HR News

sam-3

Volume 18                                                           No. 23                                           August 20, 2016

HR NEWS:  AUGUST 20, 2016

 (From August 11 to 20, 2016)

 DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

1. Congress demands probe on Dalit beating by ‘gau rakshaks’ in Andhra Pradesh 

New Delhi: Asserting that injustice against Dalits would not be tolerated, the Congress on Wednesday asked Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu to initiate a probe against the recent incident in Amalapuram where two Dalit brothers were allegedly tied to a coconut tree, stripped and thrashed for skinning a dead cow. Congress leader Renuka Chowdhury stated that nobody would bear injustice against the Dalits. “The state’s chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu should initiate a probe to find out the accused. I am surprised as to how this disease of cow vigilantes has reached Andhra Pradesh,” Chowdhury told ANI. “Nobody will bear injustice against the Dalits and the state government will have to bear the consequences. The Chief Minister will have to tell as to what actions he has taken in this regard,” she added while assuring support to the Dalits. Earlier on Monday, two brothers, who were hired to skin a cow that had died of electrocution, were attacked by around 100 ‘gau rakshaks’ or cow vigilantes, who arrived at the spot accusing them of stealing and killing the animal. The brothers are presently undergoing treatment at a hospital with reports indicating that one of them is critical. As per reports, the police have identified the attackers. The incident comes just days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent out a hard-hitting message against attacks on Dalits and cow vigilantism. Addressing a public meeting on his first visit to Telangana on August 7 after assuming office, the Prime Minister asked the people to beware of its ‘fake’ protectors trying to divide society and the country and asked the states to severely punish them.“I would like to tell all countrymen that they beware of these fake cow protectors,” he said. Prime Minister Modi asked the states to identify the people who want to destroy the social fabric and take stern action against them. (Indian Express 11/8/16)

2. Bhavnagar tense over dalit sweeper’s suicide (2)

Rajkot: Tension prevailed in Bhavnagar city after some sanitary workers pelted stones on the ambulance carrying the body of 40-year-old dalit sweeper, Mukesh Gohil, who worked with the Bhavnagar Municipal Corporation (BMC). The workers alleged that Mukesh had died because of work pressure from his immediate supervisor V P Gohil, executive engineer with solid waste management department of BMC.However, postmortem report confirmed that Mukesh committed suicide on Friday and was declared brought dead at the civil hospital. Following the incident, the executive engineer V P Gohil was suspended with immediate effect. Mukesh, a resident of Valmikivas in Jamnakund area in Bhavnagar, had hanged himself at his residence on Friday evening. Soon, as the news spread about Mukesh’s death, large number of dalits started gathering at the civil hospital on Saturday and alleged that Mukesh died because of work pressure from Gohil and demanded immediate action against the officer. When Mukesh’s body was being taken in an ambulance, some of them pelted stones on it. Police resorted to mild lathicharge to bring the situation under control. Initially, Mukesh’s family members refused to take custody of his body, but the deadlock was broken after Gohil was suspended by the BMC authorities. “When the ambulance was about to leave civil hospital campus some people pelted stones on it. There were some antisocial elements and police resorted to mild lathicharge to disperse the crowd,” said I G Sheikh, deputy superintendent of police, Bhavnagar. A complaint was lodged against the mob for stone pelting and damaging public properties. Heavy security was deployed at the hospital after the stone-pelting incident. “Sweepers had demanded immediate transfer of Gohil on Friday. So, we transferred him to other department. Then, they demanded his suspension. So, on Saturday we suspended Gohil and have assured Mukesh’s kin of all possible help,” Manoj Kothari, municipal commissioner at Bhavnagar, told TOI. “I have asked the concerned department to find out what actually happened and whether Mukesh was under work pressure or not,” Kothari added.  (Times of India 14/8/16)

3. People returning from ”Dalit pride march” attacked (2)

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat police have arrested 22 persons who allegedly assaulted Dalits returning from the Dalit Pride March held in Una to protest against atrocities and discrimination faced by Dalits in the state. The clashes between Dalits and other community members took place near Samter village late on Monday night, when a group of Dalits was returning after the rally. Four policemen were among those injured in the clashes. The police had to baton charge and lob tear gas shells to disperse mobs clashing over stone-pelting. According to sources, the incident occurred near Samter, where villagers allegedly blocked the road and started assaulting Dalits. “After the rally, anti-social elements blocked the road near Samter when Dalits were returning. They attacked a group of Dalits. We lobbed 46 teargas shells, fired 6 rounds in the air and used batons to disperse the mob,” Gir-Somnath Superintendent of Police H.R. Chaudhary told the media on Tuesday. The SP added that 22 persons have been arrested for rioting and assaults on Dalits and policemen. In the stone-pelting, at least a dozen members of the Dalit community were injured and around eight of them suffered severe wounds. The victims claimed that the residents of Samter attacked them to avenge the arrest of 12 people of the village in connection with the public flogging of Dalits by cow vigilante groups on July 11, which triggered state-wide protests by Dalits. They said that of the 30-odd people arrested till date in the Una incident, 12 are residents of Samter, located near Mota Samadhiyala, where cow vigilantes assaulted a group of Dalits for allegedly skinning a dead cow. The Dalit community has now demanded police protection for its people in villages near Una. “We want police protection, otherwise dominant local castes will keep assaulting us,” said Balubhai Sarvaiya from Una. Meanwhile, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal warned the Gujarat government to act against those assaulting Dalits, or face the consequences in the Assembly polls next year. Mr Kejriwal, who was here to pay last respects to the Swaminarayan sect’s Pramukh Swami, slammed the BJP government, alleging that BJP leaders were hand in glove with those assaulting Dalits in the state. “The police again did nothing to save the Dalits who were attacked. This proves that the attackers are goons sent by the BJP government,” Mr. Kejriwal said.“I want to warn the Gujarat BJP government that if they do not refrain from supporting anti-social elements who target Dalits, the people of Gujarat will teach the government a lesson in the assembly polls next year,” Mr Kejriwal said, adding that the BJP government has failed in the state and there is widespread anger against the government as a result. According to him, the Gujarat government first targeted the Patidar community and was now harassing the Dalit community. “It seems every community in the state is frustrated with the government and is raising its voice. There is jungle raj [lawlessness] in Gujarat,” he claimed. (The Hindu 16/8/16)

4. Gurgaon: Upper caste men beat Dalits as they outperform Yadavs in kabaddi (2)

Gurgaon: A friendly game of kabaddi held to promote inter-caste harmony in Gurgaon went horribly wrong after the Dalit team was thrashed by upper caste men, when they outperformed the rival team. According to reports, trouble began when the Dalits took a lead against the team of Yadavs and soon angry spectators started firing shots in the air and assaulting them with bamboo sticks. The kabaddi tournament was organised by the community head to promote friendly ties between various castes on the occassion of India’s 70th of Independence Day. Close to 40 teams from across Delhi-NCR region were invited to play and the teams included other castes like Gurjars, Jats and Agarwals, to name a few. Eyewitnesses say that the men beat up even those who tried to intervene and stop the violence. Four Dalits were seriously injured in the scuffle. “They said, ‘how can you low cast people win against us? We’ll leave you in such a state that you can never play again’,” Raju, a Dalit player who was thrashed by the men was quoted in a report. While some residents said that inter-caste clashes between Dalits and Yadav are not uncommon in the area, the local councillor claimed that caste had nothing to do with the violence. According to the councillor it was just a unfortunate co-incidence that the members who were beaten up were from the same caste. A complaint has been filed over the incident and the police are investigating the case. No arrests have been made so far. (Deccan Herald 18/8/2016

TRIBALS

5. Centre, State snatching tribals’ rights: Brinda (6)

KHAMMAM: CPI(M) polit bureau member Brinda Karat lambasted both the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre and the TRS government in Telangana for allegedly trying to snatch away the legal, moral and historical rights of tribal communities over forest land. The Narendra Modi government at the Centre and the Chandrasekhar Rao government here were bent on evicting tribal people from their natural habitat, infringing upon the rights of tribal communities under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), in the name of afforestation, she charged. She was speaking at ‘Maha Dharna’ held under the aegis of CPI(M) district committee in front of the Collectorate here on Wednesday. Earlier, scores of tribal people, mainly comprising women ‘podu’ farmers, land oustees of various irrigation and coalmine projects, took out a huge rally in the town to press for a charter of demands. CPI(M) State secretary Tammineni Veerabhadram, Bhadrachalam MLA Sunnam Rajaiah and others took part in the rally. Their main demands include grant of pattas for ‘podu’ lands as per the provisions of the FRA, sanction of bank loans to ‘podu’ farmers, scrapping of GO 123 and provision of statutory compensation to land oustees under the Land Acquisition Act, 2013. Addressing a large gathering at Dharna Chowk, Ms. Brinda Karat said, “KCR wants to be friends with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” (The Hindu 11/6/16)

6. Kandhamal deaths: Tribals killed in crossfire, Odisha govt tells NCSC (6)

Bhubaneswar: A month after five Dalits, including a two-year-old, were killed in police firing at a village in Odisha’s Kandhamal district, the state government has told the National Commission for Scheduled Castes that the five tribals were caught in crossfire between the security personnel and Maoists. The state government has, however, said that an SIT probe into the incident is under way and action would be taken against security personnel if they are found guilty. The government’s reply comes after chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, P L Punia, submitted a report to the state government where he debunked the crossfire theory of the police. “In case of crossfiring, there would have been casualties or injuries to the police personnel and Maoists, which did not happen. The police have registered an FIR based on the submission made by the Commandant SOG which is not only one-sided but blatantly concocted and untrue and to cover up the misdeed of the jawans,” Punia wrote in his report. The state government, however, has said the SOG personnel were engaged in a gunfight with Maoists on July 8. “During such firing, some of the villagers travelling in an auto sustained bullet injuries which resulted in death of five persons and injuries to four others. In this context, Baliguda police station case no 109/2016 dated July 9 has been registered on the basis of the report of the sergeant leading the SOG team,” the home department said. It added that an SIT has been formed under the Addl DG, Human Rights Protection Cell, to probe the incident. A commission headed by the district and sessions judge of Kandhamal is also looking into the incident. (The Indian Express 13/8/16)

7. Assam: The troubling dynamics of Tribal identity (6)

Thirteen people were reported killed and 20 injured in Assam’s Kokrajhar town, after terrorists opened fire in a market area on August 5. According to the 2001 Census, the Scheduled Tribe population of Assam was 12.41 per cent, of which Bodos are about 40 per cent. But, within the Bodoland Territorial Area District, an area of 27,100 sq km (or 35 per cent of Assam), the Bodos constitute less than 30 per cent, with no other ethnic group (Assamese speakers, Bengali Muslims, Bengali Hindus, Koch-Rajbongshis) having absolute majority. This tension between Bodos and the 70 per cent of non-Bodos leads to periodic conflict in Kokrajhar. The Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) was formed as a special territorial privilege, under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, in a Memorandum of Settlement in February 2003 between the Government of India, Government of Assam and the Bodo Liberation Tigers. The BTC has 12 members. While insurgency-related deaths are showing a downward trend in the state, the recent tragedy shows the strength of tribal identity. (Business Standard 14/8/16)

8. Chakma tribals observe ‘black day’ (6)

AGARTALA: Around 7.5 lakh Chakma tribals observed a “black day” on Wednesday to protest the occupation of their original homeland in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) in Bangladesh. Over 2.5 lakh Chakma tribals reside in Tripura, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh. A section of the tribals also live in Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi. Over five lakh Chakma tribals have been living in mountainous CHT in southeast Bangladesh. (Times of India 18/8/16)

9. Forest rights under siege in Nagada (6)

BHUBANESWAR: Even as an embarrassed Odisha Government tries to build basic communication infrastructure to connect Jajpur’s Nagada, it has come to fore that the resident tribal communities have not received their entitlements due under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006. Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), which has played a crucial role in the enactment of FRA, sent in a fact-finding team to assess deprivation of the forest dwelling tribal communities in Nagada. It found that the Government organised Gram Sabha on July 29 after the malnourishment deaths came to fore. Interestingly, Odisha claims to have issued the highest number of individual forest rights (IFR) in the whole country – a massive 3,78,675 titles. However, the picture of Nagada reveals that there are hundreds of such villages where FRA implementation is yet to start, CSD alleged and demanded that Government must disclose a village-wise status of FRA implementation in the State including hundreds of forested and un-surveyed villages. The four-member team interacted with community members and Government officials, and found that most of the Juang families in the village are landless and cultivate forest land for livelihood. These primitive tribals are entitled to individual forest rights and community rights titles as well as PTG habitat rights. “The interaction with the community made it clear that they are unaware of FRA, Forest Rights Committee and the fact that community rights have to be recognised. It was only after Nagada issue that the Government machinery woke up and organised Gram Sabha meeting on July 29 in the village under FRA,” the report said As per the Record of Rights (RoR), the survey and settlement of the village was conducted in 1980s. The CSD report said Nagada revenue village is located over 761.45 acre of which just 19.38 acre (2.54 per cent) has been recorded as private. Of the rest 742.07 acre Government land, forest land measures up to 668.60 acre constituting 92.79 per cent where most families of the three hamlets in the village carry out cultivation. Nagada is surrounded by reserve forest from its west and south sides where the tribals are entitled to get community rights over forest. CSD alleged that the Government has a plan to create a gateway for mining in the area. “While the Government failed to construct a basic road for tribals in the hilly tracts, why is it constructing a 60 feet wide road from Ashokjhari to Nagada, right into the forest? The purpose is to facilitate mining agencies who have eyes on chromite deposits there,” it added. (New Indian Express 19/8/16)

WOMEN

10. Three months leave for victims of sexual harassment: Govt (8)

NEW DELHI: Women employees who have complained of sexual harassment can get three months leave during the pendency of inquiry, Union minister Jitendra Singh informed the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. The government does not maintain any centralised data on the number of sexual harassment complaints, he said. Section 12 of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 provides for grant of leave up to three months to an aggrieved woman employee during the pendency of inquiry in to her case, he said in a written reply.”Such leave may be granted by the employer if a written request from the aggrieved employee duly recommended by the local committee or the internal committee, as the case may be, is received,” said the minister of state for personnel, public grievances and pensions.To a question seeking details on the number of sexual harassment complaints registered by women employees as on date, the minister said “centralised data is not maintained”. As per the law, sexual harassment includes physical contact and advances, demand or request for sexual favours, sexually coloured remarks, showing any pornography and any other unwelcome physical, verbal and non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature. Besides, implied or explicit promise of preferential or detrimental treatment in employment; implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status; interference with her work, creating an intimidating, offensive or hostile work environment for her; and humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety may also amount to sexual harassment. (Times of India 11/8/16)

11. RS passes Bill to raise maternity leave to 26 weeks (8)

New Delhi: Cutting across party lines, elders in Rajya Sabha today passed a Bill that provides for 26 weeks maternity leave, even as some members sought norms for paternity leave so that parents can share the responsibility of raising children. The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which was moved for consideration and passage by Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, was passed by a voice vote. The measure also seeks to increase maternity benefit from 12 to 26 weeks for two surviving children that would benefit about 1.8 million women in the organised sector. “The very purpose of this Bill is to increase the working women force because in the work force, participation of women is decreasing day by day,” Dattatreya said. He said the law is applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more persons.Citing the maternity leave rules prevalent in various countries, Dattatreya said post the enactment of the Bill, India will jump to the third position in terms of the number of weeks (26) for maternity leave, behind Norway (44) and Canada (50). Highlighting that there are more nuclear families now, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said the Bill has its roots in malnutrition, as breastfeeding the child is recommended which is not possible unless the mother is in physical proximity of the child. Moreover, after giving birth, a woman’s body needs to heal over a period of time, she said, adding “it is a very stressful time for the mother, who should be with the child”.Observing that the legislation will go a long way to ensure that the future generations are healthier, Gandhi said the Women and Child Development Ministry had recommended raising maternity leave from 12 weeks to 8 months but it was considered too long for the employer. The Minister said the Government was thinking of introducing direct benefit transfer for women and it was “under consideration”. The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, protects the employment of women during the time of her maternity and entitles her full paid absence from work, to take care for her child. Cabinet had yesterday given ex-post facto approval to the amendments made to the Maternity Benefits Act, that aims to raise maternity leave for women from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. Sarojini Hembram (BJD) said India unfortunately ranked 127 globally when it came to gender equality and sought paternity leave as well terming it very important. Vandana Chavan (NCP) while supporting the Bill, pointed out that the provision of 50 employees was in conflict with the Factories Act provision that entails mandatory creche facility for establishments having 30 or more women. However, Dattatreya clarified that the provision of 50 employees will be applicable to even those organisations which do not have a single woman employee, highlighting that even a man can bring a child to the office creche. Chavan also sought paternity leave to remove the gender bias prevalent in the society….  (Deccan Herald 11/8/160

12. Women vulnerable in India’s richest civic body (8)

Mumbai, Aug 16 : With average 29 cases of sexual harassment each year, the women employees of India’s richest and Asia’s biggest civic body — Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai — are a vulnerable lot, a RTI query revealed here on Tuesday. The statistical data provided by the Complaints Committee of Women Sexual Harassment Prevention of ‘Savitribai Phule Women Resource Centre’ has indicated an alarming growth in sexual harassment of women in the civic body, said well-known Mumbai RTI activist Anil Galgali. “Unfortunately, they refused to share the data regarding implementation of the orders passed by these vigilance bodies responsible for stopping sexual harassment, on grounds that the information falls under ‘restricted’ category,” Galgali said. On the RTI query, MCGM Public Information Officer and Administrative Officer Rekha Kale informed Galgali that between 2013 and 2016, a total of 118 sexual harassment complaints were received. Of these, the PIO said 21 were filed in the current year, averaging around three per month till July, Galgali said. From these cases, 96 per cent were listed as ‘cleared’, but four cases registered this year were shown as ‘pending’ in the MCGM records. “However, they did not share information on those cases where the ‘action taken report’ has not been filed on the orders issued by the statutory vigilance groups, or whether those found guilty after inquiry were ever punished or not in all the cases ‘cleared’ since 2013,” Galgali observed. Another fact that came to light was of 16 members on the vigilance committee in force since 2009, eight, including the president and secretary, were related to the medical field. In a letter to Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta, Galgali demanded that the MCGM should name and shame all the officers or staffers who were found guilty in sexual harassment cases investigated by the statutory committee. “Their names must be prominently displayed on the MCGM’s website and on all notice-boards with their photographs. This would act as a strong deterrent for others and fear of public reprisals will reduce future instances,” Galgali told IANS. He further urged that the appointments on the statutory committee should be for a fixed tenure to ensure that vested lobbies do not get to control its functioning and allow utilisation of varied senior officers with experience for its work. (New Kerala 16/8/16)

13. New law to book cheating husbands mooted (8)

HYDERABAD: The State is initiating steps to come to the rescue of helpless victims of dubious marriages. State Home and Labour Minister Nayani Narasimha Reddy said on Tuesday that they will consult the Union Ministry to bring in a legislation that will help bring cheating husbands, who are holed up in a foreign land, to justice. The Minister said that there have been innumerable cases in the State where the husbands took dowry and abandoned or harassed the wife after leaving the country. With pressure on the local police to book the accused, he said that with a law it would be easier to legally punish such persons. The Minister was speaking at a conference on ‘Safe Legal Migration, Overseas Employment and Role of Government Agencies, Diaspora: Telangana’ organised by Tomcom (Telangana Overseas Manpower Company Limited). In his address on the inaugural day, the Minister said that there were 10 lakh migrant workers from Telangana working abroad. He said that some of the unskilled workers were being exploited due to lack of awareness and Tomcom was helping people leave the country to work in a legal manner. He informed that 750 workers, who were selected in job melas held by Dubai based companies in the State, would leave in batches before the end of year. Rajiv Trivedi, Principal Secretary, Home said that the State intended to reduce the outward flow of migrants. With irrigation projects worth thousands of crores and new IT and corporate companies setting shop or expanding base in the city, he said they were confident that there will be a “reverse migration” soon. He said that the State has been successful in stopping children from being trafficked for camel races or minor girls from old city getting married to men from Gulf. The conference was attended by various stakeholders like NRI associations, NGOs, activists and government representatives working on the issues related to migration. Rebecca Tavares, UN Women Representative for India, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka said that she had heard of many accounts of human rights violations on women migrant workers and there was a need for policies that can protect women. Technical sessions and panel discussions were held on the subject as part of the day-long conference (The Hindu 17/8/16)

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

14. Proposed amendments to Child Labour Act need review (14)

The Child Labour Amendment Bill passed by both Houses of Parliament has some provisions that raise concerns, and questions that are disturbing. The new Bill prohibits children under the age of 14 from working, but the problem is the exception for ‘family businesses’. Children below 14 will be allowed to work in family businesses, outside school hours and during holidays. Children between 15 and 18, now defined as adolescents, will be permitted to work except in mines and industries. It has also drastically reduced the number of hazardous jobs that 15- 18-year-olds are banned from doing from 83 to 3. The Bill seems to have brought in a new concept of ‘part-time student, part-time child labour’ along with part-time teachers. The government says the law will help poor families earn a living and give children a chance to acquire skills. Now, some children will go to school, come back, study, play, learn, relax and otherwise enjoy life. But ‘some other poor children’ must wake up early in the morning, work before going to school, then run to school and come back and work again at home and sleep late in the night? They will have no leisure, no time to play or study, leading to serious short- and long-term physical, psychological and social consequences. These tired, sleepy, unhealthy children may soon drop out from school. Is this joyful learning, quality education, a happy childhood? Will it not perpetuate a labour force of children and adolescents that will be cheap and vulnerable working in cottage and small-scale industries, manufacturing units operating out of residential areas claiming to be family enterprises and the unorganised sector, which can now flourish unregulated as family enterprises and work out of hazardous units. The Census 2011 shows that 33.9 million children are out of school and vulnerable to labour. Around 1.01 crore children in the 5-14 age group earn for their families. They will not be protected under the proposed amended law. Why this discrimination among children? Is it only because he or she is poor? Many poor families send their children to work. Poverty has made parents sell children, send them for begging, and force them into child labour. The very premise that children can work in families is deeply flawed. Making children work is not the solution. There is a need for strengthening their families through dedicated poverty alleviation programmes. How will the government enforce this new law? Which will be the implementing and monitoring agency? Under the current Child Labour Act, 1985, when labour inspectors would visit factories where children were found working, all turned out to be ‘relatives ‘of the factory owner. There were practically no prosecution for any violation of existing laws pertaining to child labour. The owners, in many cases, could not be prosecuted because there were no witnesses. Corruption among government officials charged with enforcement of labour laws is notorious and widespread. Labour inspectors, medical officers, local tehsildars, police and magistrates are known to be susceptible to bribery. This Bill is open to exploitation and abuse of children. ….. (The Hindu 11/8/16)

