HR News

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Volume 18                                          No. 31 & 32                                   November 10 & 20, 2016

HR NEWS:  November 10 & 20, 2016

 (From November 1 to 20, 2016)

 DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

1. Dalit, ST groups to rally for constitutional rights (2)

KOLHAPUR: Various Dalit and Scheduled Tribe (ST) organisations will hold the Sanvidhan Sanman (Constitution Honour) rally on December 17 here to press their demands before the state government.The groups have been demanding for changes in reservation and the Atrocity Act. Social activist Vidhydhar Kamble said, “The rally is not against any community. We are dealing with our own issues. We demand strict implementation of the Atrocity Act, nationalisation of land, capital punishment for the Kopardi rape case accused and scholarships for backward classes. The government should act upon our demands. The next meetings be at the taluka-level. We are appealing for greater participation.” (Times of India 2/11/16)

2. Temple temporarily sealed as caste Hindus insist on Dalit ban (2)

TIRUVANNAMALAI: An uneasy calm has enveloped Namandi and Hariharapakkam villages under Venpakkam Taluk in Tiruvannamalai district. Ever since the Thulukanathamman Temple in Hariharapakkam was thrown open for the Dalits, a cold war has been brewing, with the caste Hindus allegedly discriminating against the former to express their displeasure. On one hand is the caste Hindu community, reluctant to dilute its age-old custom by allowing non-members entry into Thulukanathamman Temple in Hariharapakkam, while on the other are the Dalits, wanting to cast away the shackles of superstitions. The sparks flying out due to the friction between a penchant for dogmas and an ardent desire for change has transformed these two villages, where the caste Hindus and the Dalits, till a few days ago, led a relatively peaceful co-existence into a tinderbox, with the policemen keeping a watchful eye to keep the simmering tension from spilling onto the streets. Policemen stand guard outside the sealed Thulukanathamman Temple in Hariharapakkam on Wednesday | s dinesh Located seven kilometres away from Venpakkam-Kancheepuram Main Road, Namandi is home to about 160 Dalit families. “There are about 1,800 caste Hindus living in the two villages. The surrounding villages too have predominantly a caste Hindu presence. We Dalits number around 500. These days, every Dalit member walks on the streets in fear,” says a 55-year-old Dalit resident in Namandi Colony. The issue started snowballing on July 22 last when a group of Dalit youth from Namandi petitioned Cheyyar Sub Collector R Prabu Shankar, sought the right to participation in the Thulukanathamman Temple festival, conducted in the third week of Aadi (August). When the officials organised a peace meeting with the caste Hindus of Hariharapakkam, the latter refused to allow Dalits into the temple. The caste Hindus claimed that the century-old temple belonged to members of their community. When after a series of peace talks the parties failed to arrive at a consensus, the officials unilaterally decided to throw open the temple for the Dalits. On October 25 last, the Cheyyar Sub-Collector opened up the temple for Dalits. Around 200 Dalits entered and offered prayers in the temple. (New Indian Express 3/11/2016)

3. TN temple temporarily sealed as caste hindus insist on Dalit ban (2)

TIRUVANNAMALAI: An uneasy calm has enveloped Namandi and Hariharapakkam villages under Venpakkam Taluk in Tiruvannamalai district, Tamil Nadu. Ever since the Thulukanathamman Temple in Hariharapakkam was thrown open for the Dalits, a cold war has been brewing, with the caste Hindus allegedly discriminating against the former to express their displeasure. On one hand is the caste Hindu community, reluctant to dilute its age-old custom by allowing non-members entry into Thulukanathamman Temple in Hariharapakkam, while on the other are the Dalits, wanting to cast away the shackles of superstitions. The sparks flying out due to the friction between a penchant for dogmas and an ardent desire for change has transformed these two villages, where the caste Hindus and the Dalits, till a few days ago, led a relatively peaceful co-existence into a tinderbox, with the policemen keeping a watchful eye to keep the simmering tension from spilling onto the streets. Located seven kilometres away from Venpakkam-Kancheepuram Main Road, Namandi is home to about 160 Dalit families. “There are about 1,800 caste Hindus living in the two villages. The surrounding villages too have predominantly a caste Hindu presence. We Dalits are around 500 in number. These days, every Dalit member walks on the streets in fear,” says a 55-year-old Dalit resident in Namandi Colony. The issue started snowballing on July 22 last when a group of Dalit youth from Namandi petitioned Cheyyar Sub-Collector R Prabu Shankar, sought the right to participation in the Thulukanathamman Temple festival, conducted in the third week of Aadi (August). When the officials organised a peace meeting with the caste Hindus of Hariharapakkam, the latter refused to allow Dalits into the temple. The caste Hindus claimed that the century-old temple belonged to members of their community. When after a series of peace talks the parties failed to arrive at a consensus, the officials unilaterally decided to open the temple for the Dalits. On October 25 last, the Cheyyar Sub-Collector opened up the temple for Dalits. Around 200 Dalits entered and offered prayers in the temple. However, when the caste Hindus took to the streets opposing the official action, tension gripped the villages, forcing Tiruvannamalai Collector Prashant M Wadnere to issue an order to close the temple doors the very next day. Ever since the October 25 incident, the peaceful relationship the two communities shared was strained. “Four share autos ply in the village, ferrying people to the main road. However, ever since our entry, we are not allowed into three autos operated by caste Hindus,” claims a college student. Another Dalit recalls the friendly relations the community shared. “Some of us own agricultural land and cultivate paddy. Caste Hindus work as daily wage labourer on our lands, attending to all chores and even sharing our food and water. However, they steadfastly opposed our entry to the temple,” he adds. Stating that the Dalits entering their temple was a breach of faith, a cross-section of caste Hindus said that the deity of Thulukanthamman was their Kula Theivam (guardian of their community).  (New Indian Express 6/11/2016)

4. Give quota to dalits in sports to win gold in Olympics: Udit (2)

New Delhi: India will win gold medals at Olympics, if quota is offered to Dalits in sports, a BJP MP from the community claimed today as he made a strong pitch for reservation to the community in line with that given to blacks in US and South Africa. “Reservation should be extended to Dalits in each of the sports. In South Africa, quota is offered in their cricket team. The US too pitches for blacks, who slog, work hard in athletics. There are not many whites in athletics.”…If reservation is offered here in sports, we too will win gold medals,” BJP Parliamentarian Udit Raj said today. Udit Raj made the remarks while speaking to reporters here on the issue of extending quota to Dalits in various areas of private sector including sports.”You go to US, there is a partnership with non-whites in each sector. In South Africa, reservation is given to Negroes even in a sport like cricket. There can’t be more than five whites in cricket team,” he added. To a question, the Parliamentarian, one of the key Dalit leaders of the saffron party, also hit out at BSP chief Mayawati over her criticism of BJP that atrocities against community members have gone up in the states ruled by the NDA major. “Rather, Dalits faced atrocities more during Mayawati’s regime in Uttar Pradesh. Her allegations are unfounded,” he said. Udit Raj insisted on bringing reforms in judiciary and police system to ensure the number of alleged attacks on Dalits goes down. “There have been atrocities against Dalits in the past too. We have flagged the issue in Parliament many a times. Such incidents though will not go down until these reforms happen. We need social reforms too,” he said. The Parliamentarian targeted Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP too for allegedly not keeping promises of regularising contractual community teachers and sanitation workers into Delhi government services and said he will raise the issues among Dalits across the national capital. “They sought votes of Dalits ahead of assembly elections, but kept none of the promises made to the community. I will be fanning parts of the national capital where community populace is concentrated to tell people facts,” he said. At the Rio Olympics held earlier this year, India bagged two medals: a silver in badminton and bronze in wrestling both in women’s category. (Business Standard 9/11/2016)

5. Sangrur clash: 70-yr-old Dalit woman dies in PGI, farmer unions protest outside DCs office (2)

Sangrur: Tension had gripped Jhalur village in Sangrur in October after a clash between Dalits and landlords, which left 30 people injured. The clash took place over the common land between upper caste landlords, allegedly supported by local Akali leaders, and Dalits, who are members of the Zameen Prapti Sangharsh Committee. On Saturday, hundreds of activists of the Sangharsh committee, Bharti Kisan Union (Ugrahan), BKU (Ekta –Dakaunda), Krantikari Pendu Mazdoor Union and members of some other organisations gathered outside the DC office and raised slogans against the state government and the police. “The landlords with the support of the police and political leaders assaulted Dailt families, but the police have not arrested them. Our around 17 members were arrested. The goons, who attacked Dalits and assaulted the elderly woman, are roaming free, only two persons were arrested,” said a Sangharsh committee member, Gurmukh Singh. He said, “We demand immediate arrest of all the culprits, who attacked Dalits. They should be charged under Section 302 (murder) instead of 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code”. “Senior superintendent of police Pritpal Singh Thind, along with other police officials, who had not performed their duties, should be suspended,” he added. The protesters have decided not to cremate the body of the woman till the arrest of the accused. Around 150 protesters decided to spend night outside the DC office. However, the body of Gurdev Kaur was not handed over to the family till late evening by the PGI authorities. Senior superintendent of police Pritpal Singh Thind said, “Police were not aware of whereabouts of the woman. We didn’t know where she was during the past days but the police have started investigation and the accused will be arrested soon.” (Hindustan Times 13/11/2016)

6. Dalit party to field Rakhi Sawant against Mayawati in UP (2)

ALLAHABAD: Union minister and Republican Party of India chief Ramdas At hawale on Sunday said that his party was hoping to contest the upcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly polls in alliance with the BJP and considering to field actress Rakhi Sawant against Mayawati if the BSP supremo contests.  Mayawati has, for quite some time, been shying away from herself fighting polls, be it for the state assembly or the Lok Sabha.We would like to see if she is going to change that this time. If she does, we would field Rakhi Sawant who is our women’s wing president, from the very seat the BSP chief chooses for herself,” Athawale told reporters here. The Union minister said his party was “an integral part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and hence we would like to fight the upcoming assembly polls in alliance with the party which is our senior coalition partner”.”But if such an alliance does not materialise, RPI will go ahead and field its candidates in more than 200 out of 403 assembly segments of UP. “We think it is necessary since dalits of Uttar Pradesh have been feeling shortchanged by the BSP and they are yearning for an alternative,” Athawale, who is the minister of state for social justice and empowerment, said. Tracing its origins to the Scheduled Castes’ Federation of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, the RPI came into being in the late 1950s and wields considerable influence among the dalits of Maharashtra. However, it has been riven by factionalism leading to formation of several splinter groups. In the recent past, Athawale has succeeded in bringing together all these splinter groups under the banner of RPI (A) with the exception of the faction led by Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar. (Times of India 14/11/2016)

7. Dalit Samiti stages protest, demands facilities for employees (2)

Mandya: The Karnataka Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (B. Krishnappa faction) has urged the State government to fix minimum wages for Dalits working at gram panchayats and other local bodies. A group of members of the Samiti took out a protest march from the Bengaluru-Mysuru highway to the office of the Deputy Commissioner here on Tuesday.According to them, employees of various grades at gram panchayats and urban local bodies (ULBs) were facing insecurity following the absence of minimum wages and other social security benefits. The agitators urged the government to release salaries of all Dalit employees by the fifth of every month. They also demanded pension, health insurance, provident fund and other facilities for Dalit employees. The State government was also urged to implement the Justice A.J. Sadashiva Commission Report, which recommended reallocation of reservation among communities grouped under Scheduled Castes, immediately. Later, they submitted a memorandum to the government through the office of the Deputy Commissioner. (The Hindu 15/11/2016)

8. Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani refuses to seek bail, sent to jail (2)

Ahmedabad: Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani and three of his associates were sent to judicial custody after they refused to apply for bail following their arrest in connection with a protest, police said today.Mr.Mewani, who has emerged as the face of Dalit protest after the Una cow vigilante incident, and 19 others were arrested by the police for allegedly trying to block a busy road near the Gujarat University here last evening. They were arrested under IPC sections 143 (unlawful assembly) and 188 (disobeying orders of public servant), said inspector G S Bariya. “When we produced them before the court late last night, 16 of them agreed to take bail while Mewani, Subodh Parmar, Dixit Parmar and Rakesh Maheria refused to seek bail. So as per the court’s order we sent them in judicial custody at Sabarmati Central Jail,” said inspector Bariya. Mr.Mewani and other agitators from Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch had gathered outside the University demanding that the under-construction building of its law department be named after Dr B. R. Ambedkar. “To make their demand heard, protesters sat on dharna on road after removing their shirts. When they were produced before the court, Mr.Mewani and three others refused to take bail to register their protest against Gujarat government,” said their lawyer and a key member of city-based NGO Jan Sangharsh Manch, Shamshad Pathan. “Earlier the government had promised to hold a meeting with Dalit leaders on various issues including the Una Dalit flogging incident. As no such meeting has taken place yet, Mr.Mewani and three others decided not to seek bail to register their protest,” added advocate Pathan. (The Hindu 16/11/16)

TRIBALS

9. SHRC notice on Vanarmare tribals (6)

PANAJI: The Goa State Human Rights Commission on Tuesday directed the South Goa Collector to provide basic amenities to members of the Vanarmare tribe. The huts belonging to around 15 Vanarmare families were vandalised in Central Goa by local villagers on October 16. The Commission directed the Collector to provide food, water, solar panels and other amenities to the tribals till they were rehabilitated. He has to submit a compliance report within 15 days. (The Hindu 2/11/2016)

10. State women’s commission to visit tribals on Fri (6)

Panaji: The Goa State Commission for Women will visit women belonging to the Wanarmare tribe on Friday to inquire about their situation and address their needs, chairperson Vidya Shet Tanavade told TOI on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the director of civil supplies and consumer affairs has instructed the civil supplies inspector at Ponda to release and distribute five kg of rice and half kg of sugar under the disaster management quota to each of the tribe’s beneficiaries. The inspector has also been directed to collect the required quantity of sugar from the godown of the Goa State Cooperative Marketing and Supply Federation Limited and to make necessary arrangements to distribute the commodity to the affected families immediately. A compliance report will subsequently have to be prepared and sent to the director of civil supplies. Aid for the afflicted Wanarmare tribe continues to pour in from citizens residing within the state and beyond. Sources said people from various walks of life came to the succour of the tribals much before the state government was coerced into action by the Goa State Human Rights Commission. So far, clothes, bedding, food, mobile chargers, solar lights, tables, chairs and various other items have been donated to the Wanarmare families by several individuals. Bio-toilets are also being set up. (Times of India 2/11/2016)

11. Govt mulls amending rules to ease granting of land titles to forest-dwellers (6)

New Delhi” :  Tribal ministry retreats on forest rights, says land can be diverted for mining Ministry changes stance on tribals’ forest rights Taking consent from tribal gram sabha is not practical: Anil Madhav Dave NDA’s forest policy begins to fall into place. To ease the process of granting land titles to forest-dwellers, the government is mulling reducing the strength of quorum for gram sabha meetings that consider the claims of villagers for land deeds under the Forest Rights Act. As per the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Rules, 50 per cent of members of a gram sabha should be present to form the quorum for hearing such claims. “It is often difficult to form the quorum, which in turn delays the process of granting forest land to villagers on which they are traditionally dependent. Also, in the process, genuine claimants suffer. So it was strongly felt that the strength of quorum should be reduced,” a senior Tribal Affairs Ministry official said. When the rules were framed in 2007, the requirement of quorum was two-thirds of all members of the gram sabha. As such quorum was often difficult to meet, in September 2012, the rule was amended to reduce the quorum strength to 50 per cent of members. Under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, traditional forest dwellers make claims for forest rights to get the title of the land on which they are dependent. As per the rules, a forest-dweller files his claim for land title to the gram sabha which after examining it, if found authentic, refers to the Sub-Divisional Level Committee (SDLC). The SDLC further ascertains the veracity of the claims. The functions of the SDLC also include hearing petitions from persons, state agencies, aggrieved by the resolutions of the gram sabhas, raise awareness among forest-dwellers about the objectives and procedures laid down under the Act and in the rules. It also ensures that the gram sabha meetings are conducted in free, open and fair manner with requisite quorum. The SDLC then refers it to the District Level Committee which considers and finally approve the claims. (Business Standard 6/11/2016)

12. Buldhana rape case: 17 people arrested; SIT to question 105 tribal girl students (8)

Buldhana: 17 persons arrested * Main accused Etusingh Pawar brought 50 girls to the school, so that it could avail of tribal grantsThe Maharashtra government has set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT), which will question 105 tribal girl students studying at the tribal school in Hivarkheda village in Buldhana district, where 12 teenagers were allegedly raped by school staffers. On Saturday, the local police arrested 17 people from the school. As per the FIR, the accused are charged under IPC Sections 376 (2) (f,i,n), 109 , 2 (N and F), the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, and the SC and ST Atrocity Act. An investigating officer said that six girls have so far complained about sexual assault. While two of them admitted to being raped, four others admitted to being sexually molested. “If more girls complain of sexual abuse, their medial examination will be conducted and more complaints will be registered,” he said. DNA has obtained a copy of the FIR, which says that the girls were raped multiple times by the accused. The accused allegedly raped them at knifepoint and threatened to kill them if they resisted. Sources said that the main accused, Etusingh Pawar, used to persuade tribal students to join the school. Sources said that he was doing this, so that the school trust could avail of grants and other benefits. Pawar’s job, they said, was to roam around the remote tribal areas and get students for the school. This year, he enrolled 50 students and was given the temporary assistant’s post in return. School authorities also assured Pawar that he would be made permanent if he continued to enroll more students.The SIT is being led by Arati Singh, Superintendent of Police, CID, Nagpur. The other officers in the team comprises Shweta Khedkar (Additional SP, Buldhana), Rupali Darekar (Deputy SP, Khamgaon), Bharati Gurunale (Assistant Police Inspector) and two woman constables. Darekar said that they have already started their investigations. “We have got the list from the school. Most of the tribal girl students are based in Jalgaon, Akola and Buldhana. We have set up multiple teams that will visit their locations to record their statements and obtain other information,” she said. Another woman official said that it would take at least a week to meet all the girls as most of them live in remote and hilly areas where they cannot take their vehicles. “It will take a week or so to meet all the 105 girls. Since we realise that because of fear and social stigma, they may feel reluctant to speak out about the incidents, we are taking along psychologists. Counselling is very important as all girls are minors.” (DNA 6/11/2016)

13. Protect tribal rights: Absu (6)

Kokrajhar, Nov. 8: The All Bodo Students’ Union (Absu) has urged the Assam government to immediately implement the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. It has also demanded protection of all tribal belts and blocks, eviction of encroachers, provision of land rights to landless tribal people and inclusion of the non-panchayat villages of Sonitpur district, as ordered by the governor of Assam, under the Panchayati Raj Act, 1994. The demands were made by Absu general secretary Lorence Islary while addressing a three-hour programme at Nyokum festival ground at Chariduar in Sonitpur today as the chief guest. Hundreds of locals participated in the programme. A memorandum was submitted to Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal on the issues.”It is the right time for encroachers to be evicted to ensure the security of the tribal people and to provide land rights to indigenous landless tribals, which is necessary to provide social security and protect the lands of the tribal people,” the Absu leader said. Islary said chapter X of the Assam Land and Revenue Regulation Act, 1886, has provisions for protection of tribal belts and blocks in the state but it has failed to protect the land of tribal people because of lack of initiative from the state government. The Absu said the people of Sonitpur were deprived of all facilities because of non-implementation of panchayati ra. “Ironically the same people who cast their votes in Assembly and Parliament elections do not have the right to participate in panchayat elections. Hence they are deprived of many government schemes,,” said Bibeka Brahma, president of Sonitpur district committee of Absu. (The Telegraph 9/11/2016)

14. Tribals denied entry into upper-caste crematoriums in MP (6)

Neemuch: A tribal family in Neemuch had to cremate a relative under police protection after being denied entry into the village’s three crematoriums allegedly meant for upper-caste people, underscoring a deep-seated social divide in Madhya Pradesh’s interior areas. The incident happened after 45-year-old Ratni Bai, a Bhil tribal woman, died of heart attack at Kanakheda village, 10km from district headquarters Neemuch, on Wednesday.Husband Shantilal said the tribal do not have their own cremation ground and he was denied permission to cremate his wife in the three crematoriums.Frustrated, the family approached Neemuch police and Bai was finally cremated in a government land. A posse of policemen was on guard in case any unrest flared up. All crematoriums at Kana-kheda belong to upper-caste groups The crematoriums at Kana-kheda belong to the Meenas, Medhwals and Brahmins, all upper-caste groups. There are around 600 households in the village, with 50-odd tribal families. Tribals are often harassed over cremation rights. This was not a one-off incident as tribal people are often harassed over cremation rights. The family of Noji Bai, another tribal Bhil woman, endured a similar ordeal in Ratangarh, Neemuch, on September 2. Family didn’t have money to purchase wood for funeral pyreThe poor family didn’t have money to purchase wood for the funeral pyre and a nagar panchayat official refused help when he was approached. Left with little option, the relatives decided to make a pyre out of garbage. But senior government officials got wind of it and provided wood. The Bhils are the nation’s second largest tribal community and considered the original inhabitants of central India. Caste divisions and rapid urbanization have reduced members of this community, once known as a warrior tribe, into social pariahs in the countryside. Bhils are not even allowed to use crematoriums of other communitiesThe discrimination is so deep that Bhils are not even allowed to use crematoriums of other communities. “We have to hunt for a new place every time somebody dies,” said Banti Bhil of Kanakheda. Radheyshyam Nagda, speaking on behalf of the sarpanch, admitted that the village crematoriums are exclusive to each social group and people from other communities are not allowed. “We have asked for land for a crematorium for the tribals, but it is pending with the administration.”District collector Rajneesh Shrivastava promised to expedite the land allotment process. “This tradition of having separate crematoriums for different castes is not followed in any other village in the area. I will look into the matter,” he said.. (Hindustan Times 11/11/2016)

15. Uniform Civil Code: Law Commission open to suggestions from tribals (6)

NEW DELHI: With a section of the tribal population up in arms against the government’s move seeking opinion of the Law Commission on possibility of having the Uniform Civil Code, the panel said it was “open” to objections and suggestions from the community. “The tribal community should make representation before the Commission. We would also like to know their stand,” Law Commission Chairman B S Chauhan told PTI. He said the Commission considers tribals as a stakeholder in the entire exercise in which representations are coming from various communities. “The tribals can also participate and debate in the entire exercise,” the former apex court judge said. The opposition from a section of the tribal community assumed importance as a group has also moved the Supreme Court contending that the government was making an attempt to impose the UCC which will be against their ethos, customs and religious practices. The Rashtriya Adivasi Ekta Parishad, a group that claims to work for protecting Adivasi interests, has filed a petition in the apex court seeking protection of their customs and religious practices, including their right to practice polygamy and polyandry. Further, it has contended that any attempt to impose the Uniform Civil Code would have adversely impact on their distinct customs, culture and heritage. The petition in the apex court claimed the Adivasis (tribals) had their own personal laws and do not come in the category of Hindus as they worshipped nature instead of idols and performed burial of the dead.”In case of Uniform Civil Code, the Adivasis’ right to perform marriage, worship, last rites and other ceremonies would be abrogated,” the NGO said. The petition is likely to come for hearing when the apex court will take up a batch of matters relating to the validity of triple talaq and polygamy in the Muslim community. (Times of India 13/11/2016)

16. Tribals in Sunabeda plateau hit by demonetisation move (6)

BHUBANESWAR: Diju Jhankar, a member of Chakotia Bhunjia, a particularly vulnerable tribal group, waited for months to receive the second instalment for construction of his house under Indira Awas Yojana granted to him in Sunabeda, a dense forested region in Odisha’s Nuapada district. But when he withdrew the amount and was about to resume construction, he was hit by the Centre’s sudden demonetisation move. “There was no problem in depositing the amount and withdrawing the same in future. But, we will forego day’s labour for depositing the amount in a bank, 30 kms away from my village,” said Diju. Diju is not the lone beneficiary of IAY houses sanctioned under the Sunabeda Area Development Programme (SDP). Several tribals in remote Sunabeda and Soseng gram panchayats in Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary would be inconvenienced. Sunabeda plateau is one of the acutely LWE-affected areas in the State. During past few months, most IAY beneficiaries from Sunabeda area had gone to banks several times to check if funds had been transferred to their account. According to reports reaching from different districts, villagers in remote and inaccessible region were clueless about coping with the situation. Meanwhile, in another development the Odisha government announced that line departments were prepared to disburse old age pension in 6,000 gram panchayats on November 15. Pensions will be paid in hand as most panchayats were devoid of banking facilities. As per the State government, Rs 140 crore will be distributed among 35 lakh beneficiaries under different social security schemes. (The Hindu 15/11/2016)

17. Thousands of tribals in Gadchiroli embrace ‘original’ dharma at Dibhna (6)

Gadchiroli: Thousands of tribals returned to the fold of their own ‘original’ faith of nature’s worship in the ceremony held at Dibhna (Mal) in Naxalite-affected Gadchiroli district on Wednesday. Initiator of this move, Dr Vinayak Tumram read out 16-point pledge at ‘Adiwasi Nisarga Dharma- Swadharma Purnarsthapna Samaroh’ and crowd recited it vowing to practise the true traditions and customs of tribal religion henceforth. Several spiritual and social leaders including founder of Shiv Dharm Parishad and Maratha Seva Sangh, Purushottam Khedekar, president of Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sangh, Shirpad Sabnis, Father Anthony D’souza, sufi litterateur Dr Muhammad Aazam, sikh cleric Milkitsingh Bal, Pandit Rakesh Shastri, and others were present as guests during the programme. Several other political leaders were also invited to the programme but all of them except former MLA Ramratan Raut skipped it. Tumram, who is also president of Adiwasi Dharmanusandhan Trust, Ballarpur, presided over the programme. He explained that tribals did not belong to Hinduism or any other religion, faith or sect. They have had their own culture, traditions, customs, festivals etc. but it was marred by practices taken from others. “However, we have to now re-establish our own religion. This tribal-dharma will have its own identity separate from other religions. This move will definitely bring change into our lives,” he said. Tumram also pointed out that there were different tribes like Gond, Bhill, Kolam, Madiya, Pradhan, Munda, Santal, Urav, Meena etc. He maintained all these communities worshipped nature in their own ways. “This found-again ‘Aadiwasi Nisarga Dharma’ will serve as means to eradicate casteism among tribals and bring entire community on one stage,” he said in his presidential address. (Times f India 17/11/16)

18. Spiritual leaders from different religions laud the move (6)

Nagpur: Thousands of tribals returned to the fold of their own ‘original’ faith of nature’s worship in the ceremony at Dibhna (Mal) in Gadchiroli district on Wednesday. Dr Vinayak Dr Tumram’s book “Adiwasi Aur Unka Nisarg Dharm’ was released on the occasion. Spiritual leaders from different religions lauded the move and welcomed Tumram’s efforts to bring the scattered tribal communities back into their own faith. They said every religion propagated good values and if people followed their own faith in true sense, there would be no disparity. Khedekar claimed that tribals, although having their own culture and practices, never had their own religion in a true sense. Therefore people from other religions like Hinduism, Christianity and Islam lured them into different folds. “Tumram’s move will put a brake on practice of conversion. Now tribals will have their own religion that upholds their values and culture. I am confident this will help stall exodus of tribals to other faiths,” he said. (Times f India 17/11/16)

WOMEN

19. India lost 2.55 crore girls in two decades to infanticide: Report (8)

New Delhi: Just a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi put girls at the centre stage at Haryana’s Golden Jubilee functions, pledging to save the girl child, comes a report revealing that India has lost 2.55 crore girls in the last two decades to female foeticide. In other words, between 1991 and 2011, the country has been losing an average of over 13 lakh girls every year to infanticide owing to sex-determination tests. In comparison, the conviction rate in the cases of sex selection filed under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994, was 1 in 1,23,755. These are some of the findings of a report on the Act to be released Thursday (today) by the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR). The study, ‘The State of the PC&PNDT Act: India’s losing battle against female foeticide’, further reveals that between 1994 and 2014, only 2,266 cases of infanticide under Sections 315 and 316 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and 2,021 cases under the PCPNDT Act were filed. Between 1994 and 2014, only one in 12,614 cases were filed under the PCPNDT Act. Of these, there were convictions in only 206 cases, implying that the conviction rate was one in 1,23,755 cases. In 17 states and six Union Territories, not a single case was registered under the PCPNDT Act. Of the 1,663 cases of foeticide registered between 2000 and 2015, as per NCRB data, Madhya Pradesh topped with 360 cases, followed by Rajasthan (255), Punjab (239), Maharashtra (155), Chhattisgarh (135) and Haryana (131). The PCNPDT Act is one of the key Acts the Centre has promoted since it came to power. Yet, in a review meeting held a year after the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme was launched, 42 of the worst districts saw a decline in the Child Sex Ratio (CSR) . Of these, Dibang Valley (Arunachal Pradesh), Lakshadweep and Yanam (Puducherry), saw a steep decline in CSR of more than 200 points. The report also says that the government under-reports the number of missing girls. It cites a report, ‘Children in India 2012 — A Statistical Appraisal’, to quote that increasingly declining sex ratio “led to the missing of nearly 3 million girl children compared to 2 million missing boy children in 2011, compared to 2001.” “This is wrong on two counts. First, it does not take into account that the decadal growth of population – from 1.028 billion in 2001 to 1.21 billion in 2011 – which would have resulted in the birth of more girls between 2001 and 2011 in actual terms. Second, the Census is conducted every 10 years and the CSR covering 0-6 years of age excludes those in the 7-10 years of age group and indeed does not reflect the actual number of missing girls during the decade,” says the report. The failure to implement the PCPNDT Act, the report states, is due to various factors. They include under-utilisation of funds, non-renewal of registration, non-maintenance of patient details, absence of regular inspection, lack of mapping and tracking of equipment. The report states that, as per the CAG report on the Act, under-utilisation of funds led to the allocation of only Rs 7.09 crore (35%) under the projected requirement of Rs 20.26 crore during 2010-14. The CAG report also revealed that in Uttar Pradesh, the inspection of 100 ultrasound clinics revealed that 1,326 cases (68%) did not have registered medical practitioners, while the details of the procedure were not mentioned in 1,110 cases (57%). (DNA 3/11/2016)

20. UCC must focus on gender equality, says women’s body (8)

NEW DELHI: The doors of Lucknow resident Mumtaz Fatima’s matrimonial home shut on her face one day when she returned from work. She had been given talaq over the phone. She filed a case of domestic violence against her husband and sought maintenance for her child in a court of law. That was 2010 and Fatima is still fighting for justice. For hope, Fatima only has to look at Mubina Qureshi from Ahmedabad. Mubina holds a PhD in Islamic Feminism but her education did not prepare her for the injustice meted out to her. Mubina’s demand for ‘khula’ (divorce) to get out of a bad marriage went unheeded under the Muslim personal law by the community and clerics. After years of turmoil, she found justice only when she turned to the courts this year. Today, both Fatima and Mubina are part of the movement led by National Federation for Indian Women (NFIW) that is demanding focus on gender justice and equality. NFIW has demanded abolition of triple talaq in one sitting and stated that it will back Uniform Civil Code if it covers all religions and focuses on the principle of gender equality. The federation’s general secretary Annie Raja has alleged that the ruling NDA government was highlighting the Muslim personal law for political gains in the UP elections next year. NFIW referred to the All India Mkuslim Personal Law Board as “just an NGO” that does not represent the entire Muslim community, adding that it will urge the Chief Justice of India to ensure all stakeholders are heard by court in a case in this regard. “All women are discriminated against by personal laws of all religions. Gender equality and gender justice is not a religious issue; it is a socio-political and legal issue of the country as a whole. Ensuring these as enshrined in the Constitution, is the responsibility of the state and people irrespective of religion and caste,” NFIW has emphasised in a statement. (Times of India 3/11/2016)

21. Spousal violence on women higher in rural areas (8)

GUWAHATI, Nov 6 – Almost a quarter of married women in the State have experienced some form of spousal violence, while around half the women of Assam in the age group of 15-49 years own a house or land and have a bank account. As per findings of the recent National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16), 24.5 per cent married women in the State have experienced spousal violence. In the urban areas of Assam, the corresponding rate was 15.9 per cent, while it was 26.2 per cent in the rural areas. However, the total numbers have shown a downward trend since the third round of NFHS in 2005-06 when 39.4 per cent of women ever married in the State had reported similar experiences of spousal violence. NFHS-4 also found that 52.3 per cent of women in Assam in the age group of 15-49 years owned a house or land, either alone or jointly with others, including 45.9 per cent women in urban areas and 53.7 per cent in rural areas. Similarly, 46 per cent women in that age group have a mobile phone that they themselves use. Over 71 per cent women in urban areas of the State and 40.7 per cent in rural areas have their own mobile phones, the survey found. The previous survey of 2005-06 had not covered these two parameters.The percentage of women in Assam having their own bank account has also gone up during the period between the two surveys. As per NFHS-4, 45.4 per cent of women have a bank or savings account that they themselves use. The figure in urban areas was 61.5 per cent and in rural Assam it was 42.1 per cent. The corresponding figure during the third round of NFHS in 2005-06 was only 11.7 per cent across the State. As many as 87.4 per cent of currently married women and in the age group of 15-49 years in 2015-16 reported that they usually participate in households decisions compared to 88.1 per cent in 2005-06. NFHS-4 also found that 17 per cent women who had worked during the last 12 months prior to the survey were paid in cash, as against 25.8 per cent in 2005-06. However, knowledge about HIV-AIDS still remains very low among young women in Assam, the survey found. Only 9.4 per cent women in the age group of 15-49 years had comprehensive knowledge about HIV-AIDS. It was only a marginal increase from the figure of 8.2 per cent reported in NFHS-3 in 2005-06. The National Family Health Survey 2015-16 was the fourth in the NFHS series and it provides information on population, health and nutrition. The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had designated the International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, as the nodal agency to conduct NFHS-4. (The Assam Tribune 7/11/2016)

22.  ‘Keep birth database to curb female foeticide’ (8)

NEW DELHI: Noting that the “female child is entitled to enjoy equal rights that a male child is allowed to have,” the Supreme Court issued a series of directions to clamp down on the crime of female foeticide, including an all-India database to keep tabs on the number and gender of new-borns. In a judgment, a Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and S.K. Singh said the menace of female foeticide corroded human values and the constitutional identity of a girl child “cannot be mortgaged to any kind of social or other concept that has developed or is thought of.” “When a female foetus is destroyed through artificial means, which is legally impermissible, the dignity of life of a woman to be born is extinguished. It corrodes the human values,” Justice Misra, who wrote the judgment, observed. The Bench passed 16 directions to ensure immediate and effective implementation of the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act and the Rules framed thereunder. All the States and the Union Territories in India shall maintain a centralised database of civil registration records from all registration units so that information can be made available from the website regarding the number of boys and girls being born. “The information that shall be displayed on the website shall contain birth information for each district, municipality, corporation or gram panchayat so that a visual comparison of boys and girls born can be immediately seen,” the Supreme Court observed. It also directed that States and Union Territories, which do not have any incentive schemes for the girl child, shall frame the same. Noting that courts hearing cases of female foeticide should expedite hearing, the court requested the Chief Justices of High Courts to constitute a committee of three judges to periodically oversee the progress of these cases. “The present generation is expected to be responsible to the posterity and not to take such steps to sterilise the birth rate in violation of law … dropping of sex ratio still remains a social affliction and a disease,” the court held. The court passed the verdict while disposing of a PIL by NGO Voluntary Health Association of Punjab. (The Hindu 9/11/2016)

23. Trump fared well with women voters despite sex assault claims (8)

Los Angeles: Despite sex assault allegations hounding him, fat-shaming a former beauty queen and his controversial abortion stand, a large number of women voters helped put Donald Trump in the White House. Though his rival, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, clinched 54 per cent of the female vote, Trump was backed by 42 per cent of women voters, which contributed to his stunning victory, according to CNN exit polls. Some 53 per cent of white women voters supported the Republican candidate, CNN said, the majority of them (62 per cent) non-college educated. The results upended predictions that sexist and degrading comments Trump made against women would sway female voters – who accounted for about 52 per cent of the electorate Tuesday – in favour of a candidate that could have broken the glass ceiling. Experts said the outcome is not surprising, and reflects an election in which issues about the economy, jobs and immigration were much higher on all voters’ priority list than gender issues. “At the heart of it is what was driving all voters,” said Diane Heith, professor and chair of the Department of Government and Politics at St John’s University in New York. Heith said although the leaked Access Hollywood tape in which Trump boasted about groping women, and his disparaging comments about a former Miss Universe had made many women cringe, it was not enough to turn them against the candidate. “There was no sisterhood created,” Heith said. “The issue of how he treated women did not overshadow the attitudes these individuals already had – being disaffected and how they had been treated by the establishment elite of which Hillary was absolutely part of.” Still, the real estate magnate’s shock win has left many women struggling to cope with the election of a president whose misogynistic behaviour was disregarded at the polls. “More than half of white women voted for the man who bragged about committing sexual assault on tape, who said he would appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v Wade … who has spent 30-plus years in the public eye reducing women to their sexual attributes,” wrote LV Anderson in an article in the online current affairs magazine Slate. “White women sold out their fellow women, their country, and themselves last night,” added the author. “Most white women don’t want to be part of an intersectional feminist sisterhood. Most white women just want to be one of the guys. And we will all suffer for it.” One issue of particular concern for women – both Democrats and Republicans – will be how Trump deals with abortion rights while in the White House. (Deccan Herald 10/11/2016)

24. Newly wed killed over dowry in Muzaffarnagar (8)

Muzaffarnagar: A newly wed woman was killed by her father-in-law over dowry demand in Sikreda village of the district, the police said on Sunday. Sarita’s father-in-law was arrested on Saturday after some villagers complained that she has been missing since Friday, SHO Prakash Mishra said. During interrogation, the accused revealed that he killed her and dumped the body in a drain, he said. The police recovered Sarita’s body with her throat slit from the drain and sent it for post-mortem, Mr. Mishra said. Sarita was married to Rajkumar in April was harassed by her in-laws and husband over dowry demands. Her other in-laws including the husband are absconding. – PTI (The Hindu 14/11/2016)

25. ‘India’s income will go up by 27% with women participation’ (8)

WASHINGTON: India’s national income would increase by 27 per cent if the participation of women in the workforce matches the level of men, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde has said. Delivering a speech on “Women’s Empowerment: An Economic Game Changer” in Los Angeles, Lagarde said equal pay and better economic opportunities for women boost economic growth and create a bigger pie for everyone to share. “Empowering women can be an economic game changer for any country. For instance, if women were to participate in the labour force to the same extent as men, national income could increase by five per cent in the US, nine per cent in Japan, and 27 per cent in India,” she said yesterday. Better opportunities for women also promote diversity and reduce economic inequality around the world, she added. “To put it differently: if you discourage half the population from fully participating in the labour market, you are essentially behaving like an airline pilot who shuts down half his engines in mid-flight. Sure, your plane will likely continue to fly, but it would be such a crazy thing to do,” Lagarde said. Noting that across the globe women were still facing a triple-disadvantage and are less likely than men to have a paid job, Lagarde said only half of the world’s working-age women were employed. “If they do find paid employment, it is more likely to be in the informal sector. And if they eventually get a job in the formal sector, they earn, on average, three-quarters as much as men- even with the same level of education, and in the same occupation,” she said. Lagarde said governments have a key role to play when it comes to economic incentives that provide women a fair shot in the labour market. “We need to promote affordable childcare, parental leave, and workplace flexibility. We need to increase women’s access to finance and remove legal barriers that still exist in most countries,” she said. “We also need to push for smarter tax policies, including here in the US. Think of tax reforms to help low-income families, which are disproportionately headed by women. And think of the benefits of reducing taxation on secondary earners in households, who are–again–mostly women,” she added. .. (Times of India 15/11/2016)

26. Sexually harassed women of LED factory approach MP Congress for help (8)

BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh Congress will raise the issue of sexual harassment of women employees in a LED and tube lights manufacturing plant in the assembly during the winter session. Senior Congress MLA from Bhind, Dr Govind Singh, told reporters here on Wednesday that young women employees in the factory located in Malanpur are allegedly subjected to discrimination, mental torture and sexual harassment. “Women working in this well-known LED bulb manufacturing company have complained to the local police, administration, women’s commission, even the chief minister’s helpline, but no one will rescue or take action against the company management,” Dr Govind Singh said. Congress claimed 23 women from the factory have come to the Opposition party seeking help from the company management. A young labourer woman consumed a poisonous chemical recently after she was allegedly sexually assaulted by two of her supervisors. “They would refuse payment to the women workers if they did not compromise,” said Kirti Tomar, HR official of the factory who has also come to seek shelter from the Congress party.Kirti Tomar told reporters that she was often asked to “prepare” girls and send them to the management bosses. “These women were helpless and were be mentally tortured and physically assaulted,” Tomar said. “They would come to me for help. Even though I was HR official, I had no authority to help these young women subjected to discrimination, mental and physical torture. When complaints were filed at the local Malanpur police station by Kirti Tomar, the same came back to the factory management the next day. The HR official’s salaries were stopped. If a victim complained, she was immediately branded as a patient with mental disorder.One of the victims who came to the state Congress office, wept profusely as she narrated her story of sexual harassment by her supervisors. She ran from pillar to post for help and was thrown out of the job allegedly because she took the complaint to the police. “I have some dispute with my husband, so I had to work for my living. I have an infant child to take care of,” she said. “I worked in the LED lights fitting department. In the middle of my work, two supervisors would call me at the rear of the factory and after that they used to misbehave. When I couldn’t take any longer, I consumed a poisonous chemical which is used in the factory. They took me to the hospital and I went to the police. They fired me.” (Times of India 16/11/16)

