HR News

Volume 16                                            No.42                                             July 28, 2014

HR NEWS: JULY 28, 2014

(From July 18  To July 28, 2014)

DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

1. Dalit Men Flee Houses Fearing Action by Police (2)

VILLUPURAM: Two days after the clash between Dalits and caste Hindus in Aasur village near Tindivanam, all the men in the Dalit colony fled from the village fearing police action. Following this, the Dalit women on Thursday morning, picketed the Villupuram Collectorate demanding justice. The men fled from their homes on Wednesday night after police officials, who were deployed in the Dalit area, threatened that they had received special orders from a higher official to arrest all the Dalit men in the hamlet. However, local sources said no such threats were made by the police officials, but panchayat chairman Ealumalai, who is a Vanniyar, was forcing local police to threaten the Dalit residents. After facing harassment at the hands of the caste Hindus and police, Dalits demanded that  the district administration settle them in a separate village. On Thursday morning, a group of Dalit women from Aasur village picketed the Collector’s office and demanded justice. They threatened to return their ration cards if the district administration failed to take action on their demands. Speaking to Express, Gowri (32) a Dalit, said, police officials are showing partiality in the matter. The clash was well planned by PMK members and executed by the local caste Hindus, she said. She pointed out that even the parents of the couple that eloped were not involved in the clash. She said, although  Dalits were the victims in the attack, police officials had filed false cases against them in order to conceal the truth. Sources insisted that some PMK members were the ones that sparked off the clash. Local sources said, so far no action had been taken against the caste Hindus who were involved in the attack. Four people were arrested just for a eye-wash, the woman said. The attack that took place on Monday saw at least 50 Dalits, including children, seriously injured. They were undergoing treatment in several hospitals. Gowri (12) a class VII Dalit student of Aasur Government High school, who was also attacked by the caste Hindus said, the people entered the houses of Dalits and attacked them. They also used abusive words and damaged the houses as well as household articles. As the school was located near the caste Hindu area, about 60 Dalit students have been skipping classes in fear of being attacked again by the caste Hindus. The Dalit residents demanded protection for themselves and their property from the caste Hindus. Collector V Sampath directed police to take immediate action. A special team was formed to deal the problem, police officials said. (New Indian Express 19/7/14)

2. Tamil Nadu dalit woman beaten to death by non-dalit husband, in-laws (2)

CUDDALORE: A 28-year-old dalit woman was beaten to death and buried by her non-dalit husband and in-laws at a village near Bhuvanagiri in Cuddalore district. The murder took place on June 3 but it came to light recently. Police on Saturday exhumed the body and sent it for postmortem. Police said P Seetha from Aathivarahantham village and Saravanan got married on May 5 this year after a brief love affair despite strong objections from Saravanan’s family. The couple started living in Keerapalayam. But the relationship turned sour after the marriage and Seetha had been complaining of abuse by her husband and in-laws. Seetha went missing on June 3. Her parents, after failing to get details on her whereabouts from Saravanan and his family members, lodged a complaint with Bhuvanagiri police on July 8. Saravanan surrendered before Panruti judicial magistrate on July 16 and confessed to murdering his wife with the help of his mother Selvi, sister Sakunthala and brother-in-law Venkatesan. Police arrested Selvi, Sakunthala and Venkatesan on July 17 and produced them before a local court which remanded them in judicial custody. Preliminary inquiries revealed Seetha, who was invited by Saravanan to his parents’ house in Kadavacheri, was beaten to death by him, his mother, sister and brother-in-law. They later set her body on fire and buried it near their house, police said. Various dalit rights organizations, while condemning the brutal murder, have asked the district police to book all the accused under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act and ensure stringent punishment to them. The activists also demanded that the postmortem examination be videographed and be performed in the presence of two members from dalit community. (Times of India 20/7/14)

3. Officials Ignorant of SC/ST Sub-Plan Act: Ravella (2)

VIJAYAWADA: Minister for social welfare Ravella Kishore Babu has alleged that there is no awareness among the officers concerned on the SC/ST Sub Plan Act – 2013 and observed that there is an urgency to spread awareness on the law as nothing significant has been done in the past 15 months. Speaking to the reporters here Sunday, Kishore Babu said that the reschedule of loans was a part of farm loan waiver scheme. In view of the current kharif season, chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu was making plans to waive the farm loans at the earliest.  “The CM has asked the agriculture minister to find all possible ways to waive farm loans if the RBI refuses to reschedule the loans,” he said and urged the farmers not to worry about the loans as they had asked the bankers at the State Level Bankers’ Committee (SLBC) meet not to cause inconvenience to farmers. Kishore Babu clarified that the state government was ready to take up the process of admissions for students and expressed disappointment over the Telangana government for the delay in admissions for students who were eligible for fee reimbursement. He also came hard on Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhara Rao for not responding to the letters from the AP chief minister regarding the fee reimbursement. “Due to the delay in admissions, the students will only be deprived of further education,” he said and added that they were planning to visit Delhi to exert pressure on the Centre to find a solution on the admissions issue. He also said that they would approach the Apex Court on the denial of fee-reimbursement scheme to students studying in Telangana from Andhra Pradesh. “Basing on the verdict of the Supreme Court, plans will be made accordingly,” he added. Speaking about the SC-ST Sub Plan Act, Kishore Babu criticised the Congress government for not framing rules in the Act. “However, this government will implement the law in letter and spirit,” he said and stressed the need to reduce the gap in development and literacy rate between the rich and the poor. Kishore Babu praised the efforts of Chandrababu and said that AP would turn into a logistical hub as the CM had already designed plans as part of his desire to develop AP. (New Indian Express 21/7/14)

4. 2 cops suspended after Dalits beaten to death (2)

ALIGARH: Three Dalits of a family were killed allegedly by some upper caste men in Veerpur village of Lodha, Aligarh over a land dispute, following which two police officials were suspended on Thursday for alleged negligence of duty. On Wednesday, a clash broke out in the village over a piece of land claimed by the Dalits and members of the upper caste family reportedly used lathis and other sharp weapons to kill the Jatavs. They also dragged the victims to a field and even tried to bury them alive, police sources said. The assailants beat up Babulal (55), Basanti Devi (60) and Kailash (30), all of whom succumbed to injuries. “Two weeks ago, there was an argument between two families over SDM Khair’s order to probe the case of dispute over the ownership of four bigha land property. The issue has been simmering since 2002. The land of Jatavs was claimed by the upper caste family and has ever since been the reason of the clash,” said Udaiveer Malik, police spokesperson. An FIR has been registered against seven persons by the kin of the victims, he added. DIG Satyender Veer Singh said, “This was a civil matter. The case went out of hand because the Dalit family had called some relatives home and the upper caste family thought this is being done to build an army to attack them. They reacted without any apparent provocation.” The area is under police surveillance after the clash and the situation is now under control, police said (Times of India 24/7/14)

5. Migration Changed Khariar Dalits’ Lives (2)

KHARIAR: Labour migration from this poverty stricken undivided Kalahandi district has become a part of life for many years now. Unlike other seasonal migration, Bankapur village’s tale is different. About 110 dalit families of Bankapur have left the village in Khasbahal panchayat of Khariar block of Nuapada district in search of greener pastures across the country for good. The village wears a deserted look and 30-odd members of 10 families left behind said the dalit families periodically migrated in the last 40 years. In the absence of repair and maintenance, the houses of migrated villagers are crumbling down. With no land holdings, the dalit families had little option but to leave their village to eke out a living. The families are now settled in Assam working in tea gardens in Bailadila famed for iron ore deposit, Durg, Bhilai and Raipur in Chattisgarh besides Punjab where they work as agricultural labourers, said the local sarpanch,  Dulamani Mahanand. With the new destinations offering ample livelihood opportunities, they are now leading a decent life far from their village where they had to struggle amidst poverty and hunger for several years. One dalit Gopal Mahanad managed to bag a government job in Assam, informed Mahanand. He said the State Government should make efforts to bring the migrated families back to their village and rehabilitate them by providing sources of livelihood. (New Indian Express 25/7/14)

6. Govt urged to free tribals, Dalits jailed on false charges (2)

Bhubaneswar: Hundreds of tribals, Dalits and innocent people, who faced police atrocities while raising voice against anti-people activities in the State, staged a rally at the Lower PMG here on Sunday, protesting the State Government’s undemocratic attitude leading to arrest of hundreds of poor tribals and Dalits on false charges. Following the rally and a street protest, the protesters attended a convention organised by the Campaign Against Fabricated Cases (CAFC). Debating on ‘Repression on Dissent Voices’, CAFC convener Narendra Mohanty said that charges have been framed against rights activists, leaders of mass movements and workers of different political parties on fictitious grounds. “The State Government has been targeting its own citizens while facilitating appropriation of the natural resources by the corporate sector. Repression, deception, threat and fabricating false cases are some of the sadistic tricks being used by the Government to crush stir by the public,” alleged Mohanty. Referring to the deceit by the Government, Mohanty said that the people’s movement in Narayanpatna had been suppressed by declaring Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS) leader Nachika Linga as the ‘most wanted’. Similarly, while Viswa Hindu Parishad leader Laxmanananda Saraswati was killed by some Maoists in Kandhamal, seven innocent tribals and Dalits were sent to jail, he added. On the occasion, the convention put forth a seven-point charter of demands, including withdrawing several false cases registered against democratic leaders and organisations for their battle against displacement and immediate provision of justice to the imprisoned tribals, Dalits and other innocent people by taking trials of their cases in a special court. Besides, it also demanded that all the prisoners and convicted persons, who have been charged in political cases for staging various people’s movements, conferred with status of political prisoners and the Government initiate discussions with the protesters of displacement instead of suppressing their voice. Several victims of displacement, including Shiney Shoy of Bisthapita Birodhi Mancha Kalinganagar, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti president Abhay Sahu, Niyamagiri Suraksha Samiti member Raj Kishore Sunani, Lower Suktel Movement leader Satya Banchor and Nissan magazine editor Lenin Kumar shared their anguish. (Pioneer 28/7/14)

TRIBALS

7. SC/ST amendment bill referred to Parliamentary panel (6)

NEW DELHI: The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2014, which seeks to replace an ordinance was referred to the standing committee by Lok Sabha amid protests by Congress MPs. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan referred the bill to the committee amid disruptions from opposition members from Congress, RJD and RSP demanding immediate statement from external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on journalist Ved Pratap Vaidik’s meeting with the 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed. When the House returned to order following a statement from Swaraj, leader of the Congress in the House Mallikarjun Kharge objected to the bill being referred to the standing committee. Another Congress MP KH Muniappa insisted that the issue involved 23% of the population in the country and they wanted to have their say in the matter. Supporting their contention, MP Shashi Tharoor raised a point of order saying it was not proper to take a decision when the House was not in order. But Mahajan overruled all the objections. The bill states that if a public servant, who is not a member of SC or ST, willfully neglects his duties required to be performed by him under this Act, he or she shall be punished with imprisonment for a term from six months to one year. (Times of India 18/7/14)

8. Landless ‘Yanadi’ tribes need a helping hand (6)

NELLORE: Landlessness, poverty, malnutrition, unemployment and illiteracy are among the many concerns that continue to trouble thousands of ‘Challa Yanadi’ tribal population living in various parts of the coastal mandals in the district. Since there is no change in their living standards, the government has been urged to confer the particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTG) status on the tribe, and it is expected to help the authorities put in place several special mechanisms to support their livelihoods. Tribal communities such as Chenchus, Koyas, Kondas, Yerukalas and Challa Yanadis are present in considerable numbers in A.P. According to 2001 Census, 89 per cent of these tribes were living below the poverty line. “It is against this backdrop that more concrete support needs to be extended to these communities. The PVTG status is one of the important steps in this direction,” said Sk. Bhasha, director of the Association for the Rural Development (ARD). He has been working with tribal groups for their uplift with the help of various governmental initiatives. The Challa Yanadi tribe, which is predominantly present in coastal mandals like Kovur, Gudur and Sullurupeta, are found to be vulnerable to various factors in the modern context. Lack of awareness on health issues is causing danger to their lives. More than 8 lakh Yanadis are living in A.P. (The Hindu 19/7/14)

9. Fearing evacuation due to project, tribals occupy forest land (6)

WARANGAL: Even before the government is to take a decision on the proposed Kanthapanapally project across river Godavari, hundreds of tribals are attempting to occupy the virgin forest, fearing evacuation. In the process, they began felling trees to relocate their villages. A forest official, V.Lingam, who tried to prevent them from felling trees was beaten up so severely that he fell unconscious on June 12. Officials say about 100 tribals from Buttaigudem and Munepally reached Kondai hamlet and began felling the trees near Puredipalli cheruvu. Forest beat officer V Lingam who rushed to prevent them was attacked. Authorities say trees in at least a hectare of forest land were cut by the tribals, who wish to relocate their villages in the belief that their displacement because of the Kanthanapally project is imminent. The forest clearance took place near Kondai hamlet. The tribals of Sarvai, Tupakulagudem, Chityala, Gangaram, Bhupatipur, Buttaigudem, Eturu, Mupanapalli and Kanthapalli have identified rich and beautiful forest areas all along the Devadula pipeline bordering Karimangar and Warangal districts for relocating their villages. There are approximately 500 tribal families in these hamlets abutting river Godavari in dense jungles of Eturu Nagaram mandal. A case was registered against the tribals and the issue was brought to the notice of the district Collector G. Kishan. “We have scaled up the security and vigilance all over the mandal. Serious threat to forest is all along the Devadula pipeline where the entire stretch of forest is marked for felling and raising settlements by the tribals,” explains DFO (Wildlife) Ch Ganga Reddy. (The Hindu 20/7/14)

10. NGO petitions against Jarawa tourism in the Andamans (6)

NEW DELHI: Snaking queues of vehicles on the Andaman Grand Trunk Road has prompted a furious petition by Survival International, which has managed to get over 7,000 signatures so far against Jarawa tourism. In 2002, the Supreme Court had ordered that the road be closed. Survival International, a global movement which works for tribal rights, said hordes of tourists continue to travel through the road, a part of the Jarawa Reserve, to spot the fast dwindling tribe. A recent statement by the Bharatiya Janata Party MP from the Andaman Islands Bishnu Pada Ray has added to fears that the road could be widened for tourism. Sophie Grig, senior campaigner at Survival International said, “Over 7,000 people have already joined Survival’s petition and pledged not to visit the Andaman Islands over their outrage at the degrading ‘human safaris’ to the Jarawa tribe. Yet, MP Bishnu Pada Ray has now announced a major investment in the road through the tribe’s reserve. Why is the Indian government investing in this road when the alternative sea route would provide a faster, cheaper and more comfortable means of transport? It’s time to let the Jarawa live in peace in their forest without the daily intrusion of hundreds of vehicles through their land.” Ms. Grig explained that the alternative sea route would enable people to travel north or south in the islands without invading the Jarawa’s reserve. “But the plans for its implementation are moving forward at a snail’s pace and are being stalled at every stage. It appears there is no political will to push it through. Instead of protecting the rights of his most vulnerable constituents, the local MP is pushing crowd-pleasing policies such as widening the road and mainstreaming, which would be disastrous for the Jarawa,” she said. (The Hindu 20/7/14)

11. NHRC to Probe Jharkhand Surrender Scam (6)

NEW DELHI: The NHRC will probe the alleged surrender scam in Jharkhand in which adivasi youths were asked to pose as Maoists and surrender for jobs, a commission official said Wednesday. “The commission has directed its director general (investigation) to depute a team to conduct a thorough inquiry in the matter and submit a report within four weeks,” said the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) official. “The NHRC has taken suo motu cognisance of a media report that a surrender scam was allegedly perpetrated by a former Military Intelligence officer with the knowledge of CRPF officers to lure tribal youths in search of jobs in Jharkhand to pose as Naxalites desiring to surrender,” said a statement. It added: “In exchange, some of them had to sell their personal belongings like motorcycle, land to arrange for money which could secure them a job in army, paramilitary or state police through illegal means. But not everyone allegedly conned was rewarded. The media report cited examples of 18 victims of such a scam.” (New Indian Express 23/7/14)

12. 75% malnourished children in Adilabad affected by Pica (6)

UTNOOR (ADILABAD DIST.): About 75 per cent of malnourished kids in Adilabad owe their condition to Pica, an eating disorder characterised by a craving for dirt or chalk, or to short pregnancy spacing followed by their mothers. Though efforts are being made to address the issue of malnourishment, not much has been done in terms of creating awareness on controlling Pica or encouraging parents to follow the ideal pregnancy spacing. “Creating awareness on these aspects is the most important step towards curbing malnutrition among children,” says Raj Pratheepa, Medical Officer at the Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre (NRC), Utnoor. The NRC handles 130 to 160 cases of child malnutrition as outpatients every month while 30 to 40 cases are admitted for treatment, with over 20 being in the category of Severe Acute Malnourishment (SAM), considered to be on the higher side. Since January this year, as many as 161 SAM cases out of a total of 218 inpatient malnourished children were treated at the NRC. “Children of poor tribal people need special care as they easily take to eating dirt when their parents are away in the fields especially during the agriculture season. Awareness on superstitious beliefs on raising a male child should be created so that women do not go on delivering babies until a boy is born,” Dr. Pratheepa observes. Meanwhile, the NRC has come to benefit poor tribal people having cured difficult cases through curing eating disorders in addition to providing nutritious food to malnourished children. “The treatment is decided based upon the result of an appetite test,” says NRC dietician Kumbam Aruna. “Seven-month-old Bhudevi was brought here 28 days back when her weight only 2.1 kg. She now weighs 3.1 kg and looks more healthy,” the dietician continues, citing an example of a difficult case. “We also treated three severely anaemic kids brought to the NRC a few weeks back with their haemoglobin percentage being just 2 gm. They have now made a complete recovery,” the Medical Officer adds. (The Hindu 25/7/14)

13. Campaigns planned on rights of tribals (6)

Bangalore” The Karnataka Aranya Bhoomi Hakku Horatagarara Vedike has decided to hold public campaigns in 19 districts across the State to mobilise public opinion on the rights of tribals and traditional forest-dwellers. The campaign will begin in Shimoga on August 7. The vedike said that the problems of tribals could be redressed under the existing laws. Addressing presspersons here on Saturday, vedike chief convener A. Ravindra Naik said that over 14 lakh tribal families of forest-dwellers, under 260 different categories, in the State feared that they would be evicted following court orders. Mr. Naik said these dwellers were cultivating over two lakh hectares of forest land without title deeds for their livelihood. (The Hindu 27/7/14)

WOMEN

14. Woman branded witch, beaten to death in Bihar (8)

Motohari: A woman in a village of East Champaran district in Bihar was beaten to death on charges of allegedly practicing witchcraft, police said. Saraswati Devi, 45, succumbed to her injuries at Motihari sadar hospital after she was badly beaten by her co-villagers, on Saturday. “The villagers also forced her to consume human excreta,” police said. In a statement to the police, the deceased’s husband Kailash Prasad accused 14 villagers of dragging and thrashing the woman to death. The two sons of Saraswati —Himanshu and Ramsurat —  also sustained injuries when they tried to save their mother. “After recording the statement, the case was sent to Madhuban police station,” said Priya Ranjan, police inspector. In separate incidents in June, more than eight women were assaulted and subjected to humiliation, in which 27 persons had been made accused. But not a single arrest has been made so far in these cases. However, ASP PK Mandal claimed, “Police have been told to adopt zero tolerance against such incidents and take prompt action whenever reported to the police stations”. (Hindustan Times 20/7/14)

15. Protests against rising rape cases (8)

Dharwad: The BJP Mahila Morcha on Friday staged protests in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office in various districts, condemning the State government’s alleged failure to provide proper security for women. In Dharwad, the protesters alleged that the government’s claims of efforts to provide security to women had remained only on paper. Home Minister K. J. George was incapable of handling the Home Ministry and should resign, they said. During the protest in Belgaum, BJP Belgaum district (Mahanagar) president Ujwala Badavanache said the as many as eight cases of rape had been reported from different parts of the State during the last 24 hours, which showed that persons with criminal tendencies did not fear the police. She said increasing incidents of sexual assaults had created a sense of insecurity among women. The absence of male members of the BJP in the protest drew flak from the onlookers. In Raichur, students protesting under the banner of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad alleged that the State government was trying to protect the perpetrators in the Bangalore rape case. They demanded capital punishment for Nasir Hyder who allegedly abducted and raped the student in Frazer Town on Wednesday night. They also demanded the government to dismiss the Inspector for his “deliberate” delay in registering an FIR. Activists of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike burnt an effigy at Super Market circle to condemn the laxity in dealing with sexual assault cases. Ashok Kumar Jain, district president of the organisation, demanded death sentence for the rapists. (The Hindu 20/7/14)

16. India’s child sex ratio drops: UN report (8)

New Delhi: India needs to take urgent action following a sharp fall in its child sex ratio, a United Nations report said Tuesday. The study named “Sex Ratios and Gender-Biased Sex Selection: History, Debate and Future Directions”, says the child sex ratio in India has deteriorated from 976 girls to 1,000 boys in 1961, to 927 girls in 2001 and to 918 girls in 2011. The report has been constituted by the United Nations Women with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). UN Women is the United Nations organisation dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. It also says India is among the few countries where the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) for girls is worse than boys. The other countries are Nepal and Bangladesh. Speaking at the report launch, Lakshmi Puri, deputy director of UN Women, said: “Gender-biased sex selection is first and foremost a reflection of how our society values girls and women.” “The deteriorating child sex ratio demonstrates the economic and social progress in the country has had minimum bearing on the status of women and daughters in our society,” she added. The report offers practical suggestions to advance research and understanding on the subject by focusing on different areas such as family and household, education, labour and employment and institutions that directly or indirectly aid or fight the practice of sex selection. “India has witnessed many critical initiatives made by the government, academia and civil society to understand and resolve the issue of gender-biased sex selection. The report bears testimony to the research work thus far, and points to the wisdom that we can build on for evolving a definitive response to skewed sex ratios in India,” said Frederika Meijer, representative of UNFPA to India. The report also provides a brief overview of the sociological and ethnographical areas of study, including the role of civil society and the state, and changing familial patterns. (Zee News 22/7/14)

17. ‘Agnipariksha To Prove Chastity’: Woman Asked To Hold Hot Iron Rods in Front Of Village (8)

Indore:  A court in Indore ordered cases to be registered against four people, including a woman’s husband and mother-in-law, for allegedly forcing her to “prove” her “chastity” in front of a community panchayat by holding red-hot iron rods, if she wanted to live with her husband. The complainant was allegedly asked to “prove her “chastity” by holding red-hot iron rods with her palms (“agnipariksha”) over which leaves of plants coated with oil were kept, her lawyer Santosh Khoware told PTI in Indore on Wednesday. The court ordered registration of the case under Section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against the woman’s husband, mother-in-law and their two close relatives, the complainant’s lawyer said. The complainant, who belongs to the Kanjar community, got married in 2007. After some time, her husband and her in-laws allegedly demanded Rs. 2 lakh in the name of dowry and started harassing her physically and mentally, her lawyer said. Later, they “suspected” her “character” and demanded that she “prove” her “chastity” in front of the local community panchayat. When she and her parents refused to appear before the community panchayat which her in-laws called, panchayat heads asked their community to socially boycott them from all functions, the complainant said. Her complaint stated that she and her family were socially boycotted since February and nobody invited them for any function nor came to her parent’s house. Meanwhile, Kanjar community’s Madhya Pradesh head, Shashi Khatabia termed the allegations levelled against the panchayat as “hollow” and added that it had “nothing” to do with it. She claimed that practices like “agnipariksha” were already “a thing of the past” and such traditions had “no relevance” in “modern” society. (NDTV 24/7/14)

18. Govt mulls amendments to anti-dowry law (8)

New Delhi: Keeping in view the rising number of complaints regarding the misuse of anti-dowry law, Centre is mulling to introduce penal provisions in the act that will ensure punishment or penalty to those who make false charges. The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development is also contemplating giving more teeth to the Dowry Prohibition Act by strengthening the existing provisions and widening the definition of ‘dowry’. “Recently, a rise in the incidents of misuse of the anti-dowry law has come to the notice of the ministry. In some cases, women falsely implicate their husbands and in-laws for various other reasons. “If the allegations turn out to be false, the case gets closed. So there are discussions going on about changing some provisions under which the misuse of the act may invite punishment or penalty,” an official in the ministry said. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had directed the state governments to instruct police “not to automatically arrest when a case under Section 498A of IPC (dowry harassment) is registered but to satisfy themselves about the necessity for arrest under the parameters laid down flowing from Section 41 of Criminal Procedure Code”.While giving the direction, the apex court had expressed concern over the misuse of the anti-dowry law by “disgruntled” wives against her husband and in-laws and noted that the act was being increasingly used to harass in-laws. According to ministry officials, the amendments may include widening the definition of ‘dowry’ by changing the words ‘in connection with marriage’ to ‘given before the marriage, at the time of marriage and at any time after the marriage’. The officials said that there was also “a proposal to link certain provisions of the Domestic Violence Act to the Dowry Prohibition Act to provide quick relief”. Notifying the list of gifts exchanged during the wedding may also be made a mandatory and failure to do so could invite heavy penalties including a three-year jail term not only to the bride and the groom but also to their parents. “Notification of the gifts during the wedding will help in checking any claim from being made later that they were part of dowry,” the officials said. In addition to this, a new clause may be incorporated which will provide an aggrieved woman the opportunity to file her case either at the place where the offence was committed or where she permanently or temporarily resides, they said. The National Commission for Women (NCW) had also proposed recommendations to amend the Dowry Prohibition Act in 2009. (Zee Newa 27/7/14)

