HR News


Volume 18                                                 No. 29                                                   October 20, 2016

HR NEWS:  October 20, 2016

 (News Compiled from October 11 to 20, 2016)


1. Over 300 Dalits convert to Buddhism in Gujarat (2)

Ahmedabad: Over 200 people from the Dalit community from Gujarat converted to Buddhism in three separate events organised by Buddhist organisations here on the occasion of Vijaya Dashmi, organisers said Wednesday. Another 90 from the state converted to Buddhism in Nagpur, taking the total to over 300 Dalits. According to organisers, though conversions are carried out every year on Vijaya Dashmi, this year the numbers were high on account of the Una Dalit flogging incident. “As many as 140 Dalits converted to Buddhism at an event organised by Gujarat Buddhist Society in Dani Limda locality of Ahmedabad yesterday to mark Vijaya Dashmi,” Ramesh Banker, a member of Gujarat Buddhist Academy, which organised the event here, said.Sixty-five people from the community converted to Buddhism at a separate event organised in Kalol in Gandhinagar district, while 11 more converted in Wadhwan in Surendranagar district. Some of them also embraced Buddhism at an event organised at Kalol. A total of 65 persons converted at this event, P G Jyotikar of Buddhist Society of India, said. He said while conversion is an ongoing event, the Dalits prefer to embrace Buddhism on Vijaya Dashmi because on this day in 1956, Babasaheb B R Ambedkar took to Buddhism alongwith other Dalits at an event in Nagpur. “Most Dalits prefer this day for conversion, as Ambedkar himself converted to Buddhism on this day in 1956. The reaction to the Una Dalit atrocity incident was evident in response we received from the converts,” Jyotikar said. While a total 216 Dalits converted to Buddhism at events organised in the state, around 90 more from the state converted to the religion at Nagpur, where Dalits from all over the country gather for conversion, Banker claimed. “With this, more than 300 Dalits in the state converted to Buddhism,” he claimed. …. (The Indian Express 12/10/16)

2. Dalit youth’s leg chopped off, murdered in Punjab; three held (2)

CHANDIGARH/MANSA: A 20-year-old Dalit youth, allegedly involved in illicit liquor trade, was tortured to death and his leg chopped off by his rivals in Punjab’s Mansa district, following which three persons have been arrested. Mansa SSP Mukhwinder Singh said police have arrested three accused Balbir Singh, Hardeep Singh, and Sadhu Singh from the district on a tip-off. He said efforts are on to nab three other accused — Amandeep Singh, Babrik Singh and Sita Singh. A case of murder had been registered against the six, one of whom is a Dalit, in connection with the incident. Police said the incident was a fallout of inter-gang rivalry and that the two groups had been involved in clashes in the past too. The victim Sukhchain Singh and his friends were called by the other group on the pretext of settling a dispute on Monday. “Then they attacked Sukhchain and his friends with sharp-edged weapons on Monday night. Though Sukhchain’s friends managed to flee, the other group brutally killed Sukhchain with sharp-edged weapon,” the SSP said. His body was recovered from the house of Balbir, one of the accused, police said. There were injury marks on the body and leg was also found chopped off, police said, adding the missing limb has been found in the fields, nearly 400 meter from the crime scene. The family of the victim had refused to cremate the body until the chopped off limb is found. “We shall now request the family of victim to cremate the body,” the SSP said. He said two persons of the rival group, who are not named in the FIR, have been rounded up for questioning. The incident drew condemnation from the opposition Congress, which alleged the perpetrators had links to the ruling Akali Dal. … (The Hindu 13/10/2016)

3. ‘Govt. diverted funds meant for Dalits to other castes’ (2)

Hassan: Karnataka Dalit Sangharsha Samiti State convener Venkatagiriyaiah has alleged that the State government had diverted benefits meant for the Dalit community to other castes. Of the Rs.16,000 crore earmarked for the communities from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes , as much as Rs. 6,000 crore had been diverted to upper castes, he said, after inaugurating a State-level two-day study camp organised by the Samiti at Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Bhavan here on Sunday. Mr. Ventatagiriyaiah said the funds meant for Dalits had not been utilised properly. While Rs. 6,000 crore had been diverted to other castes, only Rs. 4,000 crore of the remaining amount had been utilised for the needs of Dalits. “Chief Minister Siddaramiah keeps calling himself ‘a champion of Dalits’ causes’. However, he has been forcing Dalit leaders to retire from active politics,” he criticised. He also took the government to task for not granting land to the bagair-hukum cultivators. Commenting on the Narendra Modi-led Union government, Venkatagiriyaiah said the Prime Minister was in the control of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders. “The RSS activists are engaged in spreading violence in the country,” he contended. (The Hindu 17/10/16)

4. Protest over land in Ahmedabad: Dalits block roads, 100 detained (2)

Gandhinagar: Around 100 Dalits were detained by Ahmedabad City police Tuesday after they blocked the road outside Ahmedabad Collector’s office, protesting to press for their demand to get actual possession of land allocated to them. Hundreds of acres of land have been allocated to Dalits of Saroda village in Dholka region under the provisions of Agriculture Land Ceiling (ALC) Act, which has remained on paper so far. Ahmedabad Collector Avantika Singh Aulakh said, “It is not true that the land measurement has been discontinued. It is almost over and now some table work is required, following which a committee headed by Additional Collector will make its recommendations. The matter is also sub judice. So, we have to take all that into consideration. We have conveyed all this to them (Dalits) and are in constant dialogue with them. There was a protest today. But it’s a long procedure and the matter does not get resolved immediately.” Last month, the Dalits had blocked the road with the demand, following which the district revenue authorities had started measuring the plots in Saroda village. However, after some days, the measuring procedure was allegedly stopped by them which has not resumed till date. Raman Maheriya, a resident of Saroda and a member of Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, which is organising the protest, said, “They measured the land for giving us physical possession for some days last month. But then, they stopped it with a promise to resume the same after Dussehra due to staff crunch. However, it has not restarted yet. We protested today and the police detained us.” He added: “We are not going to stop our protest till we physically get the land allocated to us.” Around 40 women also participated in the protest and were among those detained. (Indian Express 19/10/16)


5. Govt may set aside Rs 110cr for tribal students (6)

MUMBAI: The state government is planning to keep aside Rs 110 crore to help tribal students pay for accommodation during their studies. There are 492 hostels for the tribal students in the state, with a capacity of 60,000 students. This year over 20,000 students could not get accommodation in the hostels. A bureaucrat said the department plans to give ‘direct cash benefit’ to students as per the city. For cities like Mumbai, Pune and Thane, students would get Rs 6,000 per month, Rs 5,000 for small town and Rs 4,000 for taluka. (Times of India 12/10/16)

6. Malekudiya tribals invited back to old jobs (6)

MANGALURU: A year ago, 32-year-old Suresh G. from Puttur was shattered when he was relieved of his duties. He had been serving as a Home Guard attached to the Puttur police station when the disaster struck. Suresh was among 18 Malekudiyas — an indigenous tribe of the region — who were discharged from service as there was no scheme to continue paying their wages. The tribals were left with no choice but to do menial jobs for a livelihood. But the smiles are back on their faces. Suresh has returned to policing, as one of the 150 Home Guards appointed by the Dakshina Kannada police against 191constable vacancies. Suresh and 17 others were among the beneficiaries of the Rs. 23-crore Naxal aid package announced by the Bharatiya Janata Party government in 2012 to provide employment and address other needs of the Malekudiyas. All 18 had earlier worked in different police stations with an honorarium of Rs. 170 per day, which was subsequently increased to Rs. 250 per day, before they were discharged in August 2015. The setback was overcome in the first week of September, when Superintendent of Police Bhushan Gulabrao Borase got a notification permitting the Dakshina Kannada police to use the services of 150 Home Guards. “I prefer having the 18 Malekudiyas among the 150,” he said. Suresh and seven other Malekudiyas have readily chosen policing duties. They have started working at various police stations since October 1, receiving the current daily honorarium of Rs. 350. Deputy Home Guards Commandant Ramesh Poojary said three Malekudiyas had expressed their inability to join the police as they were now employed elsewhere. Efforts were being made to contact the remaining seven, he added. (The Hindu 13/10/16)

7. Opposition plans stir over tribal rights (6)

RANCHI: Political parties including Congress, JVM(P), JD (U) and social organisations are preparing for a major protest against the Raghubar Das government in the coming week over alleged police atrocities in Barkagaon in Hazaribag where four people were killed in police firing. Former Union minister and Congress leader Subodh Kant Sahay, JVM-P chief Babulal Marandi, JD (U) state president Jaleshwar Mahto and Left leaders met in Ranchi on Thursday to discuss the protest and have also called for a statewide bandh on October 24. Accusing the government of being dictatorial and non-democratic, the leaders criticised the Hazaribag administration for preventing political representatives from visiting Barkagaon where the police firing occurred. “It is nothing but highhandedness of the state government that they are trying to repress the people’s voices and subverting the democratic rights,” Sahay said. Adivasi Aakrosh Maharally also appears to be the cards. A former minister in the state government, Bandhu Tirkey said, “Das government has been playing with the sentiments of the tribals by tampering with age old Acts that were made to protect their rights”. Tirkey, who is now politically connected to JVM-P, however, denied the protest is being organised under any political banner. “If political banners are restraining tribals from coming forward we would like them to do so without any banner,” he said. Aakrosh Maharally aims at portraying the anger of the tribals against the government for its efforts to amend the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act and Santhal Pargana Tenancy Acts, besides diluting the rights of the tribals, Tirkey said. (Times of India 14/10/16)

8. No tribal darbar during Kumram Bheem’s martyrdom anniversary            (6)

ODEGHAT (KUMRAM BHEEM DIST.): This year’s martyrdom anniversary of the Gond leader Kumram Bheem will stand out for the absence of tribal darbar which served as a platform for Adivasis to air their grievances in front of the district administration. This is perhaps for the first time that darbar will not be conducted since the martyrdom anniversary began to be observed at Jodeghat in Kerameri mandal, now in Kumram Bheem (Asifabad) district, in 1983. Both officials and Adivasis let the event slip from the scheme of things. The usual practice was that the Utnoor Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) used to come out with a report on the action taken on the petitions received during the previous year’s event. Also, Adivasi leaders used to be given a chance to speak at the public meeting organised in connection The officials, however, accepted petitions from tribal people during the event which was marked by speeches highlighting the State government’s achievements by public representatives including Tribal Welfare Minister A. Chandulal, Forest Minister Jogu Ramanna, Housing Minister A. Indrakaran Reddy, Adilabad MP G. Nagesh, MLAs Kova Laxmi (Asifabad) and Koneru Konappa (Sirpur). These petitions will be looked into by the ITDA. But Adivasi leaders weren’t given a chance to speak this time. Earlier, Mr. Chandulal and others inaugurated the memorial for Kumram Bheem, his statue, a museum and the amphitheatre. The construction was taken up at a cost of Rs. 25 crore. Others who participated were Telangana Toursim Corporation Chairman Pervaram Ramulu, Tourism MD Christina Z. Chongthu, Kumram Bheem Collector M. Champa Lal, Mancherial Collector and in-charge ITDA Project Officer R.V. Karnan. (The Hindu 17/10/16)

9. Tribals of Northeast should get their rights: panel (6)

Shillong: A Parliamentary panel on welfare of SC/ST on Monday directed the organisations to ensure that the constitutional rights of the people of the Northeast, a region where ST population is predominant, are given importance. “SC/ST employees should get justice because it is their constitutional right and they should not be discriminated. Their reservation policy should be implemented in toto,” Chairperson of Parliamentary Committee on the Welfare of SC/ST Dr Kirit P Solanki said at a meeting of panel members with Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) officials. The Committee members, led by Dr Solanki, arrived here on a study tour and held meetings with the officials of the North-Eastern Council (NEC) and North-Eastern Electric Power Corporation Ltd (NEEPCO), besides IDBI. – PTI (The Hindu 18/10/16)

10. Submit report on 740 tribal student deaths in 10 years, says NHRC (6)

Mumbai: The National Human Rights Commissi-on (NHRC) has taken suo motu cognizance of news reports that 740 students of residential schools (ashramshalas) in tribal areas have died of various health issues over last 10 years. The NHRC has asked the state, through the chief secretary, to submit a report within four weeks.The figures are reportedly based on an internal report of the state tribal development department. A government official said students have died of dengue, malaria, food poisoning, suicides, drownings and even snake bites. The issue of came to fore after a 12-year-old girl from a Palghar residential school died on October 7. The NHRC said ashramshalas lacked health services and basic amenities. According to the norms, students in tribal areas should be screened at least twice a year, but government agencies are not following it, said the notice to the state. “The commission has observed that the contents of the news reports are shocking and painful. The students coming from tribal communities generally belong to poor families. The school authorities, as their lawful guardians, are responsible for their welfare, safety and healthcare needs. The negligence on part of the department of tribal development and school authorities is a violation of Right to Life, Dignity and Equality of students,” noted NHRC. Several posts are lying vacant in the 552 ashramshalas run by the state tribal development department. Sources claimed the budgetary provisions are not being utilized properly.  (Times of India 19/10/16)


11. Tough to be a girl in India than Pak, Nepal: Report (8)

New Delhi: India ranks 90 among 144 countries as the hardest place to be a girl, a report by an international NGO shows, underlining the challenges faced by women in a highly patriarchal society. The ranking, based on schooling, child marriage, teen pregnancy, maternal deaths and women in parliament, placed India lower than all its neighbours — Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal. The report by the non-profit Save the Children — Every Last Girl: Free to live, free to learn, free from harm – also said girls as young as 10 are forced to marry in many countries including India, which has enacted stringent laws that make marriage of underage girls a punishable offence. The findings highlight the challenges faced by the BJP-led government’s efforts to lift the status of women in the country by ensuring gender equality. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who launched the ‘Beti padhao, beti bachao’ (Educate girls to save the girl child) campaign after assuming power, on Tuesday cited the legend of Sita to exhort people to kill the evil of gender bias. Thomas Chandy, CEO of Save the Children in India, said the age-old challenge cannot be addressed only through government policies. “We have to change mindsets in the rural as well as urban areas…Discrimination in India against girls begins even before birth and the cycle of inequality continues to play out throughout their lives,” Chandy told HT. The report said a young girl under the age of 15 is married every seven seconds worldwide, and 15 million girls are married before their 18th birthday each year. “The good news is that data from 18 states shows that child marriage is down across India, including in states where it was rampant, like in Bihar, where it is down from 60% a decade ago to 39 %,” Chandy added. India’s 2011 census data substantiates this fact. Close to one in three (30%) married women in India were wed before they turned 18, the legal age of marriage, down from 43% in 2001. Of them, 2.3% were married before the age of 10. …  (Hndustan Times 12/10/16)

12. India rejects Pakistan’s reference to women’s condition in Kashmir (8)

United Nations: Innocent Indian women have suffered for long due to the persistent terrorist acts perpetrated by ‘proxies of Pakistan’, India has said as it strongly rejecting references by Islamabad to conditions of women in Kashmir.  Counsellor Mayank Joshi in India’s Permanent Mission to the UN ‘completely’ rejected the ‘baseless allegations’ made by Pakistan about women in Jammu and Kashmir, saying ‘in fact’ it is the innocent Indian women who have for “long suffered due to the persistent terrorist acts perpetrated by proxies of Pakistan.” Joshi exercised India’s Right of Reply after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Special Envoy on Kashmir Shezra Mansab Ali Khan referred to the conditions of women in Kashmir during an October 11 session on ‘Advancement of Women’ in the General Assembly’s Third Committee, which focuses on social and humanitarian issues.Khan said armed conflict and illegal occupation accentuates the plight of women. Citing the situation in Kashmir, she said “thousands of women have fallen victims to brutal oppression and occupation. Countless others have suffered rape and sexual abuse, the worst and most traumatic form of violence.” Joshi said it is ‘ironical’ that a country that has ‘institutionalised the oppression’ of women in its society including through “medieval draconian laws is making claims about the rights of women in a pluralistic democracy such as India.” He said Pakistan will be well served to ‘seriously examine’ what ails its women and hampers their advancement. Pakistan has been constantly raising the Kashmir issue at various platforms in the UN, including in the General Assembly and its various committees that deal with diverse issues such as disarmament and decolonisation. Joshi asserted that India will not respond to the ‘lies and deceit’ Pakistan has been resorting to at the world body to pursue a diplomacy of ‘hate’. “We are aware of Pakistan’s cynical attempts to pursue diplomacy of hate through lies and deceit. We do not intend to further respond to such misguided and futile efforts,” he said. A Pakistani official however again took the floor to exercise the Right of Reply to Joshi’s remarks, saying no amount of “obfuscation” could hide the alleged human rights violations in Kashmir. He said Jammu and Kashmir was an “internationally recognised” dispute and Pakistan rejected “any insinuations to equate the legitimate struggles of the Kashmiri people with acts of terrorism.” (Indian Express 13/10/16)

13. Centre’s stand on triple talaq based on gender justice: Ravi Shankar Prasad (8)

New Delhi: Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said the Centre’s affidavit on the triple talaq issue, which is being heard in the Supreme Court, was based on the principles of assuring gender justice, gender equality and dignity. The Minister stressed that the right to freedom of religion did not enjoin “every pernicious practice” as being integral to it. In an exclusive interview to The Hindu, the Minister, who has been deeply involved in the framing of the government’s response to the Supreme Court on the matter, said the Law Commission’s wider consultation on the question of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) was separate from the triple talaq issue. “You have to understand that certain victims of triple talaq from the Muslim community had gone to the Supreme Court challenging its validity. The Court had asked for a response from the government. Ours is a well thought-out response. It is fundamentally based upon gender justice, gender equality and gender dignity. All these three flow directly from the fundamental values of our Constitution,” Mr. Prasad said. The Minister said the All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s assertion, that the Modi government was intent on interfering with Islam rather than any other minority community, including the Jains, in terms of religious practice, was “baseless.”Mr. Prasad denied that uniform civil code was part of the ideological core of the BJP. The Minister stressed that the government had taken this stand. “We don’t see it (UCC) just as part of the manifesto. Article 44 is part of our Constitution enjoining UCC. The framers of our Constitution were big leaders like Pandit Nehru, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad, Dr Ambedkar; 99 per cent of the founding fathers were of the Congress school of thought and they were clear that we must steadily progress towards a UCC,” he said. …  (The Hindu 17/10/16)

14. Haryana women commission claims govt. apathy (8)

GURGAON: Haryana State Commission for Women chairperson Kamlesh Panchal has accused the Manohar Lal Khattar government of being indifferent towards the needs of the commission and not providing it even basic facilities despite the directions of the Supreme Court. “Even a month after the Supreme Court refused to stay the Punjab and Haryana High Court order allowing us to join (back the commission), we have not got any perks or salary from the government. We received a government letter dated September 29, 2016, allowing us to join and receive salary and perks, but we have not got anything from the government so far except empty promises,” said Ms. Panchal, accusing the government of targeting her. Ms. Panchal and her deputy Suman Dahiya were appointed by the previous Congress government in May 2014, but were removed by the present BJP government in August last year. The Khattar government had termed their appointments “illegal”. However, the two got a favourable order from the Punjab and Haryana High Court and joined again in May this year.“I have travelled more than 25,000 km across the State over the past five months, but not got any reimbursement from the government. I am using my own car. We have a staff of just four people against the sanctioned strength of over a dozen. Despite all this, I and the other staff are pulling on as complainants come to us with high hopes and we cannot let them suffer,” Ms. Panchal told The Hindu . She said that the commission received 20-30 complaints every week and it was getting increasingly difficult for her to run the show on her own. (The Hindu 17/10/16)


15. Tough to be a girl in India than Pak, Nepal: Report (14)

New Delhi: India ranks 90 among 144 countries as the hardest place to be a girl, a report by an international NGO shows, underlining the challenges faced by women in a highly patriarchal society. The ranking, based on schooling, child marriage, teen pregnancy, maternal deaths and women in parliament, placed India lower than all its neighbours — Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal. The report by the non-profit Save the Children — Every Last Girl: Free to live, free to learn, free from harm – also said girls as young as 10 are forced to marry in many countries including India, which has enacted stringent laws that make marriage of underage girls a punishable offence. The findings highlight the challenges faced by the BJP-led government’s efforts to lift the status of women in the country by ensuring gender equality. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who launched the ‘Beti padhao, beti bachao’ (Educate girls to save the girl child) campaign after assuming power, on Tuesday cited the legend of Sita to exhort people to kill the evil of gender bias. Thomas Chandy, CEO of Save the Children in India, said the age-old challenge cannot be addressed only through government policies. “We have to change mindsets in the rural as well as urban areas…Discrimination in India against girls begins even before birth and the cycle of inequality continues to play out throughout their lives,” Chandy told HT. The report said a young girl under the age of 15 is married every seven seconds worldwide, and 15 million girls are married before their 18th birthday each year. “The good news is that data from 18 states shows that child marriage is down across India, including in states where it was rampant, like in Bihar, where it is down from 60% a decade ago to 39 %,” Chandy added. India’s 2011 census data substantiates this fact. Close to one in three (30%) married women in India were wed before they turned 18, the legal age of marriage, down from 43% in 2001. Of them, 2.3% were married before the age of 10. …  (Hndustan Times 12/10/16)

16. Child rights agency plans to educate slum children (14)

Guwahati: UTSAH, a leading city-based child rights agency, launched its ambitious Child Protection and Education Programme on Sunday. It aims at better child protection and providing basic education to children living in the city’s slums. Starting out at the busy Fancy Bazar in collaboration with a coaching institute, the project plans to build a community-based non-formal education and protection centre at Fancy Bazar Gate No. 3 and 4. “The initiative will focus on out-of-school children and bring them to the mainstream to government schools. To be led by teachers Jaya Das Chowdhury and Roheema Begum, this initiative will use innovative methods to motivate children to continue their education,” said child rights activist Miguel Das Queah (Times of India 17/10/16)