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

27. 2,007 child marriages prevented in State (14)

VIJAYAWADA: Notwithstanding the claims by the government in preventing child marriages and providing protection for women, child marriages, sexual assault (rape) and sexual harassment of minor girls were on the rise in the State. As many as 2,007 child marriages were prevented, 1,927 rape and 628 cases of minor being sexually harassed or rape had been reported from 2014 to 2016 (as on date) in Andhra Pradesh. Officials of the Women Development and Child Welfare (WD&CW), Juvenile Welfare and other departments identified about 7,818 children who were in need of care and protection and 427 missing child had been traced. The missing were rehabilitated with their parents and some were admitted to instituions. According to the WD&CW officials, 33 per cent of minor girls are being married (below 18 years) and the number was increasing due to lack of coordination among the Endowments, WD&CW, Police and the Revenue officials, . Speaking to The Hindu , WD&CW Joint Director E.V. Swarna Latha said the government was taking all measures for strict implementation of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006. “The Government has appointed Child Marriage Prohibition Officers at the district, divisional, mandal and village level in all districts. Concerned District Collectors, Revenue Divisional Officers, Child Development Project Officers, Tahsildars and Panchayat Secretaries will act as the probation officers in each district.” To prevent atrocities against children and prevent child marriages, 9,871 Child Protection Committees including 9,055 at village-level, 557 urban, 229 mandal-level and 30 railway station level committees had been constituted, she said.The Government is planning to make marriage registrations a must to stop child marriages and take up massive campaign against such weddings. “Officials will explain the health problems if a girl below 18 years is married, and the legal consequences under Prohibition of Child Marriage Act,” said WD&CW Krishna District Project Director K. Krishna Kumari. (The Hindu 1/11/2016)

28. Cry to protect child rights in tea gardens (14)

GUWAHATI: Eight-year-old Tilti from the tea-producing district of Sivasagar, loves mathematics but she is not going to school any more. “I stay at home to look after my two-year-old brother Jesoi. My parents work in a tea garden. I fear they may marry me off soon,” she said. Child marriages in tea gardens are common. Hundreds of children living in the 800 or more tea gardens of the state, stare at an uncertain future. A recent study by the Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (ASCPCR) found that at least 75% of the children in tea gardens are school drop-outs. “Only 10% of the gardens have creche facilities. The elder siblings are usually compelled to leave school to take care of the younger ones,” said ASCPCR chairperson Runumi Gogoi. It’s just not domestic compulsions most often that keep young minds away from schools. Nearly 80% of the tea gardens flout the Right to Education Act along with non-implementation of the Plantations Labour Act. “Teachers stay away, there are no proper toilets. Girls have to go for open defection. The health centre doesn’t have enough medicines. Why can’t we have basic amenities?” asked several children who attended a two-day meet, “National conference on rights of children in the tea-gardens of Assam”, here on Friday organised by ASCPCR in collaboration with the state labour department, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and Unicef, Assam.Chief secretary VK Pipersenia said, “The situation is unacceptable. The ASCPCR and NCPCR should come out with an action plan.” (Times of India 5/11/2016)

29. Rehabilitation of rescued children major concern (14)

RANCHI: While the number of successful rescue cases in the last five years is 352, as many as 2,354 children have been rescued by the state police under Operation Muskan since January 2015 till date from across the state of which 1,952 were from Jharkhand. However, rehabilitation of these survivors seems to be a major concern for the state. The rescued minors are reunited with their family after being presented at the Child Welfare Committees. In most cases, these minors are either trafficked again or they leave home in hopes of earning money. Meera Mishra, member of Child Welfare Committee, Ranchi said, “The government is not very thoughtful when it comes to rehabilitation of rescued children. Once the children are restored to their family they have to suffer a lot of humiliation and are forced to leave.” Mishra said that the children, especially girls, are insulted by villagers and looked down upon by boys who think they are easily available. “Many girls, young and adults, who are rescued approach us with these problems. While we send the minors to Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas, I try to find jobs for the adult girls at a personal level which helps them earn money with respect.” Accepting that rehabilitation is an issue, MS Bhatia, secretary, social welfare department said, “There is always a chance that the rescued children might again be trafficked or sent away by their own family to earn money.” Talking about the measures taken by the government to solve this problem he said, “The district child protection units and CWCs have been directed to follow up on the children reunited with their families. They have been asked to be in constant touch with these families and provide regular counselling to them and also assure that the children are enrolled in schools.” (Times of India 6/11/2016)

30. Child Friendly Villages to protect rights of kids (14)

VIJAYAWADA: The Government has launched the Child Friendly Village Programme to achieve the millennium development goals to protect child rights. The theme of the programme is to implement the Right to Education Act, 2009, stop child labour, prevent abuse and begging, malnutrition, reduce infant and child mortality and strengthen the community right from village level. “Officials of the Women Development and Child Welfare (WD&CW) will conduct awareness programmes in Child Friendly Villages. An action plan will be drafted in the proposed villages and the staff of Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) along with other government agencies will implement the programme,” said ICPS State Joint Director E.V. Swarna Latha. According to the recent National Family Health Survey (NFHS), the crime rate against children is 2.3 per cent in AP. However, the spurt in crime against them, particularly kidnap, sexual assault and harassment cases are worrying the officials. “In just three years [from 2014 to 2016 as on date] about 628 cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 [i.e. minor rape or sexual harassment] were registered in the State. The figure on crime against children, particularly sexual assault cases, was disturbing,” the joint director said. Under the Child Friendly Village Programme, the ICPS officials, in coordination with other departments’ staff and the local public representatives, will enlighten the villagers on female infanticide and foeticide, breastfeeding, supply of protected drinking water and nutritional diet, enrolment of children in schools and maintaining sanitation.“It is a five-day exercise at the village level which was completed recently. The participants focussed on village mapping, preparing time-line analysis, maintaining sanitation in schools and anganwadi centres and discussing girl child issues. Later, they will develop an action plan to improve the status of children in villages,” said Krishna District WD&CW Project Director K. Krishna Kumari. (The Hindu 7/11/2016)

31. Police officials trained on child rights (14)

SALEM: As many as 250 police officials were trained on child rights legislations during a three-day programme that concluded here on Tuesday. Under the Adolescent Empowerment Programme of UNICEF’s Society for Monitoring and Implementation of Child Labour Elimination (SMILE) project, Deputy Superintendents of Police, Assistant Commissioners, Inspectors, personnel from All Women Police Station, Special Sub Inspectors, head constables, police personnel and Child Welfare Police Officers designated under Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, were trained on their role in implementing the Juvenile Justice Act 2015, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 and The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016 along with the different child protection mechanisms in Salem District. M. Andrew Sesuraj, State convener, Tamil Nadu Child Rights Observatory (TNCRO) facilitated the entire process that was organised by Varunan Velu, Child Protection Consultant for UNICEF in Salem and Dharmapuri and Sibija Bensigar, Development Consultant. The officials were given case examples and were allowed to share their own experiences in the process of learning the capacity of working for the best interest of the children. A review of the 21 indicators on Child Friendly Police Stations was also held. The law enforcement officials are encouraged to work on strengthening the indicators in their respective police stations and their jurisdictions. (The Hindu 10/11/2016)

32. 44 child marriages stopped (14)

NAMAKKAL: Under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme, a training programme for field workers was organised by the Social Welfare Department and District Child Protection Unit here recently. Collector M. Asia Mariam said that the role of field workers is very vital in ensuring that the children in distress are protected. She said that of the 44 children rescued from marriages, 24 were pursuing their studies at special schools while the rest were with their parents. She said that 86 child workers were rescued from various places in the district and 44 were pursuing their studies. Six children were sexually abused and were provided counselling and were continuing their education, she added. Creating awareness among the children and the parents on various child protection laws would help in protecting the children, the collector said. Any children in distress or the public if they come across children in problems can call the Childline at 1098 so that immediate action can be taken in rescuing and rehabilitating them. Under the Sponsorship and Foster Care Approval Committee (SFCAC) assistance for children who lost their parents, 40 children were given assistance in 2013-14 and 41 children in 2014-15. District Child Protection Officer P. Prabhu and District Child Welfare Committee member Jeyabal Sundar Singh provided training to the participants. (The Hindu 15/11/2016)

33. Children are victims of voyeurism: NCRB data (14)

HYDERABAD: The nation celebrates children’s day on Monday but 94,172 children all over the country, including 2,697 children from Telangana and 1,992 children from Andhra Pradesh had traumatic experiences last year. While children have been victims of murder and infanticide, many have been victims of voyeurism, rape, assaults, sexual harassments and attempts were made to outrage their modesty. There have also been cases when an attempt was made to disrobe them. In June this year, a 11-year-old school girl was molested by the security guard of her school and a case was registered against him by the parents with the LB nagar police. Instances such as this continue. In Vizianagaram of Andhra Pradesh, a three-and-a-half year old girl was raped by two minor boys in August 2015. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) statistics for the year show children have been victims of voyeurism which is a crime under section 354c IPC). A total of 51 cases of ‘voyeurism’ were registered and figuring among the top two is Telangana. While there were 12 cases in Maharashtra, there were six each in Delhi Union territory and Telangana. There were, in all 56 victims in 51 cases. Children are also victims of stalking. Cases against stalkers are booked under section 354d IPC . While there were a total of 1,020 cases of ‘stalking’ of children , Telangana ranks among the top three. There were 422 cases in Maharashtra, 169 in Delhi Union territory and 135 cases in Telangana.Children have also been pushed into prostitution. As NCRB data shows there were 11 cases of ‘buying of minors for prostitution’ which is a crime under Section 373/372 of IPC, another 111 cases were registered for ‘selling of minors for prostitution’. Some cases of minors being bought for prostitution was also registered in Telangana, apart from Maharashtra, Harayana and Uttar Pradesh. (Times of India 15/11/2016)

34. Children demand ‘surgical strike’ against child marriage (14)

Kolkata: Ahead of Universal Children’s Day on November 20, groups of marginalised children are petitioning the government to end child marriage and child labour like the recent drive against black money. “The way the government has implemented a ban on high value currency, similarly they should also ensure that no child gets married at an early age, every child gets education and no child is employed as labour,” said Baishaki Biswas, who was married off at 14 and became a mother two years later. Early marriage forced her to skip school after Class IX.Along with other marginalised children she is now writing to the authorities with a charter of demands, which includes launching a ‘surgical strike’ against child labour and child marriage. Baishaki is one among hundreds of ‘Child Champions’, led by international NGO Save the Children, who are acting as child activists in the community to ensure that marginalised children do not become victims. Every year the Child Rights Convention (CRC) Week is observed during November 14—20 to mark the global pledge to make the world a better place for all children under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The period also includes the celebration of Universal Children’s Day on November 20 calling upon society to contribute in strengthening the social protection of all children of the country. Despite ratifying the convention 24 years ago, India still has 1.2 million children struggling for survival till their 5th birthday, 84 million have never been to school and 7.8 million are engaged in some form of child labour. These groups of kids from Save the Children have now put up a photo exhibition at Nehru Children’s Museum as part of a campaign where they were given cameras to tell their own stories with a series of images. PTI  (The Hindu 18/11/2016)

MINORITIES – GENERAL

35. Government buys time over stay of persecuted Bangla minorities (7)

GUWAHATI: Both the Centre and the state government on Monday sought time from the Gauhati high court for filing their replies against a PIL seeking the implementation of a government notification allowing persecuted minorities from Pakistan and Bangladesh to stay in the country without valid documents. On September 7 last year, the Centre had issued a gazette notification stating that it would exempt Bangladeshi and Pakistani nationals from minority communities who entered India on or before December 31, 2014, without proper documents, or those whose valid documents had expired, from being deported on humanitarian grounds. The Union home ministry had said the decision was taken with respect to the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920, and Foreigners Act, 1946. A PIL, filed by Anil Chandra Dey, a senior advocate from Silchar, had sought implementation of the notification.A huge number of people belonging to minority communities of Bangladesh and Pakistan – Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians – who faced persecution in these countries and were compelled to seek shelter in Assam and other parts of the country have been subjected to harassment by the administrative authorities, the PIL stated. Advocate Bishwajyoti Purkayastha, counsel of the petitioner, said, “The high court has granted six weeks’ time to both the Centre and the state government to file their replies. The Centre cited the pending status of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, likely to be presented in the winter session for approval.” (Times of India 2/11/2016)

36. Rajnath will raise exodus issue in Kairana rally, says Hukum Singh (7)

BAREILLY: Author of the Kairana “exodus” theory, BJP MP Hukum Singh said on Wednesday that Union home minister Rajnath Singh, too, will raise the issue of migration of Hindu families from the West UP town while addressing the party’s Parivartan Yatra in Kairana on November 7. It was Hukum Singh, the BJP’s Kairana MP, who had first said that some 250 Hindu families had left the town amid fear from members of a particular community. “I, and hopefully Rajnathji also, will be raising the issue of exodus since my stand was also vindicated by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC),” Hukum Singh told TOI. While a probe team of NHRC had found that many families had indeed migrated from the area, the national commission for minorities virtually rejected these claims later. Giving details of Rajnath Singh’s schedule in the area, Hukum Singh said, “During his Parivartan Yatra that would be launched at Saharanpur on November 5, Rajnathji will address public meetings at several places in Shamli district, including Kairana. I have already given him a list of the families that left the town and told him about the seriousness of the matter. I will raise the issue again during the rally in Kairana and I strongly believe that Rajnathji will also put forth his views on the issue.” Hukum Singh said he had met the Union home minister several times in the past and had updated him on the issue of the alleged exodus. Meanwhile, BJP’s local functionaries have become hyperactive on social media about Rajnath Singh’s Kairana rally and said they would do everything to make this public meeting a grand success. The convenor of the Yatra in Kairana, Manoj Chaudhary, said, “We have double-checked all the arrangements for the Parivartan Yatra. There are strong possibilities that party’s national president Amit Shah might also accompany Rajnath Singh.” On June 8, the local MP had alleged that Kairana had become a “new Kashmir”, with the exodus of 250 Hindu families after being allegedly targeted and persecuted by another community. (Times of India 3/11/2016)

37. Minority leaders prep up for Mahasangram rally (7)

NEW DELHI: Ahead of the Mahasangram rally of minorities to be held in the capital on November 27, dalit leaders are reviewing the issue of reservation of parliamentary and assembly seats for SC/STs. This was an outcome of the Pune Pact, signed by Mahatma Gandhi and BR Ambedkar in 1932, but bore no fruit in reality as the SC/ST MPs failed to represent the minority problems in the House, said a dalit leader. “Recently we have taken to the streets and found our elected representatives (84 SC and 47 ST MPs and hundreds of MLAs) have failed to address our legitimate concerns, demands, and constitutional guarantees. We believe representation through reservation in assemblies and Parliament has thwarted the objectives of Ambedkar and Gandhi both, who signed the Pune pact for ensuring representation of the last man in society,” said the statement from dalit, adivasi and minority leaders.Activists like president of the Gujarat Dalit Samman Sangharsh Manch, Jayanti Bhai Makadiya, C M Pippal, of the Bharatiya Bauddh Mahasabha and Subhash Singh of National Confederation of Dalit Adivasi Organisations and Rameshwar of the SC\ST Board of LIC employees were present at the press meet on Friday to announce the details of the rally. Apart from the activists, some of the dalit and adivasi victims of atrocities and injustice were also present at the meet, where they narrated their personal experiences. Among them were two young men from Una, a young girl and a young man from Haryana with their separate accounts, the brother of a dalit girl who was raped and killed in Rajasthan and tribals from Madhya Pradesh. (Times of India 4/11/2016)

38.  ‘Uniform Civil Code is against India’s secularism’ (7)

MADURAI: Asserting that enactment of Uniform Civil Code will be a blow to India’s secularism and diversity, M. Thamimun Ansari, general secretary of Manithaneya Jananayaga Katchi and of MLA of Nagapattinam constituency, appealed to people of all faiths to join the fight against Centre’s proposal to implement UCC. “Please do not think that it is a protest by Muslims to protect their rights. It is a fight to safeguard country’s secularism and diversity,” he said, while addressing a protest meeting organized here on Monday by Madurai Muslim Aikya Jamaat, in which a large number of members and leaders from various Muslim organisations participated. He said a false propaganda was being carried out to project as if Muslims were the only beneficiaries of personal laws based on religions. “However, out of nearly 300 personal laws that were in force in the country, only four were for Muslims,” he claimed. Condemning the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government for assuming that they had the backing of Hindus, Mr. Ansari pointed out that the present government had secured only 31 percent of votes. Manithaneya Makkal Katchi President M.H. Jawahirullah blamed the BJP and the RSS for trying to draw a wedge between the majority and minority communities. “If the government goes ahead with UCC, a nation-wide protest, much stronger in magnitude than what was witnessed after the Shah Bano case judgement in 1985, will erupt,” he said. Antony Pappusamy, Archbishop of Madurai Archdiocese, who participated in the protest to express solidarity, blamed the union government for its unnecessary focus on UCC when there were pressing issues to be addressed in the country. “Moreover, government has sought opinion on UCC without revealing what the nature and content is going to be. This is unfair,” he added. K.A.M. Muhammad Abubackar of IUML, who is the MLA of Kadayanallur constituency, K.K.S.M. Tehlan Baqavi, State president of SDPI, A. Basheer Ahamed, President, Madurai Muslim Aikya Jamaat and leaders from various other organisations spoke at the meeting, which witnessed almost equal participation from men and women. (The Hindu 8/11/2016)

39. `Minorities budget hiked to Rs 3,000 crore by Modi government’ (7)

HYDERABAD: The Minorities Welfare Day , which coincided with the 128th birth anniversary of freedom fighter Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, on Friday saw politicians affirming their commitment for the welfare of minorities in the sphere of education even as a couple went to the extent of comparing the vision of Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao to that of Azad, who was the first education minister of independent India. While the CM remained conspicuously absent, the programme began two hours late on account of the Group II examinations at Nizam College, which was the venue. Addressing a gathering of students and staff of the Telangana Minorities Residential Education Institutions Society (TMREIS), among others, labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya said that the Muslim community is “poor” and that more funds should be spent on education. “I’m from the Centre. It is my duty to get a larger budget for minorities. Modi government has increased the authentic share capital of the National Minorities Development Corporation from ` 1,500 crore to ` 3,000 crore,” he said, adding that Ministry of Minority Affair’s Maulana Azad Education Foundation has been earmarked `120 crore. Eulogising the CM, Telangana Rashtra Samithi legislator Farooq Hussain sought to compare Rao’s schemes for minorities, particularly in the field of education, to those taken by Maulana Azad. He did not hesistate to draw parallels between Rao and Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the founder of the Anglo-Mohammedan College, now known as the Aligarh Muslim University. Home minister N Narasimha Reddy reiterated that Muslims were treated in an unjust manner. He blamed previous governments for not taking adequate steps for the welfare of the community even as he appealed that the Muslims support the government. “Let us work together,” he said.Young school students too were not spared. “KCR sir ke har khwaab ki tabeer karengey hum (we will make true the dreams of KCR sir),” they sang. Deputy CM Mahmood Ali congratulated the TMREIS staff. He said that while 71 schools are operational, another 89 would be opened soon. He too eulogised the CM. ACB chief and TMREIS president AK Khan, Minorities Welfare Department secretary Syed Omer Jaleel, TMREIS secretary and vice chairman and managing director of the Telangana State Minorities Finance Corporation, among others also spoke. (Times of India 12/11/2016)

40. Uniform Civil Code an attack on freedom of minorities: JUH (7)

NEW DELHI: Jamiat Ulama-i- Hind (JUH) released a declaration at the end of its 33rd general session in Ajmer where it warned the Central government that “if Uniform Civil Code is imposed on the country or interference made in the Muslim Personal Law, then the minority community’s status will cease to be that of a free citizen”.In the declaration the Jamiat also condemned triple talaaq at one go and appealed to every section of the Muslim society to work towards eliminating this “wrong-practice”. Jamiat also announced the launch of a social reform movement against nudity, alcoholism and pornography and propagating Islamic teachings in the country that will take off in 2017 and continue through the year. JUH in another resolution reiterated its long pending demand of enacting an anti-communal violence law and made it clear that the community will not tolerate any meddling in the Muslim Personal Law and will oppose Uniform Civil Code “as it violates the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution”.In his presidential address, JUH president Maulana Mohammad Usman especially touched upon the sectarian differences among Muslims adding that it is a call of time that every sect should be on a common platform on issues related to the nation and community. In the past, he warned that sectarian differences among Muslims have caused harm to the nation and the Muslim world. Presenting the resolutions in the presence of different faith leaders (including Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Christian) and Islamic scholars, Jamiat Ulama-i- Hind general secretary Maulana Mahmood Madani said we would work together to build a new India. On rising communal incidents in the country since the present government came to power, Maulana Madani said the Jamiat has been pressing upon the previous governments to pass anti-communal violence law but “unfortunately they did not heed this demand”. The resolution states, “Jamiat considers communal harmony as the pre-condition for the security and integrity of the country. It regards incidence of communal riots as a blot on the face of the nation and stumbling block in the country’s progress. It is the primary duty of the Government to maintain peace and security in the country. It must not allow communal disturbance. Therefore this session of the Jamiat demands from the Central and the state Governments to enact anti- Communal violence law.” (Times of India 14.11.16)

41. British delegation meets Minorities Commission chairman (7)

HYDERABAD: A high-level British delegation comprising Deputy High Commissioners Alexander Evans (New Delhi) and Andrew McAllister (Hyderabad), on Wednesday called on chairman of the State Minorities Commission, Abid Rasool Khan. They held discussions on the subject of the Commission’s role, its powers and how it worked to protect the Constitutional rights and interests of those belonging to the minorities. Mr. Khan gave them copies of the Commission’s annual reports and a list of its recommendations. The guests enquired about the socio-economic development, educational programmes, welfare schemes initiated by the Governments of India and Telangana and how it was reaching out to help the poorest among minorities. The cases being dealt by the Commission pertaining to the minorities, specially Muslims and Christian minorities, were discussed, including initiatives taken by the Commission to discourage Muslim youth from aligning with terrorists. Discussions included those in the area of Inter-government cooperation and encouragement that could be extended by the British Government in the fields of education, employment and business opportunities for the minorities. The visiting VIPs appreciated the work of the Commission and assured the chairman of their complete cooperation. (The Hindu 17/11/16)

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

42. In caste-riven U’khand region, Muslims ally with Dalits to seek rights (7)

DEHRADUN: Across India, Dalits have been increasingly allying with Muslims, both in states heading to polls, and elsewhere. Uttarakhand’s Jaunsar-Bawar is the state’s most caste conflict-prone area, and was in the news earlier this year for violence over Dalit entry into a temple. Now, accusing district officials of denying them education, health and other services, Muslims have joined hands with Dalits, demanding access to these facilities. In Jaunsar-Bawar, the Chakrata Cantt area, Mohna, Janglaat Chowki, Maath Kangra, Kalsi Byas Neri and Haripur gram sabha together have a Muslim population of over 1,500. Leaders of the community allege that ever since Independence, they had been following the directions of upper caste residents of the area, but it was unacceptable to them now. Muslims in Chakrata said that they had been unable to benefit from central and state government schemes for minorities, or those meant for tribal areas like Jaunsar-Bawar, because they did not get caste certificates. “In four generations of my family, none of us have got caste certificates from the district administration because of political pressure on government officials. Upper castes here prevent us from getting the certificates, saying we are not a part of revenue villages, which is not true. We whole-heartedly support the Dalit movement of Kheda bachao Andolan and will work with them to get our demands fulfilled,” said Inayat Ali, 65, a community keader from Dakra village.Muslims voices began emerging in a significant way after Dalit leader Daulat Kunwar launched Kheda Bachao Andolan, soon after he participated in noted environmental and social activist Anil Joshi’s Gaon Bachao Andolan. Kunwar started his Dalit movement on October 12, and it culminated today with Dalits and Muslims submitting a joint memorandum to the sub-divisional magistrate at Kalsi, addressed to the President. (Times of India 2/11/2016)

43. Muslim women slam AIMPLB on triple talaq (7)

Lucknow: Amid the raging debate over ‘triple talaq’, the All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB) on Sunday criticised the signature campaign launched by the AIMPLB, dubbing it as a move to “mislead” women from the community. “The campaign is not to empower Muslim women but to mislead them,” AIMWPLB president Shaista Amber told PTI here. Her comments came days after the All India Muslim Personal Law Board carried out a signature campaign against the Centre’s affidavit in the Supreme Court against ‘triple talaq’ and the questionnaire prepared by the Law Commission regarding Uniform Civil Code. She said it would have been better had the AIMPLB written in its documents that it wholeheartedly supported the provisions in the Holy Koran about ‘triple talaq’. The AIMPLB could also punish those who utter ‘talaq’ thrice in one go, she suggested. Ms. Amber said the affidavit before the apex court smacked of vote-bank politics. (The Hindu 7/11/2016)

44. Attempt to ban triple talaq will be counter-productive: Qamarul Islam (7)

KALABURAGI: The All-India Tahafuz-e-Shariat Conference organised by All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and the All India Milli Council here on Sunday criticised the moves of the Union government on the triple talaq issue and the uniform civil code. Qamarul Islam, former Minister and a member of the AIMPLB, said that interference in the Muslim personal law would not be tolerated.Accusing the BJP government at the Centre of hatching a conspiracy to impose the uniform civil code in the name of ensuring social reforms and gender justice. Mr. Islam warned that the Union government’s attempt to ban triple talaq and impose the uniform civil code would prove counter-productive. “The government cannot force Muslims to follow the practices of other communities in issues related to personal laws as it will amount to infringement of their fundamental rights. Those demanding a ban on triple talaq and polygamy are a minuscule minority and are not representatives of the Indian Muslims,” he added. Sajjada Nasheen of the Hazrath Khaja Bandanawaz Dargah Sharif Syed Shah Gesudaraz Khusro Hussaini, Maulana Tauqheer Razakhan, Syed Mustafa Rifayi, Khaja Pasha, Shaihk-UL-Hadees, and Mufti Khaleel Ahmed were present. (The Hindu 8/11/2016)

45. RSS calls Gujarat riots ‘shameful’, assures AMU teachers that Muslims won’t face bias (7)

AGRA: At least three Aligarh Muslim University teachers, two of them now retired, who attended a recent meeting of RSS and Muslim intellectuals from across the country that was held in Delhi, told TOI that top Sangh functionaries said the Gujarat riots of 2002 were “shameful” and such incidents “shouldn’t happen again”. The meeting on November 3 at the international auditorium of Pusa agriculture institute was aimed at “clarifying the deeprooted misunderstandings of the Muslim community about the Sangh.”AMU’s associate professor of theology , Mufti Zahid, who along with four other colleagues participated in the meeting that was attended by 110 intellectuals from various universities, including JNU, said, “I raised the issue of the 2002 Gujarat riots during my address and said that Muslims can never forget what all happened there. Reacting to this, RSS joint general secretary (Sah Sarkaryawah) Krishna Gopal Sharma categorically said that the episode was shameful and such incidents should not happen again.” According to Zahid, several other issues, like triple talaq, uniform civil code, unemployment among minorities and education, were also discussed at the meeting where RSS joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale and national executive member Indresh Kumar were also present. Former AMU dean (law faculty) Mohammad Shabbir said, “The RSS leaders assured us that there will be no discrimination against the community. They also added that a Gujarat-like incident won’t ever happen again.”Indresh Kumar told TOI : “Many other things were discussed in the meeting that lasted for over five hours. It was a meaningful discussion on various points. Many contentious issues were taken up during the meeting.”Shahid Akhtar, national convener of RSS’s Muslim Rashtriya Manch, who was also present in the meeting, told TOI , “During the meeting, Sah Sarkaryawah Krishna Gopal Sharma said that dialogues are necessary to ensure incidents like Gujarat don’t happen again” (Times of India 9/11/2016)

46. Triple talaq unconstitutional: NCW to apex court (7)

New Delhi: The National Commission for Women has told the Supreme Court that ‘triple talaq’ and polygamy are unconstitutional as they compromised with the rights of Muslim women. In an affidavit, the statutory body for protection of women’s rights supported the stand of the Union government that the practice of ‘triple talaq’, which subjected women to whims of menfolk, was incompatible with the principle of gender equality and justice enshrined in the Constitution. “Triple talaq, nikah halala (bar against remarriage with divorced husband, without an intervening marriage with another man) and polygamy are unconstitutional because they compromise the rights of Muslim women (or of women married to Muslim men) to their disadvantage, which is detrimental to them and their children. Therefore, these practices should be strictly prohibited,” the women’s body stated. The Commission, which looked into complaints of deprivation of the rights of women and cases of atrocities against them, submitted it has noted that women were at the receiving end of the practice of unilateral talaq. The Union government also contended that these practices cannot be regarded as integral part of the religion. The NCW’s affidavit came in support of the Centre’s stand that the issue of validity of triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy was required to be considered in the light of principle of gender justice and overriding Constitutional principle of non-discrimination, dignity and equality. The Union government favoured a batch of petitions, including one by advocate Balaji Srinivasan on behalf of Shayara Bano, for declaring these practices unconstitutional. The Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board have opposed before the court any proposal to impose Uniform Civil Code and remove triple talaq.When asked about his opinion on the topic that has been in the headlines, Akhtar said he has been vocal against the issue for many years. “I have always spoken against these things. Triple talaq should be banned immediately in any civil society. As far as uniform common civil code is concerned, I am not sure how far this is possible because our country is huge,” he said. (Deccan Herald 13/11/2016)

47.  ‘Centre should not interfere in Muslim personal law’ (7)

Udupi: The Sunni Sanghatanegala Okkoota organised a dharna in front of the Clock Tower here on Friday against, what it termed, the Union government’s move to interfere in the Shariat law. Maulana N.K.M. Shaafi Saadi said it was essential to protect the Shariat law. If the constitutional rights given to the Muslims were curtailed, the community would protest against it. The Union government can curb black money, if it wanted to score political points in the forthcoming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, but it should not interfere in personal laws of the Muslim community. If any attempt was made to infringe upon the fundamental rights, the community would approach the courts, he said. (The Hindu 14/11/2016)

48. Union minister cites Mewat riots, seeks RAF centres in region (7)

Rewari: Union minister Rao Inderjeet Singh on Wednesday cited the communal riots in Haryana’s Mewat two years ago while demanding that a training institute for Rapid Action Force (RAF) be setup in the region to prevent violence in the future. “Log kehte hain jab BJP sattaseen hoti hai toh Hindu bekabu ho jaata hai.. (People say that whenever BJP comes to power, Hindus commit excesses). But when our party formed the government (in 2014), within two months Mewat witnessed riots,’’ he said in Rewari in the presence of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. “The region that has never witnessed strife between Hindus and Muslims saw the fight. But it was not Hindus that attacked Muslims; it was Muslims who attacked Hindus. This is a blot on all of us. We could not stop them,’’ he said, adding that in the past, the two communities have lived in peace and even fought shoulder to shoulder in the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Rajnath responded positively to the demand for an RAF institute. “We want a strong and unified India and we will take steps to ensure that,” he said, while agreeing with the proposal. Inderjeet also demanded that an Army recruitment office be opened in the region to make it easier for the youths, who have to go to other district for recruitment rallies, to get recruited. Inderjeet, who claimed that Rewari has the highest number of Army and paramilitary recruits, had organised the Shaheed Samman Samaroh to commemorate the rebellion against the British in the region in 1857 under Raja Rao Tularam’s leadership. Rajnath said it would take a month for the things to normalise following demonetisation. “We agree that people are facing difficulties. It will take a month but bear with us,’’ he said. (Indian Express 17/11/16)

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

49. Pope says he believes ban on female priests is forever (7)

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE: Pope Francis said on Tuesday he believes the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on women becoming priests is forever and will never be changed, in some of his most definitive remarks on the issue. He was speaking aboard a plane taking him back to Rome from Sweden, in the freewheeling news conference with reporters that has become a tradition of his return flights from trips abroad. A Swedish female reporter noted that the head of the Lutheran Church who welcomed him in Sweden was a woman, and then asked if he thought the Catholic Church could allow women to be ordained as ministers in coming decades. “St. Pope John Paul II had the last clear word on this and it stands, this stands,” Francis said. Francis was referring to a 1994 document by Pope John Paul that closed the door on a female priesthood. The Vatican says this teaching is an infallible part of Catholic tradition. The reporter then pressed the pope, asking: “But forever, forever? Never, never? Francis responded: “If we read carefully the declaration by St. John Paul II, it is going in that direction.” Francis has previously said that the door to women’s ordination is closed, but proponents of a female priesthood are hoping that a future pope might overturn the decision, particularly because of the shortage of priests around the world. The Catholic Church teaches that women cannot be ordained priests because Jesus willingly chose only men as his apostles. Those calling for women priests say he was only following the norms of his time. In August, Francis set up a commission to study the role of women deacons in early Christianity, raising hopes among equality campaigners that women could one day have a greater say in the 1.2 billion-member Church. Deacons, like priests, are ordained ministers and must be men. They cannot celebrate Mass, the Catholic Church’s central rite, but they are allowed to preach and teach in the name of the Church, and to baptise and conduct wake and funeral services.Scholars debate the precise role of women deacons in the early Church. Some say they were ordained to minister only to other women, for instance in baptismal immersion rites. Others believe they were on a par with male deacons. (Times of India 1/11/2016)

50. Italy quake flattens historic basilica (7)

NORCIA (ITALY): Italy’s most powerful earthquake in 36 years struck a new blow to the country’s seismically vulnerable heart on Sunday. It measured 6.6 on the so-called moment magnitude scale. Norcia’s 14th-century Basilica of Saint Benedict, built on the reputed birthplace of the Catholic saint, was reduced to rubble. (The Hindu 1/11/2016)

51. Christian churches in India continue to expand despite persecution (7)

Christian churches in India are rapidly expanding despite the increase in reported cases of violence directed against Christians. According to Christianity Today, the estimated number of Christians in the country range from 25 to 60 million, most of whom are Catholics. On a hilltop in the state of Rajasthan, Bhagwana Lal ministers to a one-room church that draws 2,000 people every Sunday. Lal, a member of a tribal group whose members are treated as outcasts from India’s caste system, said that the cracks in the outer walls of the church are a source of pride because it marks the times when the building expanded.F. Philip, a seminary president and editor of an evangelical magazine called Christian Trends, said that the Gospel is well-received by the tribe. His seminary currently trains tribal pastors to minister to 300,000 believers across 1,600 congregations. The growth of Christianity is not limited to the lowest castes. Leaders said that Indians from different social backgrounds are turning to Christ. The staff members of the Research Project on Christwar Movements have accumulated 2,500 pages of interviews with new believers. In August, the Evangelical Fellowship of India reported an increase in violent crimes committed against Christians. The organization documented 134 confirmed cases in the first six months of 2016 while there were 147 reported incidents for the whole year of 2014 and 177 in 2015. P. Singh, a leading scholar at a respected Christian institution, suggested that Christians must take a less direct approach to evangelizing to Indians.”Here people look at churches in a negative way — as only interested in conversions. If we go into the community directly with the gospel, then people will oppose us,” he said.One church movement, Empower Believers Connections (EBC), focuses on making its churches self-sustainable through small enterprises. Some of its churches are running private schools while one runs a brass band that performs at parades and parties. One church runs a youth hostel and another manufactures LCD bulbs. The ministry is the priority, not the business. But the business should support the ministry. And opponents have less to criticize when you are doing social good,” said Mathai Soren, who is leading the efforts of EBC. (The Christian Times 3/11/2016)

52. Talks on marriage laws held (7)

Shillong, Nov. 8: Church leaders today discussed with the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council laws related to compulsory registration of marriages. According to the council’s chief executive member, P.N. Syiem, some pastors came to meet him in their individual capacity and expressed concern over the validity of marriages that were solemnised in various churches in view of the implementation of the Meghalaya Compulsory Registration of Marriage Act, 2012 and Meghalaya Compulsory Registration of Marriage Rules, 2015. “The pastors were worried that the act may affect the marriages solemnised in churches. According to the act, it is compulsory for married couples to register afresh with registrars of marriages appointed by the state government,” Syiem said. He said the meeting discussed United Khasi Jaintia Districts (Christian Marriage) Act, 1954 where Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872 has been adopted by the district council in 1954. “According to the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872, that has been adopted by the district council, pastors of churches are recognised as marriage registrars. They have only to forward to the council the certificates of those marriages solemnised in churches for record,” he said. Syiem said during the meeting, discussion was held on various aspects of the marriage act. It was decided to refer the matter to experts to have a better understanding in view of the existence of Meghalaya Compulsory Registration of Marriage Act, 2012 and Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872. (The Telegraph 9/11/2016)

53. Christianity not a spectacular fireworks display, says Pope (7)

NK World, Vatican City, Nov 11 : Christianity is not a stunning yet artificial spectacle like a fireworks display but is about cultivating hope, Pope Francis said on Thursday. “The Kingdom of God is not a spectacular religion always seeking novelty, revelation, messages,” Francis said in a sermon as he celebrated mass at the Vatican hotel. “It is not like a firework display that lights up the sky for a moment before fizzling out.” Christians should not be tempted by “religious spectacle” that does not offer real hope, the pontiff said. “Our salvation lies in the hope of the man who sows the grain and the woman who makes the bread: a hope that grows,” he stated. “We must cultivate hope…in this way Christianity gains strength.” (New Kerala 11/11/2016)

54. Visakhapatnam Christians demand new burial ground (7)

VISAKHAPATNAM: A large number of Christians took out a rally to the Collectorate here on Saturday demanding the government allot ground for burials as the existing 200 years old Waltair cemetery was not adequate. Space at the cemetery was not sufficient in spite of redigging old graves and performing multiple burials, convenor of the rally Oliver Rayi said. The Visakhapatnam Christian Cemeteries Board organised the rally. A piece of land in Kommadi area was identified for burial ground but was locked in litigation as a person moved the court. The board lamented that the State government was acquiring and allotting large areas of land but failed to find an alternative piece of land for another burial ground. (The Hindu 13/11/2016)

55. Relief to Velim case accused (7)

COLVA: Accused in the Velim church police attack case will heave a sigh of relief as the judicial magistrate first class (JMFC) Ram Prabhudessai, on Monday, dropped the Sections attempt to murder (307 IPC) and voluntarily causing grievous hurt to deter public servant from his duty (333 IPC) on Monday. Prabhudessai also declined to commit the case to the sessions court for trial. Charges were filed against Velim parish priest Fr Roman Gonsalves and others. The case in brief is that on February 25, 2012, the police allegedly entered the Gonsalves’ residence at the Velim Church while he was in prayer. On seeing the police at the church premise, the news spread like wild fire and people gathered at the church. Parishioners were further agitated on seeing central paramilitary force personnel in large numbers near the church. This led to a confrontation between the police and the public with the latter demanding the reasons for trespassing on the church’s premises late in the night.The mob allegedly turned violent and in the confusion members of the public as well as the police personnel suffered injuriesThe police filed a chargesheet against Fr Roman Gonsalves, Patrick D’Silva, Angelo Afonso, Darwin D’Silva, Agnelo Silva, Savio Silva, Nigel Caiero, Nelson Caeiro, Agnelo D’Souza, Marcus Barros, Adolf Fernandes, Tony Rebello, Mario Rebello, Alin Rebello, Atorim Pereira, Anjelo Fernandes, Savio Pereira, Max Colaco, Adlete Mascarenhas, Angelo D’Silva and Louis Fernandes under various Sections 307, 143, 144, 147, 148, 186, 321, 324, 326, 333, 341, 342, 353 read with Section 149 of IPC. Attempts by the prosecution to withdraw the case was struck down by the same court in September this year. On November 14, passing his order, Prabhudessai dropped Sections 307 and 333 charges and declined to commit the case to the sessions court for trial. The court has slated the case for January 6, 2017 for argument before charge.  (Times of India 15/11/2016)

56. A Kerala church donates money to the needy to help during demonetisation crisis (7)

New Delhi: With the PM’s demonetisation announcement that sent shock ripples throughout the country, people have been running amok wanting to exchange the older currency with the new in-circulation Rs 2,000, or better yet a whole bunch of Rs 100 notes. Others have been waiting in long queues, starting from the wee hours of the morning till late night. In Kerala, however, a church has come to help the lesser privileged people in an unusual way. St Martin De Porres church in Ernakulam district in Kerala announced that it would give money out of their offertory box to people who are in dire need of the money, and expect nothing in return. The announcement was made during a recent Sunday mass and is being lauded by many as a generous act, just in time to help people who do not have access to ATMs or even have bank accounts.The church priest Fr Jimmy Poochakkad told The News Minute that people were allowed to take money from the boxes and they can choose to give it back later, after the current crisis is over. The donation boxes were opened at 6am and closed only in the evening, on November 13. Reportedly, about 200 families availed the offer. “There were many Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in the boxes, but these were left untouched. Smaller denomination currency notes were the ones taken. Though no limit was prescribed, none was seen grabbing at the money. All of them came and took according to their needs in an admirably disciplined manner,” Fr Poochakkad had said. Though the government has assured the move is to curb corruption, black money hoarding and other illegal activities, many common people are stranded and helpless across the country, with no money or access to ATMs to pay hospital bills or buy other basic necessities. At such times, news like this come as a whiff of fresh air (Indian Express 15/11/16)