19. Khaps support Dhankar’s ‘Bihari wives’ remarks (8)

Jind: Having faced flak for his “Bihari wives” remarks, Haryana BJP Kisan Morcha president Om Prakash Dhankar today received support from unexpected quarters with Bihar Jat Sabha coming in his defence, saying there’s nothing wrong in inter-state marriage alliances. Blaming the media for misrepresenting Dhankar’s statement, Bihar Jat Sabha president Shiv Pratap Singh today said that Dhankar never suggested paying money for Bihari brides. On the contrary, Dhankar merely suggested formalising and registering such inter-state marriage alliances, Singh said, adding that he will extend full support to Dhankar in this endeavour. Singh’s statements were supported by various Khap Panchayats of Haryana and also by famous Hindi writer and former chairperson of Social Welfare Board Mridula Sinha. “Whole of India is a village and there’s nothing wrong in such marriage alliances,” Sinha said, while speaking at a function organised by Samajik Jagriti Manch, wherein various social issues such as unmarried youths, female foeticide, inter-state marriages, human trafficking and rising crime were discussed here. Speaking on the occasion, Dhankar expressed concern over the falling sex ratio in Haryana and suggested connecting all ultrasound centres in the state to a common server to check their misuse. Earlier this month, Dhankar had suggested that if BJP comes to power in Haryana then all the bachelors in the state will get Bihari girls for marriage. (Zee News 28/7/14)

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

20. About 70 kids rescued from Taloja factory (14)

NAVI MUMBAI: As many as 70 children were rescued from a Taloja factory on Friday. The kids were employed by a fisheries company, Ulka Seafoods. The cops, tipped off by an NGO, raided the factory at 8pm. “Around 300 workers, comprising men and women from Assam and Orissa, were employed. The workers included 70 children — 60 girls and 10 boys. These labourers had been brought here by a recruiting agent. Both, the adult and child labourers, were given the job of cleaning and packing,” said Sanjay Singh Yenpure, DCP (zone 2) He added that factory inspectors should have regularly inspected the factory to ascertain if there were any children employed. Indian Rescue Mission, an NGO, had told the police about the factory. “We had received a call from the parents of one of the girls, alleging that her daughter was being forced to work there without pay or proper accommodation.We complained to the police and the crime branch team raided the factory,” James Verghese, president. (Times of India 19/7/14)

21. Over 4,300 child labourers rescued in Delhi since 2009 (14)

NEW DELHI: Labour Department sends Rs.25,000 to District Magistrates annually for the welfare of each rescued child, but do not get utilisation certificates. Of the 4,310 child labourers rescued from different areas of the Capital since 2009, only 19 were from Delhi and 99 per cent belonged to other places across the country. The Delhi Government’s Labour Department has taken steps to repatriate these children to their native places and rehabilitate them. Stating this in an affidavit filed in the Delhi High Court earlier this week, the Department sought directions for streamlining the rehabilitation of rescued child labourers. For children belonging to Delhi, the Social Welfare Department must be directed to ensure that they are admitted to the MCD schools, it stated. The matter related to a writ petition moved by non-government organisation Bachpan Bachao Andolan, on which the Court has been issuing directions to the authorities since 2009 to take steps to rescue and rehabilitate child workers. The matter came up on Wednesday before a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice R. S. Endlaw. The Labour Department sends Rs.25,000 to District Magistrates annually for the welfare of each rescued child, but do not get utilisation certificates regularly from them, stated the affidavit. It also pointed out that there was no effective tracing and tracking mechanism. The affidavit pointed out that instances of sexual abuse of girls trafficked for child labour were regularly reported in Delhi and sought the High Court’s directions to the Resident Commissioners of Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh to cooperate with the Department for rehabilitating them. The Court asked the Delhi Government to consider suggestions made by the NGO to ensure the rescue of child labourers from factories, industrial units, hotels and other places. Posting the matter for hearing on September 1, the Bench asked the respondents to consider the proposals to be submitted by the petitioner within a week. Bachpan Bachao Andolan counsel H. S. Phoolka regretted that only 4,310 children had been rescued so far. He pointed out that it will take the next 36 years in getting all child workers released from the places where they were being exploited. “Labour Inspectors know the places where children are illegally employed, but they are slow in taking action,” Mr. Phoolka added. The Court also asked the Department authorities to randomly visit places where they detect the possibility of children being forced to work. (The Hindu 21/7/14)

22. Child rights panel seeks report over blind students’ caning (14)

New Delhi: The national child rights panel Monday sought a report from the Andhra Pradesh government on the brutal beating up of blind students by their teachers. “It is definitely brutal. It is something which all of us need to be ashamed about,” National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) chairperson Kushal Singh told IANS. “NCPCR has asked for a report from the state government in the matter,” she said. Kushal Singh said the commission has issued guidelines for corporal punishment which were circulated by the human resources development ministry to all states. The director and principal of a school for blind in Andhra Pradesh were Monday arrested for beating up their students. The arrests were made after parents of the children protested and attacked the Greenfield residential school for blind at Thimmapuram near Kakinada in East Godavari district. The district collector has ordered a probe into the incident, which came to light after four days. Video clips of school director K.V. Rao and principal Srinivasulu caning the blind children were released to the media Monday, leading to an outrage. The director himself is blind and was seen mercilessly caning the children with the help of Srinivasulu, who was holding the students. The clips showed the children pleading to spare them but the duo showed no mercy. (Business Standard 22/7/14)

23. Over 10,000 kids working in Goa (14)

PANAJI: Goa may pride itself for its high human development indicators, but the latest statistics of Census 2011 released on Wednesday do not bear good news on this front. A total of 10,009 children in Goa, aged between 5 and 14 are employed and shockingly 6,920 of these children are working as ‘main workers’ or have been employed constantly over a prolonged period of time. Despite implementation of the Right of Child to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, which makes schooling mandatory for children up to the age of 14, there are 5,351 male children and 4,658 female children who have seemingly become victims of child labour in Goa. Other than the 6,920 children employed for over six months, 2,902 have worked as marginal workers for a period ranging from three to six months. Of these, around 1,300 have worked as manual workers. Additionally, 187 children from the state have worked for a period of less than three months. As per the statistics, of the 10,009 child workers in Goa, 4,738 children are available in the job market ‘seeking work’. “The figure of 6,920 children employed as main workers may be a small percentage of the total main workers in Goa of around 4.40 lakh and Goa’s figure may not be too large when compared to the numbers in other states, but it is shocking that nearly 7,000 children in Goa are working at an age when they should be studying in schools. This figure should be more worrisome for authorities as so many children are out working despite the RTE Act coming into being,” assistant professor at the department of economics of Chowgule College of Margao, Rupali Tamuly, said, presenting the statistics on Wednesday for the directorate of census operations. Experts in the field of economics, urban development and statistics present at the session analyzing the latest Census data, said that though statistics are unable to reveal the nature of employment, generally a majority of these children appear to be employed as domestic help in households, as waiters in small eateries and as help along with parents in manual labour jobs. What also comes as a surprise is that 119 of the children working in Goa are disabled, suffering from mental retardation, hearing and speech impairment, blindness, physical disabilities and multiple disabilities. Officials said they are unable to state if disabled students whose products crafted in vocational training schools are also accounted for in these statistics. (Times of India (24/7/14)

24. Over 8 lakh malnourished children in Gujarat; Vadodara records highest numbers (14)

Ahmedabad: There are over 8 lakh malnourished children in Gujarat, the state legislative assembly was informed. According to figures tabled in the state legislature on Friday, there are over 8.44 lakh children who are underweight as per ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services), as on December 31, 2013. Of these, 62,500 children are severely underweight, informed the state government in a written reply to an unstarred question by Congress MLA Tejashree Patel. Strangely, Vadodara had the highest number of children — over 65,800 — who are underweight as per the ICDS norms for malnourishment. The district also has an additional 5900 children who are severely underweight. The tribal district of Dahod along with the state’s most urbanised district of Ahmedabad have the second and third highest number of underweight children, respectively. While Dahod has 56600 under-weight and 3500 severely underweight children, Ahmedabad has 55,500 underweight and 5700 severely underweight children, the state government figures reveal. There are similar high number of malnourished children in some of the districts like Banaskantha (55,400), Sabarkantha (53,300) and Panchmahal (55,000). The reply also talks about the various state government schemes like Mission Bal Sukham that is being run to address the grave issue of malnutrition in the state. The government has also been providing “Nutri-candy”, fruits (twice a week), to children between the age groups of 3-6 years in anganwadis. Children in tribal areas are also given milk twice a week, the reply added. (Indian Express 26/7/14)

MINORITIES – GENERAL

25. Minority schemes list no beneficiary in many states (7)

New Delhi: Eight years after the Centre launched the Prime Minister’s 15-point programme for welfare of minorities, some of the key schemes are yet to see the desired results, with many states/ union territories listing zero beneficiaries. Citing data on the allocation of funds by the National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC), the ministry has told parliament that as many as nine states/ union territories did not provide assistance to any minority entrepreneurs in 2013-14 under the term loan scheme. This is a part of the 15-point programme. Under the term loan scheme, NMDFC disburses loans through designated state channelling agencies to support self employment and for income generation projects of up to Rs 10 lakh. Loans covering up to 90 per cent of the project cost are given at an interest rate of 6 per cent per annum. The nine states/UTs that did not give any term loans are Bihar, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Orissa and Tripura. Data for the last three years also shows that many states are irregular in doling out money for self-help groups, especially to minority women, also funded by the NMFDC. In 2013-14, no loans were granted under the microfinance scheme in Assam, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra and Orissa. Over the last three years, Gujarat granted loans under this scheme only in 2012-13, to 89 people. In contrast, Tamil Nadu gave loans to 14,666 people and West Bengal to 44,889 people under the scheme in the same year. In 2013-14, 15 states/ union territories listed zero beneficiaries under the free coaching and allied scheme for minority students. Under this scheme, assistance is provided to candidates belonging to minority communities who are appearing for competitive examinations — for government service, private sector or admissions to reputed institutes. The 15 states/ union territories are Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Orissa, Punjab, Sikkim, Tripura, Lakshadweep and Pondicherry. The data for urban employment of minorities is equally dismal. In 2013-14, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan did not give employment to anybody under the Swarn Jayanti Shahri Rozgar Yojana, which is also a part of the 15-point programme, though they had to meet a target of 1,004 and 915 beneficiaries respectively. In yet another scheme under the programme, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, 13 states/ union territories did not sanction any projects last year for towns/ cities having a substantial minority population. These are Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Goa, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Pondicherry, Sikkim, Tripura and Mizoram. (Indian Express 20/7/14)

26. Alwar police action rocks R’than House (7)

Jaipur: The opposition on Monday boycotted Assembly proceedings amidst uproar over alleged police atrocities on the minority community in Alwar district. The state government rejected the allegations and supported police action, saying it was taken against hardcore criminals and the opposition was misleading the House with false information. Independent legislator Hanuman Beniwal raised the issue in Zero Hour. He alleged that the special Cobra Team constituted by Alwar SP barged into the houses of the Meo community on July 14 and bashed up people, including children and women. He alleged that the team members were drunk and misbehaved with women and hit children. The drunk policemen later entered mosque in Ismailpur area and picked up people offering prayers, he said. The allegations evoked strong response with ruling ruling BJP legislators alleging that the opposition leaders were backing criminals. Supporting Alwar SP Vikas Kumar’s action, the legislators said Ismailpur was a crimine-prone area and the SP has shown courage to pick up goons from there. The Speaker tried to restore order but independent MLA Kirori Lal Meena, along with the opposition leaders, came into the well of the House, alleging that the opposition was not being allowed by him to speak. They raised anti-government slogans. Later, cabinet minister Gulab Chand Kataria gave a factual report on the case and tabled documents related to the police action. He said all people who were lifted from there by police were hardcore criminals with several cases registered against them in the past. He alleged that a few MLAs coming from eastern Rajasthan were giving protection to criminals in their areas. MLA Om Prakash Hudla accused Kirori Lal Meena for his involvement in an abduction case in his constituency. He alleged that a criminal Hansraj Meena abducted a girl and stayed in the house of Kirori Lal Meena. He alleged that girl was kept at Meena’s house for a week. BJP MLAs accused Meena of disturbing peace in eastern Rajasthan and giving protection to criminals. Irked over the allegation, the entire opposition boycotted the proceedings. Outside the House, while addressing the media, Kirori Lal Meena and Om Prakash Hudla entered into a spat and used abusive words for each other. (Deccan Herald 21/7/14)

27. Minority Commission Turns Heat on Wakf Property Encroachers (7)

HYDERABAD: Alleged encroachment and land grabbing of Wakf properties in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana has come under the scanner of the Minorities Commission which has found 35-40 alleged cases of irregularities involving property worth Rs 30,000 crore. Andhra Pradesh State Minorities Commission (APSMC) said it has come across alleged irregularities in management of Wakf properties in the two states to the tune of estimated thousands of crores of rupees at current market value. APSMC Chairman Abid Rasool Khan said the Commission has over a period of last one year received more than 100 complaints alleging large scale encroachment of Wakf lands with the tacit support of Wakf Board officials or the ‘Muthawalis’, who are custodian of the property, that they have sold these properties or leased them away flouting rules. “Prima facie in about 35-40 cases, Wakf officials joined hands with land grabbers and not protected the properties. As per the market value, Rs 30,000 to 40,000 crore worth properties of the Wakf have been eaten away by the encroachers,” Khan told PTI here. “People have been occupying (some of these properties) for more than 20 years, but the Wakf Board has not taken any steps to evict them. We took up inquiries into the complaints. In 35-40 cases, we have found fault with the Muthawalis and the Wakf Board officials in transferring the properties. Even legal advisers have not done their duties properly. We are preparing a report on these complaints,” he said. “Now we are in the process of compiling a detailed report on the irregularities. We are in process of obtaining valuation certificates from registrar offices. Once the report is ready within the next one week, we will be writing to the Centre, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana governments seeking a CBI probe. Separate reports will be handed over to AP and Telangana respectively,” Khan said. According to rules, Wakf property cannot be sold under any circumstances. There can be lease for a maximum period of three years which was also recently amended, making it mandatory for renewal every year. Wakf lands and properties are given to Wakf Board to generate income and spending for the benefit of the poorest of the poor section by way of giving pension to the needy and development and betterment of the community. Khan said there were two reports – one by Parliamentary Committee and the other by the State Legislative Committee – that delved on irregularities in Wakf Board. “The finding of these committees will form part of our report,” he said. As per a survey conducted by Wakf Survey Commissioner, Andhra Pradesh region has 15,400 properties and Telangana region 64,500 properties which are notified and registered by the Wakf Board, ranging from 100 yards to 1,000 acres, according to Khan. “However, 70 to 80 per cent among these properties are in possession of land grabbers…including government agencies. Along with documentary evidence, we are putting up these details in the report seeking CBI inquiry,” he said. “We will seek that all the resolutions, transfers of Wakf properties over a period of last 15 years should be put under the scanner of CBI which will expose illegal sale, transfer and lease and also misappropriation of funds and grabbing of Wakf properties for the past 15 years in AP and Telangana,” Khan said. (New Indian Express 23/7/14)

28. Minorities Commission gets step-motherly treatment (7)

Hyderabad: The A.P. State Minorities Commission is a classic case of government’s indifference. It has not even a shoe-string budget to boast off, leave alone salaries for the staff. If the Commission is discharging its duties as mandated under the Act, it is all because of its chairman, Abid Rasool Khan, who keeps pumping in money from his own pocket. The last time he received his salary was four months ago. Same is the case with the six member staff allotted to him as a Cabinet rank Minister. If the OSD, office assistants and others are working regularly it is because their salaries are being paid by the chairman himself. Every month he is shelling out Rs. 69,000 towards their salary. This is apart from Rs. 1.70 lakh incurred on office maintenance, stationery, telephone bills and other day to day expenses. This pathetic situation persists even after bringing it to the notice of the Chief Ministers, Chief Secretaries and Finance Secretaries of both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. A statutory body, the Commission has 5 other government staff on deputation. However, their salaries pose no problem as their respective departments pay them. When the Commission was shifted from Secretariat to its new premises beside the Lake View guest house recently, a sum of Rs. 3 lakh was incurred. This again remains to be paid by the government. “It’s a clear case of step-motherly treatment. What the Congress government did in the past, the new government is also doing the same”, rues Mr. Khan who has completed one year in office. For the year 2013-14, the Commission was allocated a budget of Rs. 69.31 lakh on March 24, at the fag end of the financial year. The Commission hurriedly prepared the bills and submitted in time. Yet bills amounting to Rs. 15.60 lakh were not cleared as the process of checking the same took time. “These are the expenses I personally incurred for running the Commission,” says Mr. Khan. After its reconstitution, the Commission is busy addressing the grievances and intervening in cases of discrimination against the minorities. But surprisingly it is not able to address the discrimination against itself. (The Hindu 28/7/14)

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

29. Confidence of Muslims in BJP increasing: Najma Heptulla (7)

HYDERABAD: Union minister Najma Heptulla claims that confidence of Muslims in BJP is increasing because of its “development-for-all” agenda, as she expressed optimism that “vote-bank politics” syndrome will now be a thing of the past. “Muslims have voted for the BJP (in recent Lok Sabha elections) and they are slowly getting their confidence in voting for the BJP because it’s for the first time in the history of India that any leader has focused on development in a national election and talked about inclusive development, both for majority and minority in the entire nation and Muslims are included in it,” she said. “He (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) talked about everybody. And when he talked about development, minorities, specifically Muslims, have voted for him. (Muslims) may not have voted 100 per cent but they have voted and slowly the growth (in voting for BJP) will increase as the confidence increases,” the minister of minority affairs told PTI here in an interview last evening. Irrespective of caste, religion, region and language considerations, people have voted for Modi, the former deputy chairperson of Rajya Sabha said, adding that she is “very confident” that the concept of “vote-bank politics is not going to be there” in future. Without naming the Congress, she attacked it, saying the previous governments only paid “lip-service” to the issue of minority welfare and they have not actually cared for them. Sachar Committee and other reports on minority development and welfare have “exposed” them (the Congress that not much had been done for minorities).” Asked if she thought Narendra Modi should visit Pakistan to improve bilateral relations, Heptulla said it’s for him to decide, but pointed out the Prime Minister has already gone a “step further” by inviting Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony. “I feel that now it’s time for Pakistan to show some consideration and extend a hand of friendship towards India and stop supporting the terrorists because it’s not good for either country (India and Pakistan). No body, No body, I emphasise, should support any terrorist activities,” the Minister said. “We cannot tolerate terrorism,” she stressed. “Actually, the Prime Minister has shown large heartedness by inviting all the Saarx leaders for his swearing-in ceremony. That include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Maldives…four countries represented by Muslim leaders. So, that sends a very good message to them that he wants to be friendly with everybody… all the neighbouring countries,” she said. (Times of India 20/7/14)

30. Pravin Togadia reminds Muslims of Muzaffarnagar riots (7)

Trust Pravin Togadia to create controversies at regular intervals. Days after another Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Ashok Singhal’s remarks against Muslims, Singhal issued a veiled warning to the community against the backdrop of violence at a base camp of the Amarnath Yatra. The VHP leader on Saturday said Muslims may have forgotten the 2002 Gujarat riots but would remember the Muzaffarnagar riots of last year. According to reports, he invoked the Ramayana to drive home the point, “If you set Hanuman’s tail on fire, Lanka will burn.” About 40 people were injured in clashes between security forces and protesters in Baltal base camp of the Amarnath Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir. “Aap Gujarat bhul gaye honge, par aapko Muzaffarnagar yaad hoga,” a daily has quoted Togadia as saying. Togadia said this Indore, at a press conference on the World Hindu Congress Summit scheduled to be held in New Delhi in November this year. Togadia has reportedly said that while Gujarat riots followed the Godhra incident, the alleged rape of a Hindu girl led to the Muzaffarnagar riots. Togadia has a central team to probe the matter, while holding the Jammu and Kashmir government responsible for the violence. Todagia’s statement come on the heels of VHP patron Ashok Singhal’s remarks about Muslims. A few days earlier, he had termed result of Lok Sabha elections 2014 a “setback to Muslim politics”. The 88-year-old RSS leader said said that polls in India could be won without the support of Muslims, asked the minority community to learn a lesson and respect Hindu sentiments. (India Today 20/7/14)

31. Shiv Sena MP force-feeding Muslim: Activists protest in Jaipur (7)

Jaipur: Muslim activists on Thursday staged protests here against Shiv Sena for force-feeding a fasting Muslim employee at Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi last week. Strongly condemning the incident where a Sena MP forcefully fed a Muslim catering supervisor at Maharashtra Sadan making him break his Ramzan fast, the activists demanded immediate arrest and disqualification of the accused MP. “We strongly condemn Shiv Sena MP for force feeding a Muslim employee in Delhi. The accused should be arrested and their membership from Parliament be cancelled,” Mohammad Iqbal, secretary of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, said. Members of various organisations like Welfare Party of India, PUCL, Students Islamic Organisation of India and Rajasthan Samagra Seva Sangh participated in the protest at statue circle here. The activists also raised voices against Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Praveen Togadia for his controversial remaks regarding Muzaffarnagar riots, and demanded his arrest. (DNA 24/7/14)

32. Government delays aid to society for destitute Muslim women (7)

CHENNAI: A couple of years ago, B M Khadeeja approached the Muslim Women Aid Society (MWAS) in Tuticorin for a grant to buy a sewing machine. Her husband didn’t have an income and she had to work to take care of the family. More than two years later, Khadeeja has still not received help. Formed in 2008 to help destitute Muslim women and girls in the state, many MWAS units are not functioning due to lack of government support. As per the order, the government would sanction a matching grant of a maximum of 10 lakh a year to each unit, equivalent to the donations collected by the unit. During Ramzan, there has been an attempt to activate many MWAS units by seeking donations from Muslims across the state. “Lack of support from the government is the main problem. In some places, collectors are not even aware of the MWASs in their districts,” says S Syed Ahmed, general secretary of the Federation of District Muslim Women Aid Societies (FeMWAS) in Tamil Nadu. The aim of MWAS is to provide financial assistance and self-help training to the destitute Muslim women and girls to improve their livelihood. The government had issued seed money of 1 lakh each to every district to establish office for MWAS, which comes under the minorities welfare department of the state. There have been instances where women have been awaiting grants for more than five years. Jameela’s husband died in 2009. Since he was the sole breadwinner of the family, Jameela had a tough time taking care of her two children after his death. Even though she approached the Dharmapuri MWAS, she didn’t get any help, as the MWAS there was waiting to get the matching grant from the government. Delay in releasing the grant from the government is another reason behind the mal functioning of many MWASs. “The government is yet to release the matching grant for the amount we mobilized during 2012-2013. A few MWASs have been waiting for the matching grant for more than three years,” says Ahmed. According to Ahmed, the delay from the government in a way discourages the donors who donated to the MWASs to donate again. “Many who donated will not donate it again because of the delay. This makes generation of new donations difficult. So it’s a long wait for the applicants, particularly those who applied for educational scholarships,” he says. (Times of India 28/7/14)

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

33. Police complaint against Subramanian Swamy for anti-Church comments (7)

Panaji: A police complaint was filed Friday accusing BJP leader Subramanian Swamy of “attempting to create and promote enmity against the Catholic Church” by posting on his Facebook page that the Church in Goa does not love HIV positive children. The complaint was filed by Congress spokesperson Durgadas Kamat. “The said person has put up a post on his page June 17, 2014, and tried to give a communal and political twist to a very sensitive issue by trying to portray the Church in Goa as not sensitive towards HIV+ve orphans,” Kamat said in his complaint. The conflict between the Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) and the management of the Fatima High School in Rivona village, located 55 km south of Panaji, over admissions to 13 HIV+ve children and 23 suspected HIV+ve children has grabbed the attention of the state. While the Church-run school under pressure from the PTA had transferred 13 HIV+ve students to another school last month, the school authorities have now stood behind 23 other students, whom the parents want dropped from school claiming they too are HIV infected. The Church has claimed that the 23 students are not HIV+ve. Both the 13 HIV+ve students and the 23 non-HIV students live in a Church-run orphanage also located in Rivona village. A poster allegedly uploaded on Swamy’s page, which was submitted as evidence by the Congress to the police, says: “In Goa, the Church loves everyone except HIV+ve kids.” It also says: “Church-run school in Goa expels 13 HIV+ve orphans.” While accusing Swamy of allegedly giving the issue a communal twist, the Congress has defended the Church. “We would like to bring to your notice that the orphanages where these kids are being taken care of are also run by the Church,” the complaint says. A police spokesperson confirmed receipt of the complaint and said that preliminary investigation has started. “An FIR has not been registered yet. We will commence a preliminary investigation into the complaint soon,” the official said. (Zee News 18/7/14)

34. Devil worshipers invade Church, place Jesus Christ statue upside down (7)

SHILLONG, July 18: In another evidence of devil worshippers growing presence and activities in Khasi Hills, suspected satanic worshipers on Friday broke into a Church located at the Catholic Church Cemetery, Bellefonte at Lumshyiap, and took the statue of Jesus Christ and placed it in front of the gate with the cross upside down. According to police, during one of the inspection led by East Khasi Hills Deputy Commissioner in some of the cemeteries it was found that several graves were desecrated with obscene graffiti and liquor bottles strewn all over. Despite Section 144 CrPC already in place prohibiting assembly of people in and around the graveyards, in certain cases it was found that miscreants had even lit bonfires using wooden crosses extracted from the graves. The East Khasi Hills district administration had sent letters to elders of localities and church groups within the state capital soliciting their co-operation to maintain vigil, and to share inputs on the alleged practice of devil worshiping. The locality elders and church groups were also assured of support from the district administration in case help was required to tackle the alleged practice. The localities were particularly urged to keep a close vigil on graveyards, as the alleged devil worshippers are believed to be using the cemeteries for their rendezvous. In the month of May, five alleged “devil worshippers” were arrested and later released from Tura, West Garo Hills. (Meghalaya Times 19/7/14)