17. RPF rescues 62 missing children in nine months (14)

HUBBALLI: Despite a staff crunch, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) in Hubballi division of the South Western Railway has rescued 62 missing children in the past nine months. Dr Mallikarjun, senior divisional security commissioner, said that RPF personnel have rescued 151 children in the past three years. He said that cases of missing children have been higher this year. “As parents will be devastated, we try to reconnect them with their missing children,” he said. Mallikarjun said that RPF personnel spring into action when they find children travelling alone by train and wandering in railway stations in a suspicious manner. “They enquire about their name, address, destination and intention,” he said. The commissioner said that if parents of the rescued children are not traced, then the kids are handed over to private organization working for their welfare. Documents of such cases are kept so that when the parents are traced, missing children can be united with their family.The rescued children generally go missing due to various reasons like child labour, harassment by parents and missing during travel. Mallikarjun said that there are many children who flee their homes, irked by parental pressure. He said that the RPF is also creating awareness on missing children by displaying information boards at railway stations. “People can call 1098 or helpline number of railway security, if they find suspicious children,” he appealed. Anand Barki, a parent, said that his son went missing recently in Hubballi railway station, but was rescued by the RPF. “I’m thankful to them,” he said. Vani Kodada, a regular traveller, commended the RPF for rescuing missing children and said the railways should provide advanced facilities to the force. (Times of India 17/10/16)

18. Out-of-school kids get NGOs’ support (14)

PUNE: System Correcting Movement (Syscom) with 15 other NGOs and activists submitted a letter to education minister Vinod Tawde on October 12 outlining an action plan to help out-of-school children. The letter stated that according to the 2011 census, eight crore children are out of school. “Since there were flaws in the previous surveys conducted by state, there is a need to find out the exact number of such children through an authentic survey.” The state surveys had found that that 74,000 children were out of school and the government has taken initiatives to enrol them. But many organizations complained that many children have discontinued their studies despite their names still being in the schools’ rolls. “We want education extension officers to conduct surprise visits to schools not under their jurisdiction for a more authentic survey,” Syscom president Rajendra Dharankar said. There is also a demand to check how many of the 74,000 students have appeared for baseline tests conducted by the government. At a meeting of NGOs on October 12, it was found that the number of out-of-school students in Vimukta Jati Nomadic Tribes (VJNT) is the highest. “The government can send such children to the nearest ashramshala and their families can be made aware of the importance of education,” Dharankar said. Many dropped out of school due to child marriage, especially among VJNT, organizations working for education said. They have sought an intensive awareness programme against child marriage. The letter also stated that seasonal migrants’ children are among the worst hit. More than 20 lakh seasonal workers are involved in sugarcane cutting or brick kiln activities. The children of such workers need better educational and residential facilities. As far as children in cities are concerned, transport is the biggest hurdle children face and experts say that this isssue needs to be addressed as soon as possible.Pune: System Correcting Movement (Syscom) along with some 15 other NGOs and activists working in the field of education and human rights have come up with a 10 point agenda that will help government address the issue of out-of-school children. From special attention to children of brick kiln workers to surprise visits to schools to check attendance, the letter submitted to government is an outcome of a meeting that was held on October 12 between all NGOs working in the field. …  (Times of India 19/10/16)


19. Critics slam govt’s move to transfer Haj affairs to Minority Affairs Ministry (7)

The government’s recent move to transfer Haj affairs from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to the Minority Affairs Ministry has found few takers. Stakeholders feel that such a move will only create confusion and increase red tapism. Some also claim that it is an attempt by the BJP government to harass minorities. A proposal of creating an autonomous Haj Council of India, to deal exclusively with Haj affairs, had been doing the rounds since the UPA government. The council was to function as any other council under the MEA and would have the Minority Affairs Ministry and Ministry of Civil Aviation as partners. “The Minority Affairs Ministry cannot handle its own affairs. They do not have enough people to run their own schemes and foundations. How will they handle something as massive as Haj,” said Zafarul Islam Khan, editor of the Milli Gazette. Khan even alleged that the move was yet another attempt of the BJP government to harass Muslims. The Ministry of Minority Affairs was created during UPA-I, to handle the domestic affairs of the minority community. On October 1 this year, the responsibility of Haj was transferred from the MEA to the Minority Affairs Ministry though a Gazette notification. Experts however feel that the role of the MEA cannot be ignored and that the Minority Affairs Ministry cannot handle the matter independently. Talmiz Ahmad, former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, who handled 15 Haj trips during his career, explained, “The coordination between the Indian embassy in Saudi Arabia and the foreign office of the host country has to be managed through the MEA. There are people positioned in Saudi Arabia to handle the job. The transition has to be smooth, the new officers should be trained to handle the work load.” About 160 lakh Indians go for Haj every year. Ahmad, who had initially mooted the idea of creating a Haj Council said, “The scale of operation is so huge, that a bureaucrat sitting in the MEA cannot handle it. The need is to have a dedicated team, dealing exclusively with matters of Haj.” On average, financial transactions to the tune of Rs 300 to 400 crore has been used to coordinate Haj affairs each year. However, some allege that the money is being misused, “Over the years, Haj has become a den of corruption. Those involved in organising and hosting the visit have been amassing huge sums of money over the years. The transfer from one ministry to another only ensures the money will change hands. Things will remain the same on the ground,” said Anees Durrani, former Chairman of the Delhi Haj Committee. Even some within the government do not completely support the transfer. Member of Parliament, Mehboob Ali Kaiser, who is also the chairman of the Haj Committee said, “Haj cannot happen without the involvement of the MEA. Shifting ministries will only create more layers of bureaucracy to deal with. It will make the system more complex.” (DNA 12/10/2016)

20. Minority panel team to visit Shamli, Muzaffarnagar, Kairana (7)

MEERUT: A National Commission for Minorities (NCM) team will visit the communally sensitive Shamli and Muzaffarnagar districts on Monday. The team will meet representatives of minority communities affected by violence and also visit Kairana, which was in the news recently for an alleged “Hindu exodus”.Speaking to TOI, NCM’s member-in-charge for Uttar Pradesh Farida Abdullah Khan said, “Our team will visit both districts on Monday. Our main aim is to meet minority families from Muzaffarnagar who were displaced after the 2013 riots. We want to see how they are doing more than three years after the Muzaffarnagar riots. We want to see whether their condition has improved.” She added, “The team will also visit Kairana in Shamli district. There is tension in the town after reports of an alleged Hindu exodus started doing the rounds. The NHRC had also come out with a report but we would like to see the situation for ourselves. We want to see how community relations have been affected by claims of a Hindu exodus.” BJP MP Hukum Singh had in June alleged that Kairana in Shamli district has become a “new Kashmir”, with the exodus of 250 Hindu families over the past two years, after being allegedly targeted and persecuted by another community. More than a week after making the claim, the leader produced a list of 346 families that had fled leaving their properties behind. (Times of India 15/10/16)

21. Congress to host ‘minority conventions’ across UP in month-long campaign (7)

Lucknow: After focusing on Brahmins, farmers and then promising reservation within reservation for most backward castes, the Congress is now planning to organise minority conventions across the state, which is headed for Assembly polls next year. At a meeting held by Khurshid Ahmed Saiyed, AICC chairman of the minority department, in Lucknow on Sunday, it was decided that Congress would hold as many as 25 minority conventions and 12 public meetings to share and discuss the party’s agenda regarding issues faced by minorities.Khurshid said that the venues and dates for these conventions will be finalised after discussions with the party’s top rung. He said it would be a month-long campaign. Sources said November 15 had been decided as a tentative date. Among promises like better educational opportunities in minority-dominated areas, some leaders also suggested demanding a “special court” to expedite hearings for those arrested for alleged involvement in terror cases. Speaking to The Indian Express, Siraj Mehndi, chairman of the Congress’ state minority department, said, “While BJP is trying to develop a fear in the mind of minorities, political parties like Samajwadi Party (SP) are giving false promises. We would expose both during our month-long campaign.” He further said, “There was also a suggestion to demand for special court for hearing of those young boys, who are arrested on charges of involvement in terror cases. Some of these boys are released after 10-12 years and are found not guilty, but by then they have lost precious time of their life. Those guilty should be convicted fast and those not found guilty should be released fast, this would be our demand.” Congress leaders also said that they would also counter SP on each of its promises made to minorities in its 2012 election manifesto, like opening of schools in minority-dominate areas and reservation. Pamphlets containing information on minority issues will be distributed during the public meetings. (Indian Express 17/10/16)

22. Minority panel junks NHRC’s Kairana report on Hindu exodus (7)

MEERUT: A team from the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) that visited Kairana on Monday trashed the recent National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) report which said there had been an “exodus” of Hindu families from the restive western UP town due to fear of members of a particular community in the area. The NCM team, led by member-in-charge for Uttar Pradesh Farida Abdullah Khan, told TOI that certain findings in the NHRC report “seemed baseless”. She said, “We met some local families and spoke to the local administration. We found that there was no evidence to suggest there had been an exodus of any kind. I don’t wish to comment on the NHRC report too much, but some of the findings seem baseless.” NHRC in its report on the alleged exodus of 250 Hindu families from Kairana, in Shamli district, had all but validated what BJP MP Hukum Singh had initially said. “At least 24 witnesses stated that the youths of the specific majority community (Muslims in this case) in Kairana pass lewd/taunting remarks against the females of the specific minority community in the town. Due to this, females of the specific minority community (Hindus) in Kairana town avoid going outside. However, they could not gather courage to report the matter to the police,” the report said. Khan said the NCM team didn’t find much evidence to back the NHRC claim. “For instance, the (NHRC) report claims that the rise in crime in Kairana was linked to the resettlement of refugees. There is no paperwork that can verify this. It also said that the riot-displaced persons changed the demographics of the town since about 30,000 people came and settled here. However, local NGOs said the figure in Kairana is not more than 200 people.”  Slamming what she called a “blatant attempt at polarisation”, Khan said, “The local MP’s comments are a clear attempt at politicising a sensitive matter.” Singh had alleged that Kairana had become a “new Kashmir”, with the exodus of 250 Hindu families after being allegedly targeted and persecuted by another community. (Times of India 18/10/16)


23. Muslim groups slam Centre’s move on oral triple talaq (7)

HYDERABAD: Days after the Centre urged Supreme Court to do away with the practice of oral triple talaq pronouncing in one sitting, Muslim religious organisations slammed the move and called it an interference in Muslim personal laws. Describing October 7, the day the Centre filed the affidavit, as a ‘black day for secularism and democracy’, a panel of religious figures which include All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) secretary Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani and chancellor of Islamic seminary Jamia Nizamia, Syed Akber Nizamuddin Hussaini, also a board member, among others, said in a statement: “Those who are adherents of all schools of Islamic thought in India unanimously say that Muslim personal laws are binding on them. Despite this, the Government of India’s issuing a statement against Muslim personal laws in the Supreme Court certainly means that it is conspiring to take away from the community its religious rights.” The panel urged Muslims to protest against the Centre’s move in a “constitutional fashion” and support the AIMPLB even as it maintained that Muslim personal laws are derived from the Quran and the Sunnah. “They (Muslims) should not get entangled in the oral triple talaq issue. This is because communal forces have used this issue to divide the community on the lines of sects and schools of thought,” an excerpt from the statement read. These laws can neither be be changed by Parliament nor can they be interpreted by courts, the panel claimed.Another Muslim group Jamiat-e-Ulama Telangana and Andhra Pradesh said, “Only about 10 or 15 per cent of the Muslim community treats pronouncement of talaq thrice in one sitting as one pronouncement. More than 85 per cent of Muslims consider oral triple talaq in one sitting as a valid provision.” The Jamiat, a socio-religious organisation comprising Islamic scholars, said that it has earmarked Rs 75 lakh to engage top lawyers to argue the oral triple talaq case. Taking the issue of oral triple talaq and the safeguarding of Muslim personal laws into cyberspace, an online petition ‘Hindustan Mey Muslim Personal Law ke Tahaffuz ke Liye’ (To Retain Muslim Personal Law in India) was filed on a popular petitioning website. Several Muslims from the city urged one another to “sign” the petition and forward the message to like-minded people on the community. The petition, which was filed by one Mufti Taufeeq Mansoor Mazahiri, received around 8,700 “signatures” and several comments till Tuesday night. (Times of India 11/10/2016)

24. Hindu Mahasabha leader’s visit called off after stir by Muslims (7)

UDAIPUR: Tension gripped the city as Muslim organizations opposed to the proposed visit of All India Hindu Mahasabha leader Kamlesh Tiwari on Thursday here.Tiwari, whose “objectionable” remarks on Prophet Muhammad had provoked countrywide protests by conservative Muslims last year, was reportedly to participate in a ‘Shastra poojan’ programme to be held at the Bekani Puliya in the city on Thursday afternoon. Later, sensing tension, organizers called off his visit and Tiwari was reportedly asked to halt at Chittorgarh. Meanwhile, ADM city OP Bunkar said the administration wasn’t informed of any such programme or Tiwari’s visit and no permission had been sought by the organizers. Hindu activists and workers had allegedly placed some banners, posters and flags at various places near Ayad to greet the leader a day ago. On Thursday morning, as some of the muslim organizations came to know of his visit, community men started collecting at Hathipole, one of the busiest cloth and handicrafts markets.They opposed Tiwari’s participation in any public programme and planned to give a memorandum to the collector demanding prohibition of such events. Sensing tension, police teams from Hathipole, Am bamata and Bhupalpura stations were called in. Most of the shopkeepers pulled down the shutters of their shops in anticipation. Later police officers held peace talks and pacified the community men. DySP Bhagwat Singh Hingar informed people that the administration had not given any such permission and Tiwari’s visit had been called off by the organizers. The posters and banners having his name were also removed. After assurances from the police, the situation was restored to normalcy and the crowd dispersed. Hindu leader Kamlesh Tiwari had last year, in a written statement claimed that Prophet Mohammed was the first homo sexual, his statement had come after Samajwadi Party minister Azam Khan said that RSS leaders were homosexuals and that why they didn’t get married. (Times of India 14/10/16)

25. ‘Muslims won’t tolerate interference in personal law’ (7)

VADODARA: Amid the heated debate over “triple talaq”, Mufti Shabbir Alamkhan Sahab, imam of Ahmedabad’s Jama Masjid has said that Muslims will not tolerate any interference in their personal law. The mufti along with Ahmedabad-based advocate Tahir Hakim, who is also on the legal panel of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, was in Vadodara on Sunday evening to attend a meeting of community leaders on Muslim Personal Law and Uniform Civil Code called by 10 Muslim bodies. “The stand taken by Modi ‘hukumat’ is an interference in Muslim Personal Law and against the spirit of democracy. Everybody has the right to lead his life according to their religion. It is a democratic right. No government or party can interfere into this right,” he said. He argued that the Sharia permits triple talaq in the interest of both the man and woman as a means to keep their dignity and privacy intact.”The intention is to save the family from delayed justice in conventional courts and to avoid mud-slinging in public. Even courts cannot take away this right,” he said. He also opposed Uniform Civil Code on the grounds that Muslim women already have special rights as they can inherit property from both maternal as well as in-laws side. “Do other religions provide same kind of treatment to its women?” he said. While the community has already started signature campaign against the central government’s affidavit in the Supreme Court, the organizers of Sunday’s meet have now decided to intensify the drive. “We will put up camps in different areas of the city to take signatures of women. Also, women from the community will stage a mute protest with placards against the government’s move of interfering in Muslim sharia at Gandhi Nagar Gruh,” said Zuber Gopalani, member of the United Forum and national executive of All India Muslim Majlis e Mushavirat. (Times of India 17/10/16)

26. Panel seeks regiment for Muslims in Army (7)

BAREILLY: Muslim Rashtravadi Sewak Sangh, a social organisation whose main work so far is to hoist the Tricolour in madrassas, mosques and other religious functions, has demanded the establishment of a Muslim regiment in the Indian Army. The members of the organisation claimed on Monday that a few organisations in India still look at Muslims as terrorists, and hence it wants that a child from each Muslim family should serve the Indian Army. During their first interaction with the media, Mohammed Khalid, president of the organisation, said, “There are a few organisations who consider Indian Muslims as terrorists, but we are creating awareness among people that Muslims are patriotic. We carry the national flag during Muharram processions, and we have been hoisting the Tricolour at madrassas, mosques and religious functions. We had even hit the streets to celebrate the surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army across the LoC.” “We demand the setting up of a Muslim regiment so that members from the minority community can serve the Indian Army. A member from each Muslim family will be more than willing to sacrifice his/her life for the protection of the country,” he added. When asked about the difference between the Muslim Rashtravadi Sewak Sangh and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, Khalid, who is also former deputy mayor, said, “RSS do not believe in hoisting the national flag while it is our primary work. Our name may sound similar but we are two different organisations. We have no connection with any political outfit and we are not going to endorse any political party.” Formed nearly one-and-a-half-years back, Muslim Rashtravadi Sewak Sangh today has nearly 5,000 members. (Times of India 18/10/16)


27. Caritas India to recruit transgender people (7)

Caritas India, an official agency of the Catholic Church, has decided to fight against an openly discriminatory mentality, announcing the launch of a programme for the assistance and social promotion of transgender people. The Catholic Church’s social service wing has confirmed the decision in a statement on Monday, Oct. 10 after holding internal talks on its inclusive development policy. “Caritas is open to work with transgender people. I am even open to recruiting them,” said Fr Frederick D’Souza, executive director of Caritas India, during the meeting. Referring to the initiative as the “beginning of a new school of thought,” and explaining: “People who are suffering for no fault of their own because of sexual confusion in their body require our attention and support.” With this programme, Caritas hopes to eradicate “traditional biases against them,” in the awareness that this “decision will definitely have implications on other institutions. Others will also begin to reflect on this”. Hopefully this attention will set an example for society. Fr D’Souza however clarified that by transgender he means “biological transgenders” and not those who undergo gender change. “We don’t want to confuse the two. We have an opinion on those who undergo sex change, we are not in favour of that. We believe that the natural gender one is born with is what he/she is supposed to cherish and contribute to creation.” Father Paul Moonjely, deputy director of Caritas India, said that the decision to include transgender people in Caritas is not sudden. “We have been reaching out to transgender people in our development programs but have largely failed to recognize them and show data on how many of them we have supported,” he said. This programme is very likely to have a “ripple effect”: Founded in 1962, Caritas India is recognised and appreciated as a leader in the social field, actively working with programmes that focus on humanitarian aid, social development, reconstruction, poverty reduction, sustainable development, education and the social promotion of women and poor, vulnerable and marginalised groups. India has nearly 500,000 transgender people, according to the 2011 government census. They have been excluded from participating in social and cultural life, economy and politics, according to a 2012 United Nations Development Program report….  (Vatican Radio 13/10/2016)

28. Nagaland Congress lashes out at BJP for being ‘unsecular’ (7)

Kohima: Launching an attack on the state BJP, the Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) said the saffron party is in a denial mode about being ‘against freedom of religion’. “Anything against Christians has happened in BJP-ruled states and by BJP frontal organizations. It has escalated since BJP came to power in 2014,” NPCC president K Therie said in a statement. The NPCC cited the declaration of Christmas as Good Governance Day and Good Friday as Judges’ Conference Day as insidious ways the BJP government has taken over ‘sanctified days’. NPCC also said BJP’s proposal to shift the financial year end from March to December is because the party wants to ‘disturb the sacred festivities of Christians’. Lashing out at the attempted saffronisation of education, NPCC said the change in syllabus of schools and universities by the BJP-led central government intends to ‘brainwash’ the new generation. “Hindi and Sanskrit are compulsory in schools and they intend to enforce it in universities too,” the statement said. It further accused the ruling Naga People’s Front of ‘surrendering’ to BJP. “They do not behave like a regional party anymore. They believe in money and power. They have lost faith. They talk of regionalism but have lost all regional character,” the NPCC said. The statement dismissed the idea that joining BJP in the state is a smart political move because it is in power at the Centre and will remain so for the following two terms at least. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government will be a paper tiger after losing the Uttar Pradesh election. BJP will be rooted out by May 2019,” the statement added. (Times of India 14/10/2016)

29. Religious persecution will never be allowed: Rajnath Singh (7)

New Delhi: Describing India as a “university of tolerance”, Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday asserted that religious persecution will never be allowed in the country. “Tolerance is essential for peaceful existence. People from all religions live peacefully in India and practise their religion without any fear of discrimination. That is why India is a university of tolerance,” Singh said at a meeting of Christian leaders organised by India Christian Council. Singh said Christianity came to India almost 2,000 years ago and Kerala is home to St Thomas church which is one of the world’s oldest churches. He said India cannot forget the contribution of Christians — from Saint Thomas to Mother Teresa — who tried to eradicate evils from our society. “There were incidents of attacks on churches in Delhi which came up in the run up to elections (to Delhi Assembly). But I would like to say that religious persecution will never be allowed in India whether it is before or after election,” he said. Targeting Pakistan, Singh said while India chose to be a secular country, Pakistan declared itself a theocratic state and was now pursuing terrorism as state policy. “In 1947, India was divided on the basis of religion and despite that, it chose to be a secular state. “The nation (Pakistan) separated from it declared itself a theocratic state. That country uses terrorism as a state policy.” It is very unfortunate that some countries make terrorism a state policy. There can be differences between people that can be resolved through dialogue but not by taking up guns, he said. Singh said a terrorist does not belong to any cast, creed on religion. “Not only India, but many countries in the world have been affected by terrorism. A terrorist is a terrorist who does not belong to any caste, creed or religion. Although, some people link terrorism with religion but it is wrong,” he said. The Home Minister said in India, people from all religions get respect and it is the only country where all sects of Islam are found. “All important religions find place in India,” he said. The meeting was attended by BJP MP and National Chairman of the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations Udit Raj and Joseph D’Souza, Moderator Bishop, Good Shepherd Church, India and President of All Indian Christian Council. D’Souza asked the Christian community to stand with the government and support it in the fight against terrorism. The Council requested Singh to send a circular to state governments and police to ensure protection of Christians and places of their worships. Pointing to India’s liberal ethos, the Home Minister said, “We do not impose our point of view on others. Such is the limit of tolerance in India. God is one, his definitions can be multiple.” Singh said from Saint Thomas, Bhagini Nivedita, Bhikaiji Cama to Mother Teresa, all got respect in India. “If India were not a university of tolerance, these people would not have got so much respect,” he said. The Home Minister said there are many challenges in India which can be resolved with the support of all. “Education is one example. Indian constitution allows religion minorities to run its own educational institutions,” he said. Singh said India believes in ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (World in one family). “People not only from India but all over the world are part of one family. ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ is the term that India gave to the world.” he said. (Indian Express 15/10/16)

