rates of glaciers. Though waste is not the biggest reason for such increase, it is a contributor. In the last century, the north-western Himalayan region has witnessed 1.6 degrees celsius rise in temperature. Winter discharge in Chenab river has shown significant increase while Satluj river too is showing increasing trend of discharge during winter and spring. A report by the HP department of science environment and technology says an overall reduction in glacier area from 2,077 sq km to 1,628 sq km from 1962-2001 has been recorded in Chenab, Parbati and Baspa basins — a loss of 21% of glaciers. Scientists chiefly blame tourism for the situation. “In 2005, non-biodegradable waste was 16.9% of total waste in Manali and 34.8% in Kullu. In and around the Valley of Flowers and the Pindari valley in Uttarakhand, such waste comprised 84.5% and 66.4% of the total waste generated. It is evident that nonbiodegradable waste is much higher in trekking and expedition locations than the down-slope hill spots,” says JC Kuniyal, senior scientist at GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, Mohal in Kullu. The Himachal government, in 2011, imposed blanket ban on the use and storage of non-biodegradable disposable plastic cups, plates and glasses and warned violators of a fine of up to Rs 5,000. But these measures don’t seem to working very effectively. (Times of India 7/9/14)

117. India, Malaysia agree to cooperate on environment, climate (9)

New Delhi: India and Malaysia on Monday agreed to strengthen their bilateral strategic partnership in the area of environment and climate change. During their meeting here, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar and Malaysia’s Minister for Natural Resources and Environment Datuk Seri G Palanivel emphasised the need to work closely in the domain of international negotiations so as to protect the interest of developing countries. Both the sides discussed the possibility of cooperation in the areas of technical exchange for forest bio-diversity conservation with the focus on the following issues DNA finger-printing of wildlife animals, sustainable forest management, production forestry, strengthening forest-based livelihoods, e-waste management, river cleaning and water conservation etc, an official release said. On the bio-diversity conservation and promotion, Javadekar said that Indian white tiger may be exchanged for famous Malayan Tapir. Possibilities for enhancing bilateral cooperation in areas of climate change and watershed management were also discussed, it said. Speaking on the occasion, Javadekar said India was committed for cooperation in climate change negotiations under the UNFCCC, where both the countries belonged to the Like Minded Developing Countries group and needed to coordinate with each other so as to ensure that the developed countries did not shift the emission burden on the developing countries. The minister said that a concerted stand was required on the global climate change negotiations. On the bio-diversity conservation and promotion, Javadekar said that Indian white tiger may be exchanged for famous Malayan Tapir. Appreciating India’s efforts in the areas of climate change and watershed management, the Malaysian minister expressed his willingness to enhance technological cooperation, the release said. IBN Live 9/9/14)

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

118. Surya Raitha to light up farmers’ lives (20)

BANGALORE: In an effort to harness solar energy for those who till the soil in the State, the State government announced the launch of the ambitious Surya Raitha programme. The programme will ensure solar panels are placed to generate electricity for running irrigation pumpsets, and will also enable farmers to sell excess power generated to the government. Under the scheme, a farmer can install a solar power-run pumpset on his farm with 90 per cent subsidy from the government. The government will purchase excess power generated by the farmer at Rs. 9.56 per unit (if the farmer has not taken subsidy); Rs. 7.20 per unit (if the farmer has taken subsidy). This programme is envisaged for the Irrigation Pump (IP) sets on the dedicated IP feeders. Energy Minister D.K. Shivakumar claimed on Monday that it is the first scheme of its kind in the country. This is part of the State’s Solar Policy 2014-2021. The Union government, in its recent budget, had announced energising one lakh solar irrigation pumpsets by allocating Rs. 400 core. The State government was likely to get 10,000 solar power-driven agricultural pump sets out of that. “We are getting 2,400 pumpsets in the first phase from the Centre,” he said. Solar energy is generated through the year, and since farmers do not need power all 365 days, they can transmit excess power generated to the power grid, he said. At the moment, the government supplies about 39 per cent of total power produced in the State to farmers, incurring an expenditure of Rs. 7,200 crore a year. However, there is no plan to discontinue the system of supplying free power to farmers, he clarified. (The Hindu 1/9/14)

