HR News

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Volume 18                                                           No. 19 & 20                                 July 20, 2016

HR NEWS:  JULY 20, 2016

 (From July 1 to 20, 2016)

 DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

1. Dalits angry over demolition of Ambedkar Bhavan in Mumbai (2)

BELAGAVI: The demolition of the Ambedkar Bhavan, which housed a printing press in Dadar of Mumbai, has angered various Dalit organisations and sparked a protest in the city and across the district. Activists of the Dalit organisations, including the Belagavi District Dalit Sangarsh Samithi and Jai Bhim Sena, took out a procession and staged an angry protest at the Rani Channamma Circle here on Wednesday. They also burnt an effigy of the Maharashtra government. The activists shouted slogans condemning the demolition and criticised the Maharashtra government for its failure to prevent the demolition. They demanded punitive action against those who hatched “a conspiracy to demolish” the bhavan. Dalit leader Mallesh Chougule said that the demolition of Ambedkar Bhavan and the printing press had come as a tactical assault on Dalits, triggering a nationwide anger among community members. A statue of B.R. Ambedkar was also destroyed in the process. Submitting a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, he said that five politicians hatched the conspiracy to demolish the structure and they should be immediately arrested and expatriated from the country. (The Hindu 2/7/16)

2. Section of Uthapuram Dalits alleges favouritism (2)

MADURAI: Alleging favouritism in distribution of compensation for Dalit families affected in the 2008 clash in Uthapuram in Madurai district, a section of Dalits from the village petitioned the Collector on Monday demanding temporary stoppage of distribution of the balance compensation. “We have recently filed a petition in Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court requesting that all the affected Dalit families should be awarded compensation. So, distribution of the remaining amount should be stopped until the court makes a decision,” said M. Chellapandian, a resident of South Devendirar Nagar in Uthapuram. In a case filed by S.K. Ponnuthai of All India Democratic Women’s Association, affiliated to Communist Party of India (Marxist), the HC Bench awarded a compensation of about Rs. 1.2 crore to 199 victims earlier this year. While a majority of the amount has already been disbursed, work is in progress to distribute the balance amount soon. “The list of 199 people excluded a large number of affected Dalits as the CPI (M), which spearheaded the case, showed partiality in identifying the victims,” alleged N. Palpandi, another resident. He alleged the expenses for the case were met from the common fund of the Dalits in the village. “When everyone had contributed for the case expenses, it is unfair to exclude some while distributing compensation,” he claimed. Mr. Chellapandian also alleged that there were double entries in the list of 199 victims, which meant that the same families got compensation twice. Denying the allegations, T. Chellakannu, district secretary, Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front, who actively took part in the litigation process, said that the group of Dalits who were complaining now did not come forward to register themselves when the case was in progress. “Moreover, the list of victims had been cross-checked by government authorities,” he said. “The complaints of double entries have been rectified. The money taken from the common fund of the Dalits was also paid back by those who received the compensation,” he said. “If they feel they also deserve compensation, they can approach court. But it is not fair to stop the compensation for other victims,” he added. (The Hindu 5/7/16)

3. Dalits yet to get freedom, says former official (2)

Mysuru: Former Deputy Director of Pre-University Education H M Rudraswamy, on Wednesday, lamented that Dalit leaders in various political parties have turned into adopted sons of their respective parties that are based on caste system and so, Dalits are yet to get freedom. He was delivering a lecture on ‘Dalit Politics in Modern India and Leadership’, organised by University of Mysore (UoM) Babu Jagjivan Ram Studies, Research and Extension Centre, at Manasagangothri, to mark Jagjivan Ram’s 30th death anniversary. Rudraswamy said, though there are more than 125 MPs and nearly 1,000 legislators belonging to the Dalit communities in the country, the deprived classes are still striving for their constitutional rights. “Though Dalits have the right to education and employment and participate in politics, they are not working for the welfare of the deprived communities. Even today, Dalits are not in a position to decide their political leaders. Every political party’s high command decides Dalit leaders. Though Dalits enjoy powers, they are yet to get independence,” he opined. Speaking about Jagjivan Ram, Rudraswamy said, Ram grew up as a national leader by fighting for freedom along with Mahatma Gandhi. There was no difference between B R Ambedkar and Ram pertaining to social thinking and political stand. It is far from the truth that Gandhi tried to suppress Ambedkar using Jagjivan Ram, said Rudraswamy. Member of Central Advisory Committee, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Deepak Doddaiah said, Babuji pioneered the Green Revolution and he was the man behind the Employees State Insurance Scheme (ESI) for labourers. BJP district (rural) president M Shivanna, centre Director K Sadashiva and guest lecturer G S Bhatt were present. .. (Deccn Herald 7/7/16)

4. Porbandar Dalit murder: Kin claim body after police detain three (2)

Rajkot: FOUR DAYS after Rama Singrakhiya, a Dalit, was allegedly hacked to death by an upper caste mob in Sodhana village of Porbandar, his family members claimed his body and performed last rites on Sunday after police detained village sarpanch Arbham Karavadra and two others, identified as Bhupat Agrowala and Jaymal Mer, who led the attack on Rama, late on Saturday night. The family claimed the body hours after the victim’s two friends, who had been leading a protest demanding they be allowed bury the man on the same pastoral land where he had been attacked, were arrested in another case on Saturday and released on bail on the same day. Raju Singrakhiya, 22-year-old nephew of Rama (42), claimed the victim’s body in the wee hours of Sunday and the family performed his last rites in the afternoon. Rama was buried in the burial ground for Dalits. His friends claimed that the family’s demand of allowing them to take his body to Porbandar was rejected by police. Rama was allegedly assaulted by a mob belonging to the upper caste Mer community on Wednesday when he went to the village to sow caster seeds on a plot of land which, he claimed, he had been cultivating for the last 15 years. Rama died in PDU General Hospital in Rajkot Thursday while the two injured are still in hospital. … (Indian Express 10/7/16)

5. 77 yrs after Madurai victory, temples still shut for dalits (2)

Seventy seven years have passed since that landmark event, but many temples continue to be out of bounds for dalits. The southern state had witnessed many temple-entry movements some 15 years before Vaidyanatha Iyer’s campaign. Followers of rationalist leader Periyar E V Ramasamy organised such agitations as far back as the mid-1920s. Periyar was among the leaders of a much larger and more comprehensive anti-untouchability movement in Vaikom that decade. But as the Dravidian movement consolidated itself and parties claiming the legacy of Periyar rose to power, they also lost their reformist zeal, observers say. “There may be no restrictions in big temples maintained by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment of the state government. But, entry for dalits is not a cakewalk in several temples controlled by dominant castes in some villages,”says P Sampath, president of Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front. Sampath’s front has organised 52 temple-entry agitations from 2008 to 2016. Affiliated with CPM, the front says successive governments have responded to such agitations by locking the temples or banning access to all. “Even in a related case this year, the district administration shut the doors of a Shiva temple in Kuttalam taluk at Nagapattinam district citing law and order problems, after we attempted to take dalits into the temple,” he said. Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi general secretary D Ravi Kumar blames the situation on the lack of political will on the part of AIADMK and DMK regimes, which have ruled the state for nearly 50 years. “They (AIADMK and DMK) have two different yardsticks for temples controlled by brahmins and nonbrahmins during their rule. While they have focused on the temples with brahmins at the helm of affairs to eliminate caste discrimination, the two Dravidian parties do not have the political will to replicate the same in temples in the hands of caste Hindus,” he said. This despite the rather early start to temple entry in the state. Taking a cue from the Vaikom agitation that was led by Periyar against restrictions on dalits from walking through the streets around the Vaikom temple in 1924, leaders of the self-respect movement in Tamil Nadu carried out temple-entry movements across the state between 1926 and 1930. Dravidian ideologue Suba Veerapandian says the agitations were organised at temples in Suchindram at Kanyakumari district, Erode, Mayiladuthurai and Tiruchirappalli in which social reformers Kuthoosi Gurusamy and K A P Viswanatham participated. This was followed by the temple-entry agitation of Vaidyanatha Iyer, who was then president of Tamil Nadu Harijan Sevak Sangh, in 1939 at Madurai. Iyer’s son-in-law and former secretary of Thakkar Bapa Vidyalaya, V K Sthanunathan said Mahatma Gandhi worshipped at Meenakshi temple only after dalits were allowed entry. ….  (Times of India 11/7/16)

6. 4 Dalits stripped, beaten up for skinning dead cow (2)

The victims, who are engaged in skinning in Mota Samadhiyala village near Una town, had brought dead cows. While they were skinning the cows, six persons in an SUV approached them and accused them of cow slaughter. The victims tried convincing them that they had brought the carcass for skinning. However, the assailants did not heed to their pleading and started beating them with iron pipes and sticks. After stripping and thrashing them, they were tied behind the SUV and taken to the village. N U Zala, police inspector, Una town police station, said: ‘They stopped their SUV on the main road and started thrashing them again. Three persons who tried to intervene were also beaten up with iron pipes.”After beating them in the village, the four Dalits were packed into the SUV and taken to Una town, 24 km away. Here, they were again tied to the vehicle and thrashed in full public view and taken to the police station. The photos and video of the incident went viral on social media on Tuesday morning. Una town police said that 23-year-old Vasram Sarvaia of Mota Samadhiyala village has lodged a complaint against Pramodgiri Bavaji, Balvant Dhirubhai, Ramesh Jadav, Nagji Vaniya, Rakesh Joshi and one unidentified person. The accused are from Una town and nearby villages. ‘We have arrested three Jadav, Joshi and Nagji,” Zala said, adding all have been booked under attempt to murder and sections of Prevention of Atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act.The seven persons were rushed to a hospital in Una town where condition of one of them identified as Babubhai is said to be critical.No one should be allowed to take law in their hands. The fact that those brutalized were Dalits from poor families makes the offence even more serious.Strictest possible action must be taken against such self-styled cow protectors, who made a complete mockery of the police department by thrashing the four youths in full public view, not once but twice. (Times of India 13/7/16)

7. UP temple ‘cleansed’ after Dalits perform puja (2)

KANPUR: A priest in Kanpur Dehat district of Uttar Pradesh ‘purified’ a temple with `Gangajal’ soon after a group of Dalit women visited it for worship as part of marriage rituals. Though the group was denied entry into the sanctum sanctorum of the temple in Mangalpur town on Monday , the temple priest and his wife performed the ritual by “cleansing the premises with the sacred water of the Ganga”.”Munni Devi of the Balmiki community visited the village temple along with a dozen women as part of rituals related to her daughter’s marriage that is yet to be solemnized. After the women left, the priest closed the temple for over an hour and washed it with Gangajal,” one of the villagers told TOI.”The priest opposed our entry into the temple and used caste insults against us. When we questioned him, he threatened us. We later performed the puja with the help of some locals,” Devi said. ADM Shiv Shanker Gupta has assured an investigation into the issue. (Times of India 14/7/2016)

8. 5 dalit men attempt suicide in Gujarat (2)

RAJKOT: There is an escalation in protests against the alleged atrocities against dalits in the state. On Monday morning, five dalits consumed poisonous substances in Gondal town of Rajkot district. They were protesting against an incident near Una town in the Gir-Somnath district in which some dalit youths were thrashed in full public view for skinning dead cows. The five falits reached near Ambedkar statue having threatened self-immolation on July 16. Even as the police had deployed bandobast as precautionary measures, the five protesters – identified as Anil Madhad (35), Jagdish Rathod (32), Bharat Solanki (30), Rajesh Parmar (26 and Ramesh Parghi (34) – attempted suicide. Police rushed all of them to the government hospital for treatment. Brother of Anil Madhad – he is the elected councillor from Congress in Gondal municipality – Dinesh Madhad told TOI that dalits are subjected to inhuman behaviour while the government is not taking any step towards culprits and therefore goons are roaming scot-free. “Police do not take action against such atrocities against dalits and therefore five Dalits decided to take extreme step” Dinesh Madhad said. Earlier on Sunday, Una police arrested two more persons for their involvement in the brutal assault on four dalit youths who were skinning dead cows in Mota Samadhiyala village near Una last week.Meanwhile, Gir-Somnath SP H R Chaudhary has suspended N U Zala, police inspector of Una, and woman constable Kanchan for negligence in discharging their duties in the case. Two other policemen have already been suspended. The outrage over thrashing of Dalits in Una continued in parts of Saurashtra region. On Monday, Dalits carried out a procession and staged dharna with carrying three vehicles of dead animals to collector’s office and demanded swift actions against the accused involved in Dalit atrocities. They also threatened to stop taking dead animals from villages and towns which they are traditionally doing it. (Times of India 18/7/16)

9. Violent protests in Saurashtra over Una incident (2)

AHMEDABAD: The Dalit unrest in Gujarat has claimed two lives. While police constable died after being injured in stone pelting by Dalit mob in Amreli, another person, who consumed pesticide to protest atrocities on Scheduled Caste (SC) also died on Tuesday. Up in arms against brutal assault on Dalit community members in a village near Una on July 11, the Dalits intensified its protest with eight persons attempting suicide on Tuesday in addition to those seven who attempted on Monday. Over a dozen buses were torched and highways were blocked, forcing the state authorities to suspend bus services in Porbandar, Jamnagar and Junagadh while State Reserved Police (SRP) teams have been deployed in Rajkot, Jamnagar and other places in Saurashtra region. In Amreli, a rally held by the Dalits turned violent as clashes between cops and protesters led to stone pelting in wich one head constable Pankaj Amrelia was critically injured and was taken to Rajkot where he died during treatment. “Around 15 persons including protesters and policemen were injured in clashes in Amreli. One constable has died while others are under treatment at various hospitals,” said a senior police official from Amreli. Meanwhile, Hemant Solanki had consumed pesticide in Bhesan town and during treatment, he died. In entire Saurashtra, situation was volatile with protests rallies planned by the enraged community member, who have given a bandh call in Junagadh and Gondal on Wednesday. The Dalit unrest and subsequent violence triggered by hooliganism of local cow protection group in Saurashtra has caught the Anandiben Patel administration off guard, which woke up to its gravity only on Monday when the matter was raised by BSP in Rajya Sabha. On Tuesday, Chief Minister Anandiben Patel appealed to the people of Gujarat and particularly the Dalit community members to maintain peace while assuring that the guilty would be punished. “What has happened in inhuman and condemnable. The state government has ordered a CID (crime) probe and 16 persons have already been arrested,” she said in a statement issued by the state government. Chief Minister will be visiting the victims and their family members in Una on Wednesday. The government has also enhanced compensation to the victims from Rs one lakh to Rs four lakh. Top Congress leader Ahmed Patel demanded judicial probe in the issue and lambasted the state authorities to “protest Dalits in Gujarat.” “Failure of authorities to protect Dalits in Gujarat is absolutely shocking. It is the Gujarat Model? Independent probe is the need of the hour,” Mr Patel, who is Rajya Sabha member from the state, tweeted while reacting on the Dalit unrest in the state. Besides Congress, Aam Admi Party (AAP), which has been trying to set up its base in the state ahead of the next year’s assembly polls, announced that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kajriwal would visit the victims of violence by cow protection group on Friday. Gujarat Congress has requested party vice president Rahul Gandhi to visit the state to meet the victims and also members of the Dalit community. (The Hindu 20/7/16)

 

TRIBALS

10. Shutdown called by Congress hits normal life in Odisha (6)

Bhubaneswar: Normal life was paralysed on Saturday in eight KBK districts of Odisha by a dawn-to-dusk shutdown called by the Congress party to push for “proper implementation” of the Forest Rights Act 2006. The party also protested against the arrest of former Nabarangapur MP Pradeep Majhi and his associates. Shops and business establishments remained closed in eight undivided KBK districts: Kalahandi, Bolangir, Koraput, Sonepur, Nuapada, Nabarangpur, Malkangiri and Rayagada. The Congress workers blocked roads by burning tyres and picketed many places, bringing traffic to a halt. “The state government is taking credit by distributing land pattas to more than three lakh tribals. But in reality, the government has not executed the Forest Rights Act properly,” Congress leader and former Kalahandi MP Bhakta Das said. The state government has betrayed the tribal people by giving only pattas while there was no identification of land, he said. Das said the state government sent the Congress demonstrators to jail to suppress their voice. Former Nabarangpur MP Pradeep Majhi and 18 other Congress workers were arrested on June 25 for allegedly ransacking a range office of the forest department during a demonstration demanding land pattas for tribals. They were released on conditional bail on Saturday. Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee President Prasad Harichandan claimed that the shutdown was successful. He said people spontaneously participated in the movement to show their support for the cause. Rabi Narayan Nanda, a leader of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), said the Congress party is shedding crocodile tears. He said the shutdown call given by the opposition party has had no effect in KBK districts as the tribals are always with the government led by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. (Business Standard 2/7/16)

11.  ‘Upholding tribal rights best tribute to Alluri’ (6)

VISAKHAPATNAM: Members of various organisations, leaders of various political parties and the general public paid rich tributes to the revolutionary freedom fighter Alluri Seetharama Raju on his 119{+t}{+h}birth anniversary at various places in the city and district on Monday. Alluri Walker’s Association, Seethammadhara: Chief advisor of the association Ch. Narasinga Rao recalled the contribution of Alluri in safeguarding the rights of the tribal people and in protecting them from the British rulers. He ridiculed the State government for observing the birth anniversary of the revolutionary leader as a ‘State festival’ while depriving the tribal people of their livelihood by deciding to allow bauxite mining in the Agency areas of the district, ignoring their interests. Honorary president T. Shantaram sought the naming of the Alluri statue road at Seethammadhara as ‘Alluri Seetharama Raju Walker’s Zone Road’. Kshatriya Youth Association: A blood donation camp was organized by the association in association with the Rotary club Visakha Port City at Kshatriya Kalyana Mandapam at Seethamadhara. Inaugurating the camp, Visakhapatnam North MLA P Vishnu Kumar Raju appreciated the organisers for initiating the noble cause of donating blood, which could saves lives.Visakhapatnam Steel Plant: Director (Commercial) P Raychaudhury garlanded the statue of Alluri Seetharama Raju and paid tributes to the great freedom fighter. He recalled the sacrifices of Alluri in protecting the tribal rights in the Agency area and his crusade against the British rule. Trade union leaders, representatives of Ukkunagaram Kshatriya Association, SC and ST Association and a large number of employees participated. City Congress secretary K. Gopala Reddy paid tributes to Alluri at a programme organised at KNM Girls High School. Competitions were organised for school children on the occasion. Anakapalle MP Muttamsetti Srinivasa Rao, former Vice Chancellor of Andhra University GSN Raju and Joint Collector J. Nivas paid their tributes at the Alluri Memorial at K.D. Peta in the Agency area of the district. In the evening, at a State-level function organised by the Tribal Welfare Department at the Kalavani auditorium of VPT, Minister for SC and ST Welfare Ravela Kishore Babu presented merit awards and felicitated tribal youth and students for excelling in their respective fields. Panchayati Raj Minister Ch. Ayyanna Patrudu and Minister for I and PR Palle Raghunadha Reddy, Chairperson of ZPP Lalam Bhavani, former Minister P. Mani Kumari, former ZPP Chairperson V. Kanthamma, MP M. Srinivasa Rao, several other people’s representatives, and district officials participated. Cultural programmes were presented by Girijan artistes. (The Hindu 5/7/16)

12. Innocent tribals become victims of ganja trade: Sarpanches (6)

Visakhapatnam: Officials of the prohibition and excise department should nab the main culprits behind the ganja trade right from the cultivation stage to smuggling in the Visakha Agency, said panelists at a workshop on ‘Prevent Ganja Cultivation and Save Youth from Ganja Addiction’ here on Thursday. Speaking at the workshop organised by the directorate of prohibition and excise department, tribal youths and various panchayat sarpanches said transportation of the contraband has become a major source of income for the forest, excise and police officials. The ganja farmers, most of them tribals, have become victims of the trade as well as kingpins of the business in some cases. They have been supplying seeds and fertilisers and earning crores of rupees through smuggling. “Arresting the ganja growers and transporters and registering cases against them will not serve the purpose. The enforcement department should focus on the kingpins,” Lammasingi sarpanch M Raghunath said, adding that ganja growers are illiterates and were unaware of many legal acts. CID wing inspector general PV Sunil Kumar said uprooting ganja from the Agency was not one department’s job. All the responsible departments such as revenue, forest, excise and police should form a task force and work in coordination, he said. (Times of India 8/7/16)

13. Tribal girl kidnapped, sold, raped, kept hostage; flees, one held (6)

Jaipur: A 15-year-old tribal girl from Pratapgarh went through a horrifying ordeal for 25 days. She was kidnapped by a woman who took her to Madhya Pradesh and kept her hostage for days. She then sold the girl to a man in Kota’s Sultanpur area for Rs 1.25 lakh. He brought the girl to Sultanpur and raped her repeatedly. She was kept hostage in a house. On Wednesday, she managed to escape. Some people who saw her stranded took her to the police following which her buyer was arrested on Friday. The case is yet another instance of growing trend of human trafficking in the state. The girl belongs to Bagwasa village in Pratapgarh. She was on her way to her maternal grandparents’ house in nearby Banswara district when a woman, belonging to a village near Pratapgarh, ran into her. “The woman befriended the girl and then coaxed her into coming with her to a place. She took the girl to Khetakheda village in Madhya Pradesh and kept her hostage there. She then sold her to one Dharmaraj Bairawa, a resident of Surela area in Kota’s Sultanpur,” said a police officer. The officer said that Dharmaraj brought her to the house of his brother-in-law and kept her hostage there. He raped her several times. Twenty-five-year-old Dharmaraj was forcing the girl to marry him. On Wednesday, the girl managed to flee from the house. “The girl was clueless as to where she should go after escaping from the house. Some people saw her stranded and brought her to Udhyog Nagar police station in Kota. We informed the child welfare committee members so that she could get a shelter,” said the officer. The girl narrated her ordeal since she was kidnapped to the child welfare committee members on Thursday. Police have registered an FIR against the woman who kidnapped her and Dharmaraj. The man has been arrested. A team was being rushed to Pratapgarh and Madhya Pradesh for further investigation, the officer said. (Times of India 9/7/16)

14. Kandhamal row: HRPC SIT to investigate death of tribals in police firing (6)

BHUBANESWAR: Under fire from the opposition political parties for the killings of innocent tribals in a police-Maoist crossfire in Kandhamal on Friday night, the state government today formed a special investigation team (SIT) of the State Human Rights Protection Cell (SHRPC) to inquire into the case. Announcing the decision after a review of the Kandhamal incident at the secretariat here, the chief minister said he has directed that the investigation of the case will be done by a SIT of the SHRPC to be monitored and supervised by an officer of the rank of additional DG. “If anyone is found negligent in his duty after the probe, we will take stringent action,” he said. The chief minister also directed the director general of police KB Singh to have a detailed review of the incident and apply required correctives so that such incident is not repeated in future in anti-naxalite operations. The SIT will take over the case registered at Baliguda police station in connection with the incident. Describing the Kandhamal incident as most unfortunate, the chief minister said the government has taken it seriously. Besides the DGP police, chief secretary AP Padhi, home secretary Asit Tripathy and director, intelligence Sunil Roy attended the meeting. The chief minister had ordered a judicial probe into the incident on Saturday. He had also announced an exgratia of Rs 5 lakh each for the next of the kin of the deceased and asked the district administration to ensure that the families of the deceased will be covered under different social sector schemes including housing. He had also announced job for a member of each of the family. Meanwhile, the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) today demanded that National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) should probe into the incident. OPCC president Prasad Harichandan said the chief minister should visit the village to assuage the feelings of the tribals whose family members have been killed in police firing. A team from BJP headed by state president Basant Panda will visit Kandhamal tomorrow to take stock of the situation. (New Indian Express 11/7/16)

15. All Adivasi Association of Assam demands ST status (6)

BARPETA, July 13 – The All Adivasi Association of Assam has reiterated its demand to accord Scheduled Tribe status to the Adivasis and warned the government that it will face massive agitation if the demand is not fulfilled within one month. In a memorandum to the Chief Minister, signed by the leaders of the Baksa district committee and the central executive committee, the association stated that lakhs of people living in the State bear all the characteristics of tribals. They stated that their counterparts living in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Odisha are regarded as STs. But it is a matter of regret that the same people with similar ethnicity have been deprived of the ST status here, they said. (The Assam Tribune 13/7/16)

16. NHRC takes up tribals’ cause, seeks reports (6)

BHUBANESWAR: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought reports from Union Home Ministry as well as the State Government on the killing of five innocent tribals in police firing in Kandhamal district last week even as opposition political parties accused the State Government of trying to cover up the incident. Secretary general of the NHRC Satyanarayan Mohanty told mediapersons here that both the Home Ministry and the State have been asked to submit reports within two weeks. Meanwhile, the opposition Congress and BJP have raised questions about impartiality of the probe by the SIT formed by the State Government. The SIT is headed by Additional DG, Human Rights Protection Cell Mahendra Pratap. How can the investigation be fair and impartial, when it will be supervised and monitored by an officer who was suspended by the Government, Leader of the Opposition Narasingh Mishra asked. Mahendra Pratap was Gajapati SP when R Udaygiri incident took place on December 8,1998, Mishra said and added that Naveen Patnaik had then demanded action against the officer. Why the Chief Minister has now entrusted the responsibility to the same officer to monitor and supervise the investigation of such a sensitive case, he asked. The Leader of Opposition demanded that investigation by the SIT should be monitored by the High Court. Senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra also criticised the Chief Minister for trying to cover up the incident by entrusting Mahendra Pratap to supervise the investigation of the case. The Chief Minister had demanded action against the officer after the R Udaygiri jailbreak incident. The CM is trying to cover up the incident by doing so, he said. Meanwhile, a three-member team of BJP MPs will visit Kandhamal on Friday to make an on the spot assessment of the situation. The team comprises Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Jyoti Dhurve and Ramvichar Netam. Former MLAs Pratap Sarangi and Siddharth Sekhar Singh Mardraj, state BJP secretary Sisir Gamang and state executive member Sukanta Panigrahy will accompany the Central team. A team of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) headed by Narasingh Mishra will also visit Kandhamal on Friday. (New Indian Express 15/7/16)

17. Tribals dying of hunger (6)

Bhubaneswar: The infant deaths (18 in three months), at Nagada village is a case of chronic hunger of primitive Juang tribals leading to acute malnutrition of their children and subsequent death due to lack of medical treatment. “ It reflects a bizarre case of how malnourished children are dying unattended in the chromite ore rich area where mining giants and big companies are minting money and claiming to have undertaken a lot of social activities as part of their corporate social responsibility,” observed a team of civil rights activists who returned from Nagada on Tuesday. Claims of ‘”inclusive growth’, innumerable anti-poverty schemes , nutrition programme, free food etc fall flat at Nagada as no officer ever visits the village which remains inaccessible calling for a hardous trek – climb the hill, they remarked . The village still suffers from hunger, malnutrition, drinking water crisis etc. the tribals area leading subhuman life without drinking water, electricity, food and lack of road connectivity. The government is squarely responsible for failing to provide basic amenities to the tribals. Many families have not been provided ration card under National Food Security Act due to irregularities in survey conducted to identify eligible households. Secondly, as per guideline of Antodaya Anna Yojana, all Juang families deserve to get each 35 kg rice per month.” Most of Juang families have not been covered till date,” said the rights activists led by Mr Pradip Pradhan, member of the advisory group of NHRC on right to food, Sudhir Mohanty, advocate, Odisha High Court, Mr Kalandi Mallik, Mr Sanjay Sahu, Mr Debenbdra Kumar Rout, who formed the fact finding team. The tribals walk for over 10 km to get any service or benefit under any scheme, they are unable to carry their sick children to hospital for treatment. They spend one day ( Rs.200 labour wage per day) to get Rs.300 pension amount under Old Age Pension Scheme. Almost all development programme and food security programme like ICDS, MDM, PDS, NREGA, Indira Awas Yojana, Biju Pucca Ghara Yojana, forest development programme, agricultural and horticultural programme etc. are not implemented in the area. (The Statewsman 20/7/16)

 

WOMEN

18. Sexual harassment case against Delhi’s ex-chief secretary (8)

New Delhi: A case of sexual harassment was registered against former Chief Secretary Omesh Saigal on Saturday after a complaint of a 52-year-old woman was forwarded to the Delhi Police by the Delhi Commission for Women. Saigal has termed the charge “false”.”We have registered a case against Omesh Saigal under Section 354 (Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the Indian Penal Code,” Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (South), Nupur Prasad told IANS. She said that the alleged incident took place on June 18, when the women went for swimming in pool of the Panchshila club, of which Saigal is also president, in south Delhi. In her complaint, she mentioned that the accused blocked her way while she was swimming. The complainant, who approached the DCW on June 23, claimed that he had on earlier occasions also deliberately blocked her way while swimming which led her into arguments with him. DCW chief Swati Maliwal took strong note of the suspension of complainant and her husband’s club membership. “Instead of forwarding the complaint to the Local Complaints Committee under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Work Place Act, 2013, the complaint was heard by a sub-committee set up by the management committee of the club. Also, subsequently, in blatant disregard of the act, the club membership of the complainant and her husband was suspended,” the DCW said in a notice to the club. Saigal meanwhile told IANS: “Charges against me are absolutely false.” “I have also filed a defamation case against the woman in Saket court and a notice was served to her on June 22,” he added. (Business Standard 2/7/16)

19. Anti-female foeticide law not effective enough? (8)

Imphal, July 03 2016: The Govern-ment of Manipur is still unable to implement the Pre-Con-ception and the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Pro-hibition of Sex Selection) Act 1994 effectively in the State. It has been reported that the most common device used in committing female foeticide is ultrasound machine although it is intended to serve as a pre-natal diagnostic technique. An ultrasound machine can determine whether a foetus is a male or a female. RIMS Department of Gynaecology, Head Dr Ranjit said that sex of a foetus can be determined 18 months after conception. Majority of the medical professionals have by and large accepted that ultrasound machine is most widely used in committing female foeticide. The Pre-Conception and the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act 1994 lays special emphasis on use of ultrasound machines by gynaecologists, particularly in private clinics and hospitals. Under the Act, all Government hospitals, private hos- pitals and clinics should get themselves registered with the Family Welfare Department for using ultrasound machines and they should send reports for every case. The reports should be in the format prescribed by Family Welfare Department and they should be accompanied with a declaration from patients that they have no intention to determine sex of foetuses and another declaration from consultant doctors that they never disclose the sexes of foetuses to their patients. To look into this matter, one PNDT cell has been opened at Family Welfare Department. After receiving certificate for installing ultrasound machines, the same machines should be used by doctors/medical professionals who have completed MD in Radio Diagnostics or Diploma in Radio Diagnostics or three to nine months course on Radio Diagnostics and Gynaecologists who possess ultrasound experience certificate of registration. All hospitals/clinics should display sign boards/banner clearly embossed with the words ‘Sex determination is not done here’. Altogether 107 private hospitals, clinics and Government hospitals including RIMS and JNIMS have been registered at the PNDT Cell for using ultrasound machines. Dr Arun of PNDT Cell told The Sangai Express that maximum efforts are being invested to get all ultrasound machine users registered. However, not all registered hospitals/clinics send reports of using ultrasound machines. Efforts are also on to make all ultrasound machines immobile, rather than being portable, Dr Arun said. Non-compliance with the Pre-Conception and the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act 1994 entails a jail term of three years and a fine of Rs 10,000 .(E-Pao 3/7/16)

20. Khap bans mobile use by minor girls to protect them from sexual exploitation (8)

Agra: After a video showing a 15-year-old girl being forced to strip by her school director was widely circulated on WhatsApp, a khap panchayat in Etah district has banned the use of mobile phones by girls below 18 years of age. The diktat was issued in a gathering of around 4,000 people by a Lodhi Rajput community panchayat in Bhilaipur village and was seen as a precautionary measure to protect girls from sexual abuse or exploitation. “It was a unanimous decision by Lodhi Rajputs. There will be a complete ban on mobile use by minor girls as these devices are corrupting them. Our girls are often trapped and exploited by men from a particular community which has the backing of a powerful political party in the state,” Ramsewak Pehelwan, one of the community leaders, told TOI. On June 30, Jitendar Singh Yadav, director of Sri Krishna Higher Senior Secondary School, allegedly leaked an explicit video of one of his girl students after she refused to have sex with him anymore. In the video, Yadav is seen forcing the minor to strip. “After last week’s incident, the panchayat has also decided to ensure that no child from the community will be studying in Yadav’s school. We are making list of schools where such incidents have taken place but have not been reported. There are at least 20 girls from our community who have been sexually exploited by their school teachers and administrators,” Pehelwan said. Meanwhile, Jitendar Singh Yadav, who was reported to be absconding after the incident, has been arrested by Etah police and has been booked under IPC’s Section 376 (punishment for rape), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) and under the POCSO Act. “We haven’t received any complaint about the khap panchayat’s dictate and will look into the matter if we are approached by members of the community,” station officer, Baghwala police station, Anup Bharti told TOI. (Times of India 4/7/16)

21. 47-year-old law can help distressed women in NRI marriages: Law Ministry (8)

NEW DELHI: A law enacted in 1969 offers a ray of hope for distressed women facing harassment in NRI marriages, a Parliamentary panel has been told. The Rajya Sabha Committee of Petitions was on Friday told by the Law Ministry that the Foreign Marriage Act, 1969 has provisions to help women married to NRIs facing problems abroad, a panel member said. In most of the cases reported in media, the husband is already married and marries again in India. In certain cases, the husband marries another woman abroad and abandons his first wife. Abuse for dowry is another problem Indian women face after marrying NRIs. The committee had met to hear top officials of the Home Ministry and the Law Ministry on a petition “praying for solution of the problems arising out of marriage of Indian women with Non-Resident Indians”.Members who attended the meeting said most people are not aware of existence of such a law. The law was enacted “to make provision relating to marriages of citizens of India outside India.” One of the key clauses is Section 14 which states that whenever a marriage is solemnized under the law, the marriage officer will have to certify it in the Marriage Certificate Book which will be signed by the parties to the marriage and three witnesses. The certificate will be “deemed to be the conclusive evidence of the fact that a marriage under this Act has been solemnized, and that all formalities respecting the residence of the party concurred previous to the marriage and the signature of witnesses have been complied with.” The law also provides for ‘matrimonial relief’ for spouse. Sources said while various personal laws in the country can also apply, marriages solemnised under the Foreign Marriage Act will be governed by that law. The government, meanwhile, has decided to set up a committee to formulate a standard operating procedure (SOP) to be followed while dealing with cases of NRI men abandoning their wives, after the Women and Child Development Ministry received several such complaints.Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi had recently met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and requested her to constitute a joint committee to develop an SOP. Once the SOP has been prepared, it will be shared with various Indian diplomatic missions abroad. (Times of India 10/7/16)

22. Centre lays down new rules, bans dress code for women in varsities (8)

New Delhi: The Centre has banned imposition of “discriminatory rules” against women students, like dress code, on the pretext of their safety in higher educational institutions. In a new set of regulations for dealing with cases of sexual harassment of women students and employees on campuses, the Centre has also restricted all higher educational institutions from imposing two different sets of hostel rules for men and women students. The provisions, recently notified by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), separately, are binding on the universities and colleges affiliated to the two regulatory bodies. Any violation of the regulations may lead to withdrawal of recognition granted by the two bodies. “Concern for the safety of women students must not be cited to impose discriminatory rules for women in hostels as compared to male students. Campus safety policies should not result in securitisation, such as over monitoring or policing or curtailing the freedom of movement, especially for women employees and students (sic),” stipulates UGC and AICTE regulations. The regulations providing restriction on over monitoring and policing of women students and employees in university and college campuses assumes significance as several higher educational institutions have imposed discriminatory rules against women in absence of such clear cut provisions. A few months ago, the Hindu College–affiliated to the Delhi University–imposed a dress code for women students, asking them to wear clothes as per the “normal norm of society” in common areas of the campus. The college administration, however, had to withdraw the dress code as it stoked a huge controversy leading to protest by students. A UGC official said: “The regulations have been formulated keeping in view the trends in the higher educational institutions. There are often reports about universities over imposing discriminatory rules for women. It is the responsibility of the institutions to ensure safety of women in the campus. But this does not mean you curtail their freedom.” (Deccan Herald 11/7/16)

23. World Population Day: Women’s college girls call for gender equality (8)

Patna: Eco Task Force, the green wing of Patna Women’s College, on Monday organised a poster exhibition based on themes like population control and gender equality, role of women in population control and problems of teenage girls. The exhibition, organised to mark the World Population Day, had posters showcasing the problems faced by fairer sex like depression and eve teasing. The programme was inaugurated by Dr Sister M Reema AC, assistant professor at the psychology department. T Divya of BCom third year won the first prize followed by her classmate Rikoo Srivastav who bagged the second prize and Pallavi Kumari and Anamika, who jointly won the third prize. Consolation prizes were given to Arti Kumari, Jagriti Singh and Apoorva Shishodia. Lecture on family planning: Population Research Centre of Patna University’s statistics department organised a lecture to mark the World Population Day on Monday. The theme of the lecture was “Issues of the world population and the present family planning scenario in India”. Citing research works around the globe, joint director of the centre Dr Dilip Kumar said the religious profile of the world was changing rapidly. He also spoke on major issues affecting the implementation of family planning programme in India.NIOS extends admission date: National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) has extended the dates of admission in stream two for the last time on the request of students. Regional director of NIOS Sanjay Kumar Sinha said the last date for enrolment has been extended up to July 15 by the chairman of NIOS. Earlier, the admission process was to be over by June 30. PMCH function: PMCH’s department of orthopaedics in association with Bihar Orthopaedic Association on Monday decided to observe 2016-17 as year of knee. Dr Vishwendra Kumar Sinha, head of orthopaedic department, PMCH, said five seminars on knee will be organised during the year. (Times of India 12/7/16)

24. Sexual harassment victim can take three months’ leave (8)

New Delhi: A woman employee who has faced sexual harassment at the workplace can take leave up to three months during the pendency of the inquiry into the complaint. DH file photo. For representation purpose A woman employee who has faced sexual harassment at the workplace can take leave up to three months during the pendency of the inquiry into the complaint, the government said on Thursday. This special leave is in addition to the leave she is otherwise entitled to. “The leave so granted to the aggrieved woman under this rule shall not be debited against the leave account,” the latest office memorandum said. The Department of Personnel and Training has issued the office memorandum to announce the insertion of the new rule on the special leave connected with inquiry on sexual harassment in the Central Civil Services (Leave) Rules, 1972. “Leave up to a maximum of 90 days may be granted to an aggrieved female government servant on the recommendation of the internal committee or local committee, as the case may be, during the pendency of inquiry under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013,” the rule said. A senior official said this would give the victim time to come to terms with the trauma following the incident. It will also give the employee an option not to encounter the accused in office. Earlier the problem  was that the employee had to take leave if she wanted to skip office after filing the complaint. The official said this is part of the pro-women initiatives of the government. “We need to help them come out of the trauma. Such initiatives will send a message to women employees that the government is serious and they need not fear anything,” the official added. (Deccan Herald 14/7/16)

25. Violence against women on the rise in state (8)

Guwahati: The latest official figures from Assam Police on violence against women in the state are alarming. An average of 20 cases of ‘cruelty by husband’ were registered daily in the first three months of this year. The period saw 1,855 cases of cruelty by husband registered in all, according to Assam Police records. The number of cases of domestic violence is the highest among all categories of cases of crime against women in the state since 2005. “From 2005 to March 2016, at least 56,896 cases of cruelty by husbands were registered in the state,” records stated. The number of cases in the category has been on the rise. “Around 2,200 cases of cruelty by husbands were registered in 2005. By 2015, this had risen to 9,553. Growing awareness about women’s rights has also encouraged more women to come out and file cases against atrocities by their husbands,” a state police official said, citing the records. A recent study by a local NGO, North East Networks (NEN), working for women’s rights had also drawn attention to the horrifying situation in the state’s rural areas. It found that 83.7% women were physically abused by family members, husbands or employers. The study also found that 34.1% women were forced into sexual intercourse. Besides undergoing physical abuse, women in rural Assam have been found to be facing verbal abuse by their husbands or in-laws for not bearing a child, especially a male child. “The pathetic reality is that women are just not safe and secure anywhere,” said a domestic violence victim. Most cases were reportedly registered in the districts of Golaghat, Jorhat, Sivasagar, Tinsukia, Darrang, Udalguri, Kokrajhar and Sonitpur. An average of 20 cases of ‘cruelty by husband’ were registered daily in the first three months of this yearThe period saw 1,855 cases of cruelty by husband registered in all, according to Assam Police records (Times of India 19/7/16)

 

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

26. 10 child workers rescued in Surat (14)

Surat: Ten child labourers were rescued by a task force of the labour department from two textile markets located on city’s Ring Road on Wednesday. Official sources said the child labourers were rescued from the textile shops, where they were employed for organizing and packing saris in boxes on job work. All the rescued children hail from Rajasthan and are below 14 years of age. Official sources said the labour department’s task force personnel led by assistant labour commissioner Ashish Gandhi were on a routine survey operation in the textile market. During the operation, the task force team found child labourers at New T.T Market and Shiv Shakti Textile Market on Ring Road. The child workers were made to sit on the floor, beside the sari stacks and boxes and organize and pack saris in the boxes. “The child labourers were caught during the routine operation by the department. Due to frequent raids in the textile markets, the contractors and traders had shifted their illegal activity of employing child labourers to the residential societies in the surrounding areas. The contractors take the residential houses on rent for running the packaging unit employing the child labourers,” said assistant labour commissioner Ashish Gandhi. (Times of India 1/7/16)

27. Child rights commission to rehabilitate tortured boys (14)

Bengaluru: Three boys – all under 14 years – who were accused of shop-lifting in Hoskote and brutally assaulted by a shopkeeper and his associates on June 30 will be admitted to a boarding school by the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) even as the police arrested three more persons in connection with the incident. After meeting the victims and their parents on Monday, Commission Chairperson Kripa Amar Alva told The Hindu that the parents have consented to the idea of admitting the children to a boarding school. “I have counselled the boys. Two of the boys are labourers while one is studying in 8 standard,” Ms. Alva said, adding that the commission will rehabilitate them. The victims narrated their ordeal and showed bruises and injury marks on their hands due to electric shocks administered to them. Unable to bear the beatings, they fell unconscious , but the accused sprinkled water to wake them and beat them again. They were allegedly tortured for over four hours. The commission has summoned the Hoskote police and submit a detailed report based on which necessary action would be taken. On Sunday night, the Hoskote police arrested Nooruddin, Asif and Abdul in connection with the incident. The total number of arrests has gone up to seven. The police said the accused abducted the three boys, took them to their shop and administered electric shocks. The three minors were later taken in a car to an isolated place where they were stripped and beaten up mercilessly. The accused had recorded the torture on their mobile phones and circulated the same as a warning against shop-lifting. (The Hindu 5/7/16)