15. ‘Govt has failed to prioritise child rights’ (14)

Chennai: It is the power of the people that can create a difference in society. Mass movements can initiate policy changes, feels Nobel Peace prize winner Kailash Satyarthi, who was in the city on Friday for an education summit. It is that idea that forms the core of the global 100 million for 100 million campaign that the child rights activist is planning to launch at the end of this year. “It is important that youth who are hungry to create an impact are given a platform to help the other 100 million victims of violence,” says the 62-year-old, “We have to create mass scale mobilisation and demand so that politicians are forced to take note.” Involved in activities in 50 villages in Karnataka at present, Satyarthi had worked directly and partnered with organisations for rescuing child labourers in Tamil Nadu. “I had worked with organisations to help children in the fireworks, match sticks, leather tanning industries in Sivakasi and Dindigul. I want to revive the programmes that were started more than a decade, and am in talks with some NGOs,” says Satyarthi on his first visit to the city after receiving the Nobel. Though the journey of the activist spans nearly 36 years and has touched the lives of millions of children globally, his first step towards this life began on his first day of school, when he questioned why a young boy was stitching shoes outside his school. He then went on to collect money to buy books for poor children. Talking about the lack of priority to child rights and labour issues in the state Satyarthi said, “According to latest data, Tamil Nadu is one of the three states with the highest number of child trafficking and missing cases. But this is not a problem unique to this state. It shows we as a society and as a government have not been able to prioritise protection and rights of our children. There is a lack of understanding of child rights in society and that reflects in the government too.” His grassroot movement Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement) has liberated more than 84,000 children from exploitation. Enhancing budgetary allocation for education of children, eradication of child labour and preventing child trafficking, says Satyarthi, are the most essential steps towards a better environment for children. But two years after receiving the peace prize, the amendments in child labour law have been a letdown for the child rights activist. “The new child labour law has blurred the line between learning skills in the family and working in a family enterprise which is dubious and has opened the scope for exploitation. Another issue is that the law has dropped hazardous occupation from 83 listed before to just three,” explains Satyarthi whose efforts had led to the adoption of International Labour Organization Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour in 1999. (Times of India 13/8/16)

16. 245 child labourers rescued (14)

Chennai: The Labour Department’s policy note tabled in the Assembly said that during the last five years, 245 child labourers have been rescued in Tamil Nadu: while 100 of them have been admitted in special schools, 77 have been handed over to Child Welfare Committees. The remaining 68 have been entrusted to their parents. Under the National Child Labour Project, 18,415 children were mainstreamed from the special schools in the last five years and over 3,700 children benefitted from the cash assistance given by the State government during the last four academic years. (The Hindu 17/8/16)

17. UP child rights body starts adoption of anganwadis (14)

LUCKNOW: Setting a precedent of sorts, the state commission for protection of child rights, initiated a campaign for adoption of anganwadi centers to engage community in the interest of preschool kids. As a part of the same, five anganwadis in Jawahar Nagar area of the city were adopted by Loreto Convent Alumni Association and CBR foundation.Member, UPSCPCR, Nahid Lari Khan stated that community’s participation can play a crucial role in child development. “The effort aims at transforming aangawadis into playschools, where kids would be provided with learning kits to attract and retain kids so that they may be initiated to education.” The kids were also provided with new mats, schoolbags, tiffin carriers, water bottles to further encourage others to attend classes regularly and increase enrolment. A free health camp was organized by health department to detect disability and deficiencies in children. It also provided for screening of elders for seasonal ailments such as dengue, malaria. (Times of India 17/8/16)

MINORITIES – GENERAL       

18. ‘India’s religious minorities were attacked with impunity in 2015’ (7)

WASHINGTON: Religious minorities in India were repeatedly targeted in 2015 and attackers acted with impunity, said the annual report of the U.S. State Department on International Religious Freedom. The report echoes the findings of U.S. Congress-authorised International Commission on Religious Freedom’s report earlier this year. Violence against Muslims under the guise of “cow protection” finds special mention. “Religiously motivated communal violence, including attacks by Hindus on Muslims due to alleged cow slaughter, led to deadly attacks and public rioting. Hindu nationalists threatened and assaulted Muslims and Christians and destroyed their property because of their beliefs and in disputes over the location of churches and mosques,” said the report, released on Wednesday. The report acknowledges a promise by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to protect the religious rights of all, but also notes that several leaders associated with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), including Union Minister Mahesh Sharma and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar have made statements to the contrary. “On several occasions, such as at a meeting in February with Christians in New Delhi, Prime Minister Modi publicly stated he would defend religious freedom,” the report said. “Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar remarked, “Muslims can stay in India, but they will have to give up eating beef,” and federal Minister of Tourism Mahesh Sharma called the Dadri killing an “accident” and warned against interpreting the killings as religiously motivated. The report notes that in 2015, in clashes with Sikhs protesting the desecration of their holy book by unknown assailants, police killed two protesters, and 80 others were injured. The State Department report also quotes the findings of the Ministry of Home Affairs, which said that while in the April 2014-March 2015 period, there was reduction in communal violence, it increased later. “In the first six months of 2015, the MHA reported 330 incidents and 51 deaths, an increase over the 252 incidents and 33 deaths recorded over the same period during the previous year,” the report said (The Hindu 11/8/16)

19. ‘Impart lessons on tolerance in schools’ (7)

Mumbai: The BJP-led government’s latest move to incorporate lessons on “tolerance and democratic society” in school textbooks is likely to stir a hornets’ nest in the state. The government has issued several instructions to the School Education Department (SED) as part of its initiative to “win trust and create peaceful environment” among the minority communities. Imparting lessons on tolerance and democracy are part of them. Parties like Samajwadi Party are already up in arms against the government over the issue, terming the move as an attempt to label Muslims. The government resolution issue has recently asked the SED to implement special measures, which include adding in textbooks lessons enabling students to learn the “true teachings” of all religions and inculcate values of democracy and tolerance. The policy also emphasises on promotion of Marathi language among the minority students. “The Urdu-medium students lag behind in Marathi language, which leads to an inferiority complex among them. To prevent this, Marathi needs to be established in Urdu-medium schools. Besides, a special programme should also be implemented to encourage Urdu-medium students to learn Marathi,” cites the policy. According to the state data, about 70 per cent minorities, especially Muslims, live in urban areas, mostly slums. The state government has directed the officials of the urban development department to improve these settlements. However, the Samajwadi Party has strongly protested the state government’s plans advocating all-religion teachings for minority students. SP leader Abu Asim Azmi said, “Why only minority students? Why is it not being implemented for students from majority communities? It is a matter of personal choice. In case somebody is interested to learn the language, it’s fine. But education on all religions should not be made mandatory. Instead the state government should think of providing modern education to students.” (Asian Age 11/8/16)

20. Atrocities on Dalits, minorities, women shameful, says CM (7)

BENGALURU: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Monday termed as “shameful” the recent incidents of atrocities on Dalits, minorities and women in the country, and said they have made every “right-thinking Indian hang his head in shame and question the very existence of civilized society”. Delivering his Independence Day speech at Field Marshal Manekshaw Parade Ground here after unfurling the national flag, he said: “The time has indeed come when we need to launch a movement akin to the freedom struggle to fight against these divisive forces.” He said a nation was best built with love, mutual cooperation and amity, and not mutual hatred and ill will.“We need to sustain our efforts to remove poverty, illiteracy, superstitions, casteism, and communalism which are plaguing our onward march towards progress and prosperity,” Mr. Siddaramaiah said. Patriotism, in its truest sense, was respecting the freedom of others to follow the practises of their choice. He said “the concept of freedom was neither shallow nor narrow, and it was not merely limited to any particular field, let alone politics.” Stating that the result of his government’s sincere efforts in the last three years was before the people to see, the Chief Minister said it was a matter of “immense pride” that through the four budgets presented, his government had been able to fulfil nearly three-fourths of the promises made by the Congress in its election manifesto. Noting that his government is farmer-friendly, he said: “the successive drought conditions during the last five years have left our farmers in severe distress.”Mr. Siddaramaiah said proposals of providing one more kg of rice to beneficiaries under the Anna Bhagya scheme and a kg of tur dal under concessional rate to the BPL families are under “active consideration of the government”. The government proposed to build memorials at a cost of Rs. 3 crore in the honour of eminent Dalit personalities such as B. Rachaiah, N. Rachaiah and B. Basavalingappa. It has been envisaged to make AYUSH Department more people friendly, he said, adding that a 100-bed hi-tech panchakarma hospital and a 100-bed nature cure and yoga hospital would be set up in Mysuru city. It was also decided to set up 50-bed hospitals in Mangaluru, Gadag, Chickballapur, and Davanagere, he said. (The Hindu 16/8/16)

21. Judicial power given to state minorities panel (7)

MANGALURU: The state government has conferred judicial powers to Karnataka State Minorities Commission, chairperson Bilkis Banu said. While other commissions set up by the state government already had such powers, the Karnataka State Minorities Commission was not one among them. This confers the commission with civil powers including the right to issue summons, she said. Interacting with reporters, Bilkis said the commission is aware of the issue faced by schools run by minorities in obtaining recognition certificate. If 25% of students studying in such institutions are children from minority community, those schools will get recognition as an educational institution with minority status, she said. This rule has been brought in place to provide education to children from minority communities. Referring to the recent instance of a Hindu vigilante group creating ruckus in a school on the pretext that Arabic was being taught there, Bilkis said she visited the school in Bondanthila. The students were being taught Arabic, German and other foreign languages to equip them with new skills. Bilkis said the commission will take appropriate action after obtaining reports from the city police commissioner. (Times of India 18/8/16)

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

22. Muslim organisations demand complete ban on beef exports from India (7)

NEW DELHI: Condemning attacks by cow vigilantes, minority organisation Ittehad-e-Millat Council (IMC) arranged a seminar to highlight the problems and demanded a complete ban on beef export from India and stop illegal slaughter to curb cruelty against cattle. They also sought to clarify that “beef” which is associated with cow was being incorrectly used to define export of buffalo meat and hence the government also needs to bring in clarity on the matter to prevent misuse of the word. The demands, put out in a memorandum addressed to Union home minister Rajnath Singh, were endorsed by representatives from Muslim and dalit communities at a packed Mavlankar Hall in Constitution Club. It was also announced that if these demands were not met by the government, the protesters will take their agitation to the streets and Ramlila Grounds. “We would like to express our apprehensions with respect to the atrocities, suppression and discrimination meted out to the Muslim minority, on the pretext of cow protection, beef eating, terrorism, national security, etc. Since the death of a man beaten to death after being accused of eating beef last September in Dadri, vigilante groups of cow protectors have flourished,” said a statement released by the IMC. “After a long silence, our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, finally joined the fray, condemning attacks by Hindu cow protection squads and vowing to investigate those engaged in violence,” the statement said. “There have been several instances of religious violence against Muslims in recent past, frequently in the form of violent attacks on Muslims by Hindu mobs that form a pattern of sporadic sectarian violence between Hindu and Muslim communities,” it further added.IMC has demanded that “the slaughter of cows and calves should be strictly banned in India. The Supreme Court of India, in a landmark judgement upheld the constitutional validity of anti-cow slaughter laws enacted by different state governments in India. 24 out of 29 states in India currently have various regulations prohibiting either the slaughter or sale of cows. Kerala, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim are the states where there are no restrictions on cow slaughter.” It is further pointed that “many illegal slaughter houses operate in large cities such as Chennai and Mumbai. There are more than 30,000 illegal slaughter houses in India and efforts to close them down have so far been largely unsuccessful. Government of India should bring a legislation to completely ban the slaughter of cows and calves. Muslims are not interested in eating beef.” Speaking on the occasion, Congress MP Digvijay Singh attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi pointing out that “sabka saath sabka vikas” was a farce and went on to cite the response of the government to the Dadri case. Joining the chorus for ban on beef export he also demanded the use of the word “beef” for buffalo meat must be stopped and the definition made clear to prevent misunderstanding and abuse of the word by vested interest. (Times of India 11/8/16)

23. Owaisi dares other parties to debate on condition of Muslims (7)

Lucknow, Aug 13 () All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) president Asaduddin Owaisi today challenged other political parties to debate on the condition of Muslims in the country and the allegations levelled against him. Addressing party workers here, he claimed since Independence, the condition of Muslims in the country has gone from bad to worse and none of the other political parties, including the Congress, has ever bothered to address the issue. “SP, BSP, Congress and BJP leaders call me communal and accuse me of giving inflammatory speeches. Do flowers shower from the statements of their leaders?” he asked. “I challenge all the other parties to debate on the condition of Muslims in the country and the allegations levelled against me,” said Owaisi. The MP from Hyderabad claimed that the contribution of Muslims in India’s freedom struggle and that ‘maulanas’ had issued ‘fatwas’ against the British were “not mentioned” anywhere by historians. He also claimed that Muslims in India have trusted “everyone” but got nothing except “backwardness” in return and called leaders from the community representing other political parties such as Azam Khan of the SP, Naseemuddin Siddiqui of the BSP and Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress “Muslim dealers”.Accusing the ruling Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh of “spreading casteism”, he said “Yadavwaad”, instead of “samajwad” (socialism) had taken root in the state. Taking a jibe at Azam Khan, Owaisi said that the UP minister’s buffalo was not stolen but it “ran away” after being “harassed”.He said following Azam’s footsteps, a BJP MP has now lodged a complaint alleging that his dog ‘Kallu’ has been stolen. “Politics in Uttar Pradesh is now revolving around a buffalo and Kallu,” said Owaisi. In a reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently taking a tough stance on hooliganism in the name of cow protection, the AIMIM chief said, “I have told (Union Home Minister) Rajnath Singh that all the so-called cow vigilantes actually belonged to his party.” (Times of India 14/8/16)

24. Persecuted Muslim families get new homes in UP (7)

Kandhla (Uttar Pradesh): A hundred houses festooned with colourful bulbs lit up at once, shattering the darkness, literal and real. Children broke into joyous rapture that is heard over the strident din of the generator used to power the bulbs. It was a spectacle the kids had not seen in three years, ever since a murderous mob drove them all out of their homes in a nearby village. Subey Deen, 40, standing a few metres away from his new house, looked delighted. It was a far cry from that dark night of September 2013 when he and his family as well as hundreds of others were holed up in the house of a neighbour, an influential Jat, in Hasanpur village. Outside, a frenzied crowd with firearms, blinded by communal passions and seething with rage, waited to wipe off the entire Muslim population of the village. Thanks to the army which intervened, all of them escaped. Subey Deen shuddered over the past and quickly turned his gaze towards the lighted bulbs at his new home, one of the few which is bigger than others because he and his brothers pooled their resources. “Sanstha ki madad ke bina ye ghar banana mushkil hota,” (It would have been difficult to build this house without the NGOs’ help),” Subey Deen told IANS. He saw the house being built brick by brick with the help of some social activists and NGOs, primarily Sadbhavna Trust (Lucknow), Hunnarshala Foundation (Kutch) and Vanangana (Chitrakoot in UP). Most affected families of Hasanpur, more than a hundred of them, decided to live at one place after the relief camp at Jaula village in Shamli was wound up. Of the 136 families, 121 got financial compensation from the Uttar Pradesh government. Having spent a full year in the relief camp without work, and with a part of the compensation (Rs 5 lakh per family) gone into keeping themselves alive, the affected villagers had just enough to buy about 100 sq yards here at the rate of Rs 2,000-2,500 per sq yard. ….. (Business Standard 15/8/16)

25. Ten years since Sachar report, Muslims still 3 per cent in IAS, IPS (7)

Mumbai: Among its various recommendation for the welfare of Muslims, the Sachar Committee had stressed the need for increasing the share of Muslims in IAS and IPS. Ten years on, the share of Muslims among IAS officers has risen marginally while that among IPS officers has fallen. The Sachar Committee report submitted in November 2006 had shown that in IPS, there were 128 Muslims, or 4 per cent, among the 3,209 officers serving then. As of January 2016, there are 120 Muslim officers, or 3.19 per cent of the 3,754 serving IPS officers. An individual is absorbed into the Union civil services cadre in either of two ways: by clearing UPSC or by being promoted from the state civil service. What has dropped significantly is the share of Muslims among IPS officers who have been promoted to IPS from the state cadre. Seven per cent in 2006, this had fallen to 3.82 per cent in January 2016. Out of 912 officers promoted to IPS from the state cadre, the Sachar report listed 65 Muslims. In 2016, there were 44 Muslims among the 1,150 IPS promotees. Among IPS officers who took the UPSC route, the share of Muslims has risen. At the time of the Sachar report, there were 63 Muslim officers who made up 2.7 per cent of the 2,297 directly recruited IPS officers. That share is now 2.91 per cent, with 76 Muslims among the 2,604 directly recruited officers. sachar-graphThe share of Muslims in IAS, meanwhile, has improved slightly, from 3 per cent at the time of the Sachar report to 3.32 per cent as of January 2016— 164 Muslims in a total of 4,926 serving IAS officers. Of these, 96 are direct recruits, or 2.7 per cent of the 3,511 Indians who cracked UPSC. This share was 2.3 per cent of 2006. “The share of Muslims, who make up over 14 per cent of the population, in administrative services is very poor,” said Dr Amitabh Kundu who headed the post-Sachar evaluation committee. “A truer test of the disparity would be to see the total number of people who are applying for these posts. Our estimates suggest that the number [Muslims among all applicants] is in the region of 8 per cent.” Of the 172 Muslim direct recruits to the two services, 48 are from UP, which is followed by Bihar with 34 and J&K with 22. (Indian Express 18/8/16)

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

26. Christians observe ‘black day’ (7)

CHENNAI: Catholics and Church of South India members observed Wednesday as a black day to mark the Constitution Order that said that only Hindus can be Scheduled Castes. The order was amended in 1956 and 1990 to include Sikhs and Buddhists respectively. At an event on the Santhome church premises, leaders of both Catholics and the CSI called for the repeal of the 1950 order. Archbishop George Antonysamy of the Madras and Mylapore Archdiocese told presspersons that the Order went against the spirit of the unity of the country. “We demand an end to using religion to divide us. Not just Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists, but also those from Islam and Christianity should be considered Scheduled Castes,” he said. In a statement, the organisers said that then-President Rajendra Prasad was to blame for the situation. “Influenced by the RSS, the parent of the BJP, the first President of India signed this order that goes against the Constitution. This has led to irrevocable damage to Dalit Christians,” it said. (The Hindu 11/8/16)

27. Catholic outfits seek probe into nun’s allegation (7)

KOCHI: The KCRM-Ex-priests and Nuns Association and the Joint Christian Council have urged the State Government to initiate action against persons against whom Mary Sebastian, a member of the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel (CMC) Palai, Kottayam, has raised torture allegations. Mary had alleged that she was physically and mentally tortured by her superiors at the CMC, and that they tried to give her psychiatric medicines forcefully. Kerala Catholic Church Reformation Movement (KCRM) state president K George Joseph demanded that a high-level inquiry be conducted against the Church authorities for the alleged torture. According to them, incidence of nuns dying under suspicious circumstances is on the rise in the State, and that in most cases the investigation turns out to be an eyewash. Joint Christian Council state president Joseph Velavil said a representation had been submitted before Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, explaining the various issues pertaining to the Catholic Church. The Association leaders also demanded a detailed inquiry into functioning of the orphanages run by the Catholic Church. “Around 450 orphanages are functioning in the State. In Kottayam district, 56 orphanages and old-age homes are functioning,” pointed out the Association leaders, adding that the Central and State governments were provided proper statistics of the assets of the Catholic Church. (New Indian Express 14/8/16)

28. Christians condemn Patanjali’s ‘holy Cross’ commercials (7)

Mumbai, Aug 16 : The Indian Christian Voice (ICV) on Tuesday condemned yoga guru Baba Ramdev for a TV commercial which depicts the holy Cross while urging Indians to boycott all foreign products. While the Christian community has no objections to Baba Ramdev’s boycott call, it is unhappy over the use of the holy Cross to show British rule in India. “We strongly object to the depiction of the holy Cross, the very symbol of the Christian faith. We feel this is Baba Ramdev’s agenda of targeting a particular minority community. We demand that this commercial should be immediately withdrawn from all public domains,” ICV President Abraham Mathai told IANS. Such demagoguery would definitely result in increased attacks on churches and Christian institutions in India, Mathai pointed out. He added that ICV was writing to President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other concerned officials and departments on the objectionable commercial. The latest commercial shows a black-and-white clip depicting the pre-Independence ‘Swadeshi’ movement and suddenly zooms to a map of India with three crosses jutting out in three directions. Between the crosses the words E, I and Co. are shown to represent the East India Company which subsequently paved the way for British colonial rule in India. The ICV chief said that by obliquely singling out a particular minority community would make them vulnerable to hate attacks and extremism. “All Indians of all communities have been living harmoniously side by side for centuries. The last thing we need is someone trying to make us a ‘one-religion’ country. Baba Ramdev and his followers would do well to understand the beauty of Indian democracy and brotherhood,” Mathai said. (New Kerala 16/8/16)