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

57. Mizoram starts identification of Reang refugees in Tripura (13)

NK More, Agartala/Aizawl, Nov 2 : Amidst uncertainty of repatriation of over 31,000 Reang tribal refugees, living in Tripura for the past 19 years, Mizoram government officials on Wednesday began their identification. “A 30-member team of Mizoram government officials led by the state’s Mamit district Deputy Commissioner Lalbiaksangi arrived in north Tripura on Tuesday, and from today (Wednesday) they started the identification process,” Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Kanchanpur Sub-Division Santosh Deb told IANS over phone. He said: “The identification process would continue till November 21. After that the schedule of repatriation of refugees from Tripura to Mizoram would be finalised.” About 31,300 Reang tribals, who locally call themselves ‘Bru’, have been living in seven makeshift camps in North Tripura’s Kanchanpur and Panisagar sub-divisions adjoining Mizoram since October 1997 after they fled their homes in western Mizoram following ethnic violence in the northeastern state. Despite several initiatives by the Mizoram government to bring them back, the refugees have been reluctant to go back to their villages unless their demands for food and security are met. Refugees’ apex body, Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF), has been insisting that three teams of their organisations want to visit three Mizoram districts — Mamit, Lunglei and Kolasib — to see the situation there as the tribal refuges would be rehabilitated in these three districts after the repatriation. “We have sent a letter to Union Home Ministry’s Special Secretary (Internal Security), Mahesh Kumar Singla, on October 18 to ask the Mizoram government to arrange the visit of the MBDPF leaders. “We are yet to get any response from the MHA. How can the refugees return to Mizoram without seeing the local situation in those villages,” MBDPF general secretary Bruno Msha told IANS. He said the MBDPF has submitted 14 points demands to the MHA. The demands include allotment of five hectares of land to each tribal family, undertake special development plan for the backward tribals and provide adequate security to the repatriated refugees. The refugee leader said the Home Ministry agreed to give each refugee family housing assistance of Rs 38,500, cash assistance of Rs 41,500, free rations for two years, blanket and utensils, while Mizoram would reimburse their transportation cost. The ministry also verbally agreed to extend Rs 1.3 lakh housing scheme under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana to each family, said the MBDPF leader, but added he was doubtful about the repatriation in the near future. Kanchanpur Sub-Divisional Magistrate said that the Tripura government would provide the logistical support when the repatriation of refugees starts. A high-level meeting held on October 17 at the Union Home Ministry in New Delhi, discussed in depth the repatriation of the tribal refugees. MHA’s Special Secretary (Internal Security) Mahesh Kumar Singla presided over the meeting where senior officials from the MHA, Tripura and Mizoram government and MBDPF leaders were present….  (New Kerala 2/11/2016)

58. 25,000 abandon homes in Jammu and Kashmir as shelling from Pakistan escalates (13)

Jammu: Tens of thousands of border villagers in Jammu and Kashmir have been forced out of their homes to take shelter in makeshift accommodations after shelling from across the border with Pakistan killed at least 19 people, including 11 civilians, in the past few weeks. Some 25,000 villagers are estimated to have left their houses in Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Rajouri and Poonch districts close to the International Border (IB) and the Line of Control (LoC) — the de facto border that divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan. “Residents of 120 villages along the IB and 47 villages along the LoC have left for safer places,” a divisional administration officer told IANS. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to the media. However, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Pawan Kotwal described the migration of villagers as temporary and said they leave their homes during the day and return by night. Kotwal, however, admitted that the civilian authorities have closed, as a precaution, nearly 300 schools in villages and towns along the IB till further orders after Pakistan started targeting civilian areas. The mass exodus comes even as the government has not ordered evacuation despite the tension between the two countries that escalated after 19 Indian soldiers were killed on September 18 in an attack by militants on an Army base in Uri. India in a retaliatory action launched surgical strikes across the LoC, destroying seven terror launch pads and killing an unknown number of terrorists and their sympathizers in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Since then the two sides have been regularly shelling each other and violating a 2003 ceasefire agreement to maintain peace at the 230 km border and 740 km of the LoC between them. The raining mortar shells have turned life into a nightmare for these villagers. Many of them told IANS that the army and paramilitary forces have asked them to leave their homes for safety. Jasbir Singh, 40, a medical assistant in a Ramgarh health centre, said he shifted along with his father, an ex-serviceman, to nearby Vijaypur area. “It is suicidal to continue living in our village where fire rains from the sky,” said Jasbir Singh, whose village lies close to the border in Samba district. Satpal Singh Heer, 54, from Nanga village, runs a private school. He said the BSF has erected a watch tower in his village which has made his village “more vulnerable” to Pakistan shelling. He said he had tried to return to the village. But BSF troopers in underground bunkers saved him as he had nearly walked to a place where intense shelling from Pakistan was going on. “I had to return to safety,” he said. The residents want peace so that they could return home and tend their cattle and reap their harvest-ready crop. Gangu Ram, 56, from Raipur village of Kathua district said he has neither tended his agricultural fields nor his cattle in the past three days since he left home. “If I don`t reap my crop that awaits harvesting within the next four-five days, I would lose my entire year`s labour. “I don`t even know whether my cattle are alive. Peace must return to our village soon or else our lives are finished,” Ram said. Authorities, religious, social and voluntary organisations have made arrangements for these border residents in community halls, temples, gurdwaras, schools, stadia and other government buildings. (Zee News 2/11/2016)

59. 1,111 Bru tribals identified as bona fide residents of Mizoram (13)

Aizawl: Officials from Mizoram today identified 1,111 Brus as bona fide residents of Mizoram and cleared them for physical repatriation from the Khakchangpara relief camp in North Tripura. Earlier, 3,849 Brus belonging to 578 families were identified as residents of Mizoram at Asapara relief camp, the first camp where identification was conducted since November 2 and completed on November 5. With this, 4,960 Bru refugees have so far being identified in the two relief camps. Identification of Brus would be conducted at Hamsapara on Wednesday and Thursday. Mizoram government proposed to repatriate around 3,445 Bru families from six relief camps in Tripura and the physical repatriation is scheduled to start from November 30. (Zee News 7/11/2016)

60. Move to educate migrant workers in most literate State (13)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala government will teach them to read and write in Hindi and Malayalam, besides creating legal awareness. The sense of alienation that migrant workers in Kerala feel will come down substantively if the efforts of the Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority (KSLMA) prove a success.The KSLMA is all set to launch a social literacy drive to integrate migrant labourers into Kerala society, by imparting reading and writing skills to them and to orient them to the culture of the State. A large majority of the 25 lakh migrant labourers in the State, many of whom hail from North India, are illiterate even in their mother tongue, according to KSLMA. As a result, they are ignorant in legal, health and environmental matters, resulting in poor quality of living as well as exploitation by their employers. This leads to gaps in their social relations with the locals. “Our effort is to give them minimum language skill so that they are able to interact better with their hosts,” says KSLMA director P.S. Sreekala. The workers, who contribute heavily to the State’s development, were being “ostracised.” The literacy programme aimed at solving this issue by teaching them to read and write in Malayalam as well as Hindi, apart from introducing them to the social and cultural features of the State, and creating legal and health-related awareness, she said. The first phase of the programme will be launched in January 2017 in Perumbavoor, Ernakulam, by undertaking a survey of the migrant labourers living there. Perumbavoor was chosen due to the large number of migrant labourers there. The curriculum will be finalised based on the results of the pilot survey, and the programme expanded to other districts. Local governing bodies, Kudumbasree, the departments of labour and social justice and the State library council will assist KSLMA in implementing the programme, among other agencies. Although a similar programme was mooted in 2013, it was not implemented. KSLMA is initiating three other programmes this year, including a continuing education mission for members of the trans-gender community, an environmental literacy mission and a functional literacy drive, aimed at the coastal areas of Kasaragod, Malappuram and Thiruvananthapuram. (The Hindu 9/11/2016)

61. Mizos in Tripura seek rehabilitation package (13)

Agartala, Nov. 12: Nearly 100 Mizo families are seeking rehabilitation in Tripura at a time when the Centre is finalising plans for repatriation of 35,000 Reang refugees living in camps in North Tripura district for over 19 years. Thousands of Reangs had poured into Kanchanpur subdivision of North Tripura bordering Mizoram’s Mamit district in October 1997 following alleged attacks by Mizo people after a forest guard was allegedly killed by cadres of the now-disbanded Bru National Liberation Front.”The situation in Mamit district had been tense following the demand for a district council by the Reang Democratic Party. The adverse reaction from the Mizos allegedly led to the killing of the forest guard. This triggered attacks and arson on Reang villages and their influx into Tripura,” said L.R. Sailo, president of the Jampui Mizo Convention. He said some Reangs who escaped the attack allegedly started threatening the indigenous Mizo population in Sakhan-Shermoon villages in Kanchanpur subdivision. Some 70 Mizo families subsequently crossed over into Mamit and settled in makeshift huts. Thirty families also took shelter in the Mizo-dominated Jampui hills in North Tripura and were helped by the Young Mizo Association and the village council, which allotted land for their resettlement. “Many would have gone back to Mizoram but those who had government jobs had to stay back,” said Sailo. He said neither the governments of Mizoram and Tripura nor the Centre was doing anything to rehabilitate the Mizo families. “It is good that the authorities are trying to repatriate the Reangs. But what about our people? They must get the rehabilitation package and be allowed to stay in Sakhan-Shermoon and Jampui hills,” said Sailo. He described the 10,000-strong Mizo community in Tripura as the “most peaceful”. “The Mizos had started settling down in Tripura after the three hills were found to be fertile for orange cultivation. But the orchard lands have deteriorated since the early eighties and the Mizos are now facing hardship,” said Sailo. He said the Mizos were surviving by cultivating ginger, bamboo and other crops. “We want the state government and the Union home ministry to look into our problem and ensure appropriate rehabilitation in Sakhan-Shermoon and Jampui hills,” he said. Sailo said unless this demand was fulfilled, they would seek support from other parties and launch an agitation. “If we do not get what we want legitimately, we will be left with no other alternative but to launch an agitation,” he said. (The Telegraph 12/11/2016)

62. US to take in refugees from Australian centres (13)

Canberra: The US will take in refugees from immigrant centres managed by the Australian government in Nauru and Papua New Guinea, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced on Sunday. It remains unknown how many refugees the US will accept. The centres are believed to hold more than a thousand people from countries such as Iraq, Syria and Somalia, Efe news reported. “I can now confirm that the government has now reached a further third-party resettlement arrangement. The agreement is with the US,” Turnbull told a press conference. The US Secretary of State John Kerry also announced the agreement from New Zealand’s Wellington where he is on an official visit. Since 2012 Australia has been using the centres at Manus Island and Nauru to process asylum applications of immigrants, especially those intercepted in high seas while trying to reach the Australian coasts. The UN and other human rights groups have criticized these centres calling the conditions in which the detainees live as “inhuman”. (Business Standard 13/11/2016)

63. Catholic bishops ask Trump for humane immigration policies (13)

Baltimore: The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops have urged President-elect Donald Trump to adopt humane policies toward immigrants and refugees, as church leaders begin navigating what will likely be a complex relationship with the new administration. Meeting just days after the election, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops said yesterday serving people fleeing violence and conflict “is part of our identity as Catholics” and pledged to continue this ministry. “We stand ready to work with a new administration to continue to ensure that refugees are humanely welcomed without sacrificing our security or our core values as Americans. A duty to welcome and protect newcomers, particularly refugees, is an integral part of our mission to help our neighbors in need,” the bishops said. Trump had said during the campaign that he would build a wall on the US-Mexico border and immediately deport all 11 million people in the country illegally, though he later distanced himself from that position. In an interview that aired Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” he said he would focus on deporting people with criminal records beyond their immigrant status, “probably two million, it could even be three million.” The Obama administration has deported more than 2.5 million people since taking office in 2009, according to the Homeland Security Department. Trump also told “60 Minutes” that his promised solid border wall might look more like a fence in spots. House Speaker Paul Ryan rejected any “deportation force” targeting people in the country illegally. In a speech at the Baltimore assembly, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the bishops’ conference, underscored that protecting refugees would remain a priority. He also highlighted an area where the bishops may find more common ground with Trump. Kurtz noted the importance of conscience rights for people who do not want to recognise same-sex marriage or comply with other laws they consider immoral. Trump has pledged to appoint anti-abortion justices to the US Supreme Court and protect religious liberty. “Don’t allow government to define what integrity of faith means,” Kurtz said. Dozens of dioceses and Catholic charities sued President Barack Obama over the Affordable Care Act requirement that employers provide coverage for birth control. Today the bishops meeting will elect Kurtz’ successor, who will become lead representative from the conference to the Trump administration. After being on the defensive with Obama over abortion, LGBT rights and other issues, some conservative Catholics are optimistic about the chances for a rollback on some policies, such as the birth control rule. Still, they are deeply concerned about the plight of immigrants after a brutal election in which Trump called Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals and urged a ban on Muslims entering the US although he later watered down that proposal. (Zee News 15/11/2016)

64. Give Bengali-Hindu migrants refugee status, says Sarma (13)

Agartala (Tripura) [India], Nov. 16 (ANI): Bharatiya Janata Party leader and convener of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) Himanta Biswa Sarma has recently said that the Bengali-Hindu population who are victims of partition should be granted citizenship or refugee status throughout India. He, however, made it clear that the Assamese should get protection under Clause VI of the Assam Accord to protect and preserve their cultural, heritage and existence. “Our country was divided on religious lines so Hindus never wanted to be citizens of Pakistan; they were forced to become citizens of Pakistan. So, if somebody had migrated out of religious persecution, and not only Hindu, even Christian, Sikh, Persian anybody, and if they have been persecuted, and they have come to our country, then we have to give them their due,” he said. “At the same time as far the people of Assam are concerned, we also need protection because we have to make sure that our land, our identity and our culture remains intact. So, yesterday our national general secretary of the BJP he started a new deliberation with the people of Assam on how to take both issues hand-in-hand. You give citizenship or refugee status to the Bengali Hindu population not only in Assam but at the same time give political, constitutional and administrative save guard to the indigenous people of Assam,” he added.The BJP leader, however, avoided speaking on what would be the fate of the migrant Muslim population in Assam. Assam has been one state where the issue of illegal migrants from Bangladesh is a burning issue for the last few decades. (ANI) New Kerala 16/11/16)

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

65. Info Commission can’t take back its penalty order, says HC (1)

LUCKNOW: In an important decision, Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on Wednesday ordered that the UP State Information Commission does not have a power to review and change its own orders, including the order of imposing penalty under the RTI Act. The order was passed by the bench consisting of Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Justice Anil Kumar Srivastava-II after hearing suspended IPS officer Amitabh Thakur’s counsel Dr Nutan Thakur and Commission’s counsel Shikhar Anand.The Court made it clear that even after promulgation of the UP RTI Rules of 2015, the Commission has a right to recall only such order in which the other party was not intimated in the hearing or the hearing took place on some another day than the decided one. The court said apart from these situations, the Information Commission cannot take back its orders, including any penalty. The court directed the compliance of the penalty imposed on home department officers in Amitabh’s case in 2010. (Times of India 2/11/2016)

66. HC dismisses plaint against Aam Aadmi Party MLA (1)

NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court has rejected the petition of an RTI activist that challenged a trial court order in a graft case. The activist had lodged a complaint against AAP MLA Akhilesh Pati Tripathi for allegedly incurring expenses more than the prescribed limit in the 2013 assembly polls. The high court refused to interfere with the findings of the trial court that there was no infirmity with the election law on the spending for the elections, saying there was no substance in the petition. The petitioner, Vivek Garg, had challenged the trial court’s April 29 order rejecting his complaint against Tripathi, MLA Model Town constituency in north Delhi, for allegedly spending over the prescribed limit of Rs 14 lakh. Garg in his complaint filed in 2015 said that Tripathi, in collusion with unnamed officials of the EC, had manipulated the account of expenditure on the campaign and understated it by about Rs 9 lakh. HC, while dismissing his appeal, observed that “no specific allegation against any such officials was made in the complaint.”? (Times of India 3/11/2016)

67. Around 1.9 lakh cases pending in state information commissions: Study (1)

New Delhi:     PDS: Smart ration cards need to be smarter Supreme Court to hear plea against state entry tax Supreme Court to hear Subrata Roy’s plea for extension of interim parole Hearing date of 33 lakh cases out of 3 crore pending cases not fixed Cauvery row: DMK flays Centre for seeking modification of Supreme Court orderAround 1,87,974 cases are pending, which comprise collective backlog in the disposal of appeals and complaints, in the 16 state information commissions (SICs) as on December 31, 2015, and penalty has been imposed in only 1.3% of the cases, a study has found. The study was done jointly by Research, Assessment & Analysis Group (RaaG) and Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS). According to the study, pendency in the Assam SIC went up by 240%, while Odisha and Punjab went up by more than 60%.The pendency in Kerala SIC went up by 49%, while the Central Information Commission (CIC) saw a rise of 43%.”Despite the dictum of the Supreme Court, more than 60% of the IC orders analysed contained deficiencies in terms of not recording critical facts. Rajasthan and Bihar SICs were the worst performers with 74% and 73% of the orders respectively, not describing the information that was sought,” said the study. The study also revealed that in 9 of the 16 ICs for which data was available for 2016, the waiting time for a hearing was more than one year. “The analysis of the IC websites revealed that many of the commissions had not posted their annual reports on the web and very few had updated the information. As the analysis was done in September 2016, it would be reasonable to expect that annual reports up to 2015 would be available on the websites. Yet, 21 out of 28 ICs (75%) did not provide the annual report for 2015, said the study. It also added that the percentage of orders, in which the subsidiary directions were not in compliance with the RTI Act, was more than 65%. (Business Standard 5/11/2016)

68. Respond to every RTI query, Rajnath directs officials (1)

NEW DELHI : Officials must reply to every RTI query irrespective of the kind of information sought, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said here on Monday. During his inaugural address at the 11th annual Central Information Commission (CIC) convention, Singh described the RTI Act as a powerful medium of communication between the people and the government. When people ask for such information, the government gets new ideas for formulating people-friendly policies and reform the governance system, he said. “All of you must understand the ecosystem of information, and without getting influenced by what information is being sought, you must do your duty. The government system should use it (RTI Act) effectively,” he said. “Our system needs to be corruption free, smart, sensitive, transparent and answerable for making all the programmes of the government a success, and RTI can play an important role in it. The RTI Act provides a strong foundation to the feeling of trust and cooperation, which is important for governance,” Singh said. Pitching for active public participation, Singh said more people are now engaged in framing policies, and over 40,000 suggestions were received on the Goods and Services Tax. Singh also inaugurated CIC’s e-court system, which will make the transparency panel go paperless in matters of appeals and complaints being processed by it. “The more the systems go digital, the better will be transparency. There is a need for a digitally strong society,” he said. The CIC has already digitised around 1.5 lakh files. Citizens can check the status of the cases and receive information on the date of appeal through emails and text messages. Singh said the use of video conferencing by CIC will help reduce pendency of cases. “This is a good facility for people living in far-flung areas,” he said. (Deccan Herald 8/11/2016)

69. Meet the RTI activist who anticipated Modi’s denotification move (1)

Bareilly: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes would no longer be legal tender from November 9 might have come as a surprise and shock to most citizens, but not for Mohd Khalid Jilani, a Bareilly-based RTI activist, who had anticipated it in October this year. On October 17, Jilani filed an RTI query with the Union ministry of finance asking whether there was a proposal pending with the government about scrapping notes in the two denominations after the income declaration scheme (IDS) had ended. Jilani had also asked for names and address of those people and organisations who had suggested scrapping of the two notes. The reply to his query is still awaited. Jilani had two more questions for the ministry. In his RTI request, he had asked what were the reasons responsible for domestic black money which had come to light during the review fo the IDS. The final question was about the amount of money the finance ministry had spent on publicity of IDS. Since the RTI Act states that queries must be replied to within 30 days, Jilani is awaiting the completion of the deadline in a week. “By not replying to the query, the finance ministry maintained secrecy about its decision to scrap both currency notes,” Jilani told TOI. Asked what prompted him to file the query, Jilani said, “The Modi government was criticised by everyone for not fulfilling the promise to clamp down on black money made by him before elections. After the last date for IDS ended on September 30 this year, I thought that the Centre could now take some strict action against black money. Civil society has been demanding a ban on circulation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes for a long time. I myself had filed a memorandum in this regard with the finance ministry nearly three years ago.” He added that the Centre’s decision to denotify the two currency notes was delayed because of the festive season, which began when the IDS deadline expired. Welcoming the move by the Centre, Jilani said, “It will impact black money, which is being used for funding terrorism and purchasing votes for politicians. However, the government should adopt a transparent system for exchanging old with new currency and conduct inquiry against persons found to be hoarding unaccounted money. Besides, public should support the government to make the country corruption-free instead of complaining about the inconvenience faced by them for some time.” (Times of India 10/11/2016)

70. HC rejects appeal for info on jailbreak under RTI (1)

Ahmedabad: Gujarat high court on Monday turned down an appeal seeking direction to the Chief Information Commissioner to ask the government to furnish details on the 2013 jailbreak attempt at Sabarmati Central Jail. The HC said the information involved security details that couldn’t be divulged unless bonafide public interest could be established by the petitioner. A division bench of Chief Justice R S Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi upheld a single-judge bench’s decision to slap a fine of Rs 10,000 on the petitioner for insisting on critical information under the Right to Information Act (RTI) without providing any cogent reason, as to why he required the information on the jailbreak attempt. One Sanjay Sharma had filed an application under RTI laws with the state government and sought information on the jailbreak effort that involved digging a 213-ft tunnel by the 2008 serial blasts accused in Sabarmati prison. He was denied information. He failed to convince the information commission also in this regard. Finally he moved the HC complaining that the information officer had rejected his plea without any reason. The HC observed that the information officer could always be justified in examining whether the information demanded is in public interest, or whether the applicant is just interested in the functioning of government. RTI laws aim at bringing more transparency, but the applicant must show public interest as a bona fide reason for asking for such information. If no reason is given, information which is critical to security may be denied by the government. The law says that the government is not bound to supply information which could prejudicially affect the security or strategic interest of the State. moreover, when the case related to the jailbreak effort is pending before a court and a report by the three-member committee could be of use in the judicial process, one cannot insist on such information without any strong reason. The HC also observed that though Sharma “as a citizen may be interested in knowing certain information, but as a responsible citizen, he is obliged to understand the aspect of security and particularly when it is pending judicial process”. (Times of India 15/11/2016)

71. Congress, BJP got Rs 5000 crore from unknown sources in last 10 yrs (1)

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress, fighting in Parliament over the right way to tackle black money, need to start at home, it seems. The two national parties accounted for a lion’s share of the thousands of crores of rupees of unaccounted money that the political world has received over the past 10 years. An analysis of the income-tax returns data provided by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) for the past 10 years shows that between 2005 and 2015, these two parties collected a total of Rs 5,450 crore from ‘unknown sources’. The Congress leads the list of six national parties with Rs 3,323 crore, or 83 per cent of its total income from these anonymous benefactors, during the period. For the BJP, the figure was lower, at Rs 2,125 crore or 65 per cent. The Communist Party of India (Marxist), whose leader Sitaram Yechury made a spirited speech in Parliament on the black money issue and demonetisation on Wednesday, came next with Rs 471 crore from such unknown sources. Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) earned Rs 448 crore and Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party got Rs 243 crore on these accounts.  The contribution statements, submitted by political parties declaring the names and other details of the donors who contribute above Rs 20,000, are the only known source. Provisions of the Income Tax Act require that payments exceeding Rs 20,000 need to be made through the banking channels, facilitating audit trails. However, the parties circumvent this by receiving payments in numerous transactions of lower denomination. There is a lingering suspicion that bulk of this could be unaccounted income that has evaded taxes or, in other words, ‘black money’. For example, the BSP has declared that the party did not receive any donations above Rs 20,000 in the past 11 financial years. Trilochan Sastry, a professor at Indian Institute of Management Bangalore and founder member of ADR, said the parties were evading the Right To Information (RTI) Act, despite a ruling by the Central Information Commission, basically because of this money problem. “They have not revealed the source of this money. They have to reveal where they got this money from. They have to put their own house in order first,” Sastry said. …  (Business Standard 17/11/2016)

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

72. Modi govt to reverse UPA-initiated reforms in education shake-up (11)

New Delhi: The country’s education system continues to be in a churn as the BJP-led NDA government appears set on overturning reforms initiated in the past five years. The government wants to introduce an altered form of aptitude test for students of class 10 to help them choose their subjects in junior college. It has reversed a no-detention policy and looking to make the Central Board of Secondary Education’s (CBSE) optional class 10 board exam mandatory again. These were among a string of reforms that the previous UPA government initiated during its decade-long rule till 2014. Another reform measure that the government has changed was its own. The human resource ministry had planned to set up a national authority for testing (NAT) to screen candidates before the joint entrance exam (JEE). But the IIT Council meeting in August decided that the test will be changed into a pilot programme and a voluntary exercise.The current system of JEE Main and Advanced will continue, though. “India lacks a practical education policy … We need to have a set of wise experts, who can sit down and devise a policy which is rooted in practicality and is interesting as well as useful without being burdensome,” former Delhi University vice-chancellor Dinesh Singh said. The CBSE was the first school board in the country to introduce an aptitude assessment for class 10 in 2011. But it did not conduct the tests in 2015 and 2016 because the human resource development ministry wants to bring a modified version modeled on the CBSE’s test, sources said. A committee, comprising officials from the CBSE, National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and psychometric experts, was formed to work out the details. But the prototype has yet to take off from the drawing board. Students appreciated the CBSE’s previous version of the aptitude test, which the board is likely to reintroduce next year probably with a few minor changes. A review and a final decision are pending, though. The UPA government had decided to make the class 10 board exam optional for students in schools affiliated to the CBSE. But the NDA government wants to make the exam compulsory again as many schools and parents have complained of dipping quality because people no longer cared for the class 10 finals, which were once considered the stepping stone to higher studies. The no-detention policy under the right to education (RTE) act allows students up to class 8 to be automatically promoted even if they fail to make the minimum grades. The system was introduced in 2010 as part of the “continuous and comprehensive evaluation” (CCE) for overall development of students. But criticism engulfed the policy, prompting the HRD ministry at a recent Central Advisory Board of Education meeting to let the states decide if they want to continue with it. The policy can be revoked by amending the act and an executive order can decide on the class X board exam. (Hindustan Times 3/11/2016)

73. Amnesty slams burning of schools in Valley (11)

Srinagar: Even as rights body Amnesty International condemned the burning of schools in the Valley, three more educational institutions were set on fire by unidentified persons on Thursday, just hours after the government decided to hold the annual examinations of Classes 10 and 12 this month itself. “Schools should be safe spaces under all circumstances. The vicious arson attacks on schools end up denying children their right to education. This disturbing trend must stop. The government should bring to justice those responsible,” said Aakar Patel, executive director, Amnesty International India. It also asked the government “to shift some of examination centres away from schools occupied by security forces.” Since July 8, when militant commander Burhan Wani was killed, 27 schools have been torched by miscreants. Militants, separatists, political parties and civil society groups have condemned these acts. Three more educational institutes — Sri Pratap College in Srinagar, Government Primary School Dugpora, Gadoora, Ganderbal and Boys Middle School Asthan Mohallah, Naid Khai, Bandipora — sustained minor damage in arson attack on Thursday. Those students who were injured in the ongoing unrest, can opt for helpers provided by the Board.Valley’s leading daily, Greater Kashmir, in a page-one editorial on Friday pleaded for “adequate preparatory time” to students. “…There is a natural consternation among the student community about facing the examination. They have thus sought adequate preparatory time. This has translated into a demand for postponement of the exam to March, something that can be empathised with under the circumstances,” reads the editorial.Meanwhile, Director General of Police (DGP), Kashmir, K. Rajendra Kumar, on Friday discussed security of educational institutions and the arrangements for smooth conduct of examinations. “Miscreants are targeting educational institutions but their nefarious designs will be foiled,” said Mr. Rajendra. (The Hindu 5/11/2016)

74. Community can improve school education (11)

COIMBATORE: Community participation plays a key role in improving school education, and the new National Education Policy will provide thrust to it, Union Minister for Human Resources Development Prakash Javadekar said here on Saturday. Inaugurating Isha Vidhya’s education conference at Isha Foundation, he said communities across the country had supported education, including several instances of building schools and providing houses to teachers. But a disconnect crept in after Independence, and the new National Education Policy looked at restoring the connect. Asserting that improving the quality of education was no longer a political agenda, but the national agenda of the Bharatiya Janata Party government, the Minister said he would hold discussions with all stakeholders on November 10 and was open to ideas. In the last 70 years, the reach of education had improved but not the quality. Therefore, this would be a major focus area, he added.Mr. Javadekar said that under the Right to Education Act, the learning outcomes were yet to be defined. His government was engaged in defining learning outcomes and it would release those in the next three months. This would usher in accountability. Isha Foundation founder Jaggi Vasudev said that promoting enterprise and business in education would usher in quality. Policing would not improve education; it would only breed mediocrity.It would not be wrong to make it mandatory that parents spent two to three days a year in their children’s school, as their involvement too would help improve the quality of education. (The Hindu 6/11/2016)

75. 42% of govt teachers in Nagaland untrained (11)

Kohima: About 42 per cent of the present 24,000 government teachers in Nagaland are untrained while 15 per cent schools, numbering 172, are being run by a single teacher, a major deterrent in achieving quality education in the State, Nagaland Minister for School Education and SCERT Yitachu said this. Inaugurating a two-day Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR)-sponsored national seminar on “Quality Teacher Education: Issues and Challenges of two year Bachelor of Education (B. Ed)” at Nagaland University, Kohima Campus in Meriema on Monday, the Minister said that the Right to Education (RTE) policy of the Central government has brought immense infrastructural improvements beside opening and upgradation of schools to reach each and every student.However, he regretted that the process has also created a huge gap in imparting quality education to the students, which has led to rise in the number of school dropouts and drop in students’ enrolment in government schools. – PTI (The Hindu 8/11/2016)

76. Aadhar numbers compulsory for RTE admissions next year: Education dept (11)

BENGALURU: Aadhar numbers of parents and the child will now be mandatory information to furnish while applying online for admissions under the 25% quota of the Right to Education act. In a stern move taken ahead of the admission process, Sowjanya, commissioner of public instruction directed that online applications for admissions to unaided minority schools will be received from January 1, 2017. The last date to get the Aadhar numbers would be December 31 for all parents. In case of orphans being admitted to unaided non-minority school, the commissioner has said that the orphanages will have to take responsibility of obtaining the Aadhar number for the child. Furthermore, the list of documents required during the application process include: Aadhar number of the child and one of the parents (guardian), caste certificate (in case of SC/ST/OBC), income certificate (in case of economically backward) and birth certificate of the child. These certificates and documents will have to be mandatorily furnished while submitting the application form. Biometrics will be put into use to authenticate the Aadhar numbers of the parents and child by Aadhar authorities on the spot during application submission. The income certificate and caste certificate will be verified on the spot using the Atalji Janasnehi Kendra database. “Only if the Aadhar number and certificates are found to be genuine, then the application would be accepted. Otherwise, the applications would be rejected on the spot,” said the commissioner. (Times of India 11/11/16)

77. Protest planned against new education policy by Centre (11)

Trichy: The Federation for Protection of Right to Education has planned to table an alternative education policy, instead of the Draft New Education Policy proposed by BJP-led Union government alleging that the draft would take the present education to the age old hereditary education system. Criticizing the policy, the group has also decided to stage a protest in Delhi on November 17, demanding withdrawal the proposed policy. While briefing reporters at a conference here on Saturday, P B Prince Gajendra Babu, general secretary of the State Platform for Common School System, alleged that the draft was a preview for attempting to make education a commercial commodity under the World Trade Organisation. The association strongly opposed the draft and condemned the Union government’s over the policy. ” Tamil Nadu government has already opposed the draft during the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) meeting held recently in Delhi. The state government should be firm in its stance in opposing the draft. In order to strengthen the common school system, the federation has decided to submit an alternative education policy to the government,” he further said. He quoted the minister for human resource and development Prakash Javadekar as saying that the ministry had not posted any copy of the draft new education policy on the ministry’s website. “Following the widespread opposition against the draft across the country, the minister denied that the ministry had posted any draft on the ministry’s website. If the ministry has not posted any draft on their website, the minister should explain what the undated and authored letter was on the site,” he said. To intensify the stir against the new draft policy, the association will launch a protest in Delhi on November 17. A day long demonstration has been planned where the alternative education policy would be emphasized, he said. (Times of India 13/11/16)

78. Education panel recommends skill training for children from class 3 (11)

New Delhi: A Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) sub-committee on skill and technical education has recommended introducing vocational courses from class 3 to ensure that school students undergo skill training from an early age. The committee also mooted developing laboratories at primary schools to motivate students in this regard. The report was discussed at a meeting of CABE – the highest advisory body on education for the central and state governments – last month.Besides this, the body recommended collating a list of skills vis-à-vis the regions they are required in, and integrating them with the education system. “During deliberations, the sub-committee made a number of suggestions, including the introduction of vocational education from the third standard. Also, it was suggested that state-of-the-art labs be developed even at the primary school level to motivate them,” said a source. Many members also highlighted the need to focus on vocational education pertaining to skill sectors relevant to the states. Other recommendations made by the sub-committee included training teachers, keeping the needs of the industry in mind. It also suggested ways to ensure that training in the agriculture sector reaches the backward sections of society. Sources further said the National Institute of Open Schooling is planning to introduce vocational education in class 12 with three vocational subjects, besides one language and one foundation subject. The committee stressed on the importance of infusing the existing skill education and technical education courses in both school and higher-education levels at academic institutes. It also recommended giving parents a say in picking entrepreneurship training courses for students. “Teachers should play the role of a mentor, and help students pick the learning or entrepreneurship training of their choice in conjunction with their parents at parent-teacher meets,” said a senior official. (Hindustan Times 15/11/2016)

79. Notice to education officials in J&K over school fees (11)

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) on Wednesday issued notice to Education Department officials on an application seeking direction to prevent private schools from charging tuition and transportation fees for the period of unrest in the Kashmir Valley. Commission chairman Justice (retd) Bilal Nazki ordered issuing of notice to the Principal Secretary of the Education Department and the Director of School Education seeking a report on the matter. The Commission listed the application for the next hearing on December 26. The Centre for Peace and Protection of Human Rights, an NGO, filed the application before the Commission on Tuesday seeking directions to the government to prevent private schools from charging either tuition fee or transportation fees from the parents of students for the period of unrest in Kashmir. The NGO has pleaded that since no academic activity has been undertaken since July 9, the schools should not charge any fees for the period. On a separate application filed by the NGO, the Commission chairman sought a report from the Deputy Commissioner of Srinagar over the locking of historic Jamia Masjid in the city where Friday prayers have not been offered since Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with security forces on July 8. – PTI (The Hindu 17/11/2016)

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

80. PM Modi pitches for empowerment of poor, links it to Make in India (21)

Raipur: Pitching for empowerment of the poor, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday skilled youth can pull themselves out of poverty and help fuel the engine of growth. He also said that states like Chhattisgarh, which have potential for ecotourism, can generate employment by investing little capital in its development. Addressing the 16th anniversary celebrations of Chhattisgarh, Modi said poor youth with sufficient opportunities, training, skills and tools can pull themselves and others out of poverty. Linking skilling with his ‘Make in India’ initiative, he said people with sufficient skills can help boost the country’s economy. “The full stress of our government is on uplift of poor,” he said. Appreciating the concept of jungle safari he inaugurated here, the Prime Minister said states with ecotourism potential can help provide employment to a large section of people. He said others indirectly involved with ecotourism like autorickshaw drivers, fruit sellers and chai wallahs can enhance their earning. At investment far less than what is required for setting up an industrial unit, concepts like jungle safaris can be big money spinners for small states like Chhattisgarh. Referring to the new crop insurance scheme launched by the Centre, he said there is a need to make agriculture more viable so that even a small piece of land can yield more.He said value addition to the produce of farmers was another way to help enhance their earning. On the issue of Centre-state relations, he said the government believes in cooperative federalism where states compete with each other in implementing new schemes. He also said the Centre will not discriminate among states in providing funds for development. (DNA 1/11/2016)

81. 80 cr people will be covered under food security law (21)

New Delhi: With Kerala and Tamil Nadu falling in line, the Centre on Thursday announced full implementation of the national food security law, which provides highly subsidised foodgrain to 80 crore people. Kerala and Tamil Nadu began implementation of the National Food Security Act (NFSA) from November 1, after the Centre threatened to charge higher MSP (minimum support price) rates for foodgrain allocated to the two states under the above poverty line (APL) category. Had they failed to implement NFSA, Kerala and Tamil Nadu would have got rice at nearly three times the rate fixed for allocations under the APL category. The two states argued that they had better public distribution networks than the NFSA and were keen to continue the same. They will continue to get their present allocation of foodgrain at the NFSA rates, ranging from Rs 1-3 per kg. “Kerala will continue to get its allotted 14 lakh tonnes of foodgrain and Tamil Nadu will continue to get 36 lakh tonnes at the NFSA rates,” Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told reporters here. Under the law, the government provides 5 kg of foodgrain per person, per month at Rs 1-3 per kg. Wheat is being supplied at Rs 2 a kilo and rice at Rs 3 per kilo. The NFSA will entail an annual financial outgo of Rs 1.4 lakh crore, he said. Paswan also warned state governments to refrain from taking credit for the initiative as the subsidised foodgrain were being distributed under a Central law. The Centre has digitised the entire beneficiary database in all the 36 states and Union Territories, Paswan said. He said the next target for the government was automation of fair price shops for distribution of food grains through an electronic point of sale device that would authenticate beneficiaries at the time of distribution. Paswan said so far 71% of the ration cards have been linked with Aadhaar and the rest would be done at the earliest. “This has resulted in the deletion of about 2.62 crore bogus ration cards,” he said. (Deccan Herald 4/11/2016)

82. Aren’t tribals being treated as second-class citizens? (21)

Mumbai: The incident of sexual harassment of a 10-year-old child studying at a tribal boarding school in Buldhana district of Maharashtra is shocking. Parents of some other girls, too, suspect their daughters were being sexually exploited at the school run by a private trust with funding from the state government. The police have formed a special investigation team under a woman IPS officer to investigate the entire case. One hopes the monsters who committed this heinous crime get the harshest punishment. As Hindustan Times reported on Monday, the state government had already been cautioned about the possibility of sexual exploitation of children in tribal boarding schools in the state. A panel appointed to recommend measures to prevent deaths of tribal students in such schools had pointed out the possibility of sexual harassment of girls in these schools. After receiving the report, Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao had twice in October told the state government to monitor the boarding schools by way of periodical visits of teams of officials as a preventive measure. Even before the government could act on Rao’s directives, the unfortunate incident at Buldhana came to light. This is the second incident involving tribals in Maharashtra within a span of less than two months. In September, the state was shocked following the reports of deaths of children in Palghar district due to malnutrition. Although there were strong reactions from all quarters in both the incidents, there are chances that most people will forget these incidents after some time till something happens again. Is it just because tribals are not a majority community and can’t form a strong pressure group and take out rallies to grab attention to the injustice against them? Won’t it be right to say that we are treating tribals as second class citizens? For them, nothing much has changed in decades. Illiteracy, unemployment and poverty are still serious problems for state’s 9% tribal population. Infant mortality is high and periodically there are reports of children dying due to malnutrition. They live in remote areas, making it a standard excuse for poor state of infrastructure there. They have reservation in education and government jobs, but many of them are not even in a position to benefit from it. Some percentage of the tribal population has made progress, but a large number of them are still in bad shape. …  (Hindustan Times 8/11/2016)

83. 4.5 million in Italy living in absolute poverty (21)

NK World, Rome, Nov 9 : A total of 4.6 million people – 7.6 percent of the population – were living in absolute poverty in Italy, the country’s central statistics agency ISTAT said. The number of people living in absolute poverty rose more than two-and-a-half-times from 2006 when it stood at 1.8 million, ISTATE noted. But the number of children in absolute poverty more than tripled since from 2006 to reach 1.1 million in 2015, ISTAT said in a report presented to the Senate. Welfare spending in Italy reached 446.8 billion euros in 2015, of which over four-fifths went on the poorest sections of the population, according to the report. Italy is still struggling to recover from its worst recession in the post-war period. (New Kerala 9/11/2016)

84. 29,000 beneficiaries waiting for Shaadi Bhagya aid (21)

BELAGAVI: The much publicized bidai scheme (Shaadi Bhagya) of the state government has turned redundant due to the inordinate delay in disbursing funds to its beneficiaries. The scheme, announced by the Congress government in 2013 with a much fanfare, is aimed at providing a financial assistance of Rs 50,000 to brides belonging to economically backward minority communities. As per the information sourced through RTI by Bhimappa Gadad, the government owes a huge amount of Rs 147.64 crore to 29,528 beneficiaries ever since the scheme came into being in 2013. RTI activist Bhimappa said many families have landed in debt trap due to the delay in disbursement of money to the beneficiaries. “In the hope of getting Rs.50,000 from the government, many poor families have raised private loans at higher interest rates for marriage of their daughters. Now, these families are struggling to pay the interest on the loan availed, let alone clearing the principal amount,” he said. The situation has also raised serious questions on the state government’s financial health, he said. “Else, how can the government not release funds for its pet scheme? ” Bhimappa added. (Times of India 12/11/2016)