119. Delhi amends APMC rules (20)

NEW DELHI: In order to promote competitive pricing, Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung on Tuesday approved the proposal to cease regulation of marketing of fruits and vegetables in the market area beyond the principal yard and sub-yard at three vegetable mandis in the city. In effect, the vegetable and fruits sellers would now be able to sell their produce at places of their choice in the city. The bulk buyers can also buy fruits and vegetables anywhere as per their choice at a competitive price, which in turn would help the consumers who will get value for money as they can get better products at affordable price, officials said. According to the notification issued on Tuesday, fruits and vegetables shall remain the notified agricultural produce, under Delhi Agriculture Produce Marketing (Regulation) Act, 1998, within the principal yards and sub-yards of the marketing committees at APMC MNI Azadpur, APMC Keshopur and APMC Shahadra. The amendment in the rules would also lift the bar on establishment of new markets by other players like co-operative societies, Kisan Mandis, NAFED, Mother Dairy, SAFAL etc. bringing competition in the marketing of fruits and vegetables. They would continue to be regulated as per the provisions of the Act at the three mandis. However, these perishable goods will not be treated as notified agricultural produce beyond the area of principal yards and sub-yards of the respective marketing committees, needing no regulation of marketing thereof in accordance with the provisions of the Act. (The Hindu 3/9/14)

120. Need More and Better Watershed Projects: Minister (20)

BANGALORE: Agriculture Minister Krishna Byregowda on Wednesday said dryland farmers continue to face problems despite the State and the Centre spending on dryland irrigation. He  was speaking after inaugurating a three-day workshop on best practices under integrated watershed management programme (IWMP). The event is being jointly organised by the Department of Land Resources, the Ministry of Rural Development, the Government of India and the Watershed Department of Karnataka. “For every acre, `1.5 lakh is invested in irrigation. The state government gives a power subsidy of `7,000 crore. The Centre spends on fertilisers and farm mechanism but still, dryland farmers are stressed. The best designs under the watershed programme remain on paper,” Byregowda rued. Vandana Kumari Jena, Secretary, Department of Land Resources (GoI), said there is a need to strengthen the management information system (MIS) for flagship programmes. “Under the watershed management department, this particular MIS should be made robust like in the case of the National Rural Health Mission. The workshop should be made an annual affair to exchange ideas,” she said. Latha Krishna Rau, Additional Chief Secretary and Development Commissioner (GoK), said funds and support should reach the farmers on time. Also, publications related to the Watershed Development Department were released on the occasion. As per the Common Guidelines-2008 prepared by the National Rainfed Area Authority under the Planning Commission, the State government has implemented watershed development schemes in 25.66 lakh hectares with an outlay of `3315.87 crore from 2009 to 2014, covering 5,675 micro watersheds. Major activities covered under this programme are terracing, bunding, trenching, vegetative barriers, construction of rainwater harvesting structures like check dams and percolation tanks, sowing seeds of multipurpose trees, pasture development, livelihood activities for landless people and micro-enterprises. (New Indian Express 4/9/140

121. Surface ozone pollution killing crops: study (20)

Pune: Calling for new ozone pollution standards in India, researchers point out that surface ozone pollution owing to rising emissions in the country damaged six million metric tonnes of India’s wheat, rice, soybean and cotton crops in 2005 – a staggering $1.29 billion loss. This could have fed 94 million people – about a third of the country’s poor – said Sachin Ghude, an atmospheric scientist at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) in Pune. “India’s ground-level ozone pollution caused losses of more than a billion dollars and destroying enough food to feed tens of millions of people living below the poverty line,” he added. “There are currently no air quality standards in India designed to protect agriculture from the effects of ground-level ozone pollution,” Ghude added. Ground-level ozone is formed when emitted nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds react with sunlight.IANS (The Hindu 6/9/14)