35. UN condemns Christian persecution in Iraq (7)

United Nations: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned Sunday the persecution of minorities in Iraq by the Islamic State (IS) and related armed groups. The UN chief is “particularly disturbed” by reports of threats against Christians in Mosul and other IS-controlled parts of Iraq, including an ultimatum to either convert, pay a tax, leave, or face imminent execution, Xinhua quoted spokesperson of Ban as saying in a statement. Ban stressed that any systematic attack on the civilian population, due to their ethnic background, religious beliefs or faith may constitute a crime against humanity, adding that those responsible must be held accountable. All armed groups must abide by international humanitarian law and protect civilians living in areas they control, Ban said. He added that the UN will continue to help meet the urgent humanitarian needs of those displaced by the conflict and the terrorist threat in Iraq. Hundreds of Christian families and individuals fled their homes in the militant-seized city of Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad, by Saturday afternoon, a deadline declared earlier by the IS militant group for the minority to convert to Islam, leave the city, pay tax or die. IS, formerly ISIS, is not formally recognised as a state and viewed as a rebel group. It is composed of Sunni insurgent groups and was thought to have significant ties to Al Qaeda. But the latter formally dissociated itself from IS in February. (Zee News 21/7/14)

 

36. Government taking all efforts to bring back priest, Sushma tells family (7)

MADURAI: Family members of abducted Jesuit priest from Sivaganga Fr Alexis Prem Kumar who met Union external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi on Thursday evening said that they were assured that the Centre was keen on rescuing him soon and it was taking all efforts to bring him back. Kumar’s 77-year-old father A S M Antonysamy, brothers Albert Manoharan, John Joseph, sisters A Elizbeth Rani and Sahaya Selvi who met Sushma Swaraj submitted a petition to the minister seeking to intensify efforts to find him. “The minister assured that the Centre was keen on rescuing Alexis Prem Kumar and was taking all diplomatic efforts to bring him back,” said Fr Francis Jayapathy, who had accompanied the family members. The 47-year-old priest from Sivaganga district who went to Afghanistan as country director of Jesuit Refugee service, a catholic charity organization in 2012 was abducted by suspected Taliban militants on June 2 this year from Herat province in Afghanistan. It has been nearly two months since his abduction but there was little information about his whereabouts. “We don’t know where he is being kept or what efforts were being taken by Afghanistan authorities to rescue him. But the only factor that keeps our hopes high is the assurance from the Indian embassy officials that he is safe,” said a family member. Within days after the abduction of Kumar when he was on the way to a village school, there were reports that three men suspected to be behind the kidnap were arrested and that the priest was traced to a village. But there were no further developments and no militant group claimed responsibility for the abduction. “The minister assured that she was personally pursuing the case. She gave a patient hearing to us and assured of all efforts by the Indian government to rescue Prem Kumar,” said Jayapathy. The family was knocking all possible doors from the state government to external affairs ministry to save Kumar. A spokesperson from the external affairs ministry had called the family on July 16 and informed about the minister granting appointment to them. Subsequently, they left for Delhi on Wednesday. Antonysamy has been battling depression ever since his son was abducted, though he displayed grit and determination. The meeting with Sushma Swaraj has raised the spirits of the family and gave fresh hope on rescue of Kumar. (Times of India 25/7/14)

 

37. “Christian-Hindu” comment is heresy: NCP (7)

Panaji: The NCP Saturday charged Deputy Chief Minister Francis D’Souza with “heresy” and demanded that the Goa church seek an explanation from him about his claim of being a “Christian Hindu”.”D’Souza has committed heresy by claiming he is a Christian-Hindu. You can either be a Christian or a Hindu. The Church should demand an explanation from him and if he fails to explain this term, then he should be ex-communicated from the religion,” Nationalist Congress Party leader Trajano D’Mello told a press conference at the party’s state headquarters Saturday. D’Souza had sparked off a national controversy on Friday when he said, “India is a Hindu country. It is Hindustan. All Indians in Hindustan are Hindus, including I – I am a Christian Hindu.” D’Souza is one of the seniormost minority members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)in Goa. D’Mello claimed that the deputy chief minister had been brainwashed by the BJP. “What he has said is nothing less than sacrilege and an insult to all Christians. We are all proud Indians, but you cannot mix two religions for political purposes,” said D’Mello, a Christian himself. (Zee News 26/7/14)

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

38. Jihadist ultimatum sparks Christian exodus from Iraq’s Mosul (13)

KIRKUK, Iraq: Thousands of Christians abandoned their homes and belongings to flee the Iraqi city of Mosul on Friday following an ultimatum by jihadists who overran the region last month and proclaimed a caliphate. As militants attempted to break government defences in strategic areas and edge closer to Baghdad, Christians joined hundreds of thousands of Shiite and other refugees into Kurdistan. Their flight to the safety of the neighbouring autonomous region coincided with the expected homecoming of Iraq’s Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani, after 18 months of treatment in Germany. The Islamic State group running Mosul had already demanded that those Christians still in the city convert, pay a special tax or leave but messages blaring on mosques’ loudspeakers appeared to spark an exodus. An earlier statement by Mosul’s new rulers had said there would be “nothing for them but the sword” if Christians did not abide by those conditions before noon (0900 GMT) on Saturday. “Christian families are on their way to Dohuk and Arbil” in Kurdistan, Chaldean patriarch Louis Sako, who heads Iraq’s largest Christian community, told AFP. “For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians.” Most Christians in the northwestern Nineveh province fled in terror after jihadist-led militants enforcing an extreme version of sharia — or Islamic law — launched an offensive on June 9. But many of the poorest families returned when the fighting stopped and IS started administering the city. Sako put the number of Christians who were still in Mosul on Thursday at 25,000. The mass displacement was the latest in six weeks of turmoil which the have forced more than 600,000 people from their homes, left thousands dead and brought Iraq to the brink of collapse. Talabani’s return to his native Kurdistan on Saturday was likely to spark celebrations among supporters from his Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party. He is widely celebrated as a skilled negotiator, who enjoys good relations with both the United States and Iran and has repeatedly mediated between Iraq’s fractious politicians in recent years. But some observers warned that there was little the avuncular 80-year-old head of state could do to ease spiralling ethno-sectarian violence and rhetoric and roll back the Islamic State’s expansion. “I really do think this is a post-Talabani era. I’ve stuck my neck out there, but I haven’t heard any Iraqis talking about him in any way being president,” said Toby Dodge, director of the London School of Economics’ Middle East centre. Federal forces collapsed, in some cases abandoning uniforms and weapons in their retreat, when fighters under the command of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi launched their assault. The army has since regrouped, received intelligence, hardware and manpower from Washington, Moscow and Shiite militias, but nonetheless struggled to regain lost territory. Security analysts have said Baghdad remains too big a target but the militants have in recent days repeatedly attacked targets that would expose the capital if captured. On Thursday night, a jihadist commando stormed the Speicher air base north of ex-president Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, sparking a fierce battle. “Last night, gunmen infiltrated the base. There were snipers and suicide bombers among them, they managed to reach the runway,” an intelligence officer who survived the attack told AFP. He said the pilots managed to fly all but one of the base’s aircraft to safety but a statement posted on jihadist Internet sites said many were destroyed. Many, including within his own Shia alliance that comfortably won April elections, now see Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s departure as essential to national reconciliation efforts. In a Friday sermon delivered by one of his spokesmen in Karbala, the Iranian-born Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani — Iraq’s most revered Shia cleric — appeared to lean in the same direction. “The new government should have broad national acceptance and be capable of solving the crisis in the country and correcting the mistakes of the past,” he said. Parliamentary blocs have until Sunday to submit nominees for the post of president, whose election is the next step in what has been a protracted and acrimonious process to renew Iraq’s leadership. Despite his unexpected return, there is little expectation that Talabani, who has been president since 2005, will seek another term. (Times of India 19/7/14)

39. More than 100,000 Palestinians displaced in Gaza: UN (13)

Gaza City: The UN agency for Palestinian refugees said Monday the number of people seeking refuge at its sites in Gaza to escape a two-week-old Israeli offensive on the enclave has soared to more than 100,000. “This is a watershed moment for UNRWA, now that the number of people seeking refuge with us is more than double the figure we saw in the 2009 Gaza conflict,” climbing to above 100,000, the agency’s spokesman Christopher Gunness said in a statement. UNRWA says it has opened 69 shelters in the war-torn Gaza Strip to cope with the rising numbers of displaced people, as Israel rains down air strikes, tank and artillery shells on homes, offices and other targets in its campaign to stamp out militant rocket fire. The conflict, the bloodiest since December 2009-January 2010, has killed more than 570 Palestinians and 27 Israelis, including two civilians. The death toll and number of displaced has risen rapidly since Israel began a ground offensive late Thursday, after 10 days of aerial and naval bombardment. (Zee News 22/7/14)

40. India accepts Australia’s request to probe 157 boat refugees (13)

NEW DELHI: India gave Australia a bit of a breather by agreeing to investigate whether some of the 157 boat refugees confined to their boat on Christmas Island are Sri Lankan Tamil refugees from a camp in Puducherry. Australia has asked the Indian government to provide consular services to the refugees to see if India can take them back. The refugees are held as prisoners in a boat and only let out during meal time. Scott Morrison, Australia’s embattled immigration minister on his first visit here, told foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and home minister Rajnath Singh that according to Australian investigations, the controversial boat with 157 asylum seekers set out from India. The government had earlier approached Sri Lanka, but Colombo blew them away. This is the first high level visit from Australia after the Modi government took office. The case of the 157 Tamil refugees has created a major storm in Australia. The Australian government does not want them in their country. It has argued that since the Tamils were intercepted outside Australian territorial waters, Canberra had the right to return them to the country they came from. According to international law, Australia is obliged not to send back refugees to the country they left. Faced with a growing number of refugees from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and even Indonesia who float their way to Australia, the Australian navy now regularly scouts for boat people outside Australia territorial waters. Australian media reports said they had recently sent back 41 boat refugees to Sri Lanka. The present case involves Lankan Tamils who, Australia says, came from south India in June. Morrison told a radio programme, “The report is that the vessel did come from India, we’ve got a very good understanding of where this vessel has come from and we’ve been having some dialogue with the Indian government to work through these issues.” The case is now pending in the high court, which will decide whether the Australian government has the right to send the boats back. This is part of the Australian government’s policy, called ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’, by which they send back boatloads of refugees. This was touted as a big success by the Tony Abbott government earlier this year. Indian government sources said it was only very recently that Australia had reached out to India on this issue. India wrestles with its own illegal immigration problem with Bangladesh. It is unclear how this case will play out. (Times of India 23/7/14)

 

41. India seeks access to Tamils from Australia (13)

Chennai: Australian immigration minister Scott Morrison revealed that the 157 Tamil asylum seekers on board a customs vessel have been brought to Australia and he reiterated that none will settle in the island continent. Mr Morrison said in Sydney that the decision was to send back the Sri Lankan refugees who came out of India, back. He made the announcement after negotiations with the Indian government, which has now sought consular access to the Tamils with a view to facilitate their return to India. Mr Morrison, who is handling border protection issues, met Union home minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi last week and discussed issues relating to illegal migration. During the meet he told the minister that a boat with 157 persons on board was seized by the Australian authorities during the last week of June. The announcement from Sydney comes in the wake of assurance of the Indian home ministry that India, as a matter of policy, does not support any kind of illegal migration either into its own territory or illegal migration of its citizens to foreign territories. The Indian side also sought consular access and emphasised the importance of handling such cases in a legal and humanitarian manner ensuring that no harm befalls upon anyone, especially minor children. Meanwhile Sri Lanka’s external affairs minister G.L. Peiris had also pleaded with Tamil refugees in Australia who fled the Island nation during war to return home. Lankan external affairs minister G.L. Peiris had told media that Sri Lanka is now perfectly stable, with an economic boom in the once devastated northern Tamil regions. “Sri Lanka is today a land at peace, it is a perfectly stable society. The northern province is developing at about 22 per cent, when the average population of the country is between 6 or 7 per cent,” Professor Peiris said. It may be noted that Mr Peiris called on his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj in Delhi mid July and discussed issues related to asylum seekers. It is believed that the controversial vessel left Puducherry on June 11 and was intercepted by Australian border patrol on June 29. (Asian Age 28/7/14)

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

42. CIC upholds PMO’s refusal to declassify three Netaji files (1)

Kolkata: The Central Information Commission (CIC) has upheld the Prime Minister’s Office’s contention of keeping, as classified, three files on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, on grounds their declassification would adversely affect foreign relations. Researcher Chandrachur Ghose in April last year filed a Right to Information (RTI) application seeking copies of documents contained in three PMO files relating to the widow and daughter of the nationalist leader. But the PMO turned down the request contending the disclosure of the documents would prejudicially affect relations with foreign countries and as such they were exempt under the RTI Act. When Ghose’s appeal was too turned by the PMO director, he took the matter before the CIC which Thursday upheld the PMO’s stand of refusing the declassification of the files. “It is not for us to substitute our judgment on the applicability of exemptions to that agency duly authorized to determine such issues. “In view of the above, and Central Public Information Officer’s submission that due diligence has been exercised, we uphold the decision of denying the information,” CIC Rajiv Mathur said in his decision. Ghose was represented by author and researcher Anuj Dhar at the hearing before Mathur. Ghose and Dhar are part of a group called “Mission Netaji”, which since 2006 has filed several RTI applications concerning Netaji. (Business Standard 19/7/14)

43. Rs 17.60 lakh spent on Modi’s oath-taking ceremony (1)

An expenditure of at least Rs 17.60 lakh was incurred on the oath-taking ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan, an RTI reply has found. The reply provided by the President’s Secretariat said approximate cost incurred on the arrangements of the oath-taking ceremony, attended by 4017 guests, related to tentage, stage, furniture and other allied items is Rs 17.6 lakhs. In its response to activist Ramesh Verma, the Secretariat said that it does not maintain the records of expenditure function-wise. “Hence the information sought for cannot be provided. It is informed that the expenditure on functions in incurred by the spending units from the annual budget allotted to respective head of accounts,” a reply from CPIO Saurabh Vijay said. The activist had sought to know from the President’s Secretariat “head-wise” details on the expenditure incurred on the oath-taking ceremony of Modi and total number of persons who attended the ceremony. Modi took oath of office on May 26 at a function in Rashtrapati Bhavan which was attended by Presidents, Prime Ministers and senior leaders of the SAARC countries among other dignitaries. (DNA 20/7/14)

44. No plans to bring co-operative societies under RTI: Govt (1)

New Delhi: Government is not planning to bring any amendment in the Right to Information Act to include co-operative societies under it, Lok Sabha was informed Wednesday. “No” was the response of Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh to a question from a member seeking to know whether the Government is planning to amend the RTI Act and bring the co-operative societies within the ambit of the transparency law. (Zee News 23/7/14)

45. RTI activists demand dismissal of info panel (1)

CHENNAI: Continuing their protest against the indifference of the Tamil Nadu State Information Commission, RTI activists from across the state staged a day-long hunger strike at Valluvar Kottam here on Wednesday. The protesters planned to take out a rally to the TNSIC headquarters at Teynampet and lock the gates of the office at 5pm but police arrested 52 activists at the venue of the fast. They were later released. During the protest, more than 200 activists, including senior citizens, demanded the dismissal of the TNSIC and urged the Tamil Nadu government to table the pending RTI annual reports before the assembly. They also wanted an online facility to check the status of appeals filed before the commission.

“The governor should dismiss this inactive commission functioning against the RTI Act. This sleeping commission is a waste of tax payers’ money,” said Siva Elango, president of Satta Panchayat Iyakkam, which organised the protest. Satta Panchayat Iyakkam general secretary Senthil Arumugam said the decision to strike received an overwhelming response. “Not even one RTI applicant is satisfied with the commission. There are complaints that commissioners are misbehaving with applicants.” V Gopalakrishnan, who had filed more than 1,000 RTI applications, said he had stopped filing second appeals. “Replies are either vague or incomplete. But commission disposes appeals without providing any information. It never imposes fines on PIOs.” C Duraisamy, a 70-year-old who travelled here from Coimbatore to take part in the strike, said it was no surprise that all government departments were rejecting RTI applications without any basis. “PIOs know the commission will not take any action even if they don’t provide information to applicants.” RTI activists have been conducting a series of protests since 2010 when K S Sripathi was appointed state chief information commissioner. (Times of India 24/7/14)

46. Patients have a right to their medical records, says CIC (1)

NEW DELHI: Patients have a right to get their medical records from hospitals, both public and private, Central Information Commission has directed, ordering disclosure of information to a former RAW official. Nisha Priya Bhatia, a former official of Research and Analysis Wing, sought her medical records from Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences where she was admitted on the orders of Delhi High Court. These records were refused to her as the institute cited Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act which allows an authority to withhold information which would impede an investigation. Rejecting the contention, information commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu said patients have a right to their medical records which is rooted in Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution and respondent hospitals have a duty to provide it. He said information commissions can enforce this right to information of patients against both government and private hospitals, whether they are public authorities or not, as per Section 2(f) of the RTI Act, 2005. The commissioner said hospitals have a duty to provide the same under Right to Information Act, 2005, Consumer Protection Act, 1986, the Medical Council Act, 1956 and world medical ethics read with constitutional rights. Bhatia had alleged before the commission that her superiors got antagonized against her for no reason, started withdrawing her privileges as an officer, gradually and ultimately her chair was also removed leaving her with no place to sit and work. She alleged a “deliberate conspiracy” and attempt to depict her as a mentally sick person just because she had filed complaints against her superiors. (Times of India 25/7/14)

47. Air Force sports complex comes under RTI Act, says CIC (1)

NEW DELHI: Air Force Sports Complex is a public authority under the Right to Information Act, a full bench of the Central Information Commission has held rejecting its contention that it was a private body. AFSC had argued that it was a private body which was not substantially financed by the government and hence it was not liable to provide any response to RTI applicants. A full bench comprising chief information commissioner Rajiv Mathur and information commissioners Sharat Sabharwal and M Sridhar Acharyulu rejected the arguments as it found that the government had given the complex substantial land which was a kind of indirect funding. Documents supplied by the Defence Estate Officer showed that according to their records, IAF authorities were in occupation of 126.948 acres of ministry of urban development land at Air Force Station, Race Course. According to DEO, out of 100 acres allotted to defence ministry for construction of race course area, 52.80 acres was formally transferred to defence ministry on which the complex is located. It also came to the notice of the commission that top defence officers were in control of the AFSC management. (Times of India 28/7/14)

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

48. Rs.2,482 crore allocated to education sector (11)

NEW DELHI: With nearly one lakh students enrolling in Delhi Government schools each year, the city requires around 500 new schools to meet the demand as per norms under the Right to Education Act, noted Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley while presenting the Delhi Budget on Friday. The Centre, however, earmarked Rs.350 crore for construction of just 20 new schools in the coming financial year. Last year, the Sheila Dikshit government, while presenting the Budget, had stated that construction of five new government schools will begin in 2013-14 and 34 new school buildings will also be completed. In all, Rs.2,482 crore has been allocated to educational sector in the Delhi Budget, which is approximately 14.8 per cent of the plan outlay. The allotment was Rs.1,901 crore in the previous financial year. Mr. Jaitley said currently there are 380 senior secondary schools in the Capital exclusively for girls across 68 Assembly constituencies and schools will be opened in the remaining two Assembly constituencies as well. “Special emphasis will be laid on improving sanitary conditions in government schools and necessary measures will be taken to construct, repair and set up fully functional and clean toilets in all schools in the current financial year,” he said. As many as 20,318 teachers will undergo training at the State Council of Educational Research and Training in a bid to improve the quality of education in schools, the Minister said. The focus will also be on course content, teaching skills and creating a better teaching environment in government schools, he added. “Delhi inhabits a lot of linguistic communities and has four academies of Urdu, Sindhi, Punjabi and Hindi. It is proposed to take up project-based financial support to these academies in the current financial year.” More teachers will be enlisted to promote languages like Urdu, Punjabi and Sanskrit in government schools. Interestingly, the Minister announced that a Skill Development Centre is proposed to be setup under a PPP model, for which 37 acre was announced by Ms. Dikshit in her Budget speech last year. This centre is expected to train nearly 15,000 students each year in various trades. Mr. Jaitley also announced the setting up of a new School of Planning, Architecture and Design at a cost of Rs.285 crore in East Delhi by Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University.(The Hindu 19/7/14)

49. Language Barrier for Primary Education (11)

DHENKANAL: Primary education in Dhenkanal  faces  challenges, be it lack of language teachers, books,  infrastructure and even lack of communication facilities for students to reach the schools. Of the 44 schools in rural parts of the district, students of 19 suffer from learning disability in the absence of multilingual teachers. Most of the children in these schools speak ‘Juang’, ‘Munda’ and ‘Santali’ dialects and do not understand Odia. Owing to the communication barrier, teachers have expressed their inability to impart lessons. The tribal children find it difficult to understand the subjects as most teachers posted here are not fluent in the former’s mother tongue. Learning Odia, in fact, has become a daunting task for them. In Kashipur Project UP School at Sadangi in Gondia block, nearly 80 per cent of the students belong to ‘Munda’ community. With Odia being the only mode of teaching, students fail to understand the lessons taught. Students are neither able to follow the lessons taught nor are they able to read from the Odia books provided to them. “They would have taken interest if the subjects were explained in their language for better understanding. As a result, they grapple with Odia terms unable to comprehend some expressions,” said members of school managing committee of Kashipur Project UP School. Other schools in Jambi and Gamara too face similar challenges. Apparently, some schools are located within forests. Both students and teachers have to cross nullahs, forests and even elephant paths to reach the schools. A case in point is Manidevi High School in Odapada under Hindol. Students from Sorat village have to cross five km of road through dense forest and three nullahs to reach this school. Similar is the plight of students of Rathiapal Primary School in Odapada block and Kharmul Primary School in Hindol. The situation worsens during monsoon. District Project Coordinator of Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, S Sahoo, said as there is a shortage of multilingual teachers, a proposal has been sent to the State Government for posting of 19 more multilingual teachers, particularly in ‘Munda’ and ‘Juang’ languages. (New Indian Express 20/7/14)

50. Madurai registers record 70% admission under RTE Act (11)

MADURAI: The number of admissions under Right to Education (RTE) in Tamil Nadu has gone up from 49,864 in 2013-14 to 74,127 this year, announced school education minister K C Veeramani in the current Assembly session. This is nearly a 50% jump over the last year. Officials in charge of RTE admissions said Chennai and Coimbatore were the big contributors. Madurai district has also seen a drastic improvement with nearly 70% enrolment under RTE this year. Officials and child rights activists said the increase in numbers was encouraging and attributed it to increased awareness campaigns in target areas and regular threats issued to schools warning them against turning away children from underprivileged backgrounds seeking admission under the 25% reservation clause of the Right To Free and Compulsory Education Act. Meanwhile, the district educational department has performed well this academic year to improve the number of students under RTE quota. While only 50% of the total seats were filled last year, efforts taken by the department have borne fruit and the number has improved to about 70 per cent. The last-minute intensity shown by officials has yielded fruition as they considerably increased the enrolment. In the last one month alone a total of 560 seats from private schools were filled under the RTE quota. RTE Act says that all private schools have to allocate 25% of the seats to poor students free of cost. The priority should be provided to students hailing from three km radius. However, schools run by minorities do not come under the Act. At the end of May there were only 1,153 students admitted under the quota. It was half the target of filling 100% seats. The officials who wanted to utilize the quota the most, extended the last day for RTE admission, which was supposed to be over by May 30, to one more month. The extension ended on a positive note as they were able to push 560 more poor children into private schools. According to officials, there are 192 private schools in Madurai district. Among the schools seven have been closed in the last one year. The 21 minority institutions and one residential school were also among the 192 schools which do not falling under purview of the Act. The Act would be applicable in the rest of 161 schools. Almost all the schools have provided seats under RTE this year. Compared to last year this year has been good. Last year, 11 schools did not provide seats. They were given special attention to extract seats, officials from the inspector of matriculation schools’ office said. Govinda Rajan, inspector of matriculation schools, Madurai said the district administration has been very keen on improving the number of students admitted under RTE quota. They were very stern in implementing the Act. They kept in touch with private schools and ensured that they fill the seats. Officials said that awareness on RTE is yet to reach the people in rural areas. They could have admitted more children had they received applications. They would improve the admission percentage more in the time to come. (Times of India 23/7/14)

51. Schools blame parents, RTE for std IX failure mess (11)

NAGPUR: After TOI reported on the side effects of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act’s no-fail policy, many state board schools called up to confirm that the failure rate in std IX was increasing. They said apart from the fault with RTE policy, the problem also lied with parents who had become completely oblivious to their kids’ actual capabilities. A school principal said, “Parents refuse to accept their child can fail. When we show them the answer sheets they turn the argument around blaming us for the poor academic performance.” Another senior principal said, “We try to reason with them that their kids were passing earlier only because of RTE policy but they refuse to accept that.” A popular school in the heart of the city had around 30 failures this summer in std IX and the affected parents created a ruckus. The principal recalled, “They gheraoed my office in first week of May and forced me to conduct a re-exam. We then conducted an exam in June and even in that only four passed.” Owner of a school who has both state board and CBSE school said parents had entered into a make-belief world. “RTE has lured them into a false understanding that their child is exceptional. For last couple of years they have not heard the word failure even if their child hardly studies. They feel their child is so brilliant that even without studying he can pass. It is shocking to see how they cannot realize what the reality is,” said the school’s owner. An old co-ed state board school which sees major admission demand too was not spared. The principal told TOI that after a student was failed the parents straightaway filed a complaint with the education department. “The child can barely recite basic tables, so it is no wonder he failed. What can the school do in such cases? Parents are just not ready to listen and want their child to be promoted,” the principal said. Another principal from an east Nagpur school added that handling parents was a tougher job than handling teenagers in school. “The rudeness which some parents show while talking to us is shocking. I have had mothers coming in and shouting at teachers and blaming them for not teaching their kids. When the kid sees this they are reinforced with the illusion that their failure is indeed the teacher’s fault. It is a disastrous situation we are heading towards in the next few years. Parents are getting empowered and misusing their assertiveness. Their kids too follow the same and disparage teachers,” the principal said. (Times of India 24/7/14)