28. Children turn policy makers, draft Guwahati Declaration (14)

PUDUCHERRY: Policy decisions relating to protection of children are no more an expertise of adults. Children are taking active part in deciding the strategies to protect themselves. For the first time, four children from Puducherry were part of a historical consultative meeting that drafted the Guwahati Declaration of Children. The children, from 11 states after having a ‘National level Consultation on Ending Violence against Children’ in Guwahati on June 21 and 22, discussed various issues of violence affecting the well-being of children and arrived at various demands. Nearly 35 children attended this meet. Two children from Anbalayam Trust for socio-economic empowerment of rural women and children and two special children from Satya Special School participated in the meeting. Fifteen-year-old Kavya from Anbalayam Trust said that they discussed five different issues including child labour, child trafficking, child marriage, child sexual abuse and corporal punishment. She added that they discussed how a child is affected and what action should be taken by the parents or government. Eighteen-year-old Subramani Anil added that the participants wanted a Children’s Group to be formed to raise awareness to stop child labour and motivate them to go to school. Fourteen-year-old Gautam added that people should be aware that corporal punishment is an offence. Thirteen-year-old Srinivasan from Satya Special School also took part. All the four children talked about the different issues affecting children and the demands they have put together in the Guwahati Declaration of Children. Besides categorising the issues where intervention was required, the children identified the stakeholders and explained their roles in each of the five issues faced by children. The stakeholders include children, their family, society, non-governmental organisations and government. The National Consultation on Ending Violence against Children was organised by the National Action and Coordinating Group . “National Action and Coordinating Group (NACG) is a parallel body to ‘South Asia Initiative for Ending Violence against Children’ (SAIEVAC). SAIEVAC is the apex body of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) created with a vision that all children, girls and boys, throughout South Asia enjoy their right to an environment free from all forms of violence, abuse, exploitation, neglect and discrimination,” said P. Joseph Victor Raj, Director, HOPE Puducherry. The purpose of NACG is to strengthen inter-agency work including the governments and children groups to end violence against children. NACG is composed of UN agencies, multi-lateral and bi-lateral agencies, NGOs, civil society organisations, children and young people’s group. P. Joseph Victor Raj, Director, HOPE Puducherry, is one of the 12 National Executive Members of NACG India. (The Hindu 6/7/16)

29. Child marriage rampant in district (14)

Nashik: The district stands fourth in the list of the maximum number of child marriages reported in the state, according to the data procured from Childline, an NGO that works towards the rights and welfare of needy children. In 2015-16, Childline recorded the maximum number of child marriages, 42, in Ahmednagar, followed by 26 in Beed, 17 in Pune and 16 in Nashik. To rein in the widespread illegal practice, commissioner for woman and child welfare department K M Nagargoje recently held a video conference with the departments and ordered them to work relentlessly to make the state free of child marriage. The commissioner asked the department heads to set up prabhag and gram samitis at city and village levels with extensive awareness campaigns. Child marriage is a human rights violation. Despite laws against it, the practice remains widespread, in part because of persistent poverty and gender inequality. Pravin Aher, coordinator of Childline, Nashik, said that the NGO had been successful in preventing 12 child marriages in the district last one year. “On an average, we get 12-14 tip-offs on child marriages every year. We have put up boards in every community hall and lawn informing people about the disadvantages of child marriage, taking permission from the district collector for the purpose. We had undertaken this activity even before the commissioner directed the departments to initiate such an awareness campaign,” said Aher. In April alone, the peak of wedding season, Childline prevented seven child marriages within a fortnight. Besides, village child protection committees have been established in 1,138 of the 1,161 villages across the district to help curb child marriages. As many as 1,000 anganwadi sevikas have also been trained to handle such situations. District women and child development officer Devendra Raut said, “Following the directions of the women and child development commissioner to make the state completely free of child marriages, we instructed Childline and the district child protection officer to keep a check on the illegal practice. We also asked the gram sevak, protection officer and anganwadi sevikas to inform us if they came across any child marriage case.” … (Times of India 10/7/16)

30. Rights group: Afghan government fails to protect children (14)

KABUL: A leading international rights group said Thursday that an estimated quarter of all Afghan children work for a living yet the government fails to protect them from injury, death or exploitation. Human Rights Watch said children in Afghanistan work long hours for little or no pay, in labor-intensive industries, including carpet-weaving, brick-making, mining, metal work and farming. Many are forced to leave school early and are driven to hazardous work by extreme poverty, according to a report released by the New York-based group. HRW noted that Afghanistan’s labor law bans children under 14 from work and that Afghanistan has ratified international treaties on child labor. Still, Afghan authorities are failing to protect “tens of thousands of children, some as young as 5, from hazardous conditions,” the report said. HRW said 25 percent of Afghan children aged between 5 and 14 years work, as do 22 percent of those aged between 12 and 14 years. The report also cited a 2013 survey by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission that puts “the number of children working ‘in one way or another’ at 52 percent.” “Thousands of Afghan children risk their health and safety every day to put food on the family table,” said Phelim Kine, the HRW deputy Asia director. In 2014, the Afghan government listed 19 hazardous occupations banned for children but has “failed to enforce its labor laws through penalties for violators” and has had no strategy for ending exploitative labor practices, HRW said. It called on Kabul to abide by its legal obligations to end child labor, and on the country’s foreign backers “to take urgent steps to protect children” in Afghanistan from dangerous working conditions. (New Indian Exprexss 14/7/16)

31. Report: link between child marriage and dropouts (14)

BENGALURU: A report on child marriage brought out by the NGO, Samajika Parivarthana Janandolana, showed that 49 per cent of child brides interviewed did not have access to high school, and as a result were forced to discontinue their education. It showed that 91 per cent of the respondents, who had dropped out of school before the tenth standard, were married by the age of 16. Only 3 per cent of respondents continued their studies after marriage. The preliminary report on child marriage, conducted in association with the NGO Child Rights and You, examines socio-economic causes and effects of child marriage in Karnataka, based on interviews with 130 child brides. The report infers that poverty, endorsement of child marriage by religious authorities, and patriarchal traditions such as dowry demands are primarily to blame for early marriages. The child marriage report also points to education as the “key to breaking this vicious cycle”, suggesting a correlation between teenage dropout rates and child marriage. The report recommends that Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009 be revised to cater to girls between the ages of 15 and 18. (The Hindu 15/7/16)

32. RS passes bill prohibiting employment of children below 14 (14)

New Delhi, Jul 19 () Rajya Sabha today passed a bill which prohibits employment of children below 14 years in all occupations or processes except where the child helps his family, with the provision for imprisonment up to two years for any violation. ‘The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill’ makes employment of children below 14 years as cognizable offence for employers and provides for penalty for parents. The Bill, which was almost unanimously passed by voice vote, defines children between 14-18 years as adolescents and lays down that they should not be employed in any hazardous occupations and processes. It provides for enhanced punishment for violators. The penalty for employing a child has been increased to imprisonment between 6 months and two years (from 3 months to one year) or a fine of Rs 20,000 to Rs 50,000 (from Rs 10,000-20,000) or both. The second time offence will attract imprisonment of one year to three years from the earlier 6 months and two years. According to provisions of the Bill, no child should be employed in any occupation or process except where he or she helps his family after school hours or helps his family in fields, home based work, forest gathering or attends technical institutions during vacations for the purpose of learning. Hailing the development as a “historic” step, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said it is aimed at “total abolition of child labour”.Explaining the exception, Dattatreya said that ‘family’ has been exempted as the relationship between employer and employee does not exist and that a law should be framed keeping in mind the ground realities as well as ensuring that it is implementable. (Times of India 19/7/16)

33. Child Rights Commission against Saturday classes in CBSE schools (14)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The State Child Rights Commission on Tuesday directed the CBSE schools against conducting classes on Saturdays for students of Standard I to V. Commission chairperson Sobha Koshy and member J Sandhya directed the CBSE Regional Officer to issue a strict order in this regard. The Commission’s directive was in response to the complaint that a school in the Pathanamthitta district was conducting regular classes for standard I students on Saturdays. “As per the Right to Education Act, students up to the  standard  V should  have 200 working days. Students of standard VI to VIII should have 220 working days. In view of this, the Central schools and state government schools have  already made arrangements limiting the classes to the stipulated days,” the Commission observed.  It said that it was in view of the various physical and mental needs that the school working days were stipulated according to the Rights to Education Act. The  panel also pointed out that the schools cannot ignore such directives. It has asked the CBSE to file an action taken report by August 30. (New Indian Express 20/7/16)

 

MINORITIES – GENERAL

34. Centre asks Law Commission to examine uniform civil code issue (7)

New Delhi: Indicating need for wider consultation before taking a call on a uniform civil code, the government has asked the Law Commission to examine the issue. The Law Ministry’s Department of Legal Affairs has also asked the Commission to submit a report regarding the issue. Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda had earlier said that the issue could be referred to the Law Commission for examination. Gowda had said “wider consultations” will be held with various personal law boards and other stakeholders to evolve a consensus and the process may take some time. “Even the Preamble of our Constitution and Article 44 of the Constitution do say that there should be a Uniform Civil Code. It needs to have a wider consultation,” he had said. A decision “cannot be done in a day or two. It will take its own time”, Gowda had said. Implementation of a common code is part of the BJP’s election manifesto. The move asking the law panel to examine the issue assumes significance as the Supreme Court had recently said it would prefer a wider debate, in public as well as in court, before taking a decision on the constitutional validity of ‘triple talaq’, which many complain is abused by Muslim men to arbitrarily divorce their wives. (Asian Age 1/7/16)

35. Reform must be logic for UCC, not bigotry (7)

About eight months after the Supreme Court sought the Modi government’s view on whether it proposed to make any moves in the direction of having a uniform civil code (UCC), the government has asked the Law Commission of India to present a report on the issue. With the crucial Uttar Pradesh Assembly election looming large, the communal angle has been underlined by some since the BJP and its precursor, the Jana Sangh, were always insistent on opening up the Muslim personal law space under the guise of common laws for all. But there is not a little hypocrisy here. Social and political groups inclined toward the play of Hindu religion in today’s politics, and Hindu traditionalists, had strongly resisted the Hindu Code Bill (enshrining many aspects of UCC) which sought to give Hindu women a fair and equal deal. President Rajendra Prasad was opposed while Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was a strong proponent, as was law minister B.R. Ambedkar. The ruling Congress Party was divided. Eventually only a diluted version could be passed in Parliament. Seeing this state of affairs, the Nehru government, in spite of energetic pro-Hindu women recommendations of the B.N. Rau Committee coming down from before 1947, could do little more than put UCC in the Directive Principles of State Policy chapter of the Constitution, which contains some pie-in-the-sky goals — such as making all people equal and the like, although the then PM was a UCC votary as he was moved by the condition of women in society. In today’s context the social battles in the UCC context concern Muslim personal laws in light of discussions on obnoxious notions such as “triple talaq” and several other practices in some Muslim communities that put down women. Hindu communalists of all political shades are delighted to be pointing a finger at the Muslims. While opposing them, liberal and Left opinion strongly values gender parity and laws to raise women’s status. Many leading gender-conscious voices among Muslims want this goal attained, but not within the UCC construct as this has lately become tainted by association with strident anti-Muslim demands of Hindu communalists. We certainly need a wider debate if we are to maintain the logic of secular politics in a very diverse land, rather than incline toward pandering to perceived religious sentiments and associated politics. There should also be recognition that many aspects of Muslim personal law are indeed progressive and equality-oriented. Perhaps the aim for now could be something parallel to the Hindu Code Bill for Muslim women (although Hindu women still labour under inequalities) with the support not just of Muslim women but other enlightened elements, while also looking to block adherence to the backward customs and practices of all communities across the territory of India. (Asian Age 2/7/16)

36. Government will stand firm: Madhav on Kashmir situation (7)

New Delhi: BJP leader Ram Madhav on Saturday asserted that an “uncompromising” fight against terrorism is important for Jammu and Kashmir’s development and government will stand firm “eruption or no eruption”, as violence broke out in the Valley after the killing of militant Burhan Wani.”We will always try, be it the state government or the central government, to work for peace and security of the common man of the Valley and also to create atmosphere for development of the state. An uncompromising fight against terrorism is part of it and important,” he later said. Madhav, a party general secretary, is the organisation’s pointsman for the state. Union Minister Jitendra Singh, who is MP from Udhampur, praised the security forces and appealed for peace saying all sections of society must come together in the fight against terrorism, regardless of their political ideology. “We are proud of our security forces. They have achieved a major success on the counter terrorism front”, Singh told reporters in Jammu. “The fight against terrorism is universal and it has to be fought collectively and all sections of society regardless of their ideology must come together and unitedly fight it,” he said. “We appeal for maintenance of peace. The fight against terrorism is collective and requires a united effort of all stake holders in J&K,” he added. On providing security at living places for minorities, including colonies of Kashmiri Pandit employees in the Valley, he said, “The protection and safety of these places is responsibility of the Government and society. They should be provided full security.” (Asian Age 9/7/16)

37. Najma Heptullah resigns, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi gets charge of minority affairs ministry (7)

NEW DELHI: Union ministers Najma Heptullah and Gowdara Mallikarjunappa Siddeshwara on Tuesday resigned from the Union council of ministers. Their resignations were accepted by the President. Minister of state Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has been given independent charge of ministry of minority affairs.Babul Supriyo has now been given the charge of the ministry of heavy industries and public enterprises. Supriyo has been relieved of the charge of minister of state in the ministry of urban development, and minister of state in the ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation. The resignations come a week after PM Modi carried out a major expansion and reshuffle of his Cabinet on July 5. The exercise saw induction of 19 new faces in the ministry and changes in key portfolios of several ministers. (Times of India 12/7/16)

38.  ‘Minorities denied benefits’ (7)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir government to respond to a plea alleging that benefits for minority communities are being channelled to the Muslim majority in the State. A Bench led by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur issued notice to the Ministry of Minority Affairs of Jammu and Kashmir, National Minority Commission among others on the petition seeking the setting up of a State Minority Commission. The court, however, refused to restrain authorities from disbursing benefits to any community in the State and asked the parties to respond to the issue within four weeks. The apex court was hearing a PIL plea by Jammu-based advocate Ankur Sharma who alleged that the rights of religious and linguistic ‘minorities’ in the State are being “siphoned off illegally and arbitrarily” due to extension of benefits to unqualified sections of the population. “Communities which are eligible to be notified as minorities, were not awarded their due share of scholarship owing to their non-identification as minorities,” the petition said. (The Hindu 13/7/16)

39. Minorities should feel environment of trust, development:Naqvi (7)

New Delhi, Jul 14 () Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi today said there was a need to ensure that minority communities also feel the “environment of trust and development” created by the Modi government and asked officials to reach the benefits of development. “There is a need to ensure minority communities also feel environment of trust and development created by the Narendra Modi government in all sectors. “Along with framing development policies on paper and computer, the officials should also reach out to ground-level to fulfil government’s commitment towards empowerment of the poor,” the Minority Affairs Minister was quoted as saying in a statement during a meeting of senior officials of his ministry. Naqvi said he will take stock of how the schemes aimed at socio-economic-educational empowerment of minorities are being executed on ground after conclusion of forthcoming monsoon session of Parliament. “The Prime Minister has provided a blueprint for this and we have to construct a strong structure so that environment of prosperity and safety among the poor can be ensured and the poor can be made a part of the mainstream development process,” he added. Naqvi also asked officials to implement Centre’s schemes in coordination with states. He asserted that there is no shortage of funds for welfare of minorities, but insisted the money should be spent “with honesty” so that last person in the society gets the benefits of development. “We will keep a close eye on implementation of all welfare schemes to ensure their proper implementation at grassroots level. Officials have a crucial role to play in this regard,” he said. Naqvi said providing better education and employment opportunities to minorities, particularly youths, figures high on his agenda. “We will have to treat the issue of uplift of minorities as a duty and not a formality,” he added. Without naming any party, Naqvi said minorities were left behind as “only formalities were completed in the name of their development” over several decades and stressed on the need for empowering them with “complete honesty”. (Times of India 14/7/16)

40. Minorities Welfare Department amends Shaadi Mubarak rules (7)

HYDERABAD: To deal with lacunae and plug holes in the implementation of one its flagship schemes, the Minorities Welfare Department has amended certain procedures with regards the Shaadi Mubarak scheme. The department has now made it clear that only tahsildars will verify and process applications. In the past, it was the executive directors of the Telangana State Minorities Finance Corporation. The list of beneficiaries will now be approved or countersigned by the concerned legislator. This list will then be sent district minorities welfare officer after which pre-printed cheques will be handed over by the legislator. The department has made clear that these cheques should be disbursed at the mandal or taluq headquarters.The department has done away with the previous system of online transfer of money into the bank account of the beneficiary. Instead, a crossed cheque in the name of the bride’s mother will be issued. (Times of India 18/7/16)

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

41. Muslim women campaign to end triple talaq curse in India (7)

MUMBAI: Just hours after Shagufta Sayyd was married, her new husband told her he was having a relationship with another woman. He was clear the two would have no future, the 21-year-old Sayyd said. He was only marrying her to please his mother. “He said, ‘no, I don’t want to keep you,’” she said. “So he said, divorce, divorce, divorce, three times, and that was it.” Sayyd still insists on using her husband’s surname, until she can end the marriage officially in a court. But like many other women from India’s large Sunni Muslim minority, her fate and status are governed by Muslim Personal Law that follows the tenets of the Islamic faith, as interpreted by local imams and religious schools across the country. The so-called triple talaq, or instant divorce, has been banned in more than 20 Muslim countries, including neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh. But in India, the practice is allowed thanks to the country’s rules protecting Muslim, Christian and Hindu communities following religious law. Most of the 170 million Muslims in India are Sunnis governed by Muslim Personal Law for family matters and disputes. Those laws include allowing men to divorce their wives by simply uttering the word “talaq,” or divorce in Urdu, three times — and not necessarily consecutively, but at any time, and by any medium including telephone, text message or social media post.Some women are fed up with what they say is an archaic and patriarchal rule that too often leaves them destitute. Muslim women do not have the same right, and those left by their husbands have no claim to alimony though they can collect a small payment for three months after divorce. “They have been divorced by speed post, by sending out letters. Some have just simply said “talaq” three times and the divorce has happened,” Noorjehan Safia Niaz, co-founder of Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, or the Indian Muslim Women’s Movement. The movement has been fighting for equal laws for Muslim women for six years. “There are cases where women don’t even know that they’ve been divorced,” Niaz said. “The children are without any support. So, it has become very convenient for Muslim men to just say talaq thrice and it is just so easy for him to get the woman out of his life.” Legal experts say the practice is unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court has been pushing for uniformity in laws. In 1985, the top court ruled ordered a man to pay alimony to his elderly wife, after verbally divorcing and abandoning her. … (The Economic Times 3/7/16)

42. IUML opposes move for uniform civil code (7)

Expressing protest against the move of the Union government to implement a uniform civil code, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) on Saturday made it clear that it would soon team up with like-minded organisations and personalities in the country to project their apprehensions on the plan and win a favourable action. IUML secretary E.T. Mohammed Basheer, who explained the party’s stance on the issue at a press conference here, alleged that it was part of a communal agenda endorsed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Even the educational sector in the country was severely communalised with odd reforms and actions, he said. According to Mr. Basheer, the Union government was even reluctant to discuss the findings of the T.S.R. Subramanian committee on new education policy. “The BJP wanted to play communal card in all sectors with the hope that it will fetch them political gains,” he said. The IUML leader said a two-day national executive committee meeting of his party scheduled to commence in New Delhi on July 20 would discuss the concerns of all religious minorities on the uniform civil code and formulate a common opinion for joint action. “The IUML has already submitted a memorandum to the President with signatures of thousands of citizens demanding the removal of Article 44 (secure a uniform civil code) from the Directive Principles of the State policy to ensure justice for religious minorities,” he said. (The Hindu 3/7/16)

43. IS anti-Islamic, they are not Muslims, says Lucknow Imam (7)

Lucknow: Maulana Khalid Rashid Farangi Mahli, Imam of Aishbagh Eidgah in Lucknow, called the Islamic State (IS) as “anti-islamic” on the occasion of Eid on Thursday. He claimed that those who attack pious places like Madina in the month of Ramzan cannot call themselves “Islamic”. “The acts of IS are in no way in accordance to the preaching of Islam. They are anti-Islamic. They are not Muslims,” the Imam told The Indian Express. Condemning attacks in Bangladesh, including the one at the biggest Eid gathering in Sholakia on Thursday, Farangi Mahli said: “Attacks (happening) in the month of Ramzan, including one in the pious city of Medina. In most of these attacks, 90 per cent of the victims are Muslims. This does raise a serious question mark and requires an investigation.”He said: “Ramzan is the most pious month for Muslims and Mecca-Medina are considered the most pious cities… Kharab se kharab Musalman bhi kabhi aisa nahi karega (Even bad Muslims won’t do such a thing)… (Certain elements) are at work to defame Muslims and Islam, which should be investigated.” Farangi has appealed to the United Nations to identify those behind such conspiracies. The Aishbagh Eidgah, meanwhile, for the first time made arrangements for women to offer namaz on Eid. “This year, several controversies have surfaced concerning Muslims. First, there was a controversy regarding talaq… then on other issues, it was projected that ulemas were hurdles in the way of progress of Muslim women… The idea is to give a rest to all controversies,” said the Imam. (Indian Express 8/7/16)

44. BSP to field 100 Muslims in 2017 UP elections – Times of India (7)

BIJNOR: The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Saturday announced its decision to field five Muslim candidates out of eight assembly seats in Bijnor. Mayawati’s apparent attempt at combining Dalit-Muslim votes has sent the ruling Samajwadi Party into a tizzy. The SP, on the other hand, has only fielded four Muslim candidates for the district’s eight seats. Notably, BSP has tentatively decided to field over 100 Muslim candidates, its highest ever, in the 2017 polls – majority of them in the western Uttar Pradesh. Bijnor has a significant Muslim population. Many assembly segments here have more than a lakh Muslims and over 50,000 Dalit votes. In the last assembly elections, BSP had won four seats in the district while BJP and SP got two each.BSP’s Moradabad mandal coordinator Jitendra Sagar said, “The decision to field five Muslim candidates here was taken by party supremo Mayawati. It will surely benefit our party’s prospects in the 2017 polls.” According to a recent report, BSP has tentatively decided to field over 100 Muslim candidates, its highest ever, in the 2017 polls – majority of them in the western Uttar Pradesh.SP’s district president Anil Yadav, however, said, “BSP’s strategy will not impact our party. Our foundation is solid. Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav is working very well. Our party will retain power in the next polls.” (Times of India 10/7/16)

45. Muslim groups, NGOs rally around Zakir Naik (7)

Pune: Several Muslim groups, NGOs and citizens from the city have joined hands to support Dr Zakir Naik, whose speech reportedly inspired one of the five Bangladeshi militants involved in the July 1 terror attack in Dhaka. The Maharashtra Action Committee (MAC) and Kul Jamaat E Tanzeem held two separate meetings on Sunday in Kondhwa and Camp area of Pune, in which members of at least 25 organisations participated. On Tuesday evening, a joint meeting of members of all these organisations was conducted for deciding an action plan to raise support for Naik.Azar Tamboli, general secretary of the MAC, said, “We do have differences on certain issues with Zakir Naik, but the way he is being targeted now is wrong. There is no evidence about his involvement in any terror activities. Putting a ban on him is against the freedom of speech and expression. So we have decided to support him.”“The NSA says Wahhabi Islam is not good for India. This is a wrong statement. Majority of the Muslims follow Wahhabism, which does not promote terrorism. Comparing Sufism and Wahhabism is an attempt to create a divide between the Muslim community, which is already facing major problems, particularly on issues like terrorism. Many innocent Muslims were arrested by investigation agencies in terror cases. In such a scenario, we have decided during the meeting to run a campaign for uniting all Muslims,” he said. “We would also be gathering support from more NGOs and individuals, including the progressive socialist groups. We have spoken to retired Justice B G Kolse Patil for seeking his support. We are likely to stage a protest coming Friday against the media trial and false campaign against Naik. We would launch a massive campaign on social media too and awareness would be created in this regard within the Muslim community and even among non-Muslims,” he added. ….  (Indian Express 14/7/16)

46. Muslims facing worst ever challenge by ISIS, says Maulana Mahmood Madani (7)

NEW DELHI: Declaring that terrorism will not be tolerated, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (JUH) general secretary Maulana Mahmood Madani on Thursday said that the ISIS was inflicting massive harm upon Islam and the Muslim ummah. He was speaking at the Eid Milan reception which was attended by Vice-President M Hamid Ansari, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Ajit Doval NSA among other dignitaries. Madani said, “Although Eid Milan was an occasion to share our jubilation with each other, the current national and international scenario compelled us to share some concerns about the growing menace of terrorism that needs urgent response. Killing innocent people and spreading anarchy is against Islam. Jamiat representing the true spirit of Islam cannot tolerate any kind of terrorism and barbarism.” “Committing oppression in the name of Islam is a double crime which cannot be condoned,” Madani added while naming ISIS which is according to him “inflicting massive harm upon Islam and Muslim ummah, worst ever within the fourteen centuries of Islamic history”.Madani also expressed his resolve that he and his organisation will never allow ISIS to get its foothold in India and will launch all possible struggles against it. (Times of India 14/7/16)

47. 100 Muslims detained in Jharkhand for rallying in Zakir Naik’s support (7)

RANCHI: Around 100 people, mostly men, who organized a peaceful demonstration on Saturday at Patan in Sahebganj district, 530km from here, to back controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik who is at the center of a brewing controversy after Bangladesh asked India to probe his speeches which reportedly inspired a militant in Bangladesh, were detained by police. It was the second such demonstration for Zakir Naik, the last one was organized in Pakur on Wednesday. The participants of the demonstration were mostly locals who raised slogans in support of Naik and protested against the “media trials” of the Islamic fundamentalist. Organized by Hafiz Abdul Salim, the local representative of Popular Front of India, the march was passing through the local marketplace when police detained all the participants. Sahebganj SP P Murugan said the march was organized without district administration permission. “The demonstration had the potential to cause the breakdown of law and order and create tension. In a preventive move the demonstrators were detained,” said Murugan. Besides Zakir Naik slogans were also raised in support of AIMIM chief Assasuddin Owaisi. The protestors claimed that the central government was anti-Muslim and was trying to suppress country’s Muslim leaders. Situated in the north-east of Jharkhand Sahebganj and Pakur have a sizeable population of Muslims. The demonstrations in Pakur like Sahebganj’s were spontaneous. The demonstrators held a banner of the Popular Front of India emblazoned with the photograph of Zakir Naik. A senior police official claimed a possible clash between the pro Naik demonstrators and activists of ABVP was averted by the police’s timely intervention. “A group of ABVP activists arrived at the same spot where the Muslims were demonstrating but there was no clash because the demonstrators were detained and taken away,” SP said. … (Times of India 16/7/16)

48. Indian Muslim women defy tradition – and men – to be judges (7)

Mumbai: Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), an Indian Muslim women’s rights organisation, is training women to be qazis, or judges, a role traditionally reserved for men, amid growing demand for more representation for women. The organisation is training its first intake of 30 women in Quranic law, constitutional law and gender rights. The year-long programme aims to produce a steady stream of female qazis across India, its co-founder said.The Indian constitution allows Muslims, the country’s biggest religious minority, to regulate matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance through their own civil code. The qazi, usually a hereditary title, plays an important role by solemnising marriage and finalising divorce and settlements. “Traditionally, qazis have all been men, and their judgment has never been questioned, even if many are unfair to women,” said Zakia Soman, a co-founder of BMMA in Mumbai. “But it’s important to have women hear and represent women who are in a vulnerable position. Besides, there is no bar on women qazis as per the Quran,” she said. The move comes at a time of growing dissent against laws that activists say discriminate against Muslim women. A survey by BMMA last year showed more than 90 percent of Muslim women want to end the “triple talaq” divorce tradition and polygamy. Last month, the Supreme Court said it would examine how far it could interfere in Muslim laws, as it heard a plea to end the practice allowing Muslim men to divorce their wives by saying “talaq” three times. Muslims make up 13 percent of India’s 1.2 billion population, yet government data show they are among some of the most excluded and marginalised communities. The women being trained to be qazis are largely community workers and activists from states including Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Bihar, Soman said. There are some female qazis in Muslim-majority Malaysia and Indonesia. Women qazis in India can help prevent child marriage, ensure that a woman marries willingly, and that a divorce is only granted after a period of reconciliation, and with fair terms for the woman, Soman said. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board, a non-governmental institution that oversees the application of Muslim personal law in the country, has criticised the female qazis. “Women don’t have the right to be a qazi,” said Maulana Khalid Rashid Farangi Mahali, secretary of AIMPLB. “Besides, there is no need – there are enough men who are qazis. So it’s completely unnecessary,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. But female trainee Safia Akhtar said there was a need for women qazis. “There are many grave injustices against Muslim women, and we deserve a say in matters that concern us,” said Akhtar in the city of Bhopal. “If women can be prime ministers and pilots in this country, then why can’t we also be qazis?” (Indian Express 20/7/16)

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

49. Kerala church welcomes move towards Uniform Civil Code (7)

Kochi, July 3 (IANS) The Syro Malabar Catholic Church in Kerala on Sunday welcomed the Narendra Modi government’s pitch for a Uniform Civil Code in the country. Addressing reporters here, Cardinal Maran Mar George Alencherry said that he welcomes the decision of the central government to go ahead with it. “This should take place through discussions and a consensus should emerge as ours is a hugely diverse country,” said the Cardinal. The Uniform Civil Code is intended to replace personal laws based on the scriptures and customs of each major religious community in India with a common set governing every citizen. The Bharatiya Janata Party in its 2014 parliamentary election manifesto had promised the Uniform Civil Code. But Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Assembly and former Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala told reporters on Sunday that the Uniform Civil Code will spell the deathknell of the nation’s secular fabric. “With the upcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, this is a ploy, but this is going to place people on different decks. This is an agenda of the RSS that the BJP government is trying to implement and it will cause serious repercussions,” he said. But BJP’s state unit chief Kummanem Rajasekheran on Sunday said those who oppose the Uniform Civil Code are those who stand against the growth of the country. “It’s rather strange that some oppose even a discussion which is mooted on UCC. It appears that the Indian Union Muslim League is still living in the days of the Partition and it is unfortunate that the Congress party is supporting them. This is not meant to force the Hindu ideology on others,” said Rajasekheran in a press release issued in the state capital. (New Indian Express 3/7/16)

50. Is divorce granted by Church considered valid under Indian common law? (7)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today agreed to expedite hearing on a PIL to examine the issue whether divorce granted by a Church, set up under its personal law, could be considered valid under the Indian common law. A bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice D Y Chandrachud allowed an interim application moved for early hearing in the case after former Attorney General and senior advocate Soli Sorabjee, appearing for petitioner Clarence Pais, sought an urgent hearing. “The application for early hearing is allowed. Hearing of the appeal is expedited,” the bench said. Pais, an ex-president of a Catholic association in Karnataka, said when oral ‘triple talaq’ could get legal sanctity for granting divorce to Muslim couples, why could Canon law decrees not be made binding on courts of law. He had alleged that many Catholic Christians, who married after getting divorce from Christian courts, faced criminal charges of bigamy as such divorces are not recognised by the criminal and civil courts here. “It is reasonable that when the courts in India recognize dissolution of marriage (by pronouncing the word talaq three times) under Mohammedan Law which is personal law of the Muslims, the courts should also recognise for the purpose of dissolution of marriage Canon Law as the personal law of the Indian Catholics,” the plea had contended. The plea had contended that Canon Law is the personal law of the Catholics in the country and has to be applied and enforced by a criminal court while deciding a case under section 494 (bigamy) of the IPC. “This is also applicable for sanction of prosecution considered for alleged bigamy of a Catholic spouse who has married after obtaining a decree for nullity of the first marriage from the Ecclesiastical Tribunal (Christian court),” it said. The Centre, however, had opposed the plea saying Canon law could not be allowed to override Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872 and Divorce Act, 1869. “Since the power for dissolution of marriage has been vested in the court, there is no scope for any other authority including ecclesiastical tribunal to exercise power,” the government had said. (New Indian Express 4/7/16)

51. Catholic Bishops oppose Centre’s move on common civil code (7)

MADURAI: Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council has expressed fears over the Centre’s reported move to bring in a common civil code, which, it felt, will negate the country’s pluralism and diversity. In a statement issued here on Thursday, Rev. Antony Pappusamy, Archbishop of Madurai, council president, said that the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Sangh Parivar were attempting to create public opinion in favour of a common civil code after they found that two other issues in their agenda – construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya and repeal of Article 370 according special status to Jammu and Kashmir – did not get support.The council was of the view that if the common civil code sought to generalise rituals unique to a faith, the uniqueness of a religion itself would become questionable. The Archbishop said that the minorities need not have any apprehension over a common civil code if it was proposed by a secular government. But a common civil code put forth by a government which believed in cultural nationalism would only be a ‘Hindu civil code’ and hence unacceptable. The statement said that it was the responsibility of a government to foster the uniqueness of every religion and its symbols, and any attempt to negate them in the name of a common code would mean negation of democracy. (The Hindu 8/7/16)

52. Church-parish member row over burial space (7)

Thrissur: St Thomas Church at Engandiyur in Thrissur and the members of a Christian family under it have entered into a dispute following the claims of latter that they had booked in advance a burial space for their mother in the church cemetery. The dispute has invited public attention because of its similarities with the recent controversial decision of the Jacobite parish at Attamangalam near in Kumarakom, to refuse permission to bury the maternal grandmother of Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra, at the church cemetery. While the objection to the burial of Priyanka’s grandmother was due to disputes over her families allegiance to belief systems of the church, here the dispute is over the payment of fees to the burial space. According to the members Purathoor Kittan family they had booked a space near the tomb of their father Benny who died on April 4, 1972. “Our mother Thankamma Benny had then expressed the desire that she must also be buried next to his tomb, and that is why we had booked a space next to her husband’s tomb about 40 years back, after paying the required amount to the Church,” said her son Jojius Benny Kittan. Jojius said his sister Sheeba was also buried in the church cemetery after her death on October 1, 1967. He claimed the family have lost the receipt and the church authorities have refused to issue a duplicate saying they did not have any records. He said his mother who is now 84 and is ailing now, and the doctors have informed the family her condition is serious. “Anything may happen to her anytime, and her last wish may remain unfulfilled if the church authorities remain adamant,” Jojius said. According to him the church authorities were now demanding that the family can get a permanent tomb only after paying the fresh fees which is about Rs 1.5 lakh.  When contacted the Thrissur Archdiocese authorities said the claims of the family were totally wrong. “We have checked the records and there was no proof for their claims. If we conceded this claim we will be opening the floodgates of litigations because other may also come up with similar claims without any proof,” a spokesman for the Archdiocese said.  He said Archdiocese has informed the family that they can bury their mother in the church cemetery just like others, even though they had migrated from Engandiyur. But this will be permitted if they bring a letter of consent from the priest of the parish where they are staying now. If they wanted to a permanent tomb they will have to pay the regular fees, the spokesman said. (Times of India 9/7/16)

53. Charges of denying funeral rites false, says Archbishop (7)

Bengaluru: Archbishop of Bengaluru Bernard Moras termed as a blatant lie the allegations of Catholic Christian Religious Rights’ Forum that they were denied permission to hold funeral rites on Monday. “The Archdiocese had made alternative arrangements to attend to the spiritual needs of the church members in the neighbouring church (St James Church, Mariyappanapalya), ever since St Paul the Hermit Church was shut down,” the archbishop said. “The agitators, however, are spreading false propaganda that the neighbouring church of St James is refusing funeral rites by housing the body of a 65-year-old Catholic woman in the canonically shut down Church of St Paul the Hermit Church in Vishwanatha Nagenahalli,” he said. “The agitators are making highly insensitive statements disturbing the peace in the community,” he said in a press release. Moras said he ordered the closure of St Paul the Hermit Church as it was binding upon him by the universal Catholic Church Law (Canon Law) and in full justification of his office as Archbishop of Bangalore Archdiocese. “Erecting of statue, bust or image of any person who is not declared ‘saint’ or ‘blessed’ is not allowed within the church premises. Even after warning, a bust of deceased Bangalore Archdiocesan priest C Selvaraj was unlawfully installed in the church violating Canonical regulations,” he mentioned. (Deccan Herald 13/7/16)

54. Miscreants set church door afire in Karnataka (7)

Tumakuru: Unidentified miscreants attacked a church in Tumakuru on Thursday morning, setting the door on fire. Police said the miscreants poured petrol on the main door of Tomlinson Church in Siragate and set it ablaze. Teams have been formed to trace the culprits, said SP Karthik Reddy.Philip, a church member, said this is the first time the church has been attacked. “We have been coming here to pray for 60 years. The church is surrounded by peace-loving citizens. We don’t restrict anyone from entering. In the morning, residents living in the vicinity come to walk in the premises,” he said. The church recently celebrated its 86th anniversary. Deputy commissioner Mohan Raj visited the church and promised to provide security. He said damage control will be done. “We won’t allow such incidents to happen. We will take steps to avoid them,” he said. Tumakuru police have registered a case. (Times of India 15/7/16)

55. Prayers answered: No more a long wait for Christian divorce (7)

NEW DELHI: The government plans to make Christian divorce laws more women-friendly by reducing the period of separation required from two years to one. The Prime Minister’s Office is consulting a wide range of stakeholders before giving it the nod. The Divorce (Amendment) Bill 2016 is likely to be introduced in the Winter Session of parliament, sources told The Sunday Standard. A draft cabinet note has been prepared on the bill, which seeks to amend the Divorce Act 1869, to bring Christian women at par with other communities like Hindus and Parsis. The note has been circulated to all ministries, including Law and Justice, Home and Women and Child Development. The British era ‘Divorce Act of 1869’ is an Act to amend the law relating to divorce and matrimonial issues of Christians. It is applicable to the whole of India except Jammu and Kashmir. Christians file for divorce under Section 10 A (1) of the Divorce Act, which prescribes that a petition for dissolution of marriage by mutual consent can be presented before a court only after a judicial separation of two years. The Supreme Court had last year questioned why Christian women should stay separated for two years when others only wait for a year. “It does not make sense to us. It is a pure question of law and you (government) should have acted on your own,” the court had observed. In the past, the Law Commission has recommended amendments to the Act to make it more women-friendly. (The Sunday Standard 17/7/16)

56. Christians injured in clash in Chhattisgarh (7)

RAIPUR: Tension cropped up at a village in Dhamtari district of Chhattisgarh after a group of people attacked Christians, reportedly injuring two of them late on Sunday evening. Chhattisgarh Christian association president Arun Pannalal told TOI that the incident took place at village Kamarud where a group of people stormed a house and took away three people and assaulted them. While two of them were later found injured, there is no information about the whereabouts of another person so far. Inspector General of police (Raipur range) Pradeep Gupta told TOI that the incident was of personal nature and does not have communal overtones. ” Police has taken prompt action,” he added. Dhamtari police maintained “it’s a minor incident of clash over old enmity. Some elements are trying to exaggerate and spreading rumours”.However, reports said one Umesh Sahu, against whom a case of religious conversion is already pending, had a fight with someone over money. Later, a group of people attacked him and another person. Both of them are injured and have been hospitalized. (Times of India 18/7/16)

 

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

57.  ‘Uncertainty about aid hampers return of Sri Lankan refugees’ (13)

COLOMBO: Chief Minister of the Northern Province C. V. Wigneswaran has said that a large number of Tamils, displaced from Sri Lanka during the civil war and now living in India as refugees, are prepared to come back but the uncertainty about assistance is preventing them from returning. “Those who have returned from India are saying that they have not received any aid from the government or non-governmental organisations. When those in possession of land permits visit their lands, they find that people from southern parts of the country have occupied their properties. They are also accusing the Army of supporting such occupants,” Mr. Wigneswaran said, adding that children of the refugees who were born in India were encountering difficulties in getting government jobs in Sri Lanka, despite having the necessary educational qualifications. The Chief Minister was addressing the gathering of landless, internally-displaced persons at an event in Chithambarapuram, about 20 km from Vavuniya town, on Thursday. The event was held to distribute temporary land permits to the IDPs, who have been allotted land within the site of the Chithambarapuram camp. The IDPs, who lived in Tamil Nadu as refugees in the 1980s and returned to Sri Lanka in the 1990s, originally hail from the Northern and Eastern provinces, as well as the hill country region of Sri Lanka. As many as 194 families are living in the camp for over 20 years. Demanding that proper rehabilitation schemes be formulated for refugee-returnees, he said such families should be provided livelihood assistance until they became self-employed. In respect of those who were born in India, the Sri Lankan authorities should issue them birth certificates and national identity cards, apart from documents, recognising educational qualifications that the refugee-returnees had acquired in India. According to the 2015-2016 annual report of the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Indian government, as many as 3,04,269 Sri Lankan refugees entered India between July 1983 and August 2012 in the wake of “ethnic violence and disturbed conditions in Sri Lanka.” While 99,469 refugees were repatriated to Sri Lanka up to March, 1995, there was “no organised repatriation” after March 1995. As on October 1, 2015, there were 64,368 refugees at 109 refugees’ camps in Tamil Nadu and one camp in Odisha. Besides, about 37,000 refugees were staying outside the camps, after getting themselves registered at nearby police stations, the annual report said. Referring to the participation of the Central government’s Rehabilitation and Resettlement Minister D.M. Swaminathan in the event, the Chief Minister, who made public his differences on the issue of 65,000 houses with the Central Minister in Jaffna a few months ago in the presence of President Maithripala Sirisena, said there was “no doubt” that the North would get help from Mr. Swaminathan till the latter was the Resettlement Minister. (The Hindu 2/7/16)

58. UN and partners warn of growing poverty for Syrian refugees (13)

New York, July 5 : While significant progress has been made in providing assistance, the number of Syrian refugees living in poverty continues to rise in host countries in the region and access to basic services remains a critical challenge, a new United Nations report warned on Tuesday. The mid-year report of the 2016 Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan, released by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and more than 200 international and national actors, examines progress this year in helping refugees and host communities in Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt. With the Syria conflict entering its sixth year, host governments and communities continue to bear a heavy political, economic, social and security burden. Public institutions are under extreme pressure to deliver basic services to an increasingly large number of vulnerable people, testing the limits of existing infrastructure. The report finds that with the generous support of donors, partners in the Plan have in 2016 delivered cash assistance to 102,853 households, food to 2,035,767 individuals, 1,090,795 primary health care consultations, shelter assistance to 25,148 households and other forms of emergency assistance to refugees and host populations. Support was provided to 5,603 people to find employment. A key aim of the Plan is to invest in national services and systems in the host countries, which are under increased strain, and partners report that almost 200 education and health facilities were supported. There was also promising news in the livelihoods sector, with work permits issued by Jordan to Syrians and a new regulation allowing Syrian refugee access to employment in Turkey. These positive initiatives, supported at Februarys London Conference on Syria, need to be matched by the international community with continuing generous funding and responsibility sharing. Despite this progress, the report warns of growing poverty. It says that in Lebanon, the average debt held by refugee households has increased over the first quarter of 2016 and the number of people living below the poverty line has risen to 70 per cent compared to 50 per cent in 2014. In Jordan, 90 per cent of registered Syrian refugees in urban areas are below the national poverty line, while over 67 per cent of families are living in debt. In Egypt, some 62,000 refugees are living in poverty. The report notes that 30 per cent or USD 1.38 million, of the USD 4.55 billion sought by UN agencies, inter-governmental organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) under the Plan, had been received as of 31 May. (New kerala 5/7/16)