122. Government rapped for delaying report on suicide by farmers

BHUBANESWAR: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has expressed strong displeasure over the inordinate delay by the Odisha government in submitting its report on alleged farmers’ suicide cases in the State. Not satisfied with State government’s explanation that farmers committed suicide not because of crop failure or reasons connected with agriculture, the Commission sought a detailed report. In April 2012, the State Chief Secretary had given an undertaking to submit a report within six weeks. “But, no such report has been received from the Chief Secretary till now. Therefore, Chief Secretary, Government of Odisha, is directed to send the promised report within six weeks,” the NHRC directed. Questioning the promptness with which State government concluded that suicide by farmers was not related crop failure, the Commission stated, “In view of the statement made by the Odisha government before the Commission on April 12, 2012, that none of the farmers had committed suicide because of crop failure or reasons connected with agriculture, the Chief Secretary is requested to explain how and on what basis the government came to such a conclusion and whether the conclusion of the government was based on any report of enquiry into the reported suicides.” “Copies of such enquiry reports also shall be sent to the Commission,” it ordered. The NHRC also wanted to know about the fate of the Farmers’ Commission set up by the State government to address their issues and suggest measures to enhance their income through various means.. “The Chief Secretary is also requested to inform whether any report or recommendations have been made by the said the commission and what action has been taken by the State Government,” the NHRC said. The NHRC has fixed the next date of hearing for September 29. (The Hindu 8/9/14)

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

123. Mistry visits Gopalpur to inspect Tata Medica hospital site (4)

Berhampur: The displaced persons of Tata Steel’s Gopalpur project, who have been agitating for higher compensation, today reiterated their demand before the company officials during the visit of Tata group chairman Cyrus Mistry to the area. Mistry had come here to inspect the site of Tata Steel’s proposed 500-bedded hospital at Sitalapalli, near the rehabilitation colony of the company’s Gopalpur project. About 600 displaced persons are currently staying in the Tata Steel rehabilitation colony. They argue that the compensation they received when their land was acquired about 18 years back for a project of the steel major was meagre. Moreover, as the land is still not transferred to Tata Steel’s name and they have been deprived of any job opportunity due to non-implementation of the project, they should be paid higher compensation and other benefits as per the latest Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policy of the state government. “We want payment of Rs 15 lakh to each displaced family, fresh enumeration of the displaced persons, jobs and re-construction of the buildings and land patta of the houses in the rehabilitation colony”, said P. Dalaya Reddy, president, Tata Rehabilitation Village Development Committee. The committee submitted a memorandum to the company officials during the visit of Mistry. It may be noted, the state-owned Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Idco) had acquired around 3000 acres land near Gopalpur for establishment of a 10 million tonne steel plant by Tata Steel in mid-1990s. The company later shelved the steel project and announced to set up an Industrial Park with Special Economic Zone (SEZ) status there. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had laid the foundation stone for the Industrial Park in August 2010. But there is no progress on this project either and the land is lying mostly vacant. The company, meanwhile, has constructed a boundary wall around the acquired land. As an anchor investor of the proposed Industrial Park, Tata Steel proposed to set up a 55,000 tonne per annum (TPA) High Carbon Ferro-Chrome plant, 4, 00,000 TPA Rebar Mill at an investment of Rs 1000 crore. Sources said, these projects have recently received environment clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF). To overcome the water problem at the site, the company also proposed to set up a desalination plant. When confronted by scribes on the progress of Gopalpur Industrial Park and SEZ during his visit to the area today, Mistry did not respond to the queries. On the proposed hospital at Sitalapalli, he, however, said, “We will continue to support Odisha for an integrated development”.The hospital will come up over around 44-acres of land. It will start with 200 beds in the first phase and will gradually be scaled up to 500 beds. Initially, it will have Medicine, Surgery, Anesthesia, Gynecology and Obstetrics, Pediatrics, ENT, Pathology departments with ultra-modern ICU, Emergency Services including world class diagnostic facilities. Tata Steel has joined hands with ‘Medica Hospitals’, a Kolkata based healthcare specialist, for this project. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had laid the foundation stone for the hospital on February 20, 2014. Mistry also flagged off an advanced mobile medical unit for the area. Four more such units will be added to this service soon, said a company officials. Among others state’s Higher Education minister, Pradip Panigrahi, and managing director, Tata Steel, TV Narendran accompanied Mistry during the visit.  (Business Standard 2/9/14)