52. Delhi Government school denies admission to two Muslim girls (11)

New Delhi: Not just college, getting admission in a government school in the city too seems to have become an impossible task. Take the case of the two sisters — Kulsum and Yasmin – whose father has been trying to secure them a berth in one of the government schools in Raghubir Nagar since April without any success. Having failed to get his daughters admitted to any school in Delhi, their father Irshad, who is a tailor, then approached advocate Ashok Agarwal (working in the field of Right to Education). The advocate now claims to have “sent a legal notice to the Directorate of Education in the matter”. Elaborating on the case, he said: “Kulsum and Yasmin have been denied admission in the Government Girls Secondary School No. 3, M Block, Raghubir Nagar for Class IX and XI respectively.” Irshad, a resident of R-535, Raghubir Nagar, has been trying to get his daughters admitted in a proper school. “The school authorities are giving excuses such as being over-crowded. But they cannot take away from any child the right to education,” said Mr. Agarwal. “We feel that the girls are being harassed. The delay in giving them admission in these crucial classes is also taking away education time from them making it difficult for them to catch up and complete their syllabus,” said Irshad. Stating that the schools should take a humanitarian view in this case, Mr. Agarwal said: “These girls come from a very poor background and are keen to finish their education. To harass them is not fair on these children.” The family has been trying to get these girls admitted in any of the government schools since April but has been unsuccessful so far. “We will file a case in the Delhi High Court,” said the lawyer. Meanwhile, the two sisters who were earlier residing in Delhi were forced to move to Uttar Pradesh with their father who had to go there for work. “After my work got complete we returned to Delhi and sought admission in the nearby government schools. However, each of the three schools that we approached denied admission to both the girls. We have written several letters requesting admission; all of them went unanswered,” said Irshad. “I have the valid transfer certificates of my daughters, which have been counter-signed, as well as their mark sheets. There are no grounds for denying the admission and I feel that the school’s actions are arbitrary and unjust. This act of the school will most severely damage their career and lives,” added Irshad. The advocate added that the girls have been forced to stay out of school despite directive by senior officials in the Education Department of the Delhi Government asking the schools to accommodate them. “Despite the Delhi Education Department repeatedly asking head of schools to admit the girls there has been no positive outcome,” he said. (The Hindu 26/7/14)

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

53. Panda Anti-poverty Crusader: Opposition Leader (21)

BHUBANESWAR: Leader of the Opposition Narsingh Mishra on Friday created ripples of sorts by observing that dreaded Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda fought for eradication of poverty even as Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced in the Assembly the rebel’s arrest by the police last night from Berhampur.  People should not be elated by arresting the symptom instead of  the disease, Mishra said.  The State Government should not be overjoyed over Panda’s arrest. The Chief Minister should have instead given more time to bring down poverty, starvation deaths and migration from the State, he said and added that the Government has completely failed in tackling such social evils. Mishra, however, said the Congress never supports the means adopted by Panda to achieve his goals which were illegal. “Who ever violates law has to be punished and I have no objection to law taking its own course,” Mishra said and alleged that the Government has also violated law by not tabling commission reports along with action taken reports (ATRs) in the House. The Mohanty Commission report on regional imbalances and Naidu Commission report on hooch tragedy are yet to be tabled in the House despite demand from the Opposition members, he said. Responding to several BJD members, who were trying to interrupt his speech in the House, the Leader of the Opposition said even former chief minister Biju Patnaik had announced that he was a Naxalite. Besides, the Chief Minister had also said in the House that increasing Maoist activities relate to socio-economic problems, besides law and order. Cautioning the Government, Mishra said those who think that a movement can be stopped by arresting its leader have not learnt anything from history. Leaders come and go, but the movement continues till its goal is achieved, he said. Announcing Panda’s arrest in the House, the Chief Minister congratulated  the police personnel, particularly the Intelligence wing and Berhampur police, involved in the operation. He announced that the State Government will reward police personnel for the spectacular achievement. “I also take the opportunity to appeal to the Maoists to shun violence and join the mainstream,” he said. (New Indian Express 19/7/14)

54. Rights panel member visits Attappady (21)

Palakkad: National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) member Cyriac Joseph on Monday began a four-day visit to Attappady to take stock of the welfare measures initiated by the Central and State governments to counter poverty and malnutrition. Mr. Joseph visited a model residential school and its hostel at Mukkali and interacted with staff and students. He visited primary health centres at Padavayal and Puthur and collected details on the medical care available in the region. Mr. Joseph also interacted with Deputy District Medical Officer Prabhu Das and police nodal officer V. Krishnankutty. They stressed the need for reviving the traditional agricultural practices of the tribal people in Attappady. apart from steps to protect the area from deforestation. Mr. Joseph said he would submit his findings to the commission chairman for affirmative action. (The Hindu 22/7/14)

55. Bogus cards used to avail PDS benefits (21)

New Delhi: As many as seven lakh bogus ration card holders in the city, who fall under the Above Poverty Line (APL) category, are suspected to be availing of benefits under the city government’s Public Distribution System (PDS). These card holders are either claiming their entitlements illegally or these cards were being fraudulently used by the Fair Price Shop owners to increase their quota of foodgrains. It is learnt that the city administration has stopped providing subsidised rations to about one-third of these card holders from July. These startling revelations came to light within months after the food and supplies department deactivated about 1.65 lakh bogus ration cards issued under the Below Poverty Line (BPL), Antyodaya Anna Yojna, Resettlement Colony Ration Cards and Jhuggi Ration Cards in April. A senior city administration official said that by plugging leakages to the suspected bogus card holders, the government could easily save crores of rupees every month. Under the APL stamped category, card holders get rice at the rate of `9 per kg and wheat for Rs 7 per kg. Sources said about 11 lakh households in the city were being covered under the APL category. “But only four lakh card holders have applied for the Food Security Card so far. As the applications had been invited long back, there are clear indications that the rest of the seven lakh card holders are bogus. That’s why we have stopped providing ration to about 2.3 lakh card holders,” a senior city administration official told this newspaper. As far as 5.7 lakh stamped card holders are concerned, entitlements for only half of them have been released in July. “We may further reduce it by another 25 per cent in the coming months. If they do not apply for the Food Security Cover and fail to establish their authenticity, we will definitely deactivate these cards from September,” a senior official said. (Asian Age 23/7/14)

56. World Bank to provide $18 bn aid to India in three years (21)

New Delhi: The World Bank Wednesday said it will provide financial support of $15-18 billion to India over the next three years to help accelerate economic growth and reduce poverty. Talking to media persons after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi here, World Bank group president Jim Yong Kim said the Indian government has outlined a comprehensive plan to reduce poverty and return to over nine percent economic growth trajectory. “The new government would like India to return to growth rate of nine percent a year. The World Bank group fully supports this goal,” he said. “It is vital that India achieve these levels of growth to reduce poverty more quickly and to boost shared prosperity among its people.” Kim said the World Bank was impressed by the Modi government’s commitment to accelerate growth. Kim, who is on a visit to India July 21-25, also met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and several other ministers and senior government officials. “From my discussions with Prime Minister Modi and minister Jaitley, it is clear that they are committed to increasing India’s economic growth,” he said. “I assured them that the World Bank Group will bring to bear all possible knowledge and financing to help them in this task. A large proportion of the world’s poor live in India and we will give all our support to the government as it strives to create jobs and build prosperity for its people.” “The World Bank Group will be ready to provide financial support worth $15-18 billion over the next three years,” Kim added. India is the largest recipient of the World Bank’s aid with a current portfolio of 85 projects having a commitment of $24.12 billion. This includes $12.86 billion aid from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), $11.16 billion in active projects from the International Development Association (IDA). India also constitutes the largest single portfolio exposure of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, with commitments over $4.5 billion. Between July 2013 and June 2014, the World Bank Group offered financial assistance worth $6.4 billion to India. On his talks with Modi and other ministers and officials, Kim said discussions focused on the government’s plans to re-ignite growth by investing in infrastructure to create jobs, providing quality education and skills training to eight million young people who enter the labour force each year, and better equipping the 10 million people who leave rural areas for towns and cities each year for jobs. “The government is committed to introducing key reforms, which are critical to India achieving its full economic potential,” he said. “They have identified infrastructure development and job-oriented skill development as the deep drivers of growth. The World Bank Group is ready to support these development initiatives with financing, as well as knowledge and capacity building,” he added. Kim also apprised the government of recent collaborative efforts between the Government of India and the World Bank Group to ensure that India continues to receive high levels of financial assistance from its various units. (Business Standard 24/7/14)

57. 3,600 EWS flats off list, Delhi government seeks to scrap 9,000 more (21)

NEWE DELHI: Realizing that it could not meet the deadline set by the Centre for building houses for the poor, the Delhi government wants to drop the construction of 9,000 flats. These EWS flats are part of some 68,000 low-cost flats sanctioned by the previous UPA government under its flagship Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewable Mission (JNNURM) scheme. The estimated cost of these projects was Rs 3,244 crore. Fifty per cent of the amount had to be borne by the central government. While the construction of 3,600 such flats has already been dropped, the Delhi government has written to the housing and urban poverty alleviation ministry to whittle down another 9,060 such units of the total 67,784. If the Narendra Modi government accepts the Delhi government’s proposal, after 3,600 flats already junked, the number of dwelling units will come down to 55,124 from 67,784. “While the construction of 3,600 flats at Kanjhawala was dropped, a proposal %has been sent to the ministry to reduce more numbers,” a Delhi government official said. Under the basic service to the urban poor, the Congress-led UPA government had approved the construction of some 68,000 flats as part of 17 projects for the economically weaker sections of society. Most of these projects are on the outskirts of Delhi. After reviewing the progress of 17 low-cost housing projects in June, which it found “sluggish” , the ministry had asked the Delhi government to either speed up the ongoing projects or curtail those which have not started yet. (Times of India 28/7/14)

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

58. Over 3,500 Indians back from Iraq in last 30 days (14)

New Delhi: Over 3,500 Indians have been evacuated from conflict-hit Iraq in the last one month even as nearly 50 Indian nationals still remain in the conflict zones of the war-torn country including 39 construction workers who are in captivity in Mosul. While 2,500 tickets have already been utilised to bring back the Indians, an additional 1,000 tickets by the employers for the Indian workers have been facilitated by the mission, the Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry said. He said the ministry was making all efforts to secure release of 39 Indians who are in captivity of Sunni militants ISIS in conflict-hit Iraq. The government has been in touch with all the neighbouring Gulf countries for the release of the workers. Meanwhile, official sources said there were “hold-ups” and despite best efforts some of the Indians were not ready to leave. There were about 10,000 Indians before the start of the serious strife between government troops and Sunni militants backed by al Qaeda in Iraq. With MEA facilitating the departures, it is estimated that there are about 6500 Indians in the non-conflict zones left. Most of these Indians are in Kurdistan and Basra which are non-conflict zones. (Zee News 20/7/14)

59. ‘MGNREGS works to focus on firming up rural infra’ (14)

VISAKHAPATNAM: Allaying fears that the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) would be downsized, minister for panchayati raj Ch Ayyanna Patrudu said that while no such plans were under consideration by the Centre or state government, the scheme would be re-jigged to firm up rural infrastructure and ensure that those employed under the scheme were gainfully employed and empowered. “The government will take a target and asset linked approach to the scheme, which will now focus on productivity and asset creation. A committee has been formed at the Centre and information is being collated. We too are taking feedback from those involved with the implementation of the scheme,” said Patrudu. “People can no longer complain that NREGA workers simply dig holes and cover them up. They will be involved in building infrastructure like irrigation tanks, roads and buildings. We have also realised that the number of units (hours spent) on the job will translate into an asset. In such a case there can be little room for playing truant.” Sources in the rural development department said that the social audit scheme, which had been quite successfully implemented, would have to be re-hauled. “Re-hauling and re-evaluating the social audit scheme is a must as no auditing system remains relatively foolproof for long. More importantly, there has to be greater coordination between state officials and auditors at the grassroots level,” said a senior official of the department on condition of anonymity. (Times of India 22/7/14)

60. Forum to approach Kerala high court on women’s right to sit (14)

KOZHIKODE: Asangatitha Meghala Thozhilali Union (AMTU), a collective forum of workers in the unorganised sector, have decided to approach the Kerala high court over woman’s right to sit down occasionally during their work hours. The forum has decided to begin the second phase of statewide protests till the authorities take steps to grant their right. They had staged protest on May 1. The decision was taken after the labour department expressed reluctance to act against shop owners citing that the labour law doesn’t have provision to do so. The agitation demanding the right to sit was started by Penkoottu, an organisation for women in Kozhikode after observing that women working in the textile shops were forced to stand during the working hours, which stretches from 9am to 8pm without any rest. The forum, which approached the Kerala Sate Human Rights Commission and labour minister, started uniting the sales women under the banner of AMTU by giving membership to launch second phase of their agitation statewide. It is planning to file a public interest litigation in the HC for the right of women workers in the unorganised sector to sit down. A discussion in this regard has already been started with the legal experts and necessary action will be taken in the coming days. The women working in textile shops across the state have also started approaching pledging support for their agitation. P Viji, secretary of the Penkoottu said the increasing prices of essential commodities and living standards have been forcing the women to go for work. “It is not possible to lead a family life with husband’s income only, which is forcing many women to opt for work. But when they arrive for work, they are subjected to exploitation for being a woman, forced to work in long stretches for less payment and without providing adequate facilities comprising drinking water and toilets. The labour officer told me that the labour law don’t have provisions to provide right to sit. The shop owners are discouraging the sales women who participated in the stir threatening to transfer them to textile shops in other districts,” she said. “Many women working in the textile shops have been facing health issues due to standing long hours without break,” said Viji. (Times of India 23/7/14)

61. Govt actively considering amendment to labour laws (14)

New Delhi: Government today said it is “actively” considering amendments to various labour laws for which tripartite consultations are in progress. “The government is actively considering amendments in Child Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act 1986, Factories Act 1948, Minimum Wages Act 1948, Apprenticeship Act 1961 and Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) Act 1988. The inter-ministerial/public/tripartite consultations are in progress,” said Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Vishnu Deo Sai in a written reply in Rajya Sabha. He said amendments in labour laws are considered keeping in view the socio-economic changes in the country as well as other parts of the world with an intention to improving economic wellbeing of the workers and the need to provide a safe, decent working environment harmonised with the need of the economy to be productive and competitive. Replying to another question on whether the Centre has taken note of the recent reforms enacted by Rajasthan government in labour laws by offering more flexibility to companies, Mr. Sai said his Ministry has not received any “formal” proposal from Rajasthan government for amending various labour laws. On a question whether trade unions are of the view that more than 40 central labour laws, which are inconsistent with each other, need to clubbed, Mr. Sai said no such proposal has been received by his ministry from Central Trade Unions. Replying to yet another question, he said to promote participation of women in craftsmen training, state governments have been advised to implement recommendations of National Council for Vocational Training (NCVT) to reserve 30 per cent seats for women in general Industrial Training Institutes. He said under state sector, vocational training facilities for Craftsmen Training Scheme (CTS) are provided through a network of 11,001 ITIs spread across the country with a seating capacity of 15,52,452. “According to information available, 1013 ITIs (both government and private) have women wings to offer training solely to women. Further 418 are exclusively for women (Women ITIs) including both government and private. The total seating capacity of both the women wings and women ITIs is about 82,390 training seats,” Mr. Sai said. (The Hindu 24/7/14)

62. Construction workers in Gujarat deprived of welfare, says CAG (14)

Gandhinagar: The Gujarat Government failed to conduct any survey to identify or register construction workers which led to a situation where they were deprived of welfare schemes, a recent report by the CAG said. The CAG report was tabled before the Gujarat Assembly on Friday. “The Gujarat state government did not take adequate measures to secure registration of all eligible workers. As against 12 lakh (March 2012) construction workers in Gujarat state, only 69,971 workers (six per cent) were registered during the year 2008-13,” the CAG report said. The state government had constituted the ‘Gujarat Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Board’ in 2004, ten years after the Supreme Court’s direction to all states to form a board to ensure security to construction workers. However, the board failed in its duty to construction workers, the CAG report said. “The Board had no information about the number of workers who renewed their registration after completion of one year of registration. Non-identification or non-registration of construction workers resulted in denial of intended benefits to workers,” the CAG report said. The CAG report observed that out of the total cess of Rs 540.88 crore collected during 2006-2013, the Board incurred an expenditure of Rs 9.92 crore, including Rs 4.12 crore spent on welfare schemes. “Actual benefit received by workers was only 0.76 per cent of the total cess collected. Only 12,193 (17.43 per cent) out of 69,971 eligible workers were extended assistance under various welfare schemes,” the CAG report said. The report criticised the Gujarat government for not providing financial assistance to families of workers who died at their work places. (DNA 27/7/14)

RESERVATION

63. Six-month Deadline to Fill up SC/ST Vacancies (25)

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court directed the TN government to fill up the vacancies in SCs/STs categories in the State, within six months. The first bench of Acting Chief Justice SK Agnihotri and Justice MM Sundresh gave the direction on Friday while disposing of a PIL from S Karuppiah, founder of Central & State Government SC/ST Employees Federation in Perungalathur. Earlier, the government submitted that to make sure that 18 per cent reservation for SC and 1 per cent for ST candidates in employment, a high-level committee had been constituted to review and ensure shortfall vacancies. The committee will finalise the programme and have discussions with secretaries of each departments. Thereafter, the report will be sent to the government for issuing orders, it added. In view of the specific stand taken by the government, the bench said it was directing the high-level committee to finalise the programme and arrive at the shortfall vacancies for SCs and STs. Thereafter, the committee will have to send the report to government. (New Indian Express 19/7/14)

64. Apex court upholds validity of reservation for SC/ST in promotions (25)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has upheld the Constitutional validity of the provision allowing the government to make reservation in promotion for SC/ST candidates by quashing a 1997 notification omitting such a relief. A five-judge Constitution bench presided by Chief Justice R M Lodha held the 1996 apex court verdict in S Vinod Kumar vs Union of India case as per incuriam (not good law), which had prompted the government to issue such an memorandum. “In S Vinod Kumar, this court relying upon Indra Sawhney (judgment) held that provision for lower qualifying marks/standard of evaluation was not permissible under Article 16(4) of the Constitution of India in view of Article 335. Though Article 16(4A) had been brought into Constitution by the Constitution (Seventy-seventh Amendment) Act, 1995, with effect from 17.6.1995, S Vinod Kumar did not take into consideration this constitutional provision. In our view, S Vinod Kumar is per incuriam,” the apex court bench said. Article 16 (4A) stated that nothing in this article shall prevent the state from making any provision for the reservation (in matters of promotion, with consequential seniority, to any class) or classes of posts in the services under the state in favour of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes which, in the opinion of the state, are not adequately represented in the services under the state. (Deccan Herald 20/7/14)

65. Hike in Quota Demanded (25)

BHUBANESWAR: The members of Samajika Nyaya Abhijan Mancha (SNAM), a platform for dalits and tribals, presented a memorandum to Governor SC Jamir seeking increase in reservation for SC/ST, OBC and minority communities in Government jobs and education sector. They urged the Governor to direct the State Government to implement the Mandal Commission recommendations and increase reservation for OBC up to 27 per cent in the above mentioned sectors. Similarly, reservation for SC/ST communities in these sectors has been limited to 20 per cent which should be extended to 38 per cent, stated the charter of demands. The minority community does not have an apt representation in Government jobs. An appropriate reservation policy should be formulated so that members of these communities are represented adequately, said president of SNAM Akshay Kumar Mallick. (New Indian Express 22/7/14)

66. Minister says state govt never discriminated on basis of caste (25)

CHENNAI: Refuting charges of Puthiya Thamizhagam legislator Krishnasamy, TN ministers on Tuesday said the AIADMK government had never discriminated in respect of any caste. Minister for Adi dravidar and tribal welfare N Subramanian and higher education minister P Palanisamy said CM J Jayalalithaa had been taking many initiatives for dalit welfare. Speaking on the demands for Adi dravidar and tribal welfare department, Krishnasamy alleged that the government had not appointed a single dalit as vice-chancellor of any university or as member of the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission. In reply, higher education minister P Palaniappan said the selection of VCs was done by a search committee and the reservation policy would not apply to VC postings. “For the posts like vice-chancellor, only the search committee will select eminent and experienced candidates. If there is a qualified candidate in the community he or she will be elected,” Palaniappan said. Finance minister O Panneerselvam pointed out that Jayalalithaa has allotted a medical seat for Krishnasamy’s daughter. When Krishnasamy alleged that the pass percentage in Adi Dravidar Welfare Board schools was lesser than other government schools, minister Subramanian said the pass percentage in Adi dravidar schools has increased in the past three years of AIADMK government. The minister also refuted Krishnasamy’s allegation that the government has not appointed any dalit as Assistant Public Relations Officer(APRO). (Times of India 23/7/14)

67. SC notice to Centre on Muslim quota (25)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday sought the response of the Union government on a plea for transfer from Delhi High Court to itself a PIL which challenged the Rajinder Sachar committee report advocating reservation for Muslims. A bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha issued notice after the petitioner said this was an important constitutional issue which needed an authoritative pronouncement from the Supreme Court. It said the Sachar committee had shut out the views that were politically inconvenient. The petitioner ‘Patriots Forum’ traced the history of India from the period of Muslim rule to British rule and presented a stand that was quite apart from the general view. “The committee has deliberately downplayed the huge advantage accruing to the Muslim community by virtue of their degree of urbanization, the community has a whopping advantage of 10% over the Hindus, the respective averages of the two communities being 36% for Muslims and 26% for Hindus.” The forum said it had done extensive research on the subject but its repeated representations were ignored by the Sachar committee. It requested the court to declare the report submitted by Sachar committee to the prime minister on November 17, 2006 as “illegal, arbitrary and violative of Constitution”.It sought a direction from the court to the government not to act on the Sachar committee recommendations saying it was impermissible under the Constitution to single out a religious community for reservation. (Times of India 26/7/14)

68. Gujjars remind BJP of their promise to 5% reservation (25)

JAIPUR: Demanding to implement the poll promise of granting 5% reservation to Gujjars in the state, Rajasthan Gujjar Arakshan Sangarsh Samiti (RGASS) has presented its 13-point demand to chief minister Vasundhara Raje. Reiterating its position on the reservation issue, RGASS urged the state government to expedite the process of giving promised reservation to Gujjars. Until the reservation is not granted, the samiti has asked for proper compliance with the existing 1% reservation to the community. “We will strongly protest if our demands that BJP government promised to fulfill are not met. We want that budget of Dev Narayan Board package to be increased from Rs 500 crore to Rs 2,000 crore. The government must monitor its expenditure and should spend on time,” said Himat Singh Gujjar, spokesperson of RGASS. Among other demands, the samiti has also asked for quick disposal of the cases against those who participated in the Gujjar agitation. A demand of compensation of Rs 5 lakh and government job for a family member of 70 Gujjars, who died in the agitation has also been put forth. Meanwhile the samiti accused both Congress and BJP of playing politics over the reservation issue. “No positive step has been taken so far for our demands. Both parties have made false promises to garner votes,” said the spokesperson. He added that both BJP and Congress have made the matter so complex that it is stuck in court. Pointing at the Gujjar’s support to the BJP in the assembly polls and Lok Sabha elections, Singh mentioned that 8 months have passed after Rajasthan elections but no concrete steps have been taken by the present government. (Times of India 28/7/14)

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

69. Steep rise in breach of women’s human rights (1)

GANDHINAGAR: The report of Gujarat State Human Rights Commission (GSHRC) for the year 2010-11 says that there was a four-fold increase in the number of complaints alleging violation of women’s human rights between 2006-07 and 2010-11. The commission received a total of 55 complaints in 2006-07; this had increased to 200 in 2010-11. In 2010-11 alone, a whopping 11,478 cases of crimes again women were registered in Gujarat. Of these, 297 were cases of murder, 428 of rape, 1,394 of abduction, 97 of attempt to murder, 910 were of molestation, 534 of abetment of suicide, 270 of causing grievous hurt, 496 of normal injury and 6,999 were cases of harassment for dowry. (Times of India 19/7/14)

70. NHRC seeks report on Thane tribal teen’s custodial death (1)

Thane: Taking suo moto cognizance of media reports that a 16-year-old tribal teenager was tortured in police custody in Thane during interrogation and died June 21, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Tuesday sought a report from the Maharashtra government. The NHRC has served notice to the state’s principal secretary (home) to submit a detailed report on the shocking incident within a month. According to reports, the tribal victim, Babu Thakre was detained and tortured in police custody by the police in Bhiwandi town of Thane district last month. His detention followed a tip-off to police that a man named Babu had stolen two kg gold. However, instead of nabbing the criminal Babu living in the same neighbourhood, police swooped on the tribal boy Babu and subjected him to torture during interrogation. Later, he was summoned by police for further questioning and June 21 tried to hang himself, and later died in hospital. “The contents of the newspaper report, if true, raise a serious issue of human rights of the teenager and next of his kin,” NHRC said in its communication to the state government. (Business Standard 22/7/14)

71. India votes in favour of UNHRC resolution on Gaza (1)

New Delhi: India on Wednesday voted in favour of a resolution condemning violence in Gaza at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Urging for an “immediate ceasefire”, India called on Israel and Palestine to start a process of “peaceful dialogue”. New Delhi’s position on Wednesday marked the continuity of the policy adopted by the Narendra Modi government, in tune with the previous governments. The resolution which came down heavily on Israel — and was co-sponsored by Pakistan among other countries — was adopted by 29 votes in favour, 17 abstained and the US was the only country which voted against. Along with India, countries that voted in favour were Pakistan, China, Maldives, Russia, South Africa and Brazil among others. UK, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, South Korea were among the 17 countries which abstained. In its statement at the 21st special session of the Human Rights Council on the “Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem”, the Modi government said, “We are deeply concerned at the human rights situation… as also at the violence by non-state actors in the region which have the effect of serving as avoidable obstacles to the peace process, as well as to the  realisation of the legitimate aspirations of both the peoples to co-exist in peace and security.” The Indian statement also called upon all sides to exercise maximum restraint and avoid taking actions that may further exacerbate the situation, and threaten peace and security of the region.” “India is deeply concerned at the steep escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine, particularly heavy airstrikes in Gaza and disproportionate use of force on ground, resulting in tragic loss of civilian lives, especially women and children and heavy damage to property. The Government of India is closely monitoring the situation unfolding and supports all efforts for an immediate ceasefire between the parties involved,” the statement by the Permanent Mission to the US in Geneva said. (Indian Express 24/7/14)