85. 50% kids in Alirajpur, Dhar, Dindori and Jhabua of MP are stunted (21)

CHENNAI: About 50% of children Alirajpur, Dhar, Dindori and Jhabua – the four districts in Madhya Pradesh where tribals constitute 50% of the population – are stunted, according to a new analysis done by Down To Earth magazine (Hindi). According to a press release issued by them, experts are now seriously alarmed by the high incidence of stunting in the state. They believe it is the result of several years of poor diet, chronic hunger, and infection. While the condition of underweight malnourished children can be reversed with good food and care, it is not possible for children who are afflicted by stunting. According to international non-profit Save The Children, Madhya Pradesh tops the nation in the number of malnourished children under the age of six – in 2015, 60% of children there were malnourished, while 74% were anaemic. Analysts with Down To Earth, who have found that stunting is high in all tribal-dominated areas across India, say that it could be indicative of a bigger problem. “Decades of hunger and stunting seem to have altered the stature of tribal people, forever,” says the magazine. It says the vicious cycle begins in the womb – the unborn foetus does not get the necessary nutrients, because most mothers themselves suffer from severe malnutrition. According to the researchers behind this analysis, forests were traditionally the main source of nutritious sustenance – including meat — for tribals, who were able to extract close to 150 different varieties of food from forests. Today, while PDS and cheap food rations do provide food security, nutritional security is still a distant dream for them. With the forests made out of bounds for tribals, their primary source of nutrition has dried up. A 2013 report by the Central government says 72% tribal women never get to eat even one fruit in a week. “Official policies, which have barred our tribal populations from the forests – their traditional source of food and nutrition – seem to be responsible for this severe malnutrition and stunting that afflicts these populations,” says Richard Mahapatra, managing editor, Down To Earth. (Times of India 12/11/16)

86. Can give free food to all under food security Act if states cooperate: Ram Vilas Paswan (21)

New Delhi: The National Food Security Act (NFSA) that provides legal entitlement for cheap grain to 64 per cent of Indians now covers the entire country, with Kerala and Tamil Nadu agreeing to implement it. The Act was passed during the previous United Progressive Alliance government. Food minister RAM VILAS PASWAN tells Sanjeeb Mukherjee that as an expansion of NFSA, his ministry would consider distributing fortified and nutritious wheat and rice through the Public Distribution System (PDS). Edited excerpts: Three years after its launch, the NFSA has become truly national, with all states becoming a part of it. What would be the biggest impact of this on the common man and the poor? The biggest impact or benefit of NFSA and its nationwide coverage is that none can now say he is dying of hunger, as 75% of the rural population and 50% of  the urban population in all states have been covered. The beneficiaries would get wheat at Rs 2 a kg and rice at Rs 3 a kg. This is more than any BPL (below poverty line) list. If state governments are serious, we can give free food to all the 810-million identified beneficiaries, as the Centre is already bearing 91% of the subsidy for distributing cheap wheat and rice to the public through PDS. We have also notified the grievance redressal mechanism provided in NFSA, under which if any beneficiary does not get his due quantity of grain in time, he can claim an allowance at the rate of 1.25 times the MSP (minimum support price) either from the state concerned or the central government, whoever is responsible for the delay. There was a lot of reluctance from states to join the NFSA. How did you manage to convince them? It needed a lot of persuasion and there was public pressure on them as well. That apart, we told them, particularly Kerala and Tamil Nadu, that grain for only the BPL and the Antyodaya Anna Yojana families would be supplied at a subsidised rate from November 1. For Above Poverty Line families, it would have to be purchased at MSP, which made them fall in line. The ministry has also embarked on a massive task of digitisation of ration cards, seeding these with Aadhaar and DBT (direct benefits transfer) as and when possible. How much savings will all this accrue to the exchequer from, say, the next financial year? The subsidy component might not go down by much and can happen only if the number of beneficiaries are curtailed, which is not at all the intention. What is happening is that the subsidy is getting better targeted and befitting the actual poor and needy — like we managed to save around Rs 14,000 crore by weeding out 26.5 million bogus ration cards. This can’t be called saving in the overall subsidy in its true sense, as fresh cards were issued against them. But, what it did was that it minimised leakage and pilferage. … (Business Standard 14/11/2016)

87. Growing deposits may lower rates (21)

MUMBAI: Large deposits in bank accounts is expected to soften bond yields and also lower rate of interest in the economy as banks will be forced to use the extra cash to buy more government papers and rush to lend money to customers, or do both. With people unable to spend due to tight liquidity, this could also lead to slower growth, which would leave enough space for the RBI to cut rates, economists and bond dealers said. Anticipating a strong surge in buying gilts by banks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced withdrawal of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes from the market on November 8 evening, the benchmark yield on the 10-year gilts had rallied 15 basis points to 6.65% following day the. After see-sawing through the week, on Friday the yields settled at 6.72%, still 8 basis points softer before the PM’s announcement. The only trouble that could limit a bond rally is the spike in the US yields, which is also leading to spikes in bond yields in other major economies around the world, economists and bond dealers said. In the last four days, banks have witnessed aggregate deposits of over Rs 1 lakh crore+ , most in savings bank accounts and current accounts, which is boosting the CASA deposits of banks. “Surge in deposit in banking system will create more demand for government bonds and other high-rated bonds in an environment of tepid demand for credit. However, at the same time, a reduction in leakages in systemic liquidity will leave almost no scope for OMO purchases in the coming days,” Soumyajit Niyogi, associate director, credit & market research, India Ratings & Research. “Apart from boosting banking system liquidity, curbing the underground economy and a systematic lowering of the share of cash in economic activity are likely lead to lower inflationary pressures,” said Siddhartha Sanyal, chief India Economist, Barclays Bank. “Dampening the parallel economy — potentially for multiple quarters — will likely have some near-term sobering effect on consumption demand and, in turn, on overall economic growth. This will likely offer greater space for the RBI for monetary easing in the coming months,” Sanyal said. Barclays expects another 25-basis-point rate cut by the RBI in the January-March quarter of 2017. … (Times of India 14/11/16)

88. Poor sleeping peacefully but corrupt troubled: Modi on demonetisation (21)

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday justified demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency and said as a result of the move, the poor were sleeping in ease and those who have stashed ill-gotten money are running from pillar to post, buying sleeping pills. Addressing a gathering at Ghazipur, the Prime Minister said had Uttar Pradesh not given such a huge mandate to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), there could not have been a government at the Centre which “works with steely determination” for the people of the country. Modi also said there was no dearth of money in the country but it was not there where it should be. He also asked the crowds to endorse demonetisation by raising their hands and clapping. When the crowd did so, he said his mandate was to clear the country of graft and weed out the corrupt and he was merely doing so. The demonetisation move, he admitted, had caused problems to the people but added that they were braving it out for the larger good and progress of the nation. He attacked the Congress and accused the party of “misleading” the people on demonetisation. He also mentioned how the Congress was now shedding crocodile tears though it had once clamped Emergency in the country for 19 months and converted the country into a “big prison”. “It is surprising that people in Congress, their lawyer leaders are asking me under which law have I banned these currency notes, I want to ask them under which law did they ban the 25 paise,” the PM said, while adding how a person did something which befitted his or her stature. “You never went beyond 25 paise and we have done what was of our standing,” he said. He also said the banning of big currency notes was a major step against counterfeit currency which was feeding terrorism and Maoism. “I am trained to make ‘kadak’ (strong) tea since my childhood and I know poor people like this type of tea, while the rich feel its bitterness,” he said in reference to his beginning as a tea seller. Modi said there were politicians who were wearing currency notes and now are trying to spread rumours among the people on demonetisation, and assured the people that days of graft were now over. “Do not pay heed to rumours, every single rupee earned honestly by you will always remain yours, till your brother is alive,” Modi said in an emotional tone. … (Hindustan Times 14/11/16)

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

89. Termination of services of 250 municipal workers condemned (14)

KALABURAGI: Dalit Sangharsh Samithi (DSS) has condemned the termination of services of around 250 municipal labourers working in Afzalpur, Aland, Shahabad, Sedam and Chincholi civic bodies and demanded that the Directorate of Municipal Administration withdraw its order. Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday, Arjun Bhadre, State organising convenor of the Dalit outfit, verbally attacked the apex body of Municipal Administration for removing the pourakarmikas calling their appointment illegal. As per the information he provided, the State government issued a notification in 1993 that transferred the power of appointing Group D workers in local urban civic bodies from the elected body to Deputy Commissioner concerned. However, some civic bodies, unaware of the notification, did make some appointments initially and the workers thus appointed in the transition period were now terminated after over 20 years. “What were these IAS officers doing all these years? Did they realise that the appointments of pourakarmikas were illegal only when the latter demanded their pending wages on the eve of Deepavali? We condemn the decision and demand that R. Vishal, Director of Municipal Administration, withdraw the order immediately,” Mr. Bhadre. Malleshi Sajjan, State convenor of the organisation, termed the termination as infringement by a public authority of constitutionally guaranteed right to life. “As per the Contract Labour (Regulation And Abolition) Act, a worker who completes his duty for 250 days without interruption should be considered as permanent labour. From that point of view, all the workers whose services are now terminated should be deemed to be regular employees. Instead of regularising their services, the government has rendered them jobless,” he said. The Dalit leaders announced that they would hold a protest rally and demonstration in Kalaburagi on Friday condemning the termination and demanding regularisation of the services of the terminated workers. “The rally would begin from Ambedkar Circle and go through major streets to reach the office of Deputy Commissioner,” he said. Dalit leaders Mallikarjun Kranthi, Mallikarjun Khanna, Sharanu J.D., Mahantesh Badadal and others were present. (The Hindu 3/11/2016)

90. AIDWA bats for job scheme (14)

KANHANGAD: The All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) has urged the Centre to safeguard the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) so that the rural poor is assured of a steady income flow. The BJP-led government at the Centre appears to be keen to do away with the populist MGNREGS by drastically reducing the budgetary allocation for the programme, said the AIDWA, which is holding its 11th State conference here, on Thursday. The scheme that ensured a minimum of 100 days jobs at the rate of Rs.125 per day was allocated Rs.40,100 crore initially with six crore labourers registered under it. Now the budgetary allocation had come down to Rs.33,500 crore though 13.50 crore labourers had joined the scheme. The Centre has “deliberately” reduced the budgetary provision for the scheme, the resolution said. Authorities should raise the fund allocation so that a member could get a minimum 100 man days. It also called for enhancing the wages up to Rs.500 a day while the working hours should be regularised from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the project ambit should be to include animal husbandry, agriculture, dairy, and traditional sectors. The Centre should also restrain the use of machineries so that the man days are increased to the maximum extent, it said. (The Hindu 4/11/2016)

91. Patels pass resolution, ban dalits from doing farm labour in Aravalli village (14)

PALANPUR: A quarrel over bursting crackers on Diwali day has turned into a serious caste conflict in a village of Aravalli district with the Patel community adopting a resolution not to allow Dalits to work as farm labourers and boycotting them socially. Patels in Choila village, some five km from Bayad town, have allegedly resolved to impose Rs 10,000 fine on any of their community member who employs Dalits in their field. On Diwali day, a person from Patel community was injured by the crackers that few Dalits were bursting. The fight also reached the local police station and later it was decided that members of both communities will resolve the issue amicably on Labh Pacham Day. However, the Patels, sources said, got together in a temple and adopted the resolution against the Dalits. Meanwhile, the Dalit community submitted a memorandum to the sub divisional magistrate (SDM) urging him to provide alternate employment to tide over the impending financial crisis.Choila has a population of around 1,500 Patels and nearly 1,000 Dalit families, most of whom work as farm labourers. “No one will dare to hire us as a farm labourers. If anyone does, a fine of Rs 10,000 will be imposed on them. We have nowhere to go now,” said Mahendrabhai Solanki, a Dalit community member, who submitted the memorandum. “We were always subjected to untouchability as our entry in temples was banned and barber dont cut our hair,” said Budhbhai Vankar, whose wife ironically is the chairperson of the judicial committee of the village. RB Gameti, SDM, Bayad, told TOI: “We have received the complaint from Dalits and forwarded it to the police for necessary action.” NJ Jadeja, police sub inspector, Bayad, who was in the village Saturday afternoon said, “We are persuading both communities to resolve the issue peacefully.” (Times of India 6/11/2016)

92. 75 bonded labour survivors have a new shot at life (14)

BENGALURU: Anil was approached by a man who promised to give him an advance of tens of thousands of rupees if he was willing to take up a job in Maharashtra. Anil readily agreed. “I had been working there for 2-3 days when I happened to interact with some policemen. I didn’t understand their language so I told them I knew Marathi and that they could speak to me in that language. But they said they were in Karnataka and people here spoke in Kannada. That’s when I realized I’d been tricked,” Anil recounted. When Anil said he wanted to go back home, he was badly beaten up and locked in a big building. He was later rescued and brought back to his hometown in Madhya Pradesh. Anil is one of the 75 survivors of bonded labour to have graduated from the two-year International Justice Missions (IJM) aftercare programme; they were rescued from areas in and around Bangalore.”The aim is to restore their lives, privacy and dignity and, most importantly, ensure they no longer enter into any bonded labour contracts,” says Esther Daniel, Director, IJM. “Psychologically speaking, they are unable to make decisions for themselves, which is why we provide counselling and encouragement. They are educated on their rights, legal provisions, government schemes, women’s rights, importance of education and proper healthcare. We hold discussions on important topics at monthly community meetings. We help them become employable; since they are used to working on a daily wage, they are intimidated by the idea of saving their money and budgeting it over the month,” she says. The aftercare team helps the survivors contact government departments to ensure they get rehabilitation benefits. No money is given to them; the aim is to educate and make them employable, not make them dependant. Anil is now reunited with his family, all of whom now have birth certificates and Aadhaar cards. He works in a toll booth and hopes to become a security guard or mechanic soon. His wife has learnt to operate a sewing machine and sews all their clothes. His children too have been enrolled to anganwadis and schools. (Times of India 9/11/2016)

93. Stand against non-compliance of labour laws, says expert (14)

Nagpur: Stand firmly against non-compliance of labour laws. For that you should remain up-to-date with the latest amendments in the laws, said Sushobhan Sarkar, director of C-Quel, here today. Sarkar said these words while speaking at a seminar on ‘Liberalisation of labour laws: Pros and cons’ at Hotel Centre Point, Ramdaspeth, on Thursday. The seminar was jointly held by Vidarbha Industries Association (VIA), National Institute of Personnel Management (NIPM) and Butibori Manufacturers Association (BMA) to educate the business fraternity of the city about the implementation and implications of reforms in labour laws. VIA president Atul Pande, BMA president Nitin Lonkar, NIPM regional vice-president Anand Toal and general manager (human resources) of RPG Group Ghanshyam Mhatre shared the dais. Urging the audience to keep eyes and ears open to labour laws, Sushobhan further said, “We should be aware of all the labour laws and pledge not to succumb to pressure,” he said. Sushobhan along with another director of C-Quel Nandini Sarkar gave a presentation which brought to light modifications in various laws pertaining to human resource management and their impact on employees in every industry. Their company provides compliance service solutions to major companies and public sector undertakings. Nandini continued with the presentation explaining in detail about the steps taken by the government and its benefit. “The Centre is pushing for digitization of labour laws and e-governance,” she said. She informed that the government has introduced cloud storage application called ‘Digilocker’ where employees and organizations can store important documents. This, she pointed out that these measures are a part of the ‘Make in India’ initiative. According to Sarkar, new rules will also benefit female employees during pregnancy as maternity leave has been extended to 26 weeks with pay. She highlighted that 25% of major corporations are non-compliant to the Sexual Harassment Act, 2013 and said, “Unfortunately, female labour is not treated with the dignity it deserves.”     Mahin is a 2-year-old on the clock for survival Sarkar said that the union labour ministry will recommend to the government to make ESIC optional so that employees could opt for private insurance plans should they wish. She informed that the number of permissions required for companies to commence business in the state has come down to 37 from 76 and will further drop to 25. … (Times of India 11/11/16)

94. Justice for contract workers sought (14)

VIJAYAWADA: A.P. Non-Gazetted Officers’ Association (APNGOA) president P. Ashok Babu said the State government should do full justice to the contract and outsourced employees, whose salaries and allowances had been increased to some extent. “The contract and outsourced employees are rendering services at par with the permanent officers and staff but they are facing severe hardship due to low remuneration and poor working conditions. We all should strive for their welfare,” he said at the association meeting held here on Saturday. He said the association was happy with the steps taken by the government for solving the problems faced by the regular employees and the government needed to take a sympathetic view of the plight of the temporary workers. Mr. Ashok Babu observed that the APNGOA had succeeded to a large extent in getting the demands of the permanent employees conceded while extending due cooperation for the rebuilding of the fledgling State. (The Hindu 13/11/16)

95. Dalit Samiti stages protest, demands facilities for employees (14)

Mandya: The Karnataka Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (B. Krishnappa faction) has urged the State government to fix minimum wages for Dalits working at gram panchayats and other local bodies. A group of members of the Samiti took out a protest march from the Bengaluru-Mysuru highway to the office of the Deputy Commissioner here on Tuesday.According to them, employees of various grades at gram panchayats and urban local bodies (ULBs) were facing insecurity following the absence of minimum wages and other social security benefits. The agitators urged the government to release salaries of all Dalit employees by the fifth of every month. They also demanded pension, health insurance, provident fund and other facilities for Dalit employees. The State government was also urged to implement the Justice A.J. Sadashiva Commission Report, which recommended reallocation of reservation among communities grouped under Scheduled Castes, immediately. Later, they submitted a memorandum to the government through the office of the Deputy Commissioner. (The Hindu 15/11/2016)

RESERVATION               

96. Dalits to join hands with MIM to counter stir by Marathas (25)

Various dalit organisations have planned a ‘Maha Morcha’ in Aurangabad on Friday and MIM has extended its support not only to the march, but also proposed a political front. A series of silent marches by the Maratha community started in Aurangabad in August and the dalit community is gearing up to put up a massive show of strength from the same place. Dalit leaders said the Aurangabad show will be followed up in the other parts of the state. “Muslims and dalits have suffered the most and have been used as vote banks by political parties without being given any representation. MIM has already started dalit-Muslim unity efforts and the party has dalit corporators in Aurangabad Municipal Corporation. Dalits, Muslims and other minorities coming together have scope not only in local politics but also can come to power in the state,” MIM MLA ImtiazJaleel told TOI on Tuesday.The development is significant as Sambhaji Brigade is trying to weigh its political strength hoping that a united Maratha community will support its political front. Its president Manoj Akhare told media persons that the party will contest the local polls and fight for bahujan samaj. Sambhaji Brigade is an outfit of Maratha Seva Sangh, the mother organization of various Maratha groups. It was in focus after its activists attacked Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in 2004 accusing the institute and the scholars associated with it of collaborating with US author James Laine who made objectionable statements about Shivaji in his book Shivaji: A Hindu King in Islamic India. Prominent dalit activist Usha Wagh said, “We have to wait and watch the result of this new political and social alignment in the state. But the Maratha marches drew a dividing line and the reaction to these marches is obvious. However, we don’t have to jump to conclusions about what will happen in the state’s politics and the social structure.” (Times of India 2/11/2016)

97. Centre asks State to quicken caste verification of SC/ST employees (25)

Mumbai: A Central Parliamentary Committee has criticised the State government for not putting in place sufficient checks while recruiting for reservation category jobs in public sector undertakings (PSUs). The Centre has sent a notice to State Chief Secretary Swadheen Kshatriya asking him to explain why there has been an inordinate delay in verifying the caste and community status of the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) employees and candidates. The Parliamentary Committee on the Welfare of SCs/STs expressed concern on delays in the verification process at various State- and district-level caste verification committees. The issue was found to be serious particularly in the Food Corporation of India (FCI), the report of the committee suggested last month. While writing a note to the Chief Secretary, Vrinda Sarup, Secretary of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, said the matter has been taken up with the State government at the highest level, “but outcomes are still awaited.”Caste verification committees in Maharashtra have courted controversy with many probes finding anomalies in the verification process. The backlog of applications in the committees adds to the delay in the implementation of social schemes for the SC/STs, say senior officials. “Keeping in view the sensitivity of the matter involved and the serious concerns expressed by the committee, I would like to request you to intervene personally and expedite the caste verification process,” reads a letter from the Union Secretary.The committee in its reports also criticised the State government for not having a central authority to supervise the committees. “We request you to appoint a nodal officer in your State, who can coordinate such matters with the district and State functionaries and PSUs like the FCI,” a Central government note reads. In March, the Centre warned the delay in verification was leading to a lot of resentment among employees and suggested providing provisional appointments.“Owing to difficulties faced by candidates belonging to these reserved communities in various States in securing employment due to delays in obtaining caste certificates, this Department had re-iterated the instructions on providing provisional appointment to such reserved category candidates who are unable to obtain an appropriate caste certificate in time,” reads a Government Resolution from G. Srinivasan, Deputy Secretary to the Government of India. (The Hindu 4/11/2016)

98. Gujarat OBC groups to hold rally for stricter prohibition (25)

Ahmedabad: Seeking stricter implementation of prohibition in ‘dry Gujarat’, OBC, SC, ST (OSS) Ekta Manch and Kshatriya-Thakor Sena (KTS) would hold a protest rally in Gandhinagar on Sunday. To be held barely half a kilometre from the Gujarat Assembly, the Ekta Manch and the KTS rally seek 10-year imprisonment and Rs 5 lakh fine for liquor sellers, and two years in jail and Rs 2 lakh penalty for those who consume liquor illegally. “Poor implementation of prohibition policy and lenient penal provisions have seen bootleggers become fearless,” Ekta Manch and KTS convener Alpesh Thakor said. Alpesh has been trying to galvanise the 45% OBC population in the state to create a parallel pressure group against diluting reservation in government jobs and educational institutions following the Patel agitation to get the OBC tag. The OBC community in the state have been using the sanitised method of protest by targeting bootleggers and cops misusing prohibition laws. Thakor, who had organised a similar rally in Ahmedabad on the issue in January, says over a million members of OSS Ekta Manch would gather for the rally. Local authorities may have denied legal permission for the Patels and Dalits, but the OBC group has no such problems. “Though the administration has granted permission for the rally on Sunday, we are taking no chances. A strong security apparatus is being put in place to avoid any untoward incident as we have information that some of them may even end up sitting on the fast post rally,” a senior police official said.Thakor also threatened to disrupt the forthcoming biennial global investors summit and Vibrant Gujarat, a pet initiative of the prime minister, if they do not get firm commitment from the state government that 85% of the jobs would be reserved for Gujaratis. (Deccan Herald 6/11/2016)

99. Give quota to dalits in sports to win gold in Olympics: Udit (25)

New Delhi: India will win gold medals at Olympics, if quota is offered to Dalits in sports, a BJP MP from the community claimed today as he made a strong pitch for reservation to the community in line with that given to blacks in US and South Africa. “Reservation should be extended to Dalits in each of the sports. In South Africa, quota is offered in their cricket team. The US too pitches for blacks, who slog, work hard in athletics. There are not many whites in athletics.”…If reservation is offered here in sports, we too will win gold medals,” BJP Parliamentarian Udit Raj said today. Udit Raj made the remarks while speaking to reporters here on the issue of extending quota to Dalits in various areas of private sector including sports.”You go to US, there is a partnership with non-whites in each sector. In South Africa, reservation is given to Negroes even in a sport like cricket. There can’t be more than five whites in cricket team,” he added. To a question, the Parliamentarian, one of the key Dalit leaders of the saffron party, also hit out at BSP chief Mayawati over her criticism of BJP that atrocities against community members have gone up in the states ruled by the NDA major. “Rather, Dalits faced atrocities more during Mayawati’s regime in Uttar Pradesh. Her allegations are unfounded,” he said. Udit Raj insisted on bringing reforms in judiciary and police system to ensure the number of alleged attacks on Dalits goes down. “There have been atrocities against Dalits in the past too. We have flagged the issue in Parliament many a times. Such incidents though will not go down until these reforms happen. We need social reforms too,” he said. The Parliamentarian targeted Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP too for allegedly not keeping promises of regularising contractual community teachers and sanitation workers into Delhi government services and said he will raise the issues among Dalits across the national capital. “They sought votes of Dalits ahead of assembly elections, but kept none of the promises made to the community. I will be fanning parts of the national capital where community populace is concentrated to tell people facts,” he said. At the Rio Olympics held earlier this year, India bagged two medals: a silver in badminton and bronze in wrestling both in women’s category. (Business Standard 9/11/2016)

100. Transgenders seek job quota (25)

KURNOOL: The Right of Transgenders Act should be enacted in the winter session of Parliament and transgenders must be recognised as a third gender, demanded Indian National Samatha Hijadas’ Rights Ikya Porata Samithi leaders here on Thursday. Transgenders lacked any sort of recognition as individuals or groups and were being looked down upon by society, samithi president P. Vijay Kumar, transgenders Chandni, K. Madhuri, Durga, Praveena, Mayuri, Parvathamma, Uma, Charmi, Deepa, Lidiya and Mounika said in their “Atma gourava deeksha” near the Sri Krishnadevarayulu statue in Kurnool. They lamented that they lacked own houses, identification and ration cards and facilities such as education, health eluded them. They demanded allocation of Rs. 4,000 crore for the welfare of 4.50 crore transgenders, a uniform policy for them across the country, benefits under government welfare schemes and reservation on the lines of SC/STs in admissions and employment. (The Hindu 11/11/2016)

101. Rajasthan govt. withdraws notice on tribal quota (25)

JAIPUR: The Rajasthan government has withdrawn a controversial notification of 2014 by which it had differentiated between the “Meena” and “Mina” terms for providing reservation to the community as a Scheduled Tribe (ST). The decision was taken after Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje termed the dispute on quota “totally unwarranted”. Ms. Raje said in the Global Rajasthan Agritech Meet-2016, which ended here on Friday, that the order on the basis of which the issue had been raised was no longer in force. She asked the Meena farmers to focus on their agricultural activities and forget about the dispute. (The Hindu 13/11/16)

102. Karnataka to review quota for backward classes in panchayats, municipalities (25)

Bengaluru: In a major policy decision, the Karnataka government has decided to revisit the present system of reservation provided to backward classes in panchayats and municipalities. A committee, headed by Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister H K Patil, has been constituted to examine various aspects of reservations provided to backward classes in local bodies and recommend changes if required. Ministers T B Jayachandra, H Anjaneya, R Roshan Baig, Eshwar Khandre and Karnataka State Backward Classes Commission chairman H Kantharaj, are among the other members, on the panel.According to official sources, the committee was constituted in September this year following a direction of the Supreme Court on a petition challenging the present system of reservation to backward classes in panchayat raj institutions and municipalities. According to the present reservation system, seats in both urban and rural local bodies for SC/STs is fixed based on their population. The OBC quota is divided into two categories. Backward Classes (A) category, comprising a majority of communities under the state OBC list, is provided 80% reservation, while Backward Classes (B) with dominant communities like Lingayats, Vokkaligas and Bunts, is provided the balance 20% reservation. Rules stipulate only such candidates who are not income tax or sales tax assessees and who do not own more than 10 hectares of farmland, are eligible to contest under category BC(B). Besides, 50% seats in all categories are reserved for women. The system had been challenged by the Karnataka Kurubara Sangha, which questioned the basis on which the quota had been fixed. Kantharaj said a report on caste-wise political representation in zilla panchayats and taluk panchayats prepared by the Karnataka State Backward Classes Commission sourcing information from the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department had been submitted to state government recently. The report will serve as reference material to the committee. The committee will be holding its first meeting soon, the sources added. (Deccan Herald 13/11/2016)

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

103. Human rights body asks for reports from MP govt and cops on SIMI killings (12)

New Delhi, Nov. 1 (PTI): The National Human Rights Commission has issued notices to the Madhya Pradesh government, police and prison authorities over the killing of eight men of the banned outfit SIMI following their escape from a jail in Bhopal on Monday. The NHRC has taken up the case on its own, after media reports on the daring jailbreak by the eight undertrials and their death in an encounter with the police. The NHRC has asked the state’s Chief Secretary, police chief and prisons bosses to submit detailed reports in six weeks. The eight men of the Students Islamic Movement of India are said to have broken out of Bhopal Central Jail in the early hours of Monday after killing a guard. The police said all eight were located within hours and were shot dead when they tried to fight back. The police version had raised many questions—from how the prisoners managed to escape, to how they got a change of clothes or even the weapons with which they are said to have fought back, and also why they chose to make a last stand in a terrain devoid of cover on the city’s outskirts. The NHRC said it has always been concerned about deaths in police and judicial custody, as well as in police action, and has issued guidelines from time to time. “Reportedly, the undertrial prisoners escaped the jail after killing a guard. Three of these under trial prisoners had escaped from the Khandwa jail three years back and were nabbed again in the state of Odisha, this year. The under trial were charged under various crimes including murder, sedition, jail break and bank robberies,” it said.”Senior officers have claimed the police started firing only after being shot at by the accused.”The police team had initially asked the escaped prisoners to surrender, as stated in the report,” it added. (The Telegraph 1/11/2016)

104. 11,000 NGOs will not get foreign funds (1)

New Delhi: Two years after the NDA government cancelled the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licences of 10,000 NGOs, the licences of another 11,000 NGOs expired as they did not apply for renewal in time. A senior Home Ministry official said “expiry” technically meant cancellation and the NGOs could no longer receive foreign funds now. Among the most significant cancellations were — Adani Foundation promoted by business tycoon Gautam Adani, Oxfam Trust, the Indian arm of the British human rights organisation and Salam Balak Trust, which works for children’s rights. The fate of another 1,700 NGOs is in a limbo as the Home Ministry has put them under “closed” category for submitting incomplete documents. According to Arjun Kumar Phillips of Voluntary Action India, an umbrella organisation of over 500 NGOs, the “closed” category is a new procedure initiated by the Home Ministry. “Despite many NGOs submitting completed documents, they have been put under the closed category. Tata Memorial Trust, which is a renowned organisation and has always complied with norms, has also been put under this category,” Mr. Phillips said. As per the Home Ministry website, some of the other NGOs whose FCRA licences expired were Lady Shriram College in Delhi, India Habitat Centre, Aligarh Muslim University, National Blind Youth Association, Red Crescent Society, Tehelka Foundation, Dr. Zakir Husain Educational and Cultural Society, Pondicherry University, Shri Ramkrishna Ashram, Indian Statistical Institute, Indian Medical Association and Christian Medical College in Vellore. This brings down the number of NGOs that can receive foreign donations from 33,000 to 25,000. Soon after it came to power in 2014, the NDA government began a cleaning exercise and cancelled the registration of 10,000 NGOs which were either dormant or were not complying with the norms. Since the FCRA licence is given for five years, this year all the NGOs had to apply for a renewal and the last date was June 30. The last time such an exercise was done was in 2011 after the FCRA Act was amended in 2010. (The Hindu 4/11/2016)

105. CWC raises issue of NHRC appointment (1)

New Delhi: The BJP-led NDA government’s decision to appoint party vice-president Avinash Rai Khanna as a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) came up for discussion at the Congress Working Committee meeting on Monday, with some members arguing that the first-ever appointment of an active politician to the rights body should be opposed. Sources said members spoke about the government’s standoff with the judiciary, and appointments to other institutions. The CWC passed a resolution expressing “deep concern and alarm over the continuing and deliberate attack on the independence of the judiciary and the delay in appointments of judges to the higher judiciary, which has adversely affected the judicial delivery system”.The Indian Express reported on Sunday that Khanna’s name was cleared last month by the high-level selection panel, which included Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad besides the Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, Union Home Minister and Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.The CWC resolution also accused the government of indulging in “centralisation of authority”, taking “arbitrary and partisan decisions” and “misuse of government agencies to target political opponents, critics and institutions”. (The Indian Express 8/11/2016)

106. AI, HRW condemn govt’s refusal to renew FCRA licenses (1)

New Delhi: Condemning the Centre’s refusal to renew foreign funding licenses of several NGOs, Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) demanded that the government show how these restrictions are necessary and also repeal or amend the FCRA. Earlier this month, the Home Ministry said it had cancelled registration of 11,319 organisations that had not applied for renewal of registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulations Act by the June 30 deadline this year. A statement issued jointly by AI and HRW said, “The ability to access foreign funding is integral to the rights to free association and expression which can only be restricted under narrowly specified grounds. “The Home Ministry’s decision to prevent NGOs from receiving foreign funding without sound justification is mystifying. The Ministry has an obligation to show how these restrictions are necessary and proportionate,” it said. The NGOs also demanded that foreign contribution law be either amended or repealed so that it is not misused. “The government should repeal the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act or amend it so that it does not interfere with the rights to freedom of expression and association and cannot be misused for political reasons to restrict the peaceful activities of non-governmental organisations,” it said. The statement also said, “The (FCRA) law’s use of broad and vague terms such as ‘public interest’ and ‘national interest’ have left it open to abuse.” It said it is ironical that while foreign funding is welcomed for investment in industries, the same is blocked for helping the marginalised. “While India is actively encouraging foreign investment in key industries, it is trying to deny funding for efforts to assist the most vulnerable and marginalised,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia Director at Human Rights Watch. The statement cited how three prominent NGOs–Centre for Promotion of Social Concern, INSAF, Sanchal Foundation–were each denied an FCRA license in October this year. Earlier this year, the Home Ministry had also suspended the FCRA registration of Lawyers Collective, an advocacy NGO founded by activist lawyers Indira Jaising and Anand Grover. Teesta Setalvad’s Sabrang Trust also faced similar action in June. (Deccan Herald 9/11/2016)

107. Concern over rising complaints of children harassing aged parents (1)

KALABURAGI: Meera Saksena, Chairperson of the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission, has said that increased awareness on human rights and activities of the commission had resulted in more number of cases being registered with the commission. Addressing a human rights awareness programme organised by the Kalaburagi chapter of Karnataka Human Rights Panel here on Wednesday, Ms. Saksena said that the increasing number of complaints being lodged with the commission on varied issues indicate the spreading awareness of human rights among the people. She urged non-government organisations, functionaries and anganwadi workers in rural areas to create awareness on human rights laws framed to check gender abuse and domestic violence which usually remain within the confines of one’s house. “Since time immemorial, domestic violence has been an intrinsic part of society we are living in,” Ms. Saksena added. She asked human rights panel to join hands with the commission and take steps to combat child labour, child marriage, trafficking in human beings and bonded labour, from the grassroots level. Ms. Saksena expressed displeasure over the increasing number of complaints about children harassing aged parents and driving them out of their houses after asking them to part with their property. She asked human rights panels to work towards spreading awareness on Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007 (Central Act 56 of 2007) which enables protection of life and property of senior citizens. As many as 12 persons were honoured for their contribution to different fields. S.R. Manikya, member secretary of the District Legal Services Authority, Kalaburagi, presided over the programme. Karnataka Human Rights Panel State president Srinivas Gowda was present. (The Hindu 17/11/2016)

108. Notice to education officials in J&K over school fees (1)

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) on Wednesday issued notice to Education Department officials on an application seeking direction to prevent private schools from charging tuition and transportation fees for the period of unrest in the Kashmir Valley. Commission chairman Justice (retd) Bilal Nazki ordered issuing of notice to the Principal Secretary of the Education Department and the Director of School Education seeking a report on the matter. The Commission listed the application for the next hearing on December 26. The Centre for Peace and Protection of Human Rights, an NGO, filed the application before the Commission on Tuesday seeking directions to the government to prevent private schools from charging either tuition fee or transportation fees from the parents of students for the period of unrest in Kashmir. The NGO has pleaded that since no academic activity has been undertaken since July 9, the schools should not charge any fees for the period. On a separate application filed by the NGO, the Commission chairman sought a report from the Deputy Commissioner of Srinagar over the locking of historic Jamia Masjid in the city where Friday prayers have not been offered since Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with security forces on July 8. – PTI (The Hindu 17/11/2016)

109. NHRC notice to Home Ministry over renewal of FCRA licence to NGOs (1)

New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Wednesday issued notice to the Union Home Ministry over allegations of its “draconian approach” over the renewal of FCRA licence to NGOs working in the field of human rights. “Prima facie it appears FCRA licence non-renewal is neither legal nor objective and thereby impinging on the rights of the human rights defenders both in access to funding, including foreign funding,” the commission observed. A commission spokesperson said that the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Association and Assembly in his local analysis of FCRA 2010, has submitted a report of the Government of India in 2016 arguing that FCRA is not in conformity with international law, principles and standards as access to resources including the foreign funding is a fundamental part of the right to freedom of association under the international laws, standards and principles. The NHRC added that the limitations placed on access to foreign funding will have to pass the litmus tests prescribed by law, imposed solely to protect national security, public safety, public order, public health or morals, or the rights and freedoms of others necessary in a democratic society such as rights and freedoms of others.  (Indian Express 17/11/2016)

110. Zakir Naik’s NGO to challenge ban before tribunal (1)

Mumbai: The Union Cabinet had on Tuesday given the go-ahead to declare the NGO, run by preacher Zakir Naik, as unlawful and placed a five-year ban on its activities. The ban is similar to the one imposed on the Students Islamic Movement of India in 2001. As per law, any case where the UAPA is invoked, is heard by a tribunal so that the party facing the charges can appeal before it. “We will be arguing before the tribunal that the UAPA is not applicable to the IRF, and hence, the ban is not valid. We are awaiting the Centre’s gazette notification, and will take further action after going through it,” said advocate Mubin Solkar, who is representing Mr. Naik. Earlier this year, the Mumbai Police sent a report on Mr. Naik’s activities to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and this was then sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Centre, meanwhile, set up its own inquiry into the IRF’s activities, and the ban was imposed based on the reports of both the inquiries. (The Hindu 17/11/2016)

JUDICIARY/ LAW

111. Woman has no right on self-acquired property of father-in-law, rules HC (19)

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab and Haryana high court has held that the maintenance of wife is the personal obligation of the husband and she has no right to occupy any portion of her father-in-law’s self-acquired property against his wishes. “During subsistence of marriage, maintenance of a married wife is a personal obligation on the part of husband.Such an obligation can be met from the properties of the husband out of joint properties.The properties shown exclusively in the name of parents cannot be subject matter of any attachment or enforcement of any right of maintenance,” observed the HC while relying on various Supreme Court judgments. Justice Raj Mohan Singh passed these orders on October 21, while dismissing an appeal filed by Panchkula-based woman. In this case, Jitender Kumar, father-in-law of the appellant and a retired officer of the Indian Navy , had filed a suit against his daughter-in-law and son for vacation of his first floor of house in Panchkula. According to him, he was owner of double-storey house in Panchkula, which was his self-acquired property . He was living on the ground floor whereas his son and daughter-inlaw were living on the first floor.Responding to the suit, his son said he had already left the house and started living in some other area but the daughter-inlaw continued to stay there. His suit was accepted by the Panchkula court, which in November 2015 directed to vacate the house within two months and hand over the possession to him. Aggrieved from these orders, the daughter-in-law had approached the HC claiming her share in the house. She had submitted that the house in question is a shared house. Her daughter took birth in nursing home and at that time she was living in the house in question. She said they all were the members of a joint Hindu family and the house in question was shared She argued that the husband and his family members have equal right to reside in the shared house in every floor of the house. Hearing both the parties, HC dismissed her appeal holding that she has no right to live in the self-acquired property of her father-in-law. (Times of India 2/11/2016)

112. Court can’t ignore illegal detention: HC (19)

Nagpur: The Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court granted bail to a Gondia man while making it clear that court can’t turn Nelson’s eye in cases of illegal detention. Petitioner Pankaj Yadav had been arrested for murder and cases under the Arms Act and Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. He moved the higher judiciary after sessions court rejected his bail application on June 9. “Once it’s found that the detention is illegal, this court can’t turn a Nelson’s eye to the plea of sufferer by resorting to some technical ground that since no objection was raised before the authority, the matter be remanded to officials for considering such an objection,” justice Sunil Shukre said. “If such a course is to be adopted, this court would be a party to continuation or even perpetuation of a patent illegal act. That is not the purpose of jurisdiction of writ court exercising its power under Article 227 of the Constitution,” the judge tersely observed. The petitioner is the seventh accused in a murder that took place on June 13 last year. The first charge sheet was filed on November 6, 2011, where the accused was shown as absconding. After session court’s order of February 6, he surrendered and was remanded to police custody remand (PCR) till February 12. After its end, the investigation officer submitted application for extension of PCR, but that was rejected and he was remanded to magisterial custody till February 17. The cops then filed a supplementary charge sheet on May 6, and on the same date petitioner filed for bail. There was no order for extension of his custody after February 17, which the court held to be illegal detention. Justice Shukre stated that if investigation is started against an accused, who is arrested after filing of first charge sheet in which he is shown as absconding, completion of investigation would be declared only by filing of supplementary charge sheet against him. “If the supplementary charge sheet is not filed within 90-60 days, as per Sections 167(2)(a)(i) and (ii) of the CrPC, the accused would get the right of default bail, which he can assert anytime thereafter, but before filing of the supplementary charge sheet.” The judge clarified that period of 90-60 days, fixed as per the seriousness of the offence, was contemplated under CrPC as essentially the time for which magistrate may authorize accused’s detention. “Police must complete investigations within 90-60 days. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be possible for the magistrate to authorize detention pending investigation. Any charge sheet which marks completion of an investigation against the accused under detention would have to be filed within stipulated period computed from his date of arrest,” the judge said, while allowing the petition and granting the man bail. (Times of India 4/11/2016)