124. NHRC preparing to grapple with issues like displacement, unhealthy environment… (4)

NEW DELHI: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is preparing to grapple with issues such as displacement, unhealthy environment and violation of labour laws by businesses as it seeks to sharpen its focus amid rapid industrialisation and increased economic activity. Besides, the commission plans to critically examine government policies framed for promoting business to ensure that these are not in conflict with human rights. This will be among its major focus areas in the next five years, when it is likely to conduct studies and send its suggestions to various government agencies. “Human rights violations due to business would be our prime focus in the coming years and the commission has already started studying the subject,” said Rajesh Kishore, secretary general of NHRC. The commission has recently conducted a series of consultations with the industry representatives in this regard, he added. Protests over major nuclear, steel, power and other projects in various parts of the country drove the commission to alter its approach, officials said, adding that the NHRC had been receiving several complaints alleging that industries had created environmental problems, violated labour laws and displaced people. The commission has traditionally acted on a case-by-case basis without a broad framework for dealing with business-related human rights violations. Now it will examine the impact of government policies on public health, business practices, industrial processes and products, according to a report titled ‘NHRC India on Business and Human Rights’ submitted to the International Coordinating Committee for National Human Rights Institutions, an international association of national human rights institutions across the world. “NHRC would emphasis on state’s duty to protect and ensure that those who are victimised have access to remedies,” the report adds. NHRC receives many complaints every year which show government officials often fail in their duty to protect people’s rights. (The conomic Times 4/9/14)

125. Unwise to raise Narmada dam height: activists (4)

NEW DELHI: Several academics and activists have expressed deep concern at the recent decision of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) to raise the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam by 16.76 metres. This will take the height to the designed final height of 138.68 metres. In a letter to Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti, they said the NCA decision was unjustified and unwise as it would cause huge additional displacement, when rehabilitation of the people affected even at the current height is incomplete. The signatories to the letter are A.C. Bhagabati, A. Latha, A. Vaidyanathan, Achyut Das, Amita Baviskar, Ashish Kothari, Bharat Patankar, Brij Gopal, Devaki Jain, Dinesh Abrol, Dunu Roy, Ghanshyam Shah, Himanshu Thakkar, Himanshu Upadhyaya, K. J. Joy, Kanchan Chopra, M K Prasad, Mamata Dash, Manoj Mishra, N.C. Narayanan, Nafisa Bharot, Prashant Bhushan, Rajeswari Sarala Raina, Ramaswamy R. Iyer, S. Janakarajan, Sanjay Kak, Seema Kulkarni, Sharachchandra Lele, Shripad Dharmadhikary, Sudarshan Iyengar, Sudhirendar Sharma, Suhas Paranjape, Vimalbhai and Viren Lobo. (The Hindu 6/9/14)

126. Yanamala-led panel on land acquisition for Capital (4)

Hyderabad: The Cabinet sub-committee constituted to deal with land acquisition for building the capital city around Vijayawada would tour Krishna and Guntur districts soon after the budget session of the Assembly, Andhra Pradesh Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu said here on Friday. In an informal chat with reporters in his chambers in the Assembly, Mr. Ramakrishnudu said land acquisition would be completed as early as possible and the infrastructure would be developed in a Public-Private Partnership mode. He said sub-committee members and Ministers P. Narayana, P. Pulla Rao and Devineni Umamaheshwara Rao had already started the exercise of framing the modalities and the committee would talk to farmers in the region. He said the government was not expecting any problem with regard to land acquisition and observed that a mega city like Mumbai did not witness any trouble while acquiring land for development. Mr. Ramakrishnudu said the 14 Finance Commission members would be interacting with him and Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu in Tirupati on September 12. He said the Finance Department has approved the proposal to fill 7,700 vacancies of teachers posts. (The Hindu 6/9/14)