72. NHRC issues notices on bonded labour (14)

HYDERABAD: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), New Delhi on Friday issued notices to various state, including Telangana on the issue of rescue and rehabilitation of bonded labour. Notices were issued to collectors/district magistrates of Nalgonda, Khammam and Mahbubnagar in Telangana, Nellore in Andhra Pradesh, districts Bengaluru (Rural), Bengaluru (South), Bengaluru (North) and Gulbarga in Karnataka, and district Thiruvallur in Tamil Nadu. They have been asked to submit a report within four weeks. “We did rescue two bonded labour in Bhuvanagiri area who were working in brick kiln units,” Nalgonda collector T Chiranjeevulu told The Times of India. Explaining the process of He said release certificates are issue to the bonded labour. If the rescued bonded labour belongs to the state, he or she is given Rs 25,000 and also provided loans to set up something on their own for their livelihood. If the rescued bonded labour is from another state, they are paid Rs 1,000 among other procedures that are followed. The collector, however, said he was not aware of the NHRC notice. The NHRC took cognizance of a complaint from two NGOs that 239 labourers, released from bondage, having release certificates, had not been rehabilitated by the Government of Odisha. Allegedly, the rescued bonded labourers had not been even provided primary assistance for their survival which might lead them to go back to the bondage. According to the NGOs, Janjagarn Dadan Sangha and Solidarity Group on Abolition of Bondage and Migration in Odisha, most of the labourers who were rescued from different parts of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh belong to the tribal belt of Odisha. They demanded criminal proceedings, among other actions, in Special Fast Track Courts against the perpetrators of violence against bonded labourers and migrants. The complainants said villagers had migrated to the cities to work in bondage condition in brick kilns and construction sites. The complainants suggested various preventive measures to check exploitation of migrant labourers by ensuring action and procedures as per the law. The NHRC also issued notices to the chief secretary and principal secretary, labour and employment, Government of Odisha to submit reports within four weeks about the action taken to monitor the conditions of inter-State bonded migrant labourers from Odisha to other States and issues of their wages and children’s education and future. (Times of India 26/7/14)

JUDICIARY/ LAW

73. Uproar in Parliament over Justice Markandey Katju’s charge of corruption in judiciary (19)

NEW DELHI: AIADMK on Monday forced adjournment of the Rajya Sabha twice during Question Hour over former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju’s reported allegation that political pressure during the previous UPA regime had led to elevation of a judge despite charges of corruption against him. Ruckus created by AIADMK members seeking suspension of Question Hour to discuss the issue of “political interference in judicial appointments” led to the house first being adjourned for 10 minutes and then till 1200 hours. No sooner had Ronald Sapa Tlau, the newly-elected member from Mizoram, taken oath, AIADMK members were up on their feet displaying copies of The Times of India that carried an article by Press Council of India chairman Katju on the appointment. “You will not show newspaper here, Dr Maitreyan,” chairman Hamid Ansari said referring to AIADMK leader who wanted the Question Hour to be suspended to discuss the issue. V Maitreyan said this was an important issue. “You can’t do this… nobody is listening to you,” Ansari said as AIADMK members moved into aisle raising solgans. He then adjourned the house for 10 minutes. When the house reassembled, similar scenes were witnessed with AIADMK members insisting on suspension of Question Hour. “If you have an issue to raise, raise it through appropriate procedure. This is not the way. You are disrupting listed business,” Ansari said warning members that he would name them if they continued to display newspaper. “I will have to name you for display of newspaper,” he said as unheeding AIADMK members continued to shout slogans. Maitreyan wanted to know if former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was seated in the House, was aware of the allegation against the judge and if his ally DMK had put pressure on his government to elevate him. (Times of India 21/7/14)

74. Ways to mend India’s misfiring judiciary (19)

In a signed piece, published in The Times of India, retired Justice Markandey Katju has alleged that a former additional judge of the Madras High Court was not only retained in his position after being found guilty of graft by the Intelligence Bureau (IB), but later elevated to a full judge of another court. Three chief justices of India as well as the Congress party, then leading the UPA coalition, stand implicated in this sorry episode. A powerful Tamil party, presumably the DMK, an ally of the Congress in government, is also tarred, because this party patronised the allegedly crooked judge, and apparently threatened to bring down the Manmohan Singh government if he were to be sacked or punished. Several things emerge from this. The first is the cravenness of the Congress, which chose to favour power over probity in public life. Keeping a few crooked judges in hock was apparently a small price to pay to serve a full term in office. Second, Katju’s allegations, if true, cast the three successive chief justices — Lahoti, Sabharwal and Balakrishnan — in very poor light. At least two of them knew what the IB’s findings said about the crooked judge, but chose to overlook it, presumably to curry favour with the ruling government. So much for the independence of the judiciary from the executive. After this episode, it is clear that this independence exists mostly in the breach, and serving judges facing retirement are prone to lean the way of the government to ensure plum post-retirement posts for themselves. Third, why did Katju wait so long to make his accusations? If he had known about this episode 10 years earlier, why keep mum for so long? Finally, we have to reform the system by which judges of the high courts and Supreme Court are appointed. The former are selected by a panel of the top three Supreme Court judges; the latter by the top five. To bring transparency, the names recommended by the collegium along with the executive must be ratified by a multiparty parliamentary panel, which should debate the credentials of each candidate openly. (The Economic Times 22/7/14)

75. Law intern wants trial outside Delhi (19)

NEW DELHI: A law intern, who had leveled sexual harassment charges against a former Supreme Court judge now heading an important tribunal, on Monday sought transfer of his defamation suit from Delhi high court to either Bangalore or any other HC saying she might not get justice in Delhi. Appearing for the intern, senior advocate Indira Jaising told a bench of Chief Justice RM Lodha and justices Kurian Joseph and RF Nariman that the law graduate now worked with an NGO in Bangalore and was hard pressed for resources. She had approached many senior advocates here, but all declined to take up her case. “And look at the appearance of a string of senior advocates, most of whom are law officers now including Mukul Rohatgi, who is now the attorney general and Maninder Singh, now an additional solicitor general. Look at the inequality of fight. She has just lost her father. Her mother is in Kolkata. The NGO is giving her support. But still she needed someone to lead her by holding her finger. But no senior advocate is ready to appear for her,” Jaising said. The bench said there was no unequal fight once Jaising appears for a litigant. It issued notice to the former judge on the intern’s petition seeking transfer of his defamation suit and asked him to file his response in four weeks. The court suggested that it could be an in camera trial of the defamation suit filed by the ex-judge in Delhi HC, which has already restrained the media from publishing the name of the judge. The court said, “For a judge, it does not matter who stands before him. But when a litigant apprehends that she would not get justice, then we have to see whether her apprehensions are well founded. We adopt the principle – justice should not only be done but also seem to be done. A transfer could be done if it helps dispensation of justice. But a transfer cannot be done to satisfy the litigant’s ego.” (Times of India 22/7/14)

76. PIL seeks Leader of Opposition status for Congress in Lok Sabha (19)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court was moved Saturday seeking that Congress leader in Lok Sabha be conferred the status of the leader of opposition as it is the largest party in the opposition as provided under the 1977 law on salary and allowances of leaders of opposition in parliament. Contesting the opinion of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, the petitioner, advocate M.L.Sharma, contended that the question of the leader of opposition in Lok Sabha could not be mixed up with the statutory provision which says that party securing 10 percent of the total strength of the Lok Sabha could only be accorded the status of the recognized opposition party in lower house. Rohatgi in his opinion to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had said that Congress leader in Lok Sabha could not be treated as leader of opposition as the party does not have minimum of 55 seats that it should have to get the status of recognized opposition party. To back up his position, Rohatgi has referred to the first Lok Sabha Speaker G.V.Mavlankar who had said that to hold the proceedings of the house, minimum of 10 percent members of the total strength should be present and that should also be the strength of the main opposition party to be recognized as principal opposition party and its leader as leader of opposition. “The criteria of the leader of opposition has to be read in conformity with the Section 2 of the Salary and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977 and cannot be substituted with the concept of the recognized of the parties as advised by the Attorney General,” said Sharma in his PIL. The PIL said that the leader of the opposition could not be read to mean the leader of the recognized main opposition party. Sharma said that in the committee for the selection of the Chief Vigilance Commissioner, and some other posts, there is a provision for the leader of opposition and not that of leader of the recognized opposition party. The PIL said that since leader of opposition plays an important role in the functioning of the parliament, thus it incumbent upon the speaker to appoint the same in the public interest. (Zee News 27/7/14)

77. Government to seeks jurists’ views on judicial bill (19)

New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government will seek the views of eminent jurists and former judges on the proposed Judicial Appointments Commi-ssion Bill it plans to bring in Parliament soon to replace the present collegium system. Union law and justice minister Ravi Shankar Prasad will consult top jurists and former judges on Monday to elicit their views on the bill, sources stated. The minister had last week written to leaders of major political parties seeking their support for the bill. The leaders have also been asked to give their views on the issue. The bill, prepared during the UPA-2 regime, is set to be revived after the allegations of Justice Markandey Katju (Retd.) stating that the Central government and three Chief Justices of India had colluded in appointing a tainted judge to the Madras high court. Under the current collegium system in higher judiciary, appointments and transfers of judges are decided by a forum of the Chief Justice of India and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court. The practice of judges appointing judges started after 1993, replacing the system of government picking judges for higher judiciary comprising the Supreme Court and high courts. The move to set aside the 1993 Supreme Court judgement, which led to the collegium system, requires a constitutional amendment. It is learnt that the NDA government is not averse to the previous UPA government’s plan to put the composition and functions of the proposed Judicial Appointments Commission Bill in the Constitution. It is also understood that the NDA government is planning to rejig the composition of the proposed panel, sources said. Sources stated the NDA government has found “certain infirmities” in the UPA version. The UPA bill had proposed that the commission be headed by the Chief Justice of India with two senior judges of the Supreme Court, two eminent persons and the law minister as its members. And the secretary (justice) was to be the convenor. The UPA had proposed that the two eminent persons on the commission be selected by a panel consisting of the Prime Minister, the CJI and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha. (Asian Age 28/7/14)

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

78. Custodial torture can’t be tolerated: Court (1)

NEW DELHI: Cases of custodial torture in the capital have been increasing over the years due to the insensitivity of jail officials and ineffective implementation of court directives. This was observed by a trial court while hearing two cases of custodial violence. The court rapped the authorities and said the judiciary must show zero tolerance in such cases. In the first case, the jail authorities did not even report the matter to court. Additional sessions judge Kamini Lau found out about the incident when one Sanjay, an inmate of jail number three of Tihar Jail and facing trial in a dacoity case, was produced before her and she noticed his physical condition: his left hand was fractured; there were stitches on his left leg and swelling in both legs; and bruises and scratches on his entire back. Following this, the court asked Sanjay about his condition and he alleged that he was assaulted by prison staff and that there was an attempt by jail authorities to cover it up. The court ordered an inquiry into the incident and forwarded the complaint to the chief metropolitan magistrate. An FIR was registered against constable Praveen and Durga (head wardens) and undertrials Vinod, Sunny and Veeru on Sanjay’s complaint. The court directed the jail superintendent to preserve all the CCTV footages of September 14 and 15 and also the relevant records relating to duty rosters of the jail staff. “I may observe that custodial violence in any form is a serious issue and the courts are required to exhibit zero tolerance for the same being violative of human rights as well as the statutory rights of a person in custody. The manner in which the incident has been concealed raises a doubt in the mind of the court,” the judge said. The court also took serious note of another case of custodial violence reported by an undertrial named Anil, also lodged in jail number 3. The court forwarded the complaint to chief metropolitan magistrate. Anil claimed that he was beaten up in jail by two inmates, who did so on deputy superintendent Jitender Bhargav’s instructions. Anil alleged that Bhargav wanted to extort Rs 30,000 from him and when he refused, he was beaten up. On being produced before the court, it was noticed that there were injuries on his head and neck. Around 12,000 people have died?either in jail or in police stations?in the last five years, and 3,532 cases of custodial violence have been reported between 2007 and 2012. Last year, Supreme Court had come down heavily on the authorities for ineffective implementation of its directions to curb such incidents. As of now, Delhi has no special court to try such cases. for allegedly subjecting Sanjay to custodial violence and causing injuries to him. FIR was lodged under sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 308 (attempt to culpable homicide), 34 (common intention) of the IPC and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. (Times of India 18/7/14)

79. Police not responsible for most custodial deaths: CM (1)

CHENNAI: Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Friday told the Assembly that judicial probes into most of the custodial deaths had come to the conclusion that policemen were not responsible for those untoward incidents. Replying to a special calling attention motion on the death of gangster Gopal Duraisamy at the Kodungaiyur police station, she said Inspector Baskaran and Sub-Inspector Pandiaraja had been suspended for not taking precautionary measures while dealing with a person in custody. Further action would be taken after the magistrate concluded the inquiry into the death of Gopal, who was picked up by the police on a complaint of attacking a person. Gopal was secured on Tuesday night and he died on Friday at a private hospital before being produced in the court. The Chief Minister said that between 2013 and 2014, as many as 20 persons died in police custody and all the deaths were properly inquired into by magistrates.“In most of the cases, the deaths have been caused by heath conditions and officials have been suspended for being careless.” These incidents could not be called as custodial deaths as some died while being taken to police stations, others committed suicide and some others died due to health reasons after being let off by the police. “If judicial inquiry finds fault with police personnel, action is taken against them,” she said. (The Hindu 19/7/14)

80. Manipuri man’s killing: another attacker sent to police custody (1)

New Delhi: A Delhi court Wednesday sent another youth, arrested in connection with the killing of a 29-year-old Manipuri BPO employee, to one day’s police custody. Metropolitan Magistrate Ashok Kumar allowed police to interrogate Azad Choudhary alias Bhola, 24, till July 24. Justice Kumar Tuesday sent three youths – Sanjay Basoya, 24, Shakti Basoya, 21, and Rajiv, 25 – to police custody till July 24. Akha Salouni was beaten to death Monday following a spat with the youths while he was going to a friend’s house in south Delhi’s Kotla Mubarakpur area. Police told the court that the fifth accused Lokesh, who is on the run, could be traced with Choudhary’s help and sought his custodial interrogation. Choudhary, a driver by profession, was arrested Tuesday. According to police, all four belong to Garhi area in south Delhi but were picked up from various other places in the capital. (New Kerala 23/7/14)

81. ‘65 p.c. of prisoners in India are undertrials’ (1)

Bangalore: No less than 65 per cent of prisoners in India are undertrials, making the country one of the world’s 10 “worst” in terms of the proportion of undertrials languishing in its jails, said former Right to Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi at a press conference on Tuesday. India’s prisons have 2.5 lakh undertrials, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), and many of them are detained indefinitely because the prison system fails to comply with laws that mandate their release after a specified period, based on their offence, G. Ananthapadmanabhan, Chief Executive of Amnesty International India, said at the press conference, organised by the NGO. The prison system often violates the Code of Criminal Procedure (Section 436A), which states that undertrials must be released if they have served half the maximum period of imprisonment that their offence warrants [unless their crimes attract a death sentence], he said. The burgeoning number of undertrials is also overcrowding prisons, said Mr. Gandhi. Several lapses contribute to the extended detention of undertrials, said Mr. Ananthapadmanabhan. The NGO found that in Karnataka, for instance, several prisons were not aware of undertrials’ rights prescribed in section 436A. Karnataka’s prisons had 8,940 undertrials in December 2012, constituting 68 per cent of its prisoners, according to NCRB. Of these, 51 have been detained in prison for over five years. Undertrials were also trapped by a lack of legal aid. For instance, out of 11 lawyers nominated to provide legal aid in Bangalore Central Prison in January 2012, five had not visited the jail once in these two-and-a-half-years, Amnesty International found. There were also delays in producing undertrials in court owing to the lack of police escorts and ineffective videoconferencing facilities. The Undertrial Review Committee in districts is “non-functional,” despite a November 2013 notification from the Ministry of Home Affairs. (The Hindu 24/7/14)

82. Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah kicks up AFSPA revocation row again (1)

Srinagar: “The talks on AFSPA revocation with New Delhi is still on,” Abdullah said while talking to reporters on the sidelines of a function in Srinagar. “Certain people [in New Delhi] were so much in love with the AFSPA,” Abdullah said, adding “that even if the state government makes all the guns fall silent, they will suggest the AFSPA withdrawal is not appropriate”.”I don’t know what parameters they [the central government] want for that appropriate time. If they tell us what those parameters are, we will try to fulfil those,” Abdullah said. “Whenever we tell them it is the appropriate time, they say ‘not this year, next year’ and next year they widen the goal post again.” Abdullah hoped that the mindset of those in New Delhi would change and the process to revoke the AFSPA would start soon. This is not the first time Abdullah has talked about the revocation of the AFSPA. Earlier, he had taken up the issue with the Army top brass, former defence minister A.K. Antony and former prime minister Manmohan Singh. Last year, Abdullah had said that graph of militancy-related violence in the state has come down to 70 per cent during the past five years. “I had earlier said the gradual revocation of AFSPA will begin from my government’s tenure and the same will happen,” Abdullah told the Assembly on Thursday evening. AFSPA was enforced in Kashmir after the outbreak of militancy in 1990. The law was extended to Jammu in 2000. The Act gives the armed forces immunity from prosecution while operating in the militancy-hit areas. During the election campaign for the Lok Sabha elections, Abdullah and his father Dr Farooq Abdullah had accused Opposition PDP’s patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed of enforcing AFSPA in the state in 1990 when latter was the Union home minister in the V.P. Singh-led government. “Mufti brought AFSPA to Jammu and Kashmir and after that he never talked about its revocation, not even when he was the chief minister. But once he is out of power, he plays politics over it,” Abdullah had said. The PDP has been accusing Abdullahs of not taking any steps to get AFSPA revoked. (India Today 25/7/14)

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

83. Myanmar jailing of reporters sends ‘wrong message’: US (1)

Washington: The United States has condemned tough jail terms handed down on five Myanmar journalists for publishing a story about an alleged chemical weapons factory. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington was concerned about the jail terms of 10 years with hard labour given to reporters from the Unity Weekly News under the former junta-run country’s official secrets act. “The sentence sends the wrong message about Burma’s commitment to freedom of expression, including for the press,” Psaki said, using Myanmar’s former name. “The Burmese government has made tremendous progress in the last three years, working to develop an environment conducive to free, fair, independent media,” she told reporters. “This is a critical element of a vibrant and well-functioning democracy and we urge the government of Burma to continue that trend and respect the right of all journalists.” The jailed men, who include the paper’s chief executive, were arrested in February just days after the article alleging that the country’s military was operating a chemical weapons factory in the town of Pauk in the central Magway region, under the instructions of former junta chief Than Shwe. Unity Weekly quoted testimony from local people and workers, and included pictures of the alleged military facility. In January 2013, Myanmar denied accusations it had used chemical weapons against ethnic minority rebels in the northern state of Kachin, with government spokesman Ye Htut saying the military “never” deployed them. (Zee News 19/7/14)

84. Media space shrinking under Narendra Modi govt., says civil society (1)

MUMBAI: The space for independent journalism and debates is fast shrinking under the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA government at the Centre, several eminent social activists, academicians and artists noted here on Tuesday. “We are witnessing market censorship and it is difficult to get objective television coverage,” said documentary film maker Anand Patwardhan while accusing the BJP of trying to implement its idea of cultural dominance through power. Mr. Patwardhan’s reference was to the overtaking of media firms by various corporate giants. “The media is not telling us what is happening in the world. Media is completely silent. The government knows that it can stay in power through censorship,” he said in the background of the government denying Parliament a discussion on the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict. The autonomy of the media was high on the list of concerns of many eminent personalities who spoke at the “round table on the “Idea of India” held in Mumbai. Father Frazer Mascarenhas, principal of St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, said that the space for “democratic dialogue” was decreasing under the new regime. Social activist Teesta Setalvad said after the coming of the new government the right-wing ideology was infiltrating into the institutional frameworks of the country. Senior journalists Harsh Mander, Dilip D’souza, Daryll D’Monte, actors Nandita Das and Dolly Thakore, directors Mahesh Bhatt and Saeed Mirza also expressed their concerns at the gathering. (The Hindu 22/7/14)

85. Journalist falls to death from 8th floor flat in Vaishali (1)

VAISHALI: A 32-year-old journalist working with Rajya Sabha TV mysteriously fell to death from the balcony of her eighth floor flat at a housing society in Vaishali late on Monday. Police have not ruled out murder. The death was discovered around 11.45pm by her husband, the police said. She was rushed to Max Hospital at Patparganj in Delhi, where doctors declared her brought dead. The journalist, Milita Dutta Mandal, lived with husband Surya Jyoti, a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter and mother-in-law in the flat at Mahagun Mosaic. The family was at home at the time of her death, the police said. Milita’s body was found in the basement of the building. The police said she crashed through the fibre-glass roof built over a part of the basement to allow natural light into it. “Her upper right leg and right palm had fractures from the impact,” said Urvi Singh Rathore, the Vaishali police beat in-charge. She said Ghaziabad Police was informed about the incident by Madhu Vihar police station in Delhi around 2.30am. “We are investigating the case from all possible angles. Let the post-mortem report reach us then only we would be able to comment. Prima facie, it seems she was pushed in a fit of anger by her husband. The balcony has been found broken which might have happened by a strong push. But it is still a mystery… nothing can be said authoritatively till the investigation is complete,” SP (city) Shiv Hari Meena told agencies. No complaint has been filed with the police. Senior police officers in Ghaziabad said a panel of three doctors is being constituted at Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital in Delhi to conduct the autopsy. This procedure, the police said, is adopted in sensitive cases where reasons of death are not easily ascertained. The police also said they have been unable to formally record the statements of Milita’s relatives, or even begin an investigation, as no complaint has been registered by her family. A general diary entry was, however, made at Indirapuram police station. A forensic team of Ghaziabad Police collected evidence from the spot where her body was found, including samples of blood stains. “When the last call was made to the deceased’s home, the police were told they are sleeping. They have, however, informed that they would come over to the police station for registering the complaint on Tuesday,” said Dharmendra Yadav, SSP Ghaziabad. Milita’s relatives and friends remained tightlipped but her uncle Bappi Dutta, who lives in Chittaranjan Park, said “her death was not normal”. Vishal, Milita’s neighbour, said he got to know about her death around 7am. “They seemed a happy couple, I used to often meet them in the lift,” he said. Milita married Surya five years ago. She worked with a national English news channel before joining Rajya Sabha TV. Surya is a senior manager with British Council Division in its office in Noida’s Sector 62. (Times of India 23/7/14)

86. Govt committed to press freedom, says Javadekar (1)

PUNE: Union minister for information and broadcasting Prakash Javadekar said the Modi government is committed to ensuring press freedom because the leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party has experienced what censorship of the press was like during the Emergency, Javadekar said he had been imprisoned for 16 months during the Emergency and could vividly recall the manner in which newspapers faced censorship from the government. “I can assure you that the Modi government will never do that,” he said. He was speaking at a function after inaugurating TOI’s Response office at Elbee House near Boat Club Road on Sunday. He said The Times Of India, over the years, has become “the voice of India.” Recalling a personal anecdote, he said when he was a schoolboy there was only one house in his village that subscribed to the paper. “Even though it was two km away, I used to go there to read the paper and that is how I learned to love newspapers.” The minister remarked that technological changes had brought many changes in the newspaper business adding that he is able to access news on his tablet even when he is in Parliament. “Nowadays with the security cameras in the House, there is constant scrutiny over what you are seeing on it,” he joked, adding that he has to keep abreast of the day’s developments even during the six hours he spends at the House. He also commented on other changes in the media. “The hot debate now is who controls the newspapers, whether it is the editors or the marketing,” Javadekar said adding that while editorial policy should be supreme, the considerations of the market cannot be ignored. (Times of India 28/7/14)