29. Gang assaults Manipuri evangelist in Bengaluru, police on lookout for attackers (7)

BENGALURU: Five unidentified men assaulted a 26-year-old person, who hails from Manipur, near his house in Lakshmipuram in the wee hours of Thursday. A police source said, “The victim has been identified as Evan Mamang Kipgen, a native of Manipur, who has been working with the Thadou Christian Fellowship Church (TCF) as an evangelist for two months now.” Kipgen said, “I was returning home after visiting a friend in Lakshmipuram around 2.30am. A few persons were standing at a junction near my house. When I crossed them, they came up to me from behind and assaulted me for no reason. I do not know what provoked them to do it.” He said that he did not understand what the attackers were talking about as they were conversing in Kannada. “They didn’t rob me, but assaulted me. The moment I raised an alarm, a few residents turned up and they fled from the scene,” he said. Later, Kipgen approached the jurisdictional police and registered a complaint. The Thadou Students’ Association, Bengaluru, has condemned the intolerant action of the miscreants. ‘Many instances of robberies in area’The Paogousiem Lhouvum, Information & Publicity Secretary, Thadou Students’ Association, Bengaluru, in a press statement said, “In the interest of the general public, we urge the police to kindly take up necessary measures for the security and safety of the public in and around Lakshimipuram area since there have been many incidences of attacks and robberies in the area.” Indiranagar police have taken up the case and are probing it. The accused are still at large. Police said, “We are yet to trace the accused. We are gathering information from the complainant about the attackers.” (Nw Indian Express 19/8/16)

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

30. Rajya Sabha appoints 10 MPs to jt panel on Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (13)

New Delhi: Rajya Sabha today named 10 of its members to the Joint Committee of Parliament that will go into the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. A resolution moved by Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, on behalf of Home Minister Rajnath Singh, for appointment of ten of its members to the Joint Committee of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha was carried by a voice vote. Members who were nominated to the Committee were Vinay Sahasrabuddhe (BJP), Dilip Pandya (both BJP), P Bhattacharya, Bhubaneswar Kalita (both Cong), Javed Ali Khan (SP), Derek O’ Brien (TMC), Harivansh (JD-U), Prasanna Acharya (BJD), Satish Chandra Mishra (BSP) and Swapan Dasgupta (Nom). The draft Bill seeks to help migrants of virtually all denominations – except Muslims – from the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh to get Indian citizenship after a stay of six years. After Opposition objections, the Bill was yesterday referred to the Joint Committee after it was moved in Lok Sabha. The Home Minister had then told the Lower House that he agreed with the suggestion of members from all sides to send the bill to the panel. (Zee News 12/8/16)

31. Data on refugees difficult to find? (13)

HYDERABAD: A Right to Information (RTI) activist has claimed of being made to run from pillar to post for obtaining data on refugees living in Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy districts he sought around eight months ago. According to activist Syed Qutubuddin, the information was requested from the authorities concerned so as to study the conditions of refugees — especially Rohingyas — living in and around the city. The delay, he said, reflects the attitude of the government in providing information to ordinary citizens. The RTI query which requested information about the numbers of refugees, ‘interventions’ of the state governments and how it has been liaising with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, among others was first addressed to the office of the chief secretary of the Telangana government last December. It was later forwarded to the home department under relevant sections of the Right to Information Act of 2009. After the stipulated time, the RTI activist filed the first appeal with the appellate authority of the home department in March. “A letter dated January 18 from the general administration department (GAD) informed me that the query was forwarded to the home department. However, despite the first appeal, so far no information from this department has come forth. Not even a single statistic, leave alone responses to other queries,” he said. When no details were received, Qutubuddin approached the AP Information Commission to file the next appeal. In a letter dated July 19, the commission then directed the public information officer and appellant authority — the office of the principal secretary — of the Home Department to appear before it for a hearing. In the letter, the commission directed the respondents to “file copies of information furnished to the appellant”. (Times of India 14/8/16)

32. UN aid chief releases $50 million ‘lifeline’ in emergency funds for people in urgent need (13)

New York, Aug 17 : The top United Nations relief official released on Tuesday $50 million for severely underfunded aid operations in six neglected emergencies around the world from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which supports urgent, life-saving humanitarian responses. The new funding will provide critical assistance for two million people in dire humanitarian need, including 200,000 refugees, 665,000 internally displaced persons, 170,000 returnees and 530,000 people in host communities. This funding is a lifeline for the worlds most vulnerable people caught up in forgotten crises, Stephen OBrien, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, said in a press release issued by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which he heads up. The allocation will allow humanitarian partners to respond to protracted emergencies in Central Africa, caused by armed conflicts, political instability and human rights violations, and compounded by food insecurity and disease outbreaks. It will benefit aid operations in the Central African Republic, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as well as Rwanda, which is hosting refugees from Burundi and DRC. A portion will also support aid operations in Eritrea in responding to current needs due to arid conditions and poor rains. The new funding will also boost relief operations in Yemen where an estimated 21.2 million people require humanitarian assistance. This release brings the total allocation from the CERFs underfunded emergencies window in 2016 to $150 million. So far, the Fund has received $311 million in contributions for 2016 and disbursed nearly as much to 35 countries for life-saving activities around the world. According to OBrien, in recent years, the global refugee crisis has put enormous pressure on CERF to help millions of people fleeing conflicts that linger for lack of a political solution. AS such, and in light of other ongoing challenges and conflicts, he emphasized that all humanitarian emergencies are underfunded this year. I wish I could allocate more CERF funds to these and other protracted crises, given the enormous needs. However, contributions to the Fund are limited and demand from humanitarian partners around the world is high, he said. OCHA, which manages the Fund on behalf of the UN Secretary-General, estimates that this year, there will be a $50 million shortfall on the annual $450 million funding target. I am very concerned that this could force the Fund to significantly reduce allocations for underfunded emergencies in the future, noted the UN relief chief, appealing to all UN Member States, regional organizations and private citizens to scale up their support to CERF and enable us to save more lives. (New Kerala 17/8/16)

33. Tripura ready to send back Brus to Mizoram (13)

AGARTALA: The Tripura government recently said it was ready to send back Bru refugees living in camps in the state to Mizoram but the final repatriation plan was yet to be formalised. The Union home ministry has decided to repatriate around 37,000 Bru refugees from Mizoram, who have been living in six camps in North Tripura for the past 19 years, from November this year. Tripura chief secretary YP Singh said the Mizoram government would have to submit the final movement plan which is necessary to make the repatriation a success. Bru refugees have demanded security in Mizoram, cluster-based rehabilitation and at least a year’s financial and social security package but the Lal Thanhawla government has not agreed to the demands. As a result, despite several attempts at repatriation, no headway has been made, Singh pointed out. Thousands of Brus had left Mizoram and migrated to Tripura after rebels of Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF) gunned down a game watcher of the state forest department inside Dampa Tiger Reserve along the Mizoram-Bangladesh border on October 21, 1997. Since 2010, some Bru families have returned to Mizoram but most chose to stay back in the camps in Tripura. (Times of India 17/8/16)

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

34. Order on providing info on cabinet decisions stayed (1)

Kochi: The high court has stayed the state information commission’s order asking the state government to provide details of the decisions taken at the meetings of council of ministers under Right to Information (RTI) applications. Justice P B Suresh Kumar issued a stay after considering during admission hearing a petition filed by the government through the chief secretary challenging the information commission’s order of June 15. The order was issued while considering an appeal filed by advocate D B Binu, who is the general secretary of Kerala RTI Federation. Information regarding the agenda, minutes, and decisions taken in the cabinet meetings between January 1 and March 12, 2016 were sought under RTI by the applicant. Orders issued to implement the decisions of the council and decisions upon which further actions could not be pursued owing to non-authentication of the orders by officers were also requested. The state information commission issued the order to provide the information sought for after the applicant questioned denial of information in an appeal. In the petition filed in the high court, the state government sought a declaration that it need not provide decisions taken in the cabinet meetings under RTI. The court should declare that such information need to be provided only by the concerned administrative departments and that too only after the matter is complete or over, government has demanded. These two demands were raised in addition to seeking an order quashing the state information commission’s order. (Times of India 11/8/16)

35. 13,000 RTI applications pending: CIC (1)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: More than 13,000 Right to Information (RTI) applications are pending in the office of the State Information Commission, Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Vinson M. Paul has said. He was speaking at a seminar on RTI organised here on Saturday by the RTI Kerala Federation and the Human Rights Justice Vigilance Forum.Even as the information commission chastises various public officials for delays in handing over information sought by citizens, the fact was that there was a backlog of applications in the office of the commission itself. Applications from 2011 were pending in the office, he said. (The Hindu 14/8/16)

36. 114 sexual harassment complaints registered in BMC since 2013 (1)

Mumbai: An RTI query has revealed that 32 sexual harassment complaints were registered in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation every year on an average since 2013. So far, 17 such cases have been registered in 2016. The data was provided by BMC’s Public Information Officer and Administrative Officer Rekha Kale to RTI activist Anil Galgali. Mr. Galgali said, “The data provided by the Complaints Committee set up for the purpose under the Savitribai Phule Women’s Development Centre exhibits an intolerable level of such complaints. There were 34 complaints in 2013, 32 in 2014 and 31 in 2015. What is alarming is the refusal of the civic body, which claims to have disposed of all complaints registered in the past three years, to provide data on implementation of orders of the vigilance bodies.” Of these cases, 96 per cent were listed as ‘cleared’, and four cases registered this year were shown as ‘pending’. Mr. Galgali said, “The PIO has said the names of the complainants, accused and the nature of offence [sexual harassment] is of a confidential nature and sharing them is prohibited under Section 13 of the Working Women’s Sexual Harassment Prevention Act 2013.” He said the Section was being used to protect the culprits. Mr. Galgali has written to BMC chief Ajoy Mehta asking him to make public the names of the offenders on the BMC website. (The Hindu 17/8/16)

37. Students can access answer sheet under RTI: Supreme Court (1)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has asked the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to “scrupulously” follow its 2011 judgment that it is a student’s “fundamental and legitimate right” to access his answer sheets under the Right to Information Act. The recent order by a Bench led by Justice Ranjan Gogoi came on a plea by two students, Kumar Shanu from Noida and Paras Jain from Delhi, seeking the court’s permission to initiate contempt proceedings against the Board for charging Rs.700 per copy of an answer sheet. Over and above this, students are compulsorily required to go through the process of verification of marks for which they have to pay another Rs. 300 as fee. Only then, would they be eligible to apply for a copy of their answer sheets. In short, they contended that a student ends up coughing up Rs. 1,000 to the CBSE to obtain a physical copy of his answer sheet. The information came out in a reply from the CBSE to an RTI application made by the petitioners. The CBSE, however, contended that the charges levied were incidental and not for profit. The petitioners contended that the practice was in contempt of a 2011 judgment — CBSE & Anr. Vs. Aditya Bandhopadhyay & Ors — of the Supreme Court, which held that an “answer sheet is an information under Section 2(f) of the RTI Act and therefore, examinees/students have a fundamental and legal right of having access to their answer sheets under RTI Act.” The 2011 judgment had held that there existed a fiduciary relationship between the examining body and the student. The petitioners contended that the CBSE was levying these charges when the RTI Act had intended students to access answer sheets, which qualify as ‘information’, for Rs. 2 a page along with Rs. 10 for the RTI application. It had argued that students falling under the Below Poverty Line category were guaranteed free access to their answer sheets under the law. “It is ironical and astonishing that the CBSE, being an educational institution responsible for educating a large section of the society, is blatantly flouting the law laid down by the Supreme Court,” the petition said. (The Hindu 19/8/16)

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

38. Free education upto postgraduate level for the economically backward (11)

Guwahati: The Assam government is going to make admissions from the senior secondary level to the postgraduate level free of cost for economically backward students, state education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced on Wednesday. The state government had earlier announced free admission for students taking admission into higher secondary, three-year degree and polytechnic diploma courses whose family income is less than Rs 1 lakh per annum. “We are going to provide free admission to students from financially poor backgrounds at the postgraduate level from the next year itself. It is an endeavour to make higher education accessible to needy students,” said Sarma during an interactive session of the state budget with academicians and students at Gauhati University here. The education minister also insisted on bridging the gap between theory and practice. “It is only when we can reduce the gap the theoretical and practical aspects that the government will become more relevant,” said Sarma. He urged the university authorities to arrange interactive sessions between students and senior bureaucrats for effective use of government plans. Sarma, who also holds the finance portfolio, said the challenge ahead is to synergize finance and education if Assam has to surge ahead. He also gave a clarion call to the academia to turn their attention towards villages in order to increase the purchasing power of the rural masses, which he said is key to the state’s growth. The minister said the BJP-led government in the state has been working to turn revenue villages into the centres of activity as he lauded the state government 2016-17 budget presented in the assembly recently. “From reforms to welfare of the common man, the budget has everything,” Sarma said. (Times of India 11/8/16)

39. Start-up to raise resources for better RTE implementation (11)

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 14 () A group of youths from Kerala, through their start-up venture, have joined hands with a Delhi-based NGO to raise resources for better implementation of Right to Education Act. The start-up titled ‘azadi.in’ provides an online platform to raise resources for legal fees through crowd funding in order to empower millions of ordinary citizens by taking up their issues legally. As its first project, the IIM-Bangalore-incubated company has taken up the Right to Education Act (RTE) and related issues. Its founders– Radhakrishnan Ram Manohar, Sidharth Vijyan and Praveen Paul– said their dream is to see 1.5 million schools in India get better facilities, meeting the scarcity of over one million toilets, enrolling the eight million students in the age group of 6-16 entitled to free education but still out of schools and resolving the shortage of five lakh teachers. Vipul Mudgal, Director of NGO ‘Common Cause’, which shot to fame through its interventions in the 2G spectrum case and coal scam, said thousands of schools in the country lacked adequate teachers, classrooms, toilets, drinking water, books, uniforms, libraries, mid-day-meal kitchens or playgrounds. “Despite a constitutional guarantee, millions of children are out of school, or without quality education. We thought instead of running after limited funders, we should collect small funds from a large number of people and decided to partner with azadi.in,” he said. (Times of India 14/8/16)

40. Draft new education policy and Minorities (7)

HYDERABAD: The draft of the New Education Policy has riled several socio-religious bodies from the minority community. Most, including the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board have slammed the Centre for what they describe as efforts to saffronisation education. They have termed yoga as “un-Islamic” and criticized the introduction of Sanskrit claiming that it is a “dead language”. But what many perhaps have overlooked is that the report of the Committee for Evolution of the New Educational Policy in Chapter VI makes it clear its understanding and usage of Article 30 of the Constitution. The Article which gives religious and linguistic minorities the right to establish and administer their institutions. It now it appears that these find themselves in the Centre’s crosshairs. Sample this: In the section marked Application of EWS Quota to Religious and Linguistic Minority Institutions, the report speaks of “balance” of provisions of Article 30, Article 21 (A) – the state to provide education to children of age six to 14 — and Article 15 (4) — which deals with prohibition of discrimination on any ground. The tone, tenor and language of an excerpt from Chapter VI — which describes how minority institutions have used Article 30 (1) cannot be ignored. The excerpt reads thus: “Without entering into the legal aspects, it is now important to reconcile the right of the economically weaker sections with the right of the minorities under Article 30 (1); particularly when minority institutions often appear to clutch at any prop to ensure that their obligations, met by other aided or unaided schools, are circumvented. This issue needs further examination and clarification, not only to expand the scope of reaching out to EWS [economically weaker sections] students, but also to ensure that minority institutions are established only for the genuine reasons envisaged by the Constitution — that they are actually designed to meet the basic objective to meet the predominant needs of minorities- that they do not use their ‘Constitutional’ privilege to manoeuvre out of national obligations established in overall public interest.” Several organisations and politicians have asserted the right on religious minorities – Muslims and Christians included – to establish their institutions and run them by invoking Article 30. Shockingly, the report generalises and implies that minority institutions do not fulfil their obligations even as it accuses them of not fulfilling “national obligations”. The choice of words is disturbing…. (Times of India 18/8/16)

41. Education department recommends disaffiliation of 6 National Public School units (11)

BENGALURU: The Department of Public Instruction has written to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) recommending  the disaffiliation of six schools run by National Education Trust. The schools are on the radar for allegedly submitting a fake minority certificate to the Department to avoid giving 25 per cent seats under the RTE quota. Confirming this development, Commissioner for Public Instruction Sowjanya told Express, “We have recommended to the CBSE that affiliation of these schools be withdrawn.” The Department wrote to the CBSE chairman on August 11 after it conducted a probe following a communication it received from the National Commission for Minority Education Institutions (NCMEI) stating that the minority certificates provided by the schools were fake. The Department’s letter to the CBSE chairman reads: “The management of these schools has violated the RTE Act and are indulging in fraudulent means to circumvent provisions of the RTE Act and are involved in criminal activities. Hence, this is a request to withdraw the CBSE affiliation of the above said schools and to take further action as per extant rules.” A few weeks ago, the Commissioner for Public Instruction had directed officials to file a complaint against the schools after they got a communication from NCMEI in February that stated that the minority certificates produced by the six schools were forged. The Bengaluru city police have received a complaint against five schools in the city and theyhave sought legal opinion, sources said.  In Mysuru, an FIR has been filed against the school.  Meanwhile, a private complaint has also been lodged with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), New Delhi. Sources said the CBI has written to the Commissioner for Public Instruction seeking information about the case. The communication from CBI, which is signed by Dr Subramanyeshwara Rao, SP, ACB (Anti- Corruption Bureau), CBI, reached the department on August 15. (New Indian Express 19/8/16)

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

42. Union govt sanctions 36,254 houses for urban poor in Karnataka (21)

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Thursday sanctioned 36,254 houses for Karnataka at an investment of Rs 1,468 crore under various sponsored schemes. An inter-ministerial committee chaired by Secretary, Housing and Poverty Alleviation, Nandita Mukherjee, approved construction of 12,371 houses for Karnataka under the Affordable Housing in Partnership component of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) for rehabilitating slum dwellers. Another 23,883 houses will be built in 207 cities and towns for urban poor under the Beneficiary Led Construction component of PMAY (Urban). The Central government will provide an assistance of Rs 558 crore for construction of these houses for urban poor in Karnataka. In the last fiscal, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation approved construction of 16,522 houses for urban poor in Karnataka taking the total number of houses approved for the benefit of urban poor so far to 53,776. (Deccan Herald 11/8/16)

43. Lack of quality, pay take their toll,project to feed tribal kids witnesses stunted growth (21)

KRISHNAGIRI: When the UNICEF and Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) joined hands to launch an ambitious mid-day meal scheme for tribal children from six remote hamlets in Krishnagiri, hopes were high that the agencies would go a long way in tackling the problem of malnutrition crippling the district. The big names in the child welfare arena ticked all the right boxes and hit the ground running with their game-changing project. However, two years on, the much-touted scheme is gasping for breath, with the officials of both the agencies playing blame game over unflattering results. The project, the first such foray by the international agency in Asia, was taken up at Thally block – an area picturesque enough to be called ‘Little England’, largely due to its climatic conditions and the hill ranges, but often in the news for all the wrong reasons like rampant child marriage, high dropout rate among tribal schools and high infant mortality rate among others. It was in this block the officials zeroed in on six villages – Thakkati Colony, Jodukarai, Sivapuram, Ezhumanaithotti, Aatur and Thadikethanthotti – around 125 km from the district headquarters and selected 78 children in the age group of two-and-a-half years to five years to provide them quality and nutrient-rich food. A kitchen was set up at Arthakkal village in Thakkati panchayat and a van was commissioned to take the food to children on all days except Sunday. However, when Sunday Express paid a visit to these centres, it found that 15 of the original 78 children had already dropped out of the scheme. While at some centres the workers complained of poor quality food dished out to the children, at other places the staff were nursing a grouse against the agencies for not disbursing their salaries for over six months. At a centre, which was slated to answer the nutritious needs of the children from Monday to Saturday, the Sunday Express found that the workers took weekends off, forcing the children to skip their meals. At Thakkati Colony, three children dropped out of the ICDS centre to join District or the Panchayat Union Primary Schools. Of the original 20 children selected under the scheme, 17 remain.Attrition has taken a toll on the Sivapuram centre as well, with three opting out of the scheme, leaving the number at six from the original nine. Callousness of the staff too is writ large on the facilities, with the officials giving attendance a skip. At Thakkati the rolls were last marked in 2015, while at the latter centre, it stopped in April. When the Sunday Express landed at the Arthakkal ICDS centre on a Saturday last month, the doors were shut. “Usually the anganwadi does not function on Saturdays. A few from the village had complained to authorities, but nothing changed,” says Madevan, whose son attends the centre. All the six centres followed the same pattern, with none of them monitoring the proceedings or inspecting the day-to-day activities. ….. (New Indian Express 14/8/16)

44. Centre cuts Rs 165 crore Livelihood fund (21)

BHUBANESWAR: The State Government lost Central assistance of over Rs 165 crore under the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) due to poor utilisation of the grant meant for economic uplift of the rural poor. “The Odisha Livelihood Mission (OLM) could not spend the funds available during 2012-15 due to which the Government of India reduces the Central share by Rs 165.35 crore and the State Government could not release a portion of its matching share of Rs 7.93 crore,” said the annual technical inspection report on the panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) released by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). A demand-driven scheme, the rural livelihood mission aims at reducing poverty by providing gainful self-employment through micro-economic activities to rural poor. Under the scheme, women self-help groups (SHGs) are provided financial support to start economic activities for sustainable development. The OLM is a registered society and designated as the State Mission Management Unit (SMMU) for implementation of the scheme. The Centre had released Rs 128.79 crore to the State in 2012-13 under NRLM. The State Government provided matching grant of Rs 35 crore as against its share of Rs 42.93 crore. Though Rs 167.51 crore was available with the State Government including the unspent balance of the previous year, it could utilise only Rs 71.31 crore (43 per cent). The Government could not better its performance in 2013-14 so far as utilisation of funds under the scheme is concerned. It could utilise Rs 50.84 crore out of Rs 137.14 crore made available under the scheme. The SMMU could utilise Rs 204.71 crore out of a total grant of Rs 245.34 crore received under the scheme during 2011-15 and utilisation certificate for Rs 122.15 crore was submitted. This resulted in reduction of Central assistance, the report said. The inspection report of the CAG attributed the poor fund utilisation of the SMMU to improper planning and non-preparation of annual action plan as stipulated by NRLM. “The audit found a number of deficiencies in planning, execution and monitoring of the scheme. In the absence of annual action plans, target could not be fixed at block and district level,” the CAG report said. The key features of NRLM are formation of SHGs, capacity building of the members, provision of revolving fund and capital subsidy, credit linkage to SHGs based on their micro-investment plan and marketing support. However, a large number of SHGs could not start the intended livelihood activities due to lack of thrust on investment plan and coordination with banks, the report said. (New Indian Express 18/8/16)