113. PIL in HC for setting up all India judicial service (19)

New Delhi: A plea has been moved in the Delhi High Court alleging that the central government was “sleeping over” the issue of setting up an all India judicial service, similar to other all India services like IAS and IPS, and has sought directions for initiating the process. The public interest litigation has sought directions to the Centre to establish the all India judicial service (AIJS) without any delay claiming that it will result in “uniformity and transparency in the selection process” and improve the quality of judges in high courts and district courts. The petition has said that as much as 50 per cent of the judges can be recruited through AIJS and through this process, “only the judges of proven competence will preside over the benches and it will minimise the scope of aberration, arbitrariness and nepotism in judiciary”.It has further said that the Law Commission of India has thrice called for AIJS, and setting up of such a body has been endorsed and recommended by the Parliamentary Standing Committee, first National Judicial Pay Commission and the National Advisory Council. “However, government gives lame excuses and is sleeping over the matter. As of now, while most government department have ‘All India Service’ recruits, the judiciary is the only setup that does not have a national-level selection process,” the petition by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay claims. The plea further said that the available number of judges are “unable to clear the huge backlog of over 30 million cases”.”In the absence of AIJS, it is very difficult to maintain the required judge strength in district courts and high courts,” he claimed, adding it would lead to improving the “quality of justice dispensation right from the district courts to the apex court”.In his plea he has also sought directions to the central government to “provide appropriate manpower and infrastructure to reduce the pendency of cases to three years”. (Business Standard 6/11/2016)

114. Supreme Court gives more teeth to law banning sex determination (19)

New Delhi: Concerned over the declining sex ratio in the country, the Supreme Court on Tuesday passed a raft of measures including fast-tracking legal proceedings for effective implementation of the law that bans pre-natal diagnostics. The directions came on a public interest petition complaining that the sex ratio continued to fall despite the 22-year-old law enforced to prevent female foeticide. “It needs no special emphasis that a female child is entitled to enjoy equal right that a male child is allowed to have. The constitutional identity of a female child cannot be mortgaged to any kind of social or other concept that has developed or is thought of,” the court said. As per the verdict, all states and union territories shall maintain a centralised database of all registration units. The information shall be made available on the website. The data must contain birth information for each district, municipality and corporation or gram panchayat. The authorities shall take steps for constitution of statutory bodies as the law mandates. Courts, the top court said, should strictly adhere to the Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act that prescribes punishment up to three years of jail. Direction has been issued to the state high courts to ensure that complaints against pre-natal diagnostics are fast-tracked. Judicial officers, hearing such matters, shall be periodically imparted training and submit a quarterly report to the high courts on the status of the cases handled. Chief justices of the HCs will constitute a committee of three judges to oversee the progress of PNDT cases. “When a female foetus is destroyed through artificial means, which is legally impermissible, the dignity of life of a woman to be born is extinguished. It corrodes the human values,” the bench said. “The legislature has brought a complete code and it subserves the constitutional purpose,” it said, noticing that the law had failed to achieve its objective. The court also asked the government to undertake campaigns on radio and television. (Hindustan Times 9/11/2016)

115. 34 of 77 names cleared for HC judges appointment: Govt to SC (19)

New Delhi: The Centre today told the Supreme Court that it has cleared 34 names out of the 77 recommended by the collegium for appointment as judges in various high courts in the country. The government also apprised the bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur that as of now no file with regard to the recommendations for appointment as judges is pending with it. “Out of total 77 names, 34 names have been cleared for the appointment and rest 43 recommendations have been sent back to the apex court collegium for reconsideration,” Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Centre, told the bench which also comprised justices Shiva Kirti Singh and L Nageswara Rao. Rohatgi said the Centre has already sent the fresh draft Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for consideration of the collegium on August 3, this year, but so far no response has been received by the government. The bench then said that it would convene a meeting of the collegium, which comprises four senior judges besides CJI, on November 15. It has now fixed the PIL filed by 1971 war veteran Lieutenant Colonel Anil Kabotra, a former Army official, on the issue for further hearing on November 19. The apex court had earlier rapped the government for delay in appointments to higher judiciary despite recommendations made by the collegium in this regard and had said the entire institution cannot be brought to a grinding halt. Maintaining that the appointment process “cannot be stalled” due to non-finalisation of the MoP, the court had criticised the tardy progress in processing files pertaining to judges’ appointment and even warned that it may summon the Secretaries of the PMO and the Ministry of Law and Justice to ascertain the factual position. The Attorney General had said that non-finalisation of the MoP was one of the issues and had assured the bench that more progress will be seen in the near future on the appointment of judges. The Centre had on September 14 told the apex court that there was “no blame game” or “logjam” in appointments and transfer of judges for higher judiciary but blamed the high courts for “pretty much delaying” in starting the process. Earlier, the apex court had said it would not tolerate “logjam in judges’ appointment” and would intervene to “fasten accountability as the justice delivery system is collapsing”.The bench had said that if the government had reservation about any name, it could always come back to the collegium. The Attorney General had also pleaded that no notice should be issued for the time being on the PIL saying he would get back with the facts and figures. The PIL has referred to the huge backlog of cases and vacancies in the judiciary and sought a direction to the authorities in this regard. Kabotra, in his PIL, has sought a direction to Ministry of Law and Justice to take “immediate steps” to facilitate filling up of existing vacancies in the judiciary across the country.  He has also sought a direction to consider and implement 245th report of the Law Commission on reforms in judiciary and to increase the judges’ strength and infrastructural facilities in courts in the country. The plea has further said “the respondent (Centre) is duty-bound to facilitate filling up of existing judges strength across the country and to consider increasing the same substantially in terms of the Law Commission’s report.” (Deccan Herald 11/11/2016)

116. Transfer of property from Senior citizens revocable: High Court (19)

KOCHI: Transfer of property from a senior citizen can be revoked if they are not provided basic amenities and if their needs are not addressed, even if there is no specific clause in the transfer deed to provide for their welfare, said the Kerala High Court. The decision by a division bench of the high court was taken after considering an appeal filed by 45-year-old Shabeen Martin of Pulachithara near Vaniyamkulam in Palakkad and his wife. They had challenged a single bench’s ruling that upheld a maintenance tribunal’s order for returning the property they obtained from a senior citizen. On February 8, 2012, 75-year-old Muriel Rejinold Beemello, who is the sister of the appellant’s mother, had executed a deed transferring her property to the appellant and his wife. On May 4, 2013, Muriel filed a complaint before the maintenance tribunal set up as per provisions of Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act. In the complaint, Muriel said the property was transferred on the understanding that the appellant and his wife shall take care of her. As they have not done so, the transfer deed is liable to be declared as void as per section 23 of the Act, she complained. Accepting her complaint, the tribunal declared as void the settlement deed for the transfer of property through an order issued on August 7, 2013. The appellants approached the single bench in 2014 after an appellate tribunal declined to interfere with the maintenance tribunal’s order. The single bench ruled in favour of the senior citizen on July 11th this year.Upholding the single bench’s order, the division bench held, “Section 23(1) shows that where, after the commencement of the Act, a senior citizen has transferred his property by way of a gift deed or otherwise, subject to the condition that the transferee shall provide basic amenities and physical needs to the transferor and such transferee refuses or fails to provide such amenities and physical needs, the transfer of such property shall be deemed to have been made by fraud or coercion, or under undue influence. Reading of this provision, itself, would show that it is not the legislative requirement or intent that the document evidencing the transfer, either by gift or otherwise, should itself contain an express condition that the transferee shall provide the basic amenities and physical needs of the transfer. On the other hand, if there is evidence to the satisfaction of the authorities under the Act that the requirements of Section 23 are satisfied in a case, it is always open to the authorities to invoke their power under Section 23 of the Act and invalidate the document. Such an understanding of the section, according to us, would only advance the object of the Act. On the other hand, if the contention now advanced is accepted, that will defeat the very object and purpose of the Act.” (Times of India 12/11/16)

117. PIL seeks HC direction to Centre over demonetization (19)

MUMBAI: A public interest litigation was today filed in the Bombay High Court, seeking direction to the Union government to take steps for easing inconvenience caused to public due to the recent demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. The PIL, filed by one Akhil Anil Chitre, has sought certain steps and measures to be undertaken by central and state governments to ensure smooth transition of the recent scheme. The petition says that while the move was indeed salutary as it has been introduced to bring to light black money hoarders, its dynamics has resulted in serious cash and income crunch for the weaker sections of the society. The petition further claims that while the government has said that the old currency notes would be accepted in government institutions for a few days, it has not brought any respite as both the public and the institutions do not have any change. “Despite bank officials doing their best to re-infuse high denomination notes into the economy, a person withdrawing any amount from the bank is generally given a Rs 2,000 note, which again cannot be readily used for lack of change,” the petition said. “The respondents may provide for separate counters at banks and post offices, which would strictly dispense Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50, and Rs 100 notes to anyone, who wishes to exchange only a single note of Rs 500 or Rs 1,000 in a day,” the petition said. “Smaller denomination notes and coins must be made available to all government institutions on priority, so as to facilitate access to those by weaker sections of the society,” the PIL states. The petition may come up for hearing this week. (New Indian Express 15/11/16)

118. HC new judge set precedent with Shah Bano verdict in ’87 (19)

LUCKNOW: Sworn in as judge in the Allahabad high court on Tuesday, Justice Rekha Dixit had created history in 1988 when as magistrate in a lower court she delivered the first judgment of the country in favour of a Muslim woman, granting her right to maintenance after talaq (divorce) by a Navy officer. By that time, there was no provision of any maintenence to a divorced Muslim woman. In 1987, on a verdict of the Supreme Court in the historic Shah Bano case, Parliament passed the Muslim Women Protection Act to guarantee security in case of divorce. Shah Bano case had created national furore and the then Congress government at Centre led by then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had to face heat and ire of the Muslim ulemas. But undeterred by criticism from Muslim bigots, the government of India created the Muslim Women’s Protection Act. At that time, Rekha Dixit was judicial magistrate in Lucknow and was the first judicial magistrate of the country to deliver judgment in favour of the divorced Muslim woman whose husband in the Indian Navy had divorced her and refused to give her maintenance. “Justice Rekha Dixit’s verdict not only drew attention of the entire nation towards her—and towards Lucknow—it was also a step with steely determination towards woman empowerment,” remarked a senior judge of the high court speaking to the ToI. He said Allahabad high court has been facing acute shortage of women judges and her elevation would bring hope for female lawyers, magistrates and judicial officers. Justice Rekha Dixit has a judicial career of over 32 years including her term a special judge of the CBI court in Lucknow before she was appointed district judge in many places. Earlier, she has been Judge in Allahabad high court and was district judge in Rae Bareli district. Her husband Pradeep Dubey is principal secretary of the UP Assembly after serving as legal advisor to the governor. (Times of India 16/11/16)

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

119. Bhopal encounter: Madhya Pradesh govt gets NHRC notice  (1)

NEW DELHI: A day after eight Simi activists fled the Bhopal Central Jail and were subsequently traced and killed by Madhya Pradesh police in an encounter, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued on Tuesday notices to the state government+ , police and prison authorities over the killings. The commission has taken suo motu cognisance of media reports in the matter and observed that it has always been “concerned” about deaths in police and judicial custody as well as in police action. The NHRC has sought detailed reports from MP’s chief secretary , director general of police and the director general and inspector general of state prison department. “The Commission has always been concerned about the deaths in police and judicial custody as well as in police action. Specific guidelines have also been issued by it, which have been conveyed to all the statesUTs for compliance in the matters of encounter,” the NHRC said in a statement. “Reportedly , the under trial prisoners escaped the jail after killing a guard. Three of these under trial prisoners had escaped from the Khandwa jail three years back and were nabbed again in the state of Odisha, this year. The under trials were charged under various crimes including murder, sedition, jail break and bank robberies,” it said. “Senior officers have claimed the police started firing only after being shot at by the accused. The police team had initially asked the escaped prisoners to surrender, as stated in the report. Five jail officials have been put under suspension including DIG (Jail) and the Jail Superintendent. The Additional DG (Jail) has been reportedly transferred,” it added.Eight Simi activists pulled off a daring prison break and escaped in the wee hours on Monday after killing a security guard at the Bhopal Central jail. Within hours, they were hunted down and killed in an alleged police encounter on the city outskirts. The incident has kicked up a raging controversy with the government and the opposition parties locked in a war of words over the issue. Raising doubts, Congress and Left parties have sought a judicial probe into the incident.Expressing concern over the killing of eight Simi men+ in Bhopal, Maulana Mahmood Madani, general secretary of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind on Tuesday has alleged that video clips, circumstances of the encounter and other facts “substantiate that it was a fake encounter.” Madani has demanded an independent judicial enquiry into the matter and harsh punishment for those officials who are found involved in it. Madani has cited his counsel’s opinion that ATS failed to submit any key evidence against these accused over many years. “The two videos that came in the public domain reveal that these unarmed youths have been shot from a point blank range,” Madani said. (Times of India 2/11/2016)

120. No custodial death in state in 30 months: Rights panel (1)

Patna: Bihar saw no custodial death during the last 30 months, said Bihar Human Rights Commission (BHRC) chairman Justice (retired) Bilal Nazki soon after quitting the commission on Wednesday to return to his native J&K as its state rights panel chief. The BHRC did not receive complaint or information about torture deaths, if any, during the period, said Nazki who became the BHRC chairman in March 2014 and would have completed his term in November this year. Two BHRC members Justice (retired) Mandhata Singh and former state DGP Neelmani accompanied Nazki while he was talking to mediapersons for the last time. Nazki rated BHRC, constituted in 2008, as one of the best state rights panels of the country. He said around 2,000 rights-related complaint cases were solved and disposed of since 2014. “We at the BHRC took up matters related to even fraudulent removal of uterus (also called uterus scam) of unsuspecting and ignorant women by profiteering doctors. The victims were paid compensation worth around Rs 20 crore by the state government,” Nazki said. Although the level of human rights awareness in Bihar could not be quantified as no survey had been done in this regard, it was also true that around 50-60% of people in the country are unaware of their entitlements and rights, Nazki said. In the first year (2008) of BHRC, only 102 complaints were received compared to 7,389 till date this year. Acknowledging that he received “active cooperation from everyone — people, state government and police personnel” of Bihar, Nazki said Bihar and J&K suffered “similar image problem.” “But people of the two states are hard-working, honest andgood,” he said. (Times of India 3/11/2016)

121. 1,000 prisoners in jail over non-payment of fine (1)

New Delhi: Around 1,000 prisoners are languishing in jails even after completion of sentence due to their inability to pay the fine imposed on them, with 60 of them being imprisoned for more than five years. A little more than half of them — 500 out of the total 993 — are lodged in jails across Uttar Pradesh and Mizoram. Forty-one women also languish in jails for their inability to pay the fine. In a case of detention of a convict for more than six years for not paying a fine of Rs 2.1 lakh, the Madras High Court had in 2012 said that to cast a person in prison because of his poverty and consequent inability to pay fine was “appalling”. The court said putting one in prison to recover debts was “too flagrantly violative” of Article 21 unless there was proof of “wilful failure to pay in spite of sufficient means” and absence of more “terribly pressing claims on his means such as medical bills to treat cancer or other grave illness”. While 60 of prisoners, including 16 women, are in jail for more than five years, 102 are languishing in jail for three to five years, according to Prisons Statistics India 2015 released recently by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). A total of 549 people were in jail for less than six months while another 122 spent six to twelve months in jail for non-payment. Hundred prisoners spent one to two years while 60 were in prison for a period of two to three years. After Uttar Pradesh and Mizoram, the states with higher number of such prisoners are Punjab (57), West Bengal (48) and Kerala (45). Karnataka had four such prisoners, who were detained for less than six months for non-payment of the monetary penalty. (Deccan Herald 6/11/2016)

122. Encounter: Rights organisations seek independent judicial probe (1)

VISAKHAPATNAM: The Coordination Democratic Rights Organisation (CDRO) has sought an independent judicial inquiry by a team of judges from the Supreme Court into the alleged encounter near Ramgarh in the cut-off area of the Andhra-Odisha Border. The encounter took place in three phases on October 24, 25 and 27, which left about 31 Maoists dead. A 32-member fact-finding committee from various organisations such as Bandi Mukti Committee from West Bengal, AFDR of Punjab, CPCPL of Tamil Nadu, OPDR of Andhra Pradesh and the CLC of Telangana visited the villages close to the encounter site and Ramgarh between November 5 and 7, and the CDRO placed a report before the media here on Tuesday. According to the fact-finding team, the encounter was one-sided and the Maoists were chased and shot at close range when they were on the retreat. Addressing the media, Seshaiah, coordinator of the CLC of AP and Telangana, said the AP Greyhounds had used force which was not in proportion to the situation. “Apart from using assault rifles, LMGs were also used on the retreating Maoists. It could be assumed that the Maoist sentry had first opened fire on the approaching Greyhounds party, but the retaliation should have been proportionate. The pretext of opening fire on self-defence does not hold water, as the bullet wounds clearly indicated that they were shot indiscriminately from a close range and all the wounds were on the upper part of the torsos,” he said. The police booked cases under IPC Sections 307 (attempt to murder) and other Acts such as Arms Act and Explosives Act against the deceased persons and justified the killing on the pretext of self-defence, he said. The CDRO members said of the 31 killed as per records, only 21 were Maoists and the remaining were innocent Adivasis.The CDRO identified the tribals as Sinte Killo from Panasput, Sona Drisha Kumulu from Kajariguda, Jayaram Killo from Kajariguda, Samla Pangi from Similipoduru, Lucknow Pangi, Kamala and Jammi Korra, all from Bachilipadar, and Lacha Modala and Kaveri Modali from Dakapadar villages. CLC convenor from Telanagana Katyayani said a tribal by name Lycon Gulari from Kajariguda was still in police custody. On October 25, they [the police] tried to force about 10 tribals from Singoi village in Beijingi panchayat to wear Maoist uniform and accompany them with an intention of killing them, but had to withdraw after the villagers staged a protest. This was revealed to us during our fact-finding mission,” said Ms. Katyayani. (The Hindu 9/11/2016)

123. Pakistan security forces killed four Balochistanis including 14-year-old boy in fake encounters?

Brussels (Belgium): Pakistani security forces recently handed over four bodies, including that of a 14-year-old boy, to the District Headquarter Hospital at Gwadar. A press release issued here by the Baloch Human Rights Organisation (BHRO) claimed that the security forces had eliminated the four persons in a fake joint operation in the Belar and Kulanch areas of Gwadar district. The BHRO also claimed that one person had also been arrested, and added that the four persons killed had been missing for months and years. The dead bodies were identified on the basis of their national identity card (NIC), student card and chits with their names found in their pockets.One of the victims was identified as 14-year-old Zafar Baloch, the son of Master Abdul Rahman. He was a resident of Jan Mohammad Bazar Dasht in District Kech. His parents had migrated to Gwadar to take the education of their children forward, and Zafar had been reported missing since August 13, 2016. The second victim was identified as Salahuddin, the son of Abdul Samad. He was a resident of Mashkay and had been missing for the last 19 months. The BHRO claimed that he had been abducted by the security forces on March 25, 2015 from Quetta. The third victim was identified as Sajid Ali, the son of Kareem Bakhsh. He was a resident of Ward Number 4, Pasni, and was abducted from his home on January 31, 2016.The fourth was identified as Sabir Ali, the son of Mohammed, who had been missing since August 4, 2014. The BHRO said that in October 2016, it had received reports of more than 210 enforced disappearances and 57 persons being reportedly killed in different incidents by Pakistan`s security forces. (Zee News 13/11/2016)

124. Will not arrest DU prof Nandini Sundar, C’garh govt to SC (1)

New Delhi: In a huge reprieve, the Chattisgarh government on Monday informed the Supreme Court that human rights activist and Delhi University professor Nandini Sundar and four others accused in a murder case will neither be arrested nor interrogated pursuant to the filing of an FIR against them. Additional Solicitor General Tuhsar Mehta appearing for Chattisgarh government gave this assurance before a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and AK Goel after senior counsel Ashok Desai appearing for Nandini alleged that FIR had been registered for an offence said to have been committed in November 2016. When he pressed for stay of the FIR, the ASG said “we will not arrest them in this FIR. The court may record my statement.” The ASG produced documents in a sealed cover to indicate the materials based on which the FIR was registered against Nandini Sundar and others. But the court refused to accept or peruse the documents. Justice Lokur told the ASG when you say that they will not be arrested in this FIR, then where is the need for us to look into the materials. The Bench said “we will dispose of the present application seeking to quash the FIR and an interim stay. But the stay can’t be for perpetuity. If new materials come then the State can proceed further to investigate the case on giving four weeks notice to the petitioner. If any such notice is received the petitioner will be at liberty to seek remedy.” Senior counsel Ashok Desai, appearing for Nandini gave a list of suggestions to the ASG for his consideration to resolve the issue. Counsel said the suggestions are given in the light of the court’s observation last Friday, when it observed “there is an aggravation of Maoist situation and the government should take a “pragmatic view of life” and find a “peaceful solution”. The Bench was hearing an application filed by Ms. Sundar for a stay and quashing of an FIR for the murder of a tribal person in the insurgency-hit Sukma district of Chhattisgarh. The police claim that the FIR was filed on the basis of a complaint allegedly filed by Baghel’s wife. Desai drew the court’s attention to the fact that Nandini and others had visited the area in May and they are booked for a crime committed in November which is absurd. He also referred to an interview by a police officer in NDTV that Nandini and others will be stoned if they enter Bastar area. Counsel wondered whether is this the way the State should treat the petitioners. The ASG said “let us not go by media reports. But I have something more to say. Permit me to produce the materials. You go through them and you will find that there is every justification for the FIR.” The Bench, however, did not receive the materials and disposed of the petitioner’s application with liberty that they can approach the court if further action is sought to be achieved against them. (Asian Age 15/11/16)

125. Pak. conducts military exercise close to Indian border (1)

NEW DELHI: Amidst growing India-Pakistan tension, the Pakistan military staged a massive exercise close to the border on Wednesday, exhibiting its preparedness to “respond to any provocation”. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, along with other military top brass, witnessed the exercise conducted by the Pakistan Army and Air Force at Khairpur Tamiwali in Bhawalpur of the Punjab province. It is aimed at checking the operational preparedness of the Pakistani military to respond to any provocation from the Indian side, Pakistan media reported. The exercise saw deployment of tanks, helicopters, fighter jets, artillery and other heavy weapons. The exercise came against the backdrop of the rising India-Pakistan tension in recent months. Mr. Sharif on Tuesday warned that Pakistan cannot be bullied by Indian tactics and its restraint should not be “misunderstood” as weakness. He said Pakistan was fully capable of defending against “any belligerence.” His statement came after the death of seven Pakistani soldiers on Sunday night in alleged firing by the Indian Army. “It is also a futile attempt of the Indian authorities to divert the world’s attention from the worst kind of atrocities they are committing” in Kashmir, he had said. “Our military is ready to give adequate response to any aggression,” he said. According to Pakistani reports, the Pakistan PM and top brass of the military witnessed manoeuvres by Khalid tanks, fighter aircraft JF-17 Thunder F-7PG and Mirage, and other military systems. (The Hindu 17/11/2016)

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

126. A pressing case for freedom (1)

Do you know that only 13 per cent of the world’s population enjoys a free press? According to a Freedom House report on press freedom in 2016, the safety of journalists is guaranteed in just 13 per cent of the world’s population. About 41 per cent of the world’s population has a partly free press and 46 percent live in a not-free media environment. Impunity is becoming the biggest threat to media freedom. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) recently claimed that Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India are among the 13 most dangerous countries for journalists. Other dangerous countries are Somalia, Iraq, Syria, the Philippines, South Sudan, Mexico, Brazil, Russia and Nigeria. The CPJ’s 2016 Global Impunity Index spotlights countries where journalists are slain — and their killers go free. November 2 is the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. This year, UNESCO and many media organisations, including CPJ, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Free Press Unlimited and Reporters sans Frontieres (RSF), are organising special events to raise a collective voice against such impunity. Growing extremism and intolerance in some democratic regimes are creating threats for media freedom in South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. In some countries, security agencies are trying to silence the voice of journalists, in the name of national interest. A recent case is Turkey, where a democratic regime is silencing the voice of the media in the name of “protecting democracy”. Unfortunately, the media is losing its freedom very fast in many Muslim countries but Europe is no more an exception. The massive influx of migrants to Europe indirectly resulted in a variety of limitations on media freedom. One example is Hungary where police attacked many journalists who were reporting on violent clashes between riot officers and migrants arriving at the country’s southern border. A series of attacks on journalists were reported in Germany by far-right groups who were opposing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s welcoming policies towards refugees. I live in South Asia. That’s why I am more concerned about growing threats to media freedom in my part of the world. There is democracy in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India — but why have these three South Asian countries become dangerous for media? Extremism is not the only reason. Reporting against criminals and corrupt mafias is also becoming difficult. Sometimes, people sitting in the corridors of power don’t like voices of dissent. They try to silence journalists by declaring them anti-national. I believe that the freedom of expression plays a very crucial role in good governance, transparency and accountability. South Asian economies cannot achieve the goals of sustainable development without good governance — and that is not possible if media cannot raise fair questions. …  (Indian Express 2/11/2016)

127. Journalist declines award from PM (1)

New Delhi, Nov. 2: A journalist has refused to accept an award from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying “Indian journalism has been under siege”.Akshaya Mukul, a journalist with The Times of India in New Delhi, had been chosen for the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism awards instituted to celebrate the legacy of the founder of The Indian Express group. The Prime Minister was the chief guest at the event today. Mukul’s award was in the book (non-fiction) category for his Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India, published in 2015. Mukul told this newspaper: “I have great regard for the award but I could not come to terms with the fact that I will accept it from a man whose tenure as the political head of the country has been so bad for Indian journalism.” “Indian journalism has been under siege. I decided not to personally turn up for the event about a week back when I received the letter informing me about my selection for the award,” he added. “I, however, have nothing against the award and, therefore, I requested the publisher to receive it.” Krishan Chopra, the publisher and chief editor at Harper Collins India, received the award on his behalf. Rajkamal Jha, the chief editor of The Indian Express, said that if Mukul had decided to boycott the event, it was his “personal choice and opinion”.”The awardees in all the categories are chosen by an independent jury and if Mukul decided not to attend the event, I cannot say anything about that. That would have been his personal decision and I have no views on that,” Jha said. “The publisher accepted the award on his behalf.” (The Telegraph 2/11/2016)

128. Freedom of press should be used in country’s interests: Naidu (1)

Hyderabad: Amid criticism from the Opposition and media over action against NDTV India, Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu said on Sunday the NDA government is committed to freedom of press but the media should use it keeping in mind the interests of the nation. The information and broadcasting minister also said the well-being of the country and society should be kept in mind before broadcasting or publishing any news, and stressed that news and views should not be mixed. “A big discussion is going on in the country that there should be freedom of press. It should compulsorily be there and the government is committed to this. But, there is a need to think. We are citizens first and then the journalists. That’s my view,” he said. Political parties including the Congress, Communist Party of India-Marxist and several other national parties and leaders have strongly criticised the ban. The Congress accused the Narendra Modi-led government of trampling the three pillars of democracy – executive, judiciary and media, and said there was no place for dissent. Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the attitude of the government did not match with India’s pluralist character. Naidu said while broadcasting news, one should keep in mind the interests of society and nation. “Our government believes in freedom of press and wants the media to truly appreciate the value of such freedom so that it is best used in the interest of the country and the people,” Naidu said at a programme for Urdu journalists. “The news you are giving should not promote clashes between groups, religions or create unrest in society. The news should not cause harm to the nation’s interests. There should be self-restraint (in following rules),” he said. Journalists should remember that freedom of expression is best utilised only when the value of such freedom is fully appreciated, he said, adding that when this freedom is not exercised judiciously, our existing laws provide for necessary interventions. He advised that journalists must always look for information, but must run the news only after confirmation. “Be nearer to truth and keep away from sensationalism. But what is happening in the electronic media is sensationalism,” he said. Stating that there are some regulations that media should not preach, something which is anti-national; not propagate against the interest of the country aspects like obscenity, vulgarity, encouraging violence, Naidu asked electronic media and cinema should seriously think about how to avoid vulgarity, obscenity and violence.He said: “The important thing in media is credibility… which is very important…but now credibility is missing in most of the media, which is unfortunate. We must always work for credibility.” (Hindustan Times 6/11/2016)

129. After calls to uphold press freedom, one-day ban on NDTV India put on hold (1)

New Delhi: The government has decided to put on hold the one-day ban on Hindi news channel NDTV India, a week after announcing to take it off air for allegedly compromising national security with its coverage of a terrorist attack on an air force base. Even as the media group eked out the concession from the government, it also moved the Supreme Court challenging the gag order. The top court is expected to hear the case on Tuesday. The government’s announcement came after NDTV’s co-founder and executive co-chairperson Prannoy Roy met information and broadcasting minister Venkaiah Naidu on Monday. NDTV India was asked to go off the air on November 9 after the government said the channel revealed sensitive details during its coverage of a militant attack on the Pathankot airbase in January. This crucial information could have been readily picked up by the militants’ handlers and jeopardised national security, the information and broadcasting ministry said. This was the first time a channel was asked to stop broadcasting over concerns about national security. Top media bodies on Monday expressed solidarity with NDTV and condemned the Centre’s move, saying it sends a “dangerous signal” to the entire press, the freedom of which is already under “increasing threat” in the country. But the government has defended the action, saying many other channels were banned in the past and that free speech couldn’t be absolute or override national security. (Hindustan Times 8/11/2016)

130. Another journalist shot dead in Bihar (1)

Patna: A journalist working for a reputed Hindi daily was shot dead on Saturday morning in Sasaram, district headquarters of Rohtas district in Bihar. The murder takes places exactly six months after another journalist with a Hindi paper was gunned down in Siwan. According to eyewitnesses, Dharmendra Singh, 35, working for Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar, was at a tea stall outside his house in Amra Talab area in Sasaram when three motorcycle-borne men fired at him from close range. He was hit on his chest and abdomen. He was taken to Sadar Hospital in Sasaram where doctors referred him to Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. But the journalist succumbed to his injuries on his way to Varanasi.Police officials said they were investigating the incident and had launched intensive combing operation to nab the assailants. “The assailants pumped bullets from close range which resulted in death of the journalist…we’re investigating the incident from all angles and will nab the killers soon,” said senior police official Alok Ranjan. Local journalists told The Hindu that Mr. Singh might have been killed by the stone-crusher mafia which has been active in the area for long in spite of the massive crackdown on their operations. “Being a journalist for over a decade, Dharmendra Singh has been writing regularly on police raids against illegal stone-crushers in the area which might not have gone down well with the powerful mafia involved in the trade,” said a local journalist.Journalists in Sasaram protested against the murder of Dharmendra Singh and demanded immediate arrest of those behind the murder. “The state government should also pay compensation of Rs. 25 lakh to his family members apart from taking action against those behind the murder,” said local journalist Ajit Kumar. On May 13, a senior journalist working with the Hindi daily Hindustan, Rajdeo Ranjan was shot dead, allegedly by the men of Siwan strongman Mohammad Shahabuddin. (The Hindu 12/11/2016)

131. Police scan social media as rumours plague capital (1)

New Delhi: In an atmosphere of uncertainty created by the currency crisis, rumours abounded through the day, particularly about shortage of essential commodities. This forced Delhi Police to start scanning social media sites to identify culprits spreading mischievous information that had the potential to create panic and instigate violence. A harried force received more than 500 calls about arson, looting and fights over money. Senior officers in all police stations have been asked to keep a close watch on Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp to identify rumour mongers. Madhur Verma, DCP (North), who is a regular on the social media, said that anyone found spreading misinformation would be booked under Section 505 of the Indian Penal Code relating to the intent to commit an offence against public tranquillity, a charge that attracts a jail term of up to three year. Verma also encourage the citizenry to bring rumour mongers to the police’s notice. News that bags filled with cash were seen in Greater Kailash in south Delhi and Civil Lines in north Delhi swiftly made the rounds on Saturday morning. A similar rumour about a cash bag containing Rs 500 notes sparked a traffic jam near Siri Fort Auditorium. Police, however, recovered no such items. Later in the day, a curious crowd gathered in Chandni Chowk on hearing stories of a stampede at the State Bank of India branch there. When they first heard about it, senior police officers immediately formed a team to cordon off the affected stretch. However, it turned out that it was actually a religious procession rather than a mob.Wild stories of the sort began on Friday evening. Rumours of a salt shortage led to violence in many places across the city, mainly in west and outer Delhi, as shopkeepers argued with customers over the amount of salt they could purchase. A video showing a group of men climbing the shelves of a grocery store in a Seelampur mall pulling down sacks of flour was widely circulated, and someone informed the police that a robbery was taking place in the mall. However, police discovered the men were mall employees stacking the goods. Ajit Singla, DCP (North-east), said police had not received any complaints about a robbery from the mall authorities. The cops said they were considering registering a case against the people who had shot the video and circulated it. On Friday night, police also heard about a murder over Rs 4,000 in Jamia Nagar, only to realise when they went to investigate that it was an unfounded story. (Times of India 13/11/2016)

132. Press responsible for upholding freedom of speech: PM (1)

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said the media was responsible for upholding the right to freedom of speech and stressed the self-regulation by the Fourth Estate. “The press is responsible for upholding free speech,” Modi said while speaking at a commemoration event of the National Press Day at the Vigyan Bhavan here. Quoting Mahatma Gandhi on the need to self-regulate, Modi said: “The government should not interefere in the working of the media.” The Prime Minister said external control does not help in upholding the freedom of expression. “Internal discipline in the media is more important than any external intervention,” Modi said. He also recalled the Press Council of India’s role during the Emergency and said: “We remember how the Press Council ceased to exist during the Emergency. And the things for the media normalised after Morarji Bhai (Morarji Desai) became the Prime Minister.” The Prime Minister said it is the media’s responsibility to make appropriate changes with time as many newspapers have shifted to digital mediums. Citing the importance of self-regulation in the media, Modi said: “After the Kandahar plane hijack (in 1999) and the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks (in 2008), we witnessed examples of media’s self-regulation.” Referring to recent killings of media persons, Modi said: “Any death is worrisome, but journalists losing their lives just because they are highlighting the truth becomes even more serious.” He termed the attack on media as the most cruel act. (Times of India 16/11/16)

COMMUNAL RIOTS

133. Communal clashes, overnight curfew in Khambhat (7)

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat’s Khambhat town saw communal clashes with groups from different communities clashing and setting several shops and vehicles on fire, following which the police had to impose overnight curfew. The clashes erupted after two groups belonging to different religions had heated arguments over an alleged incident of eve-teasing, and heavy stone-pelting and arson were reported in communally sensitive areas in the town afterwards.According to local police, several shops and vehicles were gutted in the fire and stone-pelting, and two persons, including a police sub-inspector, were injured and rushed to Ahmedabad’s Civil Hospital. “We had to impose curfew in order to control the situation. The curfew has been lifted and the situation is under control now. Police teams have been patrolling the sensitive areas,” said a police inspector from Khambhat. After the clashes, the State government pressed four teams of the State Reserve Police (SRP) into action to bring the situation under control. (The Hindu 2/11/2016)

134. Hindu girl’s ‘ghar wapasi’ fuels Aligarh communal tension (7)

ALIGARH: A ‘ghar wapasi’ (homecoming) was organised in Aligarh on Thursday by the Hindu Mahasabha for a 19-year-old girl who was allegedly forced to convert to Islam by a youth two months ago. The girl was then “purified” and given back her original Hindu name. This comes even as parts of Aligarh have been wracked by communal tension ever since the killing of two persons from a certain community on Diwali day. On Monday, too, a youth was beaten up by members of a different community for “harassing” a girl in Babri Mandi area of the city. In fact, in a first, police used drones to identify houses where stones were being stored on terraces after skirmishes broke out over the issue, injuring three. Later, prohibitory orders under section 144 of CrPC were clamped in and around Babri Mandi. In her statement to the police, the girl also said that the man who forced her to convert first took her to Bareilly from Aligarh, kept her for two months and raped her repeatedly. Talking to TOI, national general secretary of Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha Pooja Shakun Pandey said that it was the girl who wanted to “re-convert” to Hinduism. Pandey added that in the teenager’s complaint to the police, all these details are clearly mentioned. “We gave her back her maiden name after a purification ceremony was performed at the Arya Samaj mandir,” Pandey said. A case of rape has been registered against the girl’s “abductor” on the basis of her complaint. According to police officials, a case of kidnapping has already been registered against him.SM Qayam, spokesperson of All India Babri Masjid Action Committee, Aligarh, said, “These all are election-related stunts as there is nothing called love jihad”. He said right wing groups started this “drama” three years ago to divide communities. “Many innocent Muslims youths are in jail due to false allegations levelled against them under pressure from such oganizations. Aligarh is sitting on a tinderbox and the administration should take stern steps to control these activities.” There was massive tension in Agra next door in 2014 after another right wing group Dharma Jagran Samanvay Vidhag, an offshoot of the RSS, and Bajrang Dal “converted” over 200 Muslims during a ceremony they called ‘Purkhon ki ghar vapsi’. (Times of India 3/11/2016)

135. HC dismisses Sajjan’s plea to transfer ‘84 riots case (7)

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed the pleas of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar and others for transfer of their case relating to 1984 anti-Sikh riots before another Bench, saying these were “baseless and misconceived” and an “abuse of law”. A Bench of Justices Gita Mittal and P. S. Teji also rejected their plea alleging bias by one member of the division bench which is hearing the matter, saying the contentions raised amounted to contempt of court but it was not initiating any action as it would delay the proceedings. “The present applications are baseless, malafide and misconcieved. We find no merit and hence the same are dismissed,” the Bench said, adding “it is abuse of law”. Mr Kumar and others had alleged in their applications that Justice Teji should not hear the matter as he had heard the case as a trial court judge earlier. Countering their submissions, CBI had said that Justice Teji had never conducted trial proceedings in the case but only heard the bail plea when he was a trial court judge, as being a sessions judge then, he was handling bail matters. The Bench on Friday said that none of the life convicts in the case joined the applicants alleging bias by any member of the Bench and hence there was “no apprehension of injustice”. The applications are “just a delaying tactics. Therefore we cannot allow this because the incident is of 1984”, it said. The Bench said the contentions raised in the petitions tantamounted to contempt of court, but it was not initiating such proceedings against Mr Kumar and others so that the matter is not further delayed. The Bench, in its order, said they were also refraining from imposing fine on the petitioners for filing such baseless applications and there was no reasonable apprehension of bias as expressed by them. Besides Mr Kumar, former MLA Mahender Yadav, who was handed a three-year jail term in the matter and is currently on bail, had alleged that “Justice Teji was exercising keen interest in the matter” and should recuse himself from hearing these appeals. … (The Hindu 5/11/16)

136. Hindus protest in Bangladesh against communal violence, recent hate crimes (7)

Dhaka: The Hindu community in Bangladesh today protested against communal violence and recent hate crimes in Brahmanbarhia area of Dhaka. Thousands of Hindus took position in front of the National Press Club in Shahabag area in the capital around 12 pm today. They came under the banners of Hindu student organisations based in Dhaka University. Other organisations and regular people also joined the demonstration. Traffic movement in the area was also disrupted due to their presence. Vehicles were stuck in traffic jams – from the National Press Club, Matsya Bhaban to Ruposhi Bangla intersection, Katabon and on the university campus – despite Friday being a weekend. Buses were taking other routes to the university campus.     An effigy of Fisheries Minister Sayedul Hoque who represents Brahmanbarhia’s Nasirnagar in Parliament was burnt by the protestors who hold him responsible for the October 30 attack on Hindu temples and homes.They demanded his immediate resignation as minister. Some of the placards they carried, read ‘Is it a crime to be born a Hindu?’, ‘Is leaving home the only way?’. Hindu students of the Dhaka University took out a march outside the Jagannath Hall around 10 am against recent incidents of attacks on religious minorities. The procession passed TSC and Doyel Chattar before reaching the National Press Club.Several organisations, already present in the location, joined the students’ procession and marched with them to Shahbagh. Organisations that were holding protests against communal violence outside the National Museum also joined in. President of the Bangladesh Hindu Oikyajot Gobinda Chandra Pramanika said, “A gathering, a secular country or element can not have any communal discrimination.” He said Bangladesh is a secular country but our war is against the communal forces. (India Today 11/11/16)

137. Curfew clamped in Vidisha after Bajrang Dal activist’s murder (7)

Bhopal: Authorities imposed curfew in Vidisha town on Sunday following arson and stone pelting mainly by Bajrang Dal supporters after one of their men was allegedly stabbed to death. The 23-year-old Deepak Kushwah allegedly died of stab wounds at Baksariya. He was said to be attacked by a group of men around 3 pm on Saturday. External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj represents Vidisha Lok Sabha constituency in Lok Sabha. The administration has deployed heavy additional police force and a contingent of Rapid Action Force (RAF) as a precautionary measure in the area. Police in the neighbouring districts, including Bhopal have been asked to remain on standby to dash to Vidisha if required. On Sunday, violence erupted when the victim’s body was being taken home for his funeral. Agitated Bajrang Dal supporters set afire three thatched houses in a slum belonging to the community of the main accused, two trucks and a jeep and indulged in stone pelting. At least three persons sustained injuries in the stone pelting. “Curfew was imposed in the city after arson and stone pelting. It had a communal angle too. As many as 11 people were arrested since yesterday. Now, the situation is under control,” collector of Vidisha Anil Suchari told Hindustan Times. According to police Deepak Kushwah allegedly involved in five criminal cases and had an old enmity with his attackers. About four days ago they had a clash but police failed to take action. Of the 13 accused, 11 have been arrested. “Had police taken action on time the incident of Saturday would have been avoided,” said former Member of Parliament and Congress leader Pratapbhanu Sharma. Locals say the immediate reason for the clash was sale of liquor but the genesis of tension between two communities can be traced to a row between two sides on construction of shops at the idgah and saffron brigade’s demand for action against Rajya Sabha MP Chaudhary Munabbar Saleem after his personal assistant was arrested on espionage charges recently. Saleem is an MP from Uttar Pradesh elected on a Samajwadi Party but lives in Vidisha. He is considered close to SP leader Mohd Azam Khan. (Hindustan Times 14/11/16)