COMMUNAL RIOTS

87. Communal divide in west UP threatens to put peace at risk (7)

LUCKNOW: Communal incidents in the last one month have threatened to disrupt communal peace in the western part of the state. The state intelligence department has cited reports to alert the state government even as Bharatiya Janata Party is leading demonstrations against the ruling Samajwadi Party. The intriguing feature of the series of communal incidents is that temples and places of worship of dalits are being targeted, pushing Muslims and dalits into bloody battles against each other. Bahujan Samaj Party’s traditional support base is shrinking while BJP gains from the situation. In Moradabad’s Kaanth, a loudspeaker from a dalit temple was removed by the administration on the demand of agitating Muslims. In Hathras, a dalit woman immolated herself after she was gang-raped and police failed to book the accused, who were all Muslims. In Badaun, a Ravidas mandir was vandalized; in Meerut a Valmiki temple was desecrated. In the last one month, dalits have been at the receiving end of trouble mongers supported by BJP. Communal incidents ranging from minor to major intensity have been reported recently from Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Moradabad, Sambhal, Saharanpur, Bareilly and Badaun districts, leaving behind a communal divide and a trail of violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims. “The interesting thing is the recurrence of communal clashes almost every third or fourth day and violence between the two communities remaining unabated despite repeated warnings by the chief minister and monitoring by chief secretary Alok Ranjan,” observed a senior officer in the intelligence department of the state police. He said the state government is being regularly apprised of the prevailing situation. Principal secretary Rakesh Bahadur too had visited western UP. Muzaffarnagar district which drew national attention following communal carnage in November 2013 remains under attack. The first major communal violence in the Akhilesh Yadav government was reported from Kosikalan in Mathura in May 2012 in which five people were killed and several others injured. SSP Dharamvir Yadav faced flak for not handling the situation properly. He was removed but managed to get posted in Moradabad and now Kaanth is burning. The ruling Samajwadi Party refuses to learn from its past mistakes. When dalits protest against desecration of their temples, BJP comes to their rescue and supports them against Muslims. In Kaanth, when the administration removed the loudspeaker from Ravidas temple, BJP MP Sarvesh Kumar Singh led the agitation and supported dalits. Whether in Meerut, Badaun, Saharanpur, or Sambhal, similar intervention by BJP has been noticed. “There is no denying that Muzaffarnagar riots pushed jatavs and other dalit members into the BJP camp in the 2014 elections. At a time when BSP is staying away from the bypolls to be held sooner or later, BJP is projecting itself as their saviour,” observes Ashutosh Mishra, professor in the political science department of Lucknow University. BSP founder Kanshi Ram, in late the 80s, brought Muslims and dalits under his party’s umbrella. In the first election in 1989 when BSP had contested and won 13 seats, the leader of the legislature party was Sheikh Suleman. Such was the integration of Muslims and dalits in the BSP, but now, either by design or by default, the two communities are disintegrating, at least in the western UP, politically as well as socially. (Times of India 21/7/14)

88. Religious spot stoned, communal tension in Bareilly village (7)

BAREILLY: Communal tension rocked Kamalpur village under the Cantonment police station in Bareilly on Sunday, after miscreants flung stones at a religious spot. Members of the two communities gathered at the spot, creating tension. However, police arrived just in time and eased the situation. The stone-pelting occurred on Sunday night, around 11:30 pm. The stones damaged a tin shade of the religious spot. Some local people rushed to the spot, and the mischief-mongers jumped over a wall and fled under the cover the darkness. Members of both communities gathered at the spot on hearing the commotion, and the local administration began to apprehend trouble. A large number of police personnel reached the spot, and managed to pacify the crowd. SP City Rajeev Malhotra said, “Some anti-social elements threw stones on a religious spot. Police reached in the nick of time and managed to control the situation. A police picket has been deployed in the communally sensitive village, which has seen communal riots in the past.” Inspector Devendra Rathi of the Cantonment police station said, “The matter is under investigation. Police is attempting to trace the accused. Strict action will be taken against those found guilty.” (Times of India 21/7/14)

89. Police arrests members of a gang involved in Juni Ghadi riot (7)

VADODARA: Did notorious members of criminal gangs in the city play a role in the communal riots that rocked the walled city some days ago? Police arrested two members of a gang for their involvement in riots and also took two other gangsters into preventive custody. Though the police have been cracking down on criminal gangs after the riots in Juni Ghadi and Nani Chhipwad area on July 18, it has denied any direct involvement of the gangs in instigating the riots. The police arrested Azzharuddin alias Azzu Abdul Majid Sheikh and Tausif Sheikh, members of the Bichhu gang led by notorious criminal, Aslam Bodiyo. The cops said both Azzu and Taufik were present in the mob when the rioting occurred in Juni Ghadi. “Investigations showed that both of them were in the mob that began rioting in the walled city. So we have arrested the duo and are inquiring about involvement of others in the riots. Prima facie it seems that the duo hadn’t instigated the mob,” said a police official. City police commissioner, Satish Sharma too said the criminal gangs didn’t seem to have a direct role in the riots. “We have taken Aslam Bodiyo and his accomplice Munna alias Tadbuch in preventive custody. Such arrests are done to prevent further trouble and maintain peace,” Sharma told TOI. Their accomplice Rafiq Fafda too has been taken into custody. Many more history-sheeters are expected to be arrested to prevent untoward incidents in the communally sensitive areas. The police had earlier arrested four persons after their names surfaced in the communal riots that occurred in Juni Ghadi and Nani Chhipwad. Mobs of two communities had clashed with each other during the riots that occurred after a shop-owner had heated arguments with an autorickshaw driver in Juni Ghadi. While the police managed to quell the riots immediately, another round of riots began in the same area after an hour. The cops had lobbed 16 teargas shells to disperse the rioting mob that damaged dozens of vehicles. Five separate FIRs were registered at the city police station and it was suspected that the riots were instigated deliberately by some persons. (Times of India 23/7/14)

90. Seer murder: Crime branch seeks Panda’s remand (7)

BHUBANESWAR: The crime branch (CB) has sought remand of Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda in connection with the murder of Swami LaxmananandaSaraswati in August 2008 and attack on district headquarter town of Nayagarh in February 2008. “We have moved courts in Phulbani and Nayagarh seeking remand of Sabyasachi as he is the prime accused in at least nine sensitive cases being probed by us,” additional director general (CB) Bijay Sharma told TOI. “We have prayed the courts to allow us to bring him to Cuttack for interrogation,” he added. The cases in question include landmine explosion in which five people, including a pregnant woman and her three-year-old daughter and a woman health worker, going in an ambulance died at Brahmanigaon in Kandhamal district in November 2010, attack on a police party in Gosma forests in February 2008, loot of Nayagarh armoury in February 2008, police said. The CB’s petition follow the Justice A S Naidu Commission’s move to soon quiz Sabyasachi, who is currently on police remand, through video conferencing. The commission is inquiring into Saraswati’s killing and the ethno-communal riots in its aftermath in Kandhamal. The Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati Smruti Samiti, a body working to promote the saffron leader’s cause, has demanded that CBI probe into the senior VHP leader’s assassination. “A CBI inquiry can expose the conspiracy behind the killing,” the samiti’s leader Laxmikanta Dash said, demanding strong action against Maoists Sabyasachi and Azad for their alleged role in the slaying. This coincided with the state government’s revision petition, challenging the Berhampur sub-divisional judicial magistrate’s order allowing presence of a family member or counsel during police interrogation of Sabyasachi, failing to come up for hearing at the district and sessions court in Berhampur due to ceasework agitation by lawyers. Members of Ganjam Bar Association paralyzed court works in protest against alleged police assault on a lawyer in Bhubaneswar on July 16. They want a judicial inquiry into the incident. On Tuesday, the court deferred hearing on the petition, which was filed the previous day, and issued a fresh notice to Sabyasachi, allowing his lawyer to appear on his behalf. Police had refused to take him to court citing security reasons. The Maoist leader is in police custody after SDJM court granted 10-day remand on July 19. Hearing is likely to be held on Thursday, said public prosecutor Jameswar Mishra. Sabyasachi’s lawyer Deepak Patnaik said his client has given him a six-page petition and he will place it before the court once it resumes functioning. He did not disclose the petition’s content. Sabyasachi was arrested from Mangalvarempeta Street under Bada Bazaar police limits here late on July 17. (Times of India 24/7/14)

COMMUNALISM

91. VHP bandh call fizzles out (26)

Jammu: Bandh (shutdown) call given by right-wing Hindu organisation on Saturday to protest against violence at Amarnath yatra base camp at Baltal on Friday did not evoke much response. The state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party had not extended support to the bandh call. The local police picked up and detained few activists of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal early on Saturday morning even they burned some tyres outside the VHP office. These organisations had also not made public announcement about the bandh on Friday evening. It was another routine business day in the city, where BJP had much support, which had in the past reacted strongly to such incident. Atlesat 50 people were injured and 10 tents of langars were torched after clashes between locals and langar operators at Baltal on Friday, forcing the authorities to stop yatra. With the situation under control the tight security, 23rd batch of 1,389 pilgrims moved from Jammu on Saturday morning for the Yatra. VHP state unit president Leela Karan Sharma has demanded an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the incident. He said people operating langars, who offer free food and logistics to the yatris, were scared and could stop their sevices and if it happens it would give wrong signal to the whole country. “They’ve already started winding up their operations and it’s the duty of the state government to give them protection,” said VHP state president. He alleged the separatists and their sympathisers, even in the state administration, were planning  conspiracy to curtail the yatra. (Hindustan Times 19/7/14)

92. Won’t help in state assembly polls: RSS to Amit Shah (26)

NAGPUR: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat is learned to have told BJP president Amit Shah not to expect the organisation’s help in the forthcoming assembly elections in some states, including Maharashtra, while Shah was on his first visit to the city after becoming party chief to seek the blessings of the sarsanghachalak. BJP sources said Bhagwat also conveyed its objection to the party’s move to form the government in Delhi without having the majority. He is learnt to have advised Shah to go for fresh elections and also complete all promises made to the people during campaigning. Bhagwat is learnt to have explained to the BJP’s “master strategist” that the RSS supported the party during the Lok Sabha polls, in which it recorded a historic victory, because the country was going through a difficult period and needed a stable government with strong leadership at the Centre. The Sangh had formed a parallel mechanism which included making strategies to booth level management. He advised Shah to strengthen the party and prepare its workers for the polls, instead of depending on the Sangh’s help. The discussion varied from assembly polls to increasing strain in BJP-Sena relations over seat sharing. Earlier, Shah arrived to a rousing welcome at the RSS headquarters. The arrival of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s close aid was considered significant in the wake of forthcoming elections and disputes in the saffron alliance over seat distribution. Sources, however, claimed Shah was not in favour of severing their two decade old ties with the Shiv Sena. Though the maiden visit of Shah is seen more as mere ritual after being elevated to the top post of the ruling party, it would also be seen in context of tightening control over the party affairs by Sangh Parivar. His predecessors Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari too had visited the Mahal headquarters after their appointments as party chief. Shah flatly refused to speak to the media. BJP leader Vinod Tawde told TOI that they were in city to attend two-day annual coordination meet of RSS, even BJP chief’s visit was for same purpose. Sources said it was pre-decided as BJP office received a fax on Thursday only where it was made clear that the BJP chief would not interact with the media or even the office bearers. (Times of India 20/7/14)

93. Togadia rakes up temple, says it’s on VHP agenda (26)

Jaipur: The construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya is still on the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s (VHP) agenda, said the Parishad’s international working president Pravin Togadia, while assuring supporters that the same would be constructed soon. Togadia’s address came while he was in Jaipur to launch a socio-medical project, India Health Line. In his speech, he also said that the safety and security of Hindus worldwide, food for the needy and providing gainful employment for the youth are all on the Parishad’s agenda. “Swabhimaan means a Ram temple in Ayodhya, no slaughtering of cows, no religious conversion of Hindus and the safety of all Hindus,” he said. Togadia said a World Hindu Congress would be held in New Delhi in November in which Hindu representatives from across the world would converge. Speaking about incidents of attacks on pilgrims in the Amarnath yatra, Togadia asked why Muslim pilgrims in Ajmer are never attacked. “Are Hindus not allowed to breathe? Innocent Hindus’ should not be attacked,” he added. (Hindustan Times 22/7/14)

94. Uttar Pradesh steps up security in view of marches by BJP, VHP & Congress on July 26 (26)

Lucknow: Security has been tightened in the districts adjoining Moradabad in view of Vishwa Hindutva Parishad (VHP)’s proposed “Jalabhishek march”, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s protest and Congress’ “peace march” in Kanth area of Moradabad on July 26. “The security has been tightened in and adjoining districts of Moradabad in view of the proposed Jalabhishek and peace march by the political parties,” IG Law and Order Amrendra Sengar told reporters. About possibility of banning the programmes that could trigger tension in the area, Sengar said, no decision has yet been taken by the administration in this regard. BJP has announced its plan to hold state-wide protests on July 26 seeking registration of FIR against Moradabad SSP for allegedly assaulting BJP workers in Kanth on July 4. Joining the fray, Congress has also announced its plan to hold a ‘peace march’ in Kanth on the very same day. Clashes had erupted between BJP workers and the police in Kanth on July 4 over holding of a mahapanchayat called by the party to protest removal of a loudspeaker from a temple in Akbarpur village, which led to communal tension in the area. (DNA 24/7/14)

95. Police foil BJP, VHP protest plan in Moradabad (26)

MORADABAD: An attempt by the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to mobilise public on Saturday over the issue of alleged removal of a loudspeaker from a temple in Nayagaon Akbarpur, a village in Kanth town of Moradabad, failed due to prohibitory measures of the local administration. Senior BJP leaders in western Uttar Pradesh told The Hindu that for now the party may turn its focus on the “more urgent issue” of communal tension in Saharanpur. Meanwhile, communities in the Akbarpur village continue to live under the shadow of heavy police deployment and simmering tension. Members of the Dalit community, who take care of the Shiva temple in Akbarpur village, expressed their disappointment with the BJP for the party’s “failure to keep up its promise of getting a loudspeaker sanctioned for the temple.” There was a feeling in the Dalit community that the issue was being “unnecessarily politicised,” a fact which they argued, has led to simmering tension among Muslims and Dalits who have been living together for several decades in the village. “We could have got the permission for the loudspeaker normally too, but when Kunwar Sarvesh Singh told us that he will help us get the permission for it, we thought that the thing will get done quite easily. We never expected that the situation will come to such a stage when this will get national attention for all the wrong reasons,” said Vijay, a member of the Dalit community. Refusing to explicitly criticise the local MP, he said “the situation could have been handled in a much more harmonious way had the inter-communal harmony and not the party politics been the priority of people in this region”. “All we are seeing is polarisation of people outside this village. Look at what happened in Saharanpur today. Instead of protesting for our own political reasons, we need to ensure that incidents like this don’t happen again,” he added. In view of the VHP’s announcement to organise a ‘Jalabhishek march’ in the temple in Akbarpur village and the BJP’s plan to hold a protest march in Kanth town, the Moradabad administration had clamped Section 144 and deployed the police in large numbers. The attempt of Congress to organise ‘peace march’ in the Kanth village was also foiled. Several BJP MPs and MLAs were detained during the day but were released later in the evening. (The Hindu 27/7/14)

TERRORISM

96. 28 militants killed in Pakistan’s North Waziristan (12)

Islamabad: Pakistani jets have killed at least 28 militants in air strikes in North Waziristan tribal region, the military said Sunday. The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the military’s media wing, said the terrorists killed in Shawal region include foreigners. Six terrorist hideouts were also destroyed in the operation, Dawn online reported. Most of the militants from Miranshah and Mirali have escaped to the Shawal valley which stretches across both North and South Waziristan Agency, the army said. Ehsanullah Ehsan, former spokesman of the Tehreek-i-Taliban, told the Dawn Sunday that the security forces have exaggerated the figure of Taliban casualties. Ehsan claimed the jets were bombing civilians who were being cited as “terrorists killed”.The media has no access to the region, making it difficult to verify the claims of either the military or militant sources, the report said. The military had earlier said security forces have cleared most of Miranshah, the headquarters of North Waziristan, and are now carrying out house-to-house search in Mirali, a main town and a stronghold of the Pakistani and foreign militants. The military operation was launched by the army June 15 following a brazen Taliban terror attack on Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport June 8. About 900,000 people from North Waziristan have been displaced so far in the operation, according to figures released by the FATA Disaster Management Authority. (Business Standard 20/7/14)

97. Militant’s body found in Jammu and Kashmir (12)

Jammu: The militant was killed in firing by the BSF near Karol Mathura border outpost in Hiranagar sector when they foiled an infiltration bid by intruders from Pakistan The Border Security Force (BSF) on Tuesday recovered the body of a militant killed after an infiltration bid was foiled in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir, police said. “The body of the intruder, who was killed in firing by the BSF near Karol Mathura border outpost in Hiranagar sector, has been recovered,” a senior police officer told IANS in Jammu. “Nothing was recovered from the body,” he said. On Monday, the BSF foiled an infiltration bid after a group of intruders were forced to withdraw into Pakistan. While the Indian Army guards the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, the international border in the State is guarded by the BSF. (The Hindu 22/7/14)

98. Prisoner ends hunger strike after a week in Kolkata (12)

KOLKATA: After fasting for more than a week to get a writ petition filed in Calcutta High Court, alleged Maoist leader Anup Roy ended his hunger strike at Presidency Correctional Centre here on Tuesday, confirmed prison superintendent Nabin Kumar Saha. Mr. Roy was detained under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in January this year. According to civil rights activist Ranjit Sur, Mr. Roy started a fast on July 10 to demand a political prisoner status and to get a writ petition challenging an amendment to the West Bengal Correctional Services Act, 1992, passed in Calcutta High Court. The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government introduced an amendment in November 2013, which curbed the rights of prospective political prisoners. The amendment stated that a person found having links with any terrorist organisation would be denied the rights of a political prisoner. “The amendment was aimed at Maoists and Islamic outfits. The amendment is unconstitutional. Political prisoners, who were lodged in jails before the amendment was passed, were also denied their status. This was an illegal move. Mr. Roy sought to change this,” said Mr. Sur. Mr. Roy’s demand to file the writ petition was being denied by jail authorities, Mr. Sur said. “Mr. Roy has still not been proven accused. Therefore he is not guilty in the eyes of law and is free to file a petition like any other citizen, ” Mr. Sur said. When contacted, Mr. Saha denied that Mr. Roy had started his fast to demand the rights of a political prisoner. Refusing to divulge the details of the writ petition that Mr. Roy sought to file, Mr. Saha said it was a highly confidential matter. “Mr. Roy started his hunger strike to demand that the writ petition be filed in the court. He ended his fast on Tuesday,” he said. (The Hindu 23/7/14)

99. Death toll in Meghalaya blast rises to three (12)

Shillong: The death toll in the IED blast triggered by insurgents in Meghalaya has risen to three with one more policeman succumbing to his injuries Saturday, while another IED was recovered and defused by a bomb disposal squad, police said. Constable Rahul Marak died in Assam’s Guwahati Neurological Research Centre, a police officer said. “On searching in and around the (Friday) blast site, the bomb disposal squad recovered and defused an IED planted by the militants on the hillock,” Mukesh Kumar Singh, the district police chief of West Garo Hills said. Though no militant group has claimed responsibility for the blast, Director General of Police Peter Hanaman blamed the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) militants for it. The militants had planted a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) by the roadside in Tebrongre area to target security forces. “They (militants) have been under tremendous pressure after we captured the GNLA’s general headquarters and arrested some of their important cadres,” Hanaman told IANS. Hanaman, who reviewed the overall law and order situation in Garo Hills after the incident, said, “We have got vital leads and the hunt is on to arrest the culprits.” Condemning the bomb blast, Home Minister Roshan Warjri said, “Such acts of cowardice to derail the concerted efforts for building lasting peace and vitiating a hopeful atmosphere will not be accepted and tolerated.” Warjri also extended her condolences to the victims’ families. The GNLA, one of the five Garo tribal rebel groups, is fighting for a separate Garoland to be carved out of Meghalaya. It has forged an operational alliance with the ULFA and the NDFB, which provided it access to sophisticated arms and ammunition, and enabled it to unleash a reign of terror in the three impoverished districts of Garo Hills. GNLA rebels, who number around 100, have unleashed terror in five impoverished districts of Garo Hills in the last five years and killed over 100 people, including security personnel. (Zee News 26/7/14)

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

100. Odisha Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda arrested (12)

Bhubaneshwar: Odisha Police arrested the state’s top Maoist leader, Sabyasachi Panda, on Friday, in what authorities said was a major achievement in the anti-Maoist campaign. Panda was wanted in over 60 criminal cases, including the killing of Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati in Kandhamal in 2008 and the abduction of two Italian tourists in 2012. “This is a big achievement for Odisha Police,” said director general of police Sanjiv Marik. The Maoists, also known as Naxals, have been fighting for decades across vast swathes of eastern and central India. They say they are fighting for the rights of poor farmers and landless labourers, but authorities see them as the country’s biggest internal security threat. Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik announced the arrest in the assembly and congratulated the police personnel who participated in the operation. “I also take the opportunity to appeal to Maoists to shed violence and join the mainstream,” he said. Police recovered a revolver, some ammunition, Rs. 2 lakh, 500gm of gold, 10 mobile phones, a laptop, two hard discs and five pen drives from Panda, who was arrested in Ganjam district. But experts said Panda’s arrest would make little difference to the Maoist movement in the state as he had become powerless in the past two years after falling out with the leadership of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). “His arrest will not impact the Maoist movement in the state, which is being controlled by cadres from Andhra Pradesh,” said former Odisha DGP SN Tiwari. (Hindutan Times 18/7/14)

101. Naxals destroyed tendu worth Rs 55 lakh in 32 years (12)

NAGPUR: Naxalites have destroyed tendu leaves to the tune of more than Rs 55 lakhs within a span of 32 years since 1982 in Maharashtra. A press release, issued by state Anti-Naxal Operations cell, underlined the fact that Naxals have repeatedly tried to sabotage the tendu industry which had been source of livelihood for a substantial population in the remote Gadchiroli district. The tendu business, which brings much needed alternative source of income in the poorly developed Gadchiroli, is also connected to India’s one of the largest rural-based bidi industry. Left-wing extremists have been targeting tendu industry and are engaged in extorting exorbitant amount from contractors. There had been so far around 120 incidents of tendu leaves being destroyed in Naxal violence in three decades till this year. The maximum loss which has been inflicted by the Naxals against the tendu business has taken place in Gadchiroli. Leaves, worth around Rs 40.39 lakh, have been destroyed in 106 incidents alone in Gadchiroli. In Etapalli tehsil of Gadchiroli, there had been 62 incidents in which tendu leaves worth around Rs 11.42 lakhs were destroyed. There were 29 such incidents in Aheri too. Naxals set afire tendu leaves, worth Rs 10.29 lakh, on fire in Chamorshi tehsil on May 18 in 2003 which is being considered as the single biggest loss in such business caused by the rebels. In Gondia district, tendu leaves worth Rs 13.40 lakh have been gutted by the Naxals in 11 incidents. In western Maharashtra, Naxals have destroyed tendu leaves worth Rs 68,600 in three incidents in Nanded district. (Times of India 22/7/14)

102. Mass support for Naxals behind Bihar stir? (12)

Patna: Substantial public support for Maoists is suspected to be the root cause behind the sudden unrest in Bihar’s Aurangabad that led to police firing on a large crowd of violent agitators on July 19 in which a woman and a child died and five others were injured. This being the second police firing in Bihar a fortnight, the first being in Rohtas on July 8 in which two people died and nine others were injured, Bihar’s JD(U) government and the Opposition BJP are locked in a war of words over the government’s alleged loss of control on the police force’s activities. But, even as a probe is currently on, the suspected Maoist connection in the Aurangabad incident has caused massive disagreements between the government and the Opposition. Top police sources pointed out that villagers in Maoist-affected Aurangabad turned against the police and the district administration so violently, indulging in arson and rioting, because they were angry about the intense, weeklong joint combing operation carried out in the area by the state police and the CRPF in search of some leftwing rebels reportedly hiding there. The Aurangabad SP and DM’s preliminary report on the incident, tabled in the state Assembly on Monday, also said that villagers were suspected of sheltering armed Maoists in their homes. “The entire area was experiencing tension ever since the security forces began conducting raids in Deo and Madanpur to flush out Maoists camping in the area for a fortnight. The security forces also had an encounter with the Maoists at Devagaha village in Deo on July 11,” said water resources minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhary in the Assembly during a three-hour debate on the issue on Monday. But senior BJP leader and former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi contested the minister’s claims. “The government is misguided in saying that the Maoists were behind the tension in Aurangabad. A 45-year-old woman and a 12-year-old boy were killed in police firing while protesting. Two boys of class seven were sent to jail for the protests,” he said. (The Asian Age 23/7/14)

103. Maoist Menace: Police Baffled as Tribals do a Backflip (12)

MALAPPURAM : The Maoist issue is posing a grave and ongoing threat in this forest region of the state and the police are lost in a dark abyss as tribes are showing reluctance in passing information to the police regarding the movement of armed persons. The police force engaged in tracking down the Maoists mainly depends on the information they receive from the tribal colonies.  But recently the tribes have become quiet to the point of extreme reticence in informing the police about the the deadly Maoist presence. The tribes were very willing and cooperative with the police in the beginning to give information and it was immensely helpful to the police to gauge the strength and nature of the armed gang.  The tribes also helped them to identify the key members of the Maoist gang that has found refuge in the dense forest. The police officials are clueless about the current disenchantment of the tribes with the police and their sudden dedication and devotion to the Maoists.  They fear the gang members have succeeded in brainwashing the tribals and planted vicious ideas in their minds using the Maiost propoganda. “It is learned that there was a class in Vaniyambalam colony near Nilambur on July 18 by an armed group. But strangely, the police got the information only a day later.  The gang had also distributed notices to all the houses in the colony. We fear that frequent meetings of the Maoists with the tribes would definitely impact them in a negative way which would have serious repercussions.  The delay in providing tip-offs and reluctance to cooperate with police are examples of it”, said sources in the anti-Maoist force wishing to seek anonymity. The tribes are also open in admitting the fact that the government has betrayed them by giving empty promises. “The Maoists are giving classes about the indifference of the government towards the tribal community.  They have to some extent succeeded in creating an image that they are their saviour who would redeem them from their present misery and that the government is their enemy.  It is relatively a simple task to convince the tribes, who are already depressed with the attitude of government, with such kind of fiery speeches. The situation in the colonies will prove that there are some truths in what the Maoists are saying.  There are no proper houses, roads, drinking water and electricity facilities in the colonies.  The development initiatives to be implemented in the colonies sadly depend upon the will, wish and interest of the officials.  They do not even ask the tribes if their needs are met”, Chitra, a Mahila Samakhya Savini belongs to Kattunayakan tribe in Appankappu colony near Nilambur told ‘Express’. The tribes have are also started bargaining with the police to repay them for the favours they receive at their hands.  They demand  proper roads, electricity, food, garments, etc from the police.  It is suspected that influence of persons outside the colony have brought about this change in them. The tribes have no loyalty whatsoever, to outsiders including the police.  They will support anyone offering money and lend a helping hand to them as long as help arrives from any quarter.  They will listen to the police and also to extremist groups without any hesitation.  But we do not expect that the tribes would join hands with them in the near future due to their inherent laziness”, Perinthalmanna DySP K P Vijayakumaran, who is in charge of the forest areas in Nilambur, said. The police are leaving no stone unturned to maintain a rapport with the tribes. (New Indian Express 28/7/14)