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

45. LS passes Factories Amendment Bill to increase overtime hours for workers (14)

New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the Factories Amendment Bill to increase the overtime limit of factory workers from 50 hours to 100 hours in a quarter. It also proposes to increase the overtime working hours for factories with “exceptional” workload from 75 hours to 115 hours in a quarter. Further, Centre or states may increase this overtime limit to 125 hours in a quarter in the “public interest.” “The need for increasing overtime hours is based on the demand from industries so that factories can carry out the work on urgent basis,” the Bill said. Significantly, the Central government has been empowered to make exempting rules and orders related to the overtime hours in a quarter “to ensure uniformity”. At present, only state governments are empowered to pass exempting orders related to the overtime hours. The Centre has also empowered itself to frame rules under the Act on issues related to terms and conditions of the workers in a factory and make separate rules related to fixed working hours, period of rest among others for persons engaged in urgent repair work.The Bill will now be introduced in the Rajya Sabha. The Union government didn’t table the detailed amendments to the Factories Bill which were introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2014 and later referred to the Standing Committee. Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said that “since consideration and passing” of the detailed Bill “may take some more time” in Parliament, the present Bill amending only two clauses were introduced “to facilitate ease of doing business so as to enhance employment opportunities.” Revolutionary Socialist Party MP NK Premachandran said the Bill was introduced in a “very hasty manner” and had “far reaching consequences.” Some MPs raised concerns that the Bill sought to take away the powers of the state governments in framing the rules under the Factories Act. “We are not taking away any rights of the state governments…The Central government is only making an addition. All the executive powers will remain with the state governments,” Mr. Dattatreya said. Mr. Dattatreya said certain safeguards were taken to protect the interest of the workers such as not allowing anyone to work for more than 12 hours in a day and the provisions supported the International Labour Organisation framework. The Union Cabinet also gave an ex-post facto approval to the introduction of the Factories Amendment Bill of 2016 in Parliament. (The Hindu 11/8/16)

46. Rights panel takes up case of Ajmer silicosis workers (14)

JAIPUR: Taking suo motu cognizance of news reports about silicosis patients in Ajmer district being asked to prove their identity as mine workers before being awarded the Rs 1 lakh compensation, the state human rights commission on August 5 sought a response from the district collector. The SHRC has sought a list of all patients of silicosis certified by the Pneumoconiosis Board; it has sought details of when the patients were certified, when they applied for compensation, and when the money was released to them. It has also sought to know reasons for delay in release of monetary support. Vikas Singh of the Grameen Evum Samajik Vikas Sanstha in Ajmer said, “On August 3, 35 silicosis patients received Rs1 lakh each. In just the Masuda block of the district, we identified over 100 patients. District authorities have assured us that 21 more would get the compensation money this week. We brought to the notice of authorities that 13 patients had died before getting the money. In Beawar, there were 21 silicosis patients who were limestone workers. They had also been working on stones brought from the mines. Since they were not mine workers, there was some confusion about whether they will be eligible for compensation.” Taking the Ajmer district collector to task, Dr MK Devarajan of the state human rights commission said it was strange that authorities could ask for proof. Nothing in the rules requires such documentary evidence. Once a patient is diagnosed as suffering from silicosis, all that is required is a self-declaration about the nature of his work. The instructions seeking identity proof were on the basis of communication taken “out of context,” SHRC explained. Devarajan explained that in the early years, the work on silicosis was confined to mine workers. However, after those engaged in the construction industry and even sculptors in stone began to be diagnosed with the condition, state authorities extended compensation to such workers too. If those working in the mines could actually prove they were mineworkers, there might have been no need at all for the compensation offered by the Rajasthan Environment and Health Administration Board (REHAB), Devarajan explained, as workers could then approach the labour courts. Mine owners would be responsible for their safety, and would be liable to compensate them in case they fell ill because of their work. Rana Sengupta of Mine Workers Protection Campaign said that if workers approached the labour courts, they would be entitled to a much larger compensation package. However, mine owners in the state operate without following the rules. There are no records of attendance of workers at the mines or any lists of those engaged in the work, Devarajan noted. In the absence of these records, workers cannot approach the court for compensation. It was precisely for this reason that REHAB funds were made available for compensation, the human rights commission member pointed out. (Times of India 12/8/16)

47. Domestic workers to be brought under ESI fold soon: Dattatreya (14)

Hyderabad: Labour Ministry will soon launch a social security scheme for domestic workers on pilot basis in Delhi and Hyderabad as part of Central government’s commitment to provide health insurance for all, Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said. “We will roll out a new scheme to bring domestic workers under the ESI fold. This scheme intends to provide ESI facilities to domestic workers. Employers need to contribute Rs 200 monthly towards this scheme that will enable medical facilities for domestic workers,” Dattatreya told reporters. “We have decided to start the scheme soon as pilot project in Delhi and Hyderabad … We will involve NGOs also besides will talk to state governments to make the scheme better,” the Union Minister of State for Labour and Employment said, adding that Rs 200 per month contribution by employers will provide medical insurance for domestic workers and his/her family. Reiterating government’s commitment to bring all the unorganised sector workers under social security schemes, he said the process has begun to include around five crore construction workers to provide them with EPF and ESI facilities. On Rajya Sabha recently passing the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill 2016, that provides for 26 weeks maternity leave, Dattatreya said India will move to third position in terms of the number of weeks for maternity leave after Norway and Canada. “The Bill will benefit over 1.8 million women workers,” he mentioned. The minister said Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill-2012 has been passed by both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, besides Employee’s Compensation (Amendment) Bill-2016 and Factories (Amendment) Bill-2016 have also been passed by Lok Sabha. Reacting to a query on enforcing the rules of various labour laws, Dattatreya said, “We are trying to constitute dedicated teams giving them provisions to act ensuring effective enforcement (monitoring of rules).” Six regional conferences will be held across the country by the Labour Ministry in this regard, he added. (Business Standard 14/8/16)

48. Employers can pay PF dues through PayGov portal: EPFO (14)

New Delhi: PayGov is a centralised platform for facilitating all government departments and services to collect online payments for government services,” the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) said in a statement. At present SBI collects remittances on basis of EPFO. Retirement fund body EPFO today said the Employees Provident Fund Scheme has been amended to include PayGov for financial transactions, thus enabling PF dues to be collected through the portal. “The EPF Scheme has been amended to include PayGov platform for financial transaction. PayGov is a centralised platform for facilitating all government departments and services to collect online payments for government services,” the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) said in a statement. At present, State Bank of India (SBI) is the sole collector of PF remittances on behalf of the EPFO. Elaborating about other major achievements, EPFO said it redressed more than 40,000 grievances in June-July. Out of the pending grievances, most were pending for disposal for less than 7 days. Other developments in the period include giving an option to EPFO members to enhance their pensionary benefits. The benefits are available to members who defer their pension upto 59 or 60 years of age with or without contribution after the age of 58 years. The benefit is increase in original pension by 4 per cent in case of completion of one year and 8.16 per cent in case of completion of 2 years after 58 years. In case a member defers the pension with contribution, the contributory service after 58 years of age will be included in calculation of pensionable service and pensionable salary, but will not be considered for determining eligibility. For availing this benefit, a member must have completed atleast 10 years of service on attaining the age of 58 years. It said that with the objective of giving special emphasis on securing compliance in respect of all eligible contractual workers, meetings were held with CPWD, DMRC, MCD, NBCC, Railways and National Highway Authority of India during the period. A meeting of the Sub Committee of Central Board, EPF on Construction Workers was also held in which it was decided to explore whether cess collected on behalf of construction workers can be utilised to pay part of employees share of EPF of such low paid workers.The online filing through ECR (Electronic Challan cum Return) is going to be further simplified with the Version II of ECR. The return format has also been simplified, it added. (DNA 18/8/16)

49. Major trade unions in Goa to join all India labour strike on Sept 2 (14)

PANAJI: All major trade unions in Goa under the banner of “Goa Convention of Workers” has decided to back the nationwide general strike call to be observed on September 2 against “anti-labour and anti- people policies of the Governments.” All major trade unions of Goa comprising of All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), Goa Municipal Employees Union (GMEA), All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), Co-ordination Committee of Goa Government Employees (CO-CO-GGOE), Electricity Employees’ Union Goa (EEU), Government of India Navigation Employees Union (GOINEU), KTC Drivers & Allied Employees Association (KTCD&AEA) and Goa Government Employees’ Association (GGEA) participated in the protest demonstrations organised in Goa on Tuesday. The nationwide strike will demand that the Centre stop forthwith the process of amending the existing Labour Laws, withdraw forthwith Road Transport Safety Bill, stop disinvestment of Central Public Sector Undertakings and FDI in Defence, Railways, Retail trade, Insurance, Banks and other financial sectors. At Goa level, the demands are revision of Minimum Wages for all schedules of employment with linkage to Dearness Allowance. Minimum Wage not less than Rs.18,000/- per month w.e.f. January 1, 2016, abolition of contract labour system in all perennial and permanent jobs operations in Government and private establishments, regularizing the services of all contract workmen employed under PWD Labour Supply Society, Drishti Lifeguards, Kadamba Transport Corporation Ltd., (KTCL) and all other Government instrumentalities, equal pay for equal work to all contractual employees, implement Universal Social Security cover for organized and unorganized workers with a National Social Security Fund, legislation to ensure 10 per cent service charge to the hospitality sector and hotel employees and immediate action against corporate defaulters who fail to pay loans secured from public financial institutions, said Adv. Suhas Naik, convenor, GCW. (Hindu Business Line 19/8/16)

RESERVATION

50. Rajasthan delegation meets home minister Rajnath Singh (25)

JAIPUR: Disappointed with the state government’s slow pace in tackling legal hurdles related to quota for Economically Backward Classes (EBC), members of Samajik Nyay Andolan met union home minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi to demand amendment in the Constitution. The organisation’s representatives sought a policy-based solution for all quota stirs in the country. The 14% Economically Backward Classes quota passed by the state assembly in 2015 has been facing legal impediments as the Constitution does not allow reservation in jobs or educational institutes on economic basis. Jodhpur MP Gajendra Singh Shekhawat raised the issue of reservation for economically backward in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday and appealed for an all-party consensus for an amendment in the constitution to allow this. “Union home minister Rajnath Singh later assured us to hold serious discussions on the issue once the parliament session was over. He reiterated BJP’s commitment to declaration on the issue made in the election manifesto,” said Surendra Singh Shekhawat of the Samajik Nyay Andolan. Besides Shekhawat, the delegation that met Singh included Yashvardhan Singh (Jhunjhunu), Rajendra Singh Bhinyad (Barmer), Bhanwar Purohit (Bikaner) and Arvind Khotiya (Sikar), among others. Earlier on Monday, the delegation had met union minister for social justice and empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot on the same subject. (Times of India 11/8/16)

51. Telangana to up quota for Muslims, STs in proportion to population (25)

Hyderabad, Aug 12 : Telangana government will go for a special legislation on the lines of Tamil Nadu to increase the quantum of reservation for Muslims in proportion to their population in the state, Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao said on Friday. He also announced that the reservation for Scheduled Tribes (STs) will also be enhanced in proportion to their population as envisaged in the Constitution. The Chief Minister said this after two commissions constituted by the government to study the socio-economic and educational conditions of Muslims and STs submitted their reports to him. Muslims, who constitute 12.68 per cent of Telangana’s 3.52 crore population, currently enjoy four per cent quota in education and jobs. STs, who are 9.34 per cent of the population, are availing six per cent reservation. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) had made election promise to increase the quantum of reservation for both Muslims and STs to 12 per cent each. The government in 2015 constituted two panels headed by retired IAS officers to study the socio-economic and educational conditions of these communities. As the implementation of poll promises will take the total quantum of reservation to over 50 per cent, the ceiling fixed by the Supreme Court, TRS government proposes to request the Centre for a constitutional amendment as was done in the case of Tamil Nadu, where the total quota is 69 per cent. The Chief Minister said there was a need for Tamil Nadu like legislation in Telangana to enhance the quota for weaker sections. He said as Muslims were very backward, there was need for reservation for the community to provide them educational and job opportunities. Chandrasekhar Rao also held a meeting with Deputy Chief Minister Mehmood Ali, Minister for Tribal Welfare A. Chandulal, and top officials to discuss measures to be taken to enhance the quota for Muslims and STs and to improve their socio-economic and educational conditions. Advocate General Ramakrishna Reddy made suggestions as to how to take necessary steps as per the Constitution. (New Kerala 12/8/16)

52. Jat quota: Haryana notifies criteria for ‘creamy layer’ (25)

Chandigarh: The Haryana government today notified the criteria for the exclusion of the “creamy layer” within the Backward Classes category as per the schedule appended to the Haryana Backward Classes (Reservation in Services and Admission in Educational Institution) Act, 2016. Announcing this here, a Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes Department spokesman said the children of those who have a gross annual income of up to Rs three lakh would get the first preference as far as the benefits of reservation in services and admission in educational institutions are concerned. The remaining quota seats would go to those in the Backward Classes category who earn between Rs three lakh and Rs six lakh per annum, he said. Those with an annual income of above Rs six lakh would be considered the “creamy layer” under section 5 of the Act, the spokesman added. The Haryana government had granted a 10-per cent quota in government jobs and educational institutions in the state to Jats and five other communities by carving out the Backward Class ‘C’ category following protests in February. However, it was stayed in May by the Punjab and Haryana High Court which had given the Haryana government time till August 24 to issue a notification taking out the ‘creamy layer’ from the quota granted to the six communities. (Zee News 17/8/16)

53. Sports quotas illegal, scrap them: Hyderabad HC (25)

HYDERABAD: The Hyderabad high court has called upon state governments across India to consider dissolving the sports quota for admission in educational institutes, saying it provided a backdoor entry to students who were not meritorious. The quota does not have constitutional sanction either, it added. In an order dated August 8, a copy of which was made available only on Wednesday, the HC also criticised the Andhra Pradesh government for including “insignificant” games under the sports quota. “It is sad to note that except video games, all other games that one could conceive of have been brought within the sports quota to enable persons who cannot excel in studies to gain admission into medical courses through the backdoor,” a bench of justices Ramasubramanian and Anis said. The court thus dismissed a petition filed by a student challenging NTR University of Health Sciences’ decision to not consider her for an MBBS seat under the sports quota stipulated by an Andhra Pradesh government order that included six more games in the quota apart from the 28 added since 2008.The six new games are: tennikoit, powerlifting, netball, throwball, sepak takraw (kick volleyball) and boxing. Holders of merit certificates in all the listed games are eligible for MBBS and engineering seats. The bench said sports quotas were “inventions made for the purpose of diluting the constitutional guarantees granted to SCs, STs and BCs”, adding that they were also harming sports. “Ultimately, persons who gain admission into medical courses under this quota lose their flavour for sports..,” the bench said. (Times of India 18/8/16)

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

54. Highest number of long-stay mental health patients in Pune, Thane: NHRC report (1)

Pune: As many as 3,025 persons with mental health problems have been staying for more than five years at 47 government mental hospitals across the country. Chennai, Pune and Thane have the highest number of these long-stay patients, says a new report of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). A combined strength of 978 patients with mental health problems has been staying for more than five years at regional mental health hospitals in Pune, Thane, Nagpur and Ratnagiri. Another 700 patients have been staying at these institutions for more than a year and 466 patients are destitute. Sujata Saunik, Principal Health Secretary, Maharashtra, said that Maharashtra’s mental health institutions had the highest number of long-stay patients. “Issues related to long-stay patients are complicated and a majority are homeless. Also in several cases, their relatives do not want them back. Hence, an effort has been initiated to start a half-way home at Nagpur and set up a centre of excellence with the Tata Trust to help patients who have recovered earn their own livelihood and be independent,” Saunik told The Indian Express. Regional mental health hospitals at Thane and Pune have the highest number of long-stay patients. As many as 373 patients have been staying at the regional hospital in Pune for more than five years and another 389 are in Thane’s institution. A total of 338 patients have been staying at Pune’s facility for over a year and 235 persons at Thane’s. At Nagpur regional mental health hospital, there are 170 patients who have been staying for more than five years and 111 patients staying for more than a year. A report of the technical committee of the NHRC on mental health, based on affidavits submitted by each state or UT to the Supreme Court, had earlier this year made 30 recommendations for each state. Members of the committee — Pratima Murthy, Sudhir Kumar, Nimesh Desai and Balbir Kaur Teja — in their report ‘Mental health care in India — Old aspirations… renewed hope’ had also said that addressing the issues of long-stay patients should not become an exercise to ‘get rid’ of them because they occupied hospital beds. “It is important to know whether patients are returning to a family that will provide care or whether their quality of life will improve if placed in an institution or a community setting,” the members had said. Another 3,448 persons with mental health problems have stayed for over a year across 47 government-run mental health institutions in the country and at least 1,588 persons admitted to these institutions are destitute. As many as 551 persons have been staying at Chennai’s IMH for over five years and another 733 for over a year… (Indian Express 11/8/16)

55. NHRC meet: Need uniform civil code, single definition of ‘child’ (1)

NEW DELHI; A uniform civil code that keeps in mind women’s rights, a definition of a ‘child’ that has a single age limit and the removal of contradictory provisions of the Indian Penal Code that deal with sexual assault were some of the suggestions that emerged from a consultation held by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). Taking stock of India’s human rights record, the NHRC organised a national-level consultation on August 12 and 13. Stakeholders, including activists and government officials, discussed prevailing condition and recommended changes to improve human rights in India. The consultation was organised as part of the NHRC’s process of preparing a report for the Third Universal Periodic Review of human rights to be done by the United Nations next year. The U.N.’s Human Rights Council carries out a review every four years for its member nations. Based on reports by the NHRC, the Home Ministry and NGOs, the U.N. makes recommendations to the government. An NHRC statement said India should “work towards having a uniform civil code from women’s perspective to enable them to have equal rights, irrespective of their religion, to ensure a secular justice system,” (sic). Another suggestion was to remove provisions of Section 377 of the IPC, which deals with unnatural sex but has been used to criminalise the LGBT community, and Section 375, which deals with rape, as they contradict each other. “Do away with provisions under Section 377 and 375 IPC, which are contradictory to each other as acts that are non-criminal under Section 375 IPC remain criminal under Section 377 IPC,” said the NHRC statement. The NHRC also suggested doing away with different age limits for children. For example, the age of a child is defined differently when it comes to prosecution for criminal offences or extending benefits under child rights’ laws. While these were the suggestions taken into account, the NHRC’s report for the Universal Periodic Review could include or exclude some of these points. An NHRC source said that the report would be compiled soon. India is expected to submit its national report to the U.N. by February 2017. (The Hindu 15/8/16)

56. NGO moves SC against misuse of sedition laws (1)

New Delhi: A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Supreme Court over the “blatant” misuse of sedition laws by successive governments, despite an apex court ruling narrowing down its scope. NGO Common Cause, along with anti-nuclear activist S P Udayakumar, sought direction for “strict compliance” with the court in its Kedarnath vs State of Bihar (1962) decision. The court had then held only those acts which involved incitement to violence or violence constituted a seditious act under Section 124A of the IPC. “In carrying out arrests and slapping charges, the police and governments have rarely, if ever, respected this restriction. Successive governments have blatantly used Section 124A to stifle the voice of dissent and to further their political goals,” the PIL filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan contended. The move comes in the backdrop of the Bengaluru Police registering an FIR against Amnesty International India after anti-India slogans were raised during an event organised by the NGO in Bengaluru on Saturday. Citing the National Crime Records Bureau report, the petitioners pointed out that 47 cases of sedition were filed in 2014 and 58 arrests were made, but there was only one conviction. The petitioner sought direction making it compulsory for the authority concerned to produce a reasoned order from the director general of police or police commissioner certifying that the “seditious act” either led to the incitement of violence or had the tendency or intention to create public disorder before lodging an FIR. The petition listed out cases lodged to ‘threaten’ writer Arundhati Roy, cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, civil rights activist Binayak Sen, 67 Kashmiri students in Uttar Pradesh, actor Aamir Khan, Tamil folk singer S Kovan and JNU students union president Kanhaiya Kumar. The petitioners also quoted Mahatma Gandhi, who had in 1922, said, “Section 124-A, under which I am happily charged, is perhaps the prince among the political sections of the IPC designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen.” (Deccan Herald 18/8/16)

57. NHRC sends notice to WB govt over mental hospital case (1)

New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission has issued a notice to the West Bengal government over reports of an NGO finding some mentally-challenged men and women patients lying naked on dirty floor at a government hospital on Independence Day. “They had not bathed or shaved for months, had visible signs of various diseases. The toilets were so filthy that nobody could use them. The bed sheets were full of bugs,” the NHRC today said. In a statement, the Commission said it has taken a suo motu cognisance of a media report that “a team of NGO Anjali visited Berhampore Mental Hospital on Independence Day and found naked men and women, all mentally-ill patients, lying on dirty floors in a very bad condition.” The NHRC has issued the notice to the Chief Secretary of the West Bengal government and sought for a detailed report on the state of affairs in that hospital along with the status of other mental hospitals run by the state government. It has also asked its Special Rapporteur, East Zone, Domodar Sarangi, to assess the situation on the ground and submit a report to the Commission. The state government as well as the Special Rapporteur have been given eight weeks to respond, it said. Reportedly, the Hospital Superintendent of Berhampore Mental Hospital refused to make any comments on it when approached by the NGO team. The Chief Medical Officer also denied the calls made by the NGO, the NHRC statement said. The Commission, reiterating its commitment towards the promotion and protection of rights of mentally ill persons, has observed that the contents of the news report are “distressing”.According to the media report, carried on August 17, there are about 430 patients, including men and women, staying at the Berhampore Mental Hospital at present. “There is no facility of laundry, no barber and bathrooms are in such a bad condition that the patients often fall on the ground and hurt themselves,” it said. (Business Standard 19/8/16)