30. Catholic Church bats for sustainable lifestyle (7)

KOCHI: The Catholic Church in Kerala has called on its members to adopt sustainable measures to conserve water and also protect the water bodies from contamination and pollution. In a circular issued by the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC) commission on social justice and development, the church has asked its bishops, clergy and the laity to observe the ongoing `Year of Mercy’ by respecting and refraining from abusing earth and nature. Man as the protector of environment has to treat mother earth and nature as God’s gifts to mankind, it said. “Aga inst the backdrop of rising issues of drought, drinking water shortage and contamination of water bodies, it has become necessary to launch a water conservation aware ness programme for the society.” It called upon on all social service organisations related to the church to take up the activities to conserve water in wells. Calling for tapping rainwater and diverting it to the traditional wells which would recharge the groundwater, it asked the laity to ensure that every drop of rain water is conserved. “Though the state gets 3,000 mm of rains in a year, more than 70% is drained off. This flow must be prevented.”The circular said that most houses had either tiled or tarred the roads and the paths as a result of which the water flows on. Rain collection drains or rain holes should be made so that the water flows down into the mud and thus goes into the groundwater system. The waste water from the house should be reused for gardening or washing. People have to undergo a self-realisation that fall in rains could lead to severe water shortage in many areas. “We have been doing a lot of work in spreading the message of sustainable living.The Year of Mercy comes to an end of next month but we don’t want people to forget it.So we have issued the circular to tell people to make it a way of life,” said KCBC deputy secretary general Fr Varghese Vallikkat. He said that each diocese would work to ensure that it become a practice in the society. These were some practical guidelines for people to implement in their life, he added. (Times of India 19/10/16)


31. 30 refugees to return from India, says Sri Lanka (13)

COLOMBO The Sri Lankan government on Wednesday said 30 Sri Lankan refugees in south India will return home next week. The Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs said the refugees will return as part of a voluntary repatriation programme assisted by the UN refugees agency, UNHCR, Xinhua news agency reported. V. Sivagnanasothy, Secretary of the Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs, said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will provide free air tickets, reintegration allowance of $75 per person, transport allowance $19 and monitory non-food grant of $75 per family. Since 2011, the ministry said, 5,110 refugees (1,863 families) have returned to Sri Lanka. Over 100,000 refugees are currently in India. Minister Swaminathan initiated a Cabinet paper based on which livelihood assistance to refugee returnees is provided to support the livelihood activities. The provision of dry ration to them has already been approved for six months. The ministry has instructed officials to provide compensation for those who have lost their houses and suffered loss of family members and injuries. Sivagnanasothy said the refugees who lost their houses will be provided with houses under the ministry programme. The Sri Lankan government of under the leadership of President Maithripala Sirisena has initiated action to encourage the voluntary refugee returnee programme on a phase-out basis and the government said the current trend of increased refugee returnees is a sign of reconciliation and moving towards permanent peace. (New Indian Express 12/10/16)

32.  ‘Burma Colony facing fresh threat’ (13)

VIJAYAWADA : The Burma Colony, which was allotted for the Burma refugees who settled in the city decades ago, has now become a target for land sharks backed by local politicians. The tiny colony, spread in more than one acre of area is located alongside the Nunna Road in Payakapuram. With the completion of most sought Inner Ring Road which meets Nunna Road near the colony, the cost of the land in the areas near by shot up attracting land grabbers. With a majority of the plots changing hands over the years, very few refugees are still residing in their houses. Recently, land grabbers occupied some plots and raised structures. Following resistance from locals, VMC officials pulled down the structures built by activists of the ruling party and some local journalists in the encroached lands of the colony near Kandrika, said CPI (M) city secretary Donepudi Kasinath. Fresh attempts are being made to grab the plots in the other half of the colony opposite Chikista Hospitals. “Only after political parties mounted pressure, the town planning wing demolished the houses built illegally in the area allotted for park. While existing residential plots are untouched, vacant lands have become the target for grabbers,” alleged another leader of CPI (M).A cent of land is being sold at more than Rs. 10 lakh which was not the case till recently. (The Hindu 14/10/16)

33. A communal bill: Don’t grant citizenship on religious lines, it goes against the idea of India

Government is considering amendments to the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant citizenship to religious minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. A joint committee of parliamentarians is already examining the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 which seeks to grant Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, Christians and Buddhists from neighbouring countries who have been residing in India for at least six years. This is problematic on several levels. In fact the basic premise of the Bill violates the fundamental constitutional principle of secularism, as it appears to equate citizenship with specific religions only. While government may argue that the religious denominations mentioned in the Bill correspond to minorities in neighbouring countries who have faced religious persecution, the message that goes out is that India is willing to provide shelter to all except Muslims. If this isn’t the case, then why shouldn’t Rohingya Muslim refugees from Bangladesh and Myanmar be added to the list? Besides, how would government determine religious persecution in foreign countries? Does it really have the wherewithal to discriminate between those facing genuine religious persecution and economic refugees pretending to be persecuted for their religion? And what if Pakistan announces a similar citizenship proposal for Indian Muslims who may feel discriminated in this country? The proposed citizenship amendments are therefore both impractical and suffering from a warped perception of the Indian identity. They disregard the fact that unlike say Israel, which offers a home to all the Jews of the world, India is a secular state which doesn’t discriminate between religious denominations. A rational and sophisticated citizenship programme for refugees needs to be egalitarian and operate on a case-by-case basis. A policy that favours specific religious denominations reeks of the discredited two-nation theory. (Times of India 17/10/16)

34. Minority panel criticises NHRC report on Kairana migration (13)

Muzafarnagar: Members of the National Commission for Minorities have criticised the report of National Human Rights Commission on the alleged migration of several families from Kairana in Shamli district, saying people had left the town for their businesses. Talking reporters here last evening, two members of the minorities panel Praveen Davar and Farida Abdulla Khan said the report of National Human Rights Commission is not based on facts but on “communal flavour”. The members, who had visited Kairana and Muzaffarnagar, said the migration of Kairana was not of communal nature. They said people of both Hindu and Muslim communities had left Kairana to pursue better business opportunities in other places. They said the people had not migrated due to fear from a particular community. The NHRC probe team had found that many families “migrated” from Kairana due to threats pertaining to “increase in crime” and “deterioration” of law and order there. It found that in 2013, after resettlement of about 25,000-30,000 members of Muslims community in Kairana town from Muzaffarnagar, the demography of Kairana town changed in favour of the Muslim community”, it becoming the “more dominating and majority community”. “Most of the witnesses examined and victims feel that the rehabilitation in 2013 has permanently changed the social situation in Kairana town and has led to further deterioration of law-and-order situation,” said the team’s findings. At least 24 witnesses said the youths of a “specific majority community” in Kairana “pass lewd/taunting remarks” against the females of a “specific minority community” as per the NHRC findings. Due to this, females of the specific minority community in Kairana avoided going outside frequently. “Some of the displaced persons also verified that it was one of the reasons for their migration from Kairana town,” the NHRC said quoting the team’s findings. (Indian Express 19/10/16)


35. Unclog the RTI process by making basic information public (1)

The first decadal study conducted after the Right to Information (RTI) Act has revealed that over 1.75 crore applications have been filed with one-fourth being requests to the Centre. The study, conducted by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, reveals that 27.2% (47.66 lakh) of the total RTIs filed between 2005 and 2015 were to the different ministries and departments under the Centre. This is a conservative estimate because many departments don’t file their compliance report: Earlier this year, the Lok Sabha was informed that over 350 government departments defaulted in following norms for mandatory public disclosure of information. The data is important since there is no official record of the number of RTI applications received in India even though the law was passed 12 years ago. Allowing people to seek and receive public documents serves as a tool for fighting corruption, enabling citizens to participate in public life, making governments more efficient, encouraging investment, and helping persons exercise their fundamental human rights. For the government, an access to information law helps them establish record keeping and archiving systems. This is turn makes them more efficient, reduces their discretionary powers and allows them to make more constructive decisions based on information. More important, greater transparency can help re-establish trust between the government and its citizens.The study correctly points out that the number of RTIs also needs to come down. In fact, annoyed with the non-stop flow of applications under the law, the Prime Minister’s Office recently put out a primer on what it is obliged to do and not to do under the law. A national daily quoted a senior PMO official saying that the provocation for the primer was the realisation that all kinds of applications seeking information on everything “under the Sun and on the earth” were being made. The PMO has shown the way: Along with fixing the processes, government departments must identify frequently asked questions that usually come from citizens and proactively disclose that basic information. (Hindustan times 11/10/16)

36.  ‘Govt. staff not disclosing information sought under RTI’ (1)

KARIMNAGAR: Speakers at a round table conference on the implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act found fault with the government employees for not disclosing information sought as per the Act. The Act mandates that any information sought by people should be provided within 120 days under Section 4 (1) (b). But the officials were failing to provide the same, they alleged. Lok Satta district president N. Srinivas and general secretary Prakash Holla said the RTI Act was implemented 11 years ago to ensure transparency and accountability in administration and see that the welfare schemes reach the needy. They said that the government has failed to educate people about the importance of using the RTI Act and demanded that it should fill up all the vacant posts in the office of State Information Commissioner for speedy disposal of cases. RTI Rakshana Vedika district president R. Chandraprabhakar demanded that the government register criminal cases against those who were misusing the Act. (The Hindu 13/10/16)

37. Defying RTI, 25 public authorities fail to submit annual returns to Maharashtra SIC (1)

Pune: AS MANY as 25 public authorities have failed to submit their annual returns with the State Information Commission (SIC) for the year 2015, in defiance of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. This omission assumes significance as there was no such dereliction of duty by public authorities last year.The RTI law mandates that every public authority i.e. government offices has to send its annual report to the SIC to help the latter in preparing the Annual Report of the state. The report is supposed to contain the number of applications received by the public authority, the number of applications which went for first appeal and the number of applications challenged by the Information Commission. These figures help in deciding the state of awareness and implementation of the RTI Act in the state.The 10th Annual Report of the SIC reveals that in 2015, as many as 8,68,818 RTI applications were received — the highest ever since the implementation of the RTI Act. Though this indicates renewed interest in the Act by the general public, the response from public authorities leaves much to be desired. Of the 25 authorities which have not filed their annual returns, eight are various departments and commissionerates while 17 are corporations. The Transport Department under the Home Department, the Employment Guarantee Scheme Department, Drinking Water and Sanitation Department and the Minorities Welfare Department have failed to provide their annual reports to the SIC. Among the state-run corporations, CIDCO, the Punyasholk Ahilyadevi Sheli Mendi Development Corporation (corporation for the development of goat and sheep rearing), the Fisheries Development Corporation and all seven corporations run by the social justice and equality department have failed to file their annual reports. RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar said the failure of the public authorities to submit their annual reports is a clear violation of the privilege of the state legislature. “However, the Commission, other than taking note of the non-submission, has not taken any action against them. The report is an eyewash and it does not show the real sorry state of affairs about RTI in the state,” he said. (Indian Express 17/10/16)

38.  ‘Parents have right to question institutions under RTI’ (1)

RAJAMAHENDRAVARAM: RTI Commissioner Lam Thanthiya Kumari has stated that the RTI Act provides every citizen with a right to question the authorities on various public welfare activities and it is the responsibility of the authorities concerned to provide the information to show the transparent functioning of their departments. Participating in a seminar on the implementation of the RTI Act and the Right to Education Act at the SKVT College here on Tuesday, she said it was the responsibility of the parents to question the managements of private educational institutions on fee structure and student amenities. The Right to Education Act made certain provisions to ensure education to the common man and it was the responsibility of the managements to adhere to these provisions, she said. With regard to the RTI Act, the Commissioner said a stage had come for the strict implementation of the Act and every official should respond and provide information within the stipulated time. (The Hndu 19/10/16)

39. Constitution Club public authority under RTI: CIC (1)

New Delhi: Observing that the Constitution Club of India was “indirectly funded” by the Centre and was “absolutely dependent” on “state property” for its functioning, the Central Information Commission has held that it is a “public authority under the RTI Act”. The two-member CIC bench also pulled up the Ministry of Urban Development and CPWD for “pathetic maintenance” of records relating to the transfer of buildings to the CCI and the ownership records relating to the club and its assets. The CCI had claimed it is an autonomous body and is “self-funded”. (Indian Express 19/10/16)


40. Poor children to get 5,000 aid (11)

ALLAHABAD: Children from weaker sections of the society studying in private schools under Right to Education Act (RTE)-2009 would be given Rs 5,000 for purchasing books and uniforms for the ongoing academic session. The education department claims that around 16,000 students are receiving education in un-aided or private schools across the state under the Act. The order for issuing books and uniforms was given at a time when half-yearly examinations have already been held from class 1 to 8 and over half of the course curriculum has been finished. The money would be distributed to students who are studying from 2013 to 2016. Sources said that the delay was due to tussle between the state and Central governments over allocation of funds. After the Central government failed to gave funds, the state government has decided to allocate Rs 8 crore for distribution of books and uniforms. The directorate (basic) education has come into action after receiving a letter of special secretary, CMO, Ajay Kumar Singh through a circular dated October 3.Singh’s letter stated that there is a provision of providing free education to children of weaker and marginalised sections of the society under RTE Act-2009. In this context, all parents who are sending their kids to schools regularly will be distributed Rs 5,000 so that they can purchase uniforms and books. The letter further states that Rs 8 crore would be released for the purpose and the amount would be generated by the state government’s sources. (Times of India 11/10/2016)

41. Centre seeks consensus on new education policy (11)

New Delhi: Union human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar is likely to have a detailed discussion on the proposed National Education Policy with education ministers at the Central Advisory Board of Education meeting on October 25. Mr Javadekar hopes to evolve a consensus on various issues, including the no-detention policy, during discussions of the highest advisory body on education. Sources close to the minister said Mr Javadekar will discuss and seek the opinion of state education ministers on no detention policy till Class 8 and provisional Class 10 Board examinations.Several states have expressed reservation on the present ‘no detention policy’ and want to bring in an examination system from Class 5. The opinion seeking exercise is also being viewed to avoid further controversies and allegations of high-handedness in the education sector. Other issues to be taken up are ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning and skill development opportunities for all. The meet could also discuss development of educational infrastructure and enhancement of teachers training facilities in the country. Mr Javadekar is keen on continuing his own consultation process on the National Education Policy, and the much touted T. S. R. Subramanian report — appointed during the tenure of the then HRD minister Smriti Irani for making suggestions for the new policy — is understood to be on a backburner. It is believed that the implementation of a new national education policy is one of the major issues being pushed by Prime Minister Narendar Modi as the NDA government tries to leave its imprint on the education sector. The last policy was made almost three decades ago in 1986. However, the finalsation of the new national education policy could be delayed by several months as Mr Javadekar is expected to hold further consultations with several other stakeholders. Thereafter, the government will prepare a draft education policy with additional inputs and put in the public domain for feedback.No detention policy till Class 8 and provisional Class 10 board examinations were introduced during the UPA-2 tenure as part of educational reform initiated. (Asian Age 13/10/16)

42. Half of the world’s disabled children are out of school: Report (11)

At least half of the world’s 65 million school-age children with disabilities are kept out of the classroom because little to no money is budgeted for their needs, disability rights groups said in a report on Monday. Light for the World, a charity which supported the research, said stigma and misinformation surrounding disability as well as a lack of data on the numbers of disabled children contributed to the problem. “People don’t see them (children with disabilities) as a worthy investment,” said Nafisa Baboo, adviser for inclusive education at Light for the World. “Many think for example that there’s no point investing in their education as people with disabilities can’t work.” The rights groups said billions of dollars of potential income from the world’s poorest countries are being lost through lack of schooling and employment for people who have disabilities. “Children with disabilities are constantly left at the very back of the queue, and the impact on both individuals and economies can be disastrous,” Julia McGeown of Handicap International said in a statement. The report by the International Disability and Development Consortium said the exclusion of children with disabilities was a major obstacle to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which aim to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all by 2030. In September, a report by the UN education and cultural agency UNESCO found that the education sector globally has been substantially underfunded, and international aid to education is declining. “The SDGs give governments an opportunity to up their game,” said Baboo, adding that donors should prioritise efforts to reverse the decline in aid for education. The new report urges governments to provide facilities for the education of disabled children within a mainstream system. “Inclusive education can drastically reduce out-of-school populations, it can tackle discrimination in society, and it is considerably cheaper than segregated education,” said Baboo. “It’s not just morally right, it’s also a smart investment.” (DNA 17/10/2016)

43. Education department vows to make 15Lakh literate by next year (11)

RANCHI: School education and literacy department aims to make at least 15 lakh people from 2,000 villages under 500 panchayats of the state literate till March next year. The panchayats have already been identified and literacy centres are being established here by the department. Department secretary Aradhana Patnaik said, “Villagers will be taught in these literacy centres. We are also establishing libraries at these panchayats, which will be completed by November end following which classes will begin.” She added, “The tender for books to be given to the villagers and their deliveries have also started.” Under this project, every panchayat will have two Prerak to work as motivators and explain people the importance of being literate and encourage them to attend regular classes.Villagers will be educated by voluntary training providers (VTP), the literate section in villages willing to educate others. There will be one Master VTP in each village who would provide training at the department level. The training work is expected to complete by November end. Patnaik said, “We aim to educate all adults in selected villages and also assure 100% enrolment and retention in schools.” The department is also planning an experiment in which school going children would teach their illiterate parents to read and write. The literacy centres will not just be a centre for education but will also make villagers aware of various government schemes. “The VTPs will inform villagers about various schemes and how to avail them. Also, awareness programmes on various issues like health, education, malnutrition and others will be organised at these centres,” Patnaik said. (Times of India 19/10/16)


44. India hunger levels ranked as “Serious” in 2016: Global Hunger Index (21)

New Delhi: Hunger levels in developing countries may have fallen 29% since 2000, but India was still rated as a country with ‘serious’ hunger levels in the 2016, shows Global Hunger Index that was released on Tuesday. Despite improvements in hunger and nutrition over the years, India still has a long way to go before it is able to achieve the United Nations goal to end hunger by 2030If hunger declines at the same rate as the report finds it has since 1992, more than 45 countries—including India, Pakistan, Haiti, Yemen, and Afghanistan—will still have “moderate” to “alarming” hunger scores in the year 2030. India was rated as “alarming” in 2013 and has experienced an improvement in its GHI score over recent years. Since 2000, the country has reduced its GHI score by a quarter and has a score in 2016 of 28.5 (rank 97 of 118 countries). Recent data show that almost 40% of Indian children under five years of age are stunted compared to over 60% in the early 1990s. Stunting is an indicator for chronic under-nutrition and means the affected children are too short for their age. India currently has the fifth highest GHI score in Asia— better than only Afghanistan, Timor-Leste, Pakistan, and North Korea. “India is slated to become the world’s most populous nation in just six years, and it’s crucial that we meet this milestone with a record of ensuring that the expected 1.4 billion Indians have enough nutritious food to lead healthy and successful lives,” said PK Joshi, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Director for South Asia. “India is making tremendous progress—but we have significant challenges ahead.” Director General, IFPRI, Shenggen Fan, says, “Simply put, countries must accelerate the pace at which they are reducing hunger or we will fail to achieve the second Sustainable Development Goal.” “Ending global hunger is certainly possible, but it’s up to all of us that we set the priorities right to ensure that governments, the private sector and civil society devote the time and resources necessary to meet this important goal.” Globally, the Central African Republic, Chad, and Zambia had the highest levels of hunger in the report. The GHI score for the developing world as a whole is 21.3, which is in the low end of the “serious” category. …  (Hindustan Times 11/10/2016)

45. 224 million Indians live below poverty line: WB (21)

CHENNAI: According to a World Bank report, India has the most number of people who live below the international poverty line of $1.90 a day. The report, titled ‘Taking on inequality’ points out while taking about the distribution of the world’s poor that while India is not the leader when it comes to the percentage of its citizens living in poverty, it leads in sheer volume due to the size of its population. “While half the world’s poor live in Sub-Saharan Africa, four of the top 10 countries by the number of the poor are not in this region, namely, Bangladesh, China, India, and Indonesia,” pointed out the report. But unlike its Asian neighbours, India leads the pack in the sheer number of people living below the international poverty line. “Despite the relatively low headcount ratios, these four countries have large populations. India is by far the country with the largest number of people living under the international US$1.90-aday poverty line, 224 million, more than 2.5 times as many as the 86 million in Nigeria, which has the second-largest population of the poor worldwide,” pointed out the report. According to the report, Sub- Saharan Africa has one in two of the poor worldwide, while India accounts for one in three. “Overall, 243.5 million people live in countries with poverty headcount ratios above 50%, while around 356. million live in economies where the ratio ranges from 30% to 50%,” it said. (New Indian Express 11/10/16)

46. 2,021 ration shops linked online to strengthen PDS (21)

Raipur: A total of 12,021 ration shops have been computerized in Chhattisgarh and connected using Andorid-based Tablets, officials informed. The move had been taken to further strengthen the Public Distribution System (PDS) and make its functioning more transparent, officials informed. Considerable progress has also been achieved in Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan with 17,000 (99%), 11,965 (97%) and 24,649 (96%) automated Fair Price Shops (FPSs) respectively, the Central government has informed. As a result, these States have been able to reduce ghost lifting, achieve better targeting of food subsidies by authentication of eligible beneficiaries, improvement in service delivery, weeding out bad FPSs, etc. Notably, Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan has requested States to expedite the reforms so as to bring transparency in the functioning of Public Distribution System (PDS), which is a key feature of National Food Security Act (NFSA). Highlighting the significant role played by Central and State Governments in ensuring food security to more than 80 crore eligible beneficiaries under the NFSA, which is presently being implemented in 34 States/UTs, Paswan requested Kerala and Tamil Nadu also to implement the Act as early as possible. The Minister was addressing the inaugural session of the National Conference on Reforms in PDS and Computerization in New Delhi recently. He appreciated the significant efforts made by the various State/UT Governments in achieving 100% digitization of ration cards and automating 1.5 Lakh Fair Price Shops across the country. Officers from the State Governments of Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra shared the Best Practices in Aadhaar Seeding, FPS automation and Supply Chain Management for the benefit of others States/UTs. The Minister also requested the concerned States/UTs, lagging behind in PDS Computerization in general, and in Aadhaar seeding and FPS automation in particular. Paswan said due to Aadhaar seeding a total of 2.33 crore ghost/fraudulent/duplicate ration cards have been deleted across 27 States and UTs which has led to estimated ‘Rightful Targeting of Food Subsidies’ of Rs. 14,000 crore….  (Pioneer 16/10/16)