59. Govt plans to amend Citizenship Act to give succour to refugees (13)

New Delhi: Keeping its promise to provide succour to refugees from neighbouring countries, the NDA government is contemplating to amend the Citizenship Act so that Hindus and Sikhs, who had entered India without valid documents could be granted Long Term Visa and citizenship. The issue was discussed threadbare at a high-level meeting chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and attended by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar besides others. There are thousands of Hindus and Sikhs who have entered India after facing religious persecution in countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan without any valid document.These refugees have been facing difficulty in getting Long Term Visa (LTV) or Citizenship and the existing law does not allow anyone granting Indian nationality if he or she can not show proof of documents on country of birth. “Hence, the government plans to amend the Citizenship Act so that such refugees could be granted LTV and citizenship without any hindrance,” a Home Ministry official said. In its election manifesto before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had declared India as “a natural home for persecuted Hindus” who “shall be welcome to seek refuge”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while campaigning in 2014 had made a distinction between Hindu and Muslim refugees from Bangladesh and arguing that the former should be accommodated. “We have a responsibility towards Hindus who are harassed and suffer in other countries. India is the only place for them. We will have to accommodate them here,” Modi had said. Ever since the Modi government came to power, several concessions have been offered to the persecuted Hindus and Sikhs of the neighbouring countries that include issuing Long Term Visa, allowing such people to buy residential properties, procuring PAN cards, Aadhar card, driving licence, opening bank accounts, lowering of visa fees besides others. Besides, the Home Ministry also organised special camps at district level in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and NCT of Delhi for granting LTV and citizenships. Children of refugees on LTV are allowed to take admission in schools/ colleges/ universities/ technical and professional institutions under foreigner quota without permission from the state government/UT administration. State governments/ UT administration are empowered to grant permission to such people to engage themselves in employment of purely private nature. State governments/UT administration delegated powers for services like grant of visit to additional places, grant of No Objection to Return to India (NORI) and grant of permission to change in mode of travel and port of exit. (Indian Express 6/7/16)

60. Bru militants to trade guns for development (13)

Silchar, July 6: Bru Revolutionary Army of Union, a militant group active in Barak Valley, today said it would eschew violence if the government ensures development in tribal belts. In a letter released to The Telegraph via a mail, Rajesh Chorkhy, president of the outfit, said it choose the path of violence to highlight the lack of development and apathy. “Reang people are not born to commit crime, taking weapons like AK-47s and M-16s in their hands instead of pen and books. As human beings, we also have the desire to live like the people of other communities. But we are unfortunate that we were treated like animals, being deprived of all rights,” he added. The outfit had recently kidnapped Mono Singh, a forest officer in Hailakandi district, but released him after a few days. “Providing land deeds to the tribal community people has been pending for the past six years and therefore with a view to raise our voice, we had to take such step. I apologise to Singh,” Chorkhy added. He thanked chief minister Sarbanada Sonowal for giving priority to their demand. “There was no one to listen to our cries and it was one of the main reasons behind taking up arms for the sake of the Reang community,” he said. The outfit hoped that the new government in Assam would work for the development of tribal areas. “The tribal villages are not connected with roadways, electricity and drinking water facility even after 69 years of Independence,” he added. Chorkhy in his letter mentioned that government jobs should be given to tribal people for their uplift. He alleged that there were many Anganwadi teachers deployed in tribal areas who got a salary without going to schools. “Nutritional food items for the children were never distributed,” he added. The outfit urged the district administration to take steps to bring development to the tribal areas, rooting out corruption and anomalies. (The Telegraph 7/7/16)

61. Thousands fleeing violent clashes in Central African Republic – UN refugee agency (13)

New York, July 8 :The United Nations refugee agency on Friday said that more than six thousand people from the Central African Republic (CAR) have fled into Chad and Cameroon to escape renewed tension and violent clashes since mid-June. Refugees arriving in the two neighbouring countries, which already host tens of thousands of refugees from CAR, said they had seen killings, kidnappings, looting and the torching of their homes, Melissa Fleming, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told the regular press briefing in Geneva. Most fled direct attacks on their villages while some said they had run away fearing the fighting would come to their homes. People reported the presence of heavily armed fighters. The exodus from CAR began on 12 June when clashes erupted between livestock herders and local arable farmers in and around the north-west town of Ngaoundaye, Ouham Pende region. Thus far, more than 5,643 refugees have been registered in the villages of Sourouh and Mini in southern Chad. Screening and registration of new arrivals is continuing. A further 555 refugees have crossed to Yamba village in eastern Cameroon. The fighting this year has also affected a further 25,000 to 30,000 people within CAR, including many internally displaced in addition to those fleeing. New arrivals said many people had fled to the bush and might try to cross borders if the situation does not improve, said Fleming. UNHCR shares growing international concern about the displacement and the rising tension and clashes, including in Bangui. She further said that while most of those seeking refuge are women, children and the elderly, more men are fleeing and leaving behind their livelihoods. In Chad, where people have been crossing despite the border being officially closed, about two thirds of arrivals were under 18 years of age and 450 of them unaccompanied or separated from their families. UNHCR protection staff identified more than 20 per cent of those arriving as vulnerable with specific needs. Some had health problems, including malaria, respiratory infections and malnutrition. They are arriving in a poor state; exhausted, weak and hungry with many traumatized. These people, crammed into structures provided by the village host community, need urgent aid, including shelter, food and medical care, added the UNHCR spokesperson. The latest violence comes barely six months after the election of President Faustin Archange Touadera ushered in hopes of lasting peace after three years of escalated conflict that left thousands dead and almost one million displaced. … (New Kerala 8/7/16)

62. Heavy fighting in South Sudan capital, many killed (13)

JUBA (South Sudan): Renewed gunfights broke out across South Sudan’s capital on Sunday between forces loyal to the president and those of the vice-president, officials said Sunday, causing widespread casualties and raising fears that the country is returning to civil war. The fighting hit a UN camp for displaced people hit by the violence, according to witnesses. “The condition is really very bad. We have a lot of casualties this side, I think around 50 to 60 besides those of yesterday,” said Budbud Chol who oversees security at a clinic in the base. “We have civilian casualties. We have rocket-propelled grenades that have landed in the camp which has wounded eight people.” At least one person has died in the camp, he said, but he did not know about casualties outside where the fighting is heavy. Government forces attacked a rebel base in the Jebel area of the capital Sunday morning, said William Gatjiath Deng, a spokesman for the rebel forces. “Three helicopter gunships have just come now and bombed our side,” he said. The army confirmed the Sunday clashes but it is not clear how the fighting started, said army spokesman Lul Ruai Koang, who is in the SPLA general headquarters at Bilpham. The fighting appears to be mainly in two areas: Jebel, where there is one opposition base and a UN base which houses thousands of internally displaced people, and in Gudele, where the rebels have another opposition base, including Machar’s compound. There have been huge explosions in Gudele and people are leaving the area by foot, said a resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear for her safety. “I’ve gotten calls that I should leave but there was so much gunfire nearby I decided to stay in,” she said. United Nations security radio reported fighting near the house of army chief of staff Paul Malong. “The situation in Juba has significantly deteriorated,” said a statement by the United States embassy. “There is serious fighting between government and opposition forces, including near the airport, UN mission locations, Jebel and elsewhere throughout Juba. US citizens in Juba should remain vigilant … shelter in a safe location, preferably away from doors and windows, and avoid non-essential movements.” The UN mission in South Sudan is on a high security alert with no movement of UN personnel whatsoever, said Shantal Persaud, spokeswoman for the UN mission. Sunday’s fighting is a resumption of the conflict on Friday in which more than 100 people died. A precarious calm was restored on Saturday — the day South Sudan was to celebrate its fifth independence day — that was shattered by heavy gunfire Sunday. … (Times of India 10/7/16)

63. Order to shift Lankan refugee (13)

Madurai: The Madras High Court Bench here on Monday directed ‘Q’ Branch police to shift Sri Lankan refugee K. Dhayabararaj from a camp in Tiruchi to Mandapam in Ramanathapuram district where his wife D. Udayakala and three children were residing. Justices K.K. Sasidharan and B. Gokuldas passed the interim order on a habeas corpus petition filed by Ms. Udayakala accusing the police of withholding their passports and detaining her husband in Tiruchi special camp though they were willing to go back to their country. Contesting the HCP, the police claimed that Interpol had issued a red corner notice against the petitioner’s husband who was wanted in Sri Lanka in a bank fraud case. It also objected to shifting him from Tiruchi to Mandapam on the ground that he might escape easily. (The Hindu 12/7/16)

 

64. Germany records historic levels of migration (13)

Berlin, July 14 : Migration to Germany attained record levels in 2015, as the number of migrants grew 46 per cent year-on-year, reaching a total of 2.1 million people, according to a report released on Thursday by the Federal Statistical Office of Germany. Meanwhile, 998,000 left the country, nine per cent more than in 2014, Efe news reported. Net immigration to the country was 1.1 million people, making the balance of arrivals and departures the highest in history. The high number of immigrants, according to the Federal Statistical Office, was not only due to the wave of refugees, but also to citizens coming from other European Union (EU) countries in search of work. Syrians made up the largest migrant group, with 326,000 arrivals, followed by Romanians, with 212,000, and Poles, with 190,000. Some 45 per cent of immigrants were citizens of other EU countries, 13 per cent from non-EU European countries, 30 per cent from Asia and five per cent from Africa. (New Kerala 15/7/16)

65. World’s wealthiest countries host less than 9% refugees: Report (13)

LONDON: The world’s six wealthiest countries host less than 9 per cent of the world’s refugees, a new report issued on Monday said. While the US, China, Japan, Germany, France and UK make up more than half the global economy, in 2015, they only hosted 2.1 million refugees and asylum seekers — just 8.88 per cent of the world’s total, international aid organisation, Oxfam said in its report. Germany took the largest share of refugees among the world’s richest countries (around 700,000), with the remaining 1.4 million split between the other five nations, CNN reported citing the report. In sharp contrast, the nations that host more than half of the world’s refugees and asylum seekers account for less than 2 per cent of the world’s GDP, the report noted. Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, South Africa and Palestine collectively host almost 12 million people. “It is shameful so many governments are turning their backs on the suffering of millions of vulnerable people who have fled their homes and are often risking their lives to reach safety,” CNN quoted Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International, as saying. “Poorer countries are shouldering the duty of protecting refugees when it should be a shared responsibility,” she added.According to the UN, the number of displaced people is currently at the highest ever recorded, surpassing even post-Second World War numbers. More than 65 million people — one out of every 113 people on the planet — have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict, violence or persecution, a 5.8-million increase on the year before, CNN quoted the UNHCR as saying. (Times of India 18/7/16)

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

66. Centre asks depts to publish most sought-after RTI info (1)

New Delhi, Jun 30 () Seeking to reduce Right to Information applications, all central government departments have been asked to put in public domain information that is frequently sought by citizens under the RTI Act. They have also been asked to set up ‘Information and Facilitation Centres’ (IFCs) to provide printed publications to citizens mentioning the categories of information that are frequently being sought under the RTI. The latest directive is based on the recommendations of a committee formed by the government to look into the scope of suo motu disclosure of governance-related information by the central government departments. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has asked each public authority to set up a committee comprising officials with rich experience of dealing with RTI applications and appeals to identify the categories of such information. “Such information must be disclosed in the public domain to make it more user-friendly and should also be reviewed at regular intervals,” it said in an order to all ministries. The DoPT has said the task of undertaking transparency audits may be given to the respective training institutes under each ministry or department and across the states and union territories. The public authorities shall constitute consultative committees consisting of office-bearers of key stakeholder, association on rotational basis to have a systematic and regular interaction between the officials of the public authorities to advice what information to be uploaded as suo motu, it said.The IFCs may be set up in each public authority, where public dealing is involved to educate the citizens about the information or documents available on the website of the department concerned and to provide printed publications to them the categories of information that are frequently being sought under the RTI Act and provide copies of information as per RTI rules, the order said. (Times of India 2/7/16)

67. Display names of officials as per RTI Act: Forum (1)

SRIKAKULAM: Srikakulam Intellectuals Forum president Pappala Jagannadha Rao on Sunday asked all the government offices to display names of officials and staff prominently as per the Right to Information Act. He said that the displaying of their names was mandatory as per the RTI Act since people would name their nature of work and responsibilities. The Forum organised an awareness programme on the RTI Act. Speaking on the occasion, he said every person in the government offices should respect the Act which was enacted to ensure transparency in the government offices. Former Minister Gunda Appala Suryanarayana hailed the Act saying that it had curtailed corruption and lethargy in government offices. He urged people not to misuse the Act and use it properly in the larger interests of the public. (The Hindu 4/7/16)

68. Government spent nearly D40cr on investors’ meet: RTI (1)

BENGALURU: THE state government had spent Rs 2.31 crore on food during the three-day Global Investors Meet (GIM) held in the city from February 3, an RTI application has revealed. This means the government had spent an average of Rs 77 lakh a day for the delegates and officials during the event. In response to an RTI application filed by Shruti P of Onlinerti.com, the Karnataka Udyog Mitra said it spent Rs 39.88 crore on organising the meet. “Spending a whopping Rs 40 crore, including Rs 2.31 crore on food expenses, for a three-day event is very high. The money, which was lavished, could have been used for other purposes,” said Shruti. She said the government is answerable to the tax payers on how much of the promised investments they were able to attract so far after spending crores of rupees for a three-day event. Of the total amount, Rs 18.47 crore was spent on infrastructure, Rs 12.27 crore on event management and cultural programmes followed by advertisements and Rs 1.12 crore as ground rent. According to the reply, the government also spent Rs 2.26 crore on roadshows, which includes international roadshow (Rs 93.26 lakh), national roadshow (Rs 90.07 lakh) and state roadshow (Rs 42.66 lakh).However, an official of the Karnataka State Industrial Investment and Development Corporation (KSIIDC) said the amount spent by the state for the meet is not as high compared to investment meets conducted by other states. “This expenditure is necessary as we have to attract investments and job opportunities to the state. The food and accommodation costs will be more since most delegates are VIPs and VVIPs. The expenditure for GIM is meager compared to the total investments received after the GIM,” said the official. He added that nearly 5,000 delegates from across the world participated in the event. According to Invest Karnataka website, the meet concluded with 1,201 approved projects and MoUs valued at Rs 3,08,810 crore and is expected to generate a total employment of 6,70,931 across the state. However, there is no mention on the actual investment received and the number of new industries set up because of the GIM. (New Indian Express 7/7/16)

69. RTI Act comes to the rescue of Dalit student (1)

CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu Information Commission has come to the rescue of a Dalit student who was not paid scholarship for two years by the Directorate of Adi-Dravidar Welfare. The case pertains to M. Jayaraj of Chikkanna Arts College, Tirupur, whose scholarship was not disbursed for two academic years.Taking note of dereliction on the part of the scholarship disbursing authorities, State Chief Information Commissioner K. Ramanujam ordered the directorate to pay a compensation of Rs. 10,000 to Jayaraj and take steps for disbursing the scholarship at the earliest. The student had petitioned the Tirupur Collector in December 2015 seeking to know why his scholarship was not granted for the academic years 2013-14 and 2014-15. (The Hindu 9/7/16)

70. RTI: SBI declines info on Mallya’s loan, says matter sub-judice (1)

Mumbai: Mumbai-based RTI activist Anil Galgali had asked SBI about the total amount of loans given to the beleaguered businessman and his airlines and also the minutes of the meeting in which the loan proposals were sanctioned. “You have sought certain information pertaining to the loan facilities granted to M/s Kingfisher Airlines Ltd and Vijay Mallya. Please note that the matter is sub-judice and the matter is pending for the investigation before certain investigation authorities. Hence deriving exemption from disclosure under Section 8(1)(h) of RTI act, information sought by you cannot be provided,” the bank’s deputy general manager and public information officer (stressed assets management branch, Bengaluru) said in reply. Beleaguered liquor baron Mallya and Kingfisher Airlines owe over Rs 9,000 crore, including interest, to a consortium of 17 lenders led by SBI. He has been facing investigation from various agencies like Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), the investigative agency for white collar crimes. Last month, a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Mumbai had declared Mallya a proclaimed offender in a loan default case. On June 11, ED had attached properties worth Rs 1,411 crore of Mallya and UB Ltd in connection with its money laundering probe in the IDBI Bank loan default case. Mallya flew to Britain on March 2 using his diplomatic passport which was later revoked. (Deccan Herald 11/7/16)

71. Nuclear weapons details shifted out of RTI purview? (1)

NEW DELHI: Information on the country’s nuclear weapons stock-pile and any details on their testing has now been put out of the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The Strategic Forces Command has been added to the list of 25 organizations excluded from the purview of the RTI Act except for information pertaining to corruption or human right allegations. This is the first addition made to the list by the Narendra Modi Government after the UPA in 2011 had last added the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), National Investigation Agency (NIA) and National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) to the list of the intelligence and security organisations which are exempt from RTI Act. The Strategic Forces Command (SFC) administers control over the tactical and strategic nuclear stockpile of the country, which includes the land-based and sea-based nucleararmed ballistic missiles. SFC operationalises the directives of the Nuclear Command Authority which works under the command of the Prime Minister and SCF has the responsibility of the process of delivering nuclear weapons and warheads in the event of a planned strike.SCF also does testing of the nuclear missiles, like Agni-4 and Agni-5. The Union Government on the other hand has been actively trying to broaden the access to RTI by adding a host of public authorities to the Online RTI Portal like public sector financial institutions and banks, all the zones under railways ministry and its PSUs, Maharatnas and Navratnas PSUs, central universities and educational institutions. From a list of about 500 public authorities to which RTI’s can be filed online at present, nearly 300 more public authorities are to be added to the portal by the end of this year. Times of India 14/7/2016)

 

72. Examine if BCCI can be brought under RTI: SC to law panel (1)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today asked the Law Commission of India to examine the issue of bringing BCCI under the ambit of Right to Information Act (RTI) saying that since the board is discharging public functions, public has a right to know and demand information regarding its activities. It said since those public functions are in nature of a monopoly in the hands of BCCI with tacit state government and central government approvals and the beneficiary being the citizens, there was a need for bringing its functioning under the transparency law. A bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice F M I Kalifulla, which accepted majority of the recommendations of Justice R M Lodha panel on reforms in BCCI, observed that “as a possible first step” it expected that Law Commission would deal with it and make a suitable recommendation to the government. While reading out the operative portion of the judgement, the CJI said the bench was leaving it to Parliament to decide whether functioning of BCCI can be brought under RTI. “All that we need (to) say is that since BCCI discharges public functions and since those functions are in the nature of a monopoly in the hands of BCCI with tacit State Government and Central Government approvals, the public at large has a right to know and demand information as to the activities and functions of the BCCI especially when it deals with funds collected in relation to those activities as a trustee of wherein the beneficiary happens to be the people of this country,” the bench said in its 143-page verdict. “As a possible first step in the direction in bringing BCCI under purview of Right to Information Act, we expect the Law Commission of India to examine the issue and make a suitable recommendation to the Government. Beyond that we do not consider it necessary to say anything at this stage,” it said. The Justice Lodha panel had recommended that BCCI should be brought under the purview of the RTI Act and to carry out a suitable amendment to this effect. The panel had said that people of the country have a right to know the details about the BCCI’s functions and activities and had recommended that legislature must seriously consider bringing the cricket body within the purview of the RTI Act. (New Indian Express 18/7/16)

 

73. Kerala government to seek high court’s view on RTI query (1)

Thiruvananthapuram, July 19 (IANS) The Kerala government will approach the high court to understand the implications of the RTI Act vis-a-vis the Cabinet’s decisions, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Tuesday. The Chief Minister informed the assembly that his government had no intention to hide Cabinet decisions and will seek the court’s opinion on the issue. The move comes in the wake of the CIC seeking details of Cabinet decisions as asked for through an RTI query. Since assuming office, the Vijayan government has not held the customary media briefings after the weekly Cabinet meetings. While the Congress charged the Vijayan government with keeping the public in the dark about Cabinet decisions, the Chief Minister refuted the allegation saying that it was not his business to carry out a public relations exercise unlike his predecessors. Reacting to the Chief Minister’s statement, Congress legislator V.D. Satheesan on Tuesday said it was surprising that the Chief Minister considers media briefings as a public relations exercise. “It was surprising to hear that a Chief Minister need not carry out public relations and hence the customary media briefing after the Cabinet meetings has been done away with,” said Satheesan. “The government takes major decisions but the people are kept in the dark,” he charged. “While in Opposition, you (Vijayan) had advised the previous Oommen Chandy government on transparency, but as Chief Minister you are not adhering to the same principle,” Satheesan said. Responding to Satheesan, the Chief Ministger said: “We have no intention to keep things under wraps. A Cabinet sub-committee is looking into the decisions taken by the Chandy government from January 1 to March 31, and once it is over, we will be putting everything in the public domain. We also wish to get some clarification on the RTI Act. Once we get it, everything will be available for the public.” …  (Times of India 19/7/16)

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

74. School charges Rs 35K per year for food, activities from RTE kids (11)

BENGALURU: More and more complaints are spilling out against private schools in the city on alleged harassment of parents, who admitted their kids under the Right To Education (RTE) quota. There are complaints that 27 parents have been asked to pay Rs 35,000 towards food by the Jain Heritage School in Hebbal. The parents have approached the Block Education Officer and also the Right to Education Students Parents Association (RTESTUPA) with a complaint against the school. B N Yogananda, general secretary of RTESTUPA, said, “Parents approached the authorities with the complaints, but they have already paid the amount. We will now file complaints with the Commissioner, Public Instructions, Principal Secretary and also the Chief Minister.” RTESTUPA has decided to support the parents by staging a protest in front of the school till they refund the amount collected. “The school has to repay the money collected. All the parents, who admitted their kids, are from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The school is harassing them saying that if they refuse to pay, the admission will be cancelled,” Yogananda said. The Block Education Officer of the jurisdiction has issued two show-cause notices to the school management.However, the authorities from the school defended their act saying that what they are charging is nominal. “The amount was charged for three meals a day and also other activities such as sports, training and other performing art classes. Lunch is part of the package as the Rs 11,848 reimbursement that the government gives us is not enough,” an official of the school said.Over 60 parents, who have admitted their kids at various private schools in the city under the RTE quota, demonstrated in front of the office of the Commissioner of Public Instruction on Friday. They came to meet the new Commissioner and to complain about the problems they are facing. At that time, the students staged a demonstration, requesting the commissioner to take action against the schools and the officials of the Education Department, who are involved with private schools. (New Indian Express 2/7/16)

75. Smriti Irani shunted out as govt wants faster saffronisation of education: Congress (11)

New Delhi: A DAY after Smriti Irani was removed as HRD Minister, the Congress said on Wednesday that she may have been shunted out because the “pace of saffronisation” in the education sector was “not to the satisfaction” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The party also accused the BJP government of indulging in “fascisisation” of education. “In the past two years, the NDA government has systematically attempted to subvert and dismantle the public education system of this country which has been assiduously built over the last 67 years. The greatest indicator of this is the budgetary allocation. The UPA government, during its 10 years, raised the budgetary allocation of the HRD ministry from Rs 11,000 crore to Rs 82,000 crore… Between 2014 and 2016, the education budget of India has actually come down by Rs 10,000 crore,” said Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari. He said the budgetary allocation of the UGC too was slashed by 55 per cent, bringing it down to Rs 4,286 crore from Rs 9,315 crore.“What is even more startling is the frontal assault mounted by the HRD ministry on the autonomy of our public universities. The UGC, in fact, tried to take away from the public universities the right to even decide their own syllabus… Besides, there is blatant interference by the RSS in the education sector of the country,” he said. “Six vice-chancellors were summoned by RSS functionaries for a review of the education system in Chhattisgarh…What locus standi does the RSS have to call VCs of public universities and review the functioning of the education system in Chhattisgarh. This is not saffronisation of education. This is far more sinister. It is the ‘fascisisation’ of education,” he added. Asked why Irani was shunted out if, Tewari said, “Maybe the pace of saffronisation was not to the satisfaction of the PM. And therefore, you have an incumbent who will possibly accelerate that pace.” (Indian Express 7/7/16)

76. Gujarat ranks 20th among 21 states in girl child education (11)

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat government may be making tall claims about its “Kanya Kelavani” and school enrolment drive, but a report shows the state has performed much poorly than other states in championing girls’ education. The Sample Registration System-Baseline Survey 2014 reveals that Gujarat (with 73.4 per cent of girls in school) is at the 20th position among 21 major states, just a notch above Rajasthan (72.1 per cent). According to the survey, around 26.6 per cent of girls in the age group of 15-17 years in Gujarat have either dropped out or have never been to school. That means 26.6 per cent of girls in the state have not reached the class IX or X level. It reveals the all-India average of girls attending school, which is 83.8 per cent, is higher than Gujarat’s by about 10 per cent. According to officials, when data was gathered, the programme to improve girl child enrolment in Gujarat schools had been in operation for more than a decade. As part of the annual “Kanya Kelavni” program and “Shala Praveshotsav”, ministers and government officials fan out in rural areas to ensure children’s enrolment. Despite the high-level push, however, even states termed backward have performed better than Gujarat. In Bihar, 83.3 per cent of girls in the age group 15-17 years attend school; in Assam the figure is 84.8 per cent; in Jharkhand it is 84.1 per cent; in Chhattisgarh it is 90.1 per cent; in Madhya Pradesh it is 79.2 per cent; in UP it is 79.4 per cent; and in Odisha it is 75.3 per cent. In fact, Gujarat is ranked among the bottom five states even when it comes to education of girls in the age group of 10-14 years. Data reveals that overall 73.5 per cent of girls in the state are literate. But of these, around 59 per cent have not studied beyond class X, and only 14.8 per cent have completed class XII.Of the 14.8 per cent who study beyond class X, only 7.3 per cent complete graduation. Gujarat education minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasma said, “We are aware that the drop out rate among girls is high and hence we launched the enrolment drive even in class IX.” He said this would ensure that girls don’t drop out after class VIII. He said the drop out ratio was not more than 20 per cent. “We are taking measures to ensure that girls study and the government is dedicated to achieving 100 per cent literacy among the girls,” he said. (Times of India 7/7/16)

77. Mixed response to move for limiting no-detention to class V (11)

Bengaluru: The draft of the new education policy released by the Ministry of Human Resources Development last month has hinted at limiting the no-detention policy in schools to class 5, from class 8.The implications of such a measure in Karnataka are bound to be far-reaching as it has ardently supported the no-detention policy ensured by the provisions of the RTE Act. Ajay Seth, principal secretary, Department of Primary and Secondary Education, has said that the new measure, once implemented, may not be very different from the previous one, in that it talks about the need for “remedial instruction” for weak students. “A child who is weak in class should be identified and brought on a par with others. The recommendations in the draft have their own aims. However, a right approach will make sure that quality education remains available,” he said.Seth said that instead of concentrating on limiting the no-detention policy, emphasis should be on the quality of education. The draft says that the present provisions of no-detention policy will be amended, as it has seriously affected the academic performance of students. This is a sentiment that has been commonly echoed by many. Among them is a primary school teacher from a government school in Koppal. “Students do not concentrate on their studies as they know they will pass. We see the results after class 8. Many of my own students are not able to even read properly. It is a pathetic condition. Teachers, instead of being able to concentrate on teaching, are given responsibilities like mid-day meals and what not,” he said.The new recommendations have, however, rattled supporters of the present policy. V P Niranjan Aradhya, Fellow at the Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India University, is of the opinion that the entire debate has shifted from quality of education to ability of the students. “Why are children not learning and performing well? There are numerous problems, lack of good teachers and infrastructure to name a few. One cannot make students the scapegoat for such systemic failures,” he said. (Deccan Herald 10/7/16)

78. Child rights panel concerned over junk food sale in private schools (11)

LUDHIANA: Taking serious note of serving of junk food, which is easy to cook but harmful for health, in some private schools, Punjab State Child Rights Protection Commission chairman Sukesh Kalia has directed Secretary, Punjab School Education Board and DPI (Primary and Secondary) to take a self-declaration certificate from all schools mentioning that they would not allow serving or sale of junk food in their premises. While mentioning a letter received from National Child Rights Protection Commission, New Delhi, Sukesh Kalia stated that as per the letter, the secretary of Punjab School Education Board and DPI (primary and secondary) would get self-declaration certificates from all schools of the state (from all education boards) mentioning that they would not allow serving as well as sale of junk food (which has salt, sugar and fat in large quantity) in their premises. Kalia said that consumption of junk food amongst children leads to serious implications towards the child’s health. That is why there is an increasing need to check this trend amongst children. He said that the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India has already issued some guidelines to the schools, which should be followed by all schools. Sukesh Kalia has also written a separate letter to Food Safety Commissioner, Punjab, mentioning that the Commission would carry surprise checks in different schools on regular basis. And that is why, the commissioner should send names of technical experts and food inspectors so that their services can be taken during surprise checks. Kalia said that the commission would take strong notice of any news that comes to their notice regarding serving or sale of junk food in private schools. (Times of India 13/7/16)

79. Many holes in education policy draft: Experts (11)

Chennai: The inputs for the draft National Education Policy (NEP) released by the HRD Ministry last month came under criticism by educationists on Thursday during a national convention on evolving education policy. Organised by the State Platform for Common Schooling System, the convention discussed key features of the draft. President of the state platform, P Ratnasabapathy said the TSR Subramaniam committee had already released a ‘report’ and questioned the need for the MHRD to release another draft. He points out several ‘threats’ to the education system listed in the document. These include evading reservation, intrusion of foreign agencies into Indian education system, and privatization of education.Member of the All India Forum for Right To Education (AIFRTE), Madhu Prasad pointed out several problems with the draft including the input on steeping up interventions currently being practiced in the RTE system. “The draft recognizes that the RTE has not traditionally benefitted the vulnerable sections. When they are recognizing that the methods so far practiced have failed for so many years, how can the stepping up of the same measures correct the failures now?” she questioned. R Ramanujam from the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, pointed out that the tone of the document in formulating ‘solutions’ is such that education is being reduced to a managerial or administrative issue. (Times of India 15/7/16)

80. Govt frames new rules for opening private schools (11)

Bhubaneswar: All private schools in the state have to take permission from district education officer (DEO) before opening the education facilities, according to a recent guideline issued by the state government. The school authorities would have to ensure registration of their school in Unified District Information System for Education. “We have asked the director of elementary education to form a detailed guideline on this, which would streamline the opening and running of new private schools in the state,” said additional secretary, school and mass education department, B N Pradhan. The new schools would have to fulfil all criteria under the Right To Education (RTE) Act prior to opening the school followed by a clearance from director elementary education of the state. This year only 14 private schools have been given no objection certificate by the state government to open their institutes so far. As many as 255 applications are pending with different district project coordinators (DPCs) of Sarva Sikshya Abhiyan and 356 applications pending with different block education officers (BEOs). All DPCs and BEOs have been asked to verify and give recommendations to eligible schools by July 20. A separate portal has also been opened for the purpose, official sources said. The schools, who have applied for recognition but have not fulfilled the criteria according to the RTE Act, will be given showcause notice for one month within which the school will have to fulfil the criteria. (Times of India 17/7/16)

81. RTE students sent out of class for not paying ‘extra fees’ (11)

BENGALURU: Some children, admitted under the RTE quota, had to go through embarrassing moments before they were allowed to sit for the unit test at the SVES English High School, Rajajinagar, Bengaluru. The alleged reason: their parents had not paid “extra fees”. A parent of a class 5 student admitted under the RTE quota said her child was sent out of class and not allowed to take the unit test that began on Friday. “While all the other students wrote the test, my child along with a few others, who had not paid the fees, was made to sit in another classroom and was allowed to take the test after three periods,” the parent said. She explained that the school collects excess fees under various sub heads, such as smart class and computer class every year. “This year, we paid Rs. 6,242 for books, uniforms and common-items fee. But, they also insisted on us paying Rs. 7,600 as computer, smart class and maintenance fee. This is beyond our means,” she said. She also said that the school was pressurising them and using all kinds of “tactics” to pay the fee, and this was affecting the morale of the child. RTE Students and Parents’ Association chief secretary B.N. Yogananda has lodged a complaint with the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) and has urged it to initiate action in this regard. Kripa Alva, chairperson of the commission, said the commission will summon the school management and initiate strict action against the management if they are found guilty of discrimination. Meanwhile, a member of the school management claimed that the test was conducted batch-wise, which is why some students were made to take the test later. He also said that if the school had illegally collected fees from students admitted under the quota, they would return it. (The Hindu 19/7/16)

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

82. NHRC seeks ATR on starvation deaths, kidney ailments (21)

BHUBANESWAR: THE National Human Rights  Commission (NHRC) has soughtan Action Taken report (ATR)  from the State Government over starvation deaths linked with food supply and corrupt practice in ensuring ration cards underNational Food Security Act (NFSA). Acting on a petition filed by rights activist Radhakanta Tripathy,  who raised corruption in selection of NFSA beneficiaries in undivided KBK (Kalahandi- Balangir-Koraput) districts, the Commission has asked the Chief  Secretary to submit a detailed reply within four weeks. On May 16, a destitute woman Lalita Sahu allegedly died of starvation while her son Pancha Sahu is suffering hunger pangs as the family was denied of a ration  card under NFSA at Graduatepada Square in Balangir district. Tripathy said Lalita and Pancha had taken shelter on the verandah of a co-villager as they did not have one. With no livelihood means, they were spending most of their days in hunger. Lalita died of hunger, he said. Earlier, Pancha used to earn his  livelihood by engraving names of persons on brass and copper utensils. However, he could no longer pursue it after he had a physical infirmity. Their condition  aggravated after Lalita stopped receiving rice under Antodaya scheme as the authorities removed her name during ration card distribution last December,  the petition mentioned. Alleging that no strong step has been taken to curb illegalities and corruption in selecting the  NFSA beneficiaries, Tripathy requested to investigate the case through the Special Rapporteur  and direct the Government to curb the phenomenon of starvation death besides paying adequate compensation and benefits of social welfare schemes including house under IAY, food  and free medical care to the surviving family members. He also urged the Commission to recommend the  Government for setting up of State Food Commission and appoint a district grievance redressal officer to monitor and look into the complaints of NFSA beneficiaries.    (New Indian Express 3/7/16)

83. Ensure effective implementation of schemes, Khattar tells officers (21)

Chandigarh: Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Tuesday exhorted administrative secretaries to ensure effective implementation of schemes pertaining to their departments so as to achieve 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets identified by United Nations on critical issues. Mr. Khattar was addressing the inaugural session of Briefing Workshop on Sustainable Development Goals-Implementing Sustainable Development Goals in Haryana: 2030 Action Plan here, an official release said. UN Resident Coordinator and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in India Yuri Afanasiev was present at the workshop. The Chief Minister said the objective of SDGs was to produce a set of universally applicable goals that balances the three dimensions of sustainable development—environmental, social and economic—through proper planning and integration of schemes. He said the State aims to align its existing schemes and programmes with the SDGs target and prepare a vision 2030 document as well as an action plan for achieving the goals. Appreciating that the UN agencies have agreed to provide technological assistance to Haryana in this regard, he said the State government was actively working towards the 17 SDGs and hoped that the goals would be achieved before the scheduled time. These SDGs would eliminate poverty in all its forms, end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture, ensure healthy lives and promote well-being at all ages. These would also ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities, achieve gender equality and empower women and girls. These would also ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy.Mr. Khattar directed the Additional Chief Secretaries to create a mechanism so that every beneficiary receives the benefit of various welfare schemes being implemented. He said the 25 Good Governance Associates have been appointed with the objective to ensure good governance and transparency in the working of the government. Earlier, Finance Minister Abhimanyu assured that Haryana would not only be able to achieve SDGs, but would also go beyond that by improving the overall quality of life of people in the State.-PTI (The Hindu 6/7/16)

84. Nagaland rolls out food law; only TN, Kerala left (21)

New Delhi, Jul 6 () Nagaland has rolled out National Food Security Act from this month across all districts, taking the total number of implementing states and union territories to 34. Only two states — Tamil Nadu and Kerala — are left where the food law is yet to be implemented. Under the law, passed by Parliament in September 2013 during the previous UPA regime, the government provides legal entitlement to 5 kg of subsidised foodgrains per person every month at Rs 1-3 per kg to two-third of India’s population. “Nagaland government is implementing Food law in all districts from this month. Only two states are left now. Kerala has committed to implement, but we have not yet got positive response from Tamil Nadu,” Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told reporters. The Supreme Court has given a direction that this law has to be implemented and no state is above the law, he added. Speaking about direct benefit transfer of food subsidy, Paswan said this is being implement fully on a pilot basis in Chandigarh, Puducherry as well as Dadar and Nagar Haveli.”Though some states are keen to implement DBT, but we want to do it carefully. There are 3-4 problems that we are trying to sort out,” he said. The minister said the beneficiaries might face problems in withdrawing money from banks for purchase of grains in the open market. Both the state and banks should take proactive measures to address these hurdles, he added. On allocation of PDS foodgrains to states, Paswan said the Centre has decided to be flexible in allocating wheat or rice in a ratio that is required by those states which procure more than their PDS requirement. For instance, the Centre had recently allocated 85 per cent of rice and 15 per cent of wheat for PDS distribution to the Odisha. Earlier, the state was getting rice and wheat in 60:40 ratio. On cane arrears, Paswan said it has come down to Rs 3,838 crore so far in 2015-16 marketing year that will end in September. Out of which, Rs 1,963 crore pertains to Uttar Pradesh. (Times of India 6/7/16)

85. Guj 4th worst in allotting JNNURM houses to poor (21)

Ahmedabad: In what seems to be indifference in allotment of housing to the urban poor, Gujarat has the fourth highest number of unoccupied houses, under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and the second highest number of vacant houses under Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY). According to the data from the Union ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation, 19,986 JNNURM houses and 3,138 RAY houses are unoccupied in Gujarat, because the government has not allotted them. According to the figures on houses sanctioned and constructed under Pradhanmantri Awas Yojna (PMAY), which was introduced by the Narendra Modi-led Union government, 66,983 houses have been sanctioned, but none have been constructed. According to the government’s figures, 1.32 lakh houses have been sanctioned under JNNURM projects in the state, of which 1.20 lakh houses have been constructed. The state got sanction for 30,494 houses under RAY, but constructed just 3,138 homes under this scheme. This means just 10% of the houses sanctioned under RAY were constructed. These housing schemes are meant for the urban poor, but activists believe the government has not taken appropriate steps to implement them. Bharatsinh Jhala, a rights activists, said around 14 lakh people classified as urban poor in Ahmedabad are eligible for houses under various government schemes, but the state government has neither given them a proper dwelling place nor made any other arrangements. Jhabu Parmar, a 36-year-old resident of Ganeshnagar which is next to the city’s landfill site in Pirana and a BPL card holder, said that during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections she was verbally assured that she would get a pucca house, but it turned out to be a false promise. “As we were living near the dumping site, we went to live near Shankar Bhuvan na chhapra, beneath a plastic roof. It flew away in the last monsoon and we became homeless. After that we returned to Ganeshnagar, to live in that horrid place,” said Parmar. Shankar Chaudhary, minister of state for urban housing, was not available for comment on this issue. (Times of India 9/7/16)

86. Three quarters of South Sudanese need humanitarian aid: United Nation (21)

“We had over 2,000 people taking shelter inside our compound with our staff,” UN’s World Food Programme director Etharin Cousin said. Three-quarters of the population of South Sudan needs humanitarian aid after four days of deadly fighting, the UN’s World Food Programme director Etharin Cousin said on Monday. Between Friday and yesterday, the capital Juba was rocked by clashes between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his longtime opponent Vice President Riek Machar. The two men finally announced a ceasefire late yesterday. “Three quarters of the population of South Sudan is in need of humanitarian assistance,” Cousin told AFP in the Jordanian capital Amman. “This latest conflict is going to push even more people into hunger and despair,” she warned. Cousin said heavy fighting over two days had forced humanitarian staff into underground bunkers “because the shelling was in Juba and so close to our places of operation. “We had over 2,000 people taking shelter inside our compound with our staff.” The fragile ceasefire appeared to be holding in Juba today. The fighting left hundreds of people dead and sent nearly 40,000 fleeing. The violence has raised fears of a return to civil war that broke out in December 2013. On June 29 — before the latest violence erupted — both the United Nations and the Juba government said that more than a third of South Sudanese face starvation as the nation runs the risk of a full-blown famine. (DNA 13/7/16)

87. Beef eating: HC seeks govt reply (21)

NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court on Wednesday sought Aam Aadmi Party government’s response on a PIL challenging criminalisation of possession and consumption of beef in the national capital. A bench comprising Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal issued a notice to the Delhi government and gave it time till September 14 to respond to a petition seeking to set aside a provisions of Delhi Agricultural Cattle Preservation Act criminalising possession and consumption of beef in Delhi.Petitioner Gaurav Jain, a law student, along with an NGO in their petition claimed that similar provisions in a legislation of the Maharashtra government was struck down by the Bombay HC. The NGO working for welfare of Scheduled Castes and Tribes claimed that the Cattle Preservation Act (CPA) was ‘a case of legislative over-reach.’ “The right to eat food of one’s choice is an integral part of the right to life and liberty,” the PIL stated. (Times of India 14/7/16)

88. Centre approves changes in DAY-NULM guidelines (21)

New Delhi, Jul 19 () To reach out to more people, the Centre today approved changes in the guidelines of the urban livelihoods mission DAY-NULM, including allowing those in vulnerable vocations to form groups for availing loans at subsidised interest rates. As per the new guidelines, banks can directly accept applications from beneficiaries for extending loans at subsidised interest rates for setting up enterprises under the self-employment component, dispensing with the need for sponsorship by urban local bodies concerned, an official statement said. One bank will be designated as the nodal agency for each state to coordinate with all other banks to increase banking linkages for loan support under this component. “Men involved in vulnerable occupations like sanitation workers, rag-pickers and rickshaw-pullers are now allowed to form groups who would be eligible for bank loans,” the release said. Norms for formation of self-help groups (SHGs) of urban poor have also been relaxed, allowing up to 10 members to form a group in hilly tracts and tribal areas as against the earlier norm of 20 members. The Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM) seeks to reduce poverty and vulnerability of urban poor with providing loan and skill training, among others. The changes in operation guidelines of the mission were approved at a meeting of the National Governing Council of the mission, an inter-ministerial body chaired by Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation M Venkaiah Naidu. Minister of State for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Rao Inderjit Singh also attended the meeting. The Governing Council also allowed construction of shelters for the urban homeless with CSR (corporate social responsibility) funds and other donations allowing display of names of such donors. Construction of multi-storeyed shelters for urban homeless keeping in view land constraints has also been permitted, the release said. The Council has also permitted convergence of DAY-NULM with other schemes like Prime Minister’s Kaushal Vikas Yojana, Skill Development, Jan Dhan Yojana and various social security schemes like Pradhan Mantri Jivan Jyoti Bima Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana. After reviewing progress of the scheme in the past two years, Naidu said that the performance against the targets has been “satisfactory” but expressed the “need for states to do more”. (Times of India 19/7/16)