JUDICIARY/ LAW

58. Centre-Judiciary turf war over MoP delays hiring, transfer of 227 judges (19)

NEW DELHI: At a time when the judiciary is reeling under tremendous pressure due to backlog of cases, the Ministry of Law and Justice has the names of 227 judges pending with it for appointments and transfers to various High Courts in the country. As on date, 24 High Courts across the country have a standing vacancy of 477 judges. Express has learnt that the government has forwarded a list of 78 names to the Collegium, led by the Chief Justice of India, T S Thakur, to be considered for appointment. The whole process, as per Memorandum of Procedure (MoP), takes six months as states, Intelligence Bureau and the Supreme Court Collegium have to be consulted before the appointment. The High Court of Madhya Pradesh has a shortage of 19 judges and is learnt to have a list of 19 names for appointment. This is followed by the Madras High Court, which has forwarded names of 30 judges against 37 vacancies. Similarly, the High Court of Karnataka has sent names of 35 judges while the High Court of Hyderabad has forwarded names of 36 judges to fill equal number of vacancies. The inordinate delay in the appointment of judges is mainly due to the delay in finalising the MoP as both the judiciary and the government are not able to reach a conclusion over few clauses in the draft. MoP details the procedure to be followed during the judicial appointments. While the Central government had formulated the MoP, the Supreme Court sent it back for reconsideration as it gave power to the government to reject a person recommended by the collegium. Though the government had the right to reject a candidate’s name under the earlier procedure, the executive would have to appoint the person, if the collegium reiterated the name. The other reason for vacancies is the increase in sanctioned strength by the government and retirements of the judges. (New Indian Express 12/8/16)

59. Supreme Court to decide on RTI requests to judiciary (19)

New Delhi: A Constitution bench of the Supreme Court will decide on the conflict between the right of citizens to obtain information under the RTI Act and the right of the judiciary to not disclose information pertaining to the judiciary, such as the appointment of judges, transfers and collegium decisions. A three-judge bench of justices Ranjan Gogoi, Prafulla C. Pant and A.M. Kanwilkar asked Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur to post before a Constitution Bench the issues raised in the appeal the central public information officer (CPIO) of the Supreme Court against a Delhi high court judgment directing that information on appointment of judges be furnished. Acting on a petition from S.C. Agrawal, the CIC directed the CPIO to furnish information on the correspondence exchanged between constitutional authorities with file notings relating to the appointments of Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice A.K. Ganguly and Justice R.M. Lodha (all to the Supreme court) superseding Justice A.P. Shah. The Delhi high court confirmed this order. The present appeal is directed against this order. The bench said, “We are of the considered opinion that a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution is involved in the present case which is required to be heard by a Constitution Bench. The case on hand raises important questions of constitutional importance relating to the position of the CJI and the independence of the judiciary on the one hand and on the other the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression.” The bench recalled the earlier reference order which said “RTI Act merely recognises the constitutional right of citizens to freedom of speech and expression. Independence of judiciary forms part of basic structure of the Constitution. The independence of judiciary and fundamental right to free speech and expression are of a great value and both are required to be balanced. The current debate is a sign of a healthy nation. This debate on the Constitution involves great and fundamental issues. Most of the times we reel under the pressure of precedents.” The bench said questions like does the concept of independence of the judiciary require that the information should not be furnished, does the information amount to interference in the functioning of the judiciary, and so on will have to be considered. Does the information have to be withheld to avoid any erosion in the credibility of the decisions and to ensure a free and frank expression of honest opinion by all the constitutional functionaries, which is essential for effective consultation and for taking the right decision? and is the information sought for is exempt under Section 8(i)(j) of the RTI Act? (Asian Age 18/8/16)

60. NGO moves SC against misuse of sedition laws (19)

New Delhi: A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Supreme Court over the “blatant” misuse of sedition laws by successive governments, despite an apex court ruling narrowing down its scope. NGO Common Cause, along with anti-nuclear activist S P Udayakumar, sought direction for “strict compliance” with the court in its Kedarnath vs State of Bihar (1962) decision. The court had then held only those acts which involved incitement to violence or violence constituted a seditious act under Section 124A of the IPC. “In carrying out arrests and slapping charges, the police and governments have rarely, if ever, respected this restriction. Successive governments have blatantly used Section 124A to stifle the voice of dissent and to further their political goals,” the PIL filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan contended. The move comes in the backdrop of the Bengaluru Police registering an FIR against Amnesty International India after anti-India slogans were raised during an event organised by the NGO in Bengaluru on Saturday. Citing the National Crime Records Bureau report, the petitioners pointed out that 47 cases of sedition were filed in 2014 and 58 arrests were made, but there was only one conviction. The petitioner sought direction making it compulsory for the authority concerned to produce a reasoned order from the director general of police or police commissioner certifying that the “seditious act” either led to the incitement of violence or had the tendency or intention to create public disorder before lodging an FIR. The petition listed out cases lodged to ‘threaten’ writer Arundhati Roy, cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, civil rights activist Binayak Sen, 67 Kashmiri students in Uttar Pradesh, actor Aamir Khan, Tamil folk singer S Kovan and JNU students union president Kanhaiya Kumar. The petitioners also quoted Mahatma Gandhi, who had in 1922, said, “Section 124-A, under which I am happily charged, is perhaps the prince among the political sections of the IPC designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen.” (Deccan Herald 18/8/16)

61. HC orders PIL to look into amended law on reservation of PU land (19)

Nagpur: A division bench of Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court has directed filing of a public interest litigation (PIL) regarding reservation of lands for public purposes under the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning (MRTP) Act, 1966. The HC bench feels that the amendments to the MRTP Act by the state, after HC orders in an earlier PIL, defeat the basic purpose the act. On Thursday, a division bench comprising justice Bhushan Gavai and justice Vinay Deshpande issued notices to respondents, including Maharashtra’s Urban Development Department (UDD), asking them to file a reply before September 8. State town planning director in Pune, along with deputy directors in Nagpur and Amravati are other respondents in the case. In the earlier suo motu PIL (No. 79/2014), the court had taken cognisance of inaction by local authorities, which allowed reservation of lands for public purposes to lapse. The then division bench of justice Gavai and justice Pradeep Deshmukh had sought an explanation from the government on two issues, including the action to be taken by government to ensure that reservation of lands for public purposes doesn’t lapse. UDD joint secretary Avinash Patil had filed an affidavit that an amendment was made to Section 127 of the MRTP Act, 1966, where the period of 12 months was increased to 24 months for taking necessary steps to acquire the land. The bench had then disposed of the PIL after approving the steps taken by the government to ensure that reservation of land for public purposes doesn’t lapse. Thereafter, Rupesh Raghuwanshi filed a petition before the HC contending that his land at Mangrulpir, Washim, was reserved for a shopping centre and parking as per MRTP Act, but since the government failed to purchase it from him within 12 months, he applied to develop it on his own, which was rejected. The plea was listed before the bench of justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and justice Indira Jain, which on June 20 allowed his prayer, stating that since the government had failed to acquire the land due to shortage of funds, it would be available to the petitioner to develop. They also said the amendment in Section 127 of MRTP Act defeats the basic purpose of the act, hence the issue needs to be considered afresh. Citing the earlier bench’s orders, the second bench directed UDD and town planning director to file affidavits pointing out acquisitions made to honour reservations under the MRTP Act from 2006 till date. Similarly, they asked for the number of reservations which have lapsed because of court or government orders all over the state. The judges have directed filing of a PIL on the basis of this judgment, to find out whether authorities complied with the HC’s earlier directives, and asked the HC registry to place the PIL before the appropriate bench. (Times of India 19/8/16)

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

62. Custodial death case: Pre-arrest bail denied to 3 Sangli cops (1)

Mumbai: The Bombay high court has rejected a plea for pre-arrest bail by three Sangli police officers who were booked for the custodial death of an accused. Rejecting the trio’s plea, saying at the most it was a case of causing hurt to extract a confession, Justice Anand Badar said prima facie a case of abetment to suicide could not be ruled out. Rajshekhar Nandgond, who was detained as a suspect in a rape and murder case, was found hanging in the public latrine attached to Umadi police station on June 6. The HC rejected the anticipatory bail applications filed by the police officers Rajaram Chincholikar, Pramod Rode and Ganesh Waghmode. Additional public prosecutor Swapnil Pednekar said the custodial interrogation of the three personnel was necessary. “Perusal of papers of investigation goes to show that though not arrested, deceased Rajeshekar was virtually in the custody of the accused persons,” said Justice Badar. The court referred to statements by a lady police officer who had seen Rajshekhar and another lady being assaulted. “Prima facie… it appears that because of constant torture by applicants for a period of three days, Rajshekar had (ended his life),” the judge said. (Times of India 12/8/16)

63. Five killed as protesters clash with security forces in Kashmir (1)

Srinagar: The volatile situation in the Kashmir Valley took a turn for the worse on Tuesday when five civilians were killed and 52 injured, including 24 security men, prompting mainstream political parties to express concern over the “shrinking political space.” While four persons died in Budgam district, one was killed in Anantnag. Locals in Budgam alleged that a CRPF patrol team opened fire “directly at stone-throwing protesters” in the morning, killing two on the spot. Two others died in hospital. The locals said there was no attempt to fire pellet shotguns or tear-gas shells to disperse the crowd. “The CRPF fired to kill. All victims died of bullet injuries,” one resident alleged. Five of the injured were shifted to Srinagar hospitals. A police spokesman, however, claimed that the crowd tried to snatch weapons from security personnel, forcing them to open fire. “Twenty-two personnel were injured in clashes in Budgam district,” the spokesman said. In a separate incident in Anantnag, security forces opened fire at a procession, killing a youth and injuring 11 others. In the afternoon, a mob set fire to the house of a local Army man in Anantnag district. Fresh violence forced the authorities to stringently continue with curfew restrictions in large parts of the Valley. No movement of locals and vehicles were allowed in the Valley, where Internet services remained shut and mobile phone services suspended. In Srinagar’s Batamaloo area, violent protests left two policemen injured where a protester died on Monday. Hurriyat faction chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has asked people to march towards the United Nations office in Srinagar as the death toll of civilians touched 65 since July 8, the day militant commander Burhan Wani was killed. Separatists have asked people to hold sit-in protests in their localities on Wednesday. Mainstream political parties, meanwhile, claimed they were losing space because of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and the Centre’s failure to control the situation. “Six protesters dead in Kashmir in the past 24 hours but let’s sort out Balochistan since we are doing such a good job in J&K at the moment,” tweeted former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. Mr. Abdullah said he would hold a meeting of all Opposition parties in Srinagar on Wednesday to “deliberate on the role that can be played by mainstream parties.” Meanwhile, the Army claimed that the five infiltrators killed near the LoC in Uri on Monday were planning “a major attack in J&K.” (The Hindu 16/8/16)

64. Imphal’s Robita begins fast unto death against AFSPA (1)

Guwahati: Days after activist Irom Sharmila Chanu ended her 16-year hunger strike, another Manipuri woman, Konthoujam Robita Leima, started an indefinite fast against AFSPA on Saturday. Robita (32) said she was not only demanding repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts (AFSPA), but also implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP), a special pass regime for outsiders to enter Manipur. “I have decided to follow ‘eche’ (elder sister) in Sharmila’s footsteps. From today, I am starting my fast-unto-death agitation and appeal to citizens to support me. I also seek Sharmila’s blessings. She is my inspiration,” Robita, a mother of two, told DH over phone from Imphal. At a press conference on Friday, Robita said that the flames of the agitation should be kept alive and carried forward. Meanwhile, a large section of civil society organisations and women’s groups have opposed Robita’s fast. She did not find support from her husband and in-laws too. Robita, while talking to mediapersons on Saturday, charged that a few members of a civil society group tried to forcibly confine her in their office to stop her from commencing the fast. “Robita wanted to fast at her NGO’s office, but the police did not permit that. She then started fasting in front of her residence at Kongba in Imphal East district. Police have been deployed at the location. She might be arrested too,” Robita’s legal counsel Tezkumar Singh told DH from Imphal. (Deccan Herald 14/8/16)

65. Kashmir unrest: Lecturer allegedly beaten to death by army (1)

Shabir Ahmed was a lecturer by profession. He was among the 28 people arrested by Indian army on late Srinagar: Situation after the killing of Hizbul Commander Burhan Wani in Kashmir is not improving despite appeals from PM,CM and now from army. Ongoing protests and mounting number of deaths due to clashes between security forces and protesters has now reached 67 after the death of a Lecturor Shabir Ahmad in Khrew area of Pampore in Pulwama district. Residents of Shar village of Khrew in Pulwama District have alleged that on late Wednesday night, army barged into the residential houses in area and harassed the local residents.According to the locals, the dead body of Shabir Ahmed was given to the family on Thrusday early morning. Shabir was one among the arrested 28 people by the army from the area. Shabir’s brother has also been critically injured by the army who is in a critical state at SMHS hospital, Srinagar.Police said that army first approached police for the hand over of Shabir’s body to the family. The police refused to do comply following which the army then approached hospital authorities to hand over the dead body to which the hospital authorities obliged.Police sources also said that Shabir was beaten to death by the army. When army commander of Srinagar based Chinar Corp was asked about incident, he confirmed the incident, calling it a very unfortunate and said he has asked for a detailed report from unit. He has also said that there will be a reaction only after getting proper details of incident. .. (India Today 18/8/16)

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

66. Identify those targeting journalists, establish rule of law in Kashmir: RSF to India (1)

Srinagar: Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF), an international organisation that promotes freedom of the press, has called on Indian authorities to investigate the attacks on two journalists in Kashmir and identify the forces’ personnel responsible for abuses against journalists. In a statement, it said that “after physical attacks on at least two journalists in the past few days in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, in northern India, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for investigations to identify members of the security forces responsible for abuses against journalists and all other violations of freedom of information.” (Greater Kashmir 11/8/16)

67. Anti-India slogans: Amnesty India booked for sedition, denies charges… (1)

Bengaluru: A sedition case was filed against the India chapter of Amnesty International on Tuesday for allegedly allowing its employees to raise anti-India slogans at an event on Kashmir in Bangaluru. The development was confirmed by Karnataka Home Minister G Parameshwara, who said that a sedition case has been filed against the India brand of Amnesty International for raising pro-Kashmir freedom slogans at a Bengaluru based event. “We have to now look into it more seriously, they have taken the case, registered an FIR, investigating what exactly has happened and also looking to those videos and CCTV tapings. Whatever the police investigations, according to that, action will be taken,” said Parameshwara. (Zee News 16/8/16)

68. Marginalised sections still neglected: Activists (1)

VISAKHAPATNAM: At a time when the country celebrated its 70th Independence Day, not everyone seemed to be happy with the conditions of the marginalised sections of the population. Many members of the student community from the city and those who were formerly students and now advocates of human rights observed that true freedom for all was still a distant dream. A former literature student of Hyderabad Central University and an advocate of LGBT Rights, S Ratnam said, “There is no real freedom of expression even in the so-called mainstream society. Many of those who come from middle class backgrounds are forced to adhere to certain societal norms, rules and regulations and any deviation results in social expulsion, though not in the legal sense. People who are differently inclined or those who by nature tend to be sensitised are looked upon with mistrust and scorn.” “Most SCs and STs as well as those from other non-privileged backgrounds are treated as unwanted elements in society who should be done away with. This attitude has only strengthened over a period of time and we will have a difficult time to shake it off. When we talk about freedom, even after 70 years, we only talk about those who have been politically empowered, what about all those at the receiving end?” asked P Mallar, an activist who fights against caste prejudices and societal stereotyping.S Ravi Kanth Reddy of MEECONS pointed out that the flaw lies entirely in our reasoning and approach towards the needy. “Unless we get the word charity out of the dictionary our attitude will always remain feudal. We should allow people to discuss, talk and argue on an open platform. Until then, the society we live in will always be closed,” he opined. P Harini, a B.Tech student noted that language sometimes becomes a barrier. “Only those who speak English and Hindi fluently are allowed to mingle even among the students. The others, no matter how brilliant, are simply left on their own and treated as second rate citizens. Unless we correct this, nothing much will come out of the other efforts,” she added. (Times of India 16/8/16)

69. Social media top priority of brands for customer engagement (1)

NEW DELHI: Social media has become the top strategic priority for brands in India as they look for complete customer engagement, says a study. According to the annual Marketing Monitor study across the Asia-Pacific by global insights consultancy TNS, marketers across the region ranked social media as the top element guiding their planning process as well as the top metric used to measure performance of campaigns. TNS India MD, South India & Sri Lanka and Head of Brand and Communications Practice S Visvanathan said: “India’s online environment is developing very fast. As more consumers and customers start connecting to the Internet through mobile and start accessing different digital platforms, the amount of data available will explode.” He, however, said businesses are typically overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data generated. “It is important that marketers devise effective ways of extracting insight from this data before it is too late,” Visvanathan cautioned. As per the study, the other metrics on the top five priority list for the companies in their planning are brand tracking, market share data, what the competition is doing and information from ad agencies.As many as 50% of the marketers use social media for brand communications, 43% for customer service, 36% for sales channel and 31% use it for providing insights for product development. The top three platforms used on a daily basis by the companies in India are Facebook , Google+ and Twitter. TNS Digital Director (APAC) Zoe Lawrence said social media has become an intrinsic part of daily lives, with 94 per cent of connected consumers in India using social networks, switching between Facebook, Google+ and Twitter as the top three channels. “This mass adoption of social (media) provides marketers with an array of sources when it comes to developing strategies and evaluating the effectiveness of their marketing activity,” he added. (Times of India 17/8/16

COMMUNAL RIOTS

70. BJP legislator being probed over Bihar communal tension (7)

Patna: The Bihar Police have launched a probe into the alleged involvement of a BJP legislator over the communal tension in Saran district, a police official on Thursday said. Saran Superintendent of Police Pankaj Kumar Raj told IANS that a probe was underway into the role of Bharatiya Janata Party legislator C N Gupta. “We are investigating into Gupta’s role. Action against him would be initiated or taken only after investivation completed,” he said. On Tuesday, video clips emerged and were telecast by local Hindi news channels showing Gupta leading a mob of people, armed with traditional weapons in Chapra district headquarters of Saran during a shutdown called by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal and despite the district administration issuing orders prohibiting any public gathering to maintain law and order. “Instead of appealing to people to maintain communal harmony and peace, Gupta was leading a march of VHP and Bajrang Dal supporters in Chapra, in full view of district administration, that resulted in violence. Shops and houses of minority community members were attacked,” Congress legislator Shakil Ahmad Khan said. Khan told IANS that it was clear that Gupta violated prohibitory orders and instigated people that created communal trouble. “The state administration has to take a tough stand to send a strong message for communal harmony,” he added. Some social activists in Chapra have also blamed Gupta for the communal tension in Saran town. They said Gupta was wellknown for his decades long associatin with the RSS and other Hinduvta organisations like the VHP and Bajrang Dal. Gupta, however, has denied any involvement in violence.The trouble began when some youths of Balha village and other youths from Maker village blocked roads last week to protest police failure to take action against those who had posted an objectionable video clip online. Trouble escalated and angry mobs attacked the houses and shops of minority community members on Friday. Some youths attacked the house of the prime accused, which led to the communal tension, an official said. On August 5, violent clashes took place between both communities and shops and houses were targeted at several places. The following day, violent clashes were reported and the VHP and Bajrang Dal called a day-long shut-down, forcing shops, schools and colleges to remain closed. Over a dozen persons, including policemen, were injured, 55 shops torched, houses looted and 62 persons were arrested. (Business Standard 12/8/16)

71. Molestation leads to communal tension in Farrukhabad (7)

KANPUR: An alleged molestation incident led to tension between members of the two communities in Farrukhabad district on Saturday. Police said a youth hailing from Ghumna Bazaar locality misbehaved with a girl of the other community in the evening. Police reinforcements have been rushed to the spot. Sources said when the girl informed her family members about the incident, they rushed to the spot and inquired about the youth who stays nearby. The girl’s family members allegedly barged into the house of the youth and thrashed him. Later, they went to Kotwali police station to lodge a complaint. A few people, who came in support of the youth, also reached Kotwali to lodge a complaint against the girl’s family. The situation became volatile, when someone from the crowd opened fire, leading to chaos. The two groups then started throwing stones on each other. Senior district and police officials rushed to the spot along with police and PAC. District magistrate Karn Singh Chauhan said that vigil is being maintained. “The situation is under control and security has been tightened. Round-the-clock patrolling would continue to avoid backlash,” the DM added. (Times of India 14/8/16)

72. Tension after army razes part of religious structure (7)

Meerut: Timely intervention of senior police officials helped in averting a confrontation between members of minority community and army personnel over demolition of a portion of a religious structure in communally-sensitive Muzaffarnagar on Monday. Some army men razed a newly-constructed toilet, built adjacent to the religious structure in Khalapar area. The structure is on army land and the case over its ownership is pending in the court. According to police, the extension of toilet was illegal as there was a stay on any new construction on the land, which belongs to the army. After the army personnel razed it on Monday, some people of the community spread rumour that the religious place itself was demolished. In no time, a large number of people gathered at the site and started protesting. “We rushed to the spot with police force. It was indeed an illegal structure, as no new construction is allowed on a land as the matter is sub-judice. However, the tension was over a rumour that the religious structure had been brought down, which was not true,” said Deepak Kumar, senior superintendent of police (SSP). Kumar, along with UP minority commission’s member Zulfikar Ali, appealed to the people to maintain calm. The crisis was defused after the district magistrate and other senior officials had a word with the cleric of the religious place. Later, it was decided that neither the army nor the people of the community will construct anything till the dispute is settled in the court,” the SSP said. (Times of India 16/8/16)

73. 27 arrested for post-Dalit rally violence in Una (7)