47. Residents, NGOs take to streets to feed the hungry on World Food Day (21)

Coimbatore: For 60-year-old G Bala Mohan, a retired TNSTC employee, every Sunday is special. On this day, he cooks and distributes 50 packets of food among people living on the streets. He has been doing this for the past 2 years. “My entire family is contributing to this effort. I was moved by a sermon on hunger and feeding the poor two years ago. Since then, we have been donating home-cooked food every Sunday,” he said. “Every Sunday my family wakes up at 5am and we purchase 6kgs of 14 varieties of vegetables. These vegetables are cooked with dal and rice which is later packed. I go around the city and donate it to at least 50 people,” said Bala Mohan. Several NGOs also contributed to helping the hungry on World Food Day by donating food packets, releasing songs and short films and inaugurating side-walk fridges. No Food Waste, an NGO, released a song sung by a corporation engineer’s daughter titled ‘Vanam Engel Ellaye’ that touches upon the importance of sharing food and eradicating hunger. Padmanabhan Gopalan of No Food Waste said that while he was holding a discussion with engineer C S Rajesh Venugopal on the various Smart City initiatives, the topic of hunger came up. “We decided to write a song and his daughter, a Class 8 student, R Shruthi sang it,” he said. Another group, Food Bank India, Coimbatore chapter, released a short film on the importance of sharing fresh food with the needy. “Most often, people eat their fill and donate the leftovers. But the hungry deserve fresh, healthy food. So we donate freshly packed food made especially for the homeless, twice a week. Every Thursday and Sunday we donate food packets to more than 500 people. On World Food Day we donated 1089 food packets, 530 vadais, 547 biscuit packets, 50 bread loafs, 50 kgs of sweets, 12 kgs of fruits and 300 water bottles across more than 12 orphanages and the homeless on the roads,” said Vaishnavi who founded the Food Bank in the city. Over 50 volunteers gathered at VOC park and sorted the food and began the drive at 11am. The No Food Waste team also inaugurated a facility and a training centre at Ukkadam. “Close to 500kg of Dhal was donated by various women entrepreneurs and organizations run by women,” said Padmanabhan. The team also donated food between 12.30pm and 1.30pm to over 4000 people across 10 cities in the country. A crowd-funded side walk fridge, the second in the city, was also inaugurated in Town Hall near Pothys. “We plan to set up five more such fridges across the city,” said Padmanabhan. (Times of India 17/10/16)


48. Seven million jobs to be lost: Study (14)

Mumbai: The jobs of small people like farmers, petty retail vendors, contract labourers and construction workers have been disappearing at the rate of 550 jobs a day in the last four years and if this trend continues, employment would shrink by 7 million by 2050 in the country, said Delhi-based civil society group Prahar. The World Bank has also said “India needs to go back to the basics and protect sectors like farming, unorganised retail, micro and small enterprises which contribute to 99 per cent of current livelihoods in the country.” Pointing out that the labour intensity of SMEs is four times higher than that of large firms it further observed that the multinationals are particularly capitalistic and their investment commitments for the next five years of $225 million would translate into creation of only 6 million jobs, it said. It suggested that these sectors need support from the government not regulation, adding “India needs smart villages and not smart cities in the 21st century.” Quoting data released by the Labour Bureau, the Prahar study said India created only 1.35 lakh jobs in 2015. (Asian Age 17/10/16)

49. NRIs in Saudi Arabia over 60 years may have to return home (14)

JEDDAH (Saudi Arabia): Indian expatriates in Saudi Arabia over 60 years of age may have to return home with the Saudi government contemplating an age bar for foreign workers in private sector companies. If the decision is implemented, returning back home may be the only viable option for the thousands of NRIs who have settled in Saudi Arabia. This plan comes as a part of the Saudi labour ministry’s long-term strategy, designed in 2015, to prepare Saudi youth to dominate country’s job market. As per the strategy, the government’s objective is to create a situation where the number of expatriates is reduced to a possible minimum, and then encourage private sector companies to hire more native workers. However, the ministry of Labour has discarded the contention that it is forcing expatriates aged above 60 to retire from private sector companies, but the fact remains that the recent changes in Saudi job market are impacting the lives of many foreigners in the country. The laws are being made harsher and stricter on all fronts. The total workforce in the private sector in Saudi Arabia consists of approximately 90% expatriates among whom Indians constitute the largest community.At present, there are no restrictions on the maximum age of foreign employees to be permitted to work in Saudi Arabia. Although there will be some exceptions including investors, college professors, doctors etc, the new move would still be a blow for the foreigners hoping to earn big tax-free salaries beyond their 60s.If the decision on age bar is implemented, it will pose a great challenge for many companies who are in need of qualified and experienced workers. There is a widespread feeling that although youth have the energy and enthusiasm, seniors have qualification and experience.  The unemployment rate has dropped since the implementation of the labour ministry’s long-term strategy. There are approximately 500,000 foreign workers over 60 years of age working for private firms in Saudi Arabia. The officials have made it clear that expatriates who retire cannot get their sons to become their sponsors. Private companies too cannot sponsor retired men, which means that elderly NRIs will have practically no other option but to return home. (Times of India 16/10/16)

50. Seven million jobs to be lost: Study (14)

Mumbai: The jobs of small people like farmers, petty retail vendors, contract labourers and construction workers have been disappearing at the rate of 550 jobs a day in the last four years and if this trend continues, employment would shrink by 7 million by 2050 in the country, said Delhi-based civil society group Prahar. The World Bank has also said “India needs to go back to the basics and protect sectors like farming, unorganised retail, micro and small enterprises which contribute to 99 per cent of current livelihoods in the country.” Pointing out that the labour intensity of SMEs is four times higher than that of large firms it further observed that the multinationals are particularly capitalistic and their investment commitments for the next five years of $225 million would translate into creation of only 6 million jobs, it said. It suggested that these sectors need support from the government not regulation, adding “India needs smart villages and not smart cities in the 21st century.” Quoting data released by the Labour Bureau, the Prahar study said India created only 1.35 lakh jobs in 2015. (Asian Age 17/10/16)


51. Haryana Jats to campaign against BJP in UP (25)

CHANDIGARH: Jat leaders, who have been demanding reservation for the community in Haryana, will be camping in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh over the next two months to build pressure on both the Centre and state governments to meet their demands. The All India Jat Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti (AIJASS) has announced four big rallies in Jat-dominated western Uttar Pradesh. Its president Yashpal Malik has announced that they will oppose the BJP if it fails to “ensure justice to the Jats of Haryana”.AIJASS, which is one of the strongest Jat organiza tions in the country , is demanding that cases registered against agitators during the riots in Haryana in February be withdrawn and their quota in central government jobs be restored. “In the rallies, we will discuss how to oppose BJP in the elections if it fails to give us quota,” Malik told TOI on Wednesday. Jats had backed BJP in fairly large numbers in Uttar Pra desh in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections after the Muzaffarnagar riots 12 months earlier.Many Jat leaders had even joined the BJP then. Malik, who has played a significant role in spreading reservation protests in Haryana, said the state government failed to fulfil its promises to the community . “It has been about eight months since the violence and fake cases lodged against the Jats have not been withdrawn despite a promise,” he added. More than 2,000 cases were registered in Haryana in connection with the rioting. “The state government is not even representing the case of reservation in courts properly ,” he alleged. Jats play a significant role in about 125 seats in Uttar Pradesh. According to Malik, the community plays a deciding role in about 100 seats in western Uttar Pradesh. “Even if 50% Jats don’t vote BJP , the party won’t be able to open its account in Jat-dominated seats,” claimed Malik. Muslims and dalits also have sizeable population in these constituencies with whom the community leaders want to have an alliance. In June, Jat agitators had raised slogans in favour of BSP chief Mayawati in Haryana. Congress and INLD leaders had rushed to their protest venues in Kaithal. The leaders had also offered support to Mayawati in the “time of need”. Haryana’s Jats have traditionally backed INLD and Congress. (Times of India 13/10/16)

52. Maratha protests: OBCs, Dalits plan silent morchas to defend quotas (25)

Mumbai: A consolidation of Other Backward Classes (OBC) and Dalits to counter the growing show of strength by Marathas, 10 splinter groups have forged an alliance and decided to organise silent morchas across 358 talukas of Maharashtra’s 36 districts with the broader aim of defending their reservation quota. Under the banner of OBC Janjagruti Mahamorcha, leaders from both OBC and Dalit communities plan to reach out to each village to guard their rights. According to Anil Mahajan, president of Maharashtra Malli (OBC) Mahasangh and one of the organisers, their main demand president is that there should be no compromise on existing quota limits due to the demand put forward by Marathas on reservation for jobs and education. “The OBCs and Dalits are not against reservation for Marathas, but it should be over and above the existing (limit),” he said. Beginning with a morcha in Beed district of Marathwada region on October 20, the Dalit-OBC groups will take their rallies to Jalgaon in north Maharashtra, Nagpur, Mumbai (after Diwali) and other districts later. The decision was taken soon after the first experimental OBC-Dalit rally in Newasa taluka of Ahmednagar district on October 10. Anil Mahajan said, “All groups representing OBCs and Dalits have decided to unite under Jangatruti Mahamorcha. We have decided to take silent morchas that will be disciplined, non-violent.” He indicated that Kunbhi-Marathas, classified under OBCs in Vidarbha region, are supporting their plan for silent rallies. Dalit activist Ramrao Gawli said, “Unlike Maratha morchas, Dalits-OBC rallies will not be a show of strength due to financial constrains. But we are working to reach the message at the grassroots level.” The OBC-Dalit show of unity has the Congress and the NCP worried, as the parties fear that the ruling BJP would take political advantage. Of 288 Assembly constituencies in Maharashtra, voters from OBC and Dalit communities are influential in nearly 180 seats across Marathwada, Vidarbha, north Maharashtra, parts of western Maharashtra and Konkan regions. Maratha voters are a dominant force in approximately 70 to 75 seats in Marathwada and western Maharashtra regions. “Through these morchas, the OBCs and Dalits want to warn the established Maratha leaders who have set the process of dividing the society on caste lines. The majority of the Maratha stalwarts belong to the Congress and the NCP,” a senior Dalit leader said on conditions of anonymity. Prakash Ambedkar, leader of Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh, said: “The assertion of Marathas has set the process of OBC-Dalit unification. It is a natural phenomenon. Marathas are known for their political and economic might, and the fact that they have taken to streets have instilled fear in vulnerable sections of the societies such as Dalits and OBCs.” (Indian Express 15/10/16)

53. SC to state, HC: Complete process of quota in judicial services (25)

Patna: The Supreme Court has asked the Bihar Government and Patna high court to complete the exercise for providing reservation to backward classes in the state judicial services by January 1, 2017. The apex court has also asked them to complete the process for filling up vacancies in the judicial services by June 30, 2017. In a recent order in State of Bihar Vs Dayanand Singh case, Justices J Chelameswar and A M Sapre said, “As on today, 406 posts of junior civil judges are vacant and appropriate steps are required to be taken to fill up such posts … In view of the huge number of vacancies in the judicial services, it is desirable that the whole exercise must be completed expeditiously, preferably by January 1, 2017. Thereafter, the process for filling up the vacancies shall be taken up by all concerned and completed by June 30, 2017.” The apex court also ordered for appointment of those backward classes candidates whose appointments were withheld after the Patna high court quashed the state government’s decision to provide reservation in judicial services. “Having regard to the facts that (I) a large number of vacancies exist in judicial services (II) the question of reservation is lingering for a quarter century, (III) the remoteness of possibility of the state government completely failing to establish the need to provide for reservation in judicial services, we deem it appropriate to direct that these candidates be appointed to the service against the vacancies which arose subsequent to the 2012 notification,” the court said. It further opined that there was a need for providing appropriate reservations in favour of the specified backward classes even in the judicial services. “However, under the scheme of things, the executive is not the only authority to formulate such policy or to give effect to. The executive is under a constitutional obligation to consult the high court, both for framing and giving effect to such policy of providing reservation.”The court permitted the Bihar government to initiate the process of consultation by furnishing necessary information on its own assessment regarding the need to provide reservation in favour of specified backward classes in the judicial services. “If there is a consensus of opinion between the state and the high court, the state would be at liberty to make the appropriate rules providing for reservation. In the event of any differences of opinion, the government must record reasons for its inability to accept the conclusions communicated by the high court and proceed to amend the Rules in accordance with law keeping in mind the various constitutional principles governing the exercise of such power. Such an exercise is required to be undertaken … ‘not to determine who between them is entitled to greater importance or is to take the winners prize at the end of the debate. The task (before us) has to be performed with this perception’,” the bench said. (Times of India 17/10/16)

54. Now, Dalits react by staging more rallies, raise concerns in government (25)

MUMBAI: Even as processions by Marathas to demand reservation and halt misuse of the SC/ST (Prevention of atrocities) Act have drawn huge crowds, counter rallies seeking implementation of the Act in letter and spirit too are getting massive support. Alarmed by the Maratha morchas, prominent dalit organisations under the banner of the Atrocity Samarthan Samiti have begun taking out processions across the state. The first procession was taken out in Latur, followed by another in Beed. While Dalit activists marched to the collector’s office in Nanded on Sunday, a procession is on the cards in Parbhani in a day or two. “We will not tolerate dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in any manner as demanded by the Maratha leaders. In fact, we have demanded that the law be implemented in letter and spirit and all the cases registered under the Act be fast-tracked,” a leader of the movement said. The increasing mobilisation along community lines are now posing a huge challenge to the government and raising concerns about a risein social tensions. “People are agitating over issues that could be resolved amicably. No doubt the Kopardi episode (gang rape and murder of a minor) was serious, but some vested interests are blowing it out of proportion and giving it a completely different look,” chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said recently.A convener of the Maratha agitation,however, countered that “every organisation or individual has a right to take out a procession. We took out processions for our cause, they too have a right, we will not interfere in their agitation”.The demands raised at the Dalit rallies however are at odds with those highlighted at the Maratha morchas. It includes strict implementation of the SC/ST Act, disposal of all pending cases under the Act in a time-bound manner, status quo on reservations. In addition, the Dalit groups have sought to build an axis with the Muslim community by championing their cause for reservation in jobs and education. (Times of India 19/10/16)


55. Trump would be ‘dangerous’ if elected: UN human rights chief (1)

GENEVA: US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump would be “dangerous from an international point of view” if he is elected, the UN human rights chief said on Wednesday, defiantly doubling down on his recent expression of concerns about “populist demagogues” that prompted a rebuke from Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations. In a broad-ranging news conference touching on issues like violence in Yemen, Syria and sub-Saharan Africa, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said some remarks by Trump are “deeply unsettling and disturbing to me,” particularly on torture and about “vulnerable communities.” “If Donald Trump is elected, on the basis of what he has said already and unless that changes, I think it’s without any doubt that he would be dangerous from an international point of view,” Zeid told reporters in Geneva. The comments from Zeid, a Jordanian prince, are likely to fan a debate in UN circles about whether he has been overstepping his mandate as the High Commissioner for Human Rights with comments on the US presidential nominee and nationalist, xenophobic leaders in parts of Europe. Only a day earlier, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations in New York, Vitaly Churkin, said Zeid shouldn’t criticize foreign heads of state and government “for their policies. This is not his business. He should be more focused on his specific responsibilities.” Zeid alluded to a report Friday by The Associated Press indicating that Churkin had last month formally complained directly to the UN secretary-general about Zeid’s comments, saying: “I was not there, of course, and there was no demarche (formal report) made to me.”The rights chief also advanced the debate publicly. While he acknowledged UN rules that instruct the world body to avoid intervening in issues that are the “domestic jurisdiction of states,” Zeid alluded to similar complaints about interference once made by apartheid South Africa that the UN General Assembly dismissed “time and again.” As for the run-up to the November 8 US presidential election, Zeid said: “Clearly I am not keen or intent on interfering in any political campaign within any particular country.” Still, he added that he felt he should speak out in the wake of Trump’s calls that suggested he favored a “potential” for an increase in “the use of torture.” (Times of India 12/10/2016)

56. NHRC orders probe into patient death in ambulance in Bijnor (1)

Agra: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday issued notice to the state government over the death of a patient in Bijnor district, due to the “unavailability” of oxygen in the ambulance. The notice was issued after taking suo motu cognizance of media reports regarding the death of asthma patient in Chandpur area because the oxygen cylinder in the ambulance was empty. Relatives of the patient had reportedly protested, and the Chief Medical Officer had promised a probe into the matter. “Taking a serious view of the alleged medical negligence, the Commission has issued a notice to the government of Uttar Pradesh through its secretary, Department of Medical Health & Family Welfare, calling for a report within four weeks,” said an NHRC spokesperson. The Commission said it is shocked that a human life could not be saved even after the timely arrival of an ambulance because the oxygen cylinder – the most crucial and important life-saving apparatus – was not functional. (Indian Express 14/10/2016)

57. Pak army continues to rain misery on Baloch civilians, several abducted in Naseerabad (1)

Geneva: Continuing to commit atrocities on Baloch civilians, Pakistani forces burnt down several houses, abducted many locals and also killed an innocent Baloch civilian during an operation in Naseerabad area. According to Baloch Republican Students Organisation based in Germany, another Baloch civilian was killed and several women were taken away by the Pakistan Army during an operation in Dilband and Nagahi areas. Meanwhile, Baloch Republican Party spokesman Sher Mohammad Bugti, in a statement condemned Pakistani aggression against Baloch civilian. He said that Pakistani forces conducted a heavy military operation Goburd area of Mand and abducted several Baloch people. Relatives of the victims protested in front of an army camp installed on a hospital but attracted the attention of no media or so-called human rights organizations. “State aggression has grown to limits. An innocent Baloch civilian was killed due to indiscriminate firing by Pakistani armed forces,” he said. On the other hand, military operations are taking place in Dilband and Nagahi areas of Kalat from past three days. Pakistani forces sieged the area and abducted, hanged an innocent Baloch civilian identified as Mubarak Bugti s/o Jana Bugti upside down to a tree for an entire night and then took him along with his family. He further said that Pakistani forces also launched military operations in Chattar, Sherani, Hoti and adjacent areas of Naseerabad. Helicopters have indiscriminately bombarded the area killing an innocent Baloch civilian, Lalu Bugti. He urged the human rights groups to take all practical measures to ensure put an end to state atrocities on Balochistan people. (Asian Age 18/10/16)

58. Submit report on 740 tribal student deaths in 10 years, says NHRC (1)

Mumbai: The National Human Rights Commissi-on (NHRC) has taken suo motu cognizance of news reports that 740 students of residential schools (ashramshalas) in tribal areas have died of various health issues over last 10 years. The NHRC has asked the state, through the chief secretary, to submit a report within four weeks. The figures are reportedly based on an internal report of the state tribal development department. A government official said students have died of dengue, malaria, food poisoning, suicides, drownings and even snake bites. The issue of came to fore after a 12-year-old girl from a Palghar residential school died on October 7. The NHRC said ashramshalas lacked health services and basic amenities. According to the norms, students in tribal areas should be screened at least twice a year, but government agencies are not following it, said the notice to the state. “The commission has observed that the contents of the news reports are shocking and painful. The students coming from tribal communities generally belong to poor families. The school authorities, as their lawful guardians, are responsible for their welfare, safety and healthcare needs. The negligence on part of the department of tribal development and school authorities is a violation of Right to Life, Dignity and Equality of students,” noted NHRC. Several posts are lying vacant in the 552 ashramshalas run by the state tribal development department. Sources claimed the budgetary provisions are not being utilized properly. (Times of India 19/10/16)


59. Sex worker can’t cry rape if denied money: Supreme Court (19)

NEW DELHI: Acquitting three persons of rape charges, the Supreme Court has ruled that a sex worker cannot lodge a sexual assault complaint against her customers if they refuse to pay. A bench of Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Amitava Roy said that though the evidence given by a woman alleging rape must get importance from the trial court, but it could not be taken as “gospel truth”.”The evidence of prosecutrix must be examined as that of an injured witness whose presence at the spot is probable but it can never be presumed that her statement should always, without exception, be taken as gospel truth,” the bench said. The ruling came in a 20-year-old case from Bengaluru. A woman, working as a maid, had alleged that three persons abducted her in an auto, took her to a garage and repeatedly raped her. The three accused had challenged a Karnataka high court order directing their prosecution. The SC bench examined the witness all over again and said, “Her conduct during the alleged ordeal is also unlike a victim of rape and betrays somewhat submissive and consensual disposition.” In her statement to the trial court, the woman had said that after the three accused dumped her, she went back to locate the garage where she was raped before lodging the complaint so as to enable her to give proper evidence about the crime. The woman’s roommate, however, spilled the beans while deposing as a witness. She said the woman used to take financial help from the accused persons and, after completing her household work, used to indulge in prostitution at night. The roommate further told the court that the woman had approached the accused persons for Rs 1,000 which they declined to give. When asked why she had lodged the complaint against the accused persons, the woman had said that it would have compelled them to pay the money she wanted.The bench said, “This witness’s version is plausible, and thus, fits in with the defence plea to demolish the prosecution case.” Writing the judgment for the bench, Justice Roy said, “Her vengeful attitude in the facts and circumstances, as disclosed by her, if true, demonstrably evinces a conduct manifested by a feeling of frustration stoked by an intense feeling of deprivation of something expected, desired or promised.” Acquitting the three accused, Justices Ghose and Roy drew the conclusion, “We are of the unhesitant opinion that the prosecution has failed to prove the charge against the appellants to the hilt as obligated in law and thus, they are entitled to benefit of doubt.” (Times of India 12/10/16)

60. Consumer courts can try cases despite arbitration clause (19)

CHENNAI: Merely because there is an arbitration clause in the terms of agreement between a consumer and service provider, it does not prohibit a consumer forum from trying the case, said the district consumer forum, Chengalpet in Chennai, underling a legal precedent. It then fined a private Tamil TV channel provider of 15,000 for deficiency in services.According to M Shakkira Banu of Ayanavaram, she had subscribed the services of Sun Direct TV in May 2009 after paying 2,250, including installation charges and basic plan, for one year. From July 2010, she was not able to watch all the channels she had subscribed to, and her complaint was not rectified after she paid the monthly subscription charge. Shakkira issued a legal notice to the service provider in December 2010, which, also was not replied to. She then moved the district consumer disputes redressal forum claiming compensation for deficiency in services. In its counter, Sun Direct said according to the terms of the agreement, any dispute could be resolved only through arbitration. So it was beyond the ambit of the forum to try the case. The disruption in services was because of satellite failure-an unforeseen fault-which had disrupted connection of more than six million customers. The fault was attended to, but Shakkira was also not able to watch various channels as she did not renew the subscription, it said. A bench said according to the relevant section of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), 1986, the provisions of the CPA, was to be “in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of any other law…” According to the Supreme Court’s precedent, the case was well within the jurisdiction of the forum. Despite paying the subscription charges, the service to Shakkira was disconnected on the pretext that she had not paid the charges. The service provider had failed to “verify diligently and properly” the payment made. It then directed Sun TV Direct to refund the installation charges along with a compensation of 10,000 for causing mental agony and 5,000 as case costs. (Times of India 13/10/2016)