138. Union minister cites Mewat riots, seeks RAF centres in region (7)

Rewari: Union minister Rao Inderjeet Singh on Wednesday cited the communal riots in Haryana’s Mewat two years ago while demanding that a training institute for Rapid Action Force (RAF) be setup in the region to prevent violence in the future. “Log kehte hain jab BJP sattaseen hoti hai toh Hindu bekabu ho jaata hai.. (People say that whenever BJP comes to power, Hindus commit excesses). But when our party formed the government (in 2014), within two months Mewat witnessed riots,’’ he said in Rewari in the presence of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. “The region that has never witnessed strife between Hindus and Muslims saw the fight. But it was not Hindus that attacked Muslims; it was Muslims who attacked Hindus. This is a blot on all of us. We could not stop them,’’ he said, adding that in the past, the two communities have lived in peace and even fought shoulder to shoulder in the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Rajnath responded positively to the demand for an RAF institute. “We want a strong and unified India and we will take steps to ensure that,” he said, while agreeing with the proposal. Inderjeet also demanded that an Army recruitment office be opened in the region to make it easier for the youths, who have to go to other district for recruitment rallies, to get recruited. Inderjeet, who claimed that Rewari has the highest number of Army and paramilitary recruits, had organised the Shaheed Samman Samaroh to commemorate the rebellion against the British in the region in 1857 under Raja Rao Tularam’s leadership. Rajnath said it would take a month for the things to normalise following demonetisation. “We agree that people are facing difficulties. It will take a month but bear with us,’’ he said. (Indian Express 17/11/16)

COMMUNALISM

139. Sangh Parivar to hold convention on violence (26)

KOZHIKODE: Peeved at the alleged reluctance of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to call an all-party meeting to end the violence in Kannur, the Sangh Parivar organisations have decided to hold a mass convention in Thiruvananthapuram on November 3 to highlight the issue. Addressing a news conference here on Tuesday, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Kerala Prantha Karyavah (State general secretary) P. Gopalankutty said that people from different sections of society other than those affiliated to the Sangh Parivar would participate in the meeting. This convention would decide on the formation of an anti-Marxist forum and chalk out an action plan for an anti-violence campaign in the State, he said. (The Hindu 2/11/2016)

140. RSS to form ‘people’s committees’ (26)

KOZHIKODE: Addressing a news conference here on Tuesday , RSS prantha karyavahak P Gopalankutty and BJP national executive member P K Krishnandas said state-level `people’s committees’ will be constituted, across the state against `CPM atrocities’, at a meeting in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday. Prominent people from various walks of life and people’s representatives will attend the meeting. Gopalankutty alleged that the government was not taking serious steps to end violence in Kannur. Main leaders of the CPM did not attend the peace committee meeting held at Kannur recently , he said.The RSS leader said CPM’s stand that it would not allow the sakhas of the organization was anti-democratic. “The party should make clear why it organized special training for its cadres in Pappinasseri. Such trained killers are behind the murders of T P Chandrasekharan and Aslam,” he said. (Times of India 2/11/2016)

141. Pick up arms: Hindu group in restive Aligarh (26)

ALIGARH: Even as tension continued to prevail in Babri Mandi area here that recently witnessed communal clashes, Hindu Mahasabha asked members of the community on Thursday to arm themselves with swords and tridents (trishuls). The outfit even offered to arrange arms licences. Two people had been killed and one other injured in the communal clashes which broke out on Monday. The “arm yourself” call comes at a time when the administration is trying to to deescalate the tension and prevent further clashes. The call has upset the Muslims in the area, who are now accusing BJP, RSS and their affiliates of fomenting trouble with an eye on the assembly elections in the state. BJP councillor Dinesh Chandra Varshney, however, denied this and said that Hindus were made to feel scared. (Times of India 4/11/2016)

142. Hindu Mahasabha to contest all UP seats, focus campaign on temple, gau raksha (26)

The Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM) has decided to contest all the 403 assembly seats in UP in the upcoming assembly elections in 2017. Its campaign would be centred on the construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya. Talking to TOI, Mahasabha spokesperson Ashok Kumar Pandey said, “Due to the ban, the party hasn’t contested any election since 1990, except last year’s Bihar elections. We contested 53 seats but did not win.” He added, “We will be contesting UP elections on all the seats and our main aim is to fight Muslim appeasement and ‘goondaraj’. The party’s main poll plank would be the construction of Ram temple, besides enacting laws for cow protection and implementation of a two-child norm.” (Times of India 8/11/2016)

143. RSS calls Gujarat riots ‘shameful’, assures AMU teachers that Muslims won’t face bias (26)

AGRA: At least three Aligarh Muslim University teachers, two of them now retired, who attended a recent meeting of RSS and Muslim intellectuals from across the country that was held in Delhi, told TOI that top Sangh functionaries said the Gujarat riots of 2002 were “shameful” and such incidents “shouldn’t happen again”. The meeting on November 3 at the international auditorium of Pusa agriculture institute was aimed at “clarifying the deeprooted misunderstandings of the Muslim community about the Sangh.”AMU’s associate professor of theology , Mufti Zahid, who along with four other colleagues participated in the meeting that was attended by 110 intellectuals from various universities, including JNU, said, “I raised the issue of the 2002 Gujarat riots during my address and said that Muslims can never forget what all happened there. Reacting to this, RSS joint general secretary (Sah Sarkaryawah) Krishna Gopal Sharma categorically said that the episode was shameful and such incidents should not happen again.” According to Zahid, several other issues, like triple talaq, uniform civil code, unemployment among minorities and education, were also discussed at the meeting where RSS joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale and national executive member Indresh Kumar were also present. Former AMU dean (law faculty) Mohammad Shabbir said, “The RSS leaders assured us that there will be no discrimination against the community. They also added that a Gujarat-like incident won’t ever happen again.”Indresh Kumar told TOI : “Many other things were discussed in the meeting that lasted for over five hours. It was a meaningful discussion on various points. Many contentious issues were taken up during the meeting.”Shahid Akhtar, national convener of RSS’s Muslim Rashtriya Manch, who was also present in the meeting, told TOI , “During the meeting, Sah Sarkaryawah Krishna Gopal Sharma said that dialogues are necessary to ensure incidents like Gujarat don’t happen again” (Times of India 9/11/2016)

144. Hindu Mahasabha demands arm licences for women (26)

AGRA: Barely days after calling upon Hindus in Aligarh to arm themselves, the right wing Hindu Mahasabha on Wednesday submitted a memorandum to the district magistrate demanding issuance of arms licences to women in light of increasing cases of rape and sexual harassment. Mahasabha’s UP spokesperson, Ashok Kumar Pandey, said, “Hindus are insecure in several localities of Aligarh, including Babri Mandi that witnessed communal clashes last week”. He accused the police of not registering cases against members of the minority community, who were involved in eve teasing and harassment of Hindu girls. Claiming that the recent clash in Babri mandi was an outcome of one such incident, Pandey said they have demanded registration of cases under the National Security Act against Muslim youth involved in incidents of rape and sexual harassment of girls. (Times of India 10/11/2016)

145. Police take Simha, Hindu activists into custody (26)

Mysuru: The city police on Thursday took Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Pratap Simha and activists of pro-Hindu organisations into custody for staging a protest in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office. The agitation was being held as part of a state-wide protest against Tipu Jayanti celebrations. Both the DC’s office and the Kalamandira — the venues of the protest by BJP members and the celebrations respectively — had turned into fortresses. While movement of people was banned on all roads leading to the DC’s office, with blockades, people were welcome at the Kalamandira, but under the watchful eyes of the Police personnel. As a preventive measure, the police arrested nearly 35 people who were demanding that the state government suspend Tipu Jayanti celebrations. Former MLC Go Madhusudhan alleged that Tipu had written to Afghanistan King Ahmad Shah Abdali to attack India. “Tipu was anti-India, he had killed thousands of Kodavas, Nayaka community people and several Christians,” he stated and alleged that the state government, led by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, was celebrating the jayanti to appease Muslims. The police took all the agitators into custody and led them to the City Armed Reserve (CAR) grounds after they refused to withdraw the protest. Former minister and MLC C H Vijayashankar, Deputy Mayor Vanita Prasanna, and Karnataka State Hotel Owners Association president M Rajendra were present. As a precautionary measure, the police had obtained surety from 96 persons and had also installed CCTV cameras at sensitive areas. Meanwhile, security was beefed up in parts of the city. Three deputy commissioners of police and two assistant commissioners of police supervised the security arrangements. The police had deputed 680 home guards, four Karnataka State Reserve Police (KSRP) and City Armed Reserve (CAR) battalions, 30 commandos and 20 mounted police and other police force to maintain law and order in the city. The police stated that no untoward incident had been reported during the celebrations in the city. (Deccan Herald 11/11/2016)

146. Our country is ‘Hindu’ Rashtra, says RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat (26)

Jammu: While asserting that there will be no compromise with “unity and integrity” of the country, Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh  (RSS) Chief Mohan Bahgwat on Sunday said that India is “Hindu Rashtra” (Hindu country) and “there is no place for separatism in the country.” In this regard, the RSS Chief asked the government to deal sternly with those “working on the directions of Pakistan from across the border.” Bhagwat, while addressing RSS volunteers (swayamsewaks) and BJP leaders including its ministers and MLAs, here today said, “The government must abide by the constitution and ensure that separatism is not encouraged and does not flourish on our soil”. Without naming Pakistan, Bhagwat said, “Those who work on the instructions from across the border should be strictly dealt with as national interest and security are paramount and will not be compromised at any cost”. The unity and integrity of the country should not be compromised, he added. He said the people of Jammu and Kashmir have suffered a lot, particularly more recently. “There has to be a solution to the long pending issue of J&K within the constitutional framework,” he said adding that this country “is one and there should be no compromise with unity and integrity of the country.” Meanwhile, Bhagwat said, “Our country is Hindu Rashtra and our ancestors are Hindus. This is what the world knows and identifies us with. Ours is a Hindu Rashtra and our ancestors are Hindus,” the RSS Chief said, while adding, “We are all sons of Bharat Mata”. He said, “Our country is Hindu Rashtra not because one practices a particular religion or not. It is Hindu Rashtra because it accepts all practices and this is what the world has known us since thousands of years and identifies us with”. Bhagwat said that RSS needs nothing but just unity and integrity of the country and for that RSS has been working for the last 90 years. “We want unity, progress and prosperity of the country”, he said and asked the RSS volunteers to propagate ideology of Sangh. RSS serves society irrespective of caste and religion, he said.  Pertinently, the rally was attended by prominent BJP leaders and ministers including, Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Nirmal Singh, Speaker Kavinder Gupta, Bali Bhagat, union minister, Dr Jitendera Singh, BJP State President, Sat Sharma, Chander Parkash Ganga, Sham Chowdhary, AG Kohli, Ajay Nanda and others. (Greater Kashmir 13/11/16)

147. Rahul Gandhi gets bail in RSS defamation case (26)

BHIWANDI: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday appeared in a Bhiwandi court in a defamation case over his alleged comment+ against the RSS on Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination. The court later granted him bail on a personal bond of Rs 15,000. Former Union minister Shivraj Patil stood as surety for the bail for the Congress leader. The next hearing is scheduled for hearing on January 30, 2017. The case against Rahul was filed by a local RSS functionary, Rajesh Kunte, over the former’s speech in Bhiwandi on March 6, 2014 in the run up to Lok Sabha polls. During the rally, Rahul had allegedly claimed, “The RSS people had killed Gandhi.”Bombay high court had last year declined to grant Rahul Gandhi any relief in the proceedings stemming from a private complaint filed in 2014 by an RSS worker who claimed that he had alleged that RSS killed Mahatma Gandhi. The defamation case was filed by RSS activist Rajesh Kunte. The HC dismissed Rahul Gandhi’s plea to quash the criminal defamation case, but exempted him from a personal appearance before a magistrate in Bhiwandi.Rahul then had moved the Supreme Court with a special leave petition (SLP) for permission to challenge the HC dismissal of his plea, but had eventually withdrawn his SLP. (Times of India 16/11/16)

TERRORISM

148. ISIS threat in India? US issues terror alert to citizens travelling to country (12)

New Delhi: The United States on Tuesday issued an advisory to its citizens in India, asking them to maintain a high level of vigilance, as reports indicted ISIS’s desire to attack targets in India. “Recent Indian media reports indicate ISIL’s desire to attack targets in India. The US Embassy warns of an increased threat to places in India frequented by Westerners, such as religious sites, markets, and festivals venues,” the US Embassy in India said in a statement. Calling on Americans to be highly vigilant, the statement further asserted that citizens must take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness as detailed in the State Department’s Worldwide Caution of September 9, 2016, which says that “India continues to experience terrorist and insurgent activities which may affect US citizens directly or indirectly. Anti-Western terrorist groups active in India include Islamist extremist groups such as Harkat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami, Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Indian Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Lashkar-e Tayyiba. Past attacks have targeted public places, including some frequented by Westerners, such as luxury and other hotels, trains, train stations, markets, cinemas, mosques, and restaurants in large urban areas. (Zee News 1/11/2016)

149. Why NIA cannot probe the Bhopal jail break case (12)

New Delhi, Nov 4: The jail break case from Madhya Pradesh has witnessed several twists and turns. Amidst demands that the National Investigation Agency must probe the case, the fact is as per the law, the premier agency cannot probe into the matter. As per the NIA charter, the agency can only probe into scheduled offences.In this case there is no evidence as yet that the operatives of the SIMI who escaped from jail were being helped by a terror group from outside. If the FIR filed by the Madhya Pradesh police mentions an outside hand, then the charter of the NIA would allow the agency to probe into the case. It may be recalled that earlier this week, 8 operatives of the Students Islamic Movement of India had escaped from a jail in Bhopal before killing a constable. All the 8 were in a matter of hours killed in an encounter. The encounter has raised several questions. In an audio clip that has surfaced, one police personnel is heard saying, ” surround them and finish them off.” A home ministry official informed OneIndia that for now no request has been received from the Madhya Pradesh government to probe into the case. Once we get a request, we will examine the official also informed. Meanwhile the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan has ordered a judicial probe into the matter. The future course of action on this case would be taken following the recommendations made by the judicial panel. (Oneindia 4/11/2016)

150. Bhopal SIMI encounter: Probe body will favour RSS, BJP version, says ex-advocate general

INDORE: A former Madhya Pradesh advocate general on Monday came down heavily on chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for appointing Justice (retd) SK Pandey to probe Bhopal jailbreak and SIMI encounter. He said the move was aimed at helping RSS and BJP propaganda about the killings. “Your selection of Justice SK Pandey is neither fair nor impartial, but tainted to help the propaganda of RSS and BJP about the encounter,” senior advocate and former advocate general Anand Mohan Mathur said in a letter to the chief minister.”As far as I know, and this can be verified from various sources in Jabalpur, Indore and Gwalior that Justice Pandey has been a sympathizer and supporter of RSS and BJP, therefore, Justice Pandey will not be an impartial judge of inquiry under the Inquiry Commission Act,” he said. Mathur’s allegations came at a time when right wing activists staged a protest near his house on Monday against his plans to form a human chain in Indore after jailbreak demanding appointment of a Supreme Court Judge to head the encounter.The activists accused Mathur of backing SIMI activists by attempting to form the human chain at Regal Square here on November 5. But Mathur and his fellow protestors were stopped by the police. Mathur referred to the police action in his letter and said due to repression of government and arrest of large number of his fellow protestors, the chain could not be formed. The human chain was planned to push for appointment of Supreme Court judge to probe the encounter because ‘eight prisoners, who are citizens of India, have been killed by your administration’.The former advocate general also accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of controlling print and electronic media. “A media channel named NDTV was exposing your encounter.. has been banned on November 9. This is repression of media and violation of right to speak and criticize the government by press and common man,” Mathur said.Mathur also demanded that the FIR lodged in the SIMI encounter case and the post-mortem reports should be made public. Information about the circumstances in which the head constable was killed should also be revealed. “People of Madhya Pradesh want and answer from you so that neither the FIR nor the post-mortem report could be manipulated,” Mathur said. The advocate also sought details of talks between various police officials before and after the encounter on November 1, where eight SIMI men escaping from Bhopal’s central jail were shot dead by the police at Eintkhedi village. (Times of India 7/11/2016)

151. Ban on Rs 500, Rs 1000 notes is surgical strike on terror funding, black money (12)

NEW DELHI: The anticipation built up after PM Narendra Modi met service chiefs to review the India-Pakistan security situation and news filtered out that he would address the nation. But it was a surgical strike of a different kind, with Modi delivering a stunning surprise by scrapping Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes and calling for a “decisive war” against corruption, black money and terrorism. “There is a need for a decisive war against the menace of corruption, black money and terrorism…festering wounds which make the country and society hollow from within,” the PM said in a televised address, his first, to the nation. The decision comes in the backdrop of a fierce political fight over black money with opposition parties claiming Modi has failed to deliver on his pledge to combat black money. “From the midnight of November 8, Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 will not be legal tender… these will be just worthless pieces of paper,” Modi said in his 40-minute speech. He said this was being done to combat graft and terror funding. The two high-value notes account for nearly one-fourth of all the notes in circulation. In value terms, however, their share was over 86% as of the end of March. The PM also said new notes of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 will be introduced but those being currently held will have to be exchanged at banks. But this is subject to limits and rules out the possibility of large exchanges of illegal stash as these will need to be explained and accounted for. Pitching the decision as a much needed antidote to stamp out the menace of corruption and terror funding, the PM said “Black money and corruption are the biggest obstacles in eradicating poverty…Have you ever thought how these terrorists get their money? Enemies from across the border have run their operations using fake currency notes.”Describing illegal financial activities as the “biggest blot”, Modi said that despite several steps taken by his government over the last two-and-a-half years, India’s global ranking on corruption had moved only to 76th position from 100th earlier. According to the finance ministry, the total number of bank notes in circulation rose by 40% between 2011 and 2016, while the increase in number of notes of Rs 500 denomination was 76% and for Rs 1,000 denomination was 109%.”A parallel shadow economy corrodes and eats into the vitals of the country’s economy. It generates inflation which adversely affects the poor and the middle classes more than others. It deprives government of its legitimate revenues which could have been otherwise used for welfare and development activities,” a finance ministry statement said. The move could have political ramifications in the forthcoming state elections as it impacts the capacity of parties to spend unaccounted cash for campaigning and various political payments. (Times of India 9/11/2016)

152. India, Japan seek end to cross-border movement of terrorists (12)

TOKYO: Voicing great concern over the growing menace of terrorism, India and Japan today called upon all countries to work towards eliminating terror safe havens, disrupting their networks and stopping cross-border movement of terrorists, in an apparent reference to Pakistan. “The two Prime Ministers condemned terrorism in strongest terms in all its forms and manifestations in the spirit of ‘zero tolerance’,” said a joint statement issued after the annual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe here. The two leaders noted with great concern the growing menace of terrorism and violent extremism and its universal reach. “They called upon all countries to implement the UNSC Resolution 1267 and other relevant resolutions designating terrorist entities,” it said, referring to India’s bid to get Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar designated as global a terrorist under this resolution. China – a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council – had blocked India’s move to put a ban on Azhar under the Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the Council. The two leaders “called upon all countries to work towards eliminating terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, in disrupting terrorist networks and financing channels, and stopping cross-border movement of terrorists,” it said, adding they underlined the need for all countries to effectively deal with trans-national terrorism emanating from their territory. India accuses Pakistan of training, financing and arming militant groups such as LeT and JeM. “They emphasised that the evolving character of terrorism called for stronger international partnership in countering terrorism and violent extremism, including through increased sharing of information and intelligence,” the statement said.The two Prime Ministers noted the ongoing bilateral dialogue on counter-terrorism and called for enhanced cooperation including through greater exchange of information and intelligence between the two sides. …  (Times of India 11/11/16)

153. Centre bans Zakir Naik’s NGO, calls it ‘unlawful’ (12)

New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Tuesday gave a go-ahead to declare the NGO run by controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik as an “unlawful association” which disturbed social and communal harmony and placed it under a ban for five years with immediate effect. Banning any organisation under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) requires an approval by the Cabinet, and a Gazette notification will follow soon. The NGO, Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), was declared an “unlawful association” under the UAPA primarily on the basis of four key points: criminal cases against Dr. Naik, provocative speeches by the preacher, the NGO’s dubious relationship with the banned Peace TV and transfer of NGO’s money to Peace TV. “We relied on investigations done by Maharashtra Police and intelligence agencies. He has made many provocative speeches and propagated terror across the country,” said a senior home ministry official. A Tribunal will be set up where Dr. Naik could challenge the ban on his NGO. (The Hindu 15/11/16)

154. Demonetisation issue brings Parliament to a halt (12)

New Delhi: The Opposition and the Government clashed over the demonetisation issue on Thursday, bringing both Houses to a halt. The Lok Sabha functioned only for question hour amid a steady uproar, adjourning for the day well before 1 p.m. The Rajya Sabha, meanwhile, was repeatedly adjourned, as the Congress-led Opposition mounted a sharp and relentless attack on the government: this was in sharp contrast to the peaceful discussion on Wednesday. In the Upper House, the Opposition made it clear it was not satisfied merely with responses from Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, even as remarks made by Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad about the Uri terror attack in the context of demonetisation forced the final adjournment for the day. The Lok Sabha on Thursday witnessed continuous disruptions before being adjourned for the day, with Speaker Sumitra Mahajan turning down the Opposition’s demand for an adjournment motion on the demonetisation issue. As soon as the proceedings started, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge demanded that the Chair accept the adjournment motion but Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anant Kumar said the government was only ready for a debate under Rule 193. Neither side yielded, and the Congress and other Opposition MPs continued to shout slogans. Ms. Mahajan then said Opposition MPs did not seem to want a discussion and only sought to disrupt the House. Eventually, the House was adjourned till 12.30 p.m. When the Lok Sabha reassembled, Mr. Kharge again raised the demand for an adjournment motion. Ms. Mahajan simply said, “I have disallowed the adjournment.” The uproar continued unabated, and the Speaker adjourned the House for the day. In the Rajya Sabha that witnessed a six-hour-long debate on demonetisation on Wednesday, the Opposition had pressed for the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the House and a response from him. On Thursday, as the discussion continued, the Rajya Sabha was repeatedly adjourned as Opposition MPs rushed into the well. Opposition MPs on Thursday rushed into the well of the Rajya Sabha repeatedly, shouting slogans demanding response from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the demonetisation controversy. At one stage they were heard shouting, “Pradhan mantri jawab do.” The Trinamool’s Derek O’Brien said his party wanted voting after the debate; immediately after that he made some remarks that saw the ruling party benches rise to object. To which Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu was heard saying: “He (the Prime Minister) is very much here. …(Interruptions)… He is in the House of the People. …(Interruptions)… He is very much here.” ..  (The Hindu 17/11/16)

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

155. HC asks Andhra govt to declare if top Maoist leader RK is dead or alive (12)

Hyderabad: The Hyderabad high court on Monday asked the Andhra Pradesh government to declare whether the dreaded CPI (Maoist) central committee member Akkiraju Haragopal alias Ramakrishna alias RK is dead or alive in the custody of the police. The high court admitted a petition filed by Ramakrishna’s wife Sirisha alias Padmakka, who alleged that her husband was injured in the October 24 encounter in Malkangiri forest of Odisha, and captured by the Andhra Pradesh police. She expressed apprehension that the police might kill him in a fake encounter after torturing him.The high court observed that the right to life was applicable to all people, irrespective of whether they were Maoists or common citizens. It wondered why there was so much confusion with regards to the Maoist leader and why so much time was being taken to get the details of the encounter. Asking the police not to cause any harm to the life of RK, if he was really in their custody, the court posted the case to Thursday for further hearings and directed that the government submit a comprehensive report on the encounter.Apart from Sirisha, various people’s organisations like Telangana Democratic Front also alleged that the police had captured RK alive and were torturing him. Telangana Joint Action Committee leader M Kodandaram also alleged on Monday that RK was in police custody and demanded that he be produced in the court of law. As many as 30 Maoists were killed in one of the biggest encounters of the Maoist movement at Malkangiri forests of Odisha. (Hindustan Times 1/11/2016)

156. Mixed response to Maoist bandh call (12)

Paderu (Visakhapatnam Agency): The one-day bandh call given by the banned CPI (Maoist) turned out to be a partial event in the Agency areas of Andhra Pradesh on Thursday. It passed off peacefully. The bandh call was given by the Maoists across the five LWE affected States of A.P., Telangana, Maharashtra, Odisha and Chhattisgarh, in protest against the killing of 30 Maoists in a joint operation by the AP Greyhounds and the special police of Odisha in three separate encounters on October 24, 25 and 27 in the cut-off area of Andhra Odisha Border (AOB). Except for the first couple of hours, life was normal in all the mandals. Most of the shops did not open till 11 a.m. in sensitive mandals. The bandh was taken seriously only in the interior parts of some sensitive mandals such as Munchingput and Pedabayalu, and at hamlets close to the AOB. After 11 a.m., most of the shops opened and only about 20 per cent remained closed throughout the day. The worst hit was the transport sector. Except on the trunk routes such as Visakhapatnam to Paderu and to Araku, APSRTC buses were off the roads at most places across the Agency areas. Fearing action by Maoists, the buses did not ply, despite the police giving clearance to some routes. Even private vehicles restricted their movement. Most of the schools and colleges remained opened for at least half-a-day and banks and other government offices and essential services functioned as usual.Normal life, however, was affected in south Odisha. As a precautionary measure, the Odisha State Road Transport Corporation cancelled bus services plying in Maoist-infested districts of Malkangiri, Rayagada and Koraput. Though private buses and small vehicles plied on major roads, they avoided remote pockets. Inter-State buses from Jeypore and other places in Koraput district to Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh remained off the road. Maoists made attempts to target security personnel. They planted two Improvised Explosive Devices near Hatamuniguda of Rayagada district. But the explosives were defused. Maoist banners and posters were found at the spot. In Kandhamal district, Naxalites felled the trees to disrupt traffic. Personnel of the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force cleared the blocks to enable free flow of traffic.Security was heightened in Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Nabarangpur, Kalahandi and Nuapada, which border the Maoist-infested regions of Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. (The Hindu 4/11/2016)

157. DGP asks Naxals to drop weapons, join mainstream (12)

VIJAYAWADA: In-charge Director-General of Police (DGP) N. Sambasiva Rao here on Monday appealed to Maoists to drop guns and shun violence. There was no relevance to the extremists’ ideology and it was hindering development, he said.The Government would soon set up a Greyhounds Training Centre, estimated to cost Rs.850 crore for tackling the Naxalites, said Mr. Rao at a press conference. “If they drop weapons and come for discussions, we are ready to hold talks. As it is a law and order problem that has internal security implications, we urge them to come for a dialogue. The police Department had lost many officers in the battle with them in the last few decades,” he said.Asked whether the intelligence wing had failed in tracking CPI (Maoist) Central Committee Member Akkiraju Haragopal alias Ramakrishna (RK) after the Andhra-Odisha Border (AOB) encounter, and some front organisations had information on his whereabouts, the in-charge DGP said the Intelligence Department was doing good work, “but it happens sometimes”. “There are many issues which are known to the front organisations, but not the Police Department. We keep on telling that RK is not in our custody. But some organisations made baseless allegations over the issue and blamed the police,” Mr. Rao said. As regards the AOB encounter in which 30 Maoists died, the DGP said the police had followed the guidelines of the Supreme Court and the National Human Rights Commission post the incident. “At present the police are facing challenges from Maoists and terrorists. To tackle them, we are planning to strengthen policing in the State.” Additional DG (Law and Order) R.P. Thakur was present at the press conference. (The Hindu 8/11/2016)

158. 94 Maoist supporters, ultras surrender in Odisha’s Malkangiri (12)

Malkangiri (Odisha): As many as 94 Maoist supporters and 52 militia members have surrendered before Malkangiri police. This is a big blow to the Maoists as the surrenders have taken place close on the heels of the killing of at least 28 rebels in a fierce encounter with Odisha and Andhra Pradesh police on October 24 in the district, police said today. Those who have surrendered were from Sudhakonda and Radulkonda villages under Kalimela Block and included five women and nine village commitee members, police said, adding that they surrendered before Malkangiri SP Mitrabhanu Mohapatra. They have pledged to dissociate themselves from Maoist activities and to remain in the social mainstream for the development of the backward region, the SP said. They would be provided benefits in accordance with the state government’s surrender and rehabilitation policy, Mohapatra said. (Zee News 9/11/2016)

159. Maoist with 5 lakh on head arrested in Giridih (12)

DHANBAD: Giridih police have arrested senior Maoist commander Ramesh Mandal from Motileda village under Bengabad police station of Giridih on Saturday afternoon.Mandal, who carried an award of Rs 5 lakh on his head, was associated with the Maoists’ organization for about two decades. He was allegedly involved in dozens of big incidents in Giridih and the suburban area including Chilkhari massacre in 2007, in which the son of the former state chief minister Babulal Marandi was killed, Mahendra Singh murder case, Giridih home guard camp attack, Giridih Jail Van attack 2012 and others. “In 2011, Mandal was arrested from Lalpaniya in and Bokaro and later shifted to Giridih divisional Jail. But he was released by his close aides during a jail break in December 2011. The government had declared an award of Rs 5 lakh on his head,” police said. On Thursday night, Ranchi police arrested four persons including an owner of petrol pump for allegedly assisting splinter group of the CPI( Maoist) to deposit heavy cash in banks in the state capital. Ranchi police held four persons from the Bedo branch of the State Bank of India under the same police station. (Times of India 13/11/16)

160. Naxal-hit village gets electricity for the first time in Jharkhand (12)

Latehar: A Naxal-hit village in Jharkhand has celebrated Diwali in its “true sense” this year as electricity has reached here for the first time. Garu village, about 1,400 kms from New Delhi and 175 kms from the state capital Ranchi, comes under the jurisdiction of Latehar district which is among the most Naxal-infested areas of the state. “We were waiting for electricity for a long time. Government representatives had been assuring us of providing electricity for a long while but finally this year only, we experienced it,” says Shiv Shankar Singh, Garu village head. “Farming has improved after electricity came here as we don’t need to bother about buying diesel. Though the voltage is low, people are happy with the step,” Sukhdev Oraon, a village council member, said. Garu village had long been ignored in development schemes as Naxals were not allowing any work to be undertaken by carrying out attacks. “As Naxals were opposed to any kind of development in the area, no private builder was ready to take the contract. It is only after the CRPF gave them assurance about the safety and security, they started building roads,” Ramesh Kumar, Commandant of 112th battalion of CRPF said. This also allowed other development works in the area. “Our armed troops used to provide them cover so that Naxals could not attack or hamper the work. Now, the entire area is well connected with the road,” Kumar said. “We try to create as mush trust among people for security forces as we can. We approach people and involve them in our planning. We distribute our numbers and remain in touch with them,” he added. Ram Lal Prasad, MLA representative of Garu, says there has been a lot of change after CRPF came in the area. “This is the first time that Garu village has got electricity. People here celebrated Diwali for the first time in a true sense,” Sanjay Prasad, a local resident, said. “You can imagine how people feel here as some elderly said their life is successful as they got to see how a bulb works,” said Sudhir Yadav, a villager. “I bought a television after my wife insisted. We use it to watch mostly news and sometimes TV serials. Now, several families in the area are buying TV sets. Electricity here is round the clock,” Raju Prasad Yadav said. The electrification of the village was almost impossible without the involvement of Labhar area, which was once a training camp and launch pad of Naxals, Deputy Commandant of CRPF Prakash Chandra Badal said. “Labhar was liberated by CRPF from Naxals in 2011. It is now a CRPF camp from where they are operating in the area. CRPF has assisted the local administration in the all round development of the area,” Badal said. “Now we are not scared of Naxals. We are safe and secure here. It feels like the CRPF is our guardian in the area,” Jugal Kishore Prasad of Haratu village said. (Indian Express 14/11/16)

161. Businessman killed, vehicle set ablaze by Naxals in Jharkhand (12)

JAMSHEDPUR: A businessman, who owns a Nursing Home, was killed and his vehicle torched while a nurse was set free by naxals near Raisilli Pahar under Kuchai police station of Seraikela-Kharswan district, a senior police officer today said. Yogesh Mishra (40), who owned a Nursing Home in Kharswan of the district, along with a nurse left the nursing home in a car last night to purchase a cock in remote area and was axed to death by the CPI (Maoists) in Burubandi village, Superintendent of Police Indrajeet Mahatha said. Mishra was a familiar face to the naxals and also had a chat with them before leaving the Nursing Home last night, he said stating that the victim’s family members also confessed before the police that he had been chatting with the ultras over phone. The naxals, however, set the nurse, who lives in Pandadih village in the same police station limit free, he said. Police were investigating the incident from all angles including the possibility of Naxal asking Mishra to convert their black money into white in the wake of banning of Rs.500 and Rs.1000 currency notes even though Mishra was killed allegedly for being a police informer, Mahatha said. Money matter seemed to be an issue behind the killing, the SP hinted. Earlier, the district police had interrogated Mishra after two Naxals – Arjun Munda and Sombari Mundain – who were involved in last year’s firing at the then Senior Superintendent of Police, Ranchi, Prabhat Kumar leaving him injured, were arrested from his nursing home. The naxal duo had managed to sneak into the district from Ranchi and were undergoing treatment in the nursing home, when they were arrested. (New Indian Express 16/11/16)

162. Naxals force elderly to convert black money in Jharkhand (12)

Latehar (jharkhand): In a bid to evade scrutiny, Naxals in Jharkhand are forcing elderly people to exchange their unaccounted money after demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes. In Latehar district, one of the most Naxal-affected areas in Jharkhand, the left-wing extremists, who have extorted crores of rupees by levying “tax” and through ransom, are forcing elderly people to deposit the cash into their accounts, using the cap of Rs 2.5 lakh deposit in one go. “It is correct. We have received information that Naxals are using villagers to deposit their extortion money into bank accounts so that it can be converted into legal currency. Not only elderly people, but young people could also be involved in the practice,” Latehar Superintendent of Police (SP) Anoop Birtharay told reporters. Birtharay said that for the last two days, police have been conducting searches in several places to nab those involved in the illegal practice. “We suspect that some locals, who could be Naxal sympathisers providing logistical support to Naxals, are behind it,” the SP said. Birtharay said police are keeping a close vigil and conducting raids upon receiving tip-offs to nab those involved in the practice. Vehicle checking is also being conducted. “We got information that some Naxals from Bihar were scheduled to hold a meeting with their Jharkhand counterparts here but panicked upon learning that police have been conducting raids to nab them,” he said. A local resident said on condition of anonymity that some elderly people of Matlong village are visiting banks in Latehar district headquarters carrying lakhs of rupees to deposit into their account so that they could help Naxals convert their ill-gotten money. “A few days ago, an elderly woman who was unable to even recognise notes correctly, went to a state-run bank to deposit Rs 4.5 lakh in her Jan Dhan account. She, however, went back without depositing the money, saying she was asked to show PAN card which she did not have,” he said. Another villager said in some cases, some Naxal sympathisers are depositing the money willingly after deducting their “share” which ranges from 10 per cent to 30 per cent but in other cases, many elderly people are forced to comply with the Naxals’ instructions. “Naxals are frustrated with the government’s move demonetising Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. They are threatening locals to deposit their money ino banks so that the cash do not become defunct,” the villager said. Inspector General of CRPF (Jharkhand) Sanjay A Lathkar said they too have received some information that Naxals were trying to convert their money in the area. “Some people have been arrested with old notes. We are keeping a close watch on Naxals’ movement in the state and would foil any attempt by them to convert money. The state police is also looking after these inputs,” he said. Recently, the CRPF recovered Rs 25 lakh from two suspects of People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI), a breakaway faction of CPI (Maoist) and one of Jharkhand’s several dominant extremist outfits, in Bodo area. The two arrested suspects are said to have links to PLFI supremo Dinesh, a CRPF official said. Security agencies suspect that the seized cash could be part of funds used for Naxalite activities. Naxas have amassed nearly Rs 1,500 crore organised extortion business in the form of “levy”, police and central security officials said. Many splinter groups are said to be indulged in “levy” collection besides carrying out kidnapping, looting and narcotics trade, they said. (The Hindu 16/11/16)

TRAFFICKING

163. Trafficking crusader killed, rescued girls missing (1)

KOLKATA: An anti-trafficking activist was found brutally murdered at her room in Sonagachhi, India’s largest red-light district, on Wednesday. A couple of rescued girls who were under her care for the last two days, are missing. Police suspect an international trafficking racket. On Wednesday , locals found Kabita Roy’s body – strangled, and with her head smashed in – from a room in the office of Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, the largest rights body of Sonagachhi’s sex workers, on Nilmani Mitra Street. Roy, 58, was a former sex worker who had been working for the committee for 24 years, and had risen to become one of its first presidents. The girls had been staying at a short stay home for rescued girls in the Durbar office, and had been under her watch before their production in juvenile court on Wednesday. A sum of Rs 750 and a mobile phone were missing from the office. The girls, both 16 years old and hailing from Gopalganj in Bongaon, had come to meet their “boyfriends”, whom they had met through Facebook, around midnight on Monday. They were rescued from Premchand Boral Street in Bowbazar on Monday and brought to Durbar’s office. Durbar functionaries discovered the murder at 10am on Wednesday , while reporting for work, when they found Kabita’s body in a second-floor room of the four-storey building. Police officers who examined the body later said that the assailants had hit her with a heavy object, probably a grin ding stone, that was lying next to her. Later, they used a gamchha (a coarse cotton towel) to strangle her.Initial investigations suggest an international trafficking racket with links to bordering areas like Bangaon, Basirhat and countries like Bangladesh and Nepal is behind the murder. “It is difficult to conclude anything just now,” said Subhankar Sinha Sarkar, deputy commissioner (north). “But the involvement of a human trafficking racket cannot be ruled out.” Senior Kolkata Police officers rushed to the spot to crack the mystery of the first ever high-profile murder in the red-light district. “The door seems to have been opened from the inside. The lock and key of the collapsible gate has been recovered. We have found the keys intact, lying inside the room. There was no sign of forced entry,” an officer said. … (Times of India 3/11/2016)

164. Police bust child trafficking racket; 6 paramedics arrested (1)

Mysuru: In what could be a major breakthrough, Mysuru district police uncovered a huge child trafficking and kidnap racket in Nanjangud by arresting six employees of private hospitals and contract workers recently. Confirming this to TOI, SP Ravi D Channannavar said that they have cracked a child-selling-and-buying racket by arresting some members of an organized syndicate. “Police investigation has uncovered the illegal business and we are suspecting a big gang to be behind this,” he added. All those arrested are male and female nurses working in private hospitals and contract employees. One among them has been employed on contract at government-run KR Hospital in Mysuru. The gang has admitted to lifting children who were found abandoned and begging on the streets, orphans and wards of single-parents in Mysuru and surrounding areas. “We have rescued few children, and investigation is under way,” the SP added. In April this year, Nanjangud police had received a complaint of a missing child, about 30 months old, from Temple Street in Nanjangud. The child’s mother Shanthamma filed a police complaint on April 25. “We are yet to trace this kid,” the SP added. The arrested have told police that they were part of a racket which is into kidnapping children and finding prospective buyers. The exact number of children kidnapped by them or those who have gone missing from Nanjangud is being ascertained.Venkatesha, Mohan, Mahesha, Srimathi, Renuka and Usha have been picked up after a preliminary inquiry. They have been booked under various provisions of IPC, including kidnapping or maiming a minor for the purposes of begging and trafficking.A team headed by additional SP Kalakrishnaswamy is investigating the case, Ravi said, adding that there could be more than 20 persons in the gang. (Times of India 4/11/2016)

165. Rise in awareness about trafficking, reveals CID report (1)

RANCHI: Awareness on human trafficking, a major concern in Jharkhand, seems to have risen over the last five years. State CID figures say the number of FIRs registered against human trafficking across the state in 2012 was nine which increased to 45 in 2013, 122 in 2014 and 171 in 2015. This year, a total of 66 FIRs have been registered till July Likewise, the rescue cases in 2012 was only 18 which went up to 68 in 2013, 93 in 2014 and 116 in 2015. The number of rescues made till July 2016 was 57. As far as the arrest of traffickers is concerned, a total of 181 traffickers (123 male and 58 female) have been arrested by the state police from 2012 till date. Around 18 traffickers were arrested in 2012, 32 in 2013, 58 in 2014, 53 in 2015 and 20 this year till date. IG CID Sampat Meena said that the number of arrests increased in 2014 after the two kingpins of trafficking Baba Bamdev and Pannalal Mahato were arrested in mid-2014.”Once the kingpins were arrested, the gang weakened and our officials were able to nab more traffickers who were working under the two,” she said. Awareness among police and public is a major reason behind the increase in number of arrests, FIRs and rescues. “Earlier, people did not know that human trafficking was a crime and did not report if their children went missing or were lured away. Also, the police did not take these cases seriously but now both the parties have become serious about the issue,” Meena said.Since December 2013, around 20 state level workshops have been organized by the CID in which over 2,000 policemen have been trained about Juvenile Justice Act, Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Act and other related acts. .. (Times of India 6/11/16)