RIGHT TO HEALTH

127. Ebola scare: Govt urged to up health surveillance (3)

MYSORE: There is no need to panic over Ebola virus. But at the same time, one should not be callous towards the possibility of disease spreading to India. These were the words of caution expressed at a session on ‘Ebola hemorrhagic fever’ organized by Mysore Science Foundation here on Sunday. Speaking on the topic, Dr M G Narahari from JSS Medical College said though the cases of Ebola are not reported in India ever since its first outbreak in 1976 in Congo, there is a need to take precautionary measures against the dreaded virus in India. “As the first cases of Ebola were detected in people living by the side of Ebola river in northern democratic republic of Congo, the fever has been named after Ebola. Though Ebola always existed in Afirca, particularly Congo and other neighbouring habitats, it achieved publicity owing to its fatality. The awareness created among the masses by media also helped it gain publicity,” the doctor said, adding that even the involvement of the US in African countries might have forced WHO to declare the disease as “international health emergency”.Dr Narahari said: “Like any other viral fever, Ebola is also fatal and a serious fever. But there is no definite line of treatment for this hemorrhagic fever or vaccine to control the spread of RNA virus. There are five strains of Ebola virus, of these Sudan and Zaire strains are more fatal. Of these, the Zaire strain is the deadliest Ebola virus with death being certain in patients infected with this,” he said. So far, the mortality in Ebola patients is between 88-90 % with the rest surviving the viral attack. Of the 1,975 cases detected in Africa in the last three months , 1,069 people have died, he claimed. Referring to spread of the disease, Narahari said that the virus is spread only through contact, and its incubation period varies between 2-21 days. “Even this virus has a latency period of over three months,” he added. Dr Narahari said that the increased inflow of students from African countries to Indian universities and colleges has made the chances of Indians contacting the disease more. “The government has to act and take precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the disease. Authorities in Mysore should step up their health surveillance of African students who are in large numbers in the city,” he suggested. He said though the symptoms of Ebola fever are similar to symptoms of other viral fevers, the early detection of the virus can help doctors give a symptomatic treatment to control fever. (Times of India 1/9/14)

128. Infections from hospitals on the rise in Chennai (3)

One can never be too careful when it comes to needles in a hospital. Or a hospital bed. Or just about anything that a patient with an infectious disease may have come in contact with. It is easy to contract infections like hepatitis or HIV if used medical equip-ment is not sterilised properly, medical experts say. More than 20 patients awaiting kidney transplants at Stanley Medical College Hospital were recently infected with hepatitis C through contaminated needles while undergoing dialysis, a case of mass hospital-acquired infection (HAI), also called noso-comial infection. Hospital acquired infections are a significant problem that can be easily avoided if certain precautions are taken, says infectious disease specialist Dr Subramaniam Swaminathan of Global Health City. “It is not just needles,” he said. “All kinds of invasive medical equipment like catheters, endoscopes, stents and balloons are potential carriers of infections, especially if they are reused on patients,” he said. “It is important to keep all the medical equipment cleaned and sterilized after every use.” Doctors suggest many ways of reducing nosocomial infections like regular washing of the hands and maintaining hygiene on a hospital premises. However enforcing such behaviour requires long-term effort and investment. Former director of public health Dr S Elango says in several cases, a treatment centre becomes a disease transmission zone. “Transmission of infections through blood transfusion or dialysis can be as high as 50%,” he says. “To avoid this, hospitals should adhere to strict protocols related to nosocomial infections. All donor blood should be screened well and only disposable syringes should be used on patients. Expen-sive medical equipment that is reused should be sterilised properly,” he said. Dr Swaminathan says several hospital-acquired infections like hepatitis require expensive drugs and prolonged therapy which may have a lot of side effects. “It should be the priority of hospitals to pre-vent such infections by ensuring that their staff members follow the right procedures and discard medical waste efficiently,” Dr Swaminathan said. “While no test is 100% safe, it is the duty of the hospital to make sure every process is as safe as possible.” Nephrologist Dr Georgy Abraham says most hospitals usually decontaminate ap-paratus after use. “But it is also important for patients to be aware and insist that doc-tors and nurses use only disposable nee-dles,” he said. Following basic standards of hand hy-giene, displaying risk information in hos-pitals, disinfection materials used by pa-tients, sterile handling of equipment and proper use of antibiotics can go a long way in reducing the risk of hospital-acquired infection. “All medical institutions should have a hospital infection control committee that reviews the status of infections once a month,” Dr Abraham said (Times of India 3/9/14)