61. Judges cannot be blamed for pendency of cases, says CJI (19)

CHENNAI: Asserting that the increasing pendency was not because of the delay caused by judges in disposing of cases, Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur said a single bench of the Supreme Court hears 89 cases per day, when the Supreme Court of the United States hears the same number of cases in a year. Referring to a 1997 report of the Law Commission which states that the overall judges strength in the country should be 40,000, the CJI said, “Even now the total judges’ strength in the country is just 18000.” Justice Thakur made the observations while delivering a special address in a Mediation Awareness Programme to Judicial Officers from Chennai, Kancheepuram, and Tiruvallur districts organised by the Tamil Nadu Mediation and Conciliation Centre (TNMCC), High Court of Madras in association with the Tamil Nadu State Judicial Academy (TNSJA). Stressing the need for frequent interactions between the judges of the lower judiciary and the judges of the high courts, the Chief Justice stated that the gap between the two levels must be reduced. He encouraged judicial officers present to refer litigations to mediation centres. Earlier, speaking at the 50th year celebration of the C.P.Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation here, Justice Thakur said there was an urgent need to address the problem of militancy in Kashmir, the Maoist insurgency in the central and eastern states and separatist groups operating in Northeast with the required political consensus in the larger interests of the country. “These threats in their diverse forms could, unless resolved, be antithetical to the progress India has made so far in the economic sphere,” he added. “The credit for my being here must entirely go to the distinguished lawyer Aryama Sundram (grandson of CPR). I have seen him persuade the judges in the court to think on the lines that he does. I was just wondering if the grandson was so persuasive and has touched so much eminent height in legal profession, how much more persuasive and how great C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar would have been.” In his presidential address, former Governor of West Bengal Gopalkrishna Gandhi recalled how C.P. Ramaswami had given up the honorific prefix ‘Sir’ in protest against the incarceration of Mahatma Gandhi. “But the title still stuck to him because of the affection and respect people had for him,” he said and added that C.P. Ramaswami served as an exemplary balance between the best of the Western systems of education, Governance, and the richness of Indian culture, knowledge and the Indian Renaissance. (The Hindu 16/10/16)

62. SC seven-judge bench to start hearing on Hindutva judgement (19)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court is all set to revisit its two-decade-old Hindutva judgement for an authoritative pronouncement on electoral law categorising misuse of religion for electoral gains as “corrupt practice”. The seven-judge bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and justices M B Lokur, S A Bobde, A K Goel, U U Lalit, D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao is likely to begin on Tuesday its crucial hearing in the matter. The apex court in February 2014 had decided to refer the matter to a seven judges bench. The issue assumes importance as questions were raised on its 1995 verdict which held that vote in name of “Hindutva/ Hinduism” did not prejudicially affect any candidate and since then three election petitions are pending on the subject in the apex court. The apex court’s three-judge bench in 1995 had held that “Hindutva/Hinduism is a way of life of the people in the sub-continent” and “is a state of mind”.The judgement was delivered in the case of Manohar Joshi versus N B Patil which was authored by Justice J S Verma who found that statement by Joshi that “First Hindu State will be established in Maharashtra did not amount to appeal on ground of religion”.The observation was made while dealing with the question regarding the scope of corrupt practices mentioned in sub-section (3) of Section 123 of the 1951 Representation of People Act. The issue for interpretation of sub-section (3) of Section 123 of the Act once again had come on January 30, 2014 (Friday) before a five-judge which referred it for examination before a larger bench of seven judges. The seven judges would be dealing with the appeal filed in 1992 by BJP leader Abhiram Singh, whose election to 1990 Maharashtra Assembly was set aside in 1991 by the Bombay high court. A three-judge bench on April 16, 1992 had referred Singh’s appeal in which the same question and interpretation of sub-section (3) of Section 123 of the Act was raised to a five-judge Constitution Bench. While the five-judge bench was hearing this matter on January 30, 2014 it was informed that an identical issue was raised in the election petition filed by one Narayan Singh against BJP leader Sunderlal Patwa and the apex court’s another Constitution Bench of five Judges has referred it to a larger bench of seven Judges. Thereafter, the five-judge bench had referred Singh’s matter also to the Chief Justice for placing it before a seven-judge bench. The January 30, 2014, order said, “Be that as it may, since one of the questions involved in the present appeal is already referred to a larger bench of seven judges, we think it appropriate to refer this appeal to a limited extent regarding interpretation of sub-section (3) of Section 123 of the 1951 Act to a larger bench of seven judges. “The Registry will place the matter before the Chief Justice for constitution of a bench of seven judges. The matter may be listed subject to the order of the Chief Justice.”The apex court had also noted, “In the course of arguments, our attention has been invited to the order of this court dated August 20, 2002 in Narayan Singh vs Sunderlal Patwa. By this order, a Constitution Bench of five judges has referred the question regarding the scope of corrupt practice mentioned in sub-section (3) of Section 123 of the 1951 Act to a larger bench of seven judges. (Times of India 16/10/16)

63. HC dismisses PIL seeking release of sick prisoners (19)

Allahabad: The Allahabad high court on Monday dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking release of prisoners undergoing life term and are seriously ill. Dismissing the PIL, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Dilip Babasaheb Bhosale and Justice Yashwant Varma said that if any prisoner is ill, he can make a claim for his treatment on government expenses. The release of a prisoner cannot be in public interest, the court added. The court further said that if a person has committed murder, then he has to remain behind bars for the period of the sentence awarded by the court concerned.  (Times of India 18/10/16)


64. Held for WhatsApp message on beef, youth dies in custody (1)

Ranchi: Less than a week after he was arrested for allegedly sharing an objectionable comment about beef on WhatsApp, Minhaj Ansari, a 22-year-old from Jamtara district in Jharkhand, died at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) here on Sunday. While his family claimed that Ansari was beaten up and tortured in police custody, police officers cited medical records that showed Ansari was suffering from encephalitis.Police officers, however, admitted that there were prima facie lapses on the part of the officer-in-charge of Narayanpura police station, Sub-Inspector Harish Pathak. He has been suspended and an FIR of murder has been registered against him. According to police, a WhatsApp message that purportedly made an objectionable comment about beef started doing the rounds in Dighari village of Narayanpura, in Jamtara district, on October 2. A few people were detained as suspects. While the others were later released, Ansari was placed under arrest on October 3. Two days later, Ansari’s father, Umar Sheikh, and the rest of his family came to know that Ansari had been shifted to Dhanbad for treatment after he reportedly sustained injuries in police custody. “They went to the police station along with other villagers. There was a scuffle at the police station between Ansari’s parents and the officer-in-charge, Harish Pathak. Ansari’s family filed a written complaint against Pathak, following which an FIR of attempt to murder and outraging the modesty of a woman was registered against him. The officer was suspended immediately. After Ansari’s death, the attempt to murder charge has been changed to a murder charge,” said Jamtara Deputy Commissioner Ramesh Kumar Dubey. … (Indian Express 12/10/16)

65. Family to claim damages from police (1)

KOCHI: There are many cases in which the police intervene at the last minute to stop child marriages or end dowry disputes. But what about a normal marriage? Recently in Kannur, a groom’s family backed off from a marriage proposal after witnessing a police search at the bride’s house. The State Police Complaints Authority (SPCA), in a recent order, allowed the bride’s family to claim damages from the police department and the State for the incident. The order, based on a petition filed by a person called Kabeer, pertains to a search operation conducted by the Koothuparamba police on August 5 this year. Kabeer is currently serving a jail term at the Central Prison in Kannur for theft. As per the petition, the police conducted a surprise check at his wife’s house when the family members were busy finalising a marriage alliance for his sister-in-law. Frightened by the police action, the groom’s party backed off from the proposal. SPCA Chairman K. Narayana Kurup conducted a hearing on the case and sought a report from the Superintendent of Police in Kannur. Pronouncing its verdict, the authority decided to dispose of the petition in the absence of evidence including details of the officers who participated in the search. It, however, strongly criticised the officers for their ‘despicable role’ in the incident and said the police should have refrained from cordoning off the house as the petitioner had been undergoing a jail term. (The Hindu 13/10/16)

66. Alleged custodial torture: HC orders autopsy of paan masala vendor (1)

Chennai: The Madras High Court on Friday directed the Dean of the Royapettah Government Hospital to constitute a team of two doctors to conduct an autopsy on the body of a paan masala vendor, who allegedly suffered custodial harassment at the hands of Manali police. Vacation Judge Justice B. Rajendran passed the direction on a plea moved by Tamil Nadu Pan Beeda and Zarda Traders Association, seeking a Magistrate enquiry on the alleged custodial harassment meted out to Srikanth alias Balaji. The judge also directed the RGH to submit the post-mortem examination report to the court on October 18. According to the petitioner, paan beeda shop owners were being brutally attacked by the police who were conducting searches in connection with the sale of paan masala and zarda. (The Hindu 16/10/16)

67. Children in custody allege torture by cops (1)

RANCHI: Taking suo moto cognizance, members of Jharkhand State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (JSCPCR) on Tuesday visited the boys’ observation home in Dumardagga to record statements of juveniles, who were accused of mobile theft, allegedly kept in police custody in Khunti for over 48 hours. In their statement, the children alleged not only were they kept in police custody but were also denied food and brutally thrashed by the policemen. Member of commission Manoj Kumar said, “The children said they were made to lie down on their stomach and while one policeman placed his foot on the hand of one of the boys, another policeman held their legs and beat them up using fibre sticks.” Kumar further said while the children only stole 25 phones, which they even returned later, police has accused them of stealing 70 phones. The robbery occurred in June this year and the children were only taken into custody on Saturday. They were kept in custody till Monday and were presented at CJM court, following which they were sent to an observation home in Dumardagga. Kumar said the commission has written a letter to Khunti SP, demanding an explanation on the matter. “We wrote the letter on Tuesday, asking the SP to submit an enquiry report to the commission within three days, following which commission will take further action,” he said. Meanwhile, parents of the accused visited child welfare committee on Tuesday, requesting release of their children.Manoj Kumar Rai, CWC Khunti chairman, said, “They gave a written request to get the children out on bail. I have forwarded the letter to Juvenile Justice Board for rehabilitation and betterment of the children.” “The report will hopefully be submitted on Wednesday,” Khunti SP Anish Gupta said. (Times of India 19/10/16)


68. Kashmir: Editors Guild of India urges Mehbooba Mufti to reconsider ban on Kashmir Reader

Srinagar: The Editors Guild of India has urged J-K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to “reconsider the order to ban the publication” of Kashmir Reader, a Srinagar-based English daily. The J-K government banned the publication of the newspaper on October 2, accusing it of publishing “content that incites violence”.“The Editors Guild of India has always championed the cause of the freedom of the press and believes that any move to obstruct, infringe or impose a ban on the press is an assault on democracy itself,” a statement issued by the President of Guild Raj Chengappa said. “The Editors Guild of India requests the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir to go into the complaint that the ban was ‘arbitrary’ and that ‘no notice was served to him before publication”. While asking Chief Minister Mufti to reconsider the “order to ban the publication”, the Guild has also put the onus on editors to uphold the best journalistic standards of fairness and balance while publishing news. On October 2, the J-K government ordered ban on the publication of Kashmir Reader. The ban order issued by Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Farooq Ahmad Lone read that the newspaper contains “material and content which tends to incite acts of violence and disturb public peace and tranquility”. “It has been observed that the contents published in the above newspaper is of such nature that can easily cause incitement of acts of violence and disturbance of public tranquility in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and Srinagar district in particular,” the order reads. “It has become expedient in the interest of prevention of this anticipated breach of public tranquility to forthwith take necessary precautionary measures”. Valley journalists and editors have been protesting against the ban on the publication of the newspaper terming it “arbitrary” and as “against the spirit of democracy and freedom of press”. In fact, the Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) had sought the intervention of the Press Council of India and warned of “direct action” if the government failed to revoke the ban immediately. “The ban, without any prior notice to the printer, publisher and owner of Kashmir Reader is against the basic spirit of democracy as well as the freedom of press,” the Kashmir Editors Guild said. “The government order, banning the newspaper, is vague and unclear about the charges for which such a harsh step has been taken”. (Indian Express 11/10/16)

69. US expresses concern over journalist situation in Pakistan (1)

Washington: The US has expressed concern over the difficulties and dangers faced by journalists in Pakistan but refrained from commenting on the travel restrictions imposed on a Pakistani scribe for reporting a rift between the civilian and military leaderships. “I’m aware of the reports of restrictions on Mr. (Cyril) Almeida’s travel. I would refer you to the government of Pakistan for information on that,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters at his daily news conference yesterday. “On press freedom, it’s obviously an issue that we continue to raise regularly with the government of Pakistan, including our concerns about the difficulties and the dangers that journalists face there,” he said. “We are concerned about any efforts to limit press freedom or the ability of journalists to conduct their very, very important work,” Kirby said. Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists urged Pakistan to “immediately lift the travel ban” on Almeida. “Pakistan can be a dangerous place for journalists, but the nation has a proud tradition of a fiercely independent press,” said CPJ Asia Programme Coordinator Steven Butler. “Unhappiness with a press report should never be used as an excuse to restrict the freedom of a journalist,” he added. Under Secretary, State for Political Affairs, Tom Shannon held a working lunch with the Pakistan Ambassador to the US, Jalil Abbas Jilani. There was no readout of the meeting. Almeida, a prominent Pakistani journalist, has been barred from leaving the country after he reported a rift between the civilian and military leaderships over the powerful ISI shielding terror groups like the Haqqani network and LeT that led to Pakistan’s international isolation. (Asian Age 12/10/2016)

70. Preventing media covering court proceedings not acceptable: Kerala CM Vijayan (1)

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday said there is no bar on journalists to report court proceedings and called the action of a section of lawyers obstructing reporting unacceptable. Inaugurating the state meeting of Kerala Union of Working Journalist in Kochi, Vijayan said government would take action against those violating law in this regard. “There was no bar for journalists to report court proceedings and action of some lawyers putting obstruction in reporting cannot be accepted,” Vijayan said. His statement comes a day after some lawyers dragged out media persons who went at the Vigilance Court in Thiruvananthapuram to cover the hearing of a petition against former Industries Minister E P Jayarajan on an appointment row. “Advocates have no right to decide who should enter courts and who should not. The court complex belongs to the country. It is part of judiciary and advocates have no right over it”, he said. “It is also a misunderstanding that advocates have a small power that of judge”, he said. Preventing journalists amounted to causing hindrance to freedom of the press, he said, adding, the advocates should understand that it was violation of law. It is the duty and responsibility of the government to take steps to protect law of the land, he added. Vijayan also explained the initiatives taken by him in ending the standoff between media and a section of lawyers by holding discussion with High Court Chief Justice recently. A group of lawyers, angered over a media report about a government pleader allegedly misbehaving with a woman, had chased some media persons away and media have not been able to go to the High Court to report its proceedings since July 19. ‘A media delegation of Editors from Kerala had recently met President Pranab Mukherjee and brought to his notice the issues faced by journalists with regard to court reporting. The delegation had informed the President about the closure of media room inside the High Court in Kochi and at other courts in the state and the efforts by the Chief Justice to find an amicable solution to the problem. He said after the discussion he had with the Chief Justice, the High Court Registrar General had informed that there was no bar for media to cover court proceedings. Despite the assurance, the attack on journalist at the Vigilance Court on Friday is not acceptable, he said. Vijayan said that efforts should be made to isolate those trying to create problems. Meanwhile, police have registered a case in connection with Friday’s attack on journalists at the Vigilance Court. (Indian Express 16/10/16)

71. Defamation, sedition laws under panel’s scrutiny (1)

NEW DELHI: If ending anomalies in civil law has prompted the Law Commission of India (LCI) to look at uniform civil code, reform in criminal justice system has led it to zero in on sedition and defamation laws. In the backdrop of the “intolerance” debate, the LCI has begun examining all laws affecting freedom of speech and expression. These include laws relating to sedition, defamation and absence of safeguards in the realm of online trolling, right to privacy etc. For the first time, LCI has decided to organise a conference on this topic where it hopes to gather leading jurists, sitting Supreme Court and high court judges, lawyers, academicians and media professionals to brain storm on the issue. TOI has learnt that the outcome of the conference may be compiled and submitted to the central government as the LCI’s view on further course of action on sedition and related laws. “Object of the conference is to provide an excellent opportunity for sharing of every possible understanding, ideas and views relating to freedom of speech and expression: to receive wisdom from all possible source and fuse them into our administration of justice,” a person associated with the conference said. Organised in association with Commonwealth Legal Education Association the conference will be hosted in Greater Noida at Lloyd Law College where BJP leader Subramaniam Swami, former union minister Salman Khurshid and civil rights lawyer Prashant Bhushan are some of the invitees. The conference, slated to be held on November 5 and 6 is being held to help LCI “clarify, consolidate and codify particular branches of law,” the proposal says. It further explains that current Chairman of LCI, Justice B S Chauhan, is considering criminal justice reform in the country, “of which freedom of speech and expression and sedition forms a part.” (Times of India 18/10/16)


72. Maharashtra: Bhiwandi tense after communal clash in Muharram procession (7)

Thane: Members of two communities clashed in powerloom town of Bhiwandi in the district today during the Muharram procession, causing injuries to at least six persons, including policemen, in the stone-pelting. The situation in this communally-sensitive town is tense but under control now, police said. Bhiwandi MP Kapil Patil said the incident was not a serious one and that an urgent meeting of peace committee has been convened to defuse tension. The incident occurred when some of arches put up for just-concluded Navratri festival got damaged in a lane during the procession in the evening and members of both communities came face-to-face and hurled stones at each other. They also attacked police personnel, injuring a sub-inspector and some constables Unconfirmed reports stated that some members of public also sustained injuries in stone pelting. Police dispersed the mob and brought the situation under control. Thane Commissioner of Police, Paramveer Singh and Joint Commissioner of Police Ashutosh Dhumbre rushed to the spot to take stock of the situation. In late night, a two-wheeler was set on fire in front of Gayatri Nagar police chowkie in the town after videos of the damage caused to the arches were shared on social media. (The Indian Express 13/10/16)

73. Communal tension in Bihar town, prohibitory orders in place (7)

Patna: FOLLOWING COMMUNAL tension during immersion of Durga idols on Tuesday and the Muharram procession on Wednesday, prohibitory orders have been imposed in Bihariganj town of Madhepura since last evening. According to reports, the tension began on Monday evening, during a Durga Puja programme. “While the orchestra was playing, some Muslim youths tried to disrupt the function. The organisers forced them to leave the stage, but they later came back with more people and disrupted the function,” alleged Mukesh Kumar, a resident. On Tuesday, during the immersion of idols, some routes that passed through Muslim-dominated areas were reportedly blocked. The idols were finally immersed on Wednesday morning, with the administration deploying security forces and engaging community leaders.On Wednesday afternoon, two government vehicles were damaged when some people reportedly pelted stones during a Muharram procession. “We have imposed prohibitory orders to help avoid communal clashes. There are no reports of any clashes or injuries, and prohibitory orders will continue till further orders,” said Madhepura SP Vikas Kumar. The district administration officials said prohibitory orders have been imposed under CrPC 144 as a “precautionary measure”. “It is the handiwork of just a small group of anti-social elements,” said Bihar Disaster Management Minister Professor Chandrashekhar. Meanwhile, prohibitory orders were imposed in Piro town of Bhojpur on Thursday, following stone pelting between two groups on Wednesday evening. At least, five government vehicles were reported to have been torched. While 38 people have been detained in Madhepura, 18 have been detained in Bhojpur. (Indian Express 14/10/16)

74. Homes ransacked in communal violence in Bengal, people flee (7)

Hazinagar: Communal clashes at Hazinagar and Halisahar in North 24 Parganas district since Wednesday have left several people injured while an estimated 30 homes and several shops, apart from four vehicles, have been ransacked or set on fire. Police said the situation is under control now but many people have fled their homes. “We are ascertaining how many people were injured in the violence,” an official said. “But it is spread over a large area, which is very densely populated. The figure will not be less than 20. At least 30 homes and shops have been damaged, while at least four vehicles have been gutted.” The trigger was a low-intensity bomb allegedly thrown at a Muharram procession Wednesday, police said. While no one was injured then, it resulted in violence with a number of Hindu homes being allegedly attacked by mobs, and Muslim mobs allegedly retaliating. The initial violence was localised around Hazinagar’s Naihati Jute Mill area where the Jama Masjid is situated, and the neighbourhood around Nelson Road that has homes of both Muslims and Hindus. By Thursday, the violence had spread to nearby Patterson Road, a Hindu-majority area adjoining the Muslim-dominated colony around Hazinagar Chhoti Masjid. Hazinagar has been particularly tense for the past few months. “There has always been an issue with the Jama Masjid. Durga idol processions have traditionally avoided a route that directly crosses the mosque but since last year they have been insistent on using that route,” said Anwar Ali, 72, a tailor who lives in the area. Four days later, Muslim homes stood empty in Hindu-majority areas, as did Hindu homes in Muslim-dominated areas. Many of these houses bore signs of having been ransacked. With shops shut, food and medicine were beginning to become scarce. Anwar Ali’s shop, now gutted, was surrounded by shops owned by Hindus; these were left untouched. In contrast, BJP councilor of ward 23 at Halishahar Ravishankar Singh alleged, “I was conducting the tazia along with Muslim elders to ensure there was no violence. It was at this point that the mob turned up and started loot and arson. Even my office was not spared and they burnt everything but all Muslim homes and shops in the area were spared.”… (Indian xpress 17/10/16)


75. RSS chief says all of Kashmir, ‘including Mirpur, Muzaffarabad and Gilgit-Baltistan, is India’s’

NEW DELHI: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat today used a Dussehra speech to rein in the cow brigade+ and to also assert that “all of Kashmir, including Mirpur, Muzaffarabad and Gilgit-Baltistan, is India’s.”"Any unrest in Kashmir is fuelled by elements across the border, and (with the surgical strikes+ ) our government gave those elements a fitting reply,” Bhagwat said, adding that the country’s Army showed incredible bravery thanks to the Centre’s leadership. “They (Pakistan) have got the message that there is a limit to tolerance,” he added. As for cows, the RSS chief also warned the ‘cow brigade’+ to work within the law and to not break it, in its efforts to work towards the Centre’s goal of protecting cows.He added that, “you can’t compare cow protectors to those trying to spread religious hatred.” “Cow protection is good for the country…a lot of farmers are dependent on the cow,” said Bhagwat.”Due to discrimination based on caste, creed, language a few incidents take place in our society which are shameful,” the RSS chief said (Times of India 11/10/16)