TRAFFICKING

104. Rescued Jharkhand maids continue to be stalked by human traders (1)

KHUNTI (Jharkhand): It is just two in the afternoon, but it is pitch dark inside the bare mud hut where 17-year-old Nisha (name changed) lives with her poor parents. Outside, a hard rain falls, bending the trees of the thick forest that threatens to close in on the cluster of huts in this tribal village in Khunti district.Electricity is yet to touch lives here and few dare to come to Nisha’s village even during daytime. There’s the fear of Maoists in the villages along the forested border of Jharkhand and Chattisgarh. There’s an even bigger fear for girls like Nisha: the threat of ruthless human traffickers. You might have read about Nisha but won’t remember her. She appeared in one of those newspaper stories about maids’ abuse. This was in May this year — a story about a girl who was lucky to escape from the vicious grip of a placement agency servicing upscale New Friends colony and Maharani Bagh in south Delhi. Two other girls trafficked in April 2013 from Khunti villages failed to survive. One died in Delhi and the other on the way back. There are numerous such cases. Human trafficking from this poverty-stricken, extremely backward part of the world is endemic. The girls here are very vulnerable — extreme poverty being its biggest cause. Since 2009, Jharkhand has not been reporting figures of missing children and persons to NCRB. Experts admit the available data don’t reflect, therefore, the enormity of the problem. For instance, Jharkhand CID statistics show a mere 282 registered cases on human trafficking between 2001 and September 2013, while a 2010 report by NGO Bharatiya Kisan Sangh put the number of girls trafficked to metro cities at 42,000. Most victims are below 20 years and the main destination is Delhi. In Khunti alone, a dozen traffickers have been identified — those taking girls regularly out of villages for work to Delhi or Mumbai with promises rarely kept. Search is on for the small-time traffickers operating as intermediaries. The danger of human trade is amplified by warnings painted in red and black cautioning against “manav vyapaar” (human trafficking). Detailed advisories are stuck on tree trunks and mud walls. Villagers know about the danger, but can they heed it always? TOI did a reality check on the status of victim families to see why they can’t. Any promise of money is very tempting for those in dire poverty. Like Nisha’s parents, most villagers here work as farm or manual labour earning a meagre daily wage of Rs 50. Some lucky ones on lucky days can get Rs 250. But never more. And there are several days when there’s no work. Government anti-poverty schemes might have helped but schemes like MNREGA are yet to reach intended beneficiaries who have no awareness and little access to information. In the circumstances, the poor don’t have either the resource or mental strength to ward off the lurking traffickers. Take Nisha’s case. Her family does not want her to pursue the case against her trafficker and the village community has already made its discomfort known to the police. They don’t want trouble. To keep her afloat, a school in Ranchi earlier this month agreed to take her on as a caretaker. The opportunity came her way only after the intervention of Khunti’s anti-human trafficking unit. Nisha now dreams of resuming her education… (Times of India 18/7/14)

105. Bringing kids to orphanages not child trafficking: Govt (1)

KOCHI: The state government on Friday claimed in the high court that the act of bringing children from other states to orphanages in Kerala does not fall under the scope of child trafficking. The government’s submission came in the form of a counter affidavit filed by social justice department through special government pleader T T Muhamood in response to two petitions filed alleging child trafficking, of which one seeks a CBI probe. “Providing education and food to children cannot be treated as trafficking. So far, no exploitation on the part of institutions (orphanages) is reported and out of 578 children, 271 were former inmates and students of the orphanage(s) at Mukkam and Malappuram and realising the facts, the children were handed over to the orphanages by the child welfare committees. As such at present it cannot be considered as trafficking. However, the facts whether there is any exploitation in this issue is being promptly investigated by the special wing of the state police,” the affidavit read. The government also points out that the admission of children from poor families in other states to educational institutions in Kerala utilizing the services of child care institutions registered under the Orphanage Control Board by parents is a long-standing practice. It also contended that children who have the support of parents or family do not come under the scope of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. As opposed to the amicus curiae’s report that there was systemic failure in preventing the alleged trafficking, the government claims that it is an effective mechanism for supervision and monitoring of orphanages. In addition to direct monitoring by social justice department, district level monitoring committees headed by the district collectors and a state level monitoring committee headed by the chief minister are also functioning, the affidavit said. The government also submitted that it has taken a policy decision to allow the admission of children from other states on the basis of recommendation from the state government concerned. Revamping of minimum standards for care and protection of children in orphanages is also underway, the court was told. During Friday’s hearing, the court has asked CBI to inform its stance on taking up the investigation in writing. The CBI’s counsel had earlier told the court that it is willing to conduct a probe. The CBI was also directed to submit details of investigation being carried out in other states with regard to the alleged trafficking incidents. On Friday, advocate general K P Dandapani handed over a report on the progress of the ongoing crime branch investigation to the court in a sealed cover. Further hearing on the case is scheduled for July 30. (Times of India 19/7/14)

106. Indore: Girl trafficked, forced into flesh trade (1)

Indore: Three persons, including a couple, have been charged with offences for allegedly selling a young girl and pushing her into flesh trade, police said on Tuesday. According to Women Police Station’s in-charge, Jyoti Sharma, a case was registered against the trio, identified as Roshni, Jitendra Sharma and his wife Rani under IPC section 376 (rape), section 370 (buying or disposing of any person as a slave) and other relevant sections of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act. The 20-year-old victim belonged to Shahdol district and was known to Roshni, who brought her to Indore under the pretext of giving a job to her but allegedly sold her to Jitendra and Rani for Rs. 1.5 lakh, Sharma said, adding, the couple later forced her into flesh trade. The victim, with the help of a friend managed to escape from the clutches of the couple on Monday, and filed a complaint with the police. All three persons are absconding and search was on to trace them, police added. (Hindustan Times 22/7/14)

107. Jharkhand police: it’s a case of child trafficking (1)

Palakkad: A special investigation team of special branch police in Jharkhand, which is probing two incidents of alleged child trafficking in which 589 children from Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal were brought to Palakkad in May, has said that it will register a case soon against Mukkom Muslim Orphanage in Kozhikode based on its findings. The team, which returned to Jharkhand on Wednesday afternoon after two weeks of investigation in the State, confirmed that it was a case of child trafficking. Inspector B.P. Sharma, of the investigation team, told presspersons here on Wednesday that the team got evidence showing direct involvement of the orphanage. “We have detected several anomalies in taking these children to Kerala by Mukkom orphanage and another one in Malappuram,” he said. The team also found seven persons, arrested by the Kerala Police in connection with the case, responsible for the incidents. Among the 589 children, 167 were from Jrakhand. The team would return to Kerala in another two weeks to conduct further investigation, Mr. Sharma said. (The Hindu 24/7/14)

108. Cops: Delhi placement agencies trafficking girls with Maoists’ help (1)

Ranchi: Jharkhand police suspect banned left wing extremist outfits that are active in several disricts of the state of trafficking girls to metro cities with the help of placement agencies in Delhi. The police force in the east Indian state has also zeroed down on two such outfits — the CPI (Maosists) and the People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI) — after receiving vital information from intelligence agenices. They have initiated an inquiry and identified at least 20 placement agencies involved in the racket. Police said young girls freuquently went missing from Maoist-hit districts of Khunti and Gumla. While some of them are believed to have migrated voultarily, others — especially the vulnerable ones from very poor tribal families — are lured with baits or forcibly taken. Khunti police superintendent Anis Gupta said his department inititated an individual probe into the matter after receiving alerts from intelligence agenices.”We found the information to be true,” Gupta said. Leaders of the extremist outfits denied the involvement. Deenbandhu, the committee secretary of the CPI (Maoist) in the Bihar-Jharkhand-North Chhattisgarh area said: “It is propaganda cooked by the police to defame us. We oppose migration and all kinds of displacement. It’s the work of capitalist forces, not us.” Sampat Mina, inspector general of the Jharkhand CID, said: “We are yet to receive any official information on this; however, we will look into the matter.” Delhi-based NGOs working against human trafficking confirm that agencies supplying Jharkhand girls to work as maids are aplenty in Punjabi Bagh area of the national capital. “We have also found out that they have contacts with the banned outfits in Jharkhand and seek their help in supplying children to households and factories in the NCR,” Rishi Kant, founder member of Shakti Vahini, an NGO that has to date rescued over 100 Jharkhand girls in Delhi. A three-member team of the NGO had recently visited Jharkhand and found links between some placement agencies in Punjabi Bagh area and PLFI groups. People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) admits that Maoists had been involved in picking up children from villages in Jharkhand. However, the PUCL has no confirmation or complaint regarding the involvement of banned rebel outfits in trafficking children to Delhi.  “We are yet to receive any complaints regarding their involvement in human trafficking,” said Nishant Akhilesh, president, PUCL Jharkhand. Earlier this month, 11 minors, all in their early teens, were rescued as they were allegedly being herded to a Maoist training camp in Saranda forests. A Maoist, Motra Chaki alias Samuel, who was taking the children to the camp, was arrested. (Hindustan Times 28/7/14)

CORRUPTION

109. CWG-like scam in Lusofonia Games: Congress seeks CBI probe (5)

Panaji: The Congress Sunday alleged a Delhi Commonwealth Games-style scam and demanded a CBI probe into corruption in the organisation of the Portuguese Commonwealth Games, also known as the Lusofonia Games, in Goa. The state hosted the Games in 2014. Addressing a press conference here, Congress spokesman Durgadas Kamat said the pricing of the Games’ medals, grand opening and closing ceremonies, hiring of taxis, as well as laying out infrastructure for the third Lusfonia Games was excessive, and suggested that the scam was worth Rs.100 crore approximately. “Three quotations from companies in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore for Games’ medals for Rs.500, Rs.400 and Rs.600 (respectively) were turned down and instead the government paid Rs.6,500 for each medal,” Kamat said. The firm which won the medal tender was the India Government Mint in Alipore, West Bengal, run by the central government. Sports Minister Ramesh Tawadkar has called the allegations “baseless” and made by a party which is frustrated being in Opposition. “All procedures and protocols were followed by us during the tendering processes. The Congress is frustrated. They are not used to being in the Opposition and are making baseless charges,” he said. Incidentally, defective medals had triggered controversy during the Games, with several winning athletes having to return their medals which had lost their lustre immediately after they were presented. The 12-day Lusofonia Games featured countries and places like Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea- Bissau, Goa (India), Macau (China), Mozambique, Portugal, Sao Tome and Principe and Sri Lanka. Athletes competed in nine sporting disciplines — Athletics, Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Football, Judo, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Volleyball and Wushu. Goa was one of the earliest Portuguese colonies in Asia and was colonised in the early 1500s. The Lusofonia Games 2014 were the third edition of the Portuguese Commonwealth Games. The first two were held in Macau (China) 2006 and in Lisbon in 2009. Kamat also said that the government overspent on the Opening and Closing ceremonies of the Lusofonia Games alleging that the Rs.22 crore spent on the two event nights was highly inflated and money had changed hands in the organization of the event. “We estimate that about Rs.7 crore was the maximum one could spend on the event and have the best of celebration,” Kamat said. The allegations come a couple of days before the monsoon session of the Goa legislative assembly starts July 22. Kamat also said information sourced via the Right To Information Act had revealed irregularities in the raising of infrastructure worth several hundred crore for the event like indoor and outdoor stadia and track and field gear. “We are going to the Central Bureau of Investigation with our complaint, because we have no faith in the state police,” Kamat said. (Business Standard 20/7/14)

110. Opposition alleges foul play in Kudumbashree projects (5)

KOZHIKODE: Opposition councillors in the Kozhikode corporation met minister for social justice and panchayats, M K Muneer, demanding vigilance inquiry into various schemes implemented by the Kudumbashree office under the corporation. A delegation led by opposition leader in the corporation council, M T Padma, met the minister the other day and urged him to recommend a vigilance inquiry into the implementation of e-shops set up at various locations in the city. UDF members in the corporation council had leveled allegations about irregularities in executing various projects of the Kudumbashree, comprising e-shops, dress bank and Food on Wheels project. They alleged corruption in setting up the specially-designed vehicles for e-shops saying for that the civic body had claimed to have spent Rs 3, 63,914 for it, but it actually costs only Rs 50,000. The opposition also alleged that e-shops were set up in the corporation limit to sell products of multi-national brands and not those made by Kudumbashree members. Though the LDF denied the charges as baseless, UDF councillors in the corporation have stuck to their version and decided to approach the minister to pressurize the government to initiate an inquiry into the matter. Opposition leader M T Padma said a delegation had met minister M K Muneer on Saturday to urge the government institute a vigilance inquiry into the works of the Kudumbashree office including political involvement in the appointment of 100 sanitation workers. The opposition opined that the ruling party had only selected candidates belonging to their party. “We have met the minister and urged him to take steps to conduct a detailed vigilance inquiry. The minister has promised to look into the matter and take necessary action,” said the opposition leader. “The opposition will take a decision about the future course of action on the basis of the minister’s reply,” said Padma. K P Vijayakumar, convener of the Campaign Committee against Corruption said irregularities in the execution of schemes are not new to the civic body. “The state government should direct the concerned authorities to conduct a detailed vigilance inquiry into all projects of the civic body including Kudumbashree schemes,” he said. Meanwhile, mayor A K Premajam said the civic body has executed the project in a transparent manner and with the knowledge of the opposition. “The opposition’s allegation is merely a poll gimmick ahead of elections to the local self-government bodies in 2015. We have nothing to hide and have done everything in a transparent manner,” she said. (Times of India 21/7/14)

111. Uproar in Parliament over Justice Markandey Katju’s charge of corruption in judiciary (5)

NEW DELHI: AIADMK on Monday forced adjournment of the Rajya Sabha twice during Question Hour over former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju’s reported allegation that political pressure during the previous UPA regime had led to elevation of a judge despite charges of corruption against him. Ruckus created by AIADMK members seeking suspension of Question Hour to discuss the issue of “political interference in judicial appointments” led to the house first being adjourned for 10 minutes and then till 1200 hours. No sooner had Ronald Sapa Tlau, the newly-elected member from Mizoram, taken oath, AIADMK members were up on their feet displaying copies of The Times of India that carried an article by Press Council of India chairman Katju on the appointment. “You will not show newspaper here, Dr Maitreyan,” chairman Hamid Ansari said referring to AIADMK leader who wanted the Question Hour to be suspended to discuss the issue. V Maitreyan said this was an important issue. “You can’t do this… nobody is listening to you,” Ansari said as AIADMK members moved into aisle raising solgans. He then adjourned the house for 10 minutes. When the house reassembled, similar scenes were witnessed with AIADMK members insisting on suspension of Question Hour. “If you have an issue to raise, raise it through appropriate procedure. This is not the way. You are disrupting listed business,” Ansari said warning members that he would name them if they continued to display newspaper. “I will have to name you for display of newspaper,” he said as unheeding AIADMK members continued to shout slogans. Maitreyan wanted to know if former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was seated in the House, was aware of the allegation against the judge and if his ally DMK had put pressure on his government to elevate him. (Times of India 21/7/14)

112. Housing society scam: Six retd public servants get jail (5)

NEW DELHI: Six retired public servants have been sentenced to one year imprisonment by a Delhi court in one of the corruption cases pertaining to a Rs 4000 crore cooperative group housing society (CGHS) scam which dates back to the 1970s. The seventh convict, who was a private person, has been sentenced to three years in jail for the offences of forgery, cheating and using a forged document as genuine under IPC. Special CBI Judge Manoj Jain sentenced former Registrar Cooperative Societies (RCS) Narayan Diwakar, dealing assistant Faiz Mohammad, senior auditor P K Thirwani, assistant registrar Yogi Raj, upper division clerk U S Bhatnagar and RCS inspecting officer Ram Nath to one year simple imprisonment and also slapped a fine of Rs 30,000 on each of them. The court held Diwakar and five ex-public servants guilty of various offences under IPC relating to attempting to cheat, forgery and using forged documents as genuine and under the Prevention of Corruption Act for attempting to commit criminal misconduct. Complicity of public servants accused is very evident. RCS officials were supposed to apply horse sense and they rather completely ignored the basic things and the application in question was entertained without raising any eyebrow,” the judge said in his order last week. The court while sentencing Delhi resident Gokul Chand Aggarwal, a private person, also directed him to pay a fine of Rs 70,000. The judge observed that “fortunately it remained a case of attempted cheating only as the conspiracy got unearthed before the land could be actually allotted at reserve price.” The seven convicts had fraudulently tried to revive the already liquidated Anand CGHS by forging documents and showing non-existent members. According to CBI, Anand CGHS was allotted a land in Pitampura by DDA in 1975 for a token money but due to the failure of the society to pay the remaining amount, it was liquidated by RCS. (New Indian Express 24/7/14)

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

113. In 50 days, Modi govt gives environment clearance to 5 projects (9)

New Delhi: The Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government has given environment clearance to five projects since it took charge on May 26. A total of 394 projects are still awaiting approvals from the ministry of environment, forests and climate change, latest data showed. The projects given clearance include Adani Ports’ Mundra special economic zone (SEZ) in Gujarat, two coal mining projects – Coal India Limited (CIL)’s Tikak block in Assam and Reliance Power’s Chhatrasal block in Madhya Pradesh (MP), GAIL’s gas-based power plant in MP and a state highway renovation project in Assam. These projects are worth around Rs 2,570 crore (excluding Adani Ports, as the environment clearance documents do not mention the cost details of that project). Environment minister Prakash Javadekar has said his priority would be to give clearance to public-purpose projects. “We have started on national highways, railways, power transmission lines – these are the linear projects which are public-purpose projects and not private. So, thatmust be given priority,” Javadekar had told Business Standard in an interview earlier this month. The ministry has given nod to projects of two public sector undertakings – CIL and GAIL. However, no industrial projects have yet been cleared. Out of the 394 pending cases, about one-third (144) are industrial projects. Adani and Reliance Power’s Sasan projects became controversial during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) tenure. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had pulled up the UPA government alleging Rs 29,033-crore financial gains to R-Power for coal allotment to Sasan ultra mega power project. The Chhatrasal block was among the three captive coal blocks allotted to Sasan Power. The CAG report had called for a review of allocatio of the Chhatrasal coal block for the Sasan power plant. The project was given a go-ahead by the environment ministry on July 11. The coal block, having reserves of over 160 million tonnes, will fuel Reliance Power’s 4,000 MW Sasan and 4,000 MW Chitrangi power projects. The Gujarat high court had in January this year ordered the closure of the 12 out of 21 operational units in the Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone due to lack of environment clearances. After the Supreme Court directed the government to decide on its clearance, the Union environment ministry gave the final nod on July 15. GAIL had proposed to build a 380-Mw gas-based power plant at Guna in Madhya Pradesh. The estimated cost of the project is Rs 1,029 crore and it took three years to clear the project after approving its terms of reference in June 2011. In Sikkim, an Asian Development Bank-assisted project for “improvement and upgradation” of 19.7-km stretch of a state highway has been given green nod by the ministry on May 29. The total project costs Rs 42.37 crore. (Business Standard 18/7/14)

114. Agricultural varsity to strengthen research on climate change (9)

THRISSUR: The general council of the Kerala Agricultural University, which met here on Saturday, decided to strengthen research on climate change adaptation. A motion without notice to this effect by Jose Joseph was unanimously adopted by the Council. An action plan to keep farmers informed about the technologies developed in this area will also be launched. The Council proposed an increase in seats for Agriculture courses. The Council referred to a resolution moved in this regard by R. Krishnakumar to the University Academic Council. P.V. Balachandran sought the attention of the Council to vacancies of scientists in Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) under the University and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s directive on filling the posts. He said the ICAR had issued a warning that some KVKs may be wound up if adequate staff strength was not ensured. The Vice Chancellor assured the house that the vacancies in KVK would be filled soon. The council decided to annul all re-appointments of retired university staff. The council lamented the financial condition of the university and requested the State government to solve pay revision anomalies. The council expressed concern over a move to shift M.Sc. Agriculture courses from the College of Agriculture, Padannakkad, to other centres. Complaints related to conduct of examinations and evaluation were referred to the Academic Council. Vice Chancellor P. Rajendran chaired the meeting. V. S. Sathyaseelan, Jiju P. Alex, T. N. Jagdeesh Kumar, A. Prema C. H. Muthu, Soumya Krishnan, Varghese J. Ollukkaran, Aji Francis, Sony Sebastian, K. A. Sheeba, Rajeev Nellikunnel and Vishnu Narayanan participated in the discussions. Ollur MLA M. P. Vincent, E. K. Prakash, Special Secretary, Finance, Registrar E. K. Mathew, Comptroller Joy Mathew and other officers of the University were present. (The Hindu 20/7/14)

115. River Linking Project will Harm Kuttanad Ecology (9)

KOCHI: The state government has stated its intent to vehemently oppose the move to inter-link Pampa and Achankovil rivers with the Vaipar river in Tamil Nadu. But the environmentalists are not ready to rest on government’s assurance alone, citing lack of commitment shown in the past when it comes to protecting the valuable water resources of the state. According to them, if not prevented, the project will prove to be a death knell for Central Kerala’s ecology. It has the potential to permanently damage the ecosystem of Kuttanad, the granary of the state, and destroy more than 30 sq km of the Western Ghats, endangering the state’s biodiversity, they warned. The interlinking can be achieved only by diverting the rivers from its original course. The rivers flows westwards. But to inter-link the rivers, they should be diverted to east. “It will reduce the discharge rate enormously. Hence during high tides salinity may intrude,” said S Seetharaman, secretary, All Kerala River Protection council. Salt water intrusion will ruin the productivity of the Kuttanad paddy fields. The decrease in downstream water flow will kill the fish wealth. As per the proposal three dams are to be built for the project – one at Punnamedu and two at Achankovil and Chittarmuzhi. The water from them will brought to the Adavi Nainar dam built by Tamil Nadu at the foot of Western Ghats. The water would be collected in a reservoir through an eight km tunnel. The water from the reservoir would be then linked  to Aligarh river in Tamil Nadu, the tributary of Vaipar, through a nine km tunnel. “This will inundate 15 square km of forest land,” said Seethraman. To divert a river to east, a major portion of the Western ghats has to be destroyed.  The loss in green cover would expose the state to the heat wave coming from Tamil Nadu, said C M Joy, another environmentalist.     He also alleged that the project is being implemented on the basis of  a scientifically invalid study conducted by the Central Water Commission. “The study was based on the flow of the river during torrential rains. During summer, the discharge rate is considerably less. How could you call such a study, scientific,” Joy asked. According to him the State Government should convince the Central Governmnet and neigbouring states about its depleting water resources. A major for Kerala is that the legal aspects of the project supports Tamil Nadu, said N K Sukumaran Nair, general secretary of  the Pampa Parirakshana Samithi.   “The Supreme Court has asked to complete the inter-linking project within a stipulated time. “The Centreal Government has already earmarked `100 crore for the project to inter-link Pampa and Achankovil with Vaipar river. “Even the policy statement by the President of India has given top priority to it. If we did not act now, the state will be digging its own grave,” Sukumaran Nair said (New Indian Express 22/7/14)

116. Right to freedom from noise pollution is fundamental: Allahabad High Court (9)

ALLAHABAD: The Allahabad High Court has held that the “right to freedom from noise pollution is a fundamental right”.A division bench, comprising Justice Dilip Gupta and Justice M C Tripathi, made the observation on July 22 while disposing of a PIL filed by one Chunnu Singh and ten other residents of Naya Gaon village in Kanth. Removal of a loudspeaker from a temple in the village earlier this month had triggered tension which was followed by political turmoil. The petitioners had moved the court with the plea that they be allowed to play devotional songs on loudspeaker for at least one hour every morning and in the evening at the Lord Shiva temple. They had pleaded that the temple was the only place of worship situated in their village and that they have been offering prayers there for more than 40 years. However, the court was of the view that there was no justification for allowing use of loudspeaker without due permission from the district administration and the regional pollution control board. The court, however, added the people might approach the concerned authorities with their demand and a decision should be taken “in strict accordance with provision of Noise Pollution Regulation and Control Rules, 2000″.The court also said police stations need to ensure that no loudspeakers or other noise-producing activities take place within their areas of jurisdiction and any such activities, if detected, must be followed by immediate action. “Right to freedom from noise pollution is a fundamental right of which no violation can be allowed,” the court said while disposing off the PIL. (The Economic Times 26/7/14)

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

117. RSS wing opposes approval for GM crop field trial (20)

New Delhi: The Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), an arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has strongly criticised the Environment Ministry’s green signal for field trials of certain varieties of Genetically Modified (GM) crops. In its first show of opposition to the Modi government’s decision, the SJM asked the government to put on the hold the approval, reminding it that the party’s election manifesto had promised action in this regard. SJM co-convenor Ashwani Mahajan said in a statement that the clearance for field trials for 15 Genetically Modified (GM) crops, which include major food crops such as rice, sugarcane, chickpea, brinjal and mustard among others, went against the BJP’s poll manifesto. Mahajan said: “The people of India who have elected the BJP to power are feeling deceived. They voted for the BJP based on the promises the party made to the people of India in its manifesto and speeches by leaders during election campaign.” He said the party was emphatic in stating in its manifesto that “GM foods will not be allowed without full scientific evaluation on the long term effects on soil, production, and biological impact on consumers.” The SJM functionary said neither the government nor the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) has disclosed the contents of promised scientific evaluation, and “if any or what changed between April 7, 2014–when BJP released its manifesto–and July 18, 2014, when the field trials of GM food crops were approved.” Mahajan said the SJM wanted to remind the government that a moratorium on open field trials of GM food crops was the result of a long and difficult struggle by the people of India, including the SJM, farmers, scientific experts, consumer activists and other stakeholders. “The Supreme Court has also been of the clear view that no hasty decision in this regard shall be taken that puts the health of the people and soil at risk. The apex court-appointed technical expert committee had recommended an indefinite moratorium on the field trials of GM crops till the government came out with a proper regulatory and safety mechanism. That has not been done till date,” he said. Mahajan recalled that the Parliamentary standing committee on Agriculture, which included BJP members, had also asked for a ban on GM food crops in the country. He said the government should not rely on the biased and manipulated reports of vested interests among the industry. In a meeting of the GEAC on Friday, the committee took up the proposals pending for over the last year. The committee had not met between March 2013 and March 2014, while it met thrice after March this year. (Deccan Herald 19/7/14)