129. 35 infants die every month in Mandya (3)

Mandya: It appears that schemes meant for promoting health among women/to provide primary healthcare to the poor have failed in their goals in Mandya district with a variety of health-related issues often claiming lives of infants. In all, 2,239 infants died in the district since April 2009. From April to August this year, health issues reportedly claimed the lives of 152 infants in Mandya. Forty-two infants died in April, 26 in May, 33 in June, 24 in July and 32 in August. Asphyxia while feeding milk, anaemia among pregnant women and low birth weight were the major reasons for the trend, says H.P. Manche Gowda, Mandya District Health Officer. Speaking to The Hindu here on Thursday, he said that the rate of death of infants and post-natal mothers in Mandya district was increasing. Non-availability of nutritional food, lack of awareness about importance of health, contemplate marriage, poverty, teenage pregnancy, premature delivery, pneumonia, sepsis, congenital anomaly and heart disease are also responsible for infant deaths. The number of deliveries taking place in Mandya district is about 20,000 a year. The rate of death of post-natal mothers in the district is about .24 (point 24) per cent, Mr. Manche Gowda said. According to a Taluk Health Officer (THO), a majority of the 2,239 infant deaths had occurred within two to five days of birth. The issue has been a matter of concern among the authorities of the Mandya district administration. On an average, at least 35 infants are dying every month in Mandya district, Rohini Sindhuri, Chief Executive Officer of the Mandya Zilla Panchayat, told The Hindu. Underlining the need to create awareness among public, she said: “We will take all necessary measures to bring down the infant mortality rate in the district.” Sources in the Department of Health and Family Welfare allege that the authorities concerned had failed to effectively combat the issue in Mandya. Both the State and the Union governments were spending huge money to promote health among women. However, such programmes have not effectively reached the beneficiaries. They are merely restricted to distribution of pamphlets or organising rallies, in which school students participate, a doctor at a primary health centre (PHC) in Srirangapatna taluk, said. The National Urban Health Mission (NUHM)-sponsored programmes to providing primary healthcare to the poor, had not yielded expected results in combating infant mortality rate, he said. “We will use anganwadi workers, accredited social health activists (ASHA) and students for the purpose,” Mr. Manche Gowda said. (The Hindu 5/9/14)

HIV/AIDS

130. Kits Given to HIV Positive Persons (3)

PALAKKAD: District panchayat president T N Kandamuthan inaugurated the distribution of Onam kits for HIV positive persons, here, on Monday. He also distributed protein kits  for the HIV/Aids patients at the function.  The free periodical tests for HIV-infected persons was also conducted at the Regional Diagnostic Centre (RDC) laboratory at the district hospital.   District panchayat president T N Kandamuthan said that protein kits would be distributed among TB patients as well. “The kits will be distributed after Onam holidays and ,” he said.  Health and education standing committee chairman P C Ashok Kumar, development standing committee chairman K E Haneefa and welfare standing committee chairperson Sreeja, were present at the meet. (New Indian Express 2/9/14)