89. Tribals dying of hunger (6)

Bhubaneswar: The infant deaths (18 in three months), at Nagada village is a case of chronic hunger of primitive Juang tribals leading to acute malnutrition of their children and subsequent death due to lack of medical treatment. “ It reflects a bizarre case of how malnourished children are dying unattended in the chromite ore rich area where mining giants and big companies are minting money and claiming to have undertaken a lot of social activities as part of their corporate social responsibility,” observed a team of civil rights activists who returned from Nagada on Tuesday. Claims of ‘”inclusive growth’, innumerable anti-poverty schemes , nutrition programme, free food etc fall flat at Nagada as no officer ever visits the village which remains inaccessible calling for a hardous trek – climb the hill, they remarked . The village still suffers from hunger, malnutrition, drinking water crisis etc. the tribals area leading subhuman life without drinking water, electricity, food and lack of road connectivity. The government is squarely responsible for failing to provide basic amenities to the tribals. Many families have not been provided ration card under National Food Security Act due to irregularities in survey conducted to identify eligible households. Secondly, as per guideline of Antodaya Anna Yojana, all Juang families deserve to get each 35 kg rice per month.” Most of Juang families have not been covered till date,” said the rights activists led by Mr Pradip Pradhan, member of the advisory group of NHRC on right to food, Sudhir Mohanty, advocate, Odisha High Court, Mr Kalandi Mallik, Mr Sanjay Sahu, Mr Debenbdra Kumar Rout, who formed the fact finding team. The tribals walk for over 10 km to get any service or benefit under any scheme, they are unable to carry their sick children to hospital for treatment. They spend one day ( Rs.200 labour wage per day) to get Rs.300 pension amount under Old Age Pension Scheme. Almost all development programme and food security programme like ICDS, MDM, PDS, NREGA, Indira Awas Yojana, Biju Pucca Ghara Yojana, forest development programme, agricultural and horticultural programme etc. are not implemented in the area. (The Statewsman 20/7/16)

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

90. Centre moves to raise minimum wage for workers, labour unions unimpressed (14)

New Delhi: The NDA government is in the process of revising the minimum wages of millions of workers in several sectors, including agriculture, construction and mining. The daily wages of a sweeper or an unskilled construction worker in Delhi, for instance, is proposed to be increased by Rs 81 to Rs 449. Likewise, the position of an unarmed security guard could be upgraded from the semi-skilled to skilled category with a Rs 139 hike in his existing daily wage of Rs 407. These revisions form part of the labour ministry’s proposal to revise the minimum wages for 45 economic activities in the central sphere, including agriculture, construction, stone mining, sweeping, and loading-unloading. Despite being in the central sphere, they serve as a benchmark for minimum wages in the states too. “Increasing the minimum wages is a continuous process, and in a country that has a large informal sector, this move will bring cheer to many while boosting the overall economy,” said Soumya Kanti Ghosh, chief economic advisor, State Bank of India. Delhi and other major metropolitan cities have been clubbed under one category for the purpose of wages, while the rest of the country is divided into two other categories with lower income structures. A sweeper in Gwalior or Jaipur, for instance, would get Rs 374 per day – up by Rs 67 – if and when the wages are revised. On the other hand, a skilled construction worker in Delhi might see a hike of Rs 98. The minimum wages are applicable to both the formal and informal sectors “theoretically”, but it’s difficult to implement in the unorganised sector.Under the Minimum Wages Act-1948, wages have to be reviewed every five years. However, the agriculture sector saw its last wage review in 2005, sweeping and cleaning in 2008, and construction sector in 2009. “Minimum wages must be revised periodically to factor in inflation,” said DK Joshi, chief economist, CRISIL. Sources said the proposed changes in the wage structure have been brought before the Minimum Wages Advisory Board, and these will be notified soon after being cleared. …  (Hindustan Times 3/7/16)

91. 20 booked for vandalising assistant labour chief’s office (14)

Kolhapur: Workers of the Republican Party of India (RPI-Athawale group) allegedly vandalised the office of the assistant labour commissioner in Shahupuri on Monday causing losses to the tune of Rs 3 lakh. The Shahupuri police have booked 20 workers of the party for their alleged involvement in the act. According to the police, the Republican Party of India (A) members organised a morcha at the assistant labour commissioner’s office on Monday afternoon for their series of demands. However, things took a violent turn when they allegedly vandalised the office breaking chairs, windows and glasses and also damaged furnitures. The police present at the spot stormed into the office and managed to bring the situation under control. Later, the police held 20 people responsible for the act. They were booked under sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC), including 143 (punishment), 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon). They were also booked under the IPC sections 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 353 (assault or criminal force with intent to dishonour person, otherwise than on grave provocation) and 452 (house trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint) as well as section 135 of the Maharashtra Police Act. The RPI activists were agitating to press for their demands that included starting of insurance scheme for construction workers, allotting service books to construction workers within 15 days and enrolling new construction workers at the earliest. (Times of India 5/7/16)

92. MGNREGA is most innovative Indian programme: Joseph Stiglitz (14)

Bengaluru, July 6 (IANS) The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is the single most innovative programme from India and a lesson to the whole world, said Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz on Wednesday. “The single most innovative programme from India, lesson for the whole world, it was that programme (MGNREGA),” said Stiglitz in response to a question on how India can minimise or eradicate inequality. He was speaking on the topic ‘Global Inequlity — Causes and Consequences’ at an interaction organised by Azim Premji University here. Enacted in 2005, the job guarantee scheme under the MGNREGA aims to enhance the livelihood security of rural people by guaranteeing 100 days of wages in a financial year for adults willing to take up unskilled manual work. Elaborating on how to curb inequality, the 2001 Economic Sciences Nobel laureate said it is pivotal to generate full employment. “One of the things most important is employment. And when there are high levels of unemployment, there is inequality,” said Stiglitz, also a professor in the the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University in New York city. Generating full employment can be facilitated by ensuring rapid overall economy growth, he said. “Making sure that your overall economy grows at rapid rate is important. That means, not getting overly obsessed about inflation,” he stressed. “Excessive focus on inflation always inevitably leads to higher levels of unemployment levels and lower growth, and therefore more inequality,” added Stiglitz. Born in 1943 in Indiana, US, Stiglitz created a new branch in the discipline of Economics called ‘The Economics of Information’, which explores the consequences of asymmetries in information. (Times of India 6/7/16)

93. Sharp rise in timely wage payment to MGNREGA workers (14)

New Delhi: More workers are getting paid on time under the MGNREGA rural job scheme after the Supreme Court and Prime Minister Narendra Modi cracked the whip, as late payment threatened to derail India’s biggest anti-poverty project. Delayed wages had been a major reason for beneficiaries opting out of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), which brings work to millions of poor people in the countryside. It defeated the purpose of generating employment during distress in rural areas. But the payment schedule has improved substantially, of late. According to government figures, 62.21% of MGNREGA workers have been paid their dues within 15 days of completion of their work during April-June this year — the best performance since the scheme was introduced a decade ago. That’s a 65% jump, compared to 37.65% of workers getting their money on time in 2015. The sharp rise in timely payment came after the Supreme Court pulled up the government over unpaid wages two months ago. “It’s meaningless to have welfare schemes if affected persons do not receive assured benefits on time,” said a bench headed by Justice MB Lokur, hearing a petition on drought. There are 27.76 crore registered MGNREGA workers and payment punctuality is imperative because successive droughts had shriveled farm income. “It’s not sufficient to say so much has been allotted under a scheme. Those who worked under MNREGA are waiting for money. Why should people work without being paid? You can’t tell somebody to work today without money, which will be given after three months,” the court said. The top court’s rap forced the government to improve the payment schedule and cut delays. Prime Minister Modi stepped in too, hauling up officials at review meetings with the rural development ministry, sources said. He asked them to ensure timely payment and create assets under the MGNREGA. “Instead of waiting for the states to disburse money, we sent money directly to banks for disbursal of wages into the accounts of beneficiaries. We started an internet-based master roll of workers and monitored the system rigorously,” a rural development official said. (Hindustan Times 9/7/16)

94. Promote labour-intensive industries: NITI Aayog (14)

NEW DELHI: NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya stressed upon the need to promote labour-intensive industries in the country in a bid to create jobs. In a meeting with central trade unions and industry bodies, Mr. Panagariya gave a presentation on employment generation drawing a comparison with other countries such as China, Korea and Japan, said Virjesh Upadhyay, general secretary, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, who attended the meeting. “The presentation talked about the need to promote big and capital-intensive industries,” Mr. Upadhyay said. The meeting comes ahead of the labour ministry’s meet on July 18 with central trade unions to revive talks on their 12-point charter of demands. “He also said that legislative reforms in the area of tax, land and reforms are a must to generate jobs,” Mr. Upadhyay said, adding that this was the first time that the government think-tank held a meeting with the trade unions. CII and FICCI representatives also attended the meeting. (The Hindu 12/7/16)

95. 33 bonded labours rescued of Bastar rescued from Bangalore (14)

Raipur: A day after opposition Congress legislators expressed serious concern over rising incidents of human trafficking in Chhattisgarh, 33 tribal people, including three minors of Bastar district, were rescued from a factory in Bangalore who were kept in confinement and were forced to work as bonded labours. With the initiative taken by Aam Aadmi Party at Jagdalpur, the members approached district collector demanding return of 15 people identified who were stuck in Karnataka. A team was then sent to rescue them, who returned with 33 people of Bastanar and Darbha region while thousands were still languishing in parts of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. District convener of AAP Rohit Arya told TOI, “Two local women had lured these people for jobs in railway department and took them to Bangalore via Vizag in December last year. The people working in a factory were kept in confinement and were measly paid irregularly amid dearth of food and sleep and regular beatings.” When they tried contacting families and local sarpanch, they didn’t get much support and the families contacted AAP members. Arya said that we made a list of 15 people and submitted before district collector Amit Kataria following which a team of five members from labour department were sent to Karnataka to rescue. A case was also lodged against the women agents against whom police have launched a manhunt. In their statement they said that there were thousands of people more from Chhattisgarh in clutches of contractors who don’t allow them to return home. Meanwhile, district administration would now get strict with maintaining of registers at gram panchayat level to record movements and migration of people from one place to another. (Times of India 13/7/16)

96. No anti-labour legislation planned: Labour minister (14)

NEW DELHI: Labour and employment minister Bandaru Dattatreya on Monday sought to allay fears of trade unions and said the Centre had neither implemented any anti-labour law nor did it intend to do so in the future. The minister’s meeting with labour unions came amid apprehension that the government was looking to amend the laws to make them more business-friendly and could impact the interests of labour. The unions, which went on a day’s strike last September, have presented their demands to the Centre and Dattatreya sought to address the concerns. Sources said during the meeting that lasted nearly four hours, the minister “committed to labour welfare and to promote employment generation” but at the same time argued that labour reforms were necessary to enable setting up of more enterprises and to create jobs. He further said the government was looking to protect the interests of contract and construction workers. Some of the demands of unions include steps to contain price rise, opposition to foreign direct investment in railways, insurance and defence in addition to putting a halt to amendment to labour laws. (Times of India 19/7/16)

97. Four rescued from bonded labour in Hoskote, owner and sons charged (14)

BENGALURU: Suffering through bonded labour for over 10 years, three minors and an adult were rescued from a vegetable farm in Hoskote on Saturday, July 16. The four victims, hailing from Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu and Ramanagara in Karnataka were trafficked by the farm owner and his five sons who had paid the parents of the four an advance at the time of trafficking, ranging from Rs 20,000 to Rs 60,000. The oldest, 25 years of age, was bought by the farmer ten years ago and the rest of them, aged 16, 15 and 14 were trafficked, seven, four and five years ago, respectively. Once brought to the farm, the four youngsters were forced to work as per the weightage of advance paid to the parents. On Saturday, the victims were rescued by the Bangalore Rural District Administration and local police, along with the International Justice Mission (IJM). A case has been registered against the farm owner and his sons at the Hoskote Police Station under IPC 370 (Trafficking of Persons), bonded labour act and child labour act. “It is a serious crime that the youngsters were used as bonded labourers at this vegetable farm in Hoskote,” said, GB Chandrashekara, Tahsildhar of Hoskote who was in charge of the rescue. “The government of Karnataka takes these cases very seriously and we will conduct raids on any farm or factory that we suspect uses bonded labour. In this case, the owner of the farm faces serious human trafficking charges which carries a minimum sentence of 10 years. The labourers have been given release certificates by the Assistant Commissioner of Bangalore Rural District, MK Jagadesh and they will be rehabilitated.” “Giving advances to labourers or their families and restricting the freedom of the labourer based on the advance is also illegal according to the Bonded Labour (Abolition) Act which attracts a maximum sentence of three years,” said Sashmeeta Mulmi, Director of Government Engagement, IJM. … (Times of India 20/7/16)

RESERVATION

98. Jats suspend quota stir after talks with Rajasthan govt.(25)

JAIPUR: The Jat community of Bharatpur and Dholpur districts in Rajasthan has suspended its agitation for reservation under the Other Backward Class (OBC) category, which was slated to begin on Saturday, after its representatives reached an understanding with the State government over some of the demands. Three State ministers, who met a 21-member delegation of the Bharatpur-Dholpur Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti in Jaipur, assured that the State OBC Commission would be apprised of the demand for early collection of quantifiable data to support the claim of Jats for quota in jobs and education. The demand for drinking water supply from Guragaon Canal to 205 villages will also be considered. Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Arun Chaturvedi said though the State government agreed in principle with the reservation demand, the matter was sub judice after both the Supreme Court and the Rajasthan High Court struck down the notifications for inclusion of Jats in the Central and State OBC lists. (The Hindu 3/7/16)

99. Govt issues notification on reservation in promotions (25)

Jaipur: People from Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, Other Backward Class, Special Backward Class and economically weaker sections placed in notified areas of the state will get reservation in promotions. The state government on Monday issued notification approving 5% of reservation for Scheduled Caste and 45% of reservation for Scheduled Tribe in scheduled areas for government jobs other than state services. Apart from this, 5% seats will be reserved for SC and 45% for ST’s in scheduled areas for the direct recruitment in government jobs other state services. On rest 50% seats, applicants from other communities will be selected based on their qualification. However, even these seats will be open for the SC and ST candidates. (Times of India 5/7/16)

100. OBC quota opening doors but policies need better implementation: Transgenders (25)

BENGALURU: Manju, 41, is a postgraduate but is forced to beg for a living. The transgender harboured the dream of being a teacher but was shown the door by many colleges. “What good is my education? Despite being a degree holder, I have to resort to begging. I have been pushed into sex work too. Had society been a little empathetic towards me, I would be living with dignity,” said Manju.Discrimination and stigma have bulldozed the dreams of many like Manju, who are competent enough to hold respectable positions. But coming to the rescue of the community, the Supreme Court last week passed a ruling reiterating that transgenders have to be included in the OBC category. Though the judgment was delivered on April 15, 2014, the NDA government moved an application in July 2014 seeking clarification on whether the term ‘transgender’ included lesbians, gays and bisexuals. The apex court’s latest verdict has clarified that the transgender community does not include lesbians, gays and bisexuals but only eunuchs. The judgement has come as a ray of hope for transgenders who can now identify themselves as the third gender, reap the benefits enjoyed by OBCs and get more employment opportunities. However, implementation of policies is still a far cry, say activists. “Though we are witnessing a change, it is visible only in a few institutions and organizations working for the uplift of transgenders. The policies are still pending with the government and there is a lack of implementation. We are yet to be accepted by society. Commissions should be set up to look into policies related to the transgender community,” said Akkai Padmashali, an activist inspiring transgender community across the world. When asked about transgenders being given the recognition of the third gender, Akkai said, “If I am the third gender, then who is the first? Why should anyone decide what my gender is? Rakshita, 19, who is all set to pursue B Com, said the SC order will help only if the government and society gives them employment opportunities. “Even though the verdict brings us under the OBC umbrella, transgenders hardly any chance to grow. How many colleges are willing to offer admission to transgenders except St Joseph’s,” she asked.The SC order should be accepted and implemented at the state level. I have been pursuing modelling and have worked in the national award-winning and critically acclaimed Kannada movie Naanu Avanalla Avalu, which which narrates the story of a transgender. But I am still struggling. I am mostly offered petty roles, which portray transgenders in a bad light. I dropped out of school after class 7 because I was bullied. If we have to struggle for something like a ration card despite the OBC status, there is a serious lack of policy implementation. (Times of India 5/7/16)

101. Arvind Kejriwal calls DU admission system ‘bizarre’ (25)

New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday termed the admission process of Delhi University “bizarre”, saying it doesn’t have a quota for the local students or entrance tests. “Delhi University admission system is most bizarre. They don’t have either quota for locals or normalisation of marks or entrance tests”, tweeted the Chief Minister. His comment comes close on the heels of Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s letter to the then Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani, demanding changes in the admission process of the varsity. In a letter written to Irani on July 2, Sisodia had suggested allotment of five percentage points for local students in those Delhi University colleges which are funded completely by the Delhi government. He also asked for a separate entrance test for admission in DU colleges. Former Delhi BJP chief Vijay Goel, who has been raising the issue of reservation for local students in DU, also suggested an eligibility test for admission into the varsity. “I met DU Vice-Chancellor and requested him to bring quota for local students and conduct eligibility test for admissions. I also called on Manish Sisodia and the HRD minister and I am confident that the talk would go in the right direction”, Goel, who was recently inducted into the Union council of ministers, told IANS. DU admissions for various courses are currently going on with the university scheduled to release the third cut-off list on Sunday. (Business Standard 7/7/16)

102. Rajasthan rectifies notification to allow 100% quota for locals in TSP areas (25)

Jaipur: The Rajasthan government has reissued a notification for Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) areas, reserving 45% jobs for Scheduled Tribe (ST) and 5% for Scheduled Caste (SC) candidates in all direct recruitment, except the State Services. In addition to the ST/SC candidates, the general category candidates too would get quota benefit in the TSP areas. As per the notification, the remaining 50% vacancies in all direct recruitment in the TSP areas will be filled only with local candidates from the OBC, SBC and general categories. The special quota is only for candidates who are natives of the TSP areas and is applicable in direct recruitment at the lower levels only in TSP areas. The TSP areas include the entire southern districts of Dungarpur, Banswara and Pratapgarh and some parts of Udaipur and Sirohi. The tribal people, supported by the Samanta Manch, had been agitating for the fresh notification since the earlier one was stayed by the Rajasthan high court on the ground that the state government failed to clarify under which law the special quota was granted. The new notification gives references to sub-para (1) of para-5 in the Fifth Schedule under Article 244(1) and the Government of India notification F19(2)80-L-1 dated February 12, 1981 in allowing special quota to tribal people in TSP areas. The local people from the TSP areas held a massive “Dhikkar” rally in Sagwara tehsil of Dungarpur to demand correction in the earlier notification so that the special quota could be implemented. The state government subsequently held a couple of meetings with the TSP leaders on the issue. The region has the largest number of assembly constituencies reserved for ST candidates in Rajasthan. The past election-patterns show that the locals here vote en masse and the party that takes lead here generally comes to power. In 2013, the BJP won 15 of the 17 seats reserved for the ST in the region. (Times of India 9/7/16)

103. Right to admission reserved (25)

NEW DELHI: Most colleges have already filled more than half their seats and the largest number of vacancies now exist in the reserved categories. Hindu and Shri Ram College of Commerce, for instance, are close to completing the process and, barring further withdrawals, are likely to close admissions in several subjects. A fourth list of cutoffs is likely in subjects like economics and mathematics and will be released on the night of July 14. “We have filled 719 of our sanctioned seats. Adding the admissions to supernumerary seats, such as sports quota, the total is 730,” said Anita Vishen , admissions convenor at Hindu college. There have been a total of 114 withdrawals at Kirori Mal College, while at Indraprastha College for Women it is 150. Officials at both colleges said that there are vacancies in the reserved categories. “Out of the 148 seats reserved for Scheduled Castes, 66 have been claimed. Of the 74 seats for Scheduled Tribes, 53 are full and of the 255 OBC seats, 180 have been admitted,” said Purnima Roy, vice-principal, Miranda House. Of the 986 seats, 779 have been filled. The situation is the same at SRCC which has filled all general category seats. There are vacancies in BCom (H) at KMC, Lady Shri Ram and Kamala Nehru College. But Shaheed Bhagati Singh College (Evening) has over-admitted in the subject, taking in 60 candidates against 40 seats. Even in science courses there are few vacancies. Hansraj , however, has seats in chemistry and zoology and Hindu in physics. There are also seats in mathematics and statistics at several colleges. “Around 200 seats are vacant. With another day for admissions left in the third list, we expect a good number of students. On Tuesday we had around 110 admissions. Barring 3-4 courses, others are likely to be closed for general category candidates in the fourth list. However, we will take a final call on Thursday. We may have to keep a few courses open at the same cutoff ,” said P Hemlata Reddy, principal, Sri Venkateswara . Some candidates are still finding it difficult to pay. Officials from both north and off-campus colleges say that the payment for first-list admissions has not been cleared in some cases. (Times of India 13/7/16)

104. Bihar leader’s quota prod (25)

Ranchi, July 14: Senior BJP leader from Bihar Prem Kumar has urged the Jharkhand government to keep the Chandravanshis out of the purview of the tenancy laws, allowing this socio-economically backward community to use their land for commercial purposes. The Leader of the Opposition in the Bihar Assembly added that the Chandravanshis were an extremely backward community (EBC) and needed special benefits on a par with the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes from government to survive. “I called on chief minister Raghubar Das yesterday and apprised him of the ground realities. The economic condition of members of the community is deteriorating yet they are not able to sell their land in the Scheduled Areas,” Prem Kumar said at a news conference at the state guest house in Ranchi. If the Jharkhand government is unable to exempt the Chandravanshis – who claim to comprise around 6-7 per cent of the population in the tribal-dominated state – from the tenancy laws, the community members should be given reservations and other benefits like SCs and STs. “Like Bihar, Jharkhand should give 16 per cent reservation to EBCs and 11 per cent to OBCs in government jobs and admissions to educational institutions,” he advocated. The BJP leader claimed that chief minister Das had promised to give careful considerations to the demands, which also include setting up of an extremely backward community commission in Jharkhand; representations by Chandravanshis in the proposed advisory body as well in the 20-point programme implementation committee, other boards and corporations; enactment of stringent laws to prevent exploitation of EBCs; reservations in panchayati raj and municipal bodies et al. On the liquor ban in Bihar, Prem Kumar questioned chief minister Nitish Kumar’s real intentions. “Illegal and spurious liquor is being smuggled into Bihar from neighbouring states. Before imposing the ban, Nitish Kumar should have spoken to his counterparts in neighbouring states,” he said. The Bihar leader, however, maintained that the BJP in principle was also in favour of liquor ban everywhere. “But it should be done in phases.” He also alleged that Bihar under the JDU-RJD combine had become a den of scams – merit scam, scholarship scam. (The Telegraph 15/7/16)

105. Demand for reservation based on economic conditions opposed (25)

KALABURAGI: Chairman of ICCSR Sukhdeo Thorat has opposed the demand for reservation based on economic conditions for different castes and said that reservation extended to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was not based on their economic conditions but due to oppression faced by them for centuries and also deprivation of opportunities due to the caste system prevailing in the country from time immemorial. Speaking at a seminar on “Challenges faced by the Dalit Communities in the Country” organised by the Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Vichara Vedike to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Ambedkar here on Tuesday, Prof. Thorat, who is a former chairman of the University Grants Committee, said that the very demand for reservation based on economic conditions is meaningless as it defeated the concept of reservation guaranteed in the Constitution. He said that the Scheduled Castes continued to be deprived of their due share in development and employment avenues due to various factors, including continued oppression and the practice of untouchability that is going on unabated even now in the villages throughout the country. The education levels and employment levels of the Scheduled Castes continued to be low despite the reservation policy. Prof. Thorat said that the government should conduct a study and document the extent of deprivation of property rights, education and employment opportunities and low wages to Dalits in the country and take corrective measures to undo the injustice done to the community. Recent studies by UNESCO have pointed out that the unemployment rate among the Scheduled Castes continued to be high at 11 per cent where as the unemployment rate of Other Backward Classes was around 5 per cent. The UNESCO survey also pointed out that the infant mortality rate was high among the downtrodden communities when compared to others, he said. Prof. Thorat said that the government should introduce a programme for reduction of poverty among the Scheduled Castes by extending education, employment benefits as per reservation and ensure that all the landless Scheduled Castes families get agricultural land for tilling to improve their economic status. Honorary president of the vedike Maruti Manpade spoke. Sri Jayamrutyunjaya Swamiji of Kudala Sangama was present. (The Hindu 20/7/16)

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

106. India abstains at UN vote on LGBT Independent Expert (1)

NEW DELHI: India avoided taking a position on the need to end discrimination based on sexual orientation at the Human Rights Council of the UN, as the Supreme Court is yet to “pronounce” on the issue of rights of LGBT persons, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Friday. The MEA’s clarification came a day after India abstained from a voting at the UNHRC on a resolution to set up the office of Independent Expert to end discrimination against LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual) persons. “The issue of LGBT rights in India is a matter being considered by the Supreme Court under a batch of curative petitions filed by various institutions and organisations. The Supreme Court is yet to pronounce on this issue. As such, We had to take this into account in terms of our vote on the third UN resolution to institutionalise the office of an Independent Expert to prevent discrimination against LGBT persons,” said Vikas Swarup, MEA spokesperson. The move to create this special office in support for the LGBT community follows the June 12 mass killing at an Orlando night club in Florida. The resolution which was backed by the Latin American member states was opposed by Russia and the Islamic countries as India, Philippines and South Africa abstained. The official for the newly created post of Independent Expert will shortly be appointed for a three-year period and will serve to fight challenges faced by LGBT persons across the world. The debate on the resolution brought out sharp differences among member countries of the Human Rights Council (HRC) as several countries cited cultural traditions against supporting the move. However, the move to have the office of the Independent Expert was supported by 628 NGOs from 151 countries, informed The International Lesbian, Gay, and Trans and Intersex Association. India has been cited by several human rights reports as one of the countries where the rights of LGBT persons are yet to be secure. Introspecting on the opposition to the resolution, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in an official statement: “We are disappointed that several hostile amendments to the resolution were adopted, but we remain steadfast in our support for the resolution and its goals, despite these unfortunate changes.” The move at Geneva comes after an initiative on June 17 when diplomats posted in 27 embassies in Delhi celebrated the LGBTI “Pride Month”. (The Hindu 1/7/16)

107. NHRC issues notice to Kerala govt on dalit sisters’ arrest (1)

Kochi: The National Human Rights Commission has issued a notice to Kerala government, seeking its report over the arrest of two Dalit women for allegedly attacking a CPI(M) worker in Thalassery in Kannur district last month. In its notice, the NHRC directed Chief Secretary S M Vijayanand and state Police Chief Loknath Behera to “explain the circumstances” in which the Dalit women were arrested “when they in fact came to lodge a complaint against local CPI(M) activists”.”They are requested to submit an Action Taken Report in the matter for perusal of the Commission within four weeks,” the Commission said, acting on a complaint filed by senior Congress MP Mullappally Ramachandran in respect of the arrest. In his complaint, Ramachandran alleged that the women were abused, called by their caste name and subjected to obscene gestures by the CPI(M) activists. The arrest of two Dalit siblings, daughters of a local Congress leader, for allegedly attacking a CPI(M) activist in Thalassery, had kicked up a row in Kerala with Congress and BJP attacking the LDF government over the issue. Akhila (30) and Anjana (25), daughters of Indian National Trade Union Congress leader N Rajan were summoned to the police station on June 17, where a case was registered against them. They were then sent to the women’s jail after being charged with non-bailable offences. Akhila went to jail along with her one-and-half-year-old daughter. Both the sisters got conditional bail the next day. However, one of them attempted to commit suicide after release from jail. Cases were registered against CPI(M) MLA A N Shamseer and DYFI leader P P Divya in connection with the suicide attempt of one of the Dalit sisters. (Business Standard 2/7/16)

108. Haryana human rights panel issues notice to govt (1)

Chandigarh: Taking suo motu cognizance of a TOI report on lack of basic facilities for candidates appearing for selection to constables’ posts, the Haryana Human Rights Commission (HHRC) on Monday sought explanation from the government and the Haryana Staff Selection Commission (HSSC), the running the recruitment drive.As many as 5.25 lakh candidates from Haryana and nearby states have applied for the 7,000 posts of general duty constables of Haryana Police. While issuing the notices to additional chief secretary (home), HSSC secretary and director general of police, the rights commission’s divisional bench, comprising Justice V K Jain (retd) and J S Ahlwawat, has directed the three officers to file their replies on the issues raised in the media report. On July 2, TOI had highlighted the plight of candidates appearing in the physical tests conducted at Kurukshetra. With makeshift open toilets near the recruitment venue, non-availability of proper arrangement to relax and candidates were made to run in potholed roads. In addition, there was no medical aid and no mechanism to check the use of performance enhancing drugs by aspirants. Three candidates had died reportedly due to use of performance enhnacing drugs and around 400 were hospitalized for various reasons between June 15 till July 2. (Times of India 5/7/16)

109. SHRC to take up cop torture of kuravas (1)

Chennai/Madurai: Member of the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) K Baskaran termed the alleged detention and torture of 14 members of the kurava community (gypsies) by the Kanyakumari police a brutal act. He told TOI that he was extremely shocked by the incident that was reported in the media on Thursday. While condemning the torture unleashed on the kuravas, that included four women and five minors, during their illegal detention for 63 days, Baskaran said the SHRC would take up the issue suo moto and issue notices to the police officials concerned seeking their explanations. Activists say incidents of kuravas being illegally detained and tortured are not infrequent in the state. The Kanyakumari episode is just one such example. In Madurai too, such incidents used to be frequent until a few years ago. It is because the police have a tendency of stereotyping the community, which was once a notified tribe under Criminal Tribes Act of 1871. The activists say the efforts of human rights activists in taking up the atrocities against the community with the higher police authorities and organising the community people have helped in curbing atrocities against them in Madurai. The activists admit that still a small number of gypsies are involved in theft incidents. But the entire community should not be treated as criminals, nor the families of the accused harassed. They say the onus is on the government to pay special attention to the community and uplift them by providing education and employment. Executive director of People’s Watch Henri Tiphagne says gypsies are targeted by the police as they are easy victims. They are often picked up and false cases foisted on them.He said they have brought the Kanyakumari incident to the notice of the National Human Rights Commission. They have also sent formal complaints to the government of Tamil Nadu. The victims will be produced before a magistrate and made to explain the tortures they underwent when a habeas corpus petition filed recently comes up for hearing.  Thanaraj, a Madurai based tribal activist, says a large number of kuravas live in Trichy, Perambalur, Ariyalur and Villupuram districts. (Times of India 8/7/16)

110. Human Rights Watch says domestic workers `trapped` in Oman (1)

Human Rights Watch warned on Wednesday that many foreign domestic workers in Oman are trapped in abusive employment, urging the sultanate to reform its “restrictive” immigration system. In a 67-page report titled “`I Was Sold`: Abuse and Exploitation of Migrant Domestic Workers in Oman,” the New York-based watchdog interviewed 59 domestic workers, some of whom described “abuses that amounted to forced labour or trafficking.” The report documents how Oman`s visa sponsorship system for workers, known in Gulf countries as kafala, and the lack of labour law protection, leave migrant domestic workers “exposed to abuse and exploitation.” “Migrant domestic workers in Oman are bound to their employers and left to their mercy,” said HRW`s Middle East women`s rights researcher, Rothna Begum. “Employers can force domestic workers to work without rest, pay or food, knowing they can be punished if they escape, while the employers rarely face penalties for abuse,” she said. HRW said at least 130,000 female migrant domestic staff work in Oman. In one documented case, Bangladeshi Asma K, says she travelled to the United Arab Emirates to work there, but her recruitment agency “sold” her to a man who confiscated her passport and took her to adjacent Oman, where he forced her to work 21 hours a day. “I would start working at 4:30 a.m. and finish at 1 a.m.,” she was quoted by HRW as saying. “For the entire day they wouldn`t let me sit. When I said I want to leave, he said: `I bought you for 1,560 rials ($4,052) from Dubai. Give it back to me and then you can go.`” HRW urged Oman to reform its labour law to cover domestic workers and provide them with ‘equal protections’ available to other workers, and to revise the kafala system. Oman “should ratify the International Labour Organization Domestic Workers Convention, and bring its laws into compliance with its provisions,” HRW said in a statement. “The sultanate should also cooperate with countries of origin to prevent abuse and exploitation”, it added. Human rights groups have repeatedly urged Gulf states to reform their labour laws affecting domestic workers, who mostly come from south Asian and African countries.  (Zee News 13/7/16)

111. NHRC takes up tribals’ cause, seeks reports (1)

BHUBANESWAR: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought reports from Union Home Ministry as well as the State Government on the killing of five innocent tribals in police firing in Kandhamal district last week even as opposition political parties accused the State Government of trying to cover up the incident. Secretary general of the NHRC Satyanarayan Mohanty told mediapersons here that both the Home Ministry and the State have been asked to submit reports within two weeks. Meanwhile, the opposition Congress and BJP have raised questions about impartiality of the probe by the SIT formed by the State Government. The SIT is headed by Additional DG, Human Rights Protection Cell Mahendra Pratap. How can the investigation be fair and impartial, when it will be supervised and monitored by an officer who was suspended by the Government, Leader of the Opposition Narasingh Mishra asked. Mahendra Pratap was Gajapati SP when R Udaygiri incident took place on December 8,1998, Mishra said and added that Naveen Patnaik had then demanded action against the officer. Why the Chief Minister has now entrusted the responsibility to the same officer to monitor and supervise the investigation of such a sensitive case, he asked. The Leader of Opposition demanded that investigation by the SIT should be monitored by the High Court. Senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra also criticised the Chief Minister for trying to cover up the incident by entrusting Mahendra Pratap to supervise the investigation of the case. The Chief Minister had demanded action against the officer after the R Udaygiri jailbreak incident. The CM is trying to cover up the incident by doing so, he said. Meanwhile, a three-member team of BJP MPs will visit Kandhamal on Friday to make an on the spot assessment of the situation. The team comprises Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Jyoti Dhurve and Ramvichar Netam. Former MLAs Pratap Sarangi and Siddharth Sekhar Singh Mardraj, state BJP secretary Sisir Gamang and state executive member Sukanta Panigrahy will accompany the Central team. A team of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) headed by Narasingh Mishra will also visit Kandhamal on Friday. (New Indian Express 15/7/16)

112. 300 cured people still in asylums; SC seeks states’ reply (1)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to six states on a petition seeking the release of nearly 300 people languishing in Uttar Pradesh mental hospitals even after their ailments were cured. A bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice A M Khanwilkar issued notices to Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal Rajasthan, Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir and Meghalaya in response to a PIL petition. The bench sought the release of persons who were fit for discharge from mental hospitals and asked to ensure their social security after discharge. Advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal filed the PIL based on the response received under an RTI query from government mental hospitals in Bareilly, Varanasi and Agra. The plea asked the court to issue directions to shift people who were fit for discharge to secure places such as old age homes. “This court in its various judgments observed that the right to life includes ‘right to live with dignity’ and in the present case the people who are normal are forced to live with mentally ill patients for many years and hence their fundamental rights are infringed by the respondents,” the plea said. The petition added that the conditions in which these people were living unsatisfactory, unethical and unconstitutional. Meanwhile, a recent study has found that at least one in four women lodged in mental health asylums in the country are abandoned by their families who either refuse to take them back or give false addresses at the time of admission. The study by the National Commission for Women and the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) states 23.7 per cent women had been in mental health asylums for 10 years and above. Conducted across 10 mental health institutions in the country, the survey finds that all centres struggled with reintegrating women patients. Further, according to the study, 60 per cent women in mental asylums are married and 30 per cent of them are homemakers. “Many patients reported that they want to go home. Either their addresses cannot be traced because of illness, or they have been deliberately abandoned by their families. Some families do not want to take the patients back and provide wrong addresses at the time of admission,” the study said.  The 10 centres where the research was conducted were RMH Yerwada, RMH Thane, IPHB Goa, GMH Kozhikode, Calcutta Pavlov Hospital, Berhampore Mental Hospital, RINPAS in Jharkhand, MH Bareilly and IMH Amritsar. (New Indian Express 19/7/16)

113. NHRC issues notice to Centre, J&K govt (1)

NEW DELHI: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Tuesday sought reports from the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir government following the violent clashes in the Valley following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. Expressing its “utmost concern” over the developments, the commission has issued notices to the Union home secretary and the chief secretary of government of Jammu and Kashmir asking them to submit reports in the matter. They have been given two weeks to respond, the NHRC spokesperson said in a statement after the commission took suo motu cognizance of media reports about numerous casualties and injuries in the clashes between protesters and security forces. “It (NHRC) has observed that it is closely watching the incidents of violence in the aftermath of the killing of militant Burhan Wani in an encounter with the security forces on July 8,” the statement said. (Deccan Herald 20/7/16)

 

JUDICIARY/ LAW

114. In a metro like Delhi, Rs 12,000 maintenance not too much: Court (19)

New Delhi: A court in New Delhi has refused to set aside an order directing a man to pay Rs 12,000 as monthly maintenance to his estranged wife and child in a domestic violence case, saying the amount was not excessive in view of the inflation and rising prices in a city like Delhi. The sessions court, while dismissing the appeal of the man, a DMRC official, also observed that it is the duty of an able-bodied husband to maintain his legally-wedded wife and children. “Interim maintenance to the tune of Rs 12,000 per month for herself and for her child cannot be said to be excessive, keeping in view of the inflation in the market and rising prices in the metropolitan cities like Delhi,” Additional Sessions Judge Ramesh Kumar said. The court said “respondent (wife) being legally-wedded wife of the appellant (accused), is liable to be maintained by him. It is the duty of the able-bodied husband to maintain his wife and children.” The appeal was filed by Ghaziabad resident Anil Kumar contending that the trial court did not consider his burden and liabilities while pronouncing the award. The sessions court, however, upheld the award saying there were no illegalities or irregularities in the verdict. “It has transpired from the record file that the aggrieved is not having any source of income. Further, she has one minor child dependent on her,” it said. According to prosecution, the complainant had filed a dowry harassment case against her husband and in-laws and the trial court had directed Anil to pay maintenance of Rs 12,000 per month to her after considering his salary slip. The trial court had also asked Anil, a technician with the Delhi metro, to clear the arrears within six months. In his appeal, Anil’s counsel contended that the trial court had not considered the fact that appellant has liability of his parents, three unmarried dependent sisters and a minor son. However, the sessions court asked him to approach the trial court to prove the dependency and other liabilities claimed by him. “He is at liberty to prove the dependency of the other family members upon by adducing evidence before the trial court,” it said. (DNA 1/7/16)

115. Is divorce granted by Church considered valid under Indian common law? (19)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today agreed to expedite hearing on a PIL to examine the issue whether divorce granted by a Church, set up under its personal law, could be considered valid under the Indian common law. A bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice D Y Chandrachud allowed an interim application moved for early hearing in the case after former Attorney General and senior advocate Soli Sorabjee, appearing for petitioner Clarence Pais, sought an urgent hearing. “The application for early hearing is allowed. Hearing of the appeal is expedited,” the bench said. Pais, an ex-president of a Catholic association in Karnataka, said when oral ‘triple talaq’ could get legal sanctity for granting divorce to Muslim couples, why could Canon law decrees not be made binding on courts of law. He had alleged that many Catholic Christians, who married after getting divorce from Christian courts, faced criminal charges of bigamy as such divorces are not recognised by the criminal and civil courts here. “It is reasonable that when the courts in India recognize dissolution of marriage (by pronouncing the word talaq three times) under Mohammedan Law which is personal law of the Muslims, the courts should also recognise for the purpose of dissolution of marriage Canon Law as the personal law of the Indian Catholics,” the plea had contended. The plea had contended that Canon Law is the personal law of the Catholics in the country and has to be applied and enforced by a criminal court while deciding a case under section 494 (bigamy) of the IPC. “This is also applicable for sanction of prosecution considered for alleged bigamy of a Catholic spouse who has married after obtaining a decree for nullity of the first marriage from the Ecclesiastical Tribunal (Christian court),” it said. The Centre, however, had opposed the plea saying Canon law could not be allowed to override Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872 and Divorce Act, 1869. “Since the power for dissolution of marriage has been vested in the court, there is no scope for any other authority including ecclesiastical tribunal to exercise power,” the government had said. (New Indian Express 4/7/16)

116. Common code exists in various laws, not linked to religion: Law Commission chief (19)

Amid a raging debate over the implementation of a uniform civil code in the country, Law Commission chairman Justice (retd.) BS Chauhan on Thursday said the code has been in place in many laws and not been linked to religion. The government had last month asked the law panel to examine the implementation of the common code. While the move was opposed by some political parties and activists, ruling BJP had hailed it. “It (uniform code) had never been linked to religion in many cases,” Justice Chauhan told PTI. Supporting his observation, he said Indian Penal Code (IPC), Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), Evidence Act, Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act and UP Abolition of Zamindari Act are some legislations where a common law is applicable to all without consideration of religion. He said these laws do not discriminate on religious lines. “These laws have been observed for years and no one has raised any question. Most people are perhaps unaware that common code exists in many laws,” he said. He, however, said it is too early for him to say anything concrete on the Law Ministry reference. “We will have to examine the various issues involved, segregate them and then talk to various people on those lines…we will have to see whether it is time to regulate the various laws in one go or in phases or to regulate them (in one common code) at all,” he said. He said the Commission will take time to present its report to the government. After sorting out various issues, it will seek public opinion by perhaps putting up a consultation paper on its website. Taking over as the new Law Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad had yesterday said the decision to refer the matter to the law panel should not be linked to the election in Uttar Pradesh due next year. Prasad said there was a need for “wider consultation” on the issue before arriving at a decision. Implementation of a uniform civil code is one of the core issues of BJP and the Sangh Parivar but the NDA governments in 1998 and 1999 and the current dispensation headed by Narendra Modi have put the contentious issues like scrapping of Article 370 giving special status to Jammu and Kashmir and construction of Ram temple on the back burner. (DNA 7/7/16)