118. 7,000 farmers killed themselves in Gujarat due to govt’s apathy, says Congress (20)

GANDHINAGAR: Opposition Congress and BJP sparred over farmer suicides in the state during a discussion on budgetary demands of the agriculture and co-operation department on Friday. Congress MLA from Jamnagar Raghavji Patel alleged that as many as 614 farmers had committed suicide during the last decade in Gujarat due to the government’s apathy. “According to an RTI application, a total of 614 farmers in Gujarat committed suicide between 2003-2013 due to crop failure, mounting debt and inability to repay their loans,” said Patel in his speech in the assembly during the discussion on budgetary allocations made to state agriculture and co-operation department. State agriculture and co-operation minister Babu Bokhiria and other BJP members objected to the charge and hence speaker Vajubhai Vala intervened asking the Congress member to produce authentic documents to support his claim. Senior Congress MLA and party chief whip Balwantsinh Rajput claimed that 7,000 farmers ended their lives in the last five years in Gujarat. However, agriculture minister Bokhiria defended the state government on the issue of farmer suicides. “Congress MLAs should ask the Congress-led Maharashtra government about the large number of farmers committing suicides in Vidarbha region. This is not the case here, as we protect them with agriculture insurance scheme for crop failure,” claimed Bokhiria. The minister claimed that only two farmers have ended their lives due to debt or corp failure, while others were due to several other social reasons only. (Times of India 20/7/14)

119. Farmers, consumer forums write to Jayalalithaa on clearance to GM field trials (20)

CHENNAI: Several farmers, consumer forums and activists have slammed the hurried granting of permission for genetically modified (GM) food trials for rice, mustard, chick pea and other crops. In a letter to the chief minister J Jayalalithaa, they said the approval of an unsafe technology such as GM by a centralized body like Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) would compromise the interest and priorities of the state. Agriculture was a state subject, they pointed out. “The chief minister had made it clear that she would not allow GM in Tamil Nadu and we hope she will reiterate that stand by opposing such forcible thrust of field trials on the states,” said Vettavalam Manigandan, president of the Tamil Nadu Vivasaayigal Sangam. Raising concerns over the speed shown by the GEAC in clearing 60 of the pending 70 applications for field trials of different genetically modified crops, S Selvam, president of the TN organic farmers association, asked “What is the need for such a hasty release just before the cropping seasons starts, particularly when so many states had earlier clearly indicated that they were not for conducting field trials?.” “It is unfortunate that in a state with such a large diverse pool of traditional paddy reserve, the Madurai Kamaraj University has decided to pursue a GM rice research and that too on popular white ponni, indicating a bankruptcy of intelligence,” said Ram of the Tharcharbu Uzhavar Iyakkam, terming the field trial permission as unwanted and unwarranted. He also added that many of the farmer unions and groups across Tamil Nadu were planning a protest across the state and also are writing directly to the chief minister and the union minister of environment and forests. (Times of India 21/7/14)

120. Farmers, activists protest sale of genetically modified seeds (20)

ERODE: Members of Uzavar Uzhaipalar Katchi (UUK) protested in front of the head post office in Erode district on Wednesday against the sale of genetically modified seeds by the central and state governments. . The protesters said that though farmers across the state condemned the use of these seeds, the governments at the centre and the state were directly involved with their sale. A group of activists and farmers staged the protest against genetically engineered seeds and genetically manufactured organism (GMO). The protest included a discussion session by scholars and scientists with the intension of sensitising the public about the ill effects of genetically engineered seeds. K Sellamuthu, president of UUK said that globally farmers protested against genetically engineered seeds. “In Tamil Nadu, the protest was held in several cities including Chennai, Coimbatore, Trichy and Madurai. “Few months ago, a goat died after consuming BT Cotton plant leaves in a farm in Southern Tamil Nadu. In another incident, a farmer who cultivated BT brinjal in the same region, did not get any yield from his crop. The time has come for the farming community to protect its conventional farming methods and seedlings or else we will have to beg for seeds every season,” he said. He strongly condemned the central government’s recent order to all the states not to fix procurement price for paddy and wheat. “This mean the central government alone gets to fix prices periodically which is ridiculous and condemnable,” he said.  (Times of India 24/7/14)

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

121. Fear of fresh bid for bauxite mining haunts tribal people (4)

VISAKHAPATNAM: Attention maybe turned to exploration of bauxite ore after opening floodgates to greater private participation in coal mining by the National Democratic Alliance Government. The mining lobby, which was lying low for quite sometime after the UPA-II put in abeyance all clearances accorded to bauxite mining in the Scheduled Areas of Visakhapatnam and East Godavari, has stepped up its effort to revive their projects by sourcing the raw material through the AP Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC). Anti-mining activists fear that the government might allow mining bauxite ore for the projects planned by Anrak Aluminium Limited, Jindal South West Aluminium Limited and NALCO. These projects are in the pipeline with a total investment of around Rs.25,000 crore. “Post-bifurcation, the clearances obtained earlier won’t hold good. A new Tribal Advisory Committee should be set up. Gram sabha mandate is also a pre-requisite going by Supreme Court’s landmark order against Vedanta’s mining plan in Niyamgiri hills in Odisha,” Samata executive director Rebbapragda Ravi said. Several applications by the tribal people for allotment of pattas in the mining areas are pending under Forest Rights Act. “Only after approval from gram sabhas and clearance of applications under FRA, one should take up any plan for reviving mining,” said tribal activist B. David. The Ministry of Mining suspended all the clearances in August 2010 after a strong representation submitted by then Araku MP V. Kishore Chandra Deo that mining in Scheduled Areas would cause an ecological disaster. Now there is fear among tribal people that mining may start anytime. AAL, a joint venture of Ras-al-Khaimah Investment Authority and Penna Cements and JSW Aluminium Ltd belonging to Jindal Group, have already signed Memoranda of Understanding for getting the raw material through APMDC several years ago. A senior official told The Hindu that mining by APMDC would not violate 1/70 of Land Transfer Regulation Act. (The Hindu 21/7/14)

122. 1839 ha forest land diverted for 15 industries (4)

Bhubaneswar: Forest land measuring 1838.79 hectares (ha) has been diverted for 15 industrial projects in the state between 2004 and 2013. A written reply by Bikram Arukh, minister for forest & environment in the assembly reveals that the forest land has been diverted for project proponents like Posco India, Essar Steel, Aditya Aluminium, Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL), Bhushan Steel & Power Ltd (BSPL) and Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) to name a few. To facilitate establishment of an integrated steel plant by Posco India, 1253.22 ha forest land has been diverted under Rajnagar wildlife division in Jagatsinghpur district. For setting up of an integrated steel complex with a captive power plant (CPP) by JSPL at Angul, 168.23 ha forest land has been diverted. The quantum of forest land given to other industries include BSPL (59.16 ha), Aditya Aluminium (119.26 ha), Shyam DRI Power (38.39 ha) and Bhushan Steel & Strips (61.47 ha). In lieu of the forest land allotted to industries, funds worth Rs 161.33 crore have been deposited in the Ad-hoc CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management & Planning Authority) account. The funds have been deposited under various heads, such as net present value (NPV), compensatory afforestation and wildlife management. (Business Standard 22/7/14)

123. Government can review Land Acquisition Act: Nitin Gadkari (4)

NEW DELHI: In a significant development, the government today expressed its willingness to review certain provisions of the Land Acquisition Act which was projected as one of the landmark laws brought out by the UPA. The Act has faced criticism from various quarters including some states. “We can review the Land Acquisition Act… if there is co-operation from your side,” Rural Development Minister Nitin Gadkari told the Lok Sabha, adding that certain provisions could be re-considered. However, he emphasised that the whole effort should not result in delaying road projects. He was replying to the discussion on Demands for Grants for Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. Gadkari also holds the portfolio of Road Transport, Highways and Shipping. According to the Minister, there would be no compromise on the compensation amount to be given to people displaced by land acquisition, the Minister noted. Recently, the Rural Development Ministry suggested a number of amendments to the Land Acquisition Act which would water down pro-farmer provisions like mandatory consent of at least 70 per cent locals for acquiring land for PPP projects and 80 per cent for acquiring land for private projects. The Act enacted during the UPA government is likely to go undergo drastic changes if Prime Minister Narendra Modi gives nod for the Ministry’s proposals which also include dilution of a key clause of Social Impact Assessment study criticised by states as time consuming for industrialisation process. “The Consent Clause (Section 2(2)) should be re-examined as ownership of land vests with the Government in PPP projects. The consent clause should be removed from PPP projects. Alternatively, consent requirement may be brought down to 50 per cent,” the Ministry had said in its note sent to the PMO. The Ministry’s suggestions for drastic changes in the Act came after most of the states recently came out openly against the new Act, complaining that it had hurt the process of acquiring land for infrastructure projects. At a recent meeting of State Revenue Ministers chaired by Gadkari, the states including Congress-ruled Haryana objected to provisions for mandatory consent and Social Impact Assessment study. (The Economic Times 23/7/14)

124. Govt to Reclaim Land Not Utilised for 7 Years (4)

BANGALORE: The Assembly on Friday passed a land reforms amendment Bill which enables the government to take back the land allotted if it is not utilised for its intended purpose within seven years.

The House debated at length the Karnataka Land Reforms (Amendment) Bill, 2014, which inserted a sub-section to Section 109 in the parent Act to empower the government to reclaim the land. Under this law, if industries, educational institutions, places of worship or housing projects do not use the allotted land within the prescribed time, it has to be surrendered to the land bank of the government. Failure to do so would result in the cancellation of the exemption and also loss of compensation. The Bill also inserted another sub-section to Section 95, stating that permission for conversion of agricultural land for industrial development, educational or any other purpose will be granted subject to payment of fees as prescribed. Tabling the Bill, Revenue Minister V Srinivasa Prasad said the procedures under the current Act are time-consuming, and it is necessary to simplify them in the interest of investors and entrepreneurs. Opposition leader and former chief minister Jagadish Shettar urged the government to delegate powers to regional commissioners to reduce the burden on deputy commissioners. BJP member Basavaraj Bommai said the government should incorporate riders in the Act to bifurcate areas zone-wise, and impose restrictions on allotment of land. He said instead of giving absolute powers to politicians and bureaucrats, the Act should be made powerful to ensure that the government has control over land allotment. He said there should be restrictive clauses to stop the real estate lobby from taking advantage of the provisions. Citing cases, he said there are instances where companies have acquired over 3,000 acres in the guise of setting up cement factories and are yet to execute the work.The Congress government, which introduced land reforms for the welfare of the poor and the farmers, should not carry the blame for burying the historic Act, he said. Jagadish Kumar (BJP) said there is a need for a mechanism to check the land requirements of companies. Congress MLA Thukaram said former minister Janaradhan Reddy acquired 5,000 acres to set up a steel plant paying just `5 lakh compensation. The revenue minister replied that the implementation of the UPA government’s Land Acquisition Act will keep a check on land acquisition from farmers. (New Indian Express 26/7/14)

RIGHT TO HEALTH

125. India misses key health targets, but shows improvement (3)

NEW DELHI: India is lagging considerably behind its key human development index targets, including population control, infant mortality rate (IMR) and maternal mortality rate (MFR), according to figures given by health minister Harsh Vardhan in Lok Sabha on Friday. The goals set by the government for IMR and MMR for 2010 were 30 per 1000 live births and 100 per 1 lakh live births repectively but it could achieve numbers of 42 and 178 only by 2012, falling way behind. The total fertility rate (TFR) in 2012 was 2.4 while the target was 2.1 for 2010, Vardhan said. A TFR of 2.1 per woman is expected to make the population growth zero. Though 23 states and UTs, including all four southern states, have already achieved replacement level fertility of 2.1 or less, the most populous state of UP and Bihar have TFR of 3.3 and 3.5 respectively, he said. Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Assam, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have TFR between 2.2 and 3. TFR is, however, showing a decline nationally as it was 2.6 in 2008 and 2.5 in 2010. India has also shown improvement on IMR and MMR indicators as they were 53 and 212 in 2008 and 2007-09 respectively, according to official figures. Vardhan said the country may reach its Millennium Development Goals, set up by the United Nations, of reaching under-five mortality rate of 42 in 2015 if the current trend of annual decline persists. The rate was 126 in 1990. The MDG target for maternal mortality rate is 140 in 2015 and India is likely to reach 141 with its current rate. (Times of India 18/7/14)

126. ‘Odisha’s infant mortality rate higher than national average’ (3)

Voicing concern over Odisha’s health services, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan today promised adequate Central funds to make it a “model state” in terms of medical infrastructure. “Odisha’s infant and maternal mortality rates are higher than the national average. The number of primary health centres is still below target,” Vardhan said at a press meet at the end of his two-day visit to the state. Most stark is the shortfall of doctors and key specialists like gynaecologists and paediatricians, nurses, health workers, technicians and other vital human resource, the Union Minister noted. Affirming the Central government’s commitment in making Odisha a model state in terms of health infrastructure, he said the Centre expects the state’s competent medical professionals to hold up an example for the rest of India. AIIMS-Bhubaneswar and its upcoming satellite campus in Balasore with all their state-of-the-art equipment and specialised departments, would entail an eventual investment of about Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000 crore, the Union minister said. The remaining work of AIIMS-Bhubaneswar will be taken up with accelerated pace to make it an ultra-modern medical institute, he said. He said in order to fulfil the dreams of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who had mooted the project, efforts would be made to strengthen the infrastructure of AIIMS, Bhubaneswar, and make it fully functional by the former Prime Minister’s birthday in December so that it can be dedicated to the nation then. Steps are being taken to open new departments like mental health and neurosciences, cancer, cardiology and cardiac surgery, nephrology and occupational medicine at AIIMS-Bhubaneswar, Vardhan said, informing that the new campus would be better and more advanced than the original AIIMS at Delhi. The Union Minister said preliminary work for the satellite campus of AIIMS at Balasore with a 300-bed hospital would begin soon. “More investment is being considered for Odisha as the state has the potential to be the leading health services destination in eastern India. Private sector is also setting up hospitals,” Vardhan said. He said the state also has a vibrant voluntary sector in the form of NGOs and grassroot health activists and modernisation of existing state government hospitals is continuing simultaneously. (DNA 20/7/14)

127. Japanese Encephalitis claims 165 lives in Assam (3)

Guwahati: A total of 165 persons have lost their lives in Assam due to Japanese Encephalitis and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome, prompting Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi to call an emergency meeting with health officials on Wednesday. According to an official release, Gogoi held an emergency meeting to review the health scenario with senior officials in the backdrop of outbreak of Japanese Encephalitis (JE) and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES). “Reviewing the health scenario in the backdrop of growing incidence of JE and AES in the state which has claimed 165 lives so far, Chief Minister Gogoi directed the health authorities to gear up on war-footing to control the diseases from spreading to newer areas,” the release said. While AES accounted for 60 per cent of the cases covering 24 districts this year, JE was responsible for 40 per cent of the cases in mainly lower Assam districts, it said. Gogoi asked the officials to make a comprehensive action plan to control JE and AES, including setting up of an ICU in each district hospital for treatment of emergency cases along with and laboratory testing units, the release said. He directed the health officials to procure laboratory testing kits for quick diagnosis of cases and also to carry out intensive fogging in the affected and nearby areas and also conduct awareness campaigns by involving the panchayats. The Chief Minister directed the officials to ensure adequate supply of vaccine and medicine to big hospitals, district hospitals and other health centres. “Ensure that there is no shortage of medicine. Procure the required medicine, specially life saving drugs and make them available at all health centres immediately. Speedy treatment must be ensured to save precious lives. Funds would be no constraints in tackling the situation,” he added. Gogoi directed senior officials of the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) to speed up the conversion work of shallow tube wells into deep tube wells, specially in affected areas to bring down the cases of AES disease. “Proper mapping of areas where water-borne diseases are acute, must be carried out by the PHED and necessary measures be taken up to provide clean drinking water to arrest the incidence of AES cases,” he said and further directed the health officials to expedite the process for setting up the Assam State Health Corporation. “The health officials apprised the Chief Minister that the process is on and the proposal will be placed in the Cabinet soon,” the statement said. The meeting was attended by Chief Secretary Jitesh Khosla, Principal Secretary to CM MGVK Bhanu, Principal Secretary for Health and Family Welfare Sanjeeva Kumar, NRHM Managing Director Manish Thakur and other senior officials of the PHED. (New Indian Express 23/7/14)

128. Malnutrition brewing in closed tea gardens (3)

Kolkata: Twenty-five children suffering from severe malnutrition and low weight from the five closed tea gardens of north Bengal have been admitted to State-run hospitals in Jalpaiguri district. All the children are below five years of age and from the tea gardens which have been rocked by deaths due to malnutrition over the past few weeks. “The children have been identified on the basis of survey conducted by the State Health Department. We are providing them extra food and their mothers are allowed to stay with them,” Jagannath Sarkar, Chief Medical Officer of Health, Jalpaiguri told The Hindu over telephone. Dr Sarkar said that after the children become healthy and put on weight they will be released from the State’s health centre. After the reports of deaths due to malnutrition came to the fore, a survey was conducted in the closed tea gardens of the region. As many as 34 children were identified and 25 of them have been admitted in the hospitals. “The parents of the remaining nine children refused to get their children admitted,” said Debdas Biswas, the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Officer in Jalpaiguri. He added that the children who have not been admitted are being provided nutritional support at their homes While 10 children have been admitted to Jalpaiguri district hospital 10 are admitted to Saptibadi Nutritional Rehabilitation Centre. The remaining five are in Birpara State General Hospital. The State government has conducted survey of six closed tea gardens — Dheklapara Tea Garden, Bandapani Tea Garden, Red Bank Tea Garden, Raipur Tea Estate, Surendranagar Tea Estate and Daranipur Tea Estate. Deaths of workers at Raipur Tea Estate and Bandapani Tea Garden were reported by The Hindu. When the first round of survey was carried out by the State government in Raipur Tea Estate, 11 children were identified with malnutrition. They have been transferred to the hospital as a safety measure. Mr Biswas said that though the 34 children did not have any disease, yet it has been found that adults in the closed tea gardens suffer from tuberculosis. One of the reasons was that workers in the closed tea gardens are addicted to country liquor. (The Hindu 25/7/14)

HIV/AIDS

129. Re-admit HIV positive children: Goa rights body (3)

Panaji: Goa’s child rights commission said here Friday that the 13 HIV positive should be re-admitted to the school they were transferred from after facing protests from the parents of other children. The Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights said this in its report to the government. The 13 HIV positive orphaned students from a South Goa school were transferred last month to another school by the Church authorities. According to the commission’s chairperson Samira Kazi, who submitted the report to the Goa government Friday, her report also sought pro-activeness in the HIV/AIDS awareness programme, targeting especially the student community. “We have said that the 13 HIV positive students should be re-admitted to the Fatima High School. Why should they have to step back, when it is their right to study in the place they want,” Kazi said. The controversy surrounds Fatima High School in Rivona, a village located 55 km south of Goa, over a long-drawn stand-off between a Parents Teachers Association (PTA) and the school management over the admission of children from a nearby orphanage. The HIV positive students, from the Nitya Seva Niketan, were transferred by the Church-run school last month following pressure from the school’s PTA. But the school management decided to stand by 23 other non-HIV afflicted orphans from the same orphanage, whom the parents also want out of the institution. While the school management and Church authorities maintain that the 23 students are not HIV positive, the parents insist they do and claim that their children would be at risk of contracting the disease. The protesting parents have threatened to remove their wards from the school and shift them elsewhere. Some parents have already applied for a school leaving certificate for the wards, which is necessary to shift a school. Kazi now claims that following the submission of her report, the ball was now in the court of the state government. “We will wait for the action taken report now. No child should be stigmatised. We have also suggested that the education department should be proactive in carrying out its HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns,” she said. (Business Standard 18/7/14)

130. Bhutan reports 34 new HIV-positive cases (3)

With about five new HIV-positive cases detected every month in Bhutan, the country recorded 34 more HIV-positive cases between December last and June this year, taking the total number of detected cases to 380. Of the 34 new cases, 18 are male and the remaining females. Two are minors, aged two and three years, according to Bhutan’s health ministry. A majority of them were adults within the productive age group of 20 to 39 years, while seven were aged between 40 and 49 years, the Himalayan nation’s national newspaper Kuensel reported. Records show that since 2006 about 25 new cases were detected every year, while in the last three years the average yearly detection stood at about 42 cases. Unlike countries where female are disproportionately affected, health officials said the situation was different in Bhutan. Of the total 380 cases detected, 191 were males and 189 females. (Business Standard 20/7/14)

131. Big jump in HIV cases in Manipur (3)

Imphal The overall detection of HIV positive cases in Manipur rose from 25,919 in March 2007 to 40,855 in March 2012, indicating the serious magnitude in the State, according to a CAG report. This was in spite of incurring an expenditure of Rs 43.39 crore for implementation of Targeted Intervention (TI) programme, thereby reflecting poor performance and unsatisfactory results in halting new infections in high-risk groups, said the report which was placed in Manipur Assembly on Friday. The report said a doubt had arisen as to whether scaled up interventions were effectively undertaken in respect of the general population as required under National AIDS Control Programme-III (NACP-III). Due to failure in tracking the number of patients who had expired due to infection of HIV and Tuberculosis, the overall goal in reducing the TB related morbidity in people living with HIV and AIDS remained unascertainable, the report for the year ending March 31, 2013 mentioned, adding the expenditure of Rs 3.25 crore for this could not be said to be fruitful. The report said the performance of Manipur in sports was commendable but against the total drawal of Rs 122.33 crore, only Rs 103.87 crore was reflected in the cash book of Directorate of Youth Affairs and Sports, leading to the short-account of Rs 18.46 crore. In nine sampled field offices, Rs 14.98 crore was not accounted in their cash books with possibility of misappropriation of the funds, the report said. The report gave details of all government departments showing poor performances and financial mismanagement and misappropriation. – PTI (The Hindu 20/7/14)

132. India scores by battling HIV/AIDS but falls short fighting TB and malaria (3)

The global burden and mortality from HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria across the world, and in the developing countries in particular, have dropped significantly since 2000, a report published today (July 24) in The Lancet points out. According to the report, the HIV epidemic appears “smaller than previously estimated,” while in the case of malaria, the global burden is far higher than the WHO estimates. On a finer scale, the reductions have been significant in the case of the global incidence of HIV, and child mortality from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa during the period 2000-2013. While globally HIV incidence dropped by one-third from its peak, child mortality from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa declined by 31.5 per cent. The main reason for these reductions is the increased focus on the three diseases across the world brought about by the Millennium Declaration in 2000 through the formulation of Millennium Development Goal 6 (MDG 6). If MDG 4 aimed at reducing child mortality and MDG 5 targeted maternal mortality reduction, the formulation of MDG 6 focussed on stopping the spread of the three diseases by 2015. In 2013, HIV incidence stood at 1.8 million compared with 2.8 million in 1997 when the incidence had peaked. Similarly, mortality from HIV/AIDS in 2013 was 1.3 million compared with 1.7 million in 2005, which was the year when the epidemic was at its peak. Of the three diseases, India has had the most success battling HIV/AIDS. Since 2000, the annual rate of reduction in new cases was more than four times that of the worldwide rate — a decrease of 16.3 per cent per year compared with the global drop of 3.9 per cent. In 2013, nearly 79,000 Indian died of HIV/AIDS and the number of new HIV infections was about 31,000…(The Hindu 22/7/14)

133. HIV treatment pills show more promise to prevent infection (3)

There is more good news about HIV treatment pills used to prevent infection in people at high risk of getting the AIDS virus: Follow-up from a landmark study that proved the drug works now shows that it does not encourage risky sex and is effective even if people skip some doses. The research was discussed Tuesday at the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, and was published by the British journal Lancet Infectious Diseases. It involves 1,600 gay men and transgender women who took part in the original study showing that daily use of the drug Truvada (true-VAH’-duh) lowered the risk of getting HIV. After the study ended, they were offered the chance to keep getting the pills for free, and three-quarters of them agreed. All were studied for another 17 months. None who took the pills at least four days a week became infected. Even use two or three days a week lowered the risk of infection compared to taking the pills less often or not at all. Researchers could tell how often the drug was taken because they measured it in blood samples. “We’re encouraged,” said study leader Dr. Robert Grant, an AIDS expert at the Gladstone Institutes, a foundation affiliated with the University of California, San Francisco. “There’s a demand, there’s some forgiveness for missed doses. And it’s safe.” Mitchell Warren, who heads a nonprofit group that works on HIV prevention research, said in an email from Melbourne that “the story is now clear” that this approach “is real, it works, and it should be made available to people at risk now as part of high-impact combination prevention.” Condoms remain the best way to prevent HIV infection but not everyone uses them all the time, so health officials recommend other options for certain groups, such as gay men. Some health officials had worried that taking Truvada might give a false sense of security and make men less likely to use condoms or to limit their partners. However, study participants reported no increase in these behaviors, and there was no rise in syphilis or herpes, other sexually spread diseases that might suggest risk-taking. The study was done in the United States, South America, Africa and Thailand, and paid for by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Truvada already is sold for treating HIV. It’s a combination of two drugs, tenofovir and emtricitabine, or FTC, made by California-based Gilead Sciences Inc. Its wholesale price is $800 a month in (The Financial Express 24/7/14)