131. Centre’s decision on HIV/AIDS control worries organizations working on the issue (3)

KOLKATA: The Centre’s decision to do away with the Departments of AIDS Control (DAC) as a separate wing and merge it with the health ministry has sparked apprehension among organisations that working on HIV/AIDS. Community based organisations (CBOs) and other NGOs feel that such move will hamper the progress that has been made in the prevention and control of AIDS. Early this August the Centre took the decision to wind down DAC that runs five-year Rs 14,295 crore National AIDs Control programme 4 (NACP-4) and merged it with the department of health and family welfare. The Centre felt that there was no more that need for a separate wing since the number of people affected with HIV had fallen by about half over the past one decade. Though union health minister Harsh Vardhan had assured that there would be no change in the existing AIDS control programme and that move was only to redefine the structure, the decision has not gone down well with those working in the field. “This is not the right time to close down NACO and integrate Target Intervention programs with Public Health Delivery System. There is absolute need for target intervention, specifically for sex-workers, MSMs (men having sex with men) and transgenders,” said Smarajit Jana, chief advisor to Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC). Civil society leaders from West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar representing communities of drug users, male-to-female transgenders, MSMs, female sex workers (FSWs) and people living with HIV gathered in Kolkata for a civil society consultation. “Even if the merger happens, it has to be in right process and community participation is needed. CBO involvement will not be negotiable because only they can mobilize the community and educate them about their health issues and rights.” said Pawan Dhall, country director, SAATHII. These organizations fear that any move to shrink organizational and budgetary support will lead to a reversal and upsurge of the epidemic among the vulnerable groups and beyond. “The social taboo attached HIV/AIDS makes it important to be looked after separately,” said Sonal Mehta from HIV/AIDS Alliance. Those working in the field said that HIV/AIDS is not be treated like any other disease. According to them this recent move will only push back HIV positives and the vulnerable to the closet once again. “If target intervention is shelved, the scenario can become scary again and all efforts we have put on so far will go waste,” said Ranjita Sinha, secretary Association of Transgenders and Hijras in Bengal (ATHB). (Times of India 3/9/14)

132. HIV+ couple thrown out of locality(3)

KOLKATA: An HIV-positive couple, who had come to terms with their affliction and were preparing for a new life, were assaulted and thrown out their North 24-Parganas locality by relatives and neighbors on Saturday afternoon. The battered couple went to police, who helped them return to their home. There is now a police picket in the locality in Ghola. But the stigma of social ostracism in an area barely 30km from the city centre is a grim pointer to the taboo that still surrounds the disease. Fortunately, some neighbours have come forward to support them. The couple has a six-year-old daughter, who is not HIV-positive. They were making preparations to secure her life when their own blood relatives and one-time friends turned on them. The husband, a small-time trader, is 35 years old and his wife 32. She was the first to be detected with HIV during a routine test during her pregnancy in 2006. Her husband was also asked to undergo the test and he, too, tested positive. After the initial shock, they took it bravely and went through the entire process of medication and counseling. They decided to keep their condition under the wraps when doctors told them that they could lead a normal life under medication and care. “The doctor who is treating us advised us of the precautions to take to prevent transmission. We have a daughter who is not infected. We have to take precautions to prevent the disease from spreading to her. The doctor also told us to start saving for antiretroviral therapy,” the wife told TOI. A few days ago, her husband’s younger brother stumbled upon their secret. He lives in the same house with his wife and two children. As soon as he came to know that his brother and sister-in-law were HIV-positive, he made life miserable for them. According to the couple, he kept demanding that they leave the house because they were putting him and his family at risk. “No amount of reasoning would convince him that we were taking all the necessary precautions since we also have a child. He and his wife would abuse and even physically assault us. Finally, on Saturday afternoon, my brother-in-law summoned a few locals who are known to him. After my husband returned from work, they caught hold of him and threw him out of the house. When I rushed to his rescue, one of them hit me on the head with a stick and I started bleeding,” she added. Outnumbered and getting no assistance from locals, the couple and their daughter went to the police and narrated their trauma. Officers immediately sent a team to escort them back to the locality. “The couple says they are HIV-positive and that they were beaten up by the husband’s brother. We have taken down their complaint. We will take strong action against the accused,” said Barrackpore detective chief C Sudhakar. When a police contingent accompanied the couple back to their house, the accused were nowhere to be found. After ensuring that the couple was safely in their house, police left a stern message with locals not to bother them in the future. Police are looking for the man’s brother and his associates involved in the attack. Sources say he has fled the area with his family. (Times of India 7/9/14)