117. PIL seeks scrapping of BJP’s Lotus symbol (19)

New Delhi: A PIL seeking a direction to the Election Commission of India to scrap ‘Lotus’ symbol allotted to BJP was filed in the Bombay High Court today, contending that it is a national flower and cannot be used as a party icon. The petition alleged that BJP is using the national flower (Lotus) for electoral purposes and thereby violating the Emblems and Names (Prevention of improper use) Act 1950. “Lotus is a sacred flower and occupies a unique position in art and mythology of ancient India and it has been an auspicious symbol of Indian culture. Lotus is a flower of Goddess Laxmi and symbolises wealth, prosperity and fertility,” said the petition filed by activist Hemant Patil. “Lotus symbolises purity, achievement, long life and good fate and hence cannot be used as a symbol by any party for election purpose,” argued the petition, which is likely to come up for hearing next week. The petitioner said he had given a representation to the Election Commission to scrap the Lotus symbol of BJP as it was a national flower but it had not been considered and hence he had moved the Bombay high court. The Lotus symbol was allotted to BJP 25 years ago by the Election Commission but no party or person had ever objected to it, though it is violative of Emblems and Names (Prevention of improper use) Act, said the petition.The petition prayed for a direction to the Election Commission to produce all the records in respect of allotment of Lotus symbol to BJP and until then freeze the symbol allotted to the party. (Indian Express 8/7/16)

118. Suspecting wife’s fidelity is also domestic violence: HC (19)

MADURAI: Suspecting the wife’s fidelity and questioning her for moving about with almost every other person, including her father, also amounts to domestic violence, entitling the victim woman subjected to such “emotional abuse” to seek refuge under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, the Madras High Court Bench here has held. Further, rejecting the husband’s contention that he did not have the wherewithal to pay maintenance to his estranged wife, as ordered by a lower court, since he was unemployed, Justice P. Devadass said: “It is too dangerous to accept such a contention. If he has no job, he can work as a coolie and there is no wrong even in begging for feeding wife and children.” Stating that the term ‘domestic violence’ included physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and economic abuse, the judge said: “In a domestic relationship, domestic violence is analogous to matrimonial cruelty. Domestic violence comprises physical as well as mental cruelty. Mental cruelty is worse than physical cruelty. Physical cruelty may heal but not mental torture.” Dealing with the specifics in the case on hand, he said: “In this case, the husband is having the habit of suspecting his wife. He has the habit of linking her with many persons. He is too cruel to link her even with his father. It will be too dangerous and unbearable for a wife. It will be hell for her… In the facts and circumstances of this case, what is complained of is nothing less than domestic violence.” Though a Judicial Magistrate in Kovilpatti had in July last directed the revision petitioner to pay maintenance of Rs.10,000 every month to the woman apart from providing rental accommodation to her on a monthly rent of Rs.10,000 and paying Rs.50,000 towards compensation, a Sessions Judge had modified the order to a great extent at petitioner’s behest on February 11 this year, the judge pointed out. Since the Sessions Judge had reduced the compensation to Rs.25,000 and also deleted the direction to provide rental accommodation, there was no necessity to interfere with the award anymore, Mr. Justice Devadass said. On the plea of unemployment raised by the petitioner, the judge said: “If such a contention is accepted, then every husband will try to escape from his moral and legal obligation.” (The Hindu 13/7/16)

119. DNA test on children involves serious emotional issues: HC (19)

MADURAI: Directing innocent children to undergo DNA test to prove dispute over paternity, even in maintenance cases arising out of discord between their parents, is like “asking the children to walk on fire,” the Madras High Court Bench here has said. Justice P. Devadass made the observation while rejecting the plea of a criminal revision petitioner to subject his two minor children to DNA test to prove his claim that they and his estranged wife were not legally entitled to claim maintenance from him. A District Munsif-cum-Judicial Magistrate at Vadipatti near here had rejected a similar plea on September 23 on the ground that it was an attempt to avoid payment of maintenance and an indirect pressure exerted on the woman to withdraw the claim for maintenance. However, assailing the lower court’s rejection, the petitioner claimed that the judicial officer had erred in refusing to order DNA test despite his wife having given her consent for the test. But Mr. Justice Devadass strongly backed the decision taken by the Magistrate and dismissed the revision. The judge said: “DNA test cannot be ordered for mere asking. Even if one of the spouses is ready for the test, the court need not be ready as it involves serious emotional issues. Courts must take extreme care and caution in ordering such a test. Only when there is material strong enough to doubt the birth of the children and if it is needed, the court can order such a test.” The judge pointed out that in the present case, there was no need for such a test since the couple had entered into a wedlock in 2006 and lived together for considerable number of years. “Then they were better halves. Now they have become bitter halves,” he said. Further, the petitioner had questioned the paternity only during the hearing on the maintenance petition though several other cases relating to the domestic dispute were pending in various courts. Therefore, “I do not find any impropriety in the lower court order,” the judge said. (The Hindu 15/7/16)

120. Legal fraternity suggests measures to remove bottlenecks in judiciary (19)

New Delhi: Top lawyers and retired judges of the Supreme Court have come up with an array of suggestions seeking to remove bottlenecks in the judiciary, including the need to strengthen courtroom infrastucture across the country. The proposals came up during a panel discussion organised by civil society and NGOs including Justice Seekers, CSR (Centre for Social Research) and All India Women’s Conference here yesterday. Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra (retd) called for constitutional amendments to refine legal processes and formation of an active group in civil society, which she said, would regularly flag issues faced by litigants, to the judges. (Indian Express 17/7/16)

121. Madras high court dismisses plea for declaring IT raid, summons illegal (19)

CHENNAI: The Madras high court has declined to quash and declare as illegal searches conducted on the premises of Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Ltd by income tax officials and consequential summons issued to its director Ravi Viswanathan. Dismissing a writ petition filed by Viswanathan against the IT department, Justice T S Sivagnanam on Tuesday said: “If the prayer sought for is to be considered, it would result in interdicting an investigation process. What the petitioner seeks to indirectly achieve is to injunct summons, which cannot be done, that too in exercise of jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution. The plea of malafides has not been specifically pleaded or established, mere use of the expression is not sufficient.” In his petition, Viswanathan sought to declare the entire survey conducted by the officers of the income tax department, under Section 133A of the Income Tax Act on December 1 and 2, 2015 on the business premises of the company and residences of its directors and the consequential summons, culminating in the visit of joint director and deputy director of IT department to the residences of the directors on June 15, 2016, as illegal. He also sought to declare the summons issued under Section 131 of the Income Tax Act as illegal, malafide, abuse of powers, ultra vires the Income Tax Act and without jurisdiction. He said the object of the survey and summons proceedings were not bona fide, and the department’s refusal to give copies of the sworn statements made by the directors and consultant of the company amounts to violation of principles of natural justice. The visit of the joint director and the deputy director to the company bosses’ residence to take evidence under Section 131 of the Act is without authority of law, the petition said, adding that there was no assessment proceedings of the directors and consultant of the company pending before the joint director and deputy director of IT department. Hence, repeated summons to them as ‘assessee’ was without jurisdiction, he said, calling the proceedings null and void. However, additional solicitor-general of India G Rajagopalan raised a preliminary objection with regard to the request for copies of the statements by the petitioner, stating that the company director who has sworn to the affidavit in the writ petition had not given any statement. “The persons, who have given statements, have not approached the court, and therefore, the department is not in a position to give the statements recorded from other persons to the petitioner, as the investigation is in process,” he argued….  (Times of India 20/7/16)

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

122. SHO, three cops suspended for custodial death (1)

Bhopal: A police station in charge and three other policemen posted in a police station in Seoni-Malwa were suspended after a youth accused of theft, committed ‘suicide’ under mysterious conditions on Friday. A magisterial probe has also been ordered into the custodial death. Police inspector RN Chauhan, constables Tejraj Singh, Mohan Singh and Aruj were suspended by the senior officials. Youth Jayprakash Lomwanshi was found hanging in his cell at Seoni Malwa police station on Friday morning. Lomwanshi, a resident of Bhalrao village was living in Bhopal for past few months; he was arrested from Harda by Seoni Malwa police a couple of days ago in connection with a theft case, in which he was also named, said police. On May 23, a theft took place at Nadarwara village under the Seoni Malwa police station where around Rs 1 lakh were stolen, Lomanwanshi was named as an accused in that FIR. Police said that on Friday morning he allegedly hanged himself to death in his cell at the Seoni-Malwa police station. (Times of India 2/7/16)

123. Prisoner’s death: Kin allege custodial torture (1)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: THE death of a prisoner who was serving life term at the Central Prison at Poojappura on Monday got shrouded in mystery with his relatives alleging that he was a victim of custodial torture. Sajeev, 32, a convict in several cases, was found hanging inside his cell at the Central Prison on Monday afternoon. Though the prison staff on duty took him to the Medical College Hospital, he was declared brought dead. Following the incident, the authorities suspended two prison officials – Shashankan, Deputy Prison officer, and Anoop, Assistant prison officer – for dereliction of duty. According to the relatives of Sajeev, a native of Valiyathura, there was no reason for Sajeev to commit suicide as he had spoken to his mother and wife on phone on Sunday. They alleged that the prison staff had used third degree torture methods on him, which led to his death. It is alleged that Sajeev had entered into an altercation with other prisoners a few days ago. However, the prison officials have ruled out any such incidents. A G Suresh, Central Prison Superintendent, said that Sajeev was kept in an isolated cell for the past few days as he had been creating trouble for other inmates. “He was a regular inmate of the prison. Currently, he was undergoing life term after being convicted in an abduction case. He was convicted on April 10. Besides, several theft cases were also registered against him. He used to create trouble for other prisoners and this prompted the authorities to shift him into an isolated prison. Moreover, he was a Hepatitis C Virus patient. This might have prompted him to take the extreme step,” Suresh said. He further said that the officials had been suspended as they were in charge of the protection of prisoners. However, he said that further action would be taken after a detailed inquiry. Sajeev’s body was handed over to relatives after preparing an inquest in the presence of the Magistrate on Tuesday. (New Indian Express 6/7/16)

124. Security forces cannot use excessive force in AFSPA areas: Supreme Court (1)

NEW DELHI: Serving a blow to immunity enjoyed by armed forces under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) against criminal action for acts committed in disturbed areas, the Supreme Court on Friday held that armed forces personnel and police cannot use “excessive or retaliatory force” in disturbed areas. A Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and R.K. Agarwal upheld the highest constitutional court’s power to entertain and deliver justice under Article 32 of the Constitution in a plea made by the families of civilians killed in over 1,528 cases of alleged fake encounters involving the army and the police force in Manipur. In a judgment, which will have ramifications in sensitive border areas across the country, the apex court held that the allegations of fake encounters in Manipur by the Army and the Manipur Police should be “thoroughly enquired into.” It stressed that security forces cannot use excessive force and then claim immunity from criminal action. The court observed that there are several ‘dos and don’ts’ in the defence forces’ rule book and there is no justification whatsoever of breaching these rules of combat and conduct. The court asked the petitioners and amicus curiae Menaka Guruswamy to collate the information regarding 62 cases of alleged fake encounters in Manipur and submit it before the Bench in a simple tabulated form. The information should comprise details of whether any FIR was filed in a case, the identity of the victim, whether a judicial enquiry was ever conducted or whether there was an enquiry under the Commission of Enquiry Act, etc. The court directed the National Human Rights Commission to render assistance to this exercise. The independent exercise to tabulate the 62 cases once again has been done due to a mismatch in the findings of the apex court-appointed Justice Santosh Hegde Commission and the NHRC. The Commission had enquired into 62 of the 1,528 cases and highlighted 15 cases of ‘fake’ encounters. But the NHRC had found that 31 of the 62 cases were found to be not genuine. The court stopped short of delving into issues of court-martial of defence personnel allegedly involved in the encounters, leaving the issue open for independent enquiry by a competent authority as per law. The court also sought the Centre response on NHRC’s plea that it has been reduced to a “toothless tiger.” The court has scheduled a hearing after four weeks to consider these aspects. The details of the crimes allegedly committed by the Army, the CRPF and police commandos were revealed in a series of inquiry reports filed by serving and retired district judges, adding impetus to the cry for justice and repeal of AFSPA by activist Irom Sharmila. On August 8, 2014, the Manipur government had handed over the reports to the Supreme Court. The judgment is based on a PIL filed in 2012 by the Extra Judicial Executions Victims’ Families Association, through senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, seeking a Special Investigation Team to probe the extra-judicial killings and disappearances in the State. The Supreme Court had in 2014 directed the State government to pay Rs 10 lakh to the mother of Manipuri girl Thangjam Manorama, who was allegedly killed by Assam Rifles personnel in 2004. A Bench of Justices T.S. Thakur and P.C. Ghosh told the government to pay the amount within four weeks. A judicial inquiry report had revealed to the apex court the “brutal and merciless” torture of the girl by an Assam Rifles team. The Manorama case had led to widespread protests against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and is partly attributed to calls for review of the law, especially by the Justice J.S. Verma Committee in 2013. (The Hindu 8/7/16)

125. Transgenders face problems aplenty (1)

KOZHIKODE: Following the recent rise in the atrocities against transgenders(TG), several TG activists put the blame squarely on the lack of legal protection for the community. Activists say the issues faced by transgenders do not merely end with discrimination, but are far more severe involving violence and atrocities. Ranging from sexual abuse to custodial torture, TGs encounter a host of issues within the family and outside. “Presently there are zero laws in place when it comes to the legal protection for TG community. Right from the time a transgender approaches the police to lodge a case, what awaits her is the male/female column which in itself is inadequate to address the concerns. There are no existing laws to deal with the issue of rape attempt against transgenders. Similar is the case with marriage registration of TGs,” says Seethal Shyam, a transwomen and secretary of Sexual Minority Forum Kerala. She adds that a representative from transgender community should be included in the state Assembly in order to conform to the inclusive nature of the august House. Recently,  two incidents of transgenders being brutalised were reported from Kochi, which is by far the closest the state has to hep mega cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru. Tragically, the alleged perpetrators in Kochi incident were the law enforcers themselves. “Since the police themselves are the alleged perpetrators of violence in many cases, transgenders must be provided with direct access to the District Magistrate(DM). Apart from this, free legal aid should be given to any transgender approaching the court via respective legal service bodies (NALSA, SLSA, DLSA),” says Vyjayanthi Vasanta Mogli, a transwoman activist and a PhD scholar at Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Social Sciences(TISS). Vyjayanthi is quite critical of the Centre’s Transgenders Rights Bill, which according to her is a ‘watered down version’ of the original 2014 Bill introduced by DMK leader Tiruchi Siva. “The government has done away with the reservations for transgenders in the education sector  while sustaining the job reservations provided for in the 2014 Bill; how are we able to avail ourselves of jobs without education?” she says (New Indian Express 11/7/16)

126. Congress to raise Jharkhand custodial deaths in assembly (1)

Ranchi: The Congress party in Jharkhand said on Thursday that it will raise the issue of custodial deaths and police atrocities in the state in the upcoming monsoon session of the assembly. Addressing a press conference here, Jharkhand Congress President Sukhdeo Bhagat said Chief Minister Raghubar Das was running “Ravan Raj” in the state and free hand has been given to the bureaucrats and police to commit atrocities on the common people, especially those belonging to the weaker sections of the society and the minorities. “The Congress party will raise the worsening law and order situation, police atrocities, domicile issues and anti-tribal and anti-minorities policies in the state assembly,” said Bhagat. He also flayed the state government over the declining law and order and said that those who have to maintain law and order were committing crimes. Bhagat pointed out that in state capital Ranchi, in the last one month 28 murders took place, while from January 1 to May 2016, 786 murders have taken place in the state along with 251 incidents of loot. Referring to the alleged suicide of Topchanchi police station in-charge Umesh Kachap, he said Kachap did not commit suicide but was murdered. “This was an example of how police officials from the weaker section are exploited by this government,” Bhagat said. He pointed to the murder of a minor, Rupesh Swanshi, in police custody in Bundu, alleged suicide by a police constable posted at District Commissioner House in Hazaribagh, and interrogation of a minor child in Manika police station of Latehar as examples of police atrocities. Bhagat said the state government had called the monsoon session of the assembly just to ensure that the first supplementary budget is passed. The government is not concerned about the developmental issues concerning the state, he added. He said that the government was only interested that the funds be allocated so that the officials and the government “can loot”.The monsoon session of the assembly will begin from July 22. (Zee News 14/7/16)

127. Little girls are raped, killed, then thrown away. Is brutality becoming an Indian way of life?

From a nation that found its feet on the principle of nonviolence, we seem to have become a nation that celebrates brutality. The daily headlines spell out gory details of ordinary people inflicting the most horrid kinds of cruelty on ordinary people. When the Delhi Nirbhaya case revealed how mercilessly the girl was ripped open by a so-called juvenile, the outrage led us to think that such sadism wouldn’t be seen again. But the plague has been spreading. A girl waiting for a train at a suburban station in Chennai is stabbed repeatedly by a lone man as people watch. Before we could get out of that shock, another girl is hacked to death in public in Salem. In Delhi, a school boy is beaten to death by a panmasala shop’s owners over a trifling argument. Girls 10 and below are sexually attacked, then killed and thrown away. A young wife is helped by her mother to kill her two children with poison so that she can go with her paramour. An abandoned wife finds a lover and the two of them torture the woman’s five-year-old daughter to death so that they can be “free”. Apparently Indians have been doing this sort of thing for a while. Back in 2012, Thomson Reuters Trust said that India was on par with Afghanistan, Congo and Somalia as the world’s most dangerous place for women. In 2004 a woman was raped in our country every 54 minutes, in 2012 every 20 minutes. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reported that between 1953 and 2011, rape became India’s fastest growing crime. Perhaps the most telling statistic provided by the NCRB is that 65 per cent of Indian men believe that women should tolerate violence against them in order to keep the family together. That might throw light on the psychology behind the 8,000 dowry deaths that occur every year in India and the so-called honour killings (1,000 out of 5,000 reported cases annually are in India). They don’t just kill; they kill viciously. In Rajasthan, four years ago, a father chopped off his 20-year-old daughter’s head because she was dating a lower caste man, then walked around town with her severed head to warn other young women in the locality. …  (New Indian Express 17/7/16)

128. Custodial death: tension at Paravur (1)

KOLLAM:  A tense situation prevailed at Paravur on Tuesday following the death of an autorickshaw driver Surendran Pillai who was taken into custody by the Paravur police late in the evening for not wearing the prescribed uniform. A huge crowd mob gathered at the Nedungolam hospital where the body was kept. They prevented the police from transferring the body to the district hospital mortuary. Surendran Pillai was taken into custody by Circle Inspector Nazar and taken to the police station. — Special Correspondent (The Hindu 20/7/16)

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

129. Defamation: ‘Press Council should appeal against Supreme Court order’ (1)

Expressing concern over the implications of the Supreme Court order upholding criminalising defamation, the former media adviser to Prime Minister and retired Director of Press Information Bureau, S. Narendra, said the Press Council of India (PCI) should appeal against the order in the interest of press freedom. Speaking after inaugurating a discussion on “Criminalising Defamation” at a programme organised by Mysuru District Journalists’ Association (MDJA) here on Saturday, Mr. Narendra said PCI should come to the rescue of the media by approaching the Supreme Court against the verdict. If need be, PCI should implead itself in the case. Also, various media organisations in the country should approach the Law Commission of India and represent their grievances on the matter, he said. Mr. Narendra, however, regretted that PCI was not playing the role expected of it after the advent of the new media, including television and the internet. He said that the role of a watchdog that the media plays in society will be affected by criminalising defamation and added that democracy itself was threatened if media is stifled. Mr. Narendra, who served as a media advisor to three Prime Ministers — P.V. Narasimha Rao, H.D. Deve Gowda and I.K. Gujral — said successive governments had tried to control and censor the media in India, beginning with the Prevention of Publication of Objectionable Matter Act in 1950. Later governments at the Centre too had tried to stifle press freedom, he said. Legal expert C.K.N. Raja, who also spoke on the occasion, however welcomed the Supreme Court ruling to uphold criminalising of defamation and said the order was in keeping with the constitutional ideology. He said every citizen of India had equal rights to respect and dignity. “Nobody has a right to defame and hurt anybody’s feelings, including the media,” he said.Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with defamation, was a well thought out law and there was no need to tamper with it, he said. Referring to freedom of speech and expression, Mr. Raja said nobody can be given unrestricted and absolute freedom and it was only fair to place certain reasonable restrictions on freedom of press. (The Hindu 3/7/16)

130. Print media facing the threat of extinction: linguist Devy (1)

With the advent of digital technology, the print media is facing the grave threat of of becoming extinct, linguist Ganesh N. Devy said here on Sunday. Inaugurating a State-level “Media Interaction” organised by Trijya Chintana Vedike at the Alur Venkatarao Sabhabhavan, Prof. Devy said that the disappearance of a newspaper like the Independent in England was akin to “live history” coming to a standstill. “Despite the various limitations, the medium of letters and the print media had handled successfully the responsibility of bringing human beings face to face, and make them mingle. However, the advent of digital media has ‘snatched away the speech’ of human beings and made them silent,” he said.Prof. Devy said that people had reached a stage of messaging each other despite standing in front of each other. “This process of pushing people towards isolation and aloneness is complementary to the present day development of moving towards capitalism and fascism,” he said. Prof. Devy said: “The print media, which had undergone a transformation, is facing the threat of extinction because of digital technology and there is a dire need for finding a solution to the problem.” Tracing the history of print media in initiating literary movements and how they led to the birth of great litterateurs, Prof. Devy explained how it became necessary for leaders such as Gandhiji, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Ambedkar to start newspapers to give a direction to the freedom struggle and also to spread their ideas. Vinaya Okkund of the vedike briefed about the objectives of the event. Subsequently, various researchers and students made presentations on a number of newspapers and periodicals. An exhibition of various newspapers and periodicals was also organised. (The Hindu 4/7/16)

131. Upholding free speech: Madras high court struck a blow for freedom by defending beleaguered writer Perumal Murugan (1)

Freedom of speech is threatened when identity-based groups appoint themselves as community guardians and arrogate to themselves the right to decide how their group can be portrayed in print or film. In a judgment this week, the Madras high court struck a blow for imperilled freedom of speech when it defended a book of beleaguered Tamil author Perumal Murugan, who stopped writing following intimidation by caste organisations. Murugan’s acclaimed Tamil novel Madhorubagan caught the attention of some caste-based groups a few years after its publication. Subsequently, the author was hounded as “sentiments” were offended. The upshot was that he not only announced that he would stop writing but also asked his publishers to withdraw all his work. It is this situation that the court judgment reversed by taking a stand in favour of democratic rights. The judgment does well in pointing out the fallacy in a line of reasoning that has become all too common in India. An identity-based group claims its sentiments have been hurt and threatens violence; the state then steps in and in the interests of “peace” bans the work of art or advises its author to withdraw it. In doing so, however, the state legitimises violence and fails in its first duty: to assure the security of its citizens. One aspect of the judgment needs consideration. Recommending guidelines to help authorities to deal with a similar situation, the judgment said an expert body could look into the work. This is a minefield as assessment of a work of art is subjective. As the judgment itself says “art is often provocative and is not meant for everyone.” It’s best to follow the advice another part of the judgment proffers: “If you do not like a book, simply close it. The answer is not its ban.” (Times of India 8/7/16)

132. Zakir Naik being harassed for no valid reason, says Cong’s ally IUML (1)

New Delhi: The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) on Sunday came out in support of preacher Zakir Naik, saying the “advocate of peace theory in Islam” is being harassed for no “valid reason”.Addressing a press conference in Kozhikode, IUML MP and former minister E T Mohammed Basheer said, “Naik is an advocate of peace theory in Islam. The action by the authorities against the Islamic preacher is a violation of the freedom of expression. He is being harassed for no valid reason.” The IUML’s stand may cause much embarrassment to its ally Congress which had been attacking the BJP-led government for allowing the broadcast of Naik’s Peace TV in India. “The probe against Naik is being carried out in a prejudiced manner,” Basheer alleged and demanded that authorities stop harassing the preacher. “Since the launch of Islamic Research Foundation in 1991, Naik has travelled to many parts of the world and delivered a large number of speeches and organised several debates. In view of these facts, he should not be harassed,” he said. Basheer alleged that the Maharashtra government has launched an investigation in a “prejudiced manner” intending to oppose his activities and portray him in a “wrong way”.”Those who believe in the Indian Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression should come forward to oppose the move,” he said. A video footage of a speech by Naik in which he speaks against Islamic State, was also played during the press conference. Naik has come under the scanner over reports that one of the Dhaka attackers was allegedly inspired by his speeches. (Asian Age 11/7/16)

133. Social media posts pose new challenge for govt. agencies (1)

NEW DELHI: A deluge of social media posts terming Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani a “martyr” has emerged as a new challenge for security agencies. Officials said terrorist elements in Pakistan were cashing in on Wani’s killing and they were flooding the Internet with solidarity messages for the slain Hizbul commander. Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafeez Saeed, accused of masterminding the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, has been posting messages from his Twitter handle hailing Wani as a “martyr.” Saeed has also put messages in support of Kashmiri separatist leaders like Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who was taken into preventive custody. Several Twitter handles, mostly being operated from Pakistan, have uploaded Wani’s photo as their profile picture with a tagline — “This isn’t 1 less Burhan, it’s 100 more Burhans.” The image of Wani is seen as an attempt to replicate the iconic photo of socialist revolutionary Che Guevara, taken by Alberto Korda in 1960. “It is a clear attempt by terrorist elements to project Wani as a hero and the next revolutionary leader like Guevara. Like Guevara, Wani is also wearing a headgear in the images being circulated online,” said a senior government official. The official said that though Internet services had been suspended in the Valley, there was active online chatter about Wani’s killing and the image had been shared multiple times. “It is difficult for us to block each and every Twitter account or report to Facebook about such mischievous messages doing the rounds. It is just not possible. The next big headache for us is containing these social media posts that are highly mischievous in nature,” said the official. Several video clips, claiming to pay tribute to Wani, were also under the scanner of the security agencies. “There are multiple such platforms where the only job for Pakistan-based terrorist elements is to post messages in solidarity with Wani. They want to convince the virtual world that Wani was indeed a hero. They want to change the narrative,” the official said. (The Hindu 14/7/16)

134. Press Council to take up media ban with J&K government (1)

NEW DELHI: Press Council of India will take up the state action against media in J&K on Monday following strong statement of criticism from the Editors Guild of India and concerns raised by several PCI members. The state government has banned newspapers and cable TV following days of unrest after militant Burhan Wani’s killing. Speaking on the issue PCI chairperson Justice (retd) C K Prasad said, “I have received communications of concern from several members. We will take up the issue tomorrow.” Meanwhile Editors Guild described the clampdown as “gagging” the media and strongly condemned it. “This is a direct assault to the freedom of the press in India and the Guild strongly condemns this unwarranted muzzling of the media…It is extremely unfortunate that the state government, under fire for its poor management of the law and order situation in the Valley, has sought to shoot the messenger,” the statement said. Reports suggest that the journalists and other staff working in Greater Kashmir and Rising Kashmir were detained, harassed and their mobiles taken away by the raiding police parties.The Editors Guild notes that the two main English newspapers of Kashmir, Greater Kashmir and Rising Kashmir, are run by responsible editors and journalists and report events with sobriety. “We are also aghast to note that the media censorship will continue, for a minimum of three days if not more. The Editors Guild of India requests the State Government to immediately lift the censorship and refrain from any action to intimidate the press,” it said. (Times of India 17/7/16)

135. Journalists attacked in Nagpur (1)

RAIPUR: Five journalists and cameramen were allegedly attacked by some office-bearers of a residential school in Nagpur on Monday. A woman journalist was also manhandled by the office-bearers of Ahilyabai Holkar residential school on the outskirts of Nagpur city when two Marathi news channel teams went to the premises to report on alleged irregularities. Surbhi Shirpurkar, a reporter of IBN Lokmat news channel, said she had gone to the school along with her cameraman Prashant Mohite. “One member of our channel’s technical staff and two more journalists were accompanying us. We entered the school premises and revealed our identities. Manoj Mate, son of the school secretary Shrikrishna Mate, began threatening us. Within minutes, Shrikrishna Mate came to the school along with some of his men and without asking anything, started abusing us. They attacked our cameramen. When I began video recording the incident with my mobile phone, they threatened and manhandled me,” Ms. Shirpurkar told The Hindu. Gajanan Umathe, a reporter with the Maharashtra One channel said they had received information about the alleged malpractices and irregularities in the school through the Right to Information Act. In the video footage captured by the channel’s cameraman, the school administrators could be seen shouting and pushing the reporters and cameramen. The journalists, who lodged a complaint in the police station nearby, also alleged that the police have lodged a counter-complaint against them. “Journalists are attacked while trying to cover a story. Then you file police cases against them. How can we work freely in such an atmosphere? This is an attack on media independence,” said Mr. Umathe. Deputy Commissioner of Police Rakesh Kalasagar, who is holding additional charge of the area where the incident took place, said the police had received complaints from both sides. “According to the school administrators, five reporters tried to enter the government-funded residential school this afternoon without proper permission. The school people prohibited them from shooting inside the school. According to reporters, the school people abused and even manhandled the lady reporter. We have registered both the offences and are investigating,” the DCP said. Manoj Mate is the Nagpur district president the Rashtriya Samaj Paksh, one of the coalition partners of the BJP government in Maharashtra. Both Mr. Mate and his father could not be reached for comment. This is the second such incident in Nagpur in a month. In June, an IPS officer was photographed snatching a camera from a photojournalist in the city. (The Hindu 19/7/16)

136. Lawyers beat up media reporters at Kerala High Court (1)

KOCHI: A section of lawyers of the Kerala High Court beat up media reporters within the court’s premises twice on Tuesday, questioning the wide coverage given to a case where a government pleader is accused of molesting a woman on a public street. Following the attacks, reporters covering the high court have filed a written complaint before the acting chief justice (ACJ) Thottathil B Radhakrishnan, Bar Council of Kerala, and the advocate general. A reporter of Deccan Chronicle who was reporting court proceedings on a petition filed by the government pleader, Dhanesh Mathew Manjooran, was asked his name by a lawyer and taken out of the courtroom. A group of lawyers who were waiting outside took him near a staircase, showered expletives on him, and pushed him down the stairs. Office-bearers of the Kerala High Court Advocates Association held talks with reporters at the media room following the incident and apologized for the attack. Reporters expressed their wish to bring the matter to the attention of the ACJ.While the complaint to the ACJ was being prepared at the media room, a group of lawyers reached there and began showering verbal abuses on reporters. One of them kicked a senior reporter of Asianet News. The second attack was also described in the complaint filed to the ACJ by reporters. When the ACJ reached his chamber after the afternoon session of the court, reporters met him and submitted the complaint. Half an hour later, journalists took out a protest march to the high court under the banner of Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ). The march was blocked by police before reaching the court, outside the building of advocates association. Addressing the protestors, KUWJ leaders said lawyers attacking media within court premises is unheard of in Kerala and demanded that the chief justice should ensure swift and prompt action to ensure the right of media to report court proceedings without any hindrance from unruly lawyers. (Times of India 20/7/16)

COMMUNAL RIOTS

137. Group clash in south Delhi, cops among injured (7)

New Delhi: Members of two communities clashed and pelted stones and empty glass bottles at each other in south Delhi’s Fatehpur Beri area, injuring over a dozen persons, including policemen, a senior officer said on Saturday. Police have registered a case of rioting and detained around 25 people in connection with the violence which took place on Friday evening.“The two communities live in a narrow bylane which is one reason why it turned into a group clash. However, no one sustained major injury. The injured, including 4-6 policemen, had bruises,” a senior police officer said. Although police claimed the incident was a fallout of tiff among children which was joined by elders of the two communities, sources said an incident of eve-teasing led to the clash. “It started as a brawl among youngsters. Later, the communities got involved. Bricks and bottles were used. Timely action was initiated and situation was brought under control,” said Additional DCP (south) Nupur Prasad. (Indian Express 2/7/16)

138. MP towns shut on Eid, Hindu groups blamed for forced bandh (7)

Neemuch / Mandsaur |  : Several towns in the communally sensitive Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh shut down on Thursday, raising allegations of Hindu right-wing organisations orchestrating the unofficial bandh during Eid celebrations. Reports said the majority of business establishments in Neemuch, Javad and Manasa in Neemuch district and Mandsaur, Shyamgarh and Sitamau in Mandsaur district remained closed and people had a tough time even buying essential commodities on Thursday. The two districts have a history of communal violence and sources said the RSS and its affiliated organisations circulated messages for the past one week asking people to protest alleged provocative statements made by a Muslim cleric. HT could not independently verify the circulation of such messages, allegedly through mobile apps. All these towns in western MP have sizeable Muslim populations. But Neemuch SP Manoj Singh and collector Rajneesh Shrivastava denied shopkeepers were forced to close shops and said those who did not open their shops did so on their own volition. Shrivastava said there was no disturbance anywhere. Such unannounced bandhs started a year back in Javad following stone pelting on a Hanuman Jayanti procession. There were also reports of a similar bandh in Neemuch during an earlier Muslim festival. The Congress submitted memoranda to the administrations of both districts against the bandh. Sources said some Congress members also tried to open some of the shops in Neemuch. Congress leader Umrao Gurjar said that people belonging to RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal were behind this and BJP was pressuring the administration to look the other way. “This is an attempt to create animosity between communities,” he said. VHP Neemuch district president Babulal Nagda, however, said the bandh was a “reaction of the common people against members of a particular community for previous incidents of stone pelting on Hindu religious processions and molestation of Hindu girls”. (Hindustan Times 8/7/16)

139. 400 cops deployed amid fears of Bhojpur ‘communal tension’ (7)

Shahpur/bhojpur; Two days after a Hindu youth allegedly circulated an objectionable post regarding Prophet Mohammed on WhatsApp, Ranisagar village in Bhojpur remained tense Saturday. Jitendra Gaud, who runs a sweet shop in Ranisagar market, under Shahpur police station’s jurisdiction, said over a dozen shops, including his, had been ransacked. “We don’t know who sent what WhatsApp message. We earn Rs 500-700 a day. We want to live peacefully and do our business,” he said, adding that “over 1,000 people” had created ruckus in the area. While the youth, the son of a local barber, has been arrested, police said communal tension resurfaced after Friday prayers. Ranisagar, which has a population of over 12,000, has about 70 per cent Muslims. Locals say there is no history of communal violence here, and Hindus and Muslims have for years run adjoining shops. “Some influential Muslims of the village brought it to the police’s notice on Thursday. Some fiery speeches after Friday prayers escalated the situation. Though there is no communal conflict, we cannot rule out (anything),” said a police officer, adding that a case has been lodged against more than 50 people. No arrest has been made yet. Over half a dozen policemen and government officials were injured in stone-pelting as a mob torched several small shops. Suraj Thakur, a fish seller, said the mob wreaked havoc and retreated only when police were called in. Over 400 policemen have been deployed at Ranisagar, which is in Shahpur assembly segment, to monitor the situation, Bhojpur SP Chhatranil Singh said. Mohammed Jamshed, a local, tried to strike a note of reconciliation. “We have co-existed here for years without any communal tension. One must not spread hate messages against any religion.” (Indian Express 10/7/16)

140. Main accused in Ara trader murder case surrenders (7)

Ara: The main accused in the Munna Sai murder case, Sonu Prasad surrendered before the chief judicial magistrate (CJM) court here on Monday. Three other accused had already been arrested in the case. Munna was allegedly killed by the four near his house at New Area Babu Bazar under the Town police station area of Ara on Saturday morning. Senior BJP man and Union minister Giriraj Singh visited Sai’s house on Monday. Talking to media persons, Giriraj said Sai’s murder in full public view proved that criminals had no fear of law in Bihar. Instead, people have started fearing for safety. He said many criminal incidents happened at Ara recently. Giriraj said the situation is like that during the pre 2005 period in Bihar. Leader of opposition in Bihar legislative assembly Prem Kumar also visited Sai’s house. It may be mentioned that on April 30, some criminals had thrown a bomb at a mall in the town for extortion. On May 9, the deputy mayor of Ara was shot at by some criminals. Singh also visited Ranisagar under the Shahpur police station area of Bhojpur district on Monday. Dozens of shops of a particular community had been burned there by a rampaging mob on July 7 and 8, leading to communal tension in the area. The cause of communal tension was an objectionable comment made by a person on the Facebook against a particular community. According to Bhojpur police, the situation at Ranisagar is normal. Bhojpur SP Kshatranil Singh said shops and property of 22 persons had been damaged and each victim would be given Rs9800 as immediate relief. They would get further compensation after a committee asked to conduct a survey about the exact damages submits its report. The SP said 18 persons have been named in the FIR and three of them have already been arrested. (Times of India 11/7/16)

141. J&K unrest: Kashmiri Pandits group urges state, Centre to evacuate Hindus from Valley

Jammu: Pointing out that ongoing violence in Kashmir in the aftermath of the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was indicative of entire Valley being “in the grip of a fundamentalist Islamist order”, Panun Kashmir, an organization representing migrant Kashmiri Pandits, on Tuesday alleged attacks on Hindus living there and appealed to both the Centre and the state government to evacuate them to safe places outside the Valley. “The life, safety and honour of minorities living in Kashmir is the responsibility of the government and it should show no dithering in fulfilling this responsibility,” said Panun Kashmir convenor Dr Agnishekhar and its chairman Dr Ajay Churngoo in a joint statement.  “The communal crowds that attacked Kashmiri Pandits’ transition camp at Haal were just a gate-crash away from razing it to the ground and carrying out massacres worse than what happened in Nandimarg and Wandahama,’’ they alleged, adding that such attacks on Kashmiri Hindus took place all over the Valley. Alleging receipt of reports of “burning of Hindu houses, desecration of temples, life threatening harassment and intimidation”, they said that while a comprehensive picture of the situation will appear before people in coming days, these “deliberate and well organized crowd attacks on Hindus living at transition camps or elsewhere in Kashmir and their properties have been nothing less than genocidal attacks”. With dangers to the life and existence of Hindus in Kashmir so brazenly manifest that the perfidy and viciousness of the government proposals of clusters, composite colonies to settle internally displaced Hindus in Kashmir is now clearly visible, they added. Both the Kashmiri Pandit leaders urged the Centre to “realize the gravity of situation on the ground and the dangers to the integrity of the nation from a fundamentalist separatist movement”. “After whatever has happened with Hindus living in Kashmir in the aftermath of the killing of Burhan Wani, nobody should have any doubt that creation of a Union Territory out of areas on North and East of river Jhelum is the only way for their safe and lasting rehabilitation in the Valley,” they added. They held “criminal appeasement of fundamentalist separatist enterprise by both the Government of India and the state government” responsible for the incidents being witnessed on the streets of Kashmir. Pointing out that the authority of the state in Kashmir has been undermined as no time before, they said that this has happened as governments both at the Centre and in the state have allowed the credibility and authority of security forces to be eroded as a matter of political policy. (Indian Express 12/7/16)

142. SIT begins Kandhamal inquiry, oppn skeptical (7)

Bhubaneswar/Berhampur: The state government-constituted special investigation team (SIT) on Tuesday began its probe into the death of five innocent villagers in an alleged crossfire between police and Maoists in Kandhamal. Amid growing criticism of the BJD government, three ministers met the families of the dead during the day. This apart, government sources said consultations are on to nominate a judge to head the judicial inquiry commission announced by the government within hours after the Kandhamal killings. The commission will be formed under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952, to examine how the incident happened and to recommend corrective steps to prevent such incidents in future. State DGP K B Singh said the SIT headed by additional DG (Human Rights Protection Cell) Mahendra Pratap, has taken over the investigation. He added, “Everything will be clear once we finish the inquiry.” BJD spokesperson Amar Prasad Satpathy added, “The two commissions will bring out the truth.” On the other hand, opposition parties were sceptical about the efficiency of government-sponsored inquiries. Leader of opposition Narasingha Mishra said, “The Naveen Patnaik government has constituted 24 judicial commissions since it came to power 16 years ago. Details of only 12 inquiries have been disclosed so far. Reports on major incidents are yet to be made public.” Inquiry reports on the December 2007 Kandhamal riots and the murder of VHP leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati have not been published. Mishra said he would visit Gumudumaha village, where Friday’s killings took place, on July 15. He alleged, “The government will try to hush up the matter with the help of the SIT, which works under the State Human Rights Protection Cell.” (Times of India 13/7/16)

143. AAP promises to repair homes of 1984 riot victims (7)

New Delhi: Eyeing the Punjab elections slated for early next year, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government on Tuesday announced that they will carry out repair work in colonies where the families of 1984 riot victims reside. In what seems like a politically motivated move as AAP has emerged as one of the main contenders for Punjab elections, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has directed the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) to immediately begin the work.The decision to repair at least 2,000 flats in eight localities was taken in a meeting headed by the CM. Soon after the meeting, Mr Kejriwal tweeted, “The 1984 riot victims and refugees from Punjab (are) staying in horrible conditions. The Delhi government today decided to repair their houses [sic]”. Repair work will be taken up in Tilak Vihar, Garhi, Raghubir Nagar, Sangam Park, Jahangir Puri, GT Road Shahdara, Kalkaji and Madipur. “The initial estimate for repair work is Rs. 10 crore, which will be revised on the basis of the actual estimate,” said an official statement by the Delhi government.“The condition of colonies where the families of victims reside is worrying and requires urgent attention,” said officials at Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board. In June, the Aam Aadmi Party had alleged that the Centre was incapable of providing justice to the victims of the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi. The Kejriwal-led government had demanded that it should be allowed to form its own SIT (Special Investigative Team) to probe the riots. (The Hindu 13/7/16)

144. Communal tension spreads in Steel City, clash averted (7)

ROURKELA: A communal clash, triggered by an objectionable post on WhatsApp, was averted in Rourkela due to timely action by police on late Thursday night. While prohibitory order was clamped in the area to prevent further flare-up of violence, palpable tension prevailed. According to police, soon after an objectionable picture linked to Islam was circulated on the social networking site by a youth, protesters in large number gathered at the Main Road ahead of the Bahuda Yatra and disrupted traffic by burning tyres for about 90 minutes and also forced closure of shops till 5 pm. Police persuaded the protestors to call off the blockade and restored normalcy with detention of the youth responsible for the sacrilegious post. The Bahuda Yatra passed off peacefully. In the evening, the saffron brigade blocked the road in front of Uditnagar office of Rourkela SP Anirudh Singh and damaged two auto-rickshaws. Members of Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Bajrang Dal and Hindu Sena staged protest on the road demanding release of the youth and action against members of the minority community who allegedly assaulted him before he was detained by police. VHP leader Nilakanta Mohanty claimed that the youth detained by police is a Hindu Sena activist and the WhatsApp issue was sorted out amicably with other minority community youths of his age group. But some Muslim youths on Thursday assaulted him and staged road blockade leading to his arrest, he added. Meanwhile, tension spread from Daily Market to minority-dominated Nala Road under Plant Site police limits. While a group of Hindus had gathered at Daily Market, Muslims had gathered at Nala Road. Police were deployed to prevent communal clash. At around 10.30 pm an unidentified person threw a stone at the police patrol jeep at Daily Market injuring Inspector SN Muduli of Brahmani Tarang police station. Apprehending a clash, police dispersed the crowd. Prohibitory order in and around Nala Road was also clamped. Senior police and administrative officers rushed to the spot and Panposh Sub-Collector Bimanshu Behera declared imposition of Section 144 of IPC. Sundargarh Collector Bhupendra Singh Poonia said the situation is tense but under control and senior officials are keeping a watch on the situation. (New Indian Express 15/7/16)