UNA: Tension eased in Una and nearby villages on Tuesday even as police arrested 27 people for violence that broke out after the 10-day Dalit asmita yatra culminated in form of a massive rally in the coastal town on the Independence Day . Thousands of Dalits from across the state, who had trooped into Una on Monday , pledged to relinquish skinning dead cattle and entering gutters to clean the drainage. Dalits also issued a one-month ultimatum to the state government that if they were not given land as an alternative income source, they would undertake a `rail roko’ of an unprecedented scale. Jignesh Mevani, convener of Una Dalit Atyachar Ladat Samiti, told TOI on Tuesday if the government does not start working on land allotment to Dalits, they will launch rail blockade from September 15. “The venue for beginning the protest will be announced on September 1,” he said. However, situation had turned tense after the rally as Dalits returning to their native villages were attacked near Samter, the village 7 km from Una from where maximum number of cow vigilantes were arrested for flogging four Dalits on July 11. At least 14 Dalits were injured in two separate assaults on Monday as well as Sunday afternoon near Samter. Eight of them were shifted to Ahmedabad for treatment. The situation only worsened in the evening when a mob attacked police teams and torched their vehicles in Samter. In Samter, police lobbed 46 tear gas shells and fired in the air to disperse the mob and eight cops were injured in the clash. The clarion call “You take cows’ tail, give us land” given by the Dalit leaders found support from JNU students leader Kanhaiya Kumar and family of Rohit Vemula, the Hyderabad student who had committed suicide, and renowned documentary maker Anand Patwardhan. Vemula’s mother Radhika and Balu Sarvaiya, whose two sons were among the four brutalized on July 11, hoisted the tricolor. “I am yet to get justice but the Dalit movement in Gujarat has forced chief minister Anandiben Patel to resign. I’m here so that no other Dalit children face what my son did,” Radhika Vemula told the gathering.Kanhaiya Kumar said that Dalits of Gujarat have punctured the much-hyped Gujarat model of development. “We want freedom from casteism and brahminical culture,” he said. “Several years ago, (LK) Advani had also embarked on a yatra from Somnath. But that yatra was to divide the country on communal lines. The yatra initiated by Dalits and Mewani is aimed at ending the scourge of casteism,” Kumar said to a thundering applause. (Times of India 17/8/16)

74. Jammu: Poonch tense after Amarnath pilgrims, Muslims clash (7)

Jammu: Three days after a grenade attack hurt 15 at Poonch town, communal tension erupted in Mandi area of the border district following a clash between some of the Buddha Amarnath pilgrims and local Muslims on Tuesday afternoon. Trouble erupted when some pilgrims raised provocative slogans and local Muslim youth to raise counter provocative slogans. Reports reaching Jammu said that the situation in Mandi which had only Muslim population was highly surcharged with even the Poonch district Superintendent of Police, J S Johar, allegedly manhandled and some vehicles damaged by locals. Giving details, sources said that Chhari Mubarak (holy mace of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati) was accorded a warm reception by local Muslims when it reached Buddha Amarnath shrine at Mandi from Poonch town around noon. However, trouble erupted when some pilgrims later went to the bazaar and raised slogans like “Bharat Mein Rehna Hooga, Vandematram Kehna Hoga” or “Bharat Mein Rehna Hoga, Ram Ram Kehna Hoga”. Some elderly Muslims initially tried to stop them, but as they did not listen, local Muslim youth assembled and started raising pro-Azadi slogans. This rose tempers on both sides and they even had a scuffle. However, the sitaution was saved by local police and para military personnel who intervened and separated both the groups. However, in the process, some window pances and wind screen of some vehicles got broken. The incident led to tension in Mandi town with locals closing their business establishments in protest. The news spread and local Muslims at Sathra and Nangali also downed their shutters and started holding demonstrations. Senior civil and police offiacers rushed to Mandi and held a meeting of local people to defuse the situation. However, as tempers were running high, some local youth allegedly manhandled the SP during the meeting after later allegedly slapped one of them. With more reinforcements rushed to Mandi from Poonch, situation was stated to be under control. Buddha Amarnath yatra will conclude on Raksha Bandan falling on August 18. Only on Saturday evening, fiften people, many of them pilgrims on their way to the Buddha Amarnath shrine, were injured in a blast outside a bus stand in Poonch town. Police suspect that a hand grenade was hurled at pilgrims. The blast had come a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent a strong message to Pakistan, indicting it for fomenting trouble in Kashmir. He told an all-party meeting that “when we talk about Jammu and Kashmir, we should talk about Jammu, Kashmir Valley, Ladakh and Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir.” (Indian Express 17/8/16)

COMMUNALISM

75. Following petition by Hindutva groups, police to act against illegal abattoirs (26)

Bengaluru: Following a petition by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal leaders that illegal slaughterhouses “thrive during Bakrid”, which falls on September 13 this year, the State police has issued a circular to all districts to strictly enforce Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Preservation Act, 1964. In the circular issued on behalf of Director General and Inspector General of Police Om Prakash, Assistant Inspector General of Police M.V. Chandrakanth has directed SPs, Police Commissioners and Range Inspector Generals to identify illegal slaughterhouses and take action. The circular also makes a specific mention of Tannery Road and Shivaji Nagar areas in Bengaluru, which according to the petitioners has the “highest number of illegal slaughterhouses”. Though, according to a senior police officer, such circulars are issued every year, this time the police have decided to be extra vigilant. “We anticipate serious issues this time as vigilante groups want to make the most use of such situations,” a senior police officer said. The city police have already alerted police stations which fall at the entry and exit points of the city. Police stations like Electronics City, Yeshwantpur and K.R. Puram have been instructed to keep a tab on cattle transportation activities, he said. The jurisdictional police of sensitive areas have also been alerted to step up security to ensure law and order, he added. Interestingly, the police are not contemplating any specific action against vigilante groups, including those associated with VHP and Bajrang Dal, which have been carrying out attacks on people in the name of “cow protection”. It may be mentioned here that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his recent statement on cow protectors, had suggested that States prepare dossiers on vigilante groups. However, the police in some sensitive districts have on their own started identifying persons involved in vigilante attacks in the name of cow protection. For instance, police in Chikkamagaluru, which saw Dalits at Shantipura in Koppa taluk being attacked recently, has started making a dossier on vigilante groups. (The Hindu 12/8/16)

76. On I-Day eve, Hindu Mahasabha observes ‘Black Day’ (26)

MEERUT: At a time when the entire country is making preparations to celebrate Independence Day, members of Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha waved black flags to mark their 70th ‘Black Day’ and protest against the Constitution of India at the organisation’s office on Sharda Road in Meerut on Sunday. The leaders of the Hindu outfit claim to have been observing this day as ‘Black Day’ for the past 69 years to put forward their demand for declaring India as a “Hindu rashtra” and protest against the constitution that declares India a secular country. “It was a black day for India when the British and some Indian leaders agreed to divide the country on the basis of religion, but Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru did not allow four crore Muslims to leave India thereby leaving the dream of a Hindu rashtra unfulfilled,” claimed Pandit Ashok Kumar Sharma, national vice-president of Hindu Mahasabha. Abhishek Aggarwal, a member of Hindu Mahasabha, said, “We do not believe in the Constitution of India and we have been protesting against it for the past 69 years. Secularism doesn’t exist in India and that is why we mourn the Constitution.” “Earlier, arrests used to be made whenever black flags were waved outside our office, but after 1987, the court refused to let cops arrest our protesters,” Sharma told TOI. (Times of India 14/8/16)

77. RSS unhappy on Modi’s remark on cow vigilantes (26)

Nagpur: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statements against cow vigilantes and perpetrators of Dalit atrocities have upset Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP’s ideological mentor. Soon after Modi’s remark, RSS General Secretary Bhayyaji Joshi reacted saying cow protection is paramount, but it should not be misused to exploit fissures within the community. Sources say, the sentiment within organziation however, has not been so moderate. Insiders say Modi’s statement seems to have come as a move to appease Dalits, which the RSS has been recently wooing, but it has not gone down well with the old-school Swayamsevaks also. In a recent informal interaction with media, a senior RSS functionary said Modi should have avoided making the remark that 80% of gau rakshaks (cow vigilantes) are goons. In a later statement, the RSS functionary also pointed out that Modi himself had scaled it down to a handful of them in a subsequent public function. Apart from the RSS, workers in affiliates like Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal are simmering with anger apart from other organizations loosely affiliated with the Parivar on cow protection. A senior VHP member from the city, said the government has come out with a law to protect the cow, but has not laid down the mechanism for its implementation. This has led to volunteers take up cudgels. “Now it is the gau rakshaks who are being harassed by the police for supporting a noble cause. As we have worked closely with the RSS we cannot express our ire openly, but we are waiting to get the right forum,” said the VHP leader requesting anonymity. “Modi promptly reacted when it came to Dalits in his home state, but what about the attacks on Muslims, like the Aklaqh incident in UP. On the one hand the BJP and RSS trying to project that they are including Muslims in their fold. But the recent stance has led to a trust deficit among Muslims, as the Parivar probably finds a larger vote bank among the Dalits,” said a Muslim leader associated with BJP. Beef exports have jumped by 44% and the business is certainly not controlled by Muslims or Dalits, he added. A number of associated organizations and individuals affiliated to the RSS on the issue are unhappy with the Prime Minister’s remarks. BC Bhartia, who presided over the closing ceremony of Viswhvamangal Go Gram Yatra, said the remark that “80% of cow vigilantes are rogues” has left us demoralized.” “The prime minister also meant that anti-social elements need to be eliminated from the work on cow protection. For others, it is time to introspect and the job has to be undertaken with full responsibility. However, the word 80% also evoked concern among genuine activists,” said a middle-rung RSS worker promoting cow conservation. (Times of India 15/8/16)

78. BJP worker killed by VHP, Bajrang Dal activists for transporting cows (26)

Udupi: In a brutal incident of cow vigilantism, a BJP worker was killed and another person injured allegedly by VHP and Bajrang Dal activists who waylaid and attacked them near Hebri in this district last night. Praveen Poojary (28) and Akshay Devadiga (20) were surrounded and attacked with sharp weapons by the VHP and Bajrang Dal activists as they were transporting three cows in a vehicle, Udupi district Superintendent of Police K T Balakrishna told PTI. Poojary died instantly while Devadiga has been admitted to a hospital at Bramhavar, he said. Seventeen people were arrested and a hunt was on to nab the others involved, he said. The coastal districts of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada have been reporting cases of cow vigilantism in the last several years. The incident comes days after the Union Home Ministry had cracked the whip on cow vigilantism, asking all states not to tolerate anyone taking law into their hands in the name of protecting cows and to take prompt action against such offenders. The Home Ministry advisory had come two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacked cow vigilantes and asked people to beware of these ‘fake’ protectors trying to divide the society and the country. He made these comments after his government and BJP came under attack over incidents of violence against Dalits and Muslims by cow vigilantes in various states including Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Meanwhile, Karnataka Home Minister G Parameshwara said prima facie cattle trade-related business dispute may be the reason behind the killing of the BJP worker. “… Seventeen people have been arrested in connection with the incident, they (police) are suspecting some sort of a cattle trade-related business dispute,” he told reporters in Bengaluru, adding police have taken up the case. Noting that he does not see a communal angle to the incident “at this point of time”, Parameshwara said “some reason must be there, we will find out”. He said “… We don’t know at this stage, but they are suspecting some sort of a dispute because of the trade, it is not definite, but they are suspecting. Investigation will give us the final picture.” Parameshwara also expressed concern over repeated incidents relating to beef and cattle trade in Karnataka. “We are vigilant, we will definitely try and maintain peace and order. I appeal to the people who are trying to create this kind of disturbance not to do this because we are a tolerant society and we should not create these kind of issues,” he said. (Asian Age 18/8/16)

TERRORISM

79. Confession of Pak terrorist: Lashkar fuelling unrest in Kashmir, says NIA (12)

New Delhi: National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Wednesday said that a Pakistani terrorist in its custody has said that he learnt from his handlers that the ongoing stir in Kashmir has been precipitated by Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT). He has also said that he was infiltrated into Kashmir to mix with the agitating crowds and throw grenades at security forces, NIA has claimed. The terrorist, identified as Bahadur Ali alias Saifulla, is a resident of Lahore and is presently in NIA custody. Kashmir has been on the boil for over a month since the killing of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani. “During communications with Bahadur Ali, Alpha-3 (LeT control room) told that the LeT cadreshad been successful in fuelling large scale agitation in Kashmir after EID subsequent to the death of Burhan Wani in Kashmir. Further investigation is continuing on the disclosure of Bahadur Ali regarding his role in the present unrest in Kashmir,” NIA IG Sanjeev Kumar Singh said while releasing a CD of Ali’s confession of being an LeT-trained terrorist. “Bahadur Ali was member of one of the groups who was directed to take advantage of the current situation in Kashmir and throw grenades by mixing into the crowd,” Singh added. Singh also said that Ali was trained and infiltrated into India with active support from Pakistan Army and its border forces. “Since the onset of summer of 2016 LeT, with the help of Pak forces deployed on the border has been infiltrating heavily armed trained terrorists into India with the direction to mix with the local people and create disturbance and attack police and security forces,” Singh said. NIA IG Sanjeev Singh at the press conference in Delhi on Wednesday. NIA IG Sanjeev Singh at the press conference in Delhi on Wednesday.He claimed that NIA had collected evidence which showed that Ali was trained and equipped by military personnel. “Arms, ammunition and equipment recovered from terrorists establish support and involvement of military experts. For example, engineering modifications done on ICOM RT sets (made in Japan) to cover whole range of VHF frequency, requires high degree of precision engineering in electronics,” he said. To further establish his case, Singh added, “Providing the terrorists with specific Grid References for the route to be followed and use of GPS, compass and topographical sheets during movement also establish that these LeT terrorists were trained and mentored by military experts.”Singh also said that Bahadur Ali was constantly guided and directed by the LeT control centre Alpha-3, which was available on a prefixed frequency on ICOM handsets, being carried by Ali and his associates. … (Indian Express 11/8/16)

80. Modi questions Pak. on rights abuses in Balochistan, PoK (12)

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday launched a sharp attack on Pakistan for its support to terrorism and thanked the people of Balochistan, Gilgit and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) for their recent messages of support. Addressing the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on Independence Day, Mr. Modi, in an obvious reference to the recent incidents of atrocities against Dalits by cow vigilante groups, also called for social justice. He said: “There is no meaning in economic prosperity if it is not accompanied by social justice.” “When you look at things from the scale of human values and humanity… when innocent schoolchildren were massacred in Peshawar, the Indian Parliament wept, every school in India shed tears at this tragedy. On the other hand, we have a situation where some people glorify terrorists in our country,” the Prime Minister said, without naming Pakistan that described the slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani as a martyr.In his 90-minute speech, Mr. Modi said that ever since he had asked the Pakistani establishment to look at human rights abuses in Balochistan, Gilgit and PoK, he had been flooded with messages of gratitude by the people of these areas. “I am grateful to the people of Balochistan, Gilgit and PoK who have thanked me in the past few days. If people of Balochistan thank me, they are thanking the 125 crore Indians,” he said. The Prime Minister had, in an all-party meeting on Kashmir last week, said that Pakistan had no business speaking about Jammu and Kashmir when it was “dropping bombs on its own citizens” in Balochistan and other areas. (The Hindu 16/8/16)

81. Terrorism makes Indo-Pak relationship difficult to grow: S Jaishankar (12)

New Delhi: Indian diplomacy today is in many ways, more practical, more outcome-oriented and more development-focused, said Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar on Wednesday while giving a speech at Delhi’s Foreign Correspondents Club. Stressing on the need to go that extra mile for India’s neighbours, Jaishankar said we have to offer them terms of engagement that are attractive to them. “As biggest country of region, we have to go the extra mile, we’ve to reach out to our neighbors, we have to make them feel secure,” he said. While maintaining that India in the last two years has put in great effort to reach out to Pakistan, Jaishankar said the terrorism issue makes the relationship difficult to grow. “While we all agree that we should move forward, it doesn’t always go very smoothly. Problem is that the terrorism issue has become so central to the relationship that it makes the relationship difficult to grow. Looking at the neighbourhood, we clearly face a unique challenge in respect to one country which is Pakistan,” said Jaishankar Jaishankar’s remarks on Pakistan comes two days after an invitation extended by Islamabad to India for resolving the Kashmir issue, which has led to strained bilateral ties between the two countries. “At times, domestic politics of our neighbours pose challenges. We’ve learnt to be patient. We have one standout country in the region which has a different view of terrorism which makes it a difficult partner for all of us,” added Jaishankar. Two days after Pakistan invited India for talks on Kashmir, India on Wednesday turned down it’s proposal for foreign secretary-level talks, saying terror remains the core concern but asserted that it would like to discuss aspects related to cross-border terrorism which are central to the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir. (The Indian Express 17/8/16)

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

82. Gangster Nayeem got Rs 25 lakh for Naxal info (12)

Hyderabad: Gangster Nayeem bagged the maximum cash rewards from the police for the heads of Naxal leaders. After his arrest on February 12, 1993 in connection with the murder of IPS officer N.S. Vyas’, he became an informer for the police and was released in May 2000 on bail. After his second arrest in connection with APCLC member K. Purushotham’s murder, he was used by the police for eliminating top Naxals or nabbing them alive. During 2000-09, Nayeem played a key role in nabbing and killing Naxals. He used to target those who had high rewards on their heads. An official source said he used to get rewards from Greyhounds and SIB for passing information about top Naxals. “At one stage he was totally dependent on rewards for his bread and butter. He had bagged around Rs 25 lakh from united AP police and around the same from Karnataka, Odisha and Maharashtra. He gave key information for eliminating Naxals in Karnataka,” the official said. “To gather more info from surrendered Naxals, police used to encourage Nayeem by giving him the responsibility of handing over benefits for ex-Naxals. Using info given by them, Nayeem used to plan his tasks.” A retired police officer said that police had encouraged neighbouring states to use the services of Nayeem. “This led to the establishment of Nayeem’s network in Chattisgarh, Mahara-shtra and Odisha. From 2009, he started extortions with the help of rowdy sheeters from the Old City and surrendered Naxals,” the retired official said. Although Nayeem was wanted in around 100 cases no reward was announced by any agency for him. He was the most wanted by the police in Nalgonda, Nizamabad, Warangal districts and Hyderabad. Nayeem was also the most wanted for the CBI in Sohrabuddin’s case. In Sohrabuddin’s case, Nayeem was the only witness. He had sent Sohrabuddin and his wife to Mumbai from Hyderabad in a bus.The kids who were rescued from Nayeem’s den were sent to various state homes in the city on Wednesday. Acting on an appeal made by Balala Hakkula Sangam (BHK), the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) recorded their statements. The CWC has confirmed that nine of the children are minors. The committee has recorded their statements including their native places and why they were brought to Nayeem’s den. A source from the CWC said that all the nine children were aged between 8 and 18. “We have sent the five girls to the Kasturba home at Narsingi and the four boys to the Saidabad home,” the source said. (Deccan Chronicle 11/8/16)

83. 41 Maoists surrender in Chhattisgarh (12)

RAIPUR: Forty-one people, said to be members of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist), surrendered to the police in the insurgency-hit Narayanpur district of south Chhattisgarh on Saturday, according to the Chhattisgarh police. “In a major success of the consistent anti-Maoist campaign, which is underway in Bastar, 41 Maoists including three women from Benur area of Narayanpur decided to leave the path of violence and join the social mainstream on Saturday,” said Narayanpur district Superintendent of Police Abhishek Meena. “They were active in the Maoist organisation for over seven years and involved in many anti-police and criminal activities,” the SP added. (The Hindu 14/8/16)

84. Chattisgarh: Four Naxals killed in clash with security forces (12)

Raipur: Four Naxals, including a ‘commander-rank’ woman cadre, were on Wednesday gunned down while a jawan was injured in an encounter between security personnel and the ultras in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district. The skirmish took place in the wee hours of Wednesday in the restive Dabba-Kunna hills when the joint team of CRPF, District Reserve Group and STF was out on an anti-Maoist operation, according to Dantewada Superintendent of Police Kamlochan Kashyap. “While four cadres were killed, a jawan was also injured in the face-off,” he said. Based on specific inputs, the operation was launched by security forces last night to flush out ultras hiding in the forests near Dabba and Kunna villages, the SP said. The two villages are located on top of a hill which lies along the Dantewada and Sukma districts border, about 500 km from the state capital Raipur. A group of armed Naxals opened indiscriminate fire at the security personnel close to Dabba village following which an encounter broke out between the two sides. In the face-off, four ultras, including a woman, who were armed with country-made weapons and explosives, were killed, the SP said. Two ‘commander-rank’ cadre including a woman are among the killed ultras, he said. Besides, a DRG jawan sustained injuries in the incident, he said. During a search, the bodies of the killed Maoists and at least seven firearms and a huge cache of Naxal-related items were recovered from the spot, Kashyap said. Reinforcement was rushed to the spot and efforts are on to evacuate the injured jawan, he said, adding that further details are awaited. (Indian Express 17/8/16)

85. Commando injured in Naxal encounter in C’garh dies (12)

Raipur: A District Reserve Group (DRG) commando who was critically injured in a fierce encounter with Naxals in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district, today died at a private hospital here. Constable Aditya Pratap Tanwar (25), posted with DRG in Dantewada district died at around 8 AM at Ramkrishna Care Hospital here, a police official told PTI. His body was sent to his native place Pali in Korba district where he will be cremated with full honours, the official added. The jawan had sustained three bullet injuries in his stomach in the gun-battle with ultras that took place in the restive Dabba-Kunna hills under Katekalyan police station limits yesterday. Four ultras, including a ‘commander-rank’ woman cadre, were also gunned down in the skirmish. The operation was jointly launched by a team of CRPF, DRG and STF based on specific inputs about presence of ultras in the forests near Dabba and Kunna villages, located on top of a hill which lies along the Dantewada and Sukma districts border, about 500 kms from here. Lauding the bravery of the martyred jawan, Station House Officer (SHO) of Katekalyan Police station Vijay Patel said, Aditya, armed with Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL), most of the time led the patrolling party from the front during their operations in the area. Being a member of DRG, a locally raised specialised force to counter left-wing extremism, Aditya had face off with ultras many a time and every time he successfully thwarted the Maoists, the SHO said.During yesterday’s operation also Aditya was in the lead position, carrying UBGL, when security forces spotted a Naxal hideout in the forests close to Dabba village, he said. On sensing security personnel, rebels opened indiscriminate fire on them following which Aditya immediately launched retaliatory action which was equally matched by his other colleagues, the SHO said. According to his colleagues, Aditya’s timely action caused maximum damage to ultras’ camp giving them no opportunity to dominate further, said the officer. (Business Standard 19/8/16)

TRAFFICKING

86. 27994 Women and 23699 Children Rescued from Human Trafficking during 2014-16 (1)