166. Women, children being ‘trafficked from Pakistan, forced into begging’ in Europe (1)

ISLAMABAD: Powerful gangs of organised criminals are trafficking hundreds of women and children from different parts of the country through Iran for labour and beggary in Europe and the Middle East, The Express Tribune has learnt on the authority of senior officials. Investigations by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) reveal that among those smuggled through the Iran route more than 8% are women and children. “Human smugglers from Punjab and Balochistan prefer to recruit children between eight and 12 years of age, and women in their thirties and forties,” said Sultan Khan, an assistant director posted at FIA’s regional head office in Quetta. “In most cases, women and children are smuggled along intending pilgrims who are issued valid visas for pilgrimage of holy sites in Iran,” he added. “However, from there, women and children are smuggled to European states via Turkey.” Similarly, children and women were also being smuggled to Saudi Arabia along with intending pilgrims having valid hajj and umrah visas, disclosed Khan. Every year, Iranian authorities, as a part of a mutual agreement with Islamabad deport thousands of smuggled Pakistanis, including women and children, but Riyadh sends such illegal immigrants to jail where they languish for years without a trial. “Iran deports 20,000 to 26,000 illegal Pakistani immigrants every year through its immigration office near the border with Balochistan,” Khan told The Express Tribune quoting from official figures. “An overwhelming majority of these people pay hefty sums in the hope human smugglers would take them to Europe.” Human smugglers promise unsuspecting parents that their children would get decent and lucrative jobs in Europe – but instead the children are subjected to forced labour in domestic servitude. “Women and children from Punjab, particularly from Gujrat, Gujranwala, Mandi Bahauddin, Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan and Sialkot are an easy target for human traffickers.” Initially, it was suspected that women are smuggled for prostitution, but investigators have not found any conclusive proof. “None of the women deported thus far has complained about prostitution or forced sex,” according to Khan. .. The Express Tribune 9/11/2016)

167. Move to scrap Rs 500, Rs 1000 notes will break backbone of traffickers: Satyarthi  (1)

New Delhi: Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi has welcomed India’s overnight move to withdraw 500 and 1,000 rupee notes from circulation to crack down on corruption and counterfeit currency, saying it would also to help curb human trafficking and child slavery. The shock currency move, announced late on Tuesday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, aims to bring billions of dollars worth of unaccounted wealth which people are hoarding, or “black money”, into the mainstream economy and curb corruption. From midnight on Tuesday, the highest denomination bank notes ceased to be legal tender for transactions other than exchanging them at banks for smaller notes. Banks are meant to alert the Reserve Bank of India and tax authorities of any unusually large sums being exchanged – which may be the product of ill-gotten gains. Child rights activist Satyarthi said human trafficking and child labour were amongst the largest sources of black money. “I commend the boldness of the step taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to put an end to black money and corruption,” he said in a statement on late on Wednesday. “Every single rupee earned by the traffickers and slave masters is black money. This move will break their backbone.” India alone is home 40 percent of the world’s estimated 45.8 million slaves, according to a 2016 global slavery index published by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation. × Thousands of children, mostly from poor rural areas, are taken to cities every year by gangs who sell them into bonded labour or hire them out to unscrupulous employers. Many end up as domestic workers or labourers in brick kilns, roadside restaurants or small textile and embroidery workshops. Many women and girls are sold into brothels. Modi came to office in 2014 promising a war against the shadow economy, winning him support from middle-class Indians who accuse politicians and businessmen of cheating the system. The abolition of 500- and 1,000-rupee notes came with virtually no warning. The old notes will be replaced with new ones in a move which is also designed to stop anti-India militants suspected of using fake notes to fund operations. … (Sify Finance 11/11/16)

168. Karnataka temple town a haven for child traffickers (1)

MYSURU: The child trafficking racket that came to light in the temple town of Nanjangud, Karnataka a few days ago is just a tip of the iceberg, according to NGOs, child activists and government officials. It is a flourishing business clandestinely run by a strong network, they say. Sources say tourist places are haven for the illegal business as child beggars, who are the soft targets of traffickers, are found there. Even in Nanjangud case, the racket was uncovered after a perpetrator tried to kidnap a beggar’s child who was seeking alms near a temple. Incidents of child trafficking mostly go unnoticed as the government agencies hardly have any control over beggars. K Radha, deputy director of Women and Child Welfare Department said that while all other pregnancies were reported by the department, beggars do not. “They do not like any kind of binding on them. If they report pregnancies with us, we insist on regular check ups and keep the tab on the newborn after delivery.” Apart from beggars, perpetrators prey on children of poor parents and those born out of unwanted pregnancies. A month ago, Radha said, they got news of a poor woman who delivered a baby at a private nursing home in H D Kote. That woman sold her newborn mainly because she had no money to foot the hospital expenses. The department is following up the case. She said child trafficking was a flourishing business mainly because people who want to adopt children does not want to go through the lengthy process. “It requires at least one year to get a child after enrolling online. People are not ready to wait that long,” she said. The issue is not a priority for the police as a majority of children trafficked are the ones who are sold by the parents and hence there are no missing cases reported. In the last three years, over 400 children have gone missing from Mysuru city and about 85 per cent of them have been traced. But none of the missing children are below six years of age. Police Inspector Mallesh, who oversees ‘Operation Mukan’ which intends to trace missing children, says none of the children they traced had been trafficked.Three more children who were kidnapped and trafficked, were rescued last week. Eight children have been traced so far. SP Ravi D Channanavar said one more person has been taken in for questioning with regard to the case. So far, seven people have been held after child trafficking came to light a week ago. (New Indian Express 12/11/16)

169. Human-trafficking case: CBI files charge sheet (1)

KOCHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probing the operation of a human trafficking racket in the Nedumbassery airport has revealed that two foreigners with fake passports had exited the country in connivance with the emigration officers here in 2008. In a charge sheet filed at the CBI special court in Kochi, the Central Bureau of Investigation have stated that a woman traveller, identified as Noorjahan of Uzbekistan, and Hameed Merzaman of Afghanistan had travelled through the airport using fake passports. They had possessed Greek passports carrying the names Kasporoviskis Lisa and Krisons Alen, respectively. U.K. Prakashan, a sub-inspector with the Armed Police, has also been arraigned as accused in the case. (The Hindu 16/11/16)

170. CID arrests five for trafficking (1)

KOLKATA: In a major drive against human trafficking and flesh trade rackets, CID on Thursday arrested five persons including two facility managers of a hotel at Bakkhali in South 24 Parganas. Apart from the two facility managers-Pintu Maity and Suvendu Das, two others who took hotel rooms on rent and allegedly hired girls, were also arrested. One minor girl was also rescued from the spot. According to sources, Pintu was on the radar of the CID officials for past one month after he started procuring girls from across the state. Pintu allegedly lured them with job promise and slowly pushed them into flesh trade. While Pintu looked after the procurement part Suvendu took care of the customers. Sources said that over the years Pintu has developed a strong network in states like Mumbai Tamil Nadu and Kerala. (Times of India 17/11/16)

CORRUPTION

171. IRS Scam: Mastermind went from Ahmedabad to Dubai to Hong Kong, now in East Europe, say police (5)

Mumbai: SAGAR THAKKAR alias Shaggy, the suspected mastermind of the international call centre scam, escaped from Ahmedabad to Dubai to Hong Kong and is currently suspected to be holed up in an East European country, a senior officer from Thane Police said. While the police have issued a lookout notice, meaning they will be alerted once he travels from any airport within the country, they will have to file a chargesheet before they can contact the Interpol to issue a lookout notice against him. Apart from the Thane police, Thakkar’s name also figures in the investigation carried out by the US Department of Justice in the call centre scam, also termed the IRS scam, as callers pretended to be calling from the Internal Revenue Service. “As per the information we received, Thakkar had immediately left the country once raids were carried out at the fake call centres and headed to Dubai. He later left Dubai and fled to Hong Kong,” the officer told The Indian Express. He added, “However, as per the latest information, he has left Hong Kong as well and is holed up in some East European country.” The police have already issued a lookout notice for Thakkar. A lookout notice ensures that any time Thakkar approaches an airport within the country, the police officials will be alerted about it and he could then be apprehended and placed under arrest. However, in the current case, since Thakkar has already left the country, a Red Corner Notice (RCN) will have to be issued to ensure the police is alerted if he approaches any international airport. The process for issuing an RCN, however, has a few more pre-conditions as compared to a lookout notice. Before the police approach the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), that is the nodal body for Interpol in India which issues an RCN, they will have to first file a chargesheet against the accused person. “Apart from the chargesheet, the police have to provide details like fingerprints of the person against whom an RCN is to be issued. It is only after all these conditions are fulfilled can an RCN be issued,” the officer said. Currently, the police have just till December to file the chargesheet and they are in the process of gathering evidence. “We will hasten the process of filing the chargesheet to ensure that Thakkar no longer has a free run across countries,” the officer said. In the past, there have been cases like of gangsters like Kumar Pillai who were brought back to the country, after the Indian police were informed about their presence in a foreign land due to a RCN having been issued against them.The police suspect Ahmedabad was the hub of these call centres and those who were successfully operating these call centres there had then moved to the Mira-Bhayander stretch. (Indian Express 2/11/2016)

172. Court directs ACB to probe into grant of land (5)

The court of the Additional District and Sessions Judge, Udupi, sitting at Kundapur, on Wednesday directed the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB), to investigate the case of grant of two pieces of land in Heranjalu village by the Akrama Sakrama Samiti, and submit a report to the court. K.C. Shetty, advocate for the complainant, told The Hindu on Thursday that the complainant, B.S. Suresh Shetty, had filed a private complaint in the court under Section 13 of Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 120B of Indian Penal Code over granting of the land by the Akrama Sakrama Samiti, Byndoor Assembly Constituency, headed by the Byndoor MLA, K. Poojary, to H. Vijay Kumar Shetty.The complainant alleged that Vijay Kumar Shetty, had misused his position as member of the Akrama Sakrama Samiti and got two plots of land at Heranjalu village sanctioned to himself and his wife, Jyothi Shedthi. The next hearing of the court was on December 5, he said. Meanwhile, in a press release issued here on Thursday, Balakrishna Shetty, secretary of the district unit of Communist Party of India (Marxist), demanded the resignation of Congress leader and Byndoor MLA, K. Gopal Poojary, for what he said was “illegal grant” of land. But Mr. Poojary said that the samiti had acted as per the reports submitted by the village accountant and tahsildar in the case. Everything was done as per law. “The CPI(M)’s charge is politically motivated,” he said. (The Hindu 2/11/2016)

173. 87 corrupt officials caught in three years (5)

Kolhapur: In the last three years, the anti-corruption bureau (ACB) have successfully trapped 87 government officers for demanding bribes. This year, the ACB has conducted 24 traps. “The number, though is less in comparison to last year, it is satisfactory,” a senior ACB official said, adding that they are planning to increase the tally by the end of year.”Like every year, we observe a vigilance week from October 31, the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel which ends on November 5. The awareness week is observed by the Central Vigilance Commission to generate awareness among the people about corruption and sensitise them about its consequences and ways to eliminate it. On the first day, we took a pledge to work against corruption,” said Uday Aphale, deputy superintendent of police, ACB, Kolhapur division. During vigilance awareness week, series of programmes are conducted to spread awareness about the work done by the department and ways to reach out to them to complain about corrupt government officials. “As part of the campaign, posters and banners are erected at Central Bus Stand, the railway station, autorickshaw stops, weekly bazaar. Rallies are also conducted in the district with the help of students of NCC, RSP and ITI,” Aphale said.ACB officials have appealed to contact them through all social platforms if government officials are demanding a bribe for doing any kind of work. “We will register the complaint and take appropriate action against the corrupt government official,” Aphale added. (Times of India 6/11/2016)

174. Cash-for-vote scam: Arguments to continue (5)

HYDERABAD: Justice Sunil Chowdary of the High Court on Monday heard inconclusively the arguments on behalf of a YSR Congress Party leader who filed petition seeking inquiry against AP Chief Minister N. Chandra Babu Naidu in the cash-for-vote scam. The judge was dealing with a case filed by Mr. Naidu challenging the order passed by the Principal Special Judge for Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to act upon the fresh complaint filed by YSR Congress MLA Ramakrishna Reddy. The ACB court had entertained application filed by the YSRCP leader and ordered registration of fresh FIR and called for a report. Mr. Chandrababu Naidu questioned the jurisdiction of the ACB court to order fresh FIR when the chargesheet was already filed in the case. The judge heard the counsel for the AP Chief Minister last week. On Monday, Ponnavalu Sudhakar Reddy, counsel for the YSRCP advanced arguments. He said that every citizen has a right to seek probe into such cases. The counsel cited the judgments in Jayalalitha case wherein the locus standi of Subrahmanyam Swamy was upheld. The arguments will continue on Tuesday. (The Hindu 8/11/16)

175. Scrapping Rs. 500, Rs. 1,000 Notes A Bold Decision: Black Money Investigation Team (5)

New Delhi: The Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money on Tuesday called Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of demonetisation of Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 500 notes with effect from midnight a “bold” step, saying this would help in curbing the menace of stash funds. “This is a very good decision. It is a bold step and will help to curb the menace of black money,” SIT Chairman Justice (retd) MB Shah told PTI. He said those people “holding untaxed assets and income” and who did not declare it under the two black money declaration windows announced by the government in the last two years “will suffer”. “Those people who have accumulated black money through corrupt means … such money was in a few hands … they will be affected and that is a good thing. At this time, this is a very good step taken by the government,” he said.The SIT on black money was notified by the government, on the directions of the Supreme Court, in 2014. In the biggest ever black money disclosure, at least Rs. 65,250 crore of undisclosed assets were declared under the one-time compliance window, also called the Income Declaration Scheme (IDS) that ended on September 30. Last year, under a similar scheme for foreign black money holders, 644 declarations of undisclosed foreign income and assets were received, and just Rs. 2,428 crore was collected in taxes. However, senior Income Tax department officials have said that despite these two windows being operationalised the taxman was encountering black funds during their search and survey operations including a recent search in Kolkata where a businessman who declared Rs. 3 crore under IDS was caught with possessing another Rs. 30 crore untaxed assets. (NDTV 9/11/2016)

176. Nation biggest beneficiary of ban on Rs 500, Rs 1000 notes, not PayTM: (5)

NEW DELHI: PayTM’s founder and Chief Executive Officer Vijay Shekhar on Thursday told Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal that India, not PayTM, was the biggest beneficiary of the Narendra Modi government’s decision to withdraw the Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes from circulation. Kejriwal had said PayTM was the biggest beneficiary of the government’s move to crack down on unaccounted wealth, and had been critical of a PayTM ad which congratulated PM Narendra Modi on his decision to demonetize the two notes. “Dear Sir, The biggest beneficiary is our country. We are just a tech startup, trying to solve financial inclusion and make India proud,” Shekhar tweeted today Kejriwal had on Thursday taken to Twitter to describe as “shameful” a PayTM newspaper ad that congratulated PM Modi on “taking the boldest decision in the financial history of independent India.” “Do people want their PM to model for private companies? Tomorrow, if these companies do wrongdoings, who will act against them?” Kejriwal asked.Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced his government’s decision to demonetize the 500 and 1000 rupee notes on Tuesday. It was also announced that new 500 rupee notes, as well as 2000 rupee notes, would be circulated, and that banks and ATMs would be closed on November 9. In some places, ATMs remained closed on November 10 too.On Friday, November 11, long queues were seen outside ATMs and banks across the nation, as people rushed to withdraw cash, or exchange their defunct notes for valid ones. Several ATMs ran out of cash very quickly. The Finance Ministry on Friday assured the public that their hard-earned money was safe, and that deposits of defunct notes worth less than Rs 2.50 lakh wouldn’t be investigated. (Times of India 11/11/16)

177. More anti-corruption measures soon: PM (5)

PANAJI/BELAGAVI, Nov 13 – Prime Minister Narendra Modi today launched a scathing attack on detractors of the demonetisation move, especially the Congress, saying those involved in mega scams were now standing in queues to exchange Rs 4,000. He also announced that more anti-graft measures were on the anvil. Modi, who got emotional while addressing a function at Panaji over the problems being faced by the people and the long queues in banks, urged them to bear with him till December 30, saying “I will give you the India you desired.” He stressed the need to go cashless and adopt plastic money. Making a combative but emotional speech, he said he was ready to face the consequences of his moves as certain forces are “up against me” as their loot of 70 years was now in trouble as a result of demonetisation. “I know that (some) forces are up against me, they may not let me live, they may ruin me because their loot of 70 years is in trouble, but I am prepared,” Modi said in the speech which saw him getting emotional a few times. “This government does not want to bother honest people but doesn’t want to spare the dishonest. Bear with me for 50 days. Has India been looted or not? …I am not going to stop at this. I will expose the history of corruption of 70 years since Independence,” Modi said. “This (demonetisation) is not an end. I have more projects in mind to make India corruption-free… We will take action against ‘benami’ property. This is major step to eradicate corruption and black money… If any money that was looted in India and has left Indian shores, it is our duty to find out about it,” he said in his speeches, both at Panaji in Goa and Belagavi in Karnataka. Hitting out at the erstwhile UPA government for not fighting corruption, Modi said “those who were involved in the coal scam, 2G scam and other scams, now have to stand in queues to exchange Rs 4,000. “When Congress stopped 25 paise, did we say anything? You could dare to stop only 25 paise, that’s what your power was limited to. But you did not make higher denomination currency notes illegal… We did it. People have chosen a government and they expect so much from it.” He said the people had voted against corruption in 2014. “I am doing what I was asked to do by the people of this country. This had become clear from the very first meeting of my Cabinet when I formed the SIT (on black money). We never kept the people in dark.” … (The Assam Tribune 14/11/2016)

178.  ‘Demonetisation move anti-poor’ (5)

Phagwara: The BSP in Punjab on Tuesday termed “anti-poor step” the demonetisation of Rs 500/1000 currency notes, saying the move was taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to divert public attention from his failure to bring back the black money stashed abroad. The BSP’s Punjab in-charge and party candidate from Phillaur for 2017 Assembly polls, Avtar Singh Karimpuri also said that the Modi government’s move had subjected common man, especially the poor, to huge hardships. “Modi had failed miserably to fulfil the much tom-tommed poll promise of bringing back black money stashed in foreign banks. He had resorted to demonetisation (of high value currency notes) for diverting public attention from the failure as well as with an eye on upcoming Assembly polls in some States,” he said. The former Rajya Sabha Member also said that the move is “destined to backfire”. Earlier, addressing a rally organised here by the BSP’s NRI supporters, Mr Karimpuri said if his party comes to power in Punjab, it will make the State free from corruption and drugs. Punjab BSP chief Rashpal Raju said that people of the State are fed up with the SAD-BJP rule and have no confidence on AAP and Congress. “BSP is the only alternative towards which Punjabis are looking at with a hope,” he said. The rally was organised by an NRI Ramesh Sandhi. – PTI (The Hindu 16/11/16)

179. CBI to propose anti-corruption support centre to government (5)

New Delhi: The CBI is all set to forward a proposal to the government for establishing a National Anti-Corruption Citizen Support Centre which aims to provide single point-of-contact to people across India, CBI Director Anil Sinha said on Thursday. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chief said the centre will be a landmark initiative in empowering citizens to fight corruption. “Our first working session is devoted to deliberations on establishing the support centre to provide 24×7 single point-of-contact for citizens. Hopefully, the discussions will be fruitful and we can go to the government very shortly with a concrete proposal for this centre,” Sinha said at the inauguration of the 22nd annual conference of CBI, heads of state Anti-Corruption Bureaux and Economic Offences Wings. He said the conference will also deliberate on legislative and regulatory gaps that have led to widespread growth of ponzi schemes across the country, in which crores of innocent citizens have been cheated. Sinha said the CBI had been actively engaged with the government in bringing a new legislation to ban these illegal deposit taking activities as “weaknesses in existing laws and regulations” have been identified. “The discussions with all states would go a long way in giving strength to the new legislation which may be introduced in Parliament shortly,” Sinha said. The CBI chief stressed the need for information sharing and coordination among law enforcement agencies at the Centre and states to fight corruption. “One session in the conference will study increase in cooperation among state and central agencies by building protocols that take note of concerns of each body… there are gains for all stakeholders in the exercise,” he said. Sinha announced that the central agency had completed the groundwork for setting up three world-class institutions — International Centre for Excellence in Investigation, International Centre for Excellence in Forensic Science and a Centralised Technology Vertical — to enhance CBI’s investigative capacity in the field of human resource, forensics and technology. (Zee News 18/11/16)

180. Currency ban effect: petty corruption down (5)

NEW DELHI/NOIDA: Some had packed up and left, while others wound down the clock by taking a walk or chatting over a cup of tea. Touts at the usually buzzing complex that houses the Regional Transport Office, the Sub-Registrar’s office and an Indian Railways reservation centre in Noida’s Sector 33 were simply waiting and watching on Thursday.Since the government withdrew Rs.500 and Rs.1,000 notes, the subsequent liquidity crunch has hit business for touts, who rely on small cash payments. For the 150-odd touts outside the Noida complex, about 80 per cent of business had evaporated in the week since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation announcement. Govind, who calls himself an “advisor” on all things related to RTO, said that not only was work down, but some clients were still trying to use the old currency notes.Another RTO tout, Kunal Verma (name changed), said he had seen only two customers on Thursday, down from the average 10 he would get before the cash crunch. “I had to turn those two away as they did not have money,” he said. Ravi Agarwal, a stamp paper vendor, said he was left with barely 20 per cent of the daily business he would get on an ordinary day. “Even though our work is suffering, this is a good move. It is affecting the common people right now, but if black money is removed, it is worth it,” he said. As the touts wait for business, the transport, registrar and railway offices themselves have seen the usually long queues shrink. The scene was similar at a Passport Seva Kendra at Delhi’s Herald House. Usually busy, there appeared to be no rush outside the passport office on Thursday. According to Rama Nath Jha, executive director of Transparency International India, this was because the “delivery of services” had been hit. He added that once cash flow is restored and services bounce back, so would petty corruption as the demand for quick access to services would increase. “Petty corruption will not be affected in the long-run. But, demonetisation of high-value currency notes in circulation is a conventional method to curb corruption,” said Mr. Jha. However, he did say that long-lasting change would only happen if the ongoing “note wapsi ” was followed by “strong anti-corruption laws, tax reforms, digitisation of property transfer and more use of technology in governance.” (The Hindu 18/11/16)

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

181. Nearly 220 million children of South Asia breathe toxic air: Unicef (9)

New Delhi: Nearly 220 million children of South Asia breathe toxic air in some of the most polluted regions in the world including India, an analysis by the Unicef shows, deepening worries over health of minors in several parts of the country. The Unicef’s ‘Clear the Air for Children’ report, a first-of-its-kind analysis based on satellite imagery, was released on Monday amid a sharp spike in air pollution in Delhi and other cities of North India after the Diwali festivities. “Around 300 million children currently live in areas where the air is toxic – exceeding international limits by at least six times. In total, around 2 billion children live in areas that exceed the World Health Organisation annual limit…,” the reports says.Four Indian cities—Gwalior, Allahabad, Patna and Raipur — are among top 10 cities in the world with high particulate matter levels in the air, highlighting the fact that many of the most polluted places in the world are no longer megacities and capitals but medium-sized cities, suburban and manufacturing centres. Indoor pollution is equally high. Most urban centres in north India are blighted by high pollution during winters when crop residue burning by farmers in states such as Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh fill the air with thick smoke. Track pollution levels in your city with this real-time air quality map According to Unicef, the factors responsible for outdoor air pollution include vehicle emissions, heavy use of fossil fuels, dust and burning of waste. Air pollution is linked not only to diseases that kill, but also with poor health and morbidity among millions more children. It causes difficulty breathing. Studies show it is linked with asthma, bronchitis, airways inflammation and even eye irritation. The findings come a week ahead of the Climate Change Conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, where Unicef will likely call on world leaders to take urgent action to cut air pollution in their countries.“The sheer numbers of children affected are staggering…Many of these children are already disadvantaged by poverty and deprivation. Some are already at heightened risk from conflicts, crises and the intensifying effects of climate change,” Unicef executive director Anthony Lake said in the report. The affected areas have been categorised based on the quantum of particulate matter – tiny matter which can penetrate deep into the lungs – present in the air. Every year, nearly 600,000 children under the age of five die from diseases caused or exacerbated by the effects of indoor and outdoor air pollution. “More than 60% of the population in India continue to use solid fuels in household cooking – contributing to over 100,000 child deaths associated with indoor air pollution in 2012,” the reports says. According to a recent WHO report, Delhi was ranked among the top 20 cities worst-affected by pollution globally. (Hindustan Times 1/11/2016)

182. Pollution chokes, blinds Capital (9)

NEW DELHI: Delhiites breathed in more polluted air this Diwali compared to the last. And if that wasn’t bad enough, government data showed that levels of harmful pollutants in the air peaked at 14 to 16 times the amounts considered safe for humans. On Monday morning, the national capital woke up to heavy smog that not only made breathing difficult but affected visibility, leading to traffic accidents. Giving out the details, Amarnath Yadav, station house officer, Sector 20 said, “We received information of around six cars were damaged in a collision one by one due to zero visibility. All the cars were moving and the collision might have occurred when one of them had applied brakes.” As per weather reports, pollution remained ‘severe’, the highest warning level, all through Sunday and Monday. According to the Central Pollution Control Board, the comparatively lower wind speed and mixing height meant that pollutants did not disperse as easily as last Diwali. However, the CBCB said in a statement: “The level of pollutants has increased significantly in all places irrespective of parameters attributed to unfavourable meteorological conditions during the entire period.” For instance, the hourly concentration of PM10, or coarse particles, peaked at a whopping 1,680 micrograms per cubic at Anand Vihar at 3.30 a.m., according to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee. This is over 16 times the standard of 100 g/m3. The level of the finer and more harmful PM2.5 too peaked at Anand Vihar, at 883 g/m3 at 2.30 a.m. This was over 14 times the standard of 60 g/m3. While Delhi struggled with severe pollution during the day on Monday, activists said the government had not done enough to combat winter pollution in general. “The pollution levels are record-breaking high. But they tell us what we already know and what we are ignoring, that we need to take action. The government forgets till it is winter and then its too late to do anything,” said Sunita Narain, the director of the Centre for Science and Environment. She said that court and National Green Tribunal orders on the ongoing burning of crop residue in neighbouring states and the movement of highly-polluting commercial vehicles through Delhi had not been fully enforced by the Delhi Government. (The Hindu 4/11/2016)

183. Crop fires had 70% share in Delhi’s peak air pollution, says govt scientist Gufran Beig (9)

NEW DELHI: Crop fires in Punjab and Haryana contributed as much as 70% of the pollution load in Delhi+ on Sunday, the city’s worst air day in a long time, a leading government scientist said, basing his assessment on computer models used to determine the capital’s air quality index. Gufran Beig, program director of Safar (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research), under the earth sciences ministry, said on Monday that the proportion of pollutants from crop fires in Delhi’s air rose dramatically from almost zero on November 1 to a peak of 70% on November 6. “Safar’s chemistry transport model gives a clear picture of the share of pollution from external sources. It shows pollution load from crop fires in Punjab and Haryana rose steadily after November 1 due to favourable upper air winds,” Beig said. The smog cleared significantly on Monday+ , helped by a pick-up in surface winds and a change in upper-air direction. “The share of cropburning in Delhi’s air quality was down to 50% and dropping,” the scientist said.Like a perfect storm, various factors fell in place to create the dense smog spell over NCR, which SAFAR programme director Gufran Beig described as an “extreme pollution event”.”While the surface air was calm over the capital, upper air wind direction changed around November 1, when winds blew in from between west and north, directly transporting pollutants from crop fires,” the scientist said. The calm surface winds and an air ridge over NCR prevented the pollutants from dispersing, leading to an accumulation of toxic chemicals in the air. Beig said the PM 2.5 concentrations in Delhi’s air were at unprecedented levels on Sunday. “Since we started Safar five years ago, we have never seen the value of PM 2.5 concentrations crossing 700ig/m3. Just as extreme weather events are increasing so are extreme pollution events such as this one,” he said.That figure is based on source apportionment studies that have variously put the external contribution to winter pollution in Delhi at 20% to 35%. Beig said these studies give an average which would hold true in general terms but can’t be used for specific events.”This is like telling you what the normal rainfall at a place is. Safar’s figures, on the other hand, are based on the actual conditions that existed during this period,” the expert said.Due to surface winds picking up, Beig predicted that the pollution levels would drop on Tuesday, while still staying in “severe” zone, and come down further to “very poor” levels on Wednesday. (Times of India 8/11/2016)

184. Water pollution in India is more deadly: Jairam Ramesh (9)

Water pollution, Delhi pollution, Delhi air quality, Delhi air pollution, Delhi environment, India environment, Delhi news, Delhi air pollution, Jairam Ramesh, Indian Express, india news Congress leader and former Union minister Jairam Ramesh. Water pollution in India is far more deadly but the authorities are yet to acknowledge the magnitude of the crisis, former Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday said. Referring to the smog crisis in the national capital, Ramesh rued that the country wakes up to air pollution only when Delhi gets affected. Ramesh said the intensity of environmental pollution, involving air, water and chemical contamination, was worse in densely-populated industrial areas like Dhanbad or Chembur in Mumbai than Delhi. “But no body talks about it. There are a large number of industrial clusters that are witnessing a deadly cocktail of air, water and chemical contamination,” Ramesh said in his address. Ramesh underscored the need for a “durable and enduring” solution on stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana, smoke from which has contributed towards shrouding Delhi in a thick cover of smog. “There has to be a sense of balance when it comes to air and water pollution. Also, the health effects of pollution needs to be highlighted considering some still consider anti-pollution measures as anti-development,” Ramesh said. Organisers of the workshop said it was aimed at identifying key areas of collaboration among US and Indian scientists to address research needs in air pollution exposure assessment and health research. (Indian Express 9/11/2016)

185. Climate change, global warming have drastic affects on Earth (9)

New Delhi: As per a recent survey conducted by researchers, the prevailing climate change and global warming have drastic impact on a sizeable portion of the population all over the globe. Most life on Earth is already being changed by the warming climate, even though the rise in global temperature since pre-industrial times has been slight, said researchers. The study in the journal Science found that 82 percent of key ecological processes — including genetic diversity and migration patterns — are being altered by global warming. These effects extend to land, oceans and freshwater environments, even though temperatures have risen just about 1.87 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) over pre-industrial times due to fossil fuel burning. “We now have evidence that with only a about one degree C of warming globally, major impacts are already being felt,” said lead study author Brett Scheffers, member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature Climate Change Specialist Group and assistant professor at the University of Florida. “These range from individual genes changing, significant shifts in species’ physiology and physical features such as body size, and species moving to entirely new areas.” These changes will affect humans by causing disease outbreaks, inconsistent crop yields and cutting down on fishery productivity, threatening food security, experts said. The study, which analyzed 94 ecological processes as documented in peer-reviewed literature, also warned that the more ecosystems change, the less likely they may be to guard against the harshest effects of climate change. Unhealthy forests will no longer be able to sequester large amounts of carbon, for instance. Increasingly warm oceans will no longer act as a an effective buffer against temperature rise, and climate-related floods, sea-level rise and cyclones will get worse. Since people depend on healthy ecosystems for food and clean water, the more the natural environment changes, the more people’s livelihoods will be at risk. “We are simply astonished at the level of change we observed, which many of us in the scientific community were not expecting for decades,” said senior author James Watson from the University of Queensland and Wildlife Conservation Society, member of the IUCN Climate Change Specialist Group. “It is no longer sensible to consider this a concern for the future, and if we don’t act quickly to curb emissions it is likely that every ecosystem across Earth will fundamentally change in our lifetimes.” (Zee News 11/11/16)

186. 2016 ‘very likely’ hottest year on record: UN (9)

MARRAKECH: The year 2016+ will “very likely” be the hottest on record, the UN said today, warning of calamitous consequences if the march of global warming cannot be halted. Average temperatures for the year were set to hit about 1.2 Celsius over pre-Industrial Revolution levels – meaning that 16 of the 17 hottest years on record were this century, said the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). The new record means the world is already more than halfway to the upper limit of 2 C of warming overall, 1.5 C if possible, which UN nations had agreed upon to stave off worst- case-scenario climate change. “Another year. Another record. The high temperatures we saw in 2015 are set to be beaten in 2016,” WMO secretary general Petteri Taalas said in a statement. The El Nino weather phenomenon had boosted temperatures in the early months of the year, but even after its effects dissipated, the mercury stayed high. In parts of Arctic Russia, temperatures were 6 C to 7 C higher than the long-term average, the statement said. Other Arctic and sub-Arctic regions in Russia, Alaska and northwest Canada were at least 3 C above average. “We are used to measuring temperature records in fractions of a degree, and so this is different,” said Taalas. The WMO report was published as UN climate talks entered their second week in Marrakesh – the first since last year’s huddle in the French capital concluded with the climate-rescue Paris Agreement. The Moroccan followup is meant to agree on rules for executing the plans and goals outlined in the pact, which envisions reining in global warming by cutting back on greenhouse-gas emitting coal, oil and gas for energy.Earlier today, the annual Global Carbon Budget report said carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels have been nearly flat for three years in a row – a “great help” but not enough to stave off dangerous climate change. Both analyses warned that concentrations of planet- warming greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continued to rise, reaching 400 parts per million in 2015 and likely to exceed that record in 2016. (Times of India 14/11/16)

187. 1,000 acres of land re-designated as forest (9)

UDHAGAMANDALAM: An extremely important wildlife corridor, located in the Kalmalai forest block in the Sigur and the Singara forest ranges, which was designated as revenue land previously, has been notified and converted as reserve forest by a Government Order. S. Kalanidhi, District Forest Officer (Nilgiris North Division), told The Hindu that with the notification, there will be severe restrictions on the land, which will put an end to trespassing and “developmental” activities. The corridor connects the Sathyamangalam and Mudumalai tiger reserves, providing a contiguous habitat for marquee species of wildlife such as tiger and elephants. Forest department officials said that they had been working on getting the land notified as a reserve forest for well over a year. With the land being designated as a reserve forest, man-animal conflicts are expected to come down. “This is an extremely important notification, that will help conserve biodiversity and is a shot in the arm for conservation in this region,” Mr. Kalanidhi added. However, resort owners who have properties in this block of forest are unhappy with the decision and have already approached the Supreme Court. (The Hindu 15/11/16)

188. Among 11 metros, Chennai most exposed to climate hazards: Study (9)

Which city will wilt under the effects of climate change first? For a clue, there is nothing in the answer for Chennaites to rejoice.Chennai is more vulnerable to climate hazards compared to metros such as Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru and Delhi, mainly due to high population density and built-up area, an IIT-Bombay research paper has said. The paper, ‘Assessing socio-economic vulnerability to climate change: A city-level index-based approach’ by IIT-Bombay professor Trupti Mishra and PhD student Krishna Malakar, published earlier this year, attempted to develop indices, indicating the vulnerability to climate change and environmental hazards. It covered 11 Indian cities in different bio-climatic zones. This index, the authors said, could assist in urban planning and effective disaster management. The indices helped rate the cities’ ability to cope with a natural hazard in the context of its infrastructural, technological, social, financial and spatial aspects. Among the five parameters, Chennai fared well in infrastructure, technology and finance but was the weakest in the social and space aspects. The social index, as defined by the authors, referred to the inequity in society populations belonging to weaker sections of society who either had little access to resources or were restricted by their physical incapability . They remained vulnerable due to the city’s social structure, the authors said. The space index looked at builtup area. The greater the builtup area, the more would be the economic loss due to damage and the higher the population density the more the competition for resources after a disaster. The paper said greater built-up area might lead to `poor run-off in case of floods and hence is an important contributor to a city’s vulnerability .’Open spaces or lower built-up area `can help in water percolation and can facilitate ground water recharge.’ The CMDA would soon identify areas in the city vulnerable to flooding, said K P Subramanian, former professor of urban engineering at Anna University . “They are studying catchment areas and lowlying areas through scientific map ping, taking into consideration rainfall, past flooding, run-off, topog raphy, soil and other factors,” he said. He said henceforth de velopment regula tions should stipu late that `un-built areas should be maintained as parks, playgrounds and open spaces.’ …. (Times of India 18/11/16)

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

189. March towards Parliament against farmers’ suicides (20)

Virudhunagar: Farmers affiliated to All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) launched ‘March Towards Parliament’ here on Wednesday, seeking the Narendra Modi-led Union Government to prevent suicides of the farmers and protect water, forest and land for sustainable farming activities. “The Bharatiya Janata Party came to power with the promise of providing fair and remunerative price for agricultural goods. But, it has failed to fulfil its promises, leading to a spurt in suicides of the farmers in the country,” AIKS national joint secretary Vijoo Krishnan said. After the neo-liberalisation economic policies were introduced, 3.5 lakh farmers committed suicide in the country in the last 25 years. “Mr. Modi promised to put an end to farmers’ suicides by implementing M.S. Swaminathan Committee recommendations, which included minimum support price (MSP) for agricultural produce of more than 50 per cent above the cost of production. But, last year, the Centre filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court claiming that it could not implement the recommendations of the committee,” Mr. Krishnan charged. In Maharastra, where the BJP was in power, the number of farmers’ suicide had touched 3,22 last year alone. Similarly, 21,000 children aged up to five years died of malnutrition, Mr. Krishnan said. The Centre even threatened to stop procurement of agricultural produce from States like Madhya Pradesh that gave a bonus over and above the MSP. “It has now amended the proposed Bill that required no consent of the farmers for land acquisition. Similarly, it said social impact assessment was also not required. With the government proposing that any land on either side of national highways could be taken over for other than agricultural purposes, it would become easier for corporates to snatch farming land from poor farmers,” he complained. While the government allowed people like Vijay Mallaya to run away with Rs. 9,000 crore, it was refusing to waive loans of small and marginal farmers. The AIKS also demanded interest-free loans to small peasants and agricultural labourers. Mr. Krishnan said the crop insurance scheme did not compensate for yield and income loss of the farmers. “Lakhs of farmers from across the country would lay siege to Parliament on November 24,” he said. (The Hindu 3/11/2016)

190.  ‘Govt. failed to keep its promise of helping farmers’ (20)

HYDERABAD: Telangana Praja Vedika has slammed the government for not keeping its promise of helping farmers who took their lives on the face of adversity. At a press conference here on Thursday, president of the Forum, former Justice B. Chandrakumar criticised the TRS government for talking about constructing new buildings for its Secretariat and other things, while ignoring crucial issues like farmers’ suicides. “The government does not have any qualms and talks of spending Rs. 350 crore on a new Secretariat while it ignores financial assistance to almost 2,500 farmers who took their lives, unable to face their financial burden. Except about 50 people who received Rs. 6 lakh as compensation, the families of all the others have been ignored,” Mr. Kumar alleged. A civil contractor, Srinivas Reddy, said the Chief Minister was only trying to creating chaos in the minds of people by talking of grandiose plans without taking any concrete step. (The Hindu 4/11/2016)

191. Centre working for welfare of a few industrialists, says Kisan Sabha (20)

SALEM: The AIKS is organising a nation-wide rally demanding that 200 days work be granted under MGNERGS paying Rs. 300 as wages; multinationals should not be allowed in crop insurance schemes; among others. Public meetings were held at various places in Namakkal and Salem districts recently. State president K. Balakrishnan; general secretary P. Shanmugam;and all India joint secretary Vijoo Krishnan; said that farmers were unable to repay the loans borrowed from banks.They said that the BJP came to power by promising steps to prevent suicide of farmers, but failed to fulfil the promise. They said that the problems of the people in the State were unattended to, as the Chief Minister was in hospital and Ministers were waiting there. The State Government had become completely non functional, the leaders added. They said that they would visit all farmers and ask them not to give up agriculture activities, and fight for their rights. (The Hindu 8/11/2016)

192. Overseas agri trip fodder for farmers (20)

BHOPAL: In an effort to promote innovation, Madhya Pradesh government has offered its farmers subsidised overseas study tour to Israel and the Netherlands to learn innovative agricultural techniques that they can adopt to boost the productivity of their farms back home. “A total of 40 farmers in two groups led by a team of four officers of horticulture department left for Israel and Netherlands on November 2 and 6 respectively, where they will learn new methods for maintaining quality and production of their harvest,” said an officer of the horticulture department. He said government will spend Rs1.75 lakh on each farmer for the tour. The farmers will bear 25% cost while the government will fund 75% of it. Centre-sponsored JK Educational Society, a company studying modern techniques in agriculture production, has been assigned the tour. “For Netherlands, Rs 1.7 lakh will be spent on an individual while Israel tour will cost an individual Rs 1.27 lakh. Representatives of the Indian embassy will also be present with the farmers,” said officials. The farmer will learn horticulture techniques in Israel while acquiring basic information on crop selection and production too. In Netherlands, the farmers will also learn techniques on food manufacturing, added the officials. The farmers are likely to return on November 10. (Times of India 9/11/2016)