COMMUNALISM

145. Academics, activists see Hindutva stamp in uniform civil code move (26)

HYDERABAD: Academicians, religious scholars and advocates from the city are sceptical over the implementation of Uniform Civil Code by the Centre. Noted academician Prof Kancha Illaiah of Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) has opined that irrespective of religion, every individual should marry through a legal system and should get a certificate for that. “No marriage should only be religious in nature. Every marriage should be registered in a court, panchayat office or any legal system where individuals can get a certificate of marriage. There should be equal rights for marriage, divorce and property,” he said. However, he does not support the BJP’s Uniform Civil Code. “There are many civil codes. Even Ambedkar wanted to bring Hindu Code bill. The present Uniform Civil Code is BJP’s Hindutva agenda and is not acceptable. The way it deals with the Christians, Muslims and other religious minorities and issues of priest marriages and child marriages is not clear. It would not be easy for them to push their Uniform Civil Code as religious minorities would definitely oppose it,” he opined. Echoing Prof Kancha Illaiah’s assesment, Haafiz Hassan bin Ahmed Shakir, president of Al Faizan Educational Society in Barkas, said, “We have always believed in the diversity of India. We have obeyed what India has asked us to. That does not give any government which comes for only five years the right to intervene in our religious matters, which has been carried on by the orders of Prophet Mohammed PBUH and is universal for all Muslims of the world irrespective of their nationality.” “Is Islam an obstacle towards the growth of India? If not, then why are our religious matters being meddled with? Every religion has its own rights and this plurality bestowed upon us in the 1950s through separate laws for religious communities would take forward the country. This change is not welcome,” he added. Senior advocate S Satyam Reddy also shared serious doubts and expressed concern over the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code. “The Code is a Directive Principle of State Policy and is not enforceable in the constitution. Though desirable in a multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic country, its imposition is impractical and may hurt the religious sentiments of many communities,” he said. (New Indian Express 3/7/16)

146. Muslim population share decides their mentality: RSS women wing wisdom (26)

New Delhi: Claiming “Islam is not a religion, it’s a political aggression”, the Rashtriya Sevika Samiti, the women’s branch of the RSS, Wednesday said wherever Muslims are in majority, they create problems. These remarks were made by Asha Sharma, Akhil Bhartiya Sahkaryavahika of the Samiti, at a seminar in New Delhi — the topic was ‘Religious Terrorism: A Global Threat’ — which was attended, among others, by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan who was the guest of honour. Sharma was critical of Islam: “Jahan Islam jaata hai, wahan par vidhwans saath lekar ke gaya hai. Yah itihas hai, isko hum inkaar nahin sakte (Wherever Islam goes, it brings destruction. This is history, we cannot deny this).”Noting that “aaj bhi unki soch yahi hai (their mentality is still the same),” Sharma said: “Jahan dus per cent hain, wahan chup kar ke rahenge. 15 per cent ho gaye toh apni baat keh ke chup karenge. 25 per cent ho gaye toh apni baat ko manvane ka prayas karenge, aur adhik badh gaye to kisi aur ki baat sunenge nahi (Wherever they are ten per cent, they remain silent. If they are 15 per cent, they go quiet after making their point. Where they are 25 per cent, they ensure that people follow whatever they say. And if they are more than this, then they do not listen to anyone else.)” Sharma said Islam has proliferated due to the absence of education, whereas Christianity has spread due to poverty. In the absence of these two factors, she said, these religions will disappear. “Jahan shiksha hai, wahan Islam nahi hai. Jahan jahan shiksha badh rahi hai, jahan samriddhi aayi hai, wahan ye dono sampraday dheere dheere khatam ho rahe hain… Jahan gareebi hai, wahan Christianity hai. Gareebi door hogi to Christianity ka prabhav dheere dheere kam hota jaata hai (Where there’s education, there is no Islam. In places where education is increasing, prosperity has come, these two religions have gradually declined… Christianity exists in areas where there is poverty. If poverty is removed, the influence of Christianity gets reduced gradually).” Sharma said that the Samiti has taken up the task to fight terrorism and “this mentality”. “If women want, they can change the face of the world. If mothers want, they can change the thinking of the entire world,” she said. Samiti speakers referred to Mahajan as a “sevika” who in turn called them “sakhi” (friends). Mahajan told the gathering that religion is a “misunderstood word” since “religion is not dharma, it is panth… there are so many panths in India… dharma is duty, whatever duty one does in life, it marks his dharma”. Mahajan also referred to the Dhaka attack and said Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has rightly said “jo Ramzan ke dinon mein is prakaar se goliyaan chalane wala, Musalman ho hi nahin sakta (those who open fire during Ramzan cannot be Muslims)”. The seminar was held to mark the birth anniversary of Samiti founder Laxmibai Kelkar. The Samiti’s Pramukh Sanchalika Shanta Kumari alias Shantakka was also present. The Samiti has some three lakh members, and holds 4,350 shakhas daily across India, besides an active presence in 45 countries. (Indian Express 7/7/16)

147. VHP wants separate law, ministry to protect cow (26)

New Delhi: Claiming that the Atal Behari Vajpayee government was ready with a draft law on cow protection, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has asked the Narendra Modi led NDA dispensation at the Centre to complete the unfinished task and pass the law in the Parliament at the earliest. The VHP has also sought from the Modi government a ministry for cow protection, besides bringing the subject of cow-protection under the concurrent list of the Constitution. VHP international general secretary Champat Rai, while speaking to this newspaper, said the government should act fast on the issue of cow protection. “The draft law was ready when the Vajpayee government was in power. However, it did not see the light of day. The government now should enact the law by bringing the subject into the concurrent list of the Constitution,” said Mr Rai, while adding that a separate ministry for cow protection should be set up. The VHP leader stressed that the law should be such that it would deter people from killing cows and consuming cow-meat. “The law should protect the emotions of Hindus, who consider cows as their mothers. The Hindus will fight to protect their emotions,” he added. The VHP is to launch a week long nationwide “Gopashtami” campaign from November 8. “We will hold programmes at 5000 places, which have population of more than one lakh, to bring the issue of cow-protection to the forefront,” said Mr Rai. When asked if he justified the killing of Mohammed Akhlaq in a village in Dadri in Uttar Pradesh over the rumour that he had consumed beef, a defiant Mr Rai stated, “Hindus will fight to ensure that their emotions concerning cows are not violated.” While beef is consumed in Kerala and Northeast and there has been difference of opinion within the ruling BJP over the issue, Mr Rai maintained that people in such regions should not consumer cow meat and his organisation would launch a campaign there to persuade people to change their habits. “Has anyone yet told the benefits of cows to the people of Northeast and Kerala? The government must engage with the people in these regions. We have asked the saints in Assam to persuade the people in the Northeast to understand the importance of cows,” said Mr Rai. The VHP leader claimed that Namdhari Sikhs sacrificed their lives for protection of cows, for which even Shivaji and Guru Govind Singh fought. (Asian Age 8/7/16)

148. BJP veteran Shanta Kumar urges PM Modi to work to control India’s population (26)

New Delhi: Even as Hindutva hardliners like VHP leader Pravin Togadia pitch for Hindus producing more children, BJP veteran Shanta Kumar on Saturday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to come out with a population policy as burgeoning populace was creating problems like unemployment and pollution. Kumar, a former Himachal Pradesh chief minister who had earlier joined seniors like L K Advani in attacking the party leadership, said India had achieved high growth and won global recognition under Modi but ignoring the problem of rising population will endanger that. “There has already been much delay in solving this problem and any more delay will be deadly. There is no other option but to control population to deal with all these problems. The country has reposed a lot of faith in you. “It seems to me that the history wants you to do this difficult but fundamental work of national importance. I humbly urge you to take an initiative to call a meeting of all political parties to evolve a consensus over national population policy,” the Lok Sabha member said in a letter to Modi. Citing figures of high unemployment, pollution, hunger and slums, he said these challenges could be tackled only by controlling population. “Some problems of the country have acquired dangerous proportions. Increasing population is at the root of maximum problems. Every year India’s population is increasing by the size of two countries. There has already been much delay in solving this problem and any more delay will be deadly. “There is no other option but to control population to deal with all these problems. We will start benefiting from the decision in some years but the biggest benefit will be that the coming generations will not hold us responsible for not doing the national duty due to vote bank politics,” he said. The biggest worry, he said, is that the nation’s politics has completely shut its eyes to this root problem in a way similar to a pigeon closing its eyes before a cat. Agenda and manifesto of no political party mentions this dangerous problem, he said, noting that the population has increased to 127 crore from 35 crore since independence. The 81-year-old leader said BJP received a historic mandate in the last Lok Sabha elections and the country put its trust in Modi. “I think the fundamental problems of this country can be resolved under your leadership only,” he said. Besides thousands of people applying for a few vacancies, 11 out of 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India and 27 crore out of 82 crore hungry people in the world reside here, he said, adding that over 3 lakh farmers had committed suicide. (Indian Express 9/7/16)

149. Valley violence backlash against RSS agenda: Congress (26)

NEW DELHI: Congress today hit out at BJP for the large-scale violence in Jammu and Kashmir and said it is the “backlash” against the RSS agenda being “imposed” there. “What is happening in Jammu and Kashmir is unfortunate. BJP should own direct responsibility for all this as BJP cannot run away from its responsibility as it is in government there. “This is a big backlash against the agenda of RSS that is being imposed there. BJP should admit that it exerted pressure on the regional party to form the government in the state by saying otherwise it won’t give funds. BJP will have to own up its responsibility for what is happening in Jammu and Kashmir,” senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said. He said that “it is terrible the way police has been “let loose” on the youth and the elderly, in which 1,500 people have been injured and more than two dozen people have died”.Azad said it is understandable that government initiates some steps to control the law and order situation but it is a “very serious issue” when people are being killed in dozens. The Congress leader, a former chief minister of the state, said Jammu and Kashmir is a sensitive area and is “religiously sensitive, politically sensitive and geographically sensitive, being a border area”.He said “imposition” of RSS ideology in Jammu and Kashmir is having a “backlash” and that is why the law and order situation is getting out of control there. On Pakistan’s support to separatists and attack on India for using force on protesters in Kashmir, Azad said “I condemn Pakistan. Pakistan is fishing in troubled water.” Azad said BJP should take “responsibility” for the killing of over two dozen people and injury to 1500 people. “BJP should own direct responsibility for all this, as BJP cannot run away from its responsibility. BJP is in government in Jammu and Kashmir and has its deputy chief minister and Ministers. Law and order is a state subject and BJP is a party in the state administration,” he said. The Congress leader, who is Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, said he had said in Parliament in the presence of Prime Minister when talks about forming a government with PDP were going on with BJP, that Jammu and Kashmir is a very sensitive area and “You are forming a government in Jammu and Kashmir to impose your philosophy there and not for bringing any change there.” Asked about violence having taken place in the state earlier too when it was ruled by Congress and National Conference, he said it was there but not like what is happening now when there was violence spread across the state. “This type of violence is spread across in different parts of the state for three, four days. It is not that some people have died in one firing. In different parts of the state, there is violence and there are hundreds of bullet injuries and serious cases,” he said. Azad said it is “compounding” now and is “brewing” further. To a question on whether the issue will be raised in the Monsoon session of Parliament, he said the issues will be decided soon. Asked if Congress would soften its stand on GST and if the bill would be passed in this session, he said, “Government has also given a proposal for resolving pending issues. We will decide. There is still time for the Parliament session. We will put forth our views and hold discussions with government sitting across the table.” (New Indian Express 12/7/16)

150. Acts to curb terror don’t violate human rights: RSS on Kashmir (26)

Agra: Rejecting claims of human rights violation in the ongoing battle between civilians and police in Jammu and Kashmir, RSS pracharak Dattatreya Hosabale Friday expressed “satisfaction” with the Centre’s stand against what he termed as “anti-national activities of some” in the valley. Speaking to reporters on the last day of the week-long meet of pracharaks in Kanpur, Hosabale said Kashmir was “burning with terror activities”, and asked media “not to glorify terrorists”. “Afzal Guru, Yakub Memon – all were hanged because they were terrorists. Their hanging was constitutional. People and the media should not glorify the terrorists, it should not make netas (politicians) out of them. Your support is required to end terrorism from India. And there is no violation of human rights in curbing terrorism. The Centre is doing what it should do to eradicate terrorism and we support it at every step,” the RSS functionary said.Following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani by security forces on July 8, Kashmir has faced violent protests which have claimed the lives of 39 people so far. Through a week-long meeting of its all-India executives with pracharaks from all 44 prants and 11 regions across the country, the RSS has chalked out its “action plan” for the next one year. Boasting a rise in number of people wanting to join RSS, Hosabale claimed the organisation’s support base has also seen a rise “among the Hindu population”. The organisation has been running a “join RSS” campaign and claims to have accepted membership requests from nearly 50,000 people this year alone. Meanwhile, a senior member told The Indian Express that Ram Madhav, the former RSS dignitary and the current BJP in-charge of Jammu and Kashmir, met RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat Friday and discussed the “burning issues” affecting the valley in a three-hour-long meeting. Bhagwat is also said to have met senior leaders of Vishwa Hindu Parishad who discussed with him issues like the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya and “VHP’s cultural expansion”. (Indian Express 16/7/16)

151. CPM Worker’s Murder: 4 RSS Activists Arrested In Kerala’s Kannur (26)

Kannur, Kerala:  Four RSS activists have been arrested in Kannur today in connection with the July 11 murder of a 38-year old CPM worker over political rivalry in the politically volatile Payyannur district, police said. A team led by Payyannur Circle Inspector V Ramesh arrested Vysakh, 21, Sukesh, 29, Prejithlal, 21, and Anoop, 21, all hailing from the district, they said. The arrested men were among the eight persons identified as accused in the case. The four allegedly had direct involvement in the crime and the others will also be nabbed soon, police said. CV Dhanaraj was hacked to death by a group of people, allegedly RSS activists, when he was entering his house at Payyannur. He had died while being rushed to the hospital. In a suspected retaliatory attack hours later, 52-year-old BJP activist Ramachandran, an autorickshaw driver, was murdered by another group at his house in Vellur village in the district, police said. No arrests had been made so far in this connection. Kannur and some parts of the state had witnessed clashes between CPM and BJP workers after the May 16 Assembly election results. (NDTV 17/7/16)

152. VHP to step up pressure for arrest of Akhlaq’s family (26)

Bishahra: Days after the Uttar Pradesh police registered a case of cow slaughter against Mohammad Akhlaq’s family, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad is organising a meeting in their town of Bishahra on Monday to call for the arrest of the bereaved family. Senior VHP functionary Jugal Kishor is expected to attend the meeting in which the Hindutva outfit is expected to chalk out its strategy. “We want justice for the cow which was mercilessly slaughtered by Akhlaq,” said ‘Sadhvi’ Harsidhi Giri who stays at a temple in Bishahra. The meet will see participation of VHP activists from the region as well as residents of Bishahra village. However, local officials said they were unaware of the meeting. “We are not in the know of any public meeting or agitation by VHP. As far as the ‘Sadhvi’ is concerned she is a nuisance for the villagers and an outsider,” Dadri circle officer Anurag Singh told The Hindu. Despite the concerns Ms. Giri, whose controversial plan to do a “purification ceremony” in Bishahra was stalled by authorities earlier continues to stay in the village, ostensibly to take care of the village temple. The Uttar Pradesh police on Friday registered a case of cow slaughter against Akhlaq’s family under several sections of the U.P. Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act 1955 and Animal Cruelty Act. On the instructions of the local court, the police booked seven persons including Akhlaq’s wife Ikraman, his ailing mother Asghari, his brother Jaan Mohammad, daughter Shaishta and son Danish. All of them except Jaan Mohammad witnessed Akhlaq’s lynching on the night of September 28, 2015 as the angry mob dragged him and his son Danish from the one-storey house and beat them with lathis, bricks and hockey sticks. (The Hindu 18/7/16)

TERRORISM

153. 84 people die in car bomb attacks in Baghdad (12)

 Baghdad, July 3 (IANS): Two suicide car bomb attacks at two crowded commercial areas in the Iraqi capital early on Sunday killed 84 people and wounded more than 130 others, officials said. One attack took place in Karrada-Dakhil district when a suicide bomber detonated his car bomb at a crowded thoroughfare in south central Baghdad, Xinhua news agency and other media reports said. The powerful blast set fire to several nearby shops and destroyed many stalls and civilian cars at the scene, which was crowded with shoppers who were preparing their families for Eid ul-Fitr. The Iraqi capital was the scene of another attack after midnight when a booby-trapped car went off at the Shallal market in Baghdad’s northeastern district of Shaab, killing five civilians, the media reported. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited Karrada on Sunday morning and vowed to punish the terrorists. Iraq has been hit by a new wave of violence since the Islamic State terrorist group seized parts of Iraq’s northern and western regions in June 2014. (The Assam Tribune 3/7/16)

154. Threat to officials: High alert sounded in State (12)

VIJAYAWADA:: With the al-Qaeda in the Indian Sub-Continent (AQIS) inciting Indian Muslims to target IAS and IPS officers in the country, the Central and State intelligence agencies sounded an alert in the State. AQIS, a designated foreign terrorist group, reportedly issued a statement directing the Muslims to target IAS and IPS officers, which was put in the SITE Intelligence Group on July 3. The U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group is tracking the terror networks and threats across the globe. In the statement, al-Qaeda leader of AQIS Maulana Asim Umar asked the Indian Muslims to follow the examples of lone wolf attackers in Europe and Syria, and compared the attacks against Muslims in India as similar massacres. Umar, an Indian and reportedly operating from Pakistan, directed the Indian Muslims to begin ‘jihad killings’ to create bloodshed and unrest in the country. Taking serious note of the threat, the intelligence authorities sounded a high alert and stepped up security for the bureaucrats across the country. Intelligence officials instructed the Counter Intelligence and the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau officials to keep track of the movements of suspects. The police officials directed the local police to check the movement of various organisations affiliated to terror outfits . (The Hindu 5/7/16)

155. 3 killed in attack on Bangladesh Eid gathering (12)

DHAKA: Suspected Islamist militants launched another deadly attack in Bangladesh on Thursday, using bombs, guns and machetes, on an Eid rally, killing two policemen and a woman. One of the attackers was shot dead by the police. The incident occurred at 9.45 a.m. near the historic Sholakia Eidgah in eastern Kishoregonj district, some 150 km north of Dhaka, where an estimated 3,00,000 people gathered to offer prayers. The attack was launched just before the prayers were to begin. A group of three assailants first hurled bombs at a police checkpoint near the gathering. The police responded with gunfire to prevent the attackers from coming close to the congregation. The civilian who died in the attack was identified as Jharna Rani Bhoumik. Additional Superintendent of the Kishoreganj police Abu Sayem confirmed that four persons were killed on the spot. The police arrested two attackers. and recovered a pistol and machetes from the scene. At least 20 people were injured in bomb blasts and gunfire. One of the attackers held has been identified as Abu Mukaddem of northern Dinajpur. (The Hindu 8/7/16)

156. Despite violence, Centre stands by decision to kill Hizbul terrorist (12)

NEW DELHI: Even as it moved to reinforce security forces to tackle violent protests in south Kashmir, an unfazed Centre remained confident that the elimination of the most-wanted terrorist, and recruitment icon of jihadis in the Valley, Burhan Wani — was a big gain for counter-insurgency operations. Gearing up to send 1,200 paramilitary personnel to J&K to deal with the protests, officials said that the violent reaction to the elimination of Wani was only to be expected considering his emergence as the poster-boy of the insurgency. While the law and order situation is a short-term fallout, particularly in South Kashmir, Wani’s killing was a well thought out decision intended to convey a stern message to young followers of propagandists like Wani, who are enamored by his larger than life image, that there is deadly danger in taking up arms. There are risks too, agree officials, who feel Pakistan and terror groups based across the border will try to use Wani as a “martyr” and blame India for suppressing Kashmiris. But this is a scenario the security establishment is braced for as it is the unavoidable fallout of tough action against individuals like Wani. “A terrorist is a terrorist who has to be dealt as such irrespective of whether he is net-savvy or illiterate and his success in whipping up popular sentiment at a particular point in time”, said a senior official, articulating the viewpoint that his popularity should have been “no deterrent for elimination of a terrorist who was targeting army and other security forces”. Sources point out over a decade ago, a conscious decision was taken by the Jammu and Kashmir government to hand over bodies of dead terrorists to the kin and allow funeral of local militants. Since then high attendance at terrorists’ funerals has become a trend but the Centre so far seems firm on not altering its approach towards eliminating leaders of Hizbul and other terror organisations. Security officials point that while Wani’s direct involvement in terrorist attacks is being questioned by some quarters, he was clearly a committed jihadist who promoted and even romaticised terror to recruit youth. Those behind the attacks do not always carry weapons, an official argued and pointed to Wani’s support for hard core doctrine. Three planes will carry CRPF personnel to Srinagar on Sunday morning.Wani had become a youth “icon” propped up by Hizbul Mujahideen to optimally leverage social media to push up recruitment. His status was also convenient for Pakistan-based Lashkar e Toiba and Jaish as it projected terrorism and inflammatory propaganda in Kashmir as a localized insurgency rather than sourced from Pakistan. ….  (Times of India 10/7/16)

157. 21 missing from Kerala may be in IS camps: CM (12)

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the State Assembly on Monday that 21 persons declared missing in the State are suspected to be in the camps of the Islamic State (IS) in Syria or Afghanistan, as per news reports. They include 17 persons from Kasaragod and four from Palakkad. Responding to a submission by Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, Mr. Vijayan said the issue had come to light after P. Karunakaran, CPI(M) MP in Kasaragod, and M. Rajagopal, its MLA in Thrikkaripur, petitioned the Government on behalf of the kin of the missing. The Chief Minister said the State would be uncompromising in its approach to terror, but observed that the State would not be able to tackle the issue on its own. But the State agencies would work in tandem with those of the Centre, he said. Informed sources told The Hindu that the National Investigation Agency is expected to take over the probe after the State police registers cases under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. “This is a very serious issue and it needs more clarity. Terrorism has no religion. Extremist activities cannot be attributed to any particular religion,” Mr Vijayan asserted, cautioning against attempts by vested interests to whip up anti-Muslim feelings in the wake of the news reports. (The Hindu 12/7/16)

158. NIA arrests 2 IS suspects including Hyderabad unit chief (12)

HYDERABAD: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested two suspected key operatives of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), including the self-styled xHyderabad-Deccan unit ‘chief’ of the dreaded terror outfit, from the Old City on Tuesday. The two suspects — Mohammed Ataullah Rahman, 21, and Syed Naimath Ullah Hussaini alias Yaser Naimathullah alias Syed Yasir, 44, had allegedly administered ‘Bayah’ — the oath of allegiance to their ‘Khalifa’ (ISIS chief) Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi. The arrests took place on the very same day when the 12-day police custody of the five terror suspects, who were arrested recently for planning terror attacks in the city, expired. According to sources, just hours before the five terror operatives were to be produced before the court, the NIA sleuths raided the residences of Mohammed Ataullah Rahman located in Bandlaguda and Syed Naimath Ullah Hussaini located in Moghalpura. Sources told Express that Syed Naimath Ullah Hussaini is the self-styled chief of the Hyderabad- Deccan unit of ISIS. Hussaini was said to be a key member of the ‘conspiracy group’ and had attended several meetings organised by the terror operatives. He is said to be involved in the plan to unleash terror attacks in the city. Hussaini also generously contributed to the terror fund collected by the members of the group. The second operative, Mohammed Ataullah Rahman allegedly tried to radicalise the youth and motivated many to join IS. “Rahman is believed to be involved in radicalising the group members and he administered Bayah – the oath of allegiance to the Khalifa – to the members of the group,” NIA sources said. Rahman was the fund raiser for the terror group, sources said. He is said to have collected funds from businessmen and politicians in and around Hyderabad city. During their 12-day police custody, the five terror suspects are believed to have spilled the beans and provided vital information about their plans. While producing the two terror suspects before the special court for NIA cases, the investigating agency said the duo were in touch with the five operatives, who were arrested earlier for their “attempt to commit a terror act and wage war against the nation.” (New Indian Express 13/7/16)

159. IS claims truck massacre as France defends security (12)

Nice: The Islamic State group claimed responsibility Saturday for the truck massacre in Nice, as France highlighted the “extreme difficulty” of preventing such attacks amid tough questions over security failures. In a statement via its Amaq news service, IS said one of its “soldiers” carried out the attack “in response to calls to target nations of coalition states that are fighting (IS)”. Tunisian Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, 31, on Thursday night ploughed a 19-tonne truck into a crowd of people who had been watching Bastille Day fireworks in the French Riviera city, killing 84 and injuring around 300. After crisis talks in Paris, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian noted that IS had recently repeated calls for supporters to “directly attack the French, Americans, wherever they are and by whatever means”.”Even when Daesh is not the organiser, Daesh breathes life into the terrorist spirit that we are fighting,” he said, using an Arabic name for IS. In the wake of its third major terror attack in 18 months, the French government faced searing criticism from opposition politicians and newspapers demanding more than “the same old solemn declarations”.Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader of the National Front party, called on Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve to step down. “In any other country in the world, a minister with a toll as horrendous as Bernard Cazeneuve — 250 dead in 18 months — would have quit,” she said. Cazeneuve defended France’s security efforts, saying the country was facing “a new kind of attack” which highlighted “the extreme difficulty of the anti-terrorism fight”.Speaking as France began three days of mourning today, he said Lahouaiej-Bouhlel “had not been known to the intelligence services because he did not stand out… By being linked with radical Islamic ideology”.The interior minister pledged to boost the presence of security forces across the country and called on willing “French patriots” to join the country’s operational reservists — currently made up of 12,000 volunteers. Police said today they had arrested four more people linked to Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, in addition to his estranged wife who was taken into custody yesterday. Cazeneuve said the father-of-three “seemed to have been radicalised very quickly, from what his friends and family” have told police. “We are now confronted with individuals open to IS’s message to engage in extremely violent actions without necessarily having been trained or having the weapons to carry out a mass (casualty) attack.” At least 10 children and adolescents were among the dead as well as tourists from the United States, Russia, Ukraine, Switzerland and Germany. (ZeeNews 17//7/16)

160. Over 290 killed in military coup attempt in Turkey (12)

Ankara, July 18 : Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Sunday that the failed military coup has left at least 290 people killed. The death toll includes at least 190 civilians and 100 coup plotters, the statement said, adding that more than 1,400 were wounded in the coup attempt that swept the country on Friday night but was foiled by Saturday morning. More than 6,000 have been detained so far due to their involvement in the failed coup, Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying. The statement said it was the Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen that staged this coup attempt. “Our government has been constantly exposing the real motives of this terrorist group and its leader, Fethullah Gulen, to all allies and partners. The foiled coup is the latest criminal act revealing the danger posed by Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organisation,” it said. (New Kerala 18/7/16)

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

161. Maoist leader killed in Jharkhand encounter (12)

SIMDEGA, JHARKHAND: A Maoist leader was on Saturday shot dead during an encounter with the police in Simdega district. Superintendent of Police Rajiv Ranjan said following a tip-off, a search operation was launched during which three motorcycle-borne men fired on the policemen near Mudia jungle under Sadar police station. In the retaliatory action, one of them, Turia Oraon, was killed on the spot, the SP said, adding the two others managed to flee into the deep jungle. Oraon, who was a former area commander of the CPI (Maoist), faced four cases in the district. (The Hindu 3/7/16)

162. Jiram valley attack suspect among three Naxals held (12)

Raipur: Three Naxals, one of them allegedly involved in the 2013 Jiram valley attack that left 31 people, including several prominent Congress leaders, dead, were on Sunday arrested in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district, police said. The ultras, carrying cash rewards on their heads, were apprehended from the forests of Kuakonda police station limits by a joint team of District Reserve Group (DRG), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and district force, Dantewdaa Superintendent of Police Kamlochan Kashyap told PTI. Of the arrested, Bandi alias Bandu (30) was allegedly involved in the Jiram valley attack in the Darbha region of Bastar in which prominent Congress leaders were killed, he said. Bandu was also allegedly involved in Tahakwada attack under the Tongpal police station limits killing 15 security personnel and a civilian on March 11, 2014, the SP added. Similarly, equally dreaded Pandaru Podiami (30), deployed as a military platoon section commander, was apprehended. He was allegedly involved in several deadly Maiost attacks, including the killing of six police personnel in the forested hills of Tadkel in 2008, the SP said. However, six ultras were also gunned down in Tadkel attack, he added. Another cadre Sukhram (38), who was working as a member of military platoon number 16 and carried a reward of Rs 2 lakh, was arrested, Kashyap added.-PTI (The Hindu 4/7/16)

163. Naxal fronts take their fight against govt to Gujarat (12)

Nagpur: Several front organizations for Naxalites are set to come together later this month in Ahmedabad to prepare a strategy to oppose government policies like land acquisition for industries and foreign direct investments in sensitive sectors like defence. They would give out a call to save ‘Jal-jangal-jameen’ which is also the theme of red rebels. Defying prime minister Narendra Modi’s popularity in Gujarat, these organizations aim to characterize his development model as anti-people in the convention that they are claiming is being organized to save the natural resources from corporate exploitation. The development is on the lines of State Anti-Naxal Operation (ANO), Maharashtra, cautioning that several front organizations of Naxalites had become active in state and Gujarat fuelling anti-government sentiments which was also published by TOI. Maharashtra government has declared that around 55 front organizations of the banned rebel outfit have been functioning in the state and also having network elsewhere. The intelligence agencies have claimed that Naxal front organizations are operating across the state borders to create a mass base for waging war against the government and incite citizens in the name of people’s struggle. A document procured from intelligence agencies showed a Gujarat-based organization had appealed to its counterparts in various parts of the country, like West Bengal and Chattisgarh, to join the national convention to debate on the policies like land acquisition act, foreign investment, plundering of natural resources for benefits of corporate powers and deprivation of labour and lower classes. IGP, State ANO, Shivaji Bodkhe said Naxalites tried to influence the youngsters, especially students, who might find the left wing ideologies captivating. “The Naxalites and their front organizations try to mislead the students,” he said. The organizers’ invitation to other organizations, which is in possession of TOI, claims that Gujarat had one of the longest coastline in the country but its fishermen were at the receiving end of government’s policy. It underlines the fact that Gujarat’s fishermen community would suffer as government plans to develop thermal power plants along the coastline. The organizers have also claimed that Modi government was trying to usurp lands from the tillers using new land acquisition law for the benefit of industrial houses. The Gujarat organization also termed the present as challenging period for the working classes including labourers and farmers. It said the government was amending labour laws to benefit the employers. (Times of India 7/7/16)

164. Two women among three Naxals arrested in Chhattisgarh (12)

Raipur/Raigarh, Jul 7 (PTI) Three Naxals, two of them women, were arrested from separate locations in Chhattisgarh, police officials said today. The women Naxals – Ramvati (25) and Shyamvati (26) – were apprehended from Baramkela Police Station area of Raigarh district yesterday, Additional Superintendent of Police U B S Chauhan said. The duo, residents of Kanker district, was part of the group that attacked a police team in Karamal area of the district in 2011. No casualty was reported in the attack, he said. Ramvati and Shyamvati were produced before Judicial Magistrate First Class at Sarangarh Ashok Kumar Lal, who sent them to jail. The two face charges like sedition and instigating people against the state administration. The third Maoist, Dukaal Singh Watti, was nabbed in Kanker district today. The 38-year-old was apprehended when he was visiting a weekly market in Amabeda area, about 125km from the state capital Raipur, Kanker district officials told PTI by phone. He is facing cases related to dacoity, attempt to murder and taking part in Maoist activities, they said. PTI  (India Today 8/7/16)

165. Anti-Naxal operation in Odisha goes horribly wrong, victim rebuts cop version  (12)

BHUBANESWAR: THE anti-Naxal operations by Odisha police appear to be missing its target lately. Four instances of civilian killings in the last one year __ during which 11 innocent lives were lost __  cannot simply be “collateral damage” as a top cop was quoted saying in a section of the media after Friday’s incident at Kurttamgad in Kandhamal district. The killing of five villagers and injury to seven others who were travelling in an autorickshaw has opened up a debate about how the incident panned out but the security personnel’s reaction to the situation went terribly wrong is something even insiders in State Police admit. “There were probably 12 or more people in the one vehicle which got stuck on the muddy hilly road. That all of them were hit meant that the securitymen fired at their direction, most probably mistaking them for Maoists. The autorickshaw itself should have been a give-away,” sources said. The State Police though tried to put up a brave face stating that the incident occurred when the security forces received a first burst of fire from Left Wing Extremists positioned at the opposite side of the road. The anti-Naxal unit changed it position which apparently brought the road in their arc of fire. “The vehicle stopped at a U-turn right in the fire zone. Once the retaliatory fire starts, it is difficult to control but our men did. Since the autorickshaw was immobile, passengers received the bullets from both sides. When the probe reports come, the whole truth will emerge,” said an officer. The crossfire justification though is thin on logic because firing would have alerted the autorickshaw passengers from a distance. A young victim, Luto Digal, who survived the ordeal negated the police theory on Sunday saying that they came under fire only after they reached the spot. The villagers were apparently trying to move the vehicle out of the ditch when they were hit. The securitymen probably realised the mistake when they saw the toddler, one of the victims. Most of the ambush operations are planned during the night and security agencies execute it in a way so as not to blow their cover. While such operations are dicey and can go either way, they depend on specific intelligence input about movement of Maoists. The security personnel, who are armed to the teeth, are virtually on tenterhooks during such actions because it concerns life and death. Even at slightest of mistakes, the whole operation can backfire given the hard terrain, densely forested regions, rainy season and poor visibility with communication gadgets switched off to remain in stealth mode. Yet, there is little room for mistake when civilian lives are involved. That too on four occasions since July last year when the anti-Naxal agencies gunned down a tribal couple in Kandhamal’s Kotagarh when they were returning from a hilltop after talking to their son over mobile phone because of the poor network signal in the area. .. (New Indian Express 11/7/16)

166. Maoist held with arms and ammunition in Bihar (12)

Jamui: Security forces on Wednesday arrested a Maoist with arms and ammunition from Besratand forest near Dulampur village in Bihar’s Jamui district after an encounter with the ultras, police said. Following a tip-off about gathering of some Maoists in the forest, the CRPF’s 215th battallion jawans reached the spot in wee hours and started sealing the area before they came under fire from the ultras, Superintendent of Police (SP) Jayant Kant said.  The jawans fired 20 rounds to quell the Maoists, most of whom escaped from the spot, he said, adding the security personnel, arrested an ultra Sanjay Marandi alias Motilal Marandi, said to be a former area commander of the CPI(Maoist) and native of Udaipur village under Chakai police station area. Two rifles with 67 ammunitions and a pistol with one ammunition, police uniform, naxal literature, papers related to levy collection, and levy receipts among other things were seized from him, Kant said. (Indian Express 13/7/16)

167. Top Maoist leader with Rs 25 lakh reward surrenders (12)

Ranchi: ONE OF Jharkhand’s top Maoist leaders, Balkeshwar Oraon alias Bada Vishal, surrendered before DGP D K Pandey at the police headquarters Thursday. Oraon, considered second-in-command after Arvind Ji in the state’s Maoist hierarchy, carried a reward of Rs 25 lakh on his head. He had joined the Maoist organisation in 1995. Among the major operations in which Oraon — along with Arvind and others — took part was the January 2013 Latehar attack in which the rebels first ambushed a CRPF team and then used a body as a booby trap. They planted a bomb inside the body and another underneath it. At least 10 security personnel and four villagers were killed in the attack.A total of 76 cases were registered against Oraon in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. According to the police, Oraon was Special Area Committee member of the Bihar-Jharkhand-North Chhattisgarh of the CPI (Maoists) for over six years. He had 37 cases registered against him in Jharkhand’s Latehar district and 17 in Garhwa, and 22 cases in Chhattisgarh. As per Jkarkhand government’s surrender policy, his kin would get the reward money and he would be kept in open jail in Hazaribagh. Besides, some other facilities like Indira Awas and provision of a lawyer to fight his cases will be extended to him. The police will also try to get his cases tried expeditiously. IG (Operations) M S Bhatia said: “Oraon was also involved in extracting levy, besides recruiting youngsters. Now that he has surrendered, we hope many of the youngsters who took up guns under his influence will follow suit.” Apart from the Latehar incident, Oraon was involved in incidents like attacking a passenger train. “He was involved in almost all the cases of Maoist attacks on security forces ,” said Bhatia. (Indian Express 15/7/16)

168. Five Naxals surrender in Kondagaon (12)

Raipur: Five low-ranked Naxals reportedly dissatisfied with discrimination meted out by senior Naxal leaders of Andhra Pradesh origin, surrendered  in the insurgency-hit Kondagaon district, police said here on Saturday. “Continuous anti-Naxal operations and public awareness drive carried out by police in the district had deep impact on the surrendering ultras that motivated them to leave the path of violence,” Superintendent of Police (SP) Kondagaon Santosh Singh said. According to the SP, the insurgents were Naxal Janmilita members and were active in Kondagaon and Kanker districts. A local court had issued  warrants for their arrests. The ultras were identified as Suduram Marapi (35), Rainu Ram (50), Suklal (35), Dhosi (35) and Gagru alias Sangnu (38) all residents of Amadeda region. (Pioneer 17/7/16)

169. Naxals fire at tribal for being ‘police informer’ (12)

Balaghat (MP): A 40-year-old tribal was today shot at and injured allegedly by naxals on suspicion of being a police informer at Songudda area in Baihar tehsil near here. “Three naxals came on a motorcycle and fired at Channulal Tekam at the weekly Songudda market and escaped,” Balaghat Inspector General of Police (IGP) DC Sagar told PTI. Tekam sustained two bullet injuries on one of his legs and was rushed to the district hospital by police, he said, adding that a hunt is launched to trace the attackers. (Business Standard 18/7/16)

TRAFFICKING

170. NGOs looks for ‘wider’ consultations on proposed draft trafficking bill (1)

New Delhi: As Women and Child Development Ministry’s consultative process on its draft Trafficking of Persons Bill concluded on June 30, several NGOs have dubbed the proposed legislation as “vague and full of loopholes” and sought “better, wider, deeper consultation” on it. The National Coalition to Protect Our Children (NCPOC), an umbrella organisation comprising several NGOs working in the field, has while offering its comments on the draft bill emphasised on the need for more discussion. They have slammed the draft bill for being “vague and full of loopholes”. The letter written by Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar, who is also a member of NCPOC, says, “The bill suffers from several legislative and procedural flaws.” Several other NGOs who have separately written to the Ministry, too, echo the same sentiment.Nearly all NGOs have questioned how a draft meant to become a legislation on trafficking does not even define the term “trafficking”. Founder Secretary of Prayas, an NGO for Child Rights, Amod Kanth says, “Commercial sex, forced labour, organ trade, illegal adoption, forced child labour- all of these should have been brought directly under the definition of trafficking but a basic definition is missing.” According to several activists who have written to the Ministry, the draft creates confusion about the existing law on trafficking–Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (ITPA). “One does not know whether the Bill is in addition to ITPA or a replacement of ITPA. If (it is )a replacement of ITPA, the provisions of ITPA must find a place in the Bill,” reads the submission to the Ministry made by HAQ: Centre for Child Rights. According to Rajeev Chandrashekhar, “ITPA has stricter penalties than the current draft bill. So, does it mean we are now going to let off offenders lightly? What message does this bill then send to traffickers?” Many contend how another law, Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, has stronger provisions for rehabilitation of trafficked children than the new draft bill and therefore there is a need for cross-references to be made to the JJ Act. However, the chapters on rehabilitation in the draft do not mention JJ Act at all. “The mechanisms within JJ Act are very good. It has a powerful infrastructure, which comprises four different kinds of homes, which can be used for victims of human trafficking. It has Child Welfare Committee, Juvenile Justice Board, Child Protection Unit and Special Junvenile Police Unit. “Any child who is rescued requires these mechanisms and they should all be extended to the trafficking bill,” says Kanth.(Indian Express 3/7/16)

171. Eight Mizoram girls rescued while being trafficked to Gujarat (1)

 Agartala, July 3 (IANS): At least eight tribal girls from Mizoram were rescued from a car while being trafficked to Gujarat, police said on Sunday. As many as two tribal youths were also arrested in this connection, the police said. “They were rescued from a small vehicle on Saturday night while being trafficked to Gujarat via Guwahati,” police inspector Ratanmani Debbarma told the media. “During interrogation the girls gave different versions about their journey. Seven of them are the inmates of refugee camps in Kanchanpur (in north Tripura) where tribals from Mizoram live. Another teen aged girl is a class nine student from Mizoram,” he said. Debbarma said that to know the details the police have called the refugee leaders who said they were unaware of the girls’ journey. “Their parents said they face acute poverty here. They were sending their daughters to Gujarat in search of jobs in beauty parlours. However, the parents could not give corroborative facts and other details. We are investigating the matter,” the police official added. The girls were aged between 15 and 25 years while the two men are aged between 35 and 40. About 31,300 Reang tribals, who call themselves ‘Bru’, have been living in seven makeshift camps for the past 19 years in Kanchanpur area adjoining Mizoram. They had fled ethnic violence in western Mizoram following the killing of a Mizo forest official at the Dampa Tiger Reserve. 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. (The Assam Tribune 3/7/16)

172. ‘Trafficking in women and children deterring nation’s progress’ (1)

KALABURAGI: Isha Pant, principal of the Police Training College at Naganalli on the outskirts of Kalaburagi, has said that that trafficking in women and children continues to be an insurmountable problem while being a deterrent to the nation’s progress. Speaking after inaugurating a workshop on “Alliance to Combat Human Trafficking” here on Tuesday, Ms. Pant said that every eight minutes, a child went missing in the country and a majority of such children fell into the hands of anti-social elements involved in trafficking in human beings. While a majority of boys who go missing end up as bonded labourers, such girls are forced into the flesh trade, Ms. Pant said. Trafficking in human beings continued to be a major problem mainly because of the lack of coordination between the stakeholders and the indifferent attitude of society. She said that trafficking in human beings continued to be the third largest organised crime in the country. Ms. Pant said that trafficking in human beings, particularly girls, did not confine to India’s borders alone and many were sent outside the country forcibly and made to do things against their wishes under threats and pressure. She said that all the stakeholders, including the non-governmental organisations, different departments and law implementing agencies and responsible citizens, should join hands to end trafficking in human beings once and for all as it was an impossible task for government agencies alone to tackle the problem. Ms. Pant said that rehabilitation of rescued victims was very important to prevent them from returning to their old trade. “Due to the lack of proper rehabilitation measures, a majority of the rescued victims, particularly young girls, go back to prostitution,” she said. She said that the rehabilitation package for the rescued victims should include vocational training and support to help them stand on their own legs. Director of Sarvodaya Rural Development Project Teena Xavier, in her speech, said that trafficking in human beings was going on unchecked in the rural areas and there was a need for keeping a strict vigil in the villages on the status of young children. Another form of trafficking in rural areas was in the name of marrying off young girls to unknown persons from distance places such as Gujarat and Rajasthan, where these girls are exploited. Member of the Karnataka State Child Rights Commission Aparna Kolla said that the indifferent attitude of government agencies allowed trafficking to go on unchecked. She recalled her own experience in rescuing a child labour from a railway compartment recently and how the railway police personnel were not helpful in rescuing the child. She said that she handed over the child to the authorities concerned with help from passengers. (The Hindu 6/7/16)