New Delhi: As per the information available with the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Ministry of Home Affairs, a total of 27994 women were rescued from human trafficking under various purpose of human trafficking like Sexual Exploitation for Prostitution, Forced Labour, Begging, Petty Crimes, Removal of Organs and other reasons. 7568 were rescued in 2014, 16701 in 2015 & 3725 in 2016(till June). Similarly a total of 23699 children (below 18 years) were rescued from human trafficking under various purpose of human trafficking i.e. 7670 in 2014, 11954 in 2015 & 4075 in 2016 (till June). The Government of India is already undertaking measures to combat trafficking. The Ministry is implementing the scheme of Ujjawala” for prevention of trafficking and rescue, rehabilitation, re-integration and repatriation of victims of trafficking. The scheme provides for their rehabilitation through shelter, food, counseling, medical & legal aid and vocational training. Under the Ujjawala scheme, 162 Protective & rehabilitative Homes have been set up which can accommodate up to 8100 trafficked victims. In addition, the Ministry runs Swadhar Shelter Homes which also provides rehabilitation to women in difficult circumstances including trafficked victims and their children. There are 302 Short Stay Homes and 289 Swadhar Homes across the country which can accommodate up to 43370 women in difficult circumstances including trafficked victims. Besides, the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 supplemented by the Indian Penal Code prohibits trafficking in human beings including children for the purpose of prostitution and lays down severe penalties for trafficking. The Ministry also conducts advocacy, awareness generation, sensitization programmes for prevention of trafficking of women and children. Common factors leading to trafficking of women and children are illiteracy, lack of vocational skills, economic-distress, migration, growing consumerism, ill-treatment by parents/guardians, desertion by spouse, dejection in love and deception. This information was given by the Minister of State in the Ministry of Women and Child Development , Smt. Krishana Raj in the Rajya Sabha today. (Business Standard 11/8/16)

87. As human trafficking rises 60%, 6 reasons new bill falls short (1)

Every day, 15 Indians are traded against their will to be, among other things, sexual slaves or forced labour, but a draft law to prevent India’s growing tide of human trafficking cases — which rose 60 per cent in the four years to 2014, the last year for which data are available — is being criticised for six reasons. It is clear that existing laws under four acts are failing. From a decadal perspective, the trafficking of minor girls surged 14 times over the decade ending 2014. Girls and women comprised 76 per cent of human-trafficking cases that year. Human trafficking in India for sexual slavery has grown in concert with economic growth, IndiaSpend reported in April 2016. To address these failures and create a one-stop law to address diverse facets of human trafficking– sexual slavery, begging, forced labour and organ trafficking — a draft bill called Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2016, will be introduced in the next session of Parliament by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, and it comes up short on these counts: * The draft bill has not clearly defined trafficking, whether it would include those taken for organ harvesting or forced labour. * The draft bill does not talk about modes of rehabilitation and who will be responsible. * The draft bill does not refer to the cross-border repatriation of victims from Bangladesh, Nepal and other countries. * It is not clear how the government intends to set up the Organised Crimes Investigation Agency, as ordered by the Supreme Court, to investigate trafficking. * The draft bill talks about a special investigative agency, but its structure, composition, powers and function are unclear. *The draft bill talks of an Anti-Trafficking Fund, but it is not clear what the money will be used for. There is no mention of compensation to victims. The bill is being introduced “to prevent trafficking of persons and to provide protection and rehabilitation to the victims of trafficking and to create a legal, economic and social environment against trafficking of persons and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”. …  (New Indian Express 14/8/16)

88. Hyderabad: 17 kids in Nayeemuddin’s houses, cops probe trafficking angle (1)

Hyderabad: The Special Investigation Team probing the activities of gangster Mohammed Nayeemuddin, who was shot dead on Monday in an alleged encounter, has begun a separate investigation to determine if Nayeemuddin and his gang were involved in human trafficking. During raids at a house in Shadnagar on the outskirts of Hyderabad, and two houses in Cyberabad area, police found 17 children, including four adolescent girls. “They are all Nayeem’s distant relatives and relatives of relatives from extremely poor families of Nalgonda district. They were living in the three houses and were being taken care of by domestic helps and cooks. Although they are related to Nayeemuddin, we will investigate if there was any trafficking and sexual abuse of the children,’’ SIT chief Y Nagi Reddy said. The SIT also found photographs of Nayeemuddin dressed as a woman. Officials said that either he used it as a disguise to evade the police or he was into cross-dressing. The 17 children — in the age group of one month to 17 years — have been taken to District Child Welfare Homes, where they are being counselled by members of Child Welfare Committees of Mahbubnagar and Ranga Reddy districts. “The children are scared and unable to accept that Nayeemuddin is dead. They are in trauma. We are not ruling out sexual abuse,” an official who conducted the counselling said. The SIT dismissed reports that tribal girls from remote villages of Nalgonda were found at Nayeemuddin’s houses. “Of the 17, three are Nayeemuddin’s own children, three are children of a cook named Afsa and two children are of a care-taker Farzana. The rest all are children of distant relatives of Nayeemuddin or his wife Haseena. They have not seen their parents for several months, so we suspect they were either bought by Nayeemuddin for trafficking or abuse. They hail from very poor backgrounds,’’ the official said. Some of the older children have told counsellors that Nayeemuddin was their uncle, and that they also go to school. Mahbubnagar Child Welfare Committee chairperson T Sridhar said that of the nine children rescued from Shadnagar, where the alleged encounter took place, three girls are aged 14, 15, and 17. “The rest are all below 9 years age. They have not opened up but I don’t think they faced any abuse, sexual or physical. All of them are healthy and refer to Nayeemuddin as uncle,’’ Sridhar said. The police are also investigating four missing persons complaints, including those of a woman and her daughter in Nalgonda, and suspect that Nayeemuddin killed them. “We are looking at suspected murders of Nadeem, an acquaintance of Nayeemuddin; Nasreen, a resident of Bhongir; and mother-daughter duo Hina and Cheliya. They were associated with Nayeem but are reported missing for several months,’’ an SIT official said. The SIT has so far arrested or detained 20 gang members or associates of Nayeemuddin from Hyderabad, Cyberabad, Mahbubnagar, and Nalgonda districts. “We have identified 20 houses owned by Nayeemuddin under various names. The helpline that we started has received 60 calls today from people who were threatened by Nayeemuddin to sell their lands or were victims of extortion,’’ SIT chief Reddy said. He said that Nayeemuddin kept meticulous records of land deals and cash transactions, payments for his staff and associates. “Like an advocate maintains his case files, Nayeemuddin jotted down details of land survey number, area, market value of land and how much he paid for it, former owners’ names etc on a piece of paper and attached it to each file. We have found hundreds of such jottings,’’ another official associated with the investigation said. (Indian Express 15/8/16)

89. Delhi police busts human trafficking gang, arrests 8 (1)

New Delhi: A Special Investigation Team busted the notorious gang of human trafficking, operating in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and other parts of India. Police has arrested 8 accused in this case. During the course of this investigation, SIT conducted raids at the various districts of Punjab and Haryana i.e Mansa, Bhatinda, Patiala, Sangrur, Ambala and Kurukshetra. Two girls including one minor have been rescued from the clutches of accused Babli, the kingpin of above human trafficking gang, from her rented house at Kurukshtra. The rescued minor girl aged 15 yrs belongs to Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh while the other girl is from Muzaffarpur in Bihar. Khajuri Khas Police station registered a complaint from the resident of Janta Colony, New Jafrabad, who stated that her daughter aged 12 years was missing since July 2, 2006 from Khajuri Khas. After the registration of the case, an investigation was carried out by the Delhi Police fter almost 10 years on August 2, 2016, a girl came at the same police station and recorded her statement, stating that she was kidnapped in 2006 when she was on her way to visit her sister. In her complaint, the girl said that she was made unconcious after a handkerchief was put to her face and on gaining conciousness, she found herself in a room full of girls and boys. After enquiring from one of the girls, she was told that she is in Ambala and was brought there for sale following which she was injected to unconciousness. The next day when she regained her conciousness, she was taken to a jungle where a car was waiting to take her to Gujarat on the pretext of taking the girl back to her home. In Gujarat, the girl was kept in a house built in fields where she was raped repeatedly by two cousin brothers and their friend, beaten and forced to work in the fields. She was kept there for three years after which she was marrried to a 40-year-old truck driver. She was sold to 9 time in the year 2009 itself. (India Today 18/8/16)

CORRUPTION

90. Judicial inquiry into Goa cooperative bank scams: Goa CM (5)

PANAJI: The chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar said in Goa legislative assembly on Thursday that a judicial inquiry will be ordered into Goa State Cooperative Bank Ltd (GSCBL) after opposition benches alleged a deep-rooted corruption in the functioning of the Bank.The GSCBL, the apex financing agency in the cooperative sector has been mired in controversy during last few years for its alleged illegalities. Raising the issue during ‘question hour’, the independent legislator from Fatorda Vijai Sardesai said, the registrar of cooperative societies and chairman of the GSCSBL connived to sell properties of the bank worth crores of rupees; those properties were sold for peanuts. “The central registrar’s seal was misused. They forged documents,” said Sardesai demanding a judicial inquiry. Pointing at one such sale of property located in Baiguinim, Fatorda MLA said, SN Bhobe, the bank valuer in 1995 had estimated the value of 63000 sq meters of parcel of land at Rs 8.19 crore but an eleven years later the bank sold it for Rs 1.36 crore. (Times of India 11/8/16)

91. ’200 corruption cases pending in court for over 20 yrs’ (5)

New Delhi: There are 1,416 cases waiting for closure for more than 10 years, while 2,099 cases are pending between five and ten years, 1,015 cases between three and five years and 1,905 less than three years.Two hundred corruption cases against government officials are pending in courts for more than 20 years, but once a proposed amendment to anti-corruption law is passed, such situations will be a thing of past. There are 1,416 cases waiting for closure for more than 10 years, while 2,099 cases are pending between five and ten years, 1,015 cases between three and five years and 1,905 less than three years. This “very ghastly picture” was drawn by Chief Vigilance Commissioner K V Chowdary when he appeared before the Rajya Sabha Select Committee, which was examining the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill 2013.According to the amendment proposed for Section 4 of Prevention of Corruption Act, a special judge shall ensure the completion of the trial within a period of two years If the trial is not completed within two years, the special judge should record the reasons. The judge can seek more extensions, but the “total period for completing the trial shall not exceed four years”. Supporting the provision in the bill for setting a time limit, Chowdary said, “it makes no sense to have a trial after 20 years in corruption cases”. Of the total 6,635 cases, he said, even if one removes around 2,600 cases, which are less than four years, there are still 4,000 cases pending. His comments are part of the proceedings of the committee placed in the Rajya Sabha last Friday. However, in the panel, questions were raised whether Parliament can fix such a time frame and what would happen if the trial is not completed in four years. Chowdary said judgements by the supreme court show that if a trial is not conducted within a reasonable time, it will be quashed irrespective of the merit of the case. MPs also asked the same questions to which the top officials of department of personnel and training (DoPT) said the accused would not be acquitted on that basis. In its report, the panel headed by BJP MP Bhupender Yadav expressed hope that judges would complete trial within two years without seeking extension. (Deccan Herld 14/8/16)

92. Modi Govt. has completely failed in curbing inflation: NCP (5)

New Delhi, Aug. 15 (ANI): Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his claim that the BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre has been able to bring down the consumer price growth from 10 percent to six percent, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Monday said the ruling dispensation has completely failed in curbing inflation. “Nothing will work with estimation. The main thing is what were the prices of pulses, rice, vegetables, onions in 2014 and what it is now. You will get to know the reality. The government is a complete failure in curbing inflation,” NCP leader D.P. Tripathi told ANI. Tripathi said the most important and best thing about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech is to end red tapism. “He has stressed on that. That is why he has spoken on government’s Karya Sanskriti (work culture). The new work culture is that there should be immediate solution to problems,” he added. Escalating his attack, the NCP leader said the Prime Minister came to power by talking about black money and corruption, but there have been no discussion or progress in that regard. Raising his concern for the Baloch nationals, Tripathi said expressing sympathy with them is India’s duty. Addressing the nation after unfurling the national flag from the ramparts of the Red Fort this morning, Prime Minister Modi conveyed his greetings to 125 crore Indians at home and abroad and said that his government is surrounded with aspirations. He emphasized on sensitivity and accountability in governance. Outlining his government’s achievements, Prime Minister Modi said the government curbed inflation rates and will continue to work to ensure food plate of poor is not affected by inflation. Saying the government faced problems due to drought, he, however, hailed the farmers for increase in food grain production. He said sowing of pulses has increased 1.5 times this year and it will help solve problems of demand shortfall. Asserting that ‘unity in diversity’ is the whole essence of the Indian culture, the Prime Minister said there is no place for violence and atrocities in the nation. (ANI) (New Kerala 15/8/16)

93. Even money given for VVIP bandobast has been gobbled up (5)

SANGAREDDY: A higher official is one who keeps an eye on his subordinates and their activities. But what if the higher official himself pressurises his subordinate to resort to corrupt or illegal activities? The suicide on Wednesday by a sub-inspector of police for allegedly being pressurised by his higher officials to collect mamools (bribes or protection money) exposed the rampant corruption in the police department. Many other SI-level officers too might have faced the same situation. “Whatever you want to collect (from people), we must get our share or you will face the consequences,” a senior official allegedly told a newly-appointed SI. According to sources, police stations are  given the task of collecting bribes as per the potential of the area. After Kukunoorpally SI B Ramakrishna Reddy’s suicide, several lower-level officials are discussing harassment by higher officials. There are allegations that senior officials assign monthly targets to CIs and SIs. “Those who are not willing to collect bribes (mamools) get transferred,” an SI of the district said on condition of anonymity. A circle inspector-level officer was forced to seek transfer to a rural police station recently after he refused to collect mamools as per the demands of his superiors, sources said. Surprisingly, this collection of mamools is  continuing even after the government sanctioned maintenance expenditure of `50,000 to city police stations and `25,000 to rural police stations. There is another section who are also the troubled lot. “Constables too face the heat from his superior, the SI,”said a constable. They said the issue of bribe is not new in the department. Recently, ACB officials trapped a sub-inspector working at Tekmal police station. Usually, the expense incurred on police for making arrangements for VVIP bandobast is sent to the SP’s office by the government. From there it is disbursed to divisional level and then to lower level men. There are allegations that this money meant for making security arrangements does not often reach the police station level. It can be recalled that the relatives of Ramakrishna Reddy, who committed suicide on Wednesday, alleged that DSP Sridhar had demanded ` 4 lakh from the Kukunoorpally police station as share of the money received for arranging security during the  prime minister’s recent tour. A head constable from Sangareddy corroborated the charge area that the money allocated for VVIP tour bandobast would not percolate to the police station. (New Indian Express 19/8/16)

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

94. Culture festival caused damage to environment: NGT panel (9)

NEW DELHI: An expert committee appointed by the National Green Tribunal to assess the damage caused to the Yamuna floodplain due to Art of Living’s World Culture Festival recently submitted its report. NGT on Wednesday said the report had concluded that the festival caused damage to the environment but hadn’t quantified the damage in monetary terms yet. The tribunal, which was hearing an application by activist Manoj Mishra, said respondents could apply for copies of the report. All respondents, including AOL, were directed to submit their reply to the findings within three weeks. NGT also suggested that the ministry of water resources assign the assessment of monetary compensation to be paid by AOL to an independent agency . The expert committee that drafted the report based on site visits comprised Shashi Shekhar, secretary, water resources ministry, CR Babu of Union environment ministry , Prof AK Gosain from IIT-Delhi and Prof Brij Gopal from Jaipur. In February , NGT had directed the expert committee “to suggest steps for restoration of the damaged site and to suggest an approximate cost that Art of Living needs to pay for restoration”. The bench has now asked the expert committee to quantify the damage to the floodplains and “furnish the tentative cost of restoration”.AOL on Wednesday alleged that one of the members of the NGT’s expert committee had close ties with the petitioner, “which explains the unscientific functioning”. In a statement, AOL said it had filed a report by an “independent environment expert”, which stated that the WCF didn’t cause any damage to the floodplains. “Importantly, we have also filed an application to reconstitute the expert committee on the ground that the committee is biased. Our application has been filed on the basis of strong irrefutable evidence. The committee has admitted that it had, in the first instance, inadvertently recommended the compensation amount without any scientific assessment,” AOL stated. It added: “The NGT is yet to hear our application for reconstitution of the committee. Hence, it is not logical to take the report of the committee into consideration before our application is heard.”  (Times of India 11/8/16)

95. Zero tolerance over Ganga pollution: Environment Minister (9)

New Delhi, Aug 12 : Union Minister of State for Environment Anil Madhav Dave on Friday spoke about “zero tolerance” for pollution in the Ganga river, adding that government policies may be reconstructed from scratch if required. Dave told the media here that a solution to the long-pending issue of the Western Ghats will be found. “Let me make it clear that we have zero tolerance over the pollution in the Ganga. Even the treated water of tanneries in Kanpur, or other industries, if unfit for drinking, will not be allowed to flow into the river,” the minister said. Echoing Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya’s vision to maintain the water flow in the Ganga basin, the minister said: “Let’s not talk of saving Ganga, let’s talk of serving it.” “No one, in my knowledge, loved the Ganga as Malviya did. We will take ahead the document signed between him and British on the issue.” The 1916 document called for uninterrupted flow of a dedicated stream of the river through a canal and the main stream, while advocating for dams on the river. As for the flood situation in Bengaluru in Karnataka, where pollution and vanishing water bodies had prompted the authorities to take up massive demolition drives, the minister said: “That’s the file I have at the top of my table right now.” Speaking on the pending issue of conservation of Western Ghats where about 25 crore people live across an area of 1,29,037 sq km, the minister said the matter would be resolved within six months. “Every state has its own stand. We will take a clear stand on the issue within six month, keeping the people in mind,” he said. The minister who advocates conservation of nature with the indigenous people, said that his ministry will preserve the Ghats as well as the people living there.The Western Ghats that runs parallel to the western coast of India are spread over Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Its one of the eight biodiversity hotspot in the world and since 2010 two special committees formed for its conservation had submitted their reports in 2011 and 2014. “These must be roads and schools in those areas; people living there also deserve development. I will visit the most remote areas of the Western Ghats,” he said, adding that Tamil Nadu, which had not yet submitted its stand on the conservation, will clear its stand in a meeting soon. As for GM crops, the minister spoke of “innovation” while advocated “organic farming”, cautiously saying, “soil must not be spoiled; money should not flow outside the country”.”India needs people like Subhash Palekar, who used innovative zero budget farming, using organic methods, and set examples in Amravati in Maharashtra,” he said. (New Kerala 12/8/126)

96. Environment activists join hands to save the Hindon (9)

MEERUT: Environment activists from seven districts of Saharanpur and Meerut divisions joined hands on Sunday to save river Hindon, a tributary of the Yamuna. They have outlined a roadmap for the purpose, including creating awareness among villagers residing along the banks and taking legal actions against industries polluting the river. Various non-government organisations (NGOs) working for environmental causes in Meerut, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Baghpat, Ghaziabad and Gautambudh Nagar convened under the leadership of Krishan Veer Chaudhary of the Bhartiya Krishk Samaj to brainstorm on how to make the Hindon pollution-free. Naveen Pradhan of Research and Relief Society moved a proposal to appoint Chaudhary the convener of the movement, which was accepted unopposed. Vikrant Tongad of Safe Green says that Hindon merges into the Yamuna at Gautam Budh Nagar, where it is highly polluted. Director of NEER Foundation, Raman Tyagi, said that to draw more and more people to the movement, it had taken the help of social networking site Facebook. He said work was on to develop a website dedicated to river Hindon. A quarterly newsletter is also being published for the cause, he added. It was decided on Sunday that a workshop will be held in September in Ghaziabad where Uma Bharti, union minister of water resources and river development and Ganga rejuvenation, and union minister Sanjeev Balian, who is an MP from Muzaffarnagar, would be invited to share the ground reality of the dying river. In October, a Hindon Bachao Yatra will be launched from Saharanpur to Gautam Budh Nagar. (Times of India 14/8/16)

97. Art of Living event ‘completely destroyed’ Yamuna floodplains, expert committee tells NGT (9)

NEW DELHI: The ‘World Culture Festival’ extravaganza organized by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living (AOL) on Yamuna has “completely destroyed” the riverbed, an expert committee told the National Green Tribunal. “The committee observes that entire floodplain area used for the main event site i.e. between DND flyover and the Barapulla drain (on the right bank of river Yamuna) has been completely destroyed, not simply damaged. The ground is now totally levelled, compacted and hardened and is totally devoid of water bodies or depressions and almost completely devoid of any vegetation. “The area where the grand stage was erected (and the area immediately behind it) is heavily consolidated – most likely with a different kind of external material used to level the ground and compress it. Huge amount of earth and debris have been dumped to construct the ramps for access from the DND flyover and from the two pontoon bridges across the Barapulla drain,” the expert committee, set up by the NGT, told a bench headed by Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar. The tribunal had directed the seven-member expert committee headed by Shashi Shekhar, Secretary of Ministry of Water Resources, and senior scientists and experts from National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, IIT, Delhi and other agencies to inspect the site of the World Culture Festival held in March this year. The committee, in its 47-page report, has said that due to the three-day event, the floodplain has lost “almost all its natural vegetation” like trees, shrubs, tall grasses, aquatic vegetation including water hyacinth, which provides habitat to large number of animals, insects and mud-dwelling organisms. ….  (Times of India 17/8/16)

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

98. Maharashtra Cabinet approves climate-resilient agri project (20)

MUMBAI: In a bid to tackle drought and water scarcity as a result of climate change, the Maharashtra cabinet on Wednesday allotted Rs. 1.5 crore from the Emergency Fund to create 23 special posts to implement a project on climate-resilient agriculture. The project, which will be supported by the World Bank, aims at studying crop patterns and types as per climate change, which will help the State government tackle challenges faced by the farm sector. According to the government, the growth rate of agriculture is on the decline as a result of severe drought, heavy rains and water scarcity, thereby decreasing agricultural production and profit. The government has observed that such a situation is ultimately responsible for the rising number of farmers’ suicides. The project aims at suggesting changes in crop patterns and promoting extensions to agri businesses. “This will help farmers to not lose patience in adverse times and to ensure that they reclaim their original condition,” said a government official. The official added that the project would get financial aid from the World Bank and has received approval from the central government. The project management cell will be set up in Mumbai and will be responsible for creating a detailed project report, implementation plan and its functioning. (The Hindu 11/8/16)