133. NGOs working for AIDS control facing funds crunch (3)

NAGPUR: Organizations working under the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) usually have to do without funding from the governmental agencies at the beginning of a financial year. This year, however, it has been around six months but these organizations are still working without funds due to reasons like reorganization of National AIDS Control Programme (NACP), change in government at the centre and merger of NACO with National Rural Health Mission among others. Most of the NGOs work for targeted interventions that focus on vulnerable population groups like drug users, male-to-female transgenders, men who have sex with men (MSM), female sex workers (FSWs) and people living with HIV (PLHIV). The NGOs depend on NACO for funding their projects that help in spreading awareness and restraining the rate of HIV infection. Officials from the state unit of NACO, Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society (MSACS), say that the funds would reach the NGOs within this month. “The project duration is between April and March. Funds are usually released at the end of June or the beginning of July, with expenses for the previous months getting reimbursed. Staff members are usually aware that they would not be paid and sometimes NGO directors take loans to manage the project. Reportedly, some of them have raised money by breaking their personal fixed deposits or paying from their own pocket,” said an activist associated with one of the NGOs. Another activist said that her organization had some savings from last year. “Usually, we are supposed to return any unused funds to NACO in March. This year, however, they allowed us to keep this money and utilize it. But not all organizations were given this liberty. Now, most of them are facing severe financial crunch because of which their staff too is leaving them,” she said. Giving reasons for the delay in getting funds, Pune-based activist Bindu Madhav Khire said, “The third phase of NACP got over in April, and the new phase started. This called for several changes and revisions in the structure, manpower, budgeting and other aspects of all the projects. Funding for the projects was majorly coming from international agencies until then. Now, the ratio of funds from them has reduced as the number of AIDS patients and new infections in the country has come down drastically,” he said, adding, “Amid all these changes, the country also saw a change in the government which delayed the official documentation process.” Sources say funds NACO has released funds to all the state AIDS control societies in August. MSACS joint director for targeted intervention Avsharan Kaur confirmed this and said the process of fund allocation to different organizations has already been set in motion. “All the organizations would be provided proper funding by mid-September,” she said…. (Times of India 8/9/14)

134. Even govt hospitals refuse to admit HIV/AIDS patients (3)

Raj Kumar (name changed), a resident of Kanpur Dehat met with an accident and was taken to Ursula hospital in serious condition on Wednesday. He had suffered multiple fractures in his right leg. The doctors started the treatment but after knowing that he was a HIV patient, they allegedly left him alone on the operation table. His pain was unbearable but no doctor was allegedly ready to treat him. “We were told to leave the hospital and seek treatment from other hospital. We took our patient to a private hospital where, thankfully, the doctors treated Raj Kumar. He is better now,” one of Kumar’s relatives said. Similar was the case of Mahinder Singh (name changed), who was denied admission in LLR Hospital on Saturday. According to the patient’s kin, he was taken to LLR Hospital’s medicine department in a serious condition. But, when the hospital staff denied admission, they took him to ART Centre which is meant to treat and rehabilitate HIV positive or AIDS patients. They added that Singh was spotted by a NGO van and was lucky enough to get proper treatment by the doctors working for the NGO. Contacted, director of Ursula Hospital Dr R Saxena said, “The hospital lacks special medicines that are recommended to HIV patients. HIV positive patients are given much stronger medicines which are different from the regular drugs. These medicines are not available in every hospital. Government provides these drugs to LLR Hospital, so we refer such patients to that hospital. Raj Kumar was also referred to LLR Hospital and it was his choice to seek help from a private hospital.” When contacted for comments, head, department of medicine at the LLR Hospital Dr Aarti Lalchandani said that she was unaware about the case. “No one contacted me about this case. Moreover, we have certain limitations. There is a process of admission and we cannot admit every other patient coming to us. He must have some other problem, probably out of the area of medicine department because of which he was left untreated. HIV patients are mostly referred to cardiology, cancer or TB hospital,” she said. When asked as to why HIV patients are not given proper care and attention, the doctor clarified that they do provide good care to these patients. “We have all the facilities in our hospital. We give them strong medicines and give them proper attention. We don’t do surgeries in cases where there is no hope,” she said. (Times of India 9/9/14)