173. NGO writes to Kejriwal, DCW against trafficking (1)

Panaji/NewDelhi: With the steady increase in the number of girls trafficked from Delhi to Goa for commercial sexual exploitation, NGO Anyay Rahit Zindagi (Arz) has written to Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) head Arvind Kejriwal, and Delhi commission for women (DCW) to intervene in the matter. This comes barely a week after Kejriwal’s visit to the coastal state to connect with people ahead of the 2017 assembly elections. With AAP seeking to expand beyond Delhi, Kejriwal met Goans from different walks of life to gauge the mood of the voters. Between 2010 and 2014, Goa police rescued about 300 trafficked girls of whom 12 were from Delhi. But, between 2014 and 2016, 220 girls have been extricated from prostitution rings of which 20 hail from the national capital. Most of these girls have not even completed higher secondary level of education. The letter dated July1 has urged Kejriwal and DCW to get to the root of the problem and step up measures to prevent incidents of trafficking, protect those susceptible and rehalibitate girls rescued from flesh trade rackets. The NGO also asked the Delhi government to conduct awareness campaigns in areas like Shastri Nagar, Vasant Kunj, Kundan Nagar, Greater Kailash, Lajpat Nagar, etc, from where most girls are picked up. “A rising number of girls rescued from flesh trade are from Delhi – a trend that has emerged in the last two years. It’s a matter of concern. Earlier, Delhi was considered a destination where trafficked girls ended up but now it’s evolving into a source and a transit point for peddling girls into Goa,” said, Arz director Arun Kumar Pandey. Girls employed in the catering industry or working as exotic dancers are lured to the coastal state with promises of better paying jobs in casinos, hotels, clubs or catering companies, and then forced into commercial sex trade once they are here, Pandey also said. In Delhi, the girls earn between 1,000 to 2,500 per event depending upon their age and appearence. Whereas, in Goa, there is potential to earn about 10,000 every day, sources said. “While traffickers in Goa are arrested once the rackets are busted, their counterparts in Delhi go scot-free. No steps are taken to deter them and they continue to perpetrate the crime,” Pandey said. Commenting on the lack of proper rehabilitation facilities for the rescued girls, he said often the same girls are forced back into the vicious cycle of flesh trade in the absence of measures to track their progress once they go back. While no one from the Delhi CM’s office was available for comment, DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal’s office confirmed receipt of the letter and said DCW will be calling a meeting shortly to discuss the problem and will ask the NGO to come and explain the concerns they have raised (Times of India  7/7/2016)

174. Tribal girl kidnapped, sold, raped, kept hostage; flees, one held (1)

Jaipur: A 15-year-old tribal girl from Pratapgarh went through a horrifying ordeal for 25 days. She was kidnapped by a woman who took her to Madhya Pradesh and kept her hostage for days. She then sold the girl to a man in Kota’s Sultanpur area for Rs 1.25 lakh. He brought the girl to Sultanpur and raped her repeatedly. She was kept hostage in a house. On Wednesday, she managed to escape. Some people who saw her stranded took her to the police following which her buyer was arrested on Friday. The case is yet another instance of growing trend of human trafficking in the state. The girl belongs to Bagwasa village in Pratapgarh. She was on her way to her maternal grandparents’ house in nearby Banswara district when a woman, belonging to a village near Pratapgarh, ran into her. “The woman befriended the girl and then coaxed her into coming with her to a place. She took the girl to Khetakheda village in Madhya Pradesh and kept her hostage there. She then sold her to one Dharmaraj Bairawa, a resident of Surela area in Kota’s Sultanpur,” said a police officer. The officer said that Dharmaraj brought her to the house of his brother-in-law and kept her hostage there. He raped her several times. Twenty-five-year-old Dharmaraj was forcing the girl to marry him. On Wednesday, the girl managed to flee from the house. “The girl was clueless as to where she should go after escaping from the house. Some people saw her stranded and brought her to Udhyog Nagar police station in Kota. We informed the child welfare committee members so that she could get a shelter,” said the officer. The girl narrated her ordeal since she was kidnapped to the child welfare committee members on Thursday. Police have registered an FIR against the woman who kidnapped her and Dharmaraj. The man has been arrested. A team was being rushed to Pratapgarh and Madhya Pradesh for further investigation, the officer said. (Times of India 9/7/16)

175. ‘Centre mulling separate law to tackle human trafficking’ (1)

Raipur: Amid opposition Congress legislators expressing serious concern over rising incidents of trafficking of young girls, Chhattisgarh home minister Ram Sewak Paikra informed the assembly on Monday that the government has taken effective steps to contain human trafficking menace. Replying to a call attention motion moved by Tejkunwar Gowardhan Netam (Congress) and others, he said the state government has already enacted a legislation in 2013 to regulate agencies taking people outside the state for employment. Paikra said the centre is mulling enacting a separate legislation to deal with the problem of human trafficking. Centre’s draft bill is already ready and is under consideration of Government of India, he added. He refuted the charges levelled by the opposition that young girls from rural areas were being trafficked to other cities luring them with offers of a career in acting and were being pushed into prostitution. He said that the state police had already cracked down on traffickers and slapped criminal cases against them. Paikra said Balod district police had arrested traffickers from Allahabad district in Uttar Pradesh few days ago. He said that cases under various sections of IPC and POCSO Act has been registered against the accused. He said the girls were taken to Allahabad as a dance party and there were complaints about their sexual exploitation. During 2011 and 2016, the home minister said that the state police had solved and found 84 per cent of missing women, 91 per cent of missing girls and 94 per cent missing boys under a special campaign. As compared to 2014, there has been a sharp decline in cases of human trafficking, the home minister claimed adding that however, there has been a marginal increase in cases of kidnapping and rapes. However, opposition Congress legislators expressed serious concern over the incidents of trafficking of girls, mainly from the tribal areas, saying that the government should take effective steps to contain the problem. He said the state government must come up with a concrete scheme to address the problem which they said have taken alarming proportions. (Times of India 12/7/16)

176. India, Malaysia trafficking ratings may be too high, say US lawmakers (1)

Washington: The US Department of State’s closely watched annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report was released on June 30. After last year’s report provoked a firestorm of controversy, the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs Committees held hearings on Tuesday to review this year’s findings. A low ranking is a black mark on a country’s reputation and can subject a government to sanctions limiting access to aid from the United States, the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank. Last year, members of Congress and human rights groups said some countries’ ratings were changed for political reasons.For example, over the objections of State Department experts, Malaysia was upgraded in 2015, despite authorities’ discovering mass graves of trafficking victims and rights groups’ reporting continued forced labor in its palm oil, construction and electronics industries. On Tuesday, lawmakers again questioned why Malaysia had not been downgraded. “It’s hard to understand that they’ve made progress in 2016,” Senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said. Susan Coppedge, who runs the State Department’s trafficking office, told lawmakers that Malaysia and India had both made improvements. Some lawmakers and rights groups said Malaysia’s 2016 ranking seemed to reflect President Barack Obama’s advocacy for the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact, which would include Malaysia. Labor unions oppose the TPP, which they fear could lead to US job losses, while doing nothing to improve the treatment of workers in member countries. In connection with Tuesday’s hearings, the Communications Workers of America union questioned whether the TPP continued to influence the ratings of Malaysia and Thailand. Senator Bob Corker, the Senate panel’s Republican chairman, asked why India was rated Tier 2, saying that there are an estimated 12 million slaves in the country. “The report highlights some progress, but official complicity in trafficking is widespread, victim protection is inadequate and inconsistent,” he said. The TIP report organizes countries into tiers: Tier 1 for nations meeting minimum U.S. standards; Tier 2 for those making significant efforts to meet those standards; Tier 2 “Watch List” for those deserving special scrutiny, and Tier 3 for countries failing to comply with minimum standards and not making significant efforts. (Indian Express 13/7/16)

177. 33 Bastar natives rescued from traffickers in Bengaluru (1)

Raipur: A day after opposition Congress legislators expressed serious concern over rising incidents of human trafficking in Chhattisgarh, 33 tribal people, including three minors of Bastar district, were rescued from a factory in Bangalore on Tuesday. They were kept in confinement and were forced to work as bonded labourers. Members of Aam Aadmi Party, Jagdalpur, approached district collector in this regard. A team was then sent to rescue them and 33 people of Bastanar and Darbha region were rescued. District convener of AAP Rohit Arya told TOI, “Two local women had lured these people for jobs in railway department and took them to Bangalore via Vizag in December last year. The people working in a factory were kept in confinement and were measly paid. They were beaten up and not given food.” When they tried contacting families and local sarpanch, they didn’t get much support and the families contacted AAP members. Arya said that a list of 15 people was prepared and submitted to district collector Amit Kataria. Thereafter, a team of five members from labour department were sent to Karnataka. A case has been registered against the women agents who are on the run. Police have launched a manhunt to nab them. Those rescued from Karnataka in their statement stated that still there are thousands of people from Chhattisgarh languishing in clutches of contractors who don’t allow them to return home. Meanwhile, district administration would now get strict with maintaining of registers at gram panchayat level to record the movement and migration of people from one place to another. (Times of India 13/7/16)

178. Human trafficking on the rise in north-east region (1)

IMPHAL: Human trafficking is witnessing an increase in the north-eastern states this year, Manipur Commission for Protection of Child Rights member Keisham Pradipkumar said on Sunday. “Human trafficking in this region had decreased for a few years but has seen a sharp increase in 2016,” he said. The state Social Welfare Department has been informing parents in Manipur not to be lured by tall promises by traffickers of free education and jobs for their wards outside the state, the panel member said. He also defended the Manipur Commission for Protection of Child Rights vis-a-vis the detention of 21 Muslim boys on July 14 by the Central Industrial Security Force at the Tulihal international airport here. “We verify such cases as per the Supreme Court directive. Our actions are not directed against any community. Most boys detained were under the age of 12,” he added. (Times of India 17/7/16)

CORRUPTION

179. BJP MP protests outside Kejriwal’s house over tanker scam (5)

New Delhi: BJP Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Goel on Saturday protested outside the residence of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal against the alleged Rs 400 crore tanker scam and demanded his resignation for suppressing information. Goel alleged that Kejriwal tried to save his predecessor Sheila Dikshit by “sitting” over the files for 11 months. “Kejrwal has to answer why he sat over the files for 11 months. The Delhi government not only tried to save Dikshit but also allowed the previous contract to continue. This is shameful and he must resign,” he said. Goel also claimed that Kejriwal was not “cooperating” with the Anti-Corruption Branch in its investigations but only blaming the central government. “Kejriwal government is not cooperating with ACB in the investigations, rather blaming the central government for everything. The government should immediately suspend all the officers and ministers responsible for the scam till the investigation in completed. “The scam exposes Aam Aadmi Party’s claim of zero tolerance for corruption. It has been proved that Kejriwal government is corrupt and power hungry,” he alleged. (Business Standard 2/7/16)

180. Corruption case: Rajendra Kumar, four others to be produced in court today (5)

New Delhi, July 5 : Rajendra Kumar, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and four others who were yesterday arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with a corruption charge would be produced before the Patiala House Court on Tuesday. According to CBI sources, Kumar has been charged with abusing his official position to award contracts to M/s Endeavour Systems Pvt. Ltd. and securing government tenders worth Rs. 9.5 crore between 2007 and 2014 for the company. Kumar has been booked under Section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. According to CBI sources, Kumar has emerged as the kingpin of the 50 crore scam which first started activity in 2006. Kumar had moved an appeal before a special court in March this year seeking the release of his laptop, iPad and cash seized by the CBI. A trial court had in April also ordered the de-freezing of two bank accounts of M/s Endeavour Systems Pvt. Ltd. The Delhi High Court had then stayed the trial court’s order allowing for de-freezing of accounts of M/s Endeavour Systems Pvt. Ltd. The CBI had in December last year raided Kumar’s office at the Delhi Secretariat in connection with this case. (New Kerala 5/7/16)

181.BJP’s tribal face Faggan was involved in 2008 cash for vote scam (5)

NEW DELHI: BJP’s tribal face Faggan Singh Kulaste, one of the MPs involved in the infamous 2008 cash for votes scam, was on Tuesday inducted as a Minister of State in the Union Council of Ministers. Kulaste (57), a tribal leader from Madhya Pradesh, is a Post Graduate and LLB. He is a former teacher and social worker. He represents the Mandla constituency of Madhya Pradesh and was a junior minister in earlier Atal Bihari Vajpayee- led NDA government. He represented Mandla Lok Sabha seat from 1996 to 2009. After losing in 2009 to Basori Singh Masram of Congress, he was elected to Rajya Sabha. He regained the seat in 2014, defeating his Congress rival Omkar Markam. He has also been president of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikash Parishad, Madhya Pradesh, General Secretary of the BJP Scheduled Tribe cell and National President  of the BJP Scheduled Tribe Morcha. During the 2008 cash for votes scam, the government’s success in the 2008 confidence vote was marred when three BJP MPs, Ashok Argal, Kulaste and Mahavir Bhagoda waved bundles of cash which they produced from bags in parliament during the debate, accusing the UPA government of giving it to them in order to buy their support or abstention in the vote. The BJP demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the allegations and claimed that they had video evidence of the deals being made. In 2013, a Delhi court accepted the statements the three BJP men that their actions had been as whistleblowers only. (New Indian Express 5/7/16)

182. 147 graft cases against IMC officials: Cong (5)

Indore: Leader of the opposition in Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC), Fozia Sheikh Alim, on Wednesday alleged that 147 corruption cases have been registered by Lokayukta and economic offences wing (EOW) against the corporation officials, many of whom are still working and no action has been taken against them. “A lot of IMC officials working at senior as well as middle levels and even the former ones have corruption cases registered against them,” said Fozia. Quoting a reply received by a corporator from IMC, Fozia said, “Of the total cases, 114 were registered by Lokayukta and remaining 33 by EOW. The Lokayukta has registered cases under different sections of Prevention of Corruption Act against many officials in connection with irregularities in development and construction work, project map approval, purchase and borewell digging.” “Even more discouraging is the fact that a few of these accused officials and representatives retired or completed their tenure from the IMC without any probe in their cases being completed,” she said. The Congress leader said that a proposal seeking official probe against the accused IMC employees was pending with Mayor-in-Council (MIC). “Why is MIC not allowing a probe to be conducted against these officials?” she asked. In a statement released on Wednesday, Fozia also named many former as well as serving civic body officials who have corruption charges against them. They include: ex-mayor Umashashi Sharma, city architect Harbhajansingh Nagar, building officer Mahesh Sharma, former IMC commissioner Vinod Sharma, health officer Dr Apurva Vohra, city architect Hanskumar Jain, assistant director (city and village investment) KC Gupta, former health officer Dr AK Puranik, assistant engineer Dilip Singh Chouhan, former assistant engineer Anup Goyal, assistant engineer Rajneesh Pancholiya, former additional commissioners Avdhesh Sharma, Kedar Singh, deputy commissioner Lata Agrawal and others. Fozia also accused anti-corruption sleuths of shielding these tainted officials. “If one goes by these figures, it seems IMC has become haven for corrupt officials,” she said adding all these officials should be expelled with immediate effect and new officials who have good public image appointed. “We have also written to CM, cabinet minister Maya Singh and Indore divisional commissioner Sanjay Dubey to remove all these officials who have corruption charges against them,” she said. IMC Commissioner Manish Singh, when contacted, refused to comment on the issue. “I am not aware of the matter,” he said. (Times of India 7/7/16)

183. NGO seeks sanction to prosecute CJ (5)

Bengaluru: A NGO has written to Governor seeking sanction to prosecute Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee for not taking action to punish the person who attempted to bribe him. Referring to news published in Deccan Herald – “CJ refuses to elaborate on bid to bribe him,’’ Proutist Universal, the NGO, in a letter to the President and the Chief Justice of India said that it is a fit case to be tried under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. Justice Mukherjee on Tuesday made a disclosure that a Bengali speaking person visited his official residence and had offered a bribe to write a favourable judgment.  When the matter came up for hearing, the CJ flashed the business card of the person in the open court hall. He recused himself from hearing the matter and said that it was his ‘action’ against the person. A few advocates including senior counsel met the Chief Justice on Friday requesting him to disclose the name and the complete address of the person who visited him and to initiate Contempt of Court proceedings against him. The Bar members including TN Raghupathy, B M Arun, S Basavaraj and others, in letter to the Chief Justice said, ‘‘The proceedings on July 5 in the court have caused a flutter and anguish among the members of the Bar and general public. This is a fit matter where remedial actions are warranted. The fact that a stranger could gain access to your residence, that he could discuss the matter which was appearing in your court and leaving the visiting card of that stranger with a dignitary of the State and Constitutional head of State Judiciary is never to be brushed aside or ignored.” A few advocates have also sought an emergency meeting of Advocates Association to discuss the matter. (Deccan Herald 9/7/16)

184. 97 legislators fail to declare asset details to Lokayukta (5)

BENGALURU: Throwing Karnataka Lokayukta norms to the wind, one third of the 300 legislators in the state have not furnished their statement of assets and liabilities for 2015-16 to the anti-corruption body. There are four ministers, including G Parameshwara and UT Khader, among the 97 defaulters. The figure of 97 is highest compared to previous years. This is mainly because the Lokayukta became headless after the resignation of Justice Y Bhaskar Rao following the arrest of his son on corruption and extortion charges. As many as 69 of the total 225 MLAs and 28 of the 75 MLCs have not furnished details of their assets and liabilities. As per Section 22 (1) of the Karnataka Lokayukta Act, MLAs/MLCs should furnish the details of assets and liabilities by June 30 of every year. Around 15 elected representatives submitted their statements after June 30 and hence were not considered. Of the violators four are ministers. U T Khader, Minister for Food and Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, and Eshwar B Khadre, Minister for Municipalities and Local Bodies and Public Enterprises, are MLAs. Home Minister G Parameshwara and M R Seetharam, Minister for Planning, Programme Monitoring and Statistics, are MLCs Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, in his statement, revealed that he has no right on his controversial Hublot watch as it was deposited with the government. As per the Act, the details must be sent to the Governor. (New Indian Express 12/7/16)

185. HC notice to CBI on corruption complaint in PP deals (5)

Chennai, July 15 () The Madras High court today issued notice to CBI on a petition seeking a probe by the central agency into alleged collusion of vigilance authorities on a complaint of corruption in Power Purchase deals under former Electricity Minister Natham R Viswanathan. Justice R Subbaiah before whom the writ petition filed by one S P Sreenivas came up for hearing, directed CBI to file its response within two weeks. The petitioner alleged that the former minister had abused his position in power purchase deals and with the help of the state-run TANGEDCO officials, caused a loss of around Rs 25,000 crore. He submitted that he had already given a complaint on March 1 this year to the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption (DVAC) to prosecute the offenders. A criminal original petition was also filed in this regard in HC. However, DVAC ‘colluded’ with the accused and it was “attempting to close the file” and hence he moved the court for a direction to CBI to probe the matter. The petitioner alleged that to favour solar power generators, the former minister had allowed power purchase at the rate of Rs 7.01 per unit instead of Rs 5.01. He claimed that adjacent states purchased power at Rs.5.01 per unit. The rate of Rs 7.01 fixed by the Tamil Nadu power regulatory body TNERC (Tamil Nadu Electriciy Regulatory Commission) was dissented by Nagalsamy, then member of Commission, he said. Hence, the tarrif order of TNERC should have been challenged by the state-run TANGEDCO, he contended. The judge also said the present petition be clubbed with the criminal original petition already pending before the high court after taking permission from the Chief Justice.  (Times of India 15/7/16)

186. Bribe to CJ: Activists go to Lokayukta court (5)

BENGALURU: Two RTI activists have filed a private complaint before the Lokayukta Special Court on Saturday seeking directions to the Anti Corruption Bureau or High Grounds police to register a complaint and probe into the bribe allegedly offered to Karnataka Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee by a person.The petitioners contended that the accused offered a bribe to the chief justice with malafide intentions and his act is punishable and several sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The High Grounds Police on Thursday declined to file a complaint against the man who had allegedly offered a bribe to Chief Justice Mukherjee. However, they gave an endorsement to the complainants that they can take up the matter in a court of law. “Therefore, we request the court to refer this complaint under Section 156(3) of Crpc to the Additional Commissioner of Police, High Grounds Police Station or the Deputy Superintendent of Police, ACB to register an FIR and investigate into it,” their petition said. On July 5, Chief Justice Mukherjee made a sensational disclosure that a visitor had tried to buy a favourable verdict, while he was hearing a revision petition filed by Umrah Developers against the Revenue Department and the Deputy Commissioner of Bengaluru Urban district. (New Indian Express 17/7/16)

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

187. Javadekar warns against encroachment of river beds (9)

Kolkata, Jul 1 () As cloudburst and heavy rains hit Uttarakhand, Union Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar today warned against encroachment of river beds. “We need to preserve rivers and we shouldn’t encroach river beds. That is the minimum, otherwise we get more losses. We have to preserve the Himalayas. It is a baby mountain. We have to take care,” Javadekar told reporters here on the sidelines of a function of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI). Stating that cloudburst in the Himalayan region was not a rare phenomenon, he said climate change has increased the frequency of such disasters. “And therefore, the Modi government has for the first time alloted Rs 100 crore to carry out studies on various aspects of the Himalayan ecology. We have already started working on 27 projects on all such disaster resilience and predictions. With knowledge we can mitigate the challenge,” he said. Asked about the issue of wild animals being killed in road and rail accidents, he said the problem would be taken care of. “In Assam we have been able to reduce it to a large extent and in West Bengal also the issue is being studied and whatever remedies needs to be done, will be done,” the Union Minister said. Javadekar said the Ministry would ensure free movement of vehicular traffic while avoiding accidents with animals. In the sea beach of Digha in West Bengal, Javadekar said ZSI already has an aquarium, but they want a tunnel aquarium like that of Singapore. “It is near the sea and can be a very big tourist attraction. I have told the state government to prepare a DPR (detailed project report). We will consider it,” he said adding, there were plans to start two more regional centres of ZSI, which would be ready within the next two years. The libraries of ZSI and Botanical Survey of India were now digitised, the Minister said. Javadekar said he would talk to the Union HRD Minister to ensure that the database was available on the government’s e-library project. (Times of India 1/7/16)

188.  ‘Almost 30 per cent of our land undergoing degradation’ (9)

BENGALURU: Nearly 30 per cent per cent of the country’s total geographical area is undergoing degradation, according to a study that analysed satellite imageries of the country over an eight-year period. The degrading area has increased over 0.5 per cent to 29.3 million hectares during the period, as shown by comparative remote-sensing satellite imageries of the States for the periods 2003-05 and 2011-13. Desertification increased by 1.16 million hectares (m ha) and stood at 82.64 m ha during 2011-13.There was high desertification and degradation in Delhi, Tripura, Nagaland, Himachal Pradesh and Mizoram, while Odisha, Telangana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh showed some improvement. The ongoing study, initiated by the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, was led by the Indian Space Research Organisation and involved 19 institutes. ISRO’s Space Applications Centre released the findings last month in the form of a ‘Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas’, combining GIS and remote sensing data. India has committed itself to the U.N. Convention on Combating Desertification that it would fully stop land degradation by 2030. The atlas, adding 68 vulnerable districts, would form part of the country’s action plan to arrest the phenomenon and also be a status report to the U.N. body, ISRO said. The SAC had undertaken a similar study in 2007. Just nine States together account for nearly 24 per cent of desertification; the other States have less than one per cent of this land. The culprit States in that order are Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana. Southern State Kerala figures among northern and northeastern States where less than 10 per cent land is degraded. With it are relatively greener States of Assam, Mizoram, Haryana, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Arunachal Pradesh. The bad news is that 3.6 million ha of productive land are getting lost, while on the positive side, some land has been reclaimed and the intensity of degradation has been slowed down in a few other areas. “Desertification and land degradation are major threats to agricultural productivity in our country. Combating them is a thrust area identified [by the MoEF&CC],” ISRO said. The main culprit is water erosion (26 per cent) followed by degrading vegetation (rising slightly nearly nine per cent) and land or soil erosion due to wind. (The Hindu 7/7/16)

189. NGT notice to Centre on Biological Diversity Act (9)

New Delhi: A plea alleging that various states and union territories have “failed” to give attention to the unique biodiversity of the country prompted the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday to seek response from the government on the issue. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notices to Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), National Biodiversity Authority and State Biodiversity Boards while seeking their reply within two weeks on the issue. The NGT was hearing a plea filed by Pune resident Chandra Bhal Singh seeking implementation of provisions of Biological Diversity Act, 2002 and Biological Diversity Rules, 2004. The Biological Diversity Act, 2002 aims to preserve biological diversity in India and provides mechanism for equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of traditional biological resources and knowledge. “The blatant non-compliance of the provisions of the said act and rules has frustrated the whole efforts of enacting such a legislation owing to the International obligation of India while being a signatory to the Rio Declaration and Convention on Biological Diversity, 1992,” the plea, filed through advocate Rahul Choudhary, said. It alleged that various states in the country have “failed” to give proper attention to the unique biodiversity prevalent in India and they have also not undertaken their statutory obligations with “seriousness and have remained oblivious in discharging the statutory provision in last couple of years.” Seeking constitution of Biodiversity Management Committees (BMC) at the local level in every state under Section 41 of the Biological Biodiversity Act 2002, the plea claimed that several State Biodiversity Boards have not constituted BMC at the local level “for the purpose of promoting conservation, sustainable use and documentation of biological diversity”.It further said the Peoples Biodiversity Register, a document which records diversity of flora and fauna, has not been prepared and maintained by the Biodiversity Management Committee by some of the states. “Direct the respondents to constitute all the necessary bodies at the state level as well as the local level within a strict timeline and to submit detailed report to NGT,” the plea said. (Business Standard 8/7/16)

190. Climate change will cause 2,50,000 deaths by 2030: WHO (9)

Climate change will cause an additional 2,50,000 deaths from malaria, diarrhoeal disease, heat stress and under nutrition by 2030, a finding by World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated. The conclusion was drawn at a meeting held by the French government in Paris on July 8 to study actions taken to implement the Paris agreement in order to reduce health risks linked to climate change. Experts noted that climate change was already causing tens of thousands of deaths every year. This is in addition to 7 million deaths caused by air pollution, a release by WHO said. The biggest burden of the additional fatalities will be borne by children, women, older people and the poor, further widening the existing health inequalities. To mitigate deaths due to climate change, participants focused on the need to measure the progress by countries in safeguarding health of the people, it said. WHO has already published profiles on 40 countries. During the conference, benefits of switching to cleaner energy sources were also discussed. The participants also asked countries to develop a new approach to link investment in mitigating climate change with the expenditure on related healthcare costs, the release added. (DNA 11/7/16)

191. Javadekar for more awareness among students on environment (9)

New Delhi, July 12 : Union Minister for Human Resource Development (HRD) Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday said students should be made more aware and sensitive to environmental issues. He stressed on popularising sustainable practices among the students as part of long- term plan for mitigation of climate change. “The role of HRD Ministry is to make the students aware and environmentally sensitive by adopting sustainable practices and low-carbon lifestyle,” the minister said in his inaugural address at the ‘National Conference on Post-Paris Climate Change Action’. He lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi in upscaling renewable targets which changed the narrative of India’s negotiation in the global climate change discussions. “Instead of opposing the terms, we set out to propose alternative formulations and India has led from the front,” he said. Recounting the numerous green initiatives by the central government like the coal cess, he said: “India has taken the lead and the world must follow to realise our commitments. Nations across the world are trying to be part of the solar alliance.” (New Kerala 12/7/16)

192. Earthquake of magnitude nine can hit Bangladesh, India: Scientists (9)

New York: Bangladesh and its neighbourhood including India may be hit by a huge earthquake – although not imminent – that could reach a magnitude of nine, researchers have warned. The scientists said they have new evidence of increasing strain building beneath Bangladesh where two tectonic plates underlie the vast delta of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers. They estimate that at least 140 million people in the region could be affected if the boundary ruptures. The researchers are not forecasting an imminent great earthquake but said it was an “under-appreciated hazard”.”Some of us have long suspected this hazard but we didn’t have the data and a model,” said lead author Michael Steckler, geophysicist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in the US. “Now we have the data and a model and we can estimate the size,” he noted. The destruction could come not only from the direct result of shaking but changes in the courses of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers and in the level of land already perilously close to sea level. The newly identified threat, described in the journal Nature Geoscience, is a subduction zone where one section of the earth’s crust, or a tectonic plate, is slowly thrusting under another. Scientists knew of the plate boundary in and around Bangladesh but many assumed it to be sliding only horizontally near the surface, where it sometimes causes fairly large but less damaging earthquakes in areas that are not as densely populated. However, the authors of the new research said movements on the surface over the past decade showed subduction was taking place below and a part of the plate juncture was locked and loading up with stress. Steckler said strain between the plates had been building for at least 400 years. When an inevitable release comes, the shaking was likely to be larger than 8.2 on the Richter scale and could reach a magnitude of nine, similar to the largest known modern quakes, Steckler warned. …  (Business Standard 12/7/16)

193. T.N. gets Rs. 670 cr. ADB loan to fight climate change in delta (9)

Chennai: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide a $100 million (Rs. 670 crore) loan to mitigate climate change risks in the Cauvery delta by strengthening six irrigation channels in the Vennar sub-basin and rehabilitating 13 irrigation pumping schemes. The ADB officials signed a financing agreement with the Government of India and also signed a separate project agreement with officials of the Tamil Nadu government in New Delhi on Thursday. The total project cost is estimated at $144 million, with the State government pooling in $44 million. Tamil Nadu’s Water Resources Department will be responsible for implementing the project which is expected to be completed in 2020. The Tamil Nadu government had sought financing from ADB to upgrade the irrigation systems in the region. The project will run through six rivers in the districts of Thanjavur and Nagapattinam and involves resectioning of Pandavayar, Velleiyar, Harichandranadi, Adappar, Valvanar and Vedaranyam Canal and desilting of riverbeds as well. According to a report and recommendation of the President, ADB, to the bank’s board in May this year, the irrigation network in the Vennar sub-basin is more than a century old with some irrigation channels completely dilapidated. “Existing embankments are damaged or weak. At the operational level, water distribution is not systematic and is based mainly on the judgement of WRD staff in response to requests from farmers. At the farm level, the application of irrigation water is inherently inefficient,” the report to the board said. The project seeks to protect coastal districts from cyclones and flooding that are aggravated by climate change, have a climate-resilient water management system, better flood risk management and improved irrigation infrastructure, according to ADB. Nearly 11,000 hectares and over 3.35 lakh households will face a reduced risk of flooding over the next 25 years once the project is implemented, as per the bank’s initial environmental examination that was completed in December 2015. A distribution and poverty analysis done by the bank estimated the bulk of the net benefits of the upgraded systems will go to the small farmers (58%) and marginal farmers (42%). While no land acquisition is required for the project, nearly 12,887 persons will have to be resettled, the ADB report said. “Communities will be involved in planning and delivery of water services. Flood forecasting and warning systems will be installed and a flood risks map drawn up to help communities respond more effectively to extreme events,” said L. B. Sondjaja, Deputy Country Director of ADB’s India Resident Mission, who signed the loan agreement for ADB, said, in a release. (The Hindu 15/7/16)

194. Gurgaon township to go zero-waste (9)

GURGAON: The Residents’ Welfare Association (RWA) of the township has decided to invest over Rs.2 crore to set up two plants — one to convert kitchen and horticulture waste into compost, and the other to treat sewage. “There is no proper mechanism for waste disposal in Gurgaon. Garbage keeps piling up at landfill sites. We hope our efforts will inspire others to follow the same,” said Sanu Kapila, president, RWA. The township generates about three tonnes of green waste every day, and with a mechanism in place to treat it, the housing society will produce almost 1,000 kg of compost daily. “This compost will be used for the parks and trees in the common areas of the township. The rest will be available for the residents to buy at a nominal cost,” said Mr. Kapila.The residents have been asked to segregate waste at their houses. In order to discourage the use of polythene bags, bins will be provided to the people. Also, the vendors in the township will be barred from using polythene bags. Mr. Kapila said the machines to treat the waste were expected to arrive in the first week of August and the system would most likely be inaugurated on August 15. The RWA also plans to set up a sewage treatment plant on its premises. “It will help us produce 3-4 lakh litres of water every day. It will be used to water trees and plants in the common areas,” said Mr. Kapila. He said the local administration had offered to provide land and technical help for the setting up of the STP. The RWA also plans to provide waterless toilets for the domestic helps and the drivers working in the townships. Also, an e-waste collection drive is conducted in the township every Sunday for its residents. Welcoming the initiative, Ruchika Sethi, who runs the “Why Waste Your Waste” campaign, said: “So many Gurgaon citizens want to protect the environment and their health by initiating the key cornerstone of waste segregation. But the main deterrent is lack of a mandatory source segregation notification by the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon. What indeed is stopping the civic body to issue a notification and incorporate it in the Haryana Municipal Corporation Act?” (The Hindu 16/7/16)

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

195. Families of deceased farmers await compensation (20)

Hassan: The number of farmers, who committed suicide in Hassan since April 2015, has reached 80. Three farmers ended their lives in the current year, unable to repay loans borrowed from banks and moneylenders. Surprisingly, families of only 54 farmers have received relief. Fifteen cases were rejected on the grounds that the land was not in his/her name and loan was not borrowed from a bank. The families have been running from pillar to post to get the relief cheque of Rs. 5 lakh. Home Minister G. Parameshwara, on January 11 this year, had said that the government would provide relief to all families of farmers who committed suicide, without getting into the reasons for their death. However, the Minister’s assurance has not come into practice. Jayalakshmi, a farmer of Thamlapura in Hassan taluk, committed suicide in July 2015. She had borrowed Rs. 1.38 lakh. The committee, headed by the Assistant Commissioner to clear the names for compensation, rejected the proposal citing that the land was not in her name. The land was in her husband Some Gowda’s name. The family had cultivated ginger and potato. Similar is the case of Ramachandra of Ragimaruru in Arkalgud taluk, who committed suicide in February 2016. The committee rejected the compensation because the 1 acre and 28 guntas of land he cultivated was in his father Mari Gowda’s name. He had borrowed Rs. 2.55 lakh loan from SBM and IOB banks. Families of three farmers were denied compensation because the deceased had no land. Those who cultivated land on a contract basis were not considered as farmers by the committee.The committee also rejected all cases where farmers had borrowed private loans. As per norms followed by the committee, farmers who borrowed private loans are not eligible for compensation in case of suicide.Besides these, eight cases are pending due to delay in getting forensic lab reports. In the last three months, three farmers committed suicide in Hassan. The proposals for compensation are yet to be processed, according to documents from the Agriculture Department. (The Hindu 2/7/16)

196. At 1,274, farmer suicides in state up 16% this year (20)

MUMBAI: The deadly graph of farmer suicides in Maharashtra continued to soar this year with as many as 1,274 cases recorded till May 31. This means that on average eight farmers killed themselves every day in the state this year. Vidarbha recorded the highest toll at 557. The number of farmer suicides is 16% higher than the 1,095 farmer suicides recorded during the same period in 2015. Less than half the cases, however, qualified for government compensation. Of the 1,274 cases, only 593 were considered eligible. Only cases where the deceased farmer owns land and has proof of indebtedness qualify for compensation. Farmer suicides in the state had already started climbing with the onset of the drought in 2014 which destroyed large swathes of crops, mainly in the Vidarbha and Marathwada regions. The distress intensified in 2015 with a second successive weak monsoon pushing the state into its worst-ever drought. The crisis peaked in May this year with an intense drinking water problem in the Marathwada region. The cotton belt of Vidarbha—home to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis—recorded the highest number of farmer suicides this year. As many 557 of the 1,274 cases were reported from the districts in Vidarbha. The region accounts for almost 44% of the total cases. The Marathwada region reported 372 cases which account for 29% of the total suicides. North Maharashtra reported 199 farmer suicides while Western Maharashtra had 37 cases till May 31. The Konkan region was an exception and did not report a single case this year. Officials are hoping that a better monsoon this year will relieve agrarian distress. The government points out that its budget for 2016-17 provides for a Rs 25,000 crore outlay for the agricultural sector. It is also hoping that its flagship water conservation scheme, the Jalyukta Shivar Yojana will reduce the farmer’s dependence on rain. However, critics say the state is doing little to intervene in the crucial issue of rising food prices coupled with low agricultural prices. “The cost of living has gone up. The price of food, health and education has gone up. But agricultural prices remain low,” points out farm activist Vijay Jawandhia. “The government needs to protect the farmer from the drop in international agricultural prices. In the current scenario, where the cost of inputs for agriculture are shooting up, how will the farmer survive?” he asks. (Times of India 5/7/16)

197. More farmers committed suicide in 2016 than last year’s count (20)

Aurangabad: The incidents of farmer suicides continue unabated in Marathwada with more such cases reported in the first half of this year as compared to the corresponding period last year. The rise in farmer suicides is being attributed to acute water scarcity in the region due to deficient monsoon last year. The eight districts of Marathwada have reported 571 cases of farmers suicide so far. Last year, around 428 such cases were reported by end of first half of 2015. Beed has reported the highest number of farmer suicides (115), followed by Osmanabad (88) and Nanded (87). Aurangabad (82), Latur (64) and Parbhani and Jalna (52 each) have also reported considerable number of suicides. Hingoli, which is smallest district in Marathwada, has reported 31 cases of farmers suicide. Of the total 571 cases of farmers suicide, 315 have been declared eligible for help, while another 143 have been termed ineligible for any compensation. A total of 113 cases are still pending for inquiry. Farmers’ leader Jayaji Surywanshi said the agrarian crisis has turned many farmers bankrupt and therefore, many of them are choosing to end their lives. “The loan-waiver is the only solution that could offer relief to farmers. Any other measure or announcement is not going to dissuade farmers from ending their lives,” he said. (Times of India 8/7/16)

198. Debts lead to suicide by farmer and 3 family members (20)

Srikakulam: Four persons of a family committed suicide by jumping in front of running train at Amudalavasala station in the district on Friday reportedly due to debts and land-related disputes. The deceased were identified as farmer G Srinivasa Rao (35), his wife Sarojani (30) and their daughters Jagadeswari (10) and Umamaheswari (8) of Karjada village. According to the government railway police, Srinivasa had taken loans from several people and was also involved in a dispute with his neighbours over a piece of land. Unable to repay the debts and upset over the land dispute, he took the extreme step along with his family. The police found a suicide note at the spot in which the couple mentioned their problems including mounting debts and land dispute. A case has been registered and the bodies sent for post mortem. (Times of India 9/7/16)

199. Farmers disrupt movement of vehicles on Bathinda-Chandigarh national highway (20)

BATHINDA: The police on Tuesday forenoon took positions across the Bathinda parliamentary constituency of union food processing industry minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, to foil the massive protest announced by farmers for debt waiver. The farm organisation BKU Ekta Ugrahan was protesting outside Bathinda Deputy Commissioner’s office for the last 50 days for debt waiver and to hold a survey to know farm suicides in Punjab after 2011 and the organisation had announced to lift the protest on Tuesday evening after ensuring a massive turn out. The police aiming to stop farmers in large numbers from reaching Bathinda barricaded the town from all sides and laid nakas at different points leading to Bathinda. The police even held searches in busses so that farmers may not pass the barricades. Agitated over this, the farmers stopped vehicular traffic at Bathinda-Chandigarh national highway near Rampura and various other places around Bathinda and started protesting on the road. “It is unjustified that police is stopping farmers from reaching Bathinda to raise voice for debt waiver. The state government cannot crush our voice by adopting measures. We will come out stronger and will keep on protesting with renewed vigour,” said farmer organisation state secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokri. We had already announced to lift the protest but despite that the state government has tried to intimidate us. This type of attitude will not be tolerated and we will continue our protest for the genuine demand of aggrieved farmers, said organisation state president Joginder Singh Ugrahan. He also said that more than hundred farmers have been taken into custody and they should be released immediately. Bathinda police officials tried to play down the action and said police is only trying to keep law and order situation under control. (Times of India 12/7/16)

200. 48 farmers committed suicide in farm ponds (20)

Bengaluru: As many as 48 farmers have committed suicide by jumping into krishi hondas (farm ponds) constructed under the government’s Krishi Bhagya scheme. Replying to questions by Congress member K Sudhakar in the Legislative Assembly on Friday, Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda stated that first information reports have been registered in 36 cases. He also said the highest number of such cases have been reported from Tumakuru. As many as seven cases were cons (Deccan Herald 16/7/16)

201. Activists to present their anti-GM mustard stand before central regulator on Monday (20)

NEW DELHI: Moving ahead with the government’s call to have wider consultations before taking any decision on commercial release of genetically modified (GM) mustard, the central biotech regulator has invited representatives of anti-GM organisations to present their views and concerns in a specially convened meeting here on Monday. The regulator, Genetic Enginnering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), will thereafter scientifically analyse all the details to be provided to it by the eight-member anti-GM group including experts, farm activists and farmers’ representatives. “The GEAC will take its call only on the basis of scientific evidence,” said an official. Other aspects including socio-economic nature/impact of the commercial release of GM mustard or any such crops will also be a deciding factor, keeping in mind rights of farmers over seeds of such transgenic varity of crops in future. “Science will definitely be a driving force in taking decision. But, the other aspects will not be ignored as the government wants to keep interests of farmers supreme,” said the official who has been associated with this process for long. Representatives of the anti-GM group who will make their presentation before the GEAC on Monday include farm activist of the Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) Kavitha Kuruganti, ex-BARC scientist Sharad Eknath Pawar, sustainable agriculture campaigner Rajesh Krishnan and farmer leader Rampal Jat. They will make presentation and try to put facts while demanding immediate rejection of commercialisation application of the transgenic mustard hybrid (DMH-11) of the Delhi University’s institution. The application has been pending before the GEAC since last year. If the decision finally goes in favour of the commercial release of the GM mustard in due course, it will be the first food crop to be cleared for cultivation in India. At present, only GM cotton (Bt Cotton) – a non-food crop- is allowed for commercial cultivation in India. (Times of India 17/7/16)