99. Centre told to consider farmer’s plea to use pathway (20)

Madurai: The Madras High Court Bench here has directed the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and the State government to consider permitting a farmer owning a piece of cultivable land atop a hill in the midst of a forest at Vadakadu in Dindigul district to use an existing pathway. Justice M. Venugopal passed the order while disposing of a writ petition filed by S.M. Jaya Prakash, the recent purchaser of the farmland from the widow of its previous owner who had been cultivating the property for long as it was the practice among many hill rangers in and around Ottanchattram to grow vegetables on private lands in forest areas. “Cultivation of vegetables finds a place in the forest area for more than 100 years and access to patta lands is through reserve forest area wherein at several junctures, rights vested in those jungles are highly recognised. Vegetable production is the source of livelihood of several farmers as the lands in between the said forest is ideal for cultivation,” the petitioner said. He sought a direction restraining District Forest Officer and his subordinates from obstructing his access to the pathway used for transporting vegetables from his private land. Contesting the case on behalf of the DFO, an Additional Government Pleader claimed that the petitioner had so far not made any written request seeking permission for utilising the existing pathway. The judge directed the petitioner to first submit a representation to the Dindigul Collector within four weeks, seeking a certificate that the pathway was the only access to his land. On receipt of such a certificate from the Collector, he was ordered to make a representation to the DFO. The DFO, in turn, was directed to forward the representation to the State Forest Secretary through the Chief Conservator of Forests. The Secretary “is directed to send all the papers to the Central Government for approval. It is open to the Secretary, Union Ministry of Environment to pass necessary orders expeditiously as possible,” the judge said. He restrained forest officials from preventing the petitioner from using the pathway until the Centre takes a decision on the issue. (The Hindu 17/8/16)

 

100. The unsung heroes of Telangana farmlands (20)

HYDERABAD: Parched lands. Ruined crops. Crying faces. The state has seen the highest number of farmer suicides in the country and perhaps not as many details in their lives, dependent largely on uncertain rains, have been covered. But when it is done by some students, especially when they contribute some money for the peasants through their photography, it feels art is standing up for the peasants. As part of a photography workshop done in the villages of Telangana, Saurabh Chatterjee, the city-based photographer and his students contributed `500 to the Hasnabad Farmer Services Producer Company. He partnered with RangDen an NGO, and now since the workshop is complete, the photographs are on display at Lamakaan till August 21. Entitled ‘A Summer Day In Telangana’ the exhibition features life-like photographers of farmers ploughing their fields or women with the shiny sickles in their thin, bony hands. In June the entourage visited Chinna Nandigama and Pedda Nandigama villages in Mahbubnagar and shot the pictures. It was just after the onset of monsoon. “After the first monsoon shower, farmers start sowing the seeds which is what we captured in some photographs,” says Saurabh. One of the photographs shows a farmer with his oxen and plow while the dust envelopes his feet in thick sheet. The toil continues in other photographs hanging on the wall and suddenly you see bursts of colours i.e., rural women in bright red, green and yellow colours working in the fields. Sometimes they are looking at the camera, in some pictures away from it. But a sturdy determination is written on their faces hardened by time. The movements of their hands tell you that a man can be destroyed, but can’t be defeated. Some of the photographs tell you what the peasants may have gone through. For example, a black and white photograph shows a woman’s fingers holding the keen edge of a sickle as if she were used to hold cruelty with naked hands. The strength transcends even in the still wheel of a bullock cart abandoned by some farmer who is still there in its shadows. (New Indian Express 17/8/16)

101. Denied loan eligibility cards, tenant farmers plan state-wide protest (20)

Hyderabad: Upset with the state government for the delay in distribution of loan eligibility cards (LECs), over 14 lakh tenant farmers in the state are planning to organise a state-wide protest on August 26 and 27. According to revenue records, the government has renewed only 894 loan eligibility cards since May this year. While surveys commissioned by both government and various organisations show there are over 14 lakh tenant farmers in the state, the TRS government, in 2014, fixed a target of covering only 4.15 lakh tenant farmers under loan eligibility certification. However, the government issued only 44,000 cards in 2014-15 and 57,000 cards in 2015-16. This year, the number has not even crossed the 1000 mark. “The government’s lack of focus on farm sector is forcing farmers to raise their voice. The tenant farmers are the most distressed in the state. A widespread agitation has been planned and the tenant farmers will hold two-day dharna in front of revenue offices across the state on August 26 and 27,” said Teegala Sagar, general secretary of Telangana Tenant Farmers’ Association. The tenant farmers desperately need the LECs as possession of the card is mandatory to avail crop loans from banks. Without the cards, they are also not eligible to receive subsidies on seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides. The cardless tentant farmers are also left out of any relief scheme related to crop loss following calamities like drought or flood. Even their families are not eligible for government relief in case they commit suicide. “Over half of the 2,400 farmers who committed suicide in the last two years are tenant farmers. Over 40 per cent active farmers are tenants. It is astonishing to note the government is not serious about addressing this large chunk of the farming community,” said P Padma, general secretary of Telangana State Rytu Sangham. Admitting the lack of progress in issuing LECs, deputy chief minister Md Mahmood Ali who holds the revenue portfolio said, “The problem is that we are coming across many bogus cases. Hence we need to do due diligence. However, we have instructed revenue officials to not delay in issuing cards to genuine beneficiaries, and there will not be further delay,” Mahmood Ali said. (Times of India 19/8/16)

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

102. Narmada activists demand CBI probe into rehabilitation ‘scam’ (4)

Bhopal, Aug 10 : Alleging a scam of Rs 1,500 crore in the Sardar Sarovar rehabilitation project, activists of the Narmada Bachao Aandolan in Madhya Pradesh have demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the issue. The activists claimed that as per the report of the S.S. Jha commission, constituted to look into alleged irregularities in the rehabilitation project, those affected did not receive the cash compensation but the middlemen, in collusion with the officers, pocketed the money. In a press conference, several persons associated with the Narmada Bachao Aandolan, including former Madhya Pradesh Chief Secretary Sharad Chandra Behar, said the Jha commission report proved that there were irregularities in four districts — Barwani, Dhar, Alirajpur and Khargone — where around 45,000 families have been affected. The activists said: “It was decided that those affected by the Sardar Sarovar project will be given land in exchange of land. That happened in Maharashtra and Gujarat but in Madhya Pradesh, it was decided that cash in lieu of submerged land would be provided.” “The farmers who lost more than 25 per cent of their land were to be given Rs 5.58-6.60 lakh,” the activists said. The activists also demanded suspension of the officials named in the Jha commission report. (New Kerala 11/8/16)

103. Jharkhand CM meets villagers protesting land acquisition by NTPC (4)

Ranchi: Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das on Tuesday met villagers protesting against the acquisition of land for NTPC’s Pakri-Barwadidh coal mining project and told them no injustice would be done to them. Das met about 300 people from Barkagaon in Hazaribagh district here in the presence of senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha and his son Jayant Sinha, who is currently a central minister and represents Hazaribagh in the Lok Sabha. “The Chief Minister heard the villagers’ grievances and suggestions. He told them he will hold a meeting with NTPC officials and that no injustice will be done with anyone,” Yashwant Sinha told reporters later. Sources said the villagers told Das that they wanted Rs one crore for every acre of their land. Das assured the villagers their concerns will be addressed. He said only the needed farmland will be acquired and the displaced people will be properly rehabilitated. Also present during the meeting was Congress MLA Nirmala Devi who represents Barkagaon in the state assembly. She said: “NTPC is doing work without properly acquiring the land.”The opposition in Jharkhand has united against land acquisition by the public sector National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) as well as “undue favours” being accorded to private companies in land acquisition in the state. The Pakri-Barwadidh coal block in Barkagaon block of Hazaribagh was allocated to NTPC in 2010, but work could not start due to the local villagers’ protest. In the past, police had also fired at the protesters, killing one. An FIR was lodged on July 24 against opposition leaders, including former chief Minister Babulal Marandi and former central Minister Subodh Kant Sahay, and 400 people for allegedly trespassing in a prohibited mining area. Jharkhand is currently ruled by a coalition of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU). (Business Standard 16/8/16)

104. 381 acres acquired for landless Dalits: Pocharam (4)

NIZAMABAD: Agriculture Minister Pocharam Srinivas Reddy said that under the land acquisition scheme 2016-17 to distribute land to landless Dalits, the district administration has so far acquired 381 acres as against the 783 acres by spending Rs.19 crore. Addressing the gathering after unfurling the tricolour on the 70th Independence Day celebrations on Police Parade ground here on Monday, the Minister expressed pleasure over the district getting recognition in the State in respect to the implementation of the Haritha Haram programme. Earlier, he received the guard of honour on his coming to the ground. Students from Vasavi High School, KGBV, SR High School, Tribal Welfare Residential School, and Vignan High School participated in the march-past and staged cultural events which enthralled the audience. Certain departments presented tableaux on their schemes.On the occasion, Mr. Reddy presented cheques relating to assets worth Rs. 40 crore to 2,045 self-help groups. He also distributed commendation certificates to 174 persons, including 163 government employees, for their services. Rajya Sabha MP D. Srinivas, ZP chairman D. Raju, Mayor Akula Sujatha, MLCs, MLAs, Joint Collector A. Ravinder Reddy, and Superintendent of Police P. Vishwaprasad also participated in the celebrations. (The Hindu 16/8/16)

105. Villager cry for mining rights (4)

Hazaribagh, Aug. 16: Azaadi Bachao Andolan convener Mithilesh Dangi, who is spearheading villagers’ protest against NTPC in Barkagaon, today demanded that land owners be given the mining rights for extracting coal lying beneath their fields. He cited the Supreme Court verdict of July 8, 2013, (in the case No 4,549/2,000), which stated that rayats would be the real owners of minerals found under their land. “Land of Barkagaon is highly fertile and gives three crops a year. So a large number of farmers are not willing to part with their plots. And, the land acquisition Act of 2013 says a company cannot acquire land if 70 per cent of the rayats are not ready to sell it. We didn’t want to give our land, but if the government wants to take out coal, it must follow the apex court verdict. We want mining rights,” he said. In 2011, villagers had formed three companies – Chirudih Barwadih Thermal Power Production Company Ltd with 15 promoters, Lakhura Thermal Power Production Company Ltd with 17 promoters and Kole Thermal Power Production Company Ltd with 17 promoters. claimed that the villagers would be benefited the most if they were allowed to carry out mining on their land. To drive his point home, he claimed that the 12,000 acres acquired by NTPC at Pankri-Barwadih in Barkagaon boasted estimated 1,600MT of coal. The market rate of coal is Rs 3,000 per tonne, which means one acre holds reserves worth Rs 40 crore. Now, NTPC will have to spend Rs 1 crore for compensation and salaries in next 30 years. Then, the PSU will have to pay Rs 1.5 crore as royalty and cess; Rs 16 crore will be the mining cost and Rs 1.5 crore will be miscellaneous. “Therefore, the total expenditure for mining in an acre will be around Rs 20 crore, which means the profit will be Rs 20 crore,” Dangi”Thus, NTPC will earn Rs 2,40,000 crore as profit from Pankri-Barwadih over the next 30 years. Even the government will earn Rs 18,000 crore as cess and royalty.” “And if villagers are given the mining rights, they will earn this profit,” he added. (The Telegraph 17/8/16)

RIGHT TO HEALTH

106. National deworming for children across 27 states/UTs conducted (3)

NEW DELHI: The National Deworming Day, a flagship initiative of the Government of India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, was conducted across 27 states and union territories on Wednesday. National Deworming Day is a nationwide, preschool (anganwadi) and school-based deworming programme that aims to provide all children between the ages of 1-19 years with deworming treatment. “On this day, Albendazole 400 mg chewable tablet was administered to children in anganwadis, government, government-aided, and some private schools as well as children who are out-of-school or are unregistered inanganwadis. The mop-up day, on August 17, will be conducted to reach children who did not get dewormed on deworming day due to sickness or absenteeism,” said Priya Jha, country director, Evidence Action. Given the health and educational impact that worm infections can have on children, parents were encouraged to send their children to schools andanganwadisand take the deworming tablet on. “Based on WHO guidelines the Government of India has mandated that 27 states and Union Territories conduct a second round of deworming as per prevalence rates. School-based mass deworming program is safe, cost-effective, and can reach millions of children quickly. Deworming has been shown to reduce absenteeism in schools; improve health, nutritional, and learning outcomes; and increase the likelihood of higher-wage jobs later in life,” said Jha. Side effects are mild and can include nausea, vomiting, and dizziness especially in children with high worm loads. The first National Deworming day was conducted in 2015 in 11 states, treating 89 million children.This year, 33 states took part in the February 2016 roundwhen179 million children were dewormed. India has the highest burden of parasitic worms in the world. Parasitic worms in children interfere with nutrient uptake, and can contribute to anemia, malnourishment, and impaired mental and physical development. According to the 2012 report ‘Children in India’, published by the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation, Government of India, 48% of children under the age of 5 years are stunted and 19.8% are wasted, indicating that half of the country’s children are malnourished. (Times of India 11/8/16)

107. Family takes TB patient home untreated believing it to be ‘God’s wish’ (3)

DEHRADUN: Believed to be an incarnation of local God of Chakrata, a 65-year-old patient of tuberculosis was taken back home without treatment on Friday as his family felt his condition was “God’s wish” and not a medical problem. Mangat’s (name changed) family refused the doctors from operating him as they said that he had directed his family to not let any medical practitioner treat him as it would be an insult to God. According to the doctors, Mangat was admitted at a hospital on Wednesday by his son and daughter-in-law and was diagnosed with severe abdominal tuberculosis as his stomach was filled with fluid. His pathology report showed tuberculosis of advanced stage for which he needed immediate medical attention. However, when the man was being prepared to be taken inside the operation theatre for a minor surgery on Friday, he went into a frenzy and scared the hospital staff with his violent acts. His family then refused to put him under treatment and said he was an incarnation of a local God who felt it was an “insult” to be treated by doctors. They further said it was not a medical problem but a “heavenly fault”.Doctors are now worried that patients like Mangat might be a source of TB in the hills. According to medical experts, there are many TB patients in hills who abstain from treatment as so-called local deities have stopped them from taking medicines due to some curse. The TB section of health department now plans to alert its TB teams at local health facilities in Chakrata area to tab such patients and put them on medicines as most of them have left treatment midway due to superstition. (Timeas of India 12/8/16)

108. 65 mentally ill people kept naked for 6 months in Bengal hospital, say rights activists (3)

HYDERABAD: Rights activists have taken to Facebook and Twitter with photos of persons with mental illness that they claim have been kept without any clothes for the last 6 months in a government-run mental hospital in Behrampore town of West Bengal. They have demanded a judicial intervention into the human rights violation issue and said they would approach the National Human Rights Commission and the Supreme Court within a day or two. The rights activists have tried to the bring the issue to the notice of the PMO, official handle of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Minister of Health and Family Welfare J P Nadda by tweeting to them. “In the female ward, some 25 inmates are kept nude and in male ward, some 40 are kept without clothes since the past six months,” said Kolkata-based mental health rights organisation Anjali founder Ratnaboli Ray. The rights organisation has claimed that despite bringing the issue to the notice of state department of health and family welfare and subsequent visit by Chief Medical Officer of Health, Murshidabad district, Subhasish Saha, not much has changed in the wards. “In spite visit of Director, Health Service, Government of West Bengal, Dr Biswaranjan Satpathy five months back, the inmates are kept naked besides being physically abused,” she alleged. Advocate Gaurav Bansal in New Delhi said he would file the complaints. “I will file a complaint at the National Human Rights Commission on Tuesday or would approach the Supreme Court on Wednesday,” he said.”Keeping the inmates nude violates several fundamental, sexual and international rights laid down by the UNCRPD,” he added, adding that the government is bound to follow up on the issue when brought to their notice. “No follow up on the issue shows their insensitivity,” he added. Meanwhile, CMOH Saha did not refute or confirm the allegation but invited journalists from all over West Bengal to come to the hospital and check for themselves. (New Indian Express 15/8/16)

109. NHRC notice to Bengal over mental hospital’s condition (3)

New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday issued notice to the West Bengal government over alleged poor maintenance of a mental hospital in the state. The commission sought a detailed report from the West Bengal government on the Berhampore Mental Hospital, along with the status report on its other similar hospitals in the state. The commission observed that on Independence Day, a team of NGO Anjali visited the government-run mental hospital and found naked men and women patients lying on dirty floors. “They had not bathed or shaved for months, with visible signs of various diseases. The toilets were so filthy that nobody could use them. The bedsheets were full of bugs. Reportedly, the Hospital Superintendent refused to make any comments when approached by the team. The Chief Medical Officer also denied the calls made by the NGO,” said a commission statement. The NHRC said the state-run hospital is bound to take care of its patients. The commission said mentally ill persons are also entitled to the inalienable rights available to other human beings. They are entitled to be treated with dignity, decency and equality and cannot be discriminated against. “There is an ardent need to educate and change the attitude of the public authorities towards the persons suffering from mental illnesses,” the NHRC said. (Business Standard 18/8/16)

HIV/AIDS

110. HIV-related retroviruses originated 60 million years ago (3)

HIV is part of a subfamily of retroviruses called lentivirus and using genomic data from the exotic Malayan flying lemur (colugo), researchers have claimed to have uncovered the oldest lentivirus ever identified, whose first emergence may date back to as early as 60 million years ago. Lentiviruses cause a variety of chronic diseases in mammals — ranging from the most notorious example of HIV/AIDS in humans to various neurological disorders in primates — yet little is known of their evolutionary history and origin. Until recently, the oldest known lentiviral lineages — in lemurs, rabbits and ferrets — have been found to date back to 3-12 million years ago. The new study published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution pushes back the origin of HIV-related retroviruses to 60 million years ago. “We hope that our findings will allow virologists to better understand how lentiviruses evolved and how their hosts developed defenses against them,” said lead researcher Daniel Elleder from Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague, Czech Republic. For the study, three samples of colugo genomic DNA containing lentiviral remnants were sequenced and ancient viral genomes were reconstructed and analysed. In future studies, the team wants to follow the timeline even deeper into the past by surveying a broad spectrum of animals, hoping to identify more pieces of the puzzle of lentivirus evolution. (Times of India 11/8/16)

111. 20% of injectible drug users are afflicted with HIV in India (3)

NOIDA: 20% of Injectible drug users are afflicted with HIV in India, said an official of Narcotics Control Bureau of India on the occasion of celebration of International Youth Day. Rohit Sharma, Dy Director (Policy & Coordination), Narcotics Control Bureau of India also shared that the problem of drugs has become very acute in India and Delhi/ NCR is as badly and gravely affected as Punjab and North East India, the only difference being in the type of drugs being used. He was addressing students at a “Sensitization Workshop against Drug Misuse”in Amity university campus on Friday Bringing out the socio-economic gap between the drug consumption habits of people,he said ,”Rural population generally consumes poor versions of smack whereas urban and affluent population consumes synthetic drugs like Cocaine, Meow Meow and often misuse the OTC drugs.” Elaborating on the laws against drug use and selling ,he said that unlike other Indian laws, narcotics laws are very stringent and the minute a person is caught with drugs; he is presumed to be guilty till the time, he is able to prove otherwise. He also explained the link between drug use and HIV infection.”When people take intravenous drugs they share needles, which ups the chances of HIV and Hepatitis cases,” he said. On being questioned by a student about why opium cultivation is not banned in India, considering the grave threat it poses after being converted into heroine and other drugs, Sharma said that banning or prohibition is not a solution since it is bound to create “rebellion” and eventually, possibly leading to a spurt in the use of heroin and related drugs. (Times of India 12/8/16)

112. Mizoram Church leaders urged to combat HIV/AIDS menace (3)

 AIZAWL, Aug 13 – Mizoram Health Minister Lal Thanzara on Friday appealed to the Presbyterian Church’s Mizoram Synod leaders to take active part in combating the menace of HIV/AIDS in the State. In a ‘Consortium on HIV Prevention and Drug Abuse’ held in Aizawl and attended by leaders of the Mizoram Synod, Lal Thanzara said Mizoram has the second highest incidence of HIV/AIDS in the country next only to Nagaland. “Unless coordinated efforts are being made by the government and the church from now, the spread of HIV/AIDS will be beyond control after a period of five years,” he warned. Synod Moderator Rev H Lalrinmawia said the Presbyterian Church has taken steps to combat HIV/AIDS and would continue to do so by cooperating with the State Government. At least 11,374 of the 3,52,737 blood samples tested, have been found to be infected with HIV in the State since October 1990, the meeting was informed, adding around 75 per cent of those infected got the dreaded disease through sex. The alarming fact was that majority of those infected through sex did not belong to the high-risk groups like sex workers or intravenous drug users, according to the Mizoram State AIDS Control Society (MSCACS) officials. – PTI (The Assam Tribune 14/8/16)

113. Revealing their HIV positive identity cost these workers their jobs (3)

New Delhi: The Delhi Commission for Women received a representation from 15 former outreach workers who are HIV positive, regarding the fact that they had been arbitrarily removed from their jobs. From 2008 onwards, these workers had been employed on a contractual basis on the Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission Program (PPCT) of NACO. In order to effectively carry-out their roles as outreach workers, these individuals had self identified to the community and their families as HIV positive, risking social marginalisation, as they believed that they had the support of NACO. However, since December 2015, these 15 outreach workers have been in dire straits because the NACO grant for their project was transferred out of Delhi, an executive decision regarding which the real stigmatised population in question, these outreach workers, were never consulted. In their presentation to the commission, these Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV) had informed us that they had no livelihood and no means of support, and that their health status was deteriorating rapidly as they could not afford good food, vital for their regimen. The commission subsequently wrote to the Delhi State AIDS Control Society (DSACS) and was informed that DSACS had no funding to support these PLHIV as the same had been suspended from NACO. When the commission wrote to NACO for reinstatement of these workers, NACO provided a non-committal response, which forced the commission to approach the Health Minister of India J.P Nadda about the issue. In a positive turn of events, the commission is in receipt of a letter from Nadda which assures us that he will be looking into the matter. The commission will try and meet the health minister along with representatives of the outreach workers, to help with the reinstatement process. The commission also plans to pursue the disabilities faced by HIV positive women in a sustained dialogue with the union health ministry. (India Today 17/8/16)