76. RSS chief lauds Army for surgical strikes (26)

Nagpur:  RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat today lauded the army for carrying out surgical strikes, saying it has enhanced India’s prestige in the world and given the message to trouble-makers that there is a limit to its patience. The ongoing unrest in Kashmir, tension on the border and the issue of cow protection, which has brought BJP much flak, was the focus of the annual Dussehra address of the RSS chief, who vowed to root out social discrimination. Referring to Jammu and Kashmir, he said the situation there is of concern and said the commitment of our leaders that the whole of the state, including PoK, belongs to India is good. “What is needed is that this strength of statement is reflected in action as well,” he said. “Under our government, the army has recently given a befitting reply. The army’s and India’s prestige in the world have gone up. The trouble-makers have been given this message that there is a limit to patience… The one (Pakistan) which has been inimical to us is getting isolated. We are delighted with the valour shown by the army,” he said. The whole world is aware that the subversive activities constantly promoted from the across the border are mainly responsible for disturbances in the Kashmir valley, he said. With thousands of RSS functionaries in their new uniform of dark brown trousers instead of khaki shorts in attendance, he said the “firmness and efficiency shown in the matter of diplomacy and defence should permanently reflect in our policies”.”A level of perpetual co-ordination and co-operation is needed among in the defence forces and intelligence agencies as we have to pay a heavy price for a moment’s distraction,” he said. Bhagwat also stressed on the need for maintaining a strict vigil on maritime boundaries as well as frontier areas and said the government and administration should engage the locals to stop infiltration from across the border. (Deccan Herald 11/10/16)

77. Hindutva activists attack, force cancellation of private meeting of atheists in Mathura (26)

Meerut: A private meeting of atheists in Mathura was attacked by Hindutva activists on Friday morning before the meeting could start in the afternoon. Spiritual guru-turned-atheist Swami Balendu, who had invited like-minded atheists, friends and acquaintances from different parts of the country, to his ashram in Mathura, said immediately after the attack senior police officials came with the Hindutva activists and threatened and pressurised him to cancel the meeting. Swami Balendu cancelled the meeting after police officials said they cannot guarantee security to him and his guests because of the tension in the city due to the proposed private meet. Under pressure from Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Prishad and other Hindutva groups, the Mathura administration which had earlier given permission for the private meeting, also withdrew the official permission in the last minute. Senior administrative officials of Mathura, however, denied the charge of harassment and said they had to request the organisers to cancel the meeting as it could pose a “law and order problem”. “Over 50 activists of the VHP, the Bajrang Dal and local Hindutva groups reached the Bindu Seva Sansathan Ashram at about 10 in the morning and started shouting slogans and attacking the ashram property. Armed with sticks, the Hindutva activists broke the glass panels of the ashram belongings,” Swami Balendu told The Hindu on phone from Mathura. “Immediately after the attack, the Hindutva activists accompanied senior police officials and talked to us in a tone which can be termed as threatening. The Hindutva guys told us that the protest was a mere start and if we go ahead with the meeting then much bigger things could happen in the city,” added Swami Balendu. “Even though it was a private event we took all the permission. The Constitution permits us to be non-believers. But this seems like an all out attack on the freedom of expression and the freedom to be a non believer,” added Swami Balendu. “The police officials said that there was tension in the city and they can not guarantee us our safety and security. We were forced to cancel the meet because I can not jeopardise the safety and security of our guests,” he added. Swami Balendu alleged that the administration was harassing the guests who were on their way to Mathura for the event. “We were told by the administration that the guests who have reached the Ashram should be asked to leave as their presence could create law and order problem. Even the guests who are not aware of the cancellation of the event and who have reached Mathura, are not being allowed to come to the Ashram,” he alleged. Several participants of the meet told The Hindu that they were threatened by by the Hindutva activists not to write anything on social media platforms. All of the participants The Hindu talked to on phone wondered how could a private meeting of like minded people in a private property could create law and order problem. “The administration has been trying to harass us and shut the Ashram some how. They sent a food inspector to the restaurant so that they could seize the place. We did not want disturb any body. Neither was our intention to create a law and order problem. But what I fail to understand is that how and why few guests of mine, visiting my home, could create a law and order problem,” said Swami Balendu, who was born and brought up in Mathura, and comes from a “family of Hindu spiritualists”. (The Hindu 14/10/16)

78. VHP plea to CP over cow slaughter (26)

AHMEDABAD: A group of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists met the new city police chief A K Singh on Monday afternoon with a plea for police to pay more attention to cow slaughterers and cow rustlers rather than going after cow protectors who are out to `save gau mata’. A few cow protectors who had come with the VHP leaders said their representation was in response to the CP’s statement with regard to moral policing and his promise of action against violent vigilantes. VHP activist from Ahmedabad Raju Patel said cow stealing and slaughter is rampant in big cities. “We read reports in newspapers about recovery of beef. Footage of cow stealing is shown on local TV channels,” added Patel. North Gujarat VHP leader, Jethanand Harvani, said police should implement the anti-cow slaughter laws of Gujarat. The VHP leaders in their representation to the city police chief stated that cow protectors ( gau rakshaks) remain adamant on protecting cow progeny at any cost. Police sources said A K Singh heard the representations made by the VHP leaders and assured them that strict action will be taken against those who break the law. (Times of India 18/10/16)

79. VHP sants ‘concerned’ over declining Hindu numbers, urge to ‘produce more children’ (26)

Agra: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s two-day ‘Yuva Sant Chintan Sammelan’ in Kanpur ended on Tuesday with sants discussing the “decreasing population of Hindus and saffronisation of politics”. The sants expressed concern over the ‘one child’ concept being widely implemented among Hindu families and claimed that India will only thrive if it had “Hindu politics” and “politicians with morals”. The Sammelan was attended by around 175 young saints. Speaking to The Indian Express, VHP national secretary Ashok Tiwari said, “The decreasing population of Hindus had always been an issue of concern. The sants have decided to create awareness among Hindus to produce more children.” He added, “India has always been a Hindu country, hence all those who speak of saffronisation should remember that the country will thrive only if it has Hindu politics and politicians with morals.” Swami Akhileshwaranand Giri, president of VHP’s Yuva Sant Varg, said that morals and traditions among Hindus were decreasing with each passing year, adding that the only way to save Hinduism was “to create awareness among people to produce more children and make them morally and traditionally rich”. Tiwari said cow protection was another talking point at the Sammelan. “People should not let loose cows on the roads after getting milk. This should be banned,” he said, adding that the sants will be creating awareness among masses about taming cows. Violence in the name of cow protection is causing anger among people, he said. (Indian Express 19/10/16)

80. Supreme Court starts hearing in ‘Hindutva’ case (26)

New Delhi: Hearing began on Tuesday before a seven-judge bench of the Supreme Court to consider whether seeking of votes in the name of religion will amount to a corrupt practice under the Representation of the People Act warranting disqualification. Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur, who led the bench, will discuss the following broad issues: will the act of a candidate belonging to a particular community going around the constituency with a predominant population of his/her own community seek votes in the name of his community amounts to corrupt practice? Can a person belonging to one community seek votes from members of his community for a candidate belonging to another community? Will a candidate be held liable for corrupt practice if he even uses the inflammatory speeches of a religious leader to further his own electoral practices? Justice Verma, heading a three-judge bench of the apex court, had in 1995 overturned the Bombay high court verdict setting aside the election of Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi in Maharashtra. Soon after the 1992-92 Mumbai communal riots, Mr. Joshi had appealed to the voters to turn Maharashtra into India’s first Hindu state. Justice Verma, who authored the judgment in that verdict, had held, “In our opinion, a mere statement that the first Hindu State will be established in Maharashtra is by itself not an appeal for votes on the grounds of his religion but the expression, at best, of such a hope. “The words Hindutva or Hinduism cannot be held to be within the ‘narrow limits of religion alone’ and could also refer to ‘Indian culture and heritage’,” the court had then held. Hindutva, the court had held, was related to the “way of life of the people in the sub-continent”. Arguments will continue on Wednesday. (Asian Age 19/10/16)


81. U.S. backs Indian position on cross-border terrorism (12)

Washington: The U.S. empathises with India’s position that it needs to militarily respond to cross-border terrorism. But given the history of wars between Indian and Pakistan and the heavily militarised character of the region, both sides must show restraint and caution, a senior White House official said on Wednesday. In the clearest indication till date of the Obama administration’s support for India’s pre-emptive military operation targeting terrorist positions across the LoC recently, Peter Lavoy, Senior Director for South Asia at the National Security Council said: “It [Uri] was a clear case of cross-border terrorism. We condemn this act of terrorism. It was a horrific attack. Every country has a right to self-defence. But in a heavily militarised relationship that has also experienced three wars, there is indeed a need for caution and restraint. We share with India, the concern…. for preventing any future attack. We empathise with the Indian position that it needs to respond militarily to cross border threat of terrorism. But we also advise caution.” Mr. Lavoy said the Obama administration was making all efforts to ensure that India joined the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) before the end of the year. The U.S and India had “significantly increased” mutual interaction on Afghanistan, the official said. “Our commander in Afghanistan travels to New Delhi regularly for consultations. India and the U.S have reconvened the trilateral meeting along with Afghanistan recently in New York,” he said. Mr. Lavoy was interacting with the audience at the Centre of Strategic and Interaction Studies after the release of a report on the agenda for India-U.S. relations for the next U.S. President. Richard M. Rossow, Senior Fellow and Wadhwani Chair at the CSIS, moderated the interaction. The personal leadership of the next U.S. President would have an impact on the India-U.S relationship, Mr. Lavoy said. “We have created the foundation… for the partnership. That is reliable and will serve the administration very well. But every significant global relationship needs leadership. It will be critically important that the next President provides the same kind of leadership that President Obama provided for India-U.S relations,” Mr. Lavoy said. (The Hindu 11/10/2016)

82. Soldier Killed, 8 Injured In Terror Attack In Zakura Near Srinagar (12)

One jawan of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) was killed and eight others injured in a “hit-and-run” attack in Zakura on the outskirts of Jammu and Kashmir capital Srinagar on Friday evening. The gunmen escaped after firing at a convoy of the paramilitary force. The area has been cordoned off and additional troops have been sent to the spot. A search operation has been launched. Three of the injured, including a local policeman, are critical, sources said. Zakura, an industrial area that houses many offices and factories of small businesses, is around 12 km away from Srinagar’s city centre Lal Chowk. “At around 7:30 pm, three of our companies were returning after their duty. It was a convoy of six vehicles. Two to three men came out of an alley and fired on one of the vehicles and ran away,” Deepak Kumar, a senior SSB official, said. After India carried out surgical strikes across the Line of Control on September 29, security forces in the Kashmir Valley have confronted large attacks by Pakistani terrorists. Earlier this week, two members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba or LeT were killed, three days after they attacked a government compound in Pampore, 15 km from Srinagar. The Lashkar operatives hid in the institute and threw grenades in the lengthy assault. Attacks on security forces have increased since the killing of 22-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, a terrorist with a large following, in July this year. In the unrest that followed, more than 90 people have been killed and over 10,000 injured in clashes with security forces. Schools and businesses have been closed across Kashmir for the last three months amid a curfew ordered by the administration and shutdown called by separatists, crippling everyday life. (NDTV 14/10/16)

83. BRICS meet declaration pledges to fight terror (12)

BENAULIM (GOA): The 8th BRICS summit ended here on Sunday with the adoption of the Goa Declaration which pledged opposition to terrorism, even as India failed to get a consensus on references to “cross-border terror” and Pakistan-based terror groups in the final statement. However, in a strongly worded statement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “the most serious direct threat to our economic prosperity is terrorism. Tragically, its mother-ship is a country in India’s neighbourhood.” The text of the declaration did not name any country specifically as the source of cross-border terrorism but officials maintained that India did get the diplomatic edge it wanted from the summit. “I guess it does not concern them mainly, BRICS. It affects us. Because Pakistan-based outfits are also focused on India in terms of activities… so since… (it does not affect them), I guess we could not get a consensus on actually including both. But if you see, it says ISIS and various other affiliated organisations and I think there is a reference of terrorist organisations which are designated by the U.N.” said Amar Sinha, Secretary (Economic Relations), explaining that the statement covered India’s ongoing campaign to bring a comprehensive international legal framework against terrorism under the UN. Introducing the Goa Declaration, Prime Minister Modi said, “We also agreed that those who nurture, shelter, support and sponsor such forces of violence and terror are as much a threat to us as the terrorists themselves.” Reflecting international concern, the Goa Declaration of the BRICS summit, which concluded here on Sunday, pointed out the need for countering the Islamic State which has occupied territories in Iraq, Syria, and Libya. Specifically mentioning the Arabic acronym of IS, Daesh, it said the threat posed by the group is “unprecedented” and called for a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in the U.N. General Assembly. … (The Hindu 17/10/16)

84. Chinese flags recovered from terror hideouts in J&K’s Baramulla; 44 people arrested (12)

SRINAGAR: Possibly for the first time in Kashmir, security forces have recovered Chinese flags along with incriminating material during raids at suspected hideouts of militants in Baramulla and arrested 44 people for their alleged involvement in “terror-related activities”.”Over 700 houses were searched in a span of 12 hours on October 17 in an extensive search operation in old town in Baramulla, during which 44 people involved with terror related activities have been apprehended,” an Army spokesman said here on Tuesday. The security forces sanitised the area and a number of hideouts were busted during the operation, the spokesman said. “A large quantity of incriminating material such as petrol bombs, Chinese and Pakistani flags, Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) letter head pads, unauthorized mobile phones and seditious anti-national publicity material were seized,” he added. He said the operation was jointly carried out by teams of Army, police, BSF and CRPF in 10 sensitive localities including Qazi Hamam, Ganai Hamam, Taweed Gunj, Jamia and other mohallas reportedly being used as “safe havens by the terrorists”. Meanwhile, police, in a major crackdown, has arrested 122 more people allegedly involved in disrupting the public order in the valley. I am sure about Chinese are the brain and strength of Pakistan to disturb our country. Chinese Dragon support towards not banning terrorists organization is only trailer but the real issue is very much grave.Manoj Kumar Panda”Continuing its action against the persons involved in disrupting the public order in different parts of the valley, police arrested 122 such individuals during past 24 hours,” a police spokesman said. (Times of India 18/10/16)


85. Policeman hacked to death by Naxals in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh (12)

Raipur: A police jawan was on Tuesday hacked to death by Naxals in Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Bijapur district, a top official said. According to preliminary information, a group of four-five unidentified ultras attacked assistant constable Lakhmu Telam (35), killing him on the spot, Bijapur Additional Superintendent of Police Mohit Garg told PTI. The incident took place at Nemed village market under Jangla police station limits around 3.30 pm, he said. After getting the news, a police team was rushed to the spot. A native of Vijay Nagar in Bijapur district, Telam was posted with the District Reserve Group of police. He was on leave since October 7, the ASP said. A combing operation was launched in the region to nab the assailants, he said. (Indian Express 12/10/16)

86. Naxal leader, arms recovered in UP’s Chandauli (12)

VARANASI: Following the arrest of nine suspected naxals in Noida on Saturday night, the Varanasi unit of UP Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) succeeded in nabbing a Maoist leader with an INSAS rifle and cartridge in Sayyadraja area in Chandauli district on Sunday. Sensing ATS raid, another naxal managed to flee, but the team recovered two rifles and cartridges in large number from his house. Besides three rifles, the ATS team recovered 434 cartridges during the raid. According to reports, the arrested naxal was identified as Sunil Ravidas, former area commander of People’s War Group (PWG). Acting on a tip-off, the ATS team, led by SP Santosh Kumar Singh, raided his house in Laxmanpur Gorai village in Sayyadraja police station area of Chandauli district and arrested him with an Insas rifle and 115 cartridges. According to Singh, the house of another naxal and Sunil’s aide Ramapati was also raided, but he managed to flee from the scene. The police recovered two rifles and cartridges from his house. Singh said that during interrogation of naxals arrested in Noida, they revealed that some members had gone to Bihar and Chandauli to procure arms and ammunitions. A team was also sent to Bihar in search of other members of the group. They have formed a new group -Tritiya Sammelan Prastutikaran Samiti to execute their plans. The interrogation was on to get more information from them. (Times of India 16/10/16)

87. 10 Naxals in UP custody, Delhi attack plans foiled (12)

New Delhi: In 12-hour-long operation that began on Saturday evening and ended Sunday morning, the Uttar Pradesh police’s anti-terrorism squad arrested 10 Naxalites along with 125 detonators, explosives and automatic weapons from New Delhi’s satellite township of Noida. The ATS claimed that the arrested persons were planning a major strike in the Delhi and National Capital Region in the coming days. The police is now also investigating their possible links with terrorist organisations.Members of the Delhi police special cell rushed to Noida to take part in the interrogation of the arrested persons. In the night-long operation, the ATS carried out several raids across Uttar Pradesh and arrested a total of 10 left-wing extremists, including Sunil Ravidas from Chaundauli in Uttar Pradesh, a former self-styled area commander of the erstwhile People’s War Group (PWG), who was once active in Naxal-hit Sasaram district of Bihar. Addressing reporters, UP ATS IG Asim Arun said that the Naxals were identified as Ranjit Paswan aka Santosh, 35, from Chandauli; Sachin Kumar, 28, from Greater Noida; Ashish Saraswat, 18, from Aligarh; Brij Kishore. 22, from Aligarh; and Suraj, 22, from Bulandsher in Uttar Pradesh; as well as Pawan Kumar Jha, 25, from Madhubani; Krishna Kumar, 42, and Sunil Kumar Yadav, 25,from Sasaram; and Shailendra Kumar, 41, from Buxar in Bihar. The police said the accused suspects were operational in Bihar and Jharkhand. He said that a watchful alert citizen had alerted the police about suspicious activities in his neighborhood, after which the police had started tracking their activities. They were staying at a second-floor flat in Sector 49 of Hindon Vihar (Flat 102, B23) for the past six months, pretending to work as property dealers, and had even opened two shops in the locality. The police said the arrested persons were planning to commit crimes such as looting, robbery, ATM theft, kidnapping, extortion and contract killings to raise funds for their planned operation in Delhi-NCR during Diwali. “We conducted the operation on Saturday night and arrested five persons from the flat in Hindon Vihar with a huge cache of arms and detonators. Based on the details of interrogation, the police conducted a raid on Sunday morning in the Sadarpur area and arrested four more Maoist suspects. In addition, one person was arrested from Chaundauli,” the ATS IG said. An Insas assault rifle, pistols and huge quantity of explosives and detonators were recovered in the raid. “It is suspected the Insas rifle was looted from a securityman as the weapon is used by them against terrorists,” the IG Insas (Indian Small Arms System) is a family of infantry arms consisting of an assault rifle and a light machine-gun. The police found three 32 bore pistols, one 09 mm pistol, three country-made revolvers, 60 cartridges (32 bore), 10 cartridges (09 bore), 18 cartridges (315) bore, two laptops, 13 mobile phones, four cars, one motorcycle and Rs 75,000 in cash from their possession. (Asian Age 17/10/16)

88. Odisha rights panel seeks report on Maoist threat (12)

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) on Monday sought an action taken report from district authorities in Malkangiri over a petition seeking protection for people living in the area under Maoist threat. The OHRC has sought within six weeks the response from the District Collector and the Superintendent of Police of Malkangiri over the matter, which was transferred to it by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). Some months ago, the affected villagers, mostly tribals, had visited the Collector’s office in Malakangiri, seeking administration’s help and adequate security in their villages. The local administration had provided them with basic amenities and settled them in temporary shelters in the district headquarters, even as incidents of villagers being killed allegedly by Maoists continued to be reported from the region. Human rights activist Sangita Swain had moved the NHRC, “seeking justice” for the people of Andrapalli and Panaspat in Malkangiri district. Ms Swain had alleged that the Maoists tortured and killed tribal people suspecting them to be police informers and set houses on fire and their human rights were violated by the inaction/ unlawful action by the police or public authority in Malkangiri. She had sought protection of the tribals from the Maoists and a compensation of Rs 20 lakh to the kin of those killed and Rs 5 lakh to other victims. She had claimed that the tribal people were leaving their villages “out of fear”. The OHRC order said the Collector and the SP of Malkangiri district be provided the copy of the petition filed by Ms Swain, as it posted the next hearing in the case to November 25. – PTI (The Hindu 18/10/16)


89. Nagpur one of biggest hubs of women trafficking: Maneka (1)

Nagpur: Union women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi on Wednesday dropped a bombshell by stating that Nagpur had become one of the biggest human trafficking centres of the country. The rescue of a minor from a brothel in Ganga Jamuna redlight area in July this year had was a pointer to this reality. The girl, who had lost her father early, was brought to city from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh when she was a child. Along with flesh trade racketeers, also on the prowl are ones who traffic girls for marriage to states where sex ratio is skewed. The Rana Pratap Nagar police’s action against one such racket underlined the fact that marriageable girls from poor families were the prime targets for the racket. The 15-year-old year old girl was sold to a family in Kota in Rajathan for Rs 1.5 lakh for marriage. The minor was later rescued. It is believed many such rackets are operating in the slums of the city but most cases go unreported. Senior police officials however said city was merely a transit point being in the centre. “We came across many cases in which girls were being taken north from south. They passed through the city as it falls on the train route,” they said. While addressing a gathering of over 5,000 women in Deoli, Gandhi said her ministry was continuously taking steps to control such activities. “Over the years, the Congress government did nothing. No stringent law was made against trafficking. We are now coming up with an anti-trafficking bill that would prevent women caught in brothel raids from being arrested. In most of the cases, victims get punished rather than traffickers,” she added….  (Times of India 13/10/2016)

90. Anti-trafficking bill may not be tabled in Parliament in Winter Session (1)

New Delhi: The anti-trafficking bill being prepared by women and child development ministry is may not be tabled during the Winter Session before the Parliament. Union women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi on Saturday said the Draft Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2016 was sent for inter-ministerial consultations on Friday. “We were ready to bring the bill to Parliament in December. But with the Winter Session scheduled to start in November, we may not be able to introduce it this year,” she told PTI. The Winter Session, which usually begins in the third or fourth week of November, has been advanced this year, as it starts November 16. This is the second time different ministries are being consulted over the draft bill. An inter-ministerial committee had also met last month to deliberate on it. The draft of the proposed legislation has been circulated among various other stakeholders for their feedback. Once the draft bill is finalised a cabinet note will be prepared and it will be sent to the cabinet. After the cabinet nod, the draft bill will be introduced in Parliament for its passage. The draft bill proposes different forms of trafficking under the category of “aggravated trafficking”, with punishment of up to life imprisonment. This category includes bonded labour, trafficking for the purpose of bearing a child, trafficking for the purpose of marriage, trafficking for begging, trafficking of a pregnant woman or resulting into pregnancy, among others. The draft also seeks to create a National Anti- Trafficking Bureau for preventing, investigating and protecting cases or victims of trafficking. (Hindustan Times 15/10/16)