202. ‘Farmers’ suicides a complex phenomenon’, RBI governor (20)

HYDERABAD: Terming the increase in farmers’ suicides as a tragic and complex phenomenon, Reserve Bank (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan observed that the issue is not just about debts and economics but of livelihood and culture. Interacting with participants at the national seminar on ‘Equity, Access and Inclusion – Transforming Rural India through Financial Inclusion’, at the National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj here on Monday, Rajan said that there is a need to make access to credit easier. He also opined that expanding productivity and helping farmers to generate more income can help to overcome the crisis.In his inaugural speech, Rajan spoke about the ways to overcome the impediments in financial inclusion of the excluded (the poor, the small and the remote). He said that three impediments are information, incentives and transaction costs, adding that the most important impediment is financial condition of the excluded. Elaborating on information part, Raghuram Rajan said if the excluded live in remote areas or undertake economic activity informally, bankers, who are not from the local area, will find it difficult to get sufficient information to offer financial products. He pointed out that sahukars (money lenders) boldly lend money while bankers are hesitant. Raghuram Rajan said that as ‘sahukars’ live in the local area, use minimal documentation and do not approach the courts to force repayment, loans are easily and quickly obtained. “Coming from the local community, the sahukar is well informed about the sources of income and wealth of a customer, and how much they can repay. He is quite capable of using ruthless methods to enforce repayment. Moreover, the borrower knows that if he defaults on the sahukar, he loses his lender of last resort. So the borrower has strong incentives to pay,” he said. He said that mandates and subventions, transforming institutions and moving away from credit are three approaches to overcome the problem. Rajan added that there would be issues such as lack of documentation in obtaining financial services and explained what could be done to overcome them. He said that RBI requires only one document showing permanent address and the and a self certified temporary address as documents. … (Indian Express 19/7/16)

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

203. ‘Govt. should fulfil demands of Tadicherla land oustees’ (4)

KARIMNAGAR: Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC) chairmam M. Kodandaram demanded that the State government fulfil the genuine demands of the land oustees of Tadicherla Genco coal block in Malhar Rao mandal in Karimnagar district. Mr. Kodandaram, along with other JAC leaders of the district, visited Tadicherla village on Thursday and expressed solidarity with land oustees of the project who were demanding compensation and rehabilitation as per the Land Acquisition Act of 2103 and employment to all the land oustees in the coal block. Speaking on the occasion, the TJAC chairman said that the Union government should take measures for the bifurcation of the High Court, and both the State and Centre should coordinate in this regard. He also announced TJAC support to the agitations by lawyers and judges across the State. Expressing concern over destruction of nature through open cast projects by the Singareni, he suggested that the government can go in for more underground mines to protect nature as well as provide employment to the locals. He reiterated that the TJAC would continue their agitational path till there was all-round development across Telangana. Earlier, Mr. Kodandaram inspected the TSGenco’s gas-based power plant in Nedunuru village in Thimmapur mandal and interacted with the land oustees of the project. Demanding the State government to take up the power project at the earliest, he also sought employment to all oustees. He said the government should hand over the lands to the farmers if it fails to take up the project. (The Hindu 1/7/16)

204. Narmada dam affected people to protest at Kevadia Colony (4)

Vadodara: The project affected persons (PAP) of the Sardar Sarovar dam project will hold protests at Kevadia Colony on July 15 to voice their unhappiness over several long pending demands. The families were shifted to different rehabilitation sites in the Chhota Udepur district as a part of their rehabilitation sites. The PAPs had recently written a letter to the chief minister Anandiben Patel and other prominent functionaries raising their demands that they claim have been pending for over two decades now. The PAPs claimed that these had remained unattended despite repeated representations. The PAPs who have raised the demand include those from 19 villages of the Narmada district in Gujarat that were affected because of the project as well as some residents of who belong to Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Balu Tadvi, a resident of the Baroli rehabilitation site in Narmada district, said that the issues include that of considering the major son of a project affected family (PAF) as an independent family and rehabilitating him separately. “A court judgment in Madhya Pradesh has clearly stated this,” said Tadvi. Tadvi said that the families had shifted to the rehabilitation sites around 1990. “Presently, only those who have passed standard 10 are being given jobs. No such condition was laid when we were shifted,” Tadvi said. The memorandum states that government resolutions over the years had ensured that getting jobs for PAPs became difficult.The genuine grievances be settled now as the secretary rank officer has been given full time posting ascommissionerrehabilitation Vadodara. It should be note NBA will use such issues to stall filling… Read Morechirantanjoshipura . The memorandum also raises several infrastructure issues like lack of proper roads, drinking water problems, crematoriums and even temples. It adds that waterlogging was a major problem in some of the rehabilitation colonies. (Times of India 4/7/16)

205. Villagers demand back land granted to Posco (4)

BHUBANESWAR: Hundreds of villagers in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district, who have been fighting a tough legal battle against a mega steel plant by Posco in their locality, are now preparing for a fresh round of struggle. Since Posco India had halted the steel project, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) has decided to intensify its agitation demanding scrapping of the project and handing over the acquired land back to the people as the State government was planning to transfer the acquired land to any other company in case Posco withdrew its project completely. “Since Posco is making no efforts to take possession of the acquired land, the State government should return the land to the villagers as per the Forest Rights Act by way of granting individual right and community right,” said PPSS spokesperson Prashant Paikray on Thursday. Some villagers had already filed individual cases in Orissa High Court seeking patta as per the FRA, he added. POSCO India, which had 100 employees in Odisha (including 40 Korean nationals) in the initial years, now has hardly five persons working at its project office in Bhubaneswar. The company has also closed down its two site offices at Paradip and Kujang in Jagatsinghpur district, and shifted its headquarters to Gurgaon. According to Mr. Paikray, the PPSS is seeking complete withdrawal of the project from their locality as many people were finding it difficult to live in their own villages with more than 400 cases pending against them. “Many villagers are not coming out of their villages under the fear of getting arrested as warrants are pending against more than 2000 villagers in the three gram panchayats of Dhinkia, Nuagaon and Gadakujang,” Mr. Paikray told The Hindu . (The Hindu 8/7/16)

206. Farmers allege coercion for land acquisition (4)

SANGAREDDY: The state government, in its bid to expedite the land acquisition process for the proposed Mallanna Sagar project, is trying to acquire farmers’ lands through coercion, allege members of Mallanna Sagar Porata Samithi (MSPS). The officials are forcing farmers who have received ownership of lands through ‘Sada Bainama’ (plain paper) and seeking to register the lands in their name to sell their lands to government, and take compensation as per GO 123. Not only this, in case a farmer refuses to accept this proposal, the officials are directly contacting the original owner of the land (as per revenue records), and negotiating a secret agreement with them for the sale. In this case, the current owners of the land would be left in the lurch, as they would not have the official registration records and only have a ‘Sada Bainama’. Farmers who agree to the government proposal and sell off their lands, get compensation under GO 123, and as per sources, it is approximately `6 lakh per acre. The rates are nowhere close to the ones assured under Land Acquisition Act, 2013. As per official records, till date, over 100 acres have been sold to the government in either of these two ways. It may be recalled that all kinds of unofficial land sales are called Sada Bainama. The state government is implementing a special drive to register such kinds of lands for free. “Officials have identified over 100 farmers in Etigadda Kistapur village and using this tactic on them. If successful, they may implement this plan in all the submerged villages,” said MSPS convener Prabhakar. (New Indian Express 9/7/16)

207. Amnesty International flags issues of human rights violations in India’s coal-mining operations (4)

NEW DELHI: The Indian arm of the Amnesty International, a global NGO on human rights, on Wednesday released a comprehensive report on flip side of coal mining operations in Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand, highlighting a pattern of human rights violations in open-cast mines run by different subsidiaries of the state-owned Coal India Limited in these three states. The report — “When Land is Lost, Do We Eat Coal” — is not against coal mining per se or any development model in India, but it examined how the state agencies have failed over the years to adhere to existing laws to provide adequate relief to the thousands of displaced people in all the three mining-rich states. The report — which was also presented to the new environment minister Anil Madhav Dave — said the mining operations by India’s state-owned Coal India Limited (CIL) were shutting out indigenous adivasi communities from decisions that affected their lives. Referring to plight of local people, it highlighted how the CIL, central government ministries and state government authorities in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha failed to ensure meaningful consultation with adivasi communities on land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement, and the environmental impacts of mines, seriously affecting their lives and livelihoods. “Mineral reserves are not the property of any government. They are merely custodians. Development that does not include the adivasi and that leaves out the poorest of the poor is not development, but exploitation,” said V Kishore Chandra Deo, Congress leader and former Union minister for tribal affairs, who was present on the occasion of the release of report. Nirupabai, a mine affected adivasi woman from Korba in Chhattisgarh, was also present on the occasion. She narrated how the coal mining operation affected her family and fellow villagers as they all lost their homes. Amnesty International India also released a documentary, narrating plight of many local people in the area. The narration pointed out how community rights and titles under Forest Rights Act (FRA) were routinely rejected in the mining areas in all the three states. The NGO had conducted its ground research in the areas of open-cast mines run by South Eastern Coalfields Limited’s Kusmunda mine in Chhattisgarh, Central Coalfields Limited’s Tetariakhar mine in Jharkhand and Mahanadi Coalfields’ Limited’s Basundhara-West mine in Odisha. It claimed that the report is based on interviews with 124 affected adivasi people across the three mine areas, state government officials from the states’ forest departments and pollution control boards, representatives of the three Coal India subsidiaries and local activists and lawyers. … (Times of India 13/7/16)

208. ‘Permission to close Narmada dam gates soon’ (4)

Gandhinagar: The crucial permission from the Narmada Control Authority (NCA), Supreme Court and Government of India to close the Narmada dam gates is likely to be granted shortly, according to the Gujarat government’s latest claims. Nitin Patel, state government spokesperson and senior-most minister said: “As MP and Maharashtra are expected to complete the long pending resettlement and rehabilitation work in keeping with the directions of the government of India, we are hopeful that we will get the necessary permission to close the almost-complete dam gates. The gates are likely to be ready by the end of the year. We are hopeful that from the next monsoon we will be able to store three to four times more water, after closing the gates.” (Times of India 14/7/16)

209. Ryots forced to give up land for Machilipatnam project (4)

VIJAYAWADA: It is a Hobson’s choice for farmers. They would have to give up their land for Machilipatnam Port and Industrial Corridor. There is no way they can escape from the inevitable. Much like the farmers of villages in Thullur mandal in Guntur district, these farmers too should “voluntarily” give up their land, whether they like it or not. The notification issued last August for acquisition of land under Land Acquisition Act will continue to be in force, exerting pressure on them that if they do not give up their land, the government could start proceedings to acquire their land under the Act. The government claims that it is legally valid for implementing land-pooling scheme even when the notification for land acquisition is in force. Says joint collector Gandham Chandrudu: “Everything is as per the law. Relevant Acts and rules have been taken into consideration before issuing notification.  The land-pooling scheme also has legal backing. Both will be in force concurrently, ” he said. If the land has to be acquired under the Land Acquisition Act, social impact assessment, environment impact assessment have to be made. But the government had issued the notification when the ordinance for amendment to the Act, which exempts chapter 3 and 4 of the Act, was in force. “Since the notification was issued when the Ordinance was in force, it stands valid. Hence, no social impact assessment and environmental impact assessment need to be made for acquisition of land for deep water port,” he said. Having issued the notification, despite stiff resistance in the villages, no efforts were made to take over the land. After nearly a year, government is offering farmers a choice in the form of LPS, which is more a mutual agreement, where government gets the land and the land-owner would be given a developed plot for both residential and commercial purposes. Legal experts say, the government is within its rights to implement both the acts. “Since land-pooling scheme is voluntary, the landowner can always choose not to give his land. But he cannot escape from land acquisition act since it has legal backing,”  AP Bar Council member Sunkara Rajendra Prasad said. (New Indian Express 16/7/16)

210. Varavara expresses solidarity with Mallannasagar protesters (4)

SANGAREDDY: Revolutionary writer Varavara Rao said that he is against the construction of Mallannasagar reservoir as it would displace large number of villagers, besides submerging 14 villages. Mr. Varavara Rao along with others visited Erravalli, Pallepahad, Vemulaghat and other villages that are likely to be submerged on Sunday and expressed his solidarity with the protesters. “Has the formation of Telangana changed the lives of Gonds in Adilabad, Koyas of Eturunagaram or Chenchus in Mahabubnagar? The projects are coming for farm houses and industries and not for small and marginal farmers,” he said, while addressing the land oustees stating that so far compensation was not paid completely even under the Land Acquisition Act- 2013. He wondered what type of jobs would be offered to farmers after they lost farming. He also quoted retired chief engineer Hanumantha Rao as saying that reservoirs were never constructed for lift irrigation projects anywhere in the world. (Thew Hindu 18/7/16)

211. HC relief for 400 Kalyan families facing eviction (4)

MUMBAI: In a relief to more than 400 families and an English medium school in Kalyan, the Bombay high court on Tuesday stayed an order issued by the Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC) commissioner for cancellation of development permission granted way back in 2002 for a large residential complex. The HC bench of Justices SS Kemkar and MS Karnik was hearing an urgent petition moved by Mahadev Homes, which challenged the civic chief’s order as being “illegal, arbitrary and unjust”. Harshad Bhadbhade, counsel for the developer, also argued that the KDMC chief had passed the order without granting any opportunity for a proper hearing of his client.The KDMC had acted on a complaint made by a Right To Information activist that the builders, Landmark Constructions had obtained permission in 1995 in collusion with the land owner KJ Rajkotwala in violation of Urban Land Ceiling Act by claiming more land than entitled. Landmark Constructions, represented by senior counsel Rajiv Patil, said all the alleged legal heirs of the original landowner had been allotted flats in the complex under the agreement of 1995. He said that the complaints of alleged collusion were being made only after the death in 2012 of Rajkotwala. Bhadbade also submitted that the HC itself had earlier in 2013 passed an order rejecting a plea made by one of the legal heirs claiming rights over the land since it was made at a belated stage after Rajkotwala’s death. The claim of being a legal heir is still pending final decision in a civil court in Kalyan. Bhadbhade questioned whether the KDMC had placed the 2013 HC order before a former HC judge whose opinion it relied on while cancelling the development permission. Stay updated on the go with Times of India News App. Click here to download it for your device. (Times of India 20/7/16)

RIGHT TO HEALTH

212. Endosulfan victims, people with HIV to be brought under BPL (3)

MANGALURU: The State government is mulling over issuing Below Poverty Line ration cards to endosulfan victims, people with HIV, cancer patients and those suffering from renal failures, Food and Civil Supplies Minister U.T. Khader has said. He told presspersons here on Friday that endosulfan victims, people with HIV and those suffering from terminal illnesses should get quality food at subsidised rates. Some among them were already receiving subsidised food. “I want to bring all of them under the BPL category.” Mr. Khader said that a survey was on now to identify those who were in need of foodgrains at a subsidised rate. “Soon after getting the details we will take a decision,” Mr. Khader said and added he would seek assistance of the Centre, if needed, for its implementation. Mr. Khader said that his first priority was to process 10 lakh applications for ration cards pending for nearly two years and issue them BPL/APL ration cards. Officials had been asked to complete the process within three months. As many as 11,000 applications would have to be processed in Dakshina Kannada, he said. Mr. Khader said that an award of Rs.400 with be given to those who give information of persons who were illegally possessing BPL cards. A website was being created for online filing of applications seeking Above Poverty Line ration cards. He said people could call 1967 to lodge complaints about substandard grain and other grievances related to ration shops. (The Hindu 2/7/16)

213. Now, lifestyle diseases catching up with children (3)

Kochi: A screening camp conducted by Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS) – as part of comprehensive school health check-up programme conducted in 2015 – showed that nearly 35% children studying in private schools showed early signs of lifestyle diseases thanks to an unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle. Nearly 7,202 students, aged between 6 and 17, in CBSE schools of Kochi were screened last year. The study concluded that 6% urban children were obese, 12% overweight and 17.2% underweight. “When we conducted a similar survey among school children in 2005, we found that two children in each class were obese and six were overweight. The numbers have almost doubled in 10 years,” said Dr Manu Raj, clinical professor, paediatrics & public health research, AIMS. Of these 7,202 students, the blood pressure of 4,799 were checked. Nearly 15.1% showed early signs of hypertension, while 5.4% exhibited signs of hypertension during initial screening. Doctors said that two more readings were required before diagnosing paediatric hypertension. “Adolescents are not active now and their diet is unhealthy. At school, there is emphasis on academics and very limited opportunities to maintain fitness and more number of children are given money,” said Dr Krishna Kumar, who heads paediatric cardiology at AIMS. “High BP may be due to inactive lifestyle, excess weight, over consumption of high calorie or junk food or genetic factors. Many children – who reported high BP levels – had a combination of two or more factors mentioned above,” said Dr Raj, adding that 86.6% of the children followed a non- vegetarian diet. To understand whether children, who had family history of lifestyle diseases, were more at risk or not, AIMS also checked 7,392 parents and found that 8.1% fathers and 1.9% of mothers had hypertension. … (Times of India 4/7/16)

214. Pregnancy deaths in Gurgaon decline, but still more than Delhi’s (3)

Gurgaon: After a decline in the infant mortality rate, the health department has recorded a 28.8% decrease in maternal mortality rate during 2015-16, though it is more than Delhi’s. According to official figures accessed by TOI, the maternal mortality rate – the number of women dying during pregnancy per 1,00,000 live births – came down to 79 deaths per one lakh live births in 2015-16 from 111 deaths per one lakh live births in 2014-15. A 26% increase was recorded in the maternal mortality rate between 2013-14 and 2014-15. Palwal and Rewari, on the other hand, reported as many as 140 deaths and 124 deaths per one lakh live births in 2015-16, respectively. Narnaul recorded the highest decrease of 58% in the past one year, and the second highest decline has been reported in Gurgaon. The city, however, has a much higher maternal mortality rate than Delhi, which recorded between 33 and 38 per one lakh live births in the past five years. The district authorities attributed the achievement to public health intervention programmes by the health authorities and advanced technology in private hospitals. Chief medical officer Dr Ramesh Dhankar said, “Not only has maternal care improved in government hospitals, but also special initiatives have been taken for high-risk pregnancies. We are dedicating special doctors and nurses to expecting mothers in case of the high-risk pregnancies.” Private sector gynecologists, on the other hand, said late pregnancies have also helped in bringing down IMR. “As the age of first pregnancy is now between 20 and 28, there is less risk of complications and death in pregnancy. Similarly, Asha workers play a major role in bringing pregnant women to hospitals for prenatal consultation, which leads to fewer deaths during pregnancy or at the time of child birth,” said Dr Lalita Goel, a city-based gynecologist. (Times of India 5/7/16)

215. 19 die of TB in Mumbai daily: Study (3)

According to the report, as per the death certificates issued by BMC, there have been 33,442 TB deaths in the city in the last five years. As many as 19 people die of tuberculosis (TB) in Mumbai every day. The shocking statistic is part of a white-paper released by NGO Praja Foundation. The information was collected through Right To Information (RTI) applications, and was based on death certificates issued by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) Public Health Department in 24 administrative wards. According to the report, as per the death certificates issued by BMC, there have been 33,442 TB deaths in the city in the last five years. Of them, 8,165 deaths were reported in the age group of 0-19 years, while 8,211 were reported in the age group of 20-39. The BMC’s TB control unit, however, fixes the number at 6,838 TB deaths. “This anomaly needs to be explained by the Public Health Department. We need health officials’ sincere efforts to achieve health goals and eradicate diseases such as TB,” said Nitai Mehta, managing trustee of the Praja Foundation. As per the report, the highest number of cases were registered in L ward (Kurla), followed by H/East (Santa Cruz) and K/East (Andheri-East). “As per our study, 68% of the TB deaths were of men. TB is a curable disease and it still kills so many people. Surprisingly, during the public health committee meetings in the last four years, only two questions asked were regarding TB,” said Mehta. Dr Yatin Dholakia, secretary of the Maharashtra State Anti-TB Association, said, “The main reason behind this discrepancy may be because the death certificates include figures of TB patients availing treatment in private facilities. The BMC TB control officer will only have patients registered under the programme. It is a known fact that around 75-80% TB patients prefer private treatment, and not all notify to the government programme.” “Maharashtra is all set to roll out the daily drug regimen for TB patients from September. The decision is a huge step towards curbing the rise in drug resistance and relapse. It is also starting a universal drug susceptibility testing for all TB patients. These are positive moves in terms of bringing down TB burden on the city,” said Dholakia. While BMC health officials refused to speak on the discrepancy, doctors said though TB was rampant, health officials were making effort in the right direction. “We need to accept facts and work together to eradicate TB. There needs to be an awareness regarding the disease, without creating panic,” said Dr Rashid Vasi, chest physician and TB expert at Hinduja Healthcare Surgical in Khar. According to an estimate, the country loses nearly 170 million workdays to the disease. (DNA 8/7/16)

216. Climate change will cause 2,50,000 deaths by 2030: WHO (3)

Climate change will cause an additional 2,50,000 deaths from malaria, diarrhoeal disease, heat stress and under nutrition by 2030, a finding by World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated. The conclusion was drawn at a meeting held by the French government in Paris on July 8 to study actions taken to implement the Paris agreement in order to reduce health risks linked to climate change. Experts noted that climate change was already causing tens of thousands of deaths every year. This is in addition to 7 million deaths caused by air pollution, a release by WHO said. The biggest burden of the additional fatalities will be borne by children, women, older people and the poor, further widening the existing health inequalities. To mitigate deaths due to climate change, participants focused on the need to measure the progress by countries in safeguarding health of the people, it said. WHO has already published profiles on 40 countries. During the conference, benefits of switching to cleaner energy sources were also discussed. The participants also asked countries to develop a new approach to link investment in mitigating climate change with the expenditure on related healthcare costs, the release added. (DNA 11/7/16)

217. Malnourished children to get new drink (3)

Patna, July 12: The Bihar State Milk Cooperative Federation Ltd (Comfed) will next month launch a drink for children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. The social welfare department will provide the drink, named Bal Sudha – Comfed sells milk under the brand name Sudha – at anganwadi centres to children aged from six months to two-and-a-half years. The Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd has a similar initiative called Bal Amul. According to WHO, severe acute malnutrition is a life-threatening condition that requires urgent treatment. Affected children weigh less than what they should at their age and height “The drink will have milk solids, groundnut, vegetable fat, vitamins and minerals,” Sudha managing director S.K. Singh said. “Sudha would initially prepare Bal Sudha at its three units – Begusarai, Purnea and Darbhanga.” According to the plan, Comfed would only prepare the drink and provide it to the social welfare department, which would provide it to children at the anganwadi centres. Malnutrition is a major issue for the state. The National Family Health Survey IV data released early this year said there were 61 lakh kids affected by malnourishment in the state. The clinical anthropometric and biochemical survey released last year lists Bihar among the top nine states with highest number of malnourished children. According to the clinical anthropometric and biochemical survey survey, 52 per cent children in the state had stunted growth, or, in other words, were malnourished, while eight per cent (around one lakh) suffer from acute malnutrition. According to the survey, Patna is the fourth top district in the state with 59 per cent children (around 2.5 lakh) less than five years of age suffering from malnutrition followed by Jehanabad (65 per cent), Jamui (63 per cent) and Munger (61 per cent). According to the survey, among the districts which contribute to one-third of total malnourished children in the state are Patna, East Champaran, West Champaran, Muzaffarpur, Samastipur, Darbhanga and Gaya. The survey also suggests that states like Chhattisgarh has witnessed a 34 per cent decline in stunting (a form of acute malnutrition in which the child suffers from low height problem for his/her age) in the past seven years while Bihar has been able to manage only 4 per cent decline in stunting in the past seven years. Experts hailed the initiative of launching the drink for malnourished children. “Malnourished children are prone to infections. They develop diseases easily compared to the other children because their immunity level is compromised,” said V.P. Sinha, a physician at Patna Medical College and Hospital. “The mental and physical growth of the malnourished children is usually low. It will be good if the government identifies severe acute malnutrition-affected children and provide them therapeutic food in the early stage to combat malnutrition.” (The Telegraph 12/7/16)

218. Healthcare at cost of property for poor, finds study (3)

JAIPUR: A recent study undertaken by the Budget Analysis Rajasthan Centre in collaboration with NGOs Prayas and the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan has shown that the budgetary allocation for health in Rajasthan is between 4.5% and 6.8% of the total budget. Not only is this woefully inadequate, what money is available is often not fully utilized. Patients were spending on health services by even selling off property, researchers found. As part of the study, exit interviews were conducted in the four districts studied – Chittorgarh, Bharatpur, Barmer and Jhunjunu – with 487 patients. About 70% of patients belonged to families with average monthly income of less than Rs 10,000. A large number of people were found to have taken loans to meet medical expenses and 3.3% of people surveyed had sold property to meet medical expenses. Out-of-pocket expenses on healthcare were found to be high, despite the free medicines and diagnostics schemes. Researchers found that fund utilization in the government healthcare system was far from efficient. “It is important to keep in mind that higher utilization does not ensure efficient and effective utilization of funds. It is important to note that till December 2015, the utilized amount is between 60 and 65%, which means that in the next three months, they are expected to spend 35-40%. This raises the question of effectiveness and efficiency of utilized amount in the last quarter of the financial year,” the report said. A recent article on website India Spend notes that India lags behind other countries in the neighbourhood when it comes to crucial markers of the ‘health’ of the healthcare system, like maternal mortality rate: “India’s maternal mortality ratio of 190 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2013 was high compared to 23 in Iran, 29 in Sri Lanka, 31 in Maldives, 120 in Bhutan and 170 in Bangladesh and Pakistan.” However, within India, Rajasthan lags behind on some of these measures. A survey of 2011-13 said 244 maternal deaths occurred for every lakh live births in Rajasthan. The sex ratio in the state is 928 females per 1,000 males; India’s overall figure is 940. The other significant finding of this study is that while less than a quarter of the state’s population lives in urban centres, the health spend in rural areas and urban ones is nearly the same – in 2016-17, the budget for urban health centres is Rs1,978 crore; for rural areas, it is 1,991 crore. … (Times of India 17/7/16)

219. Doctor fined 6.3 lakh for medical negligence (3)

Surat: The Surat District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum recently held a doctor guilty of medical and professional negligence and directed him to pay Rs4.8 lakh to the heir of the man who died in the hospital with 9% compound interest and Rs1.5 lakh to six relatives. The petition was filed by Rajeshkumar Taliya against Dr Pragnesh Shah, cardiologist at Mahavir Hospital, after his father Ishwar Taliya died at the hospital in 2008. The deceased Ishwar Taliya had visited Mahavir Hospital in 2008 for angiography on the advice of his family doctor. The operation which should have taken 25 minutes went on for around three hours and Taliya was declared dead later. The angiography of the deceased was done despite the report showing his diabetes at 286mg level. Also, the time of death of the patient was falsely mentioned in the report. The doctor had taken professional indemnity insurance policy from IFFCO Tokio General Insurance Company Ltd. The standard rule of the policy is that the doctor was liable to submit the case to the company within 15 days of the patient’s death due to negligence or other reason, but he did not do so. However, the insurance company was joined in the case after the matter was remanded by the state commission, which was approximately five years after the incident. The consumer forum ruled that the doctor had violated the policy terms and condition by not intimating the company immediately and further not sending any of the court papers. The forum, however, exonerated the hospital and the insurance company and held the doctor responsible and asked him to pay the compensation to the heirs of the deceased. Advocate Darshan Shah, who appeared before the forum on behalf of the insurance company, said, “This could be a unique case of professional as well as medical negligence on the part of a senior learned doctor. When the state commission remanded the case to the forum, the doctor joined the insurance company in the matter.” (Times of India 17/7/16)

HIV/AIDS

220. HIV-positive girl finally gets school hostel accommodation (3)

BHUBANESWAR: An orphan HIV-positive girl, who shuttled between her home and a government-run residential school for two years for obvious reasons, was finally provided hostel accommodation in Odisha’s Kendrapara district on Friday. The girl’s absence from the premise of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya residential school, Kendrapara, for two academic sessions had the activists alleging that since the student was HIV infected, she was discouraged from mingling with other students. However, the school authorities emphatically denied charges saying no discrimination had taken place involving the girl. Since the admission of the girl, we found her homesick. She was not at all comfortable in the residential accommodation in the school. In addition to that, her family members had also approached us to allow her to stay at home. On humanitarian grounds, we had given permission. She used to come for collecting courses of studies and appearing in examinations,” said the school principal. The Kendrapara Child Welfare Committee on being informed about the alleged discrimination had visited the school and found that the girl had been accommodated in the hostel. The girl has started attending classes in the school which reopened from July 1 after summer vacation. According to Biraja Kumar Pati, an activist who had taken up her cause, said the girl had lost her parents to AIDS a decade ago. While she and her younger brother have been found to be HIV positive, her elder sister was not infected. The girl, a meritorious student, could not pursue her career normally as she used to stay at home most of the time, Mr. Pati said. The girl’s family members expressed happiness after she was accommodated in the hostel and requested that the issue should not be dragged further. (The Hindu 2/7/16)

221. Injective drug users turning HIV carriers: Experts (3)

Ludhiana: Intake of drugs through injections is spreading HIV in Ludhiana as 318 cases have been reported in the last about eight years under the target intervention project (TIP) among injective drug users (IDUs). Sharing needles for injecting drugs is said to be the main reason for the spread of HIV. “Not only the men, their spouses have also been afflicted with HIV,” said Dr Inderjit Singh Dhingra, project director. He said in the last two years 11 out of 80 spouses, who registered under the project, have been found HIV positive. Dr Dhingra said besides treating the addicts and weaning them away from drugs, they also inform them about safe sex practices to prevent the spread of HIV to their partners. “Some women are also among IDUs. In the past one year, we registered 16 women for treatment out of which 15 were literate who may not have been led into taking drugs,” he said. Dr Dhingra said 2,293 IDUs were registered with them. “At one time, the situation was so bad in Ludhiana that around 40% of the youths, who took to drugs, belonged to affluent families of the city. However, the number has now come down to around 21%,” he said. He said they had also identified 21 isolated spots in Ludhiana which addicts use to take drugs. Dr Dhingra said they were in talks with the police requesting them not to disturb such ‘hot spots’ as it would scatter the addicts and they might spread diseases. (Times of India 5/7/16)

222. Better awareness drives down number of HIV-positive cases in state (3)

BENGALURU: HIV-positive cases in Karnataka have been on the decline in the last five years, a phenomenon experts and NGOs attribute to increasing awareness and treatment received. As per statistics available with Express, close to 50,000 people have died due to HIV in Karnataka alone in the last one decade. However, though this number was close to 42,000 in 2011-12, it has become almost half of that in 2015-16. Bengaluru Urban, Belagavi and Bagalkote districts have the maximum number of HIV cases in the state. A senior officer from Health Department told Express that the number has reduced over the past five years.  “The number may not be precise as many people fear to come forward to register as HIV-positive. However, our continous effort along with support from NGOs has paid off,” he said. Subash, vice-president of Desire Society, an NGO that works for HIV-affected children, said the number has come down. “This could be because of awareness, especially in rural areas. Our organisation works for children affected with HIV, in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mandya and Ramanagaram. We have close to 120 children,” he said. Dr Glory Alexander, Director, ASHA Foundation, a charitable trust that helps HIV/AIDS affected, said they too observed that the number of cases and deaths related to HIV has come down in the past few years. Drugs are available and awareness is being created from various sectors, she said.  Dr Glory added that the recent World Health Organisation guidelines on HIV treatment recommend testing and treatment. “Antiretroviral therapy (ART) helps people with HIV live longer, healthier lives, and  reduce the risk of transmission of HIV. Once treated, viral load is undetectable and chances of transmitting HIV to others becomes less. However in India, it is yet to be implemented,” she said. According to Dr Glory, there are over five lakh people working for the HIV-affected in India. “In Karnataka too, a large number of people work for the HIV-affected. There are 50 ARTs in Karnataka, which is a good number for a state with 30 districts,” she said. According to data from the Health and Family Welfare Department, of the reported 30,319 cases of Men who have sex with men (MSM) in Karnataka, 38 are HIV-infected and out of the 2,025 transgenders who are sex workers, eight are HIV-positive. (New Indian Express 8/7/16)

223. Nearly 21 lakh HIV patients in India (3)

Chandigarh, July 9 (IANS) India has nearly 21 lakh HIV positive patients in the country and about seven lakh of them are not even aware of their HIV positive status, a senior Union Health Ministry officer said here on Saturday. Additional Secretary, Health cum Director General NACO (National Aids Control Organisation) Navreet Singh Kang said that there was an immediate need to identify the HIV positive patients and start their treatment. Kang was here to attend a function to launch ‘HIV prevention, treatment and care programme for Punjab prisons’ on Saturday. “There are nearly 21 lakh HIV positive patients in the country and about seven lakh of them are not even aware of their HIV positive status,” Kang said. He said that the treatment and care for those living with HIV/AIDS inside prisons should be equivalent to the treatment and care available for the general population. Kang said that the ‘National Prison HIV Strategy’ is being implemented in a phased manner in the country. “Earlier in the Phase-1, ‘HIV interventions in prison settings’ project was launched in February this year in eight northeastern states and is now being launched for Punjab and Chandigarh prisons. A key aspect of the program is to ensure post release referrals and linkages for various HIV prevention and treatment services,” he said. Punjab’s Principal Secretary Health, Vini Mahajan said that the state’s Health Department was committed to support the Prisons Department to provide adequate medical care to people lodged in Jail inmates. Mahajan said that the HIV Intervention Programme for Prisons had been launched by NACO for eight Central Jails in Punjab. Principal Secretary-Home (Prisons) Sanjay Kumar said that more than half of the inmates living in prisons in Punjab are undertrial prisoners and they are expected to return to the community. (Times of India 9/7/16)

224. HIV epidemic, a blast from past that entered future (3)

Washington D.C, Jul 10 : It may no longer be the death it once was, but HIV continues to haunt the gay men across the world, suggests a recent study. Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men continue to have disproportionately high burdens of HIV infection in countries of low, middle and high income around the world, the study led by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggested. The findings come four years after the same group of researchers issued a call to action, laying out an ambitious plan to curtail HIV epidemics in gay men, setting targets for policy reform, funding and improvement in effective HIV prevention and treatment services, including expanded access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) which has been highly effective in dramatically reducing transmission among this population. “While HIV rates have flattened overall in recent years, we’re really concerned that the HIV epidemic is continuing among gay men and we’re going in the wrong direction,” said study leader Chris Beyrer. He added, “It’s a tragic situation and it’s painful that the history of AIDS is looking like its future, but that’s actually where we are. But the first step in taking on a problem is recognizing and articulating it and we’ve really done that here.” Many are living long lives with the virus carefully controlled with antiretroviral treatment. But while new HIV infection rates are falling among heterosexual men and women in many countries, that is not the case with gay men. For their study, Beyrer and his colleagues analyzed published medical research from January 2007 through October 2015, to identify which elements of their call to action from 2012 had been achieved. They found a few successes. Beyrer said that the failure to get PrEP to the people who need it most, those who are HIV negative and are at high risk of infection, and the backsliding in terms of civil liberties for the gay community in nations such as Russia, Nigeria and Uganda have contributed to the continued high HIV rates among gay men. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, estimated that in the United States a 20-year-old gay black man has a 50 percent chance of becoming infected with HIV in his lifetime. While PrEP is available in the United States, Beyrer noted that it is accessible only when people have health insurance to pay for it, and there are real racial and economic disparities when it comes to who actually gets it. Beyrer also said that in low-income, predominantly minority communities – particularly in the South, where in most states Medicaid has not been expanded to provide wider health coverage – epidemics continue. He added that the United Kingdom refuses so far to cover PrEP, despite evidence of its effectiveness. And despite its availability in poor nations for pennies on the dollar, Beyrer stated that often the politics of providing medical care to gay men are difficult in many countries. While many nations have made great strides in the past four years in terms of gay marriage, in other nations sodomy remains a crime and other discriminatory policies remain in place, making even getting tested for HIV a potentially dangerous ordeal. In Russia, for example, HIV information websites have even been shut down in the wake of new propaganda laws. …  (New Kerala 10/7/16)

225. HIV drug may prevent transmission even in condomless sex (3)

New York: HIV-affected people taking medication are highly unlikely to transmit the virus to their partners even if they have unprotected sex, suggests new research. The risk is especially low for straight couples, according to the study. For the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the researchers followed 900 straight and gay couples. The couples were serodifferent — meaning thereby that one partner was HIV-positive while the other was HIV-negative — and the HIV-positive partner was using suppressive antiretroviral therapy and also reported condomless sex. During a median follow up of 1.3 years per couple, there were no documented cases of within-couple HIV transmission, the findings showed. The researchers, however, noted that appreciable levels of HIV transmission risk cannot be excluded, particularly for anal sex and when considered from the perspective of a cumulative risk over several years. “Although these results cannot directly provide an answer to the question of whether it is safe for serodifferent couples to practice condomless sex, this study provides informative data (especially for heterosexuals) for couples to base their personal acceptability of risk on,” the researchers said. The study was conducted at 75 clinical sites in 14 European countries between September 2010 to May 2014. Alison Rodger from University College London and colleagues evaluated the rate of within-couple HIV transmission during periods of sex without condoms and when the HIV-positive partner had HIV-1 RNA load less than 200 copies/ml. At study entry, couples reported condomless sex for a median of two years. Condomless sex with other partners was reported by 108 HIV-negative men who have sex with men (33 per cent) and 21 heterosexuals (four per cent). During follow up, couples reported condomless sex a median of 37 times per year, with men who have sex with men (MSM) couples reporting approximately 22,000 condomless sex acts and heterosexuals approximately 36,000. Although 11 HIV-negative partners became HIV-positive (10 gay; one straight) eight of them reported condomless sex with other partners. No molecular characteristics that indicate whether a virus is similar or different from another linked transmissions occurred over eligible couple-years of follow-up, giving a rate of within-couple HIV transmission of zero, the study said. (Business Standard 13/7/16)

226. Piped drinking water: HIV+ couple allege discrimination, officials deny charge (3)

Chennai: A HIV-positive couple in Thirumani village in Chengalpet say that they are being denied basic rights because of their medical condition. “Three days ago, the authorities began piped water supply to everyone, including my neighbours, except us,” says K Radhakrishan, adding that he and his wife, Kanchana, are often threatened and verbally abused. “Even to avail basic amenities, I have to keep fighting in court. Our neighbours also don’t like us living here because we are HIV-positive. They keep picking fights with us and asking us to leave,” said the 45-year-old president of the Kancheepuram Network for Positive People. The couple and their two daughters have been waging a lonely battle since 2011 when their thatched hut was set on fire. The Revenue Divisional Officer of Chengalpet, Paneer Selvam, has ordered an enquiry. “Officials have informed me that the family will get water connection,” said Selvam. “They seem to have a tiff with neighbours and I have advised panchayat leaders to sensitise them about HIV,” he added. The block development officer, A Venketesan, denied the allegation, saying that they have just begun providing water connections. “That we did not give their house water connection because of their HIV status is false,” said Venketesan. “The entire locality uses tap water and we are in the process of covering all households with pipelines. We have sent orders for him (Radhakrishnan) to be given the connection on Monday morning on a special case,” he said. Trouble for the couple and their two daughters dates back to in the neighbourhood in 2011 when their thatched house was set on fire. and they along with their two daughters escaped with minor injuries. Radhakrishnan had then filed a complaint with police against the former Thirumani panchayat president, late V Rajagopal, who wanted the family to vacate the village because of the couple’s HIV-positive status. Chengalpet police had registered a case of attempt to murder. Radhakrishnan had said that the miscreants had locked the house from outside and set fire to it at 2.30 am because he refused to listen to village leaders’ diktat that they go away from the village. Radhakrishnan, 45 was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1995. “The former panchayat leader had put us through a lot of problems but we protested and built our own house and stayed here,” he says. Activists in the state say that the government’s campaign to sensitise people to HIV has fizzled out. “There has been no effort over the last three years to address stigma and discrimination associated with HIV,” says Krishnagiri-based G Karunanidhi, founder, HIV Positive Network. “There is no budget allocated for support and care.” (Times of India 17/7/16)

227. Adolescents are dying of AIDS at an alarming rate, UN agency warns (3)

New York, July 19 : An average of 29 adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19 are infected with HIV every hour, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund, which is calling for a redoubling of prevention and treatment efforts. After all of the saved and improved lives thanks to prevention, treatment and care; after all of the battles won against prejudice and ignorance about this disease; after all of the wonderful milestones achieved, AIDS is still the number two cause of death for those aged 10-19 globally and number one in Africa, Anthony Lake, the Executive Director of the UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF) said from Durban, South Africa, the site of the 21st International AIDS Conference which opened on Monday. While rates of new infections among adolescents have levelled off, UNICEF is concerned that projected increases in their population in the coming years will mean an increase in the overall number of infections. Girls are particularly vulnerable, making up about 65 per cent of new adolescent infections worldwide, according to UNICEF. In sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for about 70 per cent of people in the world living with HIV, three out of every four adolescents newly infected by HIV in 2015 were girls. Yet fear of testing keeps many young people unaware of their status. Among adolescents, only 13 per cent of girls and 9 per cent of boys were tested within the last year. A new poll conducted on U-report, UNICEFs mobile-based reporting tool, shows that some 68 per cent of 52,000 young people surveyed in 16 countries said they did not want to be tested, both because they were afraid of an HIV-positive result, and because they were worried about social stigma. The battle against AIDS will not be over until we redouble prevention and treatment efforts; until we reach those young lives still being denied the progress that millions before them have enjoyed; and until we end the stigma and fear that prevent so many young people from getting tested, Lake said. Meanwhile, new infections among children due to transmission at birth or during breastfeeding have decreased dramatically since 2000, dropping by 70 per cent in the period. UNICEF is calling for stepped-up efforts to fully eliminate the transmission of the virus from mother to child. In 2015, half of new infections among children between the ages of 0 to 14, occurred in only six countries: Nigeria, India, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania and South Africa, he noted. On the first day of the 21st International AIDS Conference, UNICEF heads a session on South Africas achievements since 2000 towards the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and chairs a session that will showcase the potential of mobile applications such as Mom Connect, successfully used in South Africa to link pregnant women and mothers to health care, to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV and to improve the health of mothers and children living with HIV. (New Kerala 19/7/16)

228. Minister reviews functions of AIDS control society (3)

CHENNAI: Health Minister C. Vijayabhaskar held a review meeting with the officials of the Tamil Nadu AIDS Control Society on Tuesday. He said that they have successfully halted the spread of the virus from mother to child in 16 districts, and were taking steps to implement the same in other parts of the State. While the HIV infection rate in India is 0.29 percent, in Tamil Nadu it has decreased to 0.27 percent due to awareness campaigns. The minister added that they were also regularly checking on the availability of drugs and HIV diagnosis kits across the State. (The Hindu 20/7/16)