193. Rabi season too leaves farmers high and dry (20)

Vijayawada: Battered by the vagaries of nature in the kharif season which saw poor agricultural production, the farmers do not seem to have any letup from adverse conditions during rabi either. Already four weeks into the rabi season, the farmers could take up cultivation only in 55 per cent of the normal crop area across 13 districts of the state. According to the department of agriculture, farming operations were taken up only in 2.69 lakh hectares as against the normal crop area of 4.89 lakh hectares by the end of the fourth week of rabi on Wednesday. Even though there was not enough water during the analogous period in 2015 and 2014, close to 4.83 lakh hectares and 3.45 lakh hectares came under cultivation respectively. “We have lost more than half of the yield due to drought in the beginning of the kharif season and flooding at the end of it. Even now, the situation is alarming. Yet, the government is silent,” bemoaned M Raju, a farmer from Gurazala of Guntur district.Not just the contingency plan, the government even failed to release the input subsidy to farmers who have lost their yield during kharif. While 245 mandals in seven districts were declared drought-affected, the input subsidy is yet to be released even four weeks have passed since the new season started. Ironically, the government, which is making statements that it will come to the rescue of farmers, is yet to release announced last year. Agriculture minister Prathipati Pulla Rao himself said recently that Rs 945 crore arrears of input subsidy of last year are pending. The farmer leaders are demanding that the government immediately release the input subsidy so that farmers can begin cultivation in the rabi season. “The objective of providing input subsidy is an act of reassurance by the government to the farmer that it will help him cultivate next crop as the farmer incurred losses. What is the point in giving subsidy after a year? Due to the indifference of the government, the farming community in the entire state is suffering,” said former member of Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) M V S Nagi Reddy. .. (Times of India 13/11/16)

194. Demonetisation: Cash-starved farmer ends life in frustration (20)

Raigarh (Chg): A 45-year-old farmer allegedly committed suicide as he was apparently upset over not being able to get his high-denomination notes exchanged for fresh ones due to serpentine queues in banks. The farmer Ravi Pradhan’s wife Pushplata claimed that he was in urgent need of money to help their two sons who were in Tamil Nadu, but was facing inconvenience after old high currency (Rs 500 and Rs 1,000) notes were banned. “Pradhan’s body was found hanging at his house in Maharajpur village under Saria development block on November 12 night,” Sarangarh Sub Divisional Officer of Police (SDOP) Junas Bada said. “The exact cause that prompted him to take the extreme step was yet to be ascertained as no suicide note was found at the spot,” he said. As per preliminary information, Pradhan was ailing and was undergoing treatment. The statement of his wife was yet to be recorded, he said. A case has been registered in this connection, the SDOP said, adding that further probe was on. “My two sons Sunil (22) and Anil (20) were working at a yarn mill in Tamil Nadu. On November 10, one of my sons called his father (through his mobile) and informed that they urgently need money as their contractor escaped without giving them their wages. They wanted to come back home for which they were in need of cash,” she said. As old currency notes were scrapped, Pradhan had to immediately go to the bank for the exchange. He stood in queues for two consecutive days at a bank branch in Saraia, around two kms away from Maharajpur, to get exchanged Rs 3,000, but unfortunately he could not reach the counter (before the bank shut down), she claimed. “He was extremely upset with it,” she said. (Deccan Herald 14/11/16)

195. Demonetisation has killed more people than Pakistani terrorism: Azad (18)

New Delhi: Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad on Thursday said the government’s move of demonetisation has “killed more people than Pakistani-backed terrorism”.Azad’s observation came as the upper house met at 3 p.m. after the fifth adjournment during the day. The treasury benches erupted in protest over the remark and demanded an apology. “”Jitney log Pakistan ke terrorism se nahi marey, utney log government ki galat policy se chale gaye (The government’s wrong policy has killed more people than the Pakistani backed terrorism,” Azad said. “Who should be held accountable and punished for the deaths of these labourers and farmers,” Azad said, referring to the several who have died or committed suicide in frustration at not being able to withdraw their own money from banks over the last one week, post the demonetisation move. At this, the ruling party members rose and loudly protested against the remarks and demanded an apology. “We (Kashmiris) face bullets from Pakistan, you people have not been bitten by even a mouse. You are the people who attend weddings in Pakistan even without invitation,” Azad retorted – referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sudden visit to Lahore last Christmas where to attended the wedding of his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif’s granddaughter. (Business Standard 17/11/2016)

196. Reeling under financial crisis, farmer ends life in Kota (20)

JAIPUR: A 25-year-old farmer in Kaithun of Kota committed suicide by hanging himself from his house ceiling late on Wednesday night. According to police, the farmer was facing financial crisis. “Balbeer Prajapat committed suicide after spending his entire day in his agriculture field. He returned from his agriculture field and hanged himself from the ceiling. His aunt rushed for help in the neighbourhood but it was too late,” investigating officer Shiv Raj Singh said. Singh said his brother Mahaveer informed police that Balbeer was facing financial crisis. He was unmarried and has two brothers. The police said, for the past few days, Balbeer looked dejected and wor ried. However, police suspected that financial crisis and his matrimonial status could be the causes which forced him to take the extreme step. He was a resident of Dayera village of Kaithun are of Kota.A case has also been lodged on the complaint of his brother Mahaveer under Section 174 of CrPC. The police have handed over the body to relatives after conducting a post-mortum. Police said, they have not found any evidences that the recent ban on notes has affected his life. There was no mention of such issue in the complaint filed by his brother Mahaveer.But, Mahaveer mentioned in the complaint that his brother was facing financial crisis. The police have not found any suicide note from his possession. (Times of India 18/11/16)

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

197. Freight corridor land cost increases 75% (4)

New Delhi: The dedicated railway freight corridor has finally managed to award all contracts for the Dadri-Mumbai link over 11 years after the flagship infrastructure project was announced. But on the eastern front — that will connect Ludhiana with Dankuni in West Bengal — nearly 10% of the land, which is close to 450 hectare, is yet to be acquired even as funding has now been tied up. For the Rs 81,450 crore project, land acquisition and clearances have been the biggest headache so far. The project needed around 11,600 hectare — 6,000 hectare for the western and 4,587 hectare for the eastern stretch. While it was battling court cases and arbitration, a third blow came by the way of the new land acquisition cost, which pushed up the average price from around Rs 1.3 crore a hectare to around Rs 2 crore — an increase of around 54%. Project cost has also been increased as the land acquisition cost rose 75% from the budgeted level of around Rs 8,000 crore to nearly Rs 14,000 crore now. This could go up further depending of the arbitration awards. In recent years, land acquisition has been a major headache for most infrastructure projects — highways, railways, power generation and special economic zones (SEZs). In several cases, the projects needed to be reworked, if not shelved. The corridors running across 3,360 km are aimed at building electrified railway system to enable each train to carry a load of up to 13,000 tonnes — which is the load carried by 1,300 trucks. On each corridor, Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL) is laying double lines, which will treble the average speed of the double-stack goods trains from 25 km/hour to 75 km/hour. While the western leg is funded by Japanese agency JICA, eastern stretch is financed by the World Bank. “There is no escalation in the project cost. Whatever increase is there is on account of higher cost of land,” said DFCCIL managing director Adesh Sharma, adding that the project would be fully ready by 2019-end, a year behind the original deadline.But, before that it needs to battle nearly 2,000 court cases and over 9,500 arbitration awards, of which nearly half are yet to be disposed off. DFCCIL planned the project in a way that it avoided large cities, where land acquisition was going to be a problem. But, challenges have come mainly from areas around the large cities, where prices are higher and “fertile” agricultural land is being acquired… (Times of India 3/11/2016)

198. HC moved on land acquisition without value revision (4)

HYDERABAD: A Division Bench of the Hyderabad High Court comprising Acting Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice A.Shankara Narayana on Wednesday granted two weeks time to the Telangana Government to file counter affidavit in the public interest litigation filed regarding validity of initiating land acquisition process without revising market value of properties as per rules under Indian Stamp Act. The Bench was dealing with PIL filed by former MLA and chairman of Kisan and Kethmazdoor Congress M. Kodanda Reddy. The Telangana Government was acquiring lands under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Compensation and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, which required the revision of market value of properties before issuing notifications. Further, A.P Revision of Market value guidelines rules of 1998, framed under Indian Stamp Act 1899, mandate that the market values are required to be revised every two years for rural areas and for urban areas it is every year. Mr. Kodanda Reddy petitioned to the court that the present process of land acquisition was illegal as market rates were not revised after formation of new State in 2014. Also the farmers who lose lands would get less compensation because of this non revision. Advocate-General of Telangana K. Ramakrishna Reddy submitted to the court that after 2012 there was no revision of market value and there was a policy decision not to revise market values. (The Hindu 3/11/2016)

199.  ‘Forcible land acquisition unacceptable’ (4)

RAJAMAHENDRAVARAM: CPI State Secretariat member Ravula Venkaiah has said that his party will not keep quite if the government acquires land forcibly for irrigation projects, airports, and ports.Addressing the media here on Friday, Mr. Venkaiah said that Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, when in the Opposition, had questioned the government as to why it was acquiring land forcibly from the farmers. “And now, his government is toeing the same line,” he said, and alleged that Mr. Naidu was creating panic situation in Pampajipeta and Danavaipeta to facilitate establishment of Divis Laboratories unit by using police force and suppressing the voice of the Left parties. “We will continue the agitation till the government withdraws all permissions accorded to the company,” he said. The CPI leader said that the government was not ready to pay compensation to farmers who would lose their fish ponds and poultry units. He further said that the district administration did not conduct public hearing for the proposed pharmaceutical unit. He said that they would lay siege to the Collectorate on November 9 seeking reservation in the private sector. (The Hindu 5/11/2016)

200. Assault on tribal rights (4)

ON October 22, in an incident that did not evoke much outrage, the police opened fire on tribal people in Seko village in Khunti district in Jharkhand, killing one person and critically injuring at least five others. This is the third such incident since August this year involving disproportionate reaction to protests relating to land acquisition in the State. On that day, the tribal people were on their way to join a protest in Ranchi, convened by a broad coalition of 40 tribal organisations in the State. The protest was against two ordinances that introduce drastic changes in two land and tenancy laws: the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act, 1908 (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016, and the Santhal Parganas Tenancy (Supplementary Provisions) Act, 1949, Amendment Ordinance, 2016. The proposed changes allowed for the use of tribal-owned or tenant-held land for non-agricultural purposes and the transfer of such land for “public purposes” as notified by the State government. The day after the firing, the tribal people refused to cremate the body of the deceased, leading to further clashes with the administration. Nearly 1,500 unnamed persons were booked under various cases. Three days after the firing, on October 25, while inaugurating the first-ever national “tribal” carnival in the capital, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent out a strong warning to those who attempted to “snatch away” the rights of the tribal people. He also pointed out that natural resources in forests should not be exploited at the cost of the people living there. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led State government in Jharkhand did not seem to take these warnings seriously, and the Central government too did not seem concerned enough to intervene in the matter of the ordinances issued by the Jharkhand government. (Frontline 8/11/2016)

201. 14 yrs on, land acquisition process lapses in Gurugram (4)

Chandigarh: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that development works should not come to a standstill on a chunk of land after the acquisition proceedings lapse primarily because of a fault on the part of government officers. Nearly 14 years after the acquisition process was initiated for acquiring about 22 acres in Gurugram district, the High Court also ruled that the acquisition had lapsed. But at the same time, a Division Bench directed the petitioner landowners to maintain status quo for a year to enable the respondent state of Haryana to acquire the property, if required, for “public purpose”. The land, situated within the revenue estate of Badshahpur, Ghasola, Adampur, Tigra and Tikri villages in Gurugram district, was initially acquired for the development of residential, commercial and institutional Sectors 49 and 50. The ruling came on a bunch of eight petitions by Satnam Singh and other petitioners. Justice Surya Kant and Justice Sudip Ahluwalia asserted it was an admitted fact that the petitioners neither gave their consent to receive nor actually received the compensation. It was also not in dispute that the compensation was never deposited in the court. The Bench added that the applications filed by the petitioners — to declare that the acquisition of their land/properties would deemed to have lapsed on the ground that the compensation was not paid to them in accordance with the legal provisions—were allowed. It was declared that the acquisition of their land made vide notifications dated March 3, 2003, and March 2, 2004, and the award dated December 20, 2006, was deemed to have lapsed. Before parting with the judgment, the Bench added Section 24 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, itself contemplated the possibility of re-acquisition of the land/property where the previous acquisition had lapsed. It was necessary to direct the petitioners to maintain status quo regarding the creation of third party rights; to keep the land/property free from all encumbrances and not to change the nature of land/property for a year so that the state may, if required for a “public purpose”, again acquire it. (The Tribune  15/11/2016)

202. Compensation for airport expansion allotted (4)

Thoothukudi: Compensation of Rs.3,27, 14,575 has been allotted by the government for owners of land that was acquired for the expansion of the Thoothukudi airport, Collector M. Ravikumar said here on Monday. Earlier, it was decided to acquire 580 acres of land and later it got increased to 600 acres. Out of the 13 phases of land acquisition, eight phases of acquisition had been completed, so far. Of the completed phase, compensation was awarded to 1,123 land owners for a chunk of 410.85 acres. The government had issued orders on October 31, 2016 for the compensation and land owners could avail it. As for the rest of the land owners, who come under other three phases of acquisition, compensation would soon be awarded, he said while addressing the media. The land acquisition was at a final stage and works were expected to be over in three months, the Collector added. (The Hindu 15/11/16)

203. ‘Over 56,000 displaced from Mosul’ (4)

Mosul, Nov 16 (IANS/AKI) More than 56,000 people have fled Mosul and surrounding areas, where military operations began to retake the embattled Iraqi city from the Islamic State (IS) militants began a month ago, a monitoring organisation said. The exodus from Mosul has doubled over the past two weeks from 22,224 on 4 November, to 56,412 on Monday, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said on Tuesday. IOM is readying for much larger numbers of displaced people as Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces battle their way into Mosul and aim to recapture the strategic town of Tel Afar, cutting IS’s supply lines from Syria. East of Mosul, IOM is building an emergency site at Qayara Airstrip and where it has erected a camp with 3,000 tents and is building a camp with a further 1,000 tents in nearby Haj Ali which was recently retaken from IS. IOM said it is working with the Iraq government’s ministry of migration and displacement to identify further locations for refugee camps, to develop these sites, also to provide refugees with longer-term help. “Through IOM’s emergency response, as well as assistance for those displaced longer term, we aim to provide support to improve conditions for those who have suffered so greatly,” said IOM Iraq’s chief Thomas Weiss. Besides shelter, IOM is providing winter non- food relief kits including blankets, heaters and carpets to refugee families in Haj Ali, many of whom had to leave everything behind when they fled from battle zones.Health and psychosocial assistance is also being offered to refugees, IOM said. Meanwhile, the United Nations World Food Programme has said it is “very concerned” about the food security of people trapped inside Mosul, especially children. WFP has distributed food aid to some 100,000 people who fled the fighting between IS and Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces and around in the city. Thousands of families remain in need of urgent care and food assistance, according to WFP.WFP has enough rations in the Mosul area to provide food for 2.1 million people for three days, and half a million family rations, which could feed 2.5 million people for one month, the UN said on Monday. (India Live Today 16/11/16)

204. SEZ oustees’ issue: CPI(M) launches padayatra (4)

VISAKHAPATNAM: CPI (M) State Secretariat member Ch. Narsinga Rao on Monday asked projected displaced/affected families of AP Special Economic Zone-Atchutapuram to lay siege to the zone to press for jobs. He was speaking to the affected family members after launching a padayatra to drum up support to serve an ultimatum to the management of various units set up at SEZ to either provide jobs or shutdown. “We have waited patiently for 10 years. Now we have lost our patience. They are not giving jobs despite an emphatic promise during announcement of package at the time of taking consent letters 10 years ago for acquiring our lands,” he told the villagers. The padayatra will continue till November 23.Mr. Rao said they should be prepared to stall the functioning of various industrial units at the SEZ to achieve their genuine demand. “Our children are educated but they are denied job because the managements think that they being locals will insist on fixed working hours for work and implementation of various rules,” he said. (The Hindu 17/11/16)

RIGHT TO HEALTH

205. From the pink of health to the red zone (3)

Kerala has achieved tremendous progress in the health sector after the formation of the State in 1956. The longevity of life at that time was as low as below 50 years where as it is 72 for men and 76 for women now. So are the other health indicators such as infant mortality rate (12) and maternal mortality rate (66). While land reforms improved the standard of living of poor farmers and tenants, an efficient public distribution system played an important role in improving the nutritional status. Kerala’s universal and free healthcare system and the emphasis democratic governments placed on healthcare and education, particularly female literacy, complemented these processes and helped Kerala achieve what is described as ‘Kerala Model’ of healthcare, the hallmark of which was ‘good healthcare at low cost based on social justice and equity’.Cracks began to appear in the Kerala Model healthcare in the 1980s with the return of epidemics like hepatitis, cholera, and malaria, which were once considered as eradicated. Soon, new epidemics such as dengue fever, chickungunya, Japanese encephalitis, and H1N1 appeared. In the meantime, incidence of NCDs such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer, etc., increased. By the beginning of 1990s, Kerala society started to bear the double burden of resurgent epidemics and emergent lifestyle diseases. The spread of epidemics is due to failure in implementation of programmes for waste management, clean environment, mosquito eradication, and provision of potable water. Changes in food habits, lack of physical exercise, and increased mental stress are behind the surge in NCDs Kerala.High incidence of suicides and causalities due to motor accidents is also a sign of the crisis. High incidence of suicides in Kerala is due to a combination of economic and cultural problems but it also indicates the poor mental health status of Keralites. On an average, 10 people die and 100 people sustain severe injuries everyday due to motor accidents in Kerala. Kerala also has one of the highest alcohol consumption levels in the country. ….  (The Hindu 2/11/2016)

206. Encephalitis kills 74 kids in Odisha’s worst outbreak (3)

New Delhi: Odisha’s worst-ever encephalitis outbreak has killed 74 children in the Maoist-hit Malkangiri district, home to nearly 6.2 lakh people, mostly from the Scheduled Castes and tribes like Bondas, Koyas, Porajas and Didayis. “Till Monday, 74 children have died, all from the Koya community. Forty-seven of the deaths have been due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) and 27 from Japanese Encephalitis (JE),” Dr Madan Mohan Pradhan, joint director of the National Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme in Odisha, said. “It’s the biggest outbreak in the district. We are studying why it is happening.” “All children in the district will be vaccinated against JE on December 1,” Odisha director of health services Dr Chittaranjan Nayak said. “The process of procuring the vaccines from the Centre, training the staff and the logistical assessment has begun.” A single shot protects children for up to a year against the JE strain prevalent in India. While JE is a viral infection spread by mosquitoes, AES can be caused by a range of viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, chemicals and toxins. Encephalitis is marked by inflammation of the brain’s membrane that causes rapidly rising fever, headache, stiffness of the neck, disorientation, coma, seizures, spastic paralysis and even death. Odisha first reported encephalitis cases in 2015, when 660 AES cases and 33 JE cases were detected. There were four deaths, two from each. “Children in Malkangiri have never been vaccinated against JE because there were no cases till now,” says Dr Nayak. Till October 2, 2016, India reported 7,443 AES cases and 840 deaths, while JE has infected another 974 people and killed 167. Of these, 456 AES and 16 JE cases were from Odisha. (Hindustan Times 3/11/2016)

207. Global fears over India’s ticking TB time bomb (3)

Eighteen months after the Indian government launched the “TB Free India” campaign, nine policy changes in the national programme are yet to be implemented. The delay has raised concerns among the international public health community, which believes that drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) — currently spreading at an alarming rate in India — will not remain confined to the borders if the Indian government does not show urgency. The main gaps are regarding the government’s failure to roll out Fixed Dose Combinations (FDCs) for TB patients living with HIV due to delays in tender; the failure to provide child-friendly TB regimen and the glacially slow pace of scaling up availability of the new drug Bedaquiline, which can treat multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). Six months after launching the drug, only 36 MDR TB patients have been enrolled in Delhi.Lack of Indian delegates at the 47th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Liverpool, U.K. has raised further questions about India’s commitment to meet global TB targets. Dr. Mario Raviglione, Director of the Global Tuberculosis Programme at the WHO, said, “If India does not move, the world does not move. We cannot do much without India as they have nearly 30 per cent of the TB cases there.”With an objective to send an ‘urgent’ message to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, activists interrupted the only session attended by an Indian Health Ministry official at the conference last week, reading out a list of demands to address the gaps in implementation. The delay has resulted in a campaign called #BrokenTBPromises — which counts each day until Mr. Modi addresses the issue. However, Dr. Jagdish Prasad, India’s Director General of Health Services, stunned the international delegates by calling protesting activists “mentally unstable” during the session. When probed about the delay in rolling out TB drugs, he said, “In India, when a son wants to marry someone’s daughter, it takes over 6 months to arrange the marriage. It is same with policies. We do not want to discuss our internal problems in a foreign country.” The situation in India is very troubling for us in the international community, said Dr. Furin. “Fewer than 100 people in India have been able to access this treatment is appalling,” added Dr. Furin, who was one of the protesters. “The continued unwillingness of the Indian government to provide adequate treatment and prevention tarnishes India’s reputation on the international stage. We are respectful of our colleagues in India who are working hard within the system but when they don’t come to conferences like these, it seems like they don’t want to acknowledge the reality of the disaster that TB and DR-TB is in India. I think it is time for the international community to stop being polite with India because the news that comes out of India is worse and worse every time,” she added. (The Hindu 6/11/2016)

208. Project to improve maternal health to get under way today (3)

KOZHIKODE: Pregnant women in the rural belt of Kozhikode district will now have access to expert medical care and guidance, courtesy the Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA) being implemented at the community health centres in Kodenchery, Thiruvallur and Valayam, and the taluk hospital at Nadapuram from Wednesday onwards. The project, being implemented to ensure the health of pregnant women, is also expected to help bring down maternal mortality rates and ensure safe delivery of the baby. M.I. Shanavas, MP, will officially launch the project at the community health centre at Kodencheri at a function to be presided over by George M. Thomas, MLA. “The hospitals were chosen based on the patient profile there. There is a large tribal population here that is often deprived of expert medical care,” said District Medical Officer R.L. Saritha. Special camps will be held as part of the project on the 9th of every month to provide necessary care for the pregnant women. The women will undergo one ultrasound scanning during their pregnancy term from three to nine months. They will also undergo all necessary lab tests. They will be provided group counselling on nutrition, sleep, regular check-ups, delivery at hospital, breast feeding and contraception. Vehicles will be provided for those pregnant women who live in remote locations. “Though malnutrition is a major issue in the tribal belt, there is no provision to provide right food under the project. Instead ,the pregnant women will be provided expert advice on the right diet,” Dr. Saritha added. The beneficiaries of the project will be identified by a team of health workers, who will register them and give them the mother and child protection card (MCP) and safe motherhood booklet. (The Hindu 9/11/2016)

209. Study finds high infant mortality rate (3)

New Delhi: Around 10% of medically certified deaths in the country are those of infants, according to a latest government report. In this age group, the maximum incidence of death has been reported to be caused by certain conditions originating in the perinatal period, including hypoxia and birth asphyxia, at 73%. These findings are part of the Report on Medical Certification of Cause of Death 2014, prepared by the Registrar General of India and released on Thursday. It is based on the analysis of 10,66,221 total medically certified deaths by 33 states and Union Territories.  The shares of male and female infant deaths to the corresponding totals of medically certified deaths are 9.8% and 9.9%, respectively.  This is followed by other conditions originating in perinatal period (15.3%), other infectious and parasitic diseases (6%), congenital abnormalities (4.3%), septicemia and heart diseases (4.1%) each, other respiratory diseases (3.8%) and  pneumonia (1.9%). In the age group 0-4 years, it is 11.4%. If one takes the cases of death in the age group of 1-4 years, by excluding those below one year old, it is only 1.5%. In this age group, heart diseases were the main villain with 17.9% deaths followed by other infectious and parasitic diseases 14.8% and unintentional injuries and septicemia (7%). The report also showed that injury and poisoning are the leading causes of death among the youth. The age group of 15-24 years accounted for 4.8% of the total, while it is 6.9% in the 25-34 age group. In the age group of 15-24 years, the major cause of death was due to injury, poisoning and certain other consequences of external causes at 26.4%. Similarly, in the 25-34 age group, it was 20.7%. According to the report, death due to diseases of circulatory system topped the list with 31.6%, followed by symptoms signs and abnormal clinical findings not elsewhere classified (13.2%) and certain infectious and parasitic diseases (11.9%). Other major causes included diseases of respiratory system (7.8%), certain conditions originating in perinatal period (7.2%), injury, poisoning and certain other consequences of external causes (7.1%), neoplasm (5.4%) and diseases of digestive system (4.4%). (Deccan Herald 11/11/16)

210. India still losing fight against child pneumonia, diarrhoea epidemics (3)

CHENNAI: It is World Pneumonia Day 2016, and India stands pretty much where it stood last year — right on top of the charts with a total of 2,96,279 deaths from pneumonia and diarrhoea, the tally being just short of last year’s figure of 2,97,114 deaths, and the nation desperately needs to reduce those numbers. The Pneumonia and Diarrhoea Progress Report published annually by the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, puts India at the top of the list of 15 nations, as it did last year, and the years before. The report, however, does indicate some consolation can be found in the fact that India is among the 12 nations that have improved their Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea (GAPPD) score this year.The report says: “The rate of all-cause mortality in this age group has been cut by more than half worldwide since 1990, from 91 deaths per 1,000 live births to 43 in 2015. Although this is an enormous achievement, pneumonia and diarrhoea’s contribution to under-5 deaths remains stubbornly high. In 2015, these two diseases together were responsible for nearly one of every four deaths that occurred in children under five.” Nearly 15 years after the introduction of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccines in 2000, five countries among those with the highest pneumonia burden — India, Indonesia, Chad, China and Somalia — are still not using the vaccine in their routine immunisation programmes, the report noted.India recently announced a partial introduction of the vaccine in five states (Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh) from 2017. Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda, speaking earlier this week, said: “Adding life-saving vaccines such as PCV (pneumococcal conjugate) and rotavirus to our immunisation programme will not only improve the health of our children but will also reduce hospitalisation and other conditions associated with diarrhoea and pneumonia, such as malnutrition and delayed physical and mental development among children.” India introduced rotavirus vaccines in four States in 2015. In addition to thinking of vaccines, the report points out other simple proven interventions in order to prevent these deaths, including antibiotics, exclusive breastfeeding, and access to treatment and care. Also urging nations to go beyond business as usual, it chronicles innovations that help speed up the process and better chase the goal of cutting down the number of preventable child deaths. (The Hindu 13/11/16)

211. Japanese Encephalitis under control: Odisha Health Minister (3)

Bhubaneswar : Even as 93 children have succumbed to Japanese Encephalitis in Malkangiri so far, Odisha Health Minister Pradip Amat on Tuesday said the deadly outbreak was under control. Out of 162 children admitted in the District Headquarter Hospital, 32 succumbed to the Japanese Encephalitis while 61 children died due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome and other reasons, said the Minister after holding a review meeting on the situation. He said the situation is under control in the district. He said 17 children are undergoing treatment at the District Headquarter Hospital in Malkangiri. Out of them, six were in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) while 11 were undergoing treatment in the Encephalitis ward, he added. Amat said 180 villages in seven blocks of the district were affected by the vector-borne disease. While the state government has distributed 15,000 Insecticide Treated Mosquito Nets (ITMN), the Centre is yet to provide ITMN to the state for distribution among the people, said the Health Minister. He said that vaccination against Japanese Encephalitis would begin in Malkangiri district by December. The disease, which originates from pigs and spreads to humans, mostly children, through mosquitoes, surfaced in the district in September. The Odisha unit of BJP on Tuesday hit out at the state government for denying security to Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan during his visit to Maoist-infested Malkangiri district on Monday. The party said it was a political conspiracy of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD). “We visited the Japanese Encephalitis-affected villages without police security. The state government should have at least maintained the security protocol provided to the Union minister,” said senior BJP leader K.V. Singhdeo. (Business Standard 15/11/16)

HIV/AIDS

212. HIV patients seek better disaster response (3)

CHENNAI: With the monsoon approaching, the Positive Women’s Network (PWN), and the Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) sensitised their members on a list of ‘to do’ items in the event of a disaster like last year’s flood. The organisations also held discussions with the State Planning Commission, seeking a coordinated response to the problems faced by people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA). The representatives included PWN founder P. Kousalya and the members of CFAR. During the discussion, the members spoke of the difficulty in accessing drugs during the floods. Although the government had ensured that during the monsoon, PLHAs would have sufficient supply of medicines to last a couple of months, many had run out of medicines. Some of them gave more importance to their anti-retroviral therapy (ART) books and medicines than other possessions but were hesitant to access medication from the local health camps fearing stigma. The PLHAs have drawn up guidelines that they want the government to adopt. They want the doctors, panchayat, anganwadi and ASHA workers to be sensitised about HIV/AIDS and be aware of how and where to access medicines in case of an emergency. “It could be announced on TV too. It would help during floods if details of the availability of medicines for ailments such as diabetes, TB, and HIV/AIDS are announced together as this would reduce stigma,” Ms. Kousalya said. People like S. Bhuvaneshwari and S. Sujatha, who travelled several hours to reach Kilpauk Medical College from their home during the floods, despite living in the city said hospitals have a database of patients on medication. NGOs and health workers should be given the data about patients in their areas seeking medicines from government hospitals, they said. “The Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society says it has the data of all those on ART. In cases of emergencies, such as last year’s floods, it would have helped if the nearby health post had information about the patients in their jurisdiction and drugs had been stocked up,” said Daniel Vinod of CFAR. (The Hindu 1/11/2016)

213. Smoking may harm HIV patients more than the virus itself (3)

New YorK: “A person with HIV who consistently takes HIV medicines but smokes is much more likely to die of a smoking-related disease than of HIV itself,” explained study author Krishna P. Reddy of the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. The study suggests that making smoking cessation a priority and finding effective ways to help people with HIV quit can significantly improve their lifespan. “Now that HIV-specific medicines are so effective against the virus itself, we also need to add other interventions that could improve and extend the lives of people with HIV,” Reddy noted. In their study, the researchers used a computer simulation of HIV disease and treatment to project the life expectancy of people living with HIV based on their smoking status. For men and women with HIV who adhere well to HIV medicines, the study, published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, found that smoking reduces life expectancy by about twice as much as HIV. “It is well-known that smoking is bad for health, but we demonstrate in this study just how bad it is,” Reddy said. Smoking is especially dangerous for people living with HIV, putting them at high risk for heart disease, cancer, serious lung diseases, and other infections. “We actually quantify the risk, and I think providing those numbers to patients can help put their own risks from smoking in perspective,” Reddy noted. (New Kerala 3/11/2016)

214. No HIV-infected children in 91% government homes, finds study (3)

Bengaluru: A recent survey conducted by the Sex Workers Study Committee has revealed that HIV-infected children are accepted only at five of the 57 government-run children homes. Activists allege that 91% of these centres have closed their doors to children, who test positive for HIV. The committee embarked on the survey following an incident in Hassan, where a 13-year-old girl with HIV was refused admission to a state-run-home. In all, there are eight HIV-infected children housed across five state-run homes – Bengaluru, Ramanagara, Dharwad, Raichur and Vijayanagar. Child rights activist Roopa Hassan, who was part of the study committee, highlighted the glaring discrepancy between the actual capacity of these homes and their strength. “They can actually house 70 to 200 children, but they accommodate 30 to 50 at the most. The remaining seats remain vacant, while officials continue to get a steady flow of money for the total capacity from the government. They continue to refuse children despite the available room to house more,” she said. On schools refusing admission to children infected with HIV, she said, “It is because of social stigma and taboo.” She alleged that officials at the centres also told kids not to sit beside those with HIV, or to socialise with them. Lamenting the discriminatory practices in government institutions, she said, “The government should take the first step towards eliminating discrimination towards those with HIV, by increasing awareness among people that it is a non-communicable disease.” Sources said that the officials in charge of the homes, moved HIV-infected children to other NGOs after they had been admitted, but kept their names on the register to ensure the funds did not dry up. Thoracic surgeon and director of SDS Tuberculosis Research Centre and Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases, Dr Shashidhar Buggi said, “Children homes were set up to rescue infected children, provide them adequate treatment and shield them from discrimination. However, reality works the other way round. Lack of accountability and a scrutinising system are the major problems. Although the government invests money and manpower into the cause, there is nobody keeping track of how they are used.” ..,. (Times of India 3/11/2016)

215. 28 HIV patients show positive results from yoga, NACO asked to conduct research (3)

Mumbai : A PROPOSAL for research to understand how yoga can help improve the white blood cell count of patients battling with HIV has been sent by the Mumbai District Aids Control Society (MDACS) to National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) after city officials were surprised by a noticeable improvement in 28 patients doing yoga for last two months. Apart from improvement in mental health and physical fitness of all HIV patients, in seven patients the CD4 count escalated by 21.5 per cent towards October end. CD4 cells are the white blood cells that play an important role in body’s immune system. An HIV positive patient whose CD4 count drops below 500 is termed as an AIDS patient and subsequently put on anti-retroviral treatment (ART) to battle the huge viral load. All these 28 patients had CD4 count between 400 to 1,000 before they started yoga.Officials believe the yoga exercises may play a role in improving the CD4 count. It has been true in case of 52-year-old Rani who until a month ago had joint pain, gastric problems and weakness. The transgender was in prostitution business in Ghatkopar until 1990 when she discovered she had contracted HIV infection. “A truck driver had paid me Rs 100 then. He also transferred the virus,” Rani says. She left prostitution and shifted to Palghar. Her CD4 count was 122 then — indicative of extremely low immunity — which has now risen to 1,253 in her latest test. Every Saturday, Rani leaves Palghar at 5.45 am to attend a 10 am yoga class in Wadala. Her initial inhibition at how people would react when a transgender exercises with them quickly evaporated when her health improved. Like her, 27 other HIV patients attend weekly yoga class under Ambika Yoga Kuteer at Wadala’s AIDS office. The organisation has 72 branches in and around Mumbai. “We started this as a pilot project after World Yoga Day to engage patients in some activity. We did not expect to see such results,” said Dr Shrikala Acharya, project director at MDACS. According to her, a trial done by National AIDS Research Institute, Pune, showed that sudarshan kriya (an asana) had a positive impact on HIV patients. MDACS now plans to expand its yoga programme from 28 to more patients enrolled with them. Currently, Mumbai has a load of 44,522 HIV positive patients. For Shobha, 40, a resident of Vile Parle, yoga helped her also shed fear of AIDS. “I would not step out of house. Doing yoga with people similar to me not only improved my health but also my confidence,” she says. She now do yoga for half hour daily with her son. …  (Indian Express 9/11/2016)

216. Patients seek clarity on HIV-AIDS bill (3)

Imphal, Nov. 14: People living with HIV/AIDS and civil society organisations have sought clarity from the government on free and complete treatment under the HIV and AIDS Bill, 2014. HIV/AIDS patients and civil society organisations today gathered at Hotel Nirmala in Imphal and discussed the draft bill approved by the Union cabinet in October. The bill takes a step in addressing stigma and discrimination against the people living with HIV. But there is lack of clarity in providing free and complete HIV treatment, said Daisey David, health associate, World Vision India. After the bill was tabled in Rajya Sabha in February 2014, it was sent to the standing committee on health for consideration. For the last 10 years, HIV-positive people from across the country have been asking the authorities to delete the phrase, “as far as possible” free treatment from a chapter of the bill. “We feel that changes need to be made in section 14 (1) as it restricts the right of HIV-positive people to Antiretroviral treatment and Opportunistic Infection (IO) management by the qualification of ‘as far as possible’. This term should be deleted from the chapter of treatment,” said David. The bill aims to protect the right of HIV-positive people and their families. The bill for the first time has brought the private sector within the ambit of discrimination. Once the bill becomes a law, an HIV-positive person, facing discrimination in either the public or private sector, can take legal recourse. “The challenges faced by the HIV-affected children are multifaceted, and require immediate response beyond prevention and treatment. The issue becomes important as more than 1 lakh children are living with HIV/AIDS (NACO 2015, HIV Estimation India). Every year, about 21,000 children are infected through mother-to-child transmission and thousands of children are affected because their parents are HIV-positive. We are happy that this bill will serve as a tool to protect our children from discrimination, starting right from school. The bill also recognises the right to property, access to healthcare services and information, which will further help those infected to lead a dignified life,” said David. (The Telegraph 14/11/2016)

217. HIV positive people expresses concern over HIV/AIDS Bill (3)

Imphal, November 14 2016: People Living with HIV and civil society organisations of Manipur gathered in Imphal today to discuss about the HIV draft Bill recently cleared by the Union Cabinet.The Bill takes a progressive step in addressing stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV. But there is lack of clarity in providing free and complete HIV treatment. The Bill is expected to come up for passage in the upcoming winter session of Parliament. Daisy David, Health Associate, World Vision India said, “The challenges faced by HIV affected children are multifaceted, and require immediate response beyond prevention and treatment. The issue becomes important as 1,38,456 children are living with HIV/AIDS (NACO 2015, HIV Estimation in India). “Every year about 21,000 children are infected through mother to-child transmission and thousands of children are affected because their parents are HIV positive. We are happy that, this HIV Bill will serve as a tool to protect our children from discrimination, starting right from school. This Bill also recognizes the right to property, access to healthcare services and information which will further help those infected to lead a dignified life” . After the Bill was tabled in Rajya Sabha in February 2014, it was sent to the Standing Committee on Health for its consideration. HIV positive people from across the country made oral and written submissions to the committee, demanding the deletion of the term ‘as far as possible’ from the chapter of treatment. “We have been demanding free and complete treatment as a matter of right for the last 10 years. By including ‘as far as possible’ in the Bill, the government has diluted the chapter of treatment,” said Daisy David in a statement issued here today. People living with HIV need to take antiretroviral therapy (ART) medicines throughout their lives with strict adherence levels. Although the government provides treatment through ART centres, these stocks gets easily exhausted putting the lives of HIV positive people in danger. …  (E-Pao 15/11/2016)

218. Scientists identify potent antibody that neutralizes HIV strains (3)

Washington D.C. [USA], Nov. 16 (ANI): An antibody from an HIV-infected person can potently neutralized 98 percent of HIV isolates nearly all HIV strains, discovered scientists from the National Institutes of Health. The remarkable breadth and potency of this antibody, named N6, make it an attractive candidate for further development to potentially treat or prevent HIV infection, say the researchers. The scientists, led by Mark Connors, M.D., of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), also tracked the evolution of N6 over time to understand how it developed the ability to potently neutralize nearly all HIV strains. This information will help inform the design of vaccines to elicit such broadly neutralizing antibodies. Identifying broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV has been difficult because the virus rapidly changes its surface proteins to evade recognition by the immune system. In 2010, scientists at NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center (VRC) discovered an antibody called VRC01 that can stop up to 90 percent of HIV strains from infecting human cells. Like VRC01, N6 blocks infection by binding to a part of the HIV envelope called the CD4 binding site, preventing the virus from attaching itself to immune cells. Findings from the current study showed that N6 evolved a unique mode of binding that depends less on a variable area of the HIV envelope known as the V5 region and focuses more on conserved regions, which change relatively little among HIV strains. This allows N6 to tolerate changes in the HIV envelope, including the attachment of sugars in the V5 region, a major mechanism by which HIV develops resistance to other VRC01-class antibodies. The new findings suggest that N6 could pose advantages over VRC01, which currently is being assessed as intravenous infusions in clinical trials to see if it can safely prevent HIV infection in humans. Due to its potency, N6 may offer stronger and more durable prevention and treatment benefits, and researchers may be able to administer it subcutaneously (into the fat under the skin) rather than intravenously. In addition, its ability to neutralize nearly all HIV strains would be advantageous for both prevention and treatment strategies. (ANI) (New Kerala 16/11/16)

219. Sri Lanka aims to be HIV free by 2030 (3)

Colombo, Nov 17 : Sri Lanka is making timely interventions in its efforts to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030, as part of the Sustainable Development Goals, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) said on Thursday. The UNFPA said it supported Sri Lanka’s efforts to implement a five year National Condom Strategy 2016-2020 as the correct and consistent use of condoms was one of the most effective means of preventing sexual transmission of HIV, Xinhua news agency reported. The UNFPA said it also supported Sri Lanka’s National STD/AIDS Control Programme (NSACP) in developing HIV/AIDS guides for Primary Health Care Workers and those working in condom programming, with the objective to equip officials with the knowledge and skills to improve their awareness on condom use among communities. “I am happy to note that the Sri Lankan government has engaged closely with UNFPA from the start of the journey in ensuring a Comprehensive Condom Programming is carried out in Sri Lanka,” UNFPA Country Representative for Sri Lanka and the Maldives Alain Sibenaler said. Sri Lanka has recorded a drop in HIV/AIDS prevalence when compared to other South Asian countries, the Global Fund said recently. Sri Lanka’s National STD (sexually transmitted disease) Eradication Unit recently asserted that the majority of victims infected with HIV/AIDS in the island nation was aged between 25 and 45 years. The Health Ministry said the spread of the disease was due to the tourism industry, use of drugs, homosexual behavior and immigration. A total of 228 persons were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in Sri Lanka in 2014. (New Kerala 17/11/16)