91. Move to transfer trafficking victims to Apna Ghar opposed (1)

PANAJI: Ms. Nishtha Desai of the PNC told The Hindu that the organisation has urged the State government to immediately revoke any order given by the State Directorate of Women and Child Development to shift the women from the Protective Home to Apna Ghar, stating the move was ill-conceived and detrimental for everyone involved. The PNC, comprising of NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) and individuals concerned about children’s issues, has time and again highlighted the need to improve the situation of children in Apna Ghar by ensuring separate premises for children in need of care and protection, for children in conflict with the law, and for girls and boys in accordance with the recommendations of a State-conducted Inquiry Report prepared by Levinson Martins. The PNC has opposed the move through a petition submitted to the Chief Secretary, the Secretary and Director of Women and Child Development, the Superintendent of the Protective Home, the Registrar of the Goa State Legal Services Authority, the Juvenile Justice High Court Committee, the National and State Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights, and the State Human Rights Commission. (The Hindu 18/10/16)


92. Amarinder corners Badal govt over foodgrain scam(5)

Chandigarh: Hitting out at the Badals over the alleged multi-crore foodgrains scam, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh on Tuesday vowed to recover every penny of the public money from the “corrupt Badal and company” once the party came back to power in the State. “We will make sure that the money stolen by the Badals is brought back into the state’s coffers once we are back in reign. We shall not hesitate to initiate legal action against the Badals,” he said here. The senior Congress leader alleged that the Badals have been looting the State ever since they formed the government in 2007 and the scam was their “crowning glory” in corruption, while condemning the SAD government’s attempts to cover up the scandal by converting it into a loan. He said when he took over the reins of theSstate from the Akalis in 2002, Punjab’s outstanding Central debt amounted to Rs 4,500 crore. It is only since the Badals came back to power that the State has again been plunged into an intense debt trap, Capt. Singh said. The PCC chief claimed that with the latest Rs 30,000 crore loan from RBI restructured, the State will reel under a debt burden of Rs 50,000 crore for the next 20 years. “I will not allow the Badals to get away with it. Nobody involved in the scam will be spared at any cost. The people of Punjab cannot be made to pay for the ill-doings of Badals,” Capt. Singh said. In its complaint to the Vigilance Bureau in April this year, the State Congress had pointed out that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had prima facie concluded that the disappearance of stocks worth Rs 32,000 crore was a case of misappropriation of Central funds and diversion of food grain. Of the 3,319 trucks that were claimed to have been used by the state procurement agencies for transporting the grains, CAG had, in a random check of their registration numbers, found that 87 vehicles were actually two-wheelers and cars, he said. The remaining could not be traced, clearly indicating that the grain never reached the stores but in fact disappeared from the market itself, party spokesman Sunil Jhakar had said. The Punjab Congress has already demanded a probe into the matter by either the Central Bureau of Investigation or a High Court judge. PTI (The Hindu 12/10/16)

93. Kerala Industries Minister EP Jayarajan resigns over nepotism charges (5)

Thiruvananthapuram: In a big blow to the five-month old CPI(M)-led LDF government in Kerala, Industries minister E P Jayarajan resigned from the Cabinet on Friday in the wake of the raging appointment row. His resignation from the Pinarayi Vijayan Cabinet came after a CPI(M) state secretariat meeting, which permitted him to take the decision. Coming out of the meeting, Jayarajan told reporters, “Now you people are happy. Isn’t it?” State party secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said Jayarajan had wanted to be allowed to put in his papers to “uphold the image of the party and set an exemplary model in contrast to the previous Congress-led UDF government”.The Kannur strongman and the number two in the Cabinet, Jayarajan had admitted before the secretariat that he had committed a ‘mistake’ by appointing a close relative in a PSU in the industries department and sought permission to resign. Jayarajan, considered close to Chief Minister Vijayan, was in the eye of a storm over appointment of his nephew, P K Sudheer Nambiar and son of Kannur MP P K Sreemathi as the Managing Director of Kerala Industrial Enterprises Ltd. His appointment was later quashed by the government. Another appointment of Deepthi Nishad, Jayarajan’s brother’s daughter-in-law, had also become controversial. She had resigned two days ago. Jayarajan, who had successfully contested from Mattannur in northern Kannur district, was a member of the legislative assembly from 1991-96. From 2011 onwards he was an MLA. To a question if CPI-M would take any action against Jayarajan, Kodiyeri said he was a member of party Central Committee and any party action would be decided by the central leadership”CPI(M) is against any illegal appointments. However party does not think that being a relative of a leader is a disqualification to get a job in government service.” In Jayarajan’s case, this decision was taken due to the seriousness of the issue, he said. Kodiyeri also attacked both Congress-led UDF and BJP government at the Centre, alleging that their ministers were involved in controversies, but none of them had resigned. Indicating that things were not rosy for Jayarajan, party General Secretary Sitaram Yechury had indicated two days ago that action would follow and that the process of correction had already been initiated. Meanwhile, the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau today informed a Special Court here that a preliminary probe into the appointment row against Jayarjan had been initiated. (Asian Age 14/10/16)

94. BRICS nation pitch for stronger commitment for combating corruption (5)

Benaulim: BRICS nations on Sunday pitched for a stronger global commitment for combating corruption and repatriation of blackmoney in overseas jurisdictions, saying these along with aggressive tax practices hurt equitable development and economic growth. “We will strive to coordinate our approach… and encourage a stronger global commitment to prevent and combat corruption on the basis of the United Nations Convention against Corruption and other relevant international legal instruments,” said the Goa declaration issued at the end of the two-day summit of the BRICS leaders Benaulim. BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) nations acknowledged that corruption, including illicit money and financial flows, and ill-gotten wealth stashed in foreign jurisdictions is a global challenge which may impact negatively on economic growth and sustainable development. The BRICS nations stated in the declaration that they support the strengthening of international cooperation against corruption, including through the BRICS Anti-Corruption Working Group, as well as on matters related to asset recovery and persons sought for corruption. The five nations group reaffirmed their commitment towards a globally fair and modern tax system and welcome the progress made on effective and widespread implementation of the internationally agreed standards. They supported the implementation of the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Project (BEPS) with due regard to the national realities of the countries. They also resolved to encourage countries and International Organisations to assist developing economies in building their tax capacity. Noting that aggressive tax planning and tax practices hurt equitable development and economic growth, they stated that the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting must be effectively tackled. They said that the profit should be taxed in the jurisdiction where the economic activity is performed and the value is created. They reaffirmed their commitment to support international cooperation in this regard, including in the Common Reporting Standard for Automatic Exchange of Tax Information (AEOI). “We note the ongoing discussions on international taxation matters. In this regard, we recall the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development including its emphasis on inclusive cooperation and dialogue among national tax authorities on international tax matters with increased participation of developing countries and reflecting adequate, equitable, geographical distribution, representing different tax systems,” it added. (Indian xpress 16/10/16)

95. Mumbai IRS Scam: Accused had arranged quarters for call centre staff, say police (5)

Mumbai: JAGDISH KANANI, the latest arrest in the call centre scam, had allegedly set up ‘quarters’ for employees working at his two “bogus” call centres located in Malad and Borivli, according to the Thane police. While the police raided the two call centres and found them to be empty, they were surprised to find that Kanani had arranged for all the employees at the two call centres to stay in a colony in Malad West. The police are finding out the rationale behind the arrangement. “Normally, it is only in government jobs that one is allotted quarters. However, in the case of Kanani, he had arranged for rented accommodation for the nearly 30-35 employees working at the two call centres owned by him operating out of eights units in Prestige Industrial Estate at Orlem and three shops from Western Edge II unit in Borivli. We are trying to find out who was paying the rent for these flats and where the employees currently are,” said a senior officer. The police suspect Kanani wanted to keep his call centre business low key and hence got the employees to stay near their offices. Investigators claimed that Kanani’s interrogation had helped them piece together a profile of him as an MBA who saw a meteoric rise — from a monthly earning of around Rs 20,000 helping his father in his saree business to over Rs 25 lakh per month from the call centres, as per a rough estimate. Born and brought up in Chennai, Kanani did his Bachelor’s in Business Administration (BBA) from there before moving to Pune where he did his MBA from a prestigious institution, said a senior police officer. After finishing his studies, Kanani joined his father’s saree business, before moving to Ahmedabad to work for a call centre for nearly three years, said an officer. Thereafter, he allegedly started a call centre in Ahmedabad along with a friend and they would make fraudulent calls. “They would pretend to be calling from a bank and tell US citizens that the latter were defaulting on their loan amount and would need to settle the default amount in order to avoid being prosecuted. This was his first such experience with fraudulent calls. Nearly a year back, he shifted base to Mumbai and started the two call centres in Borivli and Malad,” added the officer. … (Indian Express 19/10/16)


96. 5 lakh shrubs planted this year, but pollution fight lags (9)

NEW DELHI: With numerous initiatives to make the capital greener, the Delhi government has already crossed another target — planting 5 lakh shrubs this year to combat air pollution naturally. On World Environment day, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced a target of planting 10 lakh trees and 5 lakh shrubs this year in a bid to improve the green cover in the capital. Greening agencies have already planted 8 lakh shrubs and over 6 lakh trees in different divisions and zones, falling under agencies like NDMC, DJB, North Corporation, environment department and others. Forest officials attributed good monsoon to the high plantation numbers. “We have carried out a majority of these plantations during the monsoon where the survival rate is the highest,” said a senior forest official.Earlier in the year, the Delhi government had launched a ‘greening Delhi’ drive to address the problem of dust and air pollution. However, experts feel dust pollution has still not come under control, as a lot of stretches are not maintained. “Vacuum drives were carried out to control dust, but very little of it has been done effectively,” said Polash Mukerjee, Research Associate, Centre for Science and Environment. While the air quality index during monsoon was ‘good’ for a couple of months, it has once again slid to the ‘poor’ in air quality index of CPCB. “The government needs to look at which species are actually beneficial in combatting dust and air pollution,” said Pradip Krishen, Environmentalist and author of the book, Trees of Delhi. (Times of India 11/10/2016)

97. Idol immersion a concern for environmental experts (9)

AGRA: As devotees bid farewelll to their Gods on Vijaydashmi, water bodies in Agra were left in a mess. Experts have expressed concern of the impact of such idols that were immersed in the water bodies. Speaking to TOI, Surekha Yadav, a social worker and environment enthusiast said, “Idols in earlier times were made of mud and painted with natural colours such as gerru and even ‘turmeric’. But now people use materials like plaster of Paris (PoP) which is further coated with harmful paints that contains chemicals and toxicants.” There were a few residents who were circulating messages on social media to spread the word on using envrionment-friendly idols. “I used WhatsApp to spread the message. People should know that respecting the environmental balance is just as important as paying your homeage to God. The administration must take action against those using harmful colours,” said Bunty Grover, a resident.He further added that authorities must put a cap on the size of the idols that can be made. Debris of the idols of various siezes were left on the banks of various water bodies. The Agra Municipal Corporation, however, took out a massive cleaning drive to rid the ponds, lakes and other water bodies of these idol debris. Deputy municipal commissioner, Anil Kumar said proper arrangements were made and pits created at Balkeshwar ghat, Hathi ghat and at Dussehra ghat for the devotees to carry out their procession and rituals. “There were enough people to clean the pits at any point of time. There was a designated fleet of around 10-12 vehicles of the AMC for this job. It seems to have not helped. We will look into the matter and see what more can be done to avoid such dirty fallouts of any religious procession,” he added. (Times of India 13/10/16)

98. Greens demand ban on bursting loud crackers (9)

KOLHAPUR: Environmentalists in the city have raised concern over the use of loud firecrackers during the festive season. Health concerns and the hazard that comes with bursting crackers in narrow lanes of the old city are reasons why greens have spoken out against their use. Uday Gaikwad, a city-based environmentalist told TOI, “On Thursday, the police department in association with the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) had conducted noise-level tests. We had asked the police department about action they will take against those using firecrackers and violating sound norms. We have been promised that the department will maintain strict vigil on the use of dangerous firecrackers across the city.” Gaikwad said that the bursting of firecrackers not only creates noise pollution, but is also the main concern for some incidents of fire in crowded areas of the city. He added that even though an individual firecracker might not violate the noise test when it is burst, they do generate a cumulative effect when they are burst together. According to Gaikwad, firecrackers such as ‘sutali bomb’ and ‘lad’ can exceed 120db and 140db of noise respectively, even if their given permissible norms set by the MPCB are 100db and 120db respectively. “The number of accidents that took place due to fire is higher during Diwali and elders should be aware of this, while buying firecrackers for their children. If people want to celebrate Diwali with firecrackers then they should burst them in open spaces to avoid problems for others,” he added. The city’s health experts have also warned against the ill effects of cracker fumes especially for those with weak lungs during the festival. A city-based general physician, said, “Inhaling fumes generated from firecrackers may worsen the medical condition of the pre-existing asthma and bronchitis patients. Children and the elderly with lung diseases are most vulnerable to such smoke, which contains sulphur dioxide. This causes throat irritation and breathlessness.” Explaining the hazardous nature of firecrackers, the physician said, “Firecrackers contain chemicals such as sulphur dioxide which is mainly responsible for the respiratory problems such as cough, breathlessness and irritation in the throat.” “When thousands of firecrackers burst at the same time, very high levels of air pollutants can remain suspended in the air for several hours and travel long distances. Firecrackers such as lad, that has a long string of crackers, are the most dangerous,” the physician said. (Times of India 15/10/16)

99. Deluge threat worsening in Brahamputra valley (9)

GUWAHATI: An assessment by the biodiversity organization Aaranyak has found that the Brahmaputra valley is one of the most hazard-prone regions in the country. With an estimated 3.2 million hectare area in the state already being prone to floods, experts have warned that climate change can only aggravate flood hazards further. Experts said increase in rainfall and accelerated summer flows due to climate change may give rise to more intense flooding. However, the consequent retreat of glaciers could also reduce the flow in the Brahmaputra river system in the long run. Nearly 40% of Assam’s 78,439 sq km area is already susceptible to flood damages while the damage incurred due to floods has escalated since the 8.6 magnitude earthquake that struck in 1950. The Brahmaputra, one of the world’s largest rivers, originates from the glacier of Chema-Yung-Dung. The glacier lies to the southeast of the Mansarovar Lake in the Kailash range of the Himalayas in Tibet. The river traverses 1,625 km in China and 918 km in India before meandering across 337 km in Bangladesh, before emptying into the Bay of Bengal through a joint channel with the Ganga. In its 2,880-km-long course, the Brahmaputra has as many 22 major tributaries in Tibet, 33 in India (in the northeast) and three in Bangladesh, Aaranyak reported. As it is a trans-boundary river managed differently in different countries, experts said the Brahmaputra is one of the most challenging rivers in terms of water resource management. “The lack of adequate knowledge is a factor that constrains technologically appropriate interventions, long-term planning for mitigating water-induced hazards and environmentally sustainable development of the water resources. This is true in general for all the basin countries but is applicable especially to the Indian part of the basin,” Aaranyak’s head of water, climate and hazard division, Partha J Das said. Das added that lack of availability of and limited access to hydrological data is a common problem that hinders studies on the behaviour of the river, including flood forecasting and climate modelling, in India. With a view to reveal different hydrological facets of the Brahmaputra to young researchers, professions, government officials and other stakeholders, Aaranyak has planned a training programme on sustainable management of the Brahmaputra river system in a changing climate for water security and disaster resilience here from November 15 to 18. “It is high time that we create a pool of people who have knowledge about water management. This will help them do research, take more appropriate and knowledge-based management decisions and sensitize people to the subject,” Das said. (Times of India 18/10/16)


100. Only 33% Maha farmers covered under crop loan (20)

Nagpur: The state government may have set a target of covering at least 80% of farmers under crop loan net, but a recent note put up to assess the progress shows a dismal progress. As against 1.36 crore farmers in the state, only 46 lakh have got loans for the Kharif season, which begins in monsoon. This is less than 34% of the total number. Now its time for harvest. The note, which covers loans granted till September end, was prepared by the state’s department of cooperatives which also monitors farm lending in coordination with PSU banks. Farmers in Vidarbha mainly depend on the Kharif crop. Though a combined target for both Kharif and Rabi seasons are set, experts say not many in the region go for the second season crop. Ironically, the banks have achieved 83% of the target for the Kharif season loans. A target of Rs31,000 crore crop loan disbursal was set for the Kharif season of 2016. “At times, the funds set aside for farm lending are not sufficient to cover all farmers. As a result, it is easy to cover the target for loans to be granted, but still a large number of farmers will be left out,” said a source in the department of cooperatives. “The numbers may look impressive in terms of the amount, but actually less than half of the farmers have been covered,” said Kishore Tiwari of Vasantrao Naik Shetkari Swavalamban Mission, a state government task force on farmers. Tiwari, who shared the paper with TOI, says this means rest of the farmers have gone to private moneylenders or other non-banking sources for funding.There may be 10-12 lakh farmers in the state who go for Rabi crop. Even if all of them get loan, still the achievement will remain far from the targeted 80% of a total farmer population. Lending for Rabi season is still underway. Crop loans are needed by farmers each year to meet expenses for the season. Since last two years, there were attempts to bring maximum number of farmers into the banking net. Tiwari said banks were rather reluctant to grant loans to the farmers. In many cases, the old loans which were in default were restructured. This means if a farmer had dues of Rs50,000 and the bank granted a fresh loan of Rs60,000, the farmer in reality would be taking home Rs10,000 only. The rest Rs50,000 would be adjusted towards the pending dues. (Times of India 13/10/16)

101. 700 farmers fight depression, counsellors reach out to curb suicides (20)

AURANGABAD: The shadows of drought still linger in the minds of over 700 farmers and their family members in parched Aurangabad district. State-appointed psychiatrists are counselling 728 farmers, who were identified after screening thousands of ryots, to help them fight depression. In October 2015, the state government started the Prakalp Prerna project to curb suicides by farmers in the 14 districts of Marathwada and Vidarbha regions. Since then, psychiatrists and experts have been conducting camps across the eight districts. Psychiatrist Amit Taak, project head for Aurangabad district, said they had conducted health check-up camps in the rural pockets of the district between October 2015 to April 2016. About 2,45,720 patients were screened for various ailments. As part of the project, ASHA workers conducted a detailed survey of the farmers. They sought information such as crop failure, loan details, alcohol consumption and health issues. Gauging by the number of questions answered in ‘yes’ and ‘no’, a scale of ‘severe’, ‘moderate’ and ‘mild mental’ conditions was mapped. About 56,881 persons from the farming community were screened and 728 were identified to be suffering from depression. Cases of tobacco and alcohol addictions, which psychologists said were mostly manifestation of depression, were also identified. Approximately 995 farmers were identified with tobacco or alcohol addiction and counselled for it. “Farmers showing symptoms of depression such as lack of energy, disturbed sleep, anxiety, lack of appetite, low mood and lack of interest in day-to-day activities were identified as patients suffering from mental distress. They have been prescribed medicines for a period of 15-30 days and are also being counselled by trained psychiatrists. The farmers displaying suicidal tendencies are under a close watch, with some being referred to the district hospital,” he said. …  (Times of India 13/10/16)

102. Farmer arrested in Phagwara for stubble burning, gets bail (2)

Phagwara: In first such case in two years in the district, Kapurthala police arrested a farmer for stubble burning on Saturday. Rawalpindi police have booked Surjeet Singh of Rampur Sunra under Section 188 (disobedience of public servant’s order) of the Indian Penal Code. If found guilty, the accused may get maximum jail term of one month or Rs 200 fine or both.Deputy commissioner Jaskiran Singh said to check the hazardous practice of stubble burning, the administration has decided to register cases against the offenders. The accused farmer, Surjit Singh, said burning stubble was the only viable option he was left with. “The methods agriculture department wants us to adopt to get rid of and manage the stubble are costly,” he said. Davinder Singh, a member of Doaba Sangharsh Committee, said majority of the farmers can’t afford the machines and the agriculture department is not offering any subsidy on them. Kapurthala chief agriculture officer Ravail Singh said, “The department is unable to offer subsidy on the machines. The machines available cost around Rs 2 lakh each. I agree that there is a need for subsidy so that even the marginal farmers can afford them.” Also, the agriculture department doesn’t have machines to give on rent either. (Hindustan Times 16/10/16)

103. No gunny bags to store paddy, farmers forced to sell crop at losses (20)

RUDRAPUR: In sheds and open spaces near the paddy purchase centres across Udham Singh Nagar district, several tiny mounds of golden husk crop up every day. Bringing the day’s harvest in trolleys, several farmers line up at the centres, calluses on their palms and creases on their foreheads after a hard day’s labour. Only a few fortunate ones will go home with the satisfaction of having sold their produce. The rest will return tomorrow, hoping for better luck. At the 86 paddy procurement centres run by the district cooperative department, only 1,710.8 metric tonnes of paddy has been purchased in the past 17 days. The US Nagar district, which has the largest paddy production in Uttarakhand and is called the rice bowl of the state, is facing an acute shortage of gunny bags which are arranged by district authorities for the farmers. The farmers can buy gunny bags at Rs 1.50 each from the paddy purchase centres. Each sack, which protects the crop from moisture and pests, can store 40kg of paddy. The district administration, however, has only 1.5 lakh gunny bags against the requirement of 12 lakh bags at present. The centres have stopped purchase of the paddy, citing lack of gunny bags and proper storage as the reason. Bulk of the paddy crop is thus being kept in open spaces or under sheds near the purchase centres mFarmers are fearing that even a little rain or increase in moisture can ruin the crop and have been petitioning authorities to arrange for the gunny bags soon. “I have been trying to sell my produce for the past two days. The paddy is dry and within prescribed moisture limits but if I don’t sell it soon, it can get damaged,” said Harbir Singh, a farmer at Rudrapur. Farmers at Bazpur grain market criticised the district authorities for failing to provide them with gunny bags. “We have been told that the gunny bags are expected to arrive from Kolkata in a few days,” said a farmer in Bazpur. Some of the farmers said that they have been forced to sell their crop to private dealers for a price ranging between Rs 900 and Rs 1,000 instead of the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1,470 per quintal. Jawahar Bathla, a farmer from Jafarpur village in Rudrapur, said, “I thought that the state agencies will buy the paddy at a good price. But no gunny bags were available and a long process to check the moisture content of the paddy forced me to leave and sell the crop for Rs 966 per quintal to a private dealer.” Another farmer from the district, Dilbagh Singh, said that he too had to sell his paddy for Rs 990 per quintal as there was no government purchase due to shortage of gunny bags. The district authorities had begun procurement of paddy on October 1 and had announced an MSP of Rs 1,470 per quintal. When contacted, additional district cooperative officer (ADCO) D S Napalchyal, said, “Shortage of gunny bags is hampering the paddy procurement process. The department has informed the Uttarakhand Cooperative Federation (UCF) and Regional Food Controller (RFC), which are responsible for sending the gunny bags. We hope the matter is resolved soon.” The nodal officer for paddy procurement and additional district magistrate of US Nagar, Ravneet Cheema told TOI that she has held a meeting with the departments concerned and has asked for quick supply of gunny bags to all the centres. “I will visit the mandis and the centres to make sure that no farmer suffers financial losses,” she said. (Times of India 19/10/16)


104. Land acquisition from January, villagers to protest on Thursday (4)

Pune: The district administration will start the process of land acquisition for the new Pune airport in Purandar from January 2017. Speaking to TOI on Monday, collector Saurabh Rao said the ground survey of the land, which spans over 2,400 acres, will begin soon and other formalities will be initiated later. The actual process, when it comes to acquiring land, is expected to start by January. The ground survey needs to be completed first, after which the reports and results will be closely analyzed. Once the analysis is complete, the area will be notified. The whole process is expected to take some months. However, in the meantime, the administration will discuss the matter with the locals regularly. The compensation package design also needs to be finalized based on the plots and the survey reports,” the official said. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had formally announced the new Pune international airport at the Purandar taluka, located around 45km southeast of the city, on October 7. He had said the new airport, which will take three years to come up, shall be named after Chhatrapati Sambhaji Raje, as Purandar is his birthplace. The project is being opposed by farmers and landowners who have made it clear that they will not let go of their lands for the airport. When asked about the rehabilitation package which will be offered to the landowners, the district collector said they had not finalized anything as yet. “There is a rehabilitation and resettlement act of the Centre. But no decision has been taken by us so far. The district administration will study the acquisition and rehabilitation models of Navi Mumbai, Cochin (Kerala) and MIHAN (multi-modal international hub airport at Nagpur) to decide on the best one for the new airport of Pune,’ Rao informed. … (Times of India 11/10/16)

105. Land Acquisition Bill: Consensus eluded Centre, now four states relax their land laws (4)

New Delhi: Land Acquisition Bill, Land Acquisition law, state regulations, commercial use of land, Land Acquisition act, political consensus, India news Niti Aayog vice chairman Arvind Panagariya said that adopting a model land leasing law was one of the important initiatives taken by the Centre. The Centre’s inability to build a political consensus for its land acquisition law in 2015 notwithstanding, four major states — Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha — have taken decisive steps to free up regulations relating to commercial use of land. While Gujarat has already passed its own land acquisition law, which was accorded assent by the President in August, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha have expressed intent in making business easier through the adoption of the Centre’s model land-leasing law. In August, the Gujarat assembly passed a Bill, allowing amendments to the Centre’s 2013 land acquisition Act, including relaxation of the clauses of social impact assessment and need for consent of landowners. Uttar Pradesh, which had earlier banned land-leasing with exceptions granted to landowners among widows, minors, disabled people and defence personnel, made further amendments to the exception clause, effectively allowing agricultural land parcels to be leased to people involved with businesses. Others such as Madhya Pradesh and Odisha have also evinced interest in amending their laws to allow land-leasing in their states, a senior official of the central government said. After the government’s efforts to amend the land acquisition Act faced stiff political and social opposition last year, the Centre decided not to re-promulgate the ordinance for the fourth time in August 2015 to amend the legislation. Following this, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley advised states to frame their own Act with the Centre’s approval. In an interview with The Indian Express, Niti Aayog vice chairman Arvind Panagariya said that adopting a model land leasing law was one of the important initiatives taken by the Centre that would reflect in the country’s growth numbers in time to come. Panagariya, who has been a vocal proponent of land-leasing reforms, had earlier stated that “in the context of the difficulties in land acquisition under the 2013 land acquisition law”, states wanting to facilitate industrialisation could benefit from liberal leasing laws if they eased use of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes. The view to have separate land laws across different states was reinforced after a meeting of the governing council of the Niti Aayog with state chief ministers in July 2015. In June this year, the Niti Aayog also set up a special cell under the chairmanship of T Haque, former head of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, to build consensus with states on the Centre’s land-leasing policy. “I think the way in which the government is now approaching policy should make investors more optimistic that reforms are now being pushed through such as closure of sick units, strategic disinvestment, MCI reforms. We are also trying to make a push with states to expand the best practices, such as land leasing law,” Panagariya said. (Indian Express 14/10/16)

106. Land acquisition: learning a lesson or two from Rajasthan (4)

HYDERABAD: In Telangana, land acquisition met with strong opposition from farmers while in Rajasthan, it was a smooth affair as over 40,000 acres of land was acquired from farmersQuite contrary to the heat and dust raised by the exercise taken up for acquisition of land for public purposes in Telangana over the last six months, a similar activity carried out in Rajasthan around the same time was a smooth affair, as over 40,000 acres of land was acquired from farmers, even as there was some resistance initially. Moreover, the land was acquired under the provisions of the much-talked-about Land Acquisition Act, 2013, albeit with a novel approach in its implementation. The striking feature of the Rajasthan’s exercise has been payment of 75 per cent of the estimated compensation amount to farmers parting with their land for public purposes in advance — before undertaking the formal procedures. A recent visit to Jhalawar district in Rajasthan to study the impact of new watershed programme under its Mukhyamantri Jal Swavlamban Abhiyan (MJSA) brought to the fore how an out-of-the-box thinking coupled with coordination between different agencies and village-level opinion groups could make convincing people easy. The remaining 25 per cent of the compensation was paid immediately after the completion of legal formalities. At the end of the day, it’s the satisfaction among farmers such as Bara Singh of Sarod village that matters most in acquisition of land from farmers for public purposes. “Our family got compensation of Rs. 8.6 lakh for foregoing 8.22 ‘bighas’ land (2.5 bighas is equal to an acre) taken for construction of a minor irrigation tank at little over Rs.1 lakh per bigha,” the farmer said who still has about 6 bighas land beyond the submergence area at the tank. In Telangana, the exercise for land acquisition for public purposes, particularly for Kaleshwaram and Palamuru-Ranga Reddy lift irrigation and National Investment and Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ) and Pharma City projects, has met with strong opposition from a certain sections of farmers with all the Opposition parties rallying behind them. One major contention here has been non-implementation of the Land Acquisition Act for the purpose. “Unlike in Telangana, we did not have the problem of rehabilitation while acquiring land for construction of about 600 minor irrigation tanks under the first phase of MJSA since there has been no submergence of habitations and no displacement of people. Besides, we have conducted the processes under Sections 3, 4, 7 and 11 of the Land Acquisition Act simultaneously,” says Sriram Vedire, Chairperson of Rajasthan River and Water Resources Planning Authority that implements MJSA. Mr. Sriram stated that they were also planning to give exclusive fishing rights to farmers who give up their land for minor irrigation tanks under MJSA as added incentive or attraction for parting with their land for public purposes. (The Hindu 16/10/16)

107. Singur farmers to get land from Thursday (4)

Kolkata: The West Bengal government will start giving physical possession of land in Singur to farmers from Thursday. “I will visit Singur on October 20 and will personally kick-start the return of land from Singur project to their owners,” chief minister Mamata Banerjee said. On August 31, the Supreme Court declared acquisition of 997 acre in Singur by the former Left Front government for Tata Motors’ world’s cheapest car project illegal, and ordered the state government to return the land to their owners in 12 weeks. “We are trying to complete the process within 10 weeks,” Ms Banerjee said. She said the land made fit for cultivation cannot be handed over in a single day as there are about 4,000 owners. “Eighty per cent of the land has already been made fit for cultivation. We will return the land in parts. Not more than 40 acre can be handed over at one go,” she said. The agriculture department will give seeds to farmers, along with a grant of Rs 10,000, so that they can start cultivating their land. A fortnight ago, Ms Banerjee had set October 21 as the deadline to start giving back land in Singur to their owners. Education minister Partha Chatterjee was given the responsibility of supervising the work of making the land fit for cultivation. Mr Chatterjee, who visited Singur a number of times, submitted a status report of the land to the chief minister at Nabanna on Monday. A top government official said concrete structure—a road and sheds—of the defunct car plant still remains on 150 acre. “We still need to dismantle concrete structure on 36 acres which will take some time,” he added. The state government has already given compensation cheques and land “parchas” to farmers. The official said the state expects to complete the process of giving physical possession by November 10. At Monday’s meeting, Ms Banerjee said she will reward officials and workers of government departments and agencies who worked to make the Singur land fit for cultivation within a few weeks. An agriculture department official said a part of the land dug up to make a drainage system, water bodies and lay roads for the Tata project has suffered top soil loss. “Agriculture is not possible on land that has suffered top soil loss. We are already looking for places in the adjoining districts and coastal areas from where we can bring top soil and lay it there. But this may take some time,” he added. (Asian Age 18/10/16)


108. Unicef initiative to tackle malnutrition in children (3)

VIJAYAWADA: The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) is planning to launch a pilot project of supplying nutritious food for children in the State. Unicef, with the help of government departments involved in child care, other stakeholders and NGOs, is proposing to launch Community Based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) and supply Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) in the State. “We are planning to launch CMAM in the capital region and spread the project to the entire State. Unicef will submit a draft of the project to the government soon, and the food will be supplied through anganwadi centres and schools,” said a Unicef representative who is monitoring its projects in the region. “Acute malnutrition is one of the reasons for child deaths in the world, and some lakhs of children are dying due to malnutrition every year across the globe. RUTF contains therapeutic milk, sugar, oil and peanuts, which contain high vitamins, minerals and nutritious supplements, and the product saved some thousands of children suffering from severe malnutrition,” the Unicef representative said. In India, the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) among every one lakh children is 126 (i.e. infants aged below six months), and the reason is malnourishment, according to the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) records. “In Andhra Pradesh, IMR is 39, and the reasons for the deaths are poor diet, child marriages, and premature births. We are trying to bring down the IMR in the State by organising awareness programmes in villages,” said an ICDS officer. As many as 55,607 anganwadi centres are there in A.P., and 26.62 lakh children are enrolled in these centres. Besides, some lakhs of children are suffering from acute malnutrition in primary and upper primary schools in the State. Recently, Unicef, in association with Women Development and Child Welfare (WD&CW) officials, held a meeting on CMAM in the city, and discussed about launching of the project. Department Secretary G. Jaya Lakshmi explained the implementation of ‘Gorumuddalu’ and Full Meals Schemes to the participants. Chief of Nutrition of Nepal, Stanley Chitekwe, shared his experiences in grounding CCAM in Nepal and Nigeria with WD&CW Special Commissioner K.R.B.H.N. Chakravarthi and Unicef Chief of Hyderabad Ruth Lieno. (The Hindu 12/10/2016)

109. Pregnant woman dies in hospital, family blames medical negligence (3)

BARIPADA: Tension ran high in the District Headquarters Hospital (DHH) at Baripada on Thursday following death of a pregnant woman allegedly due to medical negligence. Her family members and locals staged a dharna inside the hospital campus. They withdrew their agitation only after the Collector assured them to take action against the erring doctor. Jayanti Murmu (28) of Bholagadia village under Khunta police limits was admitted to the hospital for delivery on Wednesday. After a check up, gynaecologist Dr Anjan Sarangi informed her husband that it would be a normal delivery.Jayanti’s husband, Dasnath alleged that after the check-up the gynaecologist left for a private clinic. When his wife complained of labour pain, no doctor was present in the hospital and she died after three hours. As the news spread on Thursday morning, locals gathered at the hospital and staged an agitation demanding action against the doctor. They also demanded compensation of `10 lakh for family of the deceased woman. They, however, withdrew the agitation after Collector Rajesh Pravakar Patil asked the accused doctor to go on leave. He also directed ADM, Deben Kumar Pradhan to conduct an inquiry and submit report within a week. (New Indian Express 14/10/16)

110. Tuberculosis Cases Under-Reported In India: World Health Organization (3)

New Delhi:  The Global Tuberculosis Report – 2016 released by the World Health Organisation highlights the problem in India’s battle with the disease. The results show that the number of TB cases rose largely because researchers found that earlier estimates in India, from 2000-2015, were far too low. About 60% of global tuberculosis cases were reported from six countries – Indonesia, China, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa and India. The report also shows that India along with China and Russia account for the almost 50% of the global multi-drug resistant TB cases. WHO estimates that 480,000 people fell ill with MDR-TB in 2015. The report shows the major challenges in the form of gaps in TB testing, saying of the estimated 10.4 million new cases in 2015, only 6.1 million were detected and officially notified. WHO report blames the 4.3 million missing cases to under-reporting of TB cases, especially in countries with large unregulated private sector, and under-diagnosis in countries with poor access to healthcare. A recent study published in the ‘Lancet’ also showed that the ‘missing’ or ‘unreported’ cases are either not properly diagnosed or are not notified to the government by private sector doctors. Speaking to NDTV Sreenivas Nair, co-author of the study said, “A large section of the population is being treated in the private sector and these are not notified to the government. Absence of quality surveillance data on privately-treated patients and commercial sales of drugs add up to the disease’s burden estimates.” India accounts for 27% of the global TB burden. The report revised the estimated number of TB cases in India to 28 lakhs as against 22 lakhs reported last year. The revised estimates are based on data from various sources, including sub-national prevalence surveys and enhanced TB notification from the private sector. 24-year-old physiotherapist Saurabh Rane was first diagnosed with TB in October 2013 and his treatment was completed only in May 2016. It wasn’t an easy road to recovery for Mr Rane. “For 4 months, doctors kept saying it’s nothing. But I ended up back at the doctor’s with high fever and finally was diagnosed at a private hospital in Mumbai. During the recovery process, I ran a 10 km marathon. I was physically, emotionally and financially drained, but the only thing that kept me going was the support from family and friends.” Mr Rane, now works in the public health sector and is an avid marathoner and trekker. He also encourages other TB patients in their battle with the disease. (NDTV 15/10/16)

111. Odisha: Japanese Encephalitis toll climbs to 56 (3)

Bhubaneswar: With the death of two more children, the toll in Japanese Encephalitis outbreak today mounted to 56 in over a month in Odisha’s tribal-dominated Malkangiri district. Two children from Padia and Kalimela blocks died while undergoing treatment at the intensive care unit of the district headquarters hospital here, taking the toll to 56, Chief District Medical Officer (CDMO) Dr U S Mishra said. Unconfirmed reports, however, put the toll at 59 due to the vector-borne disease which has affected around 99 villages spread over six blocks in the district. At present, 12 children, afflicted with the disease were undergoing treatment at the district headquarters hospital and two of them were in the ICU in a serious condition, a senior district official said. So far, 119 out of the 184 children admitted to the district headquarters hospital here with JE have been discharged after being cured, he said. The deadly disease, which originates from pigs and spreads to humans, mostly children, through mosquitoes, had surfaced in the district around 39 days ago. A large number of pigs have been isolated and shifted to over 140 specially set-up enclosures away from human habitations, while fogging and spraying of mosquito repellents have been intensified in more than 100 villages, the official said. The state government has appointed a senior bureaucrat as Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to monitor and oversee measures to check the spread of the deadly disease in Malkangiri,officials said. Deputy Secretary of Panhayati Raj Department Nruparaj Sahu, who was earlier Sub-Collector in Malkangiri, has been appointed as the OSD. He would camp in Malkangiri for two months for effective coordination among different departments to bring the situation under control, officials said. (Indian Express 17/10/16)


112. Mumbai: 9th National Conference for AIDS conducted (3)

Pune: The AIDS Society of India (ASI) held the ninth National Conference of ASI from October 7-9 in Mumbai. While welcoming the HIV/AIDS Bill, 2014, that will help in reducing discrimination faced by people living with HIV (PLHIV), Dr Ishwar Gilada, president of AIDS Society of India and ASICON 2016, said that scientific evidence has proven effective strategies to prevent, diagnose, treat and care for HIV, making it theoretically a chronic manageable disease. But a reality check will tell us a grim tale of AIDS prevention and control in India: We are surely not doing all what we can and we should, with full thrust to prevent, test and treat HIV, despite available knowledge and resources at our disposal.” India has an estimated 21.17 lakh PLHIV, among whom 6.54% are children less than 15 years of age and 40.5% are women. Only 43% of these (91,9,141) are currently receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) despite strong scientific evidence to “test and treat” all without delay. Not providing ART after testing someone positive for HIV is clinical malpractice and counterproductive public health-wise. There is a large number of PLHIV who are not aware of their HIV status. 1,49,5,400 of 2,11,7,000 PLHIV in India are aware of their status. Even among high risk groups or key populations, HIV testing coverage is still not 100 per cent. HIV testing coverage for female sex workers is 72 per cent, for men who have sex with men it is 70 per cent and for people who use drugs it is 71 per cent.So, almost one-third of high risk groups are not being reached even today. Diagnosing and reaching out to each PLHIV in the country is not only important but is also a public health imperative if we want to prevent new HIV transmission and provide ART to each one of them. This will also reduce opportunistic infections like TB and have a broad spectrum public health impact too. If we fail to act now then it will be too late and for many PLHIV in reality HIV will not be a “chronic manageable” condition, but rather have public health consequences (Indian Express 12/10/16)

113. Amended HIV, AIDS Bill, a good augury (3)

Bengaluru: India has done well to take robust steps to safeguard the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS. Last week, the Union Cabinet approved amendments to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014, that could go some way in preventing discrimination of people living with HIV/AIDS. People with HIV/AIDS suffer immensely. Not only is the syndrome deadly and debilitating but its treatment is also expensive and often beyond the reach of the common woman and man. In addition, there are the many myths surrounding the virus and the syndrome, which have contributed to discrimination and even social ostracism of patients and their kin. People living with HIV/AIDS are denied education and employment. Their children are often subjected to isolation and denied admission to schools. Such isolation and ostracism is based on the misperception that the mere touch of a person with HIV/AIDS or breathing the same air can cause others to get infected. The amendments to the HIV and AIDS Bill, 2014, are aimed at preventing such discrimination. Denial, termination, discontinuation or unfair treatment with regard to employment, education, healthcare, residing or renting property, standing for public or private office and provision of insurance are forbidden under the amended bill. The bill seeks to bring in legal accountability and provides for the setting up of a formal mechanism to probe complaints against those who discriminate against people with HIV/AIDS. A person found guilty of discrimination could be jailed for up to two years. The bill also frees people with HIV/AIDS from mandatory medical tests as a pre-requisite for jobs and education. Information regarding one’s HIV/AIDS status need not be disclosed unless the indivi-dual gives her informed consent for such a disclosure or the court orders such information to be revealed. The bill says that the Union and state governments shall take measures to provide anti-retroviral therapy (ART) and infection management for those with HIV or AIDS. This is welcome. However, the bill does not say whether this will be available to patients as a matter of right or only to the extent it will be possible for governments to extend such support. Treatment must be extended as a right to patients. At present, just around half of India’s estimated 2.1 million HIV-positive patients are receiving free treatment. The rest are unlikely to be able to afford such treatment. The text of the bill must be amended further to make it mandatory for the government to extend free treatment to all patients. The government must spread public awareness about the HIV and AIDS bill. That would bring real change in the lives of those with HIV/AIDS. (Deccan Herald 14/10/16)

114. HIV camps for migrants planned across state (3)

JAIPUR: Ahead of Diwali, the Rajasthan State Aids Control Society (RSACS) will organise HIV screenings for those who migrate to other states in districts that have high concentration of such people. These voluntary health camps will be held from October 21 to 27. According to RSACS, the migrating population – local residents working elsewhere and returning home for holidays – is one of the sections vulnerable to HIV. In such camps, organised last year during Diwali, RSACS found that the prevalence of HIV was almost double in villages with high concentration of migrants. The agency found that 0.59% of such population had HIV. All those who tested HIV positive during the screenings were advised to undergo second and third round of confirmatory tests. As per official estimates, 20,037 persons were screened for HIV at 10-day camps organised in 100 villages of 11 districts last year. The villages were identified on the basis of large number of people migrating to other states for work and returning during the festive season. District collector Pali Kumar Pal Gautam said that six places have been identified in Pali for voluntary health camps. These camps will also provide care for those suffering from other diseases. He said that during Diwali people who had gone to other states for work returned to the district for the festival. The camps will also offer other healthcare facilities. (Times of India 17/10/2016)

115. Tracking HIV caused by blood transfusions in Mumbai (3)

Mumbai: : In the first such exercise undertaken in Mumbai, health officials have tracked down 48 cases of HIV patients who had reported contracting the infection through blood transfusions. The exercise, which was aimed at identifying blood banks responsible for providing infected blood, and putting in place quality check measures, however, hit a roadblock as only 21 of the 48 patients confirmed that they had been infected by blood transfusions. Of these 21 cases, the blood banks could be identified in only four cases. In 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16, a total of 85 people in Mumbai had reported contracting the HIV infection through blood transfusions. For years, this information, which was obtained on the basis of self-reporting by patients, was simply documented. It was neither verified nor were the blood banks traced or questioned on the infected blood they had allegedly supplied. But in a first, patients who blamed blood transfusions were tracked down. “We tracked these HIV positive cases to the Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) centres they were registered with and went back to their history. We asked them where they received [the infected blood] and in which hospital,” said Dr. Shrikala Acharya, Additional Project Director, Mumbai District AIDS Control Society (MDACS). She added that the key reason for tracking down the cases was to ensure patients had been linked to treatment services, and also to ensure that they did not spread the infection further. Officials say there is a possibility of people attributing the HIV infection to blood transfusions when they may have contracted it via unsafe sex. “Since we do not ask for evidence, and we take the information provided by the person the way it is, there is no way to verify,” said Dr. Acharya. So, in this exercise, 30 patients that had reported contracting the infection through blood transfusions in 2014-15, and all the 18 patients who had attributed their infection to blood transfusions in 2015-16, were tracked down….  (The Hindu 19/10/2016).