Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Posted by admin at 21 July 2015

Category: Uncategorized


1. Dalit’s death turns out to be murder, 6 held (2)

NAMAKKAL: Two days after a court-appointed medical team submitted its report to the Madras high court after conducting autopsy on the body of a dalit youth, the Tiruchengode police on Wednesday altered the case from ‘suspicious death’ to murder and arrested six men. The headless body of 23-year-old V Gokulraj, an engineering graduate, was found on a railway track at Thottipalayam in Namakkal district on June 24. The severed head was found nearby. “We have altered case registered by the Erode railway police under Section 174 ( suspicious death) of CrPC to Section 302 (murder) of the IPC based on the autopsy report,” Namakkal superintendent of police SR Senthil Kumar told TOI. He confirmed that six persons had been picked up in connection with the case. He declined to comment on the autopsy report. “I cannot reveal details of the autopsy report as it’s confidential. But, we have initiated investigations based on the report,” Kumar said. The youth’s death triggered tension in the caste-sensitive region with family members and dalit outfits alleging that Gokulraj was murdered by some members of the gounder community. The youth was last seen talking to a girl from the community. Based on a petition, the high court ordered postmortem by a medical team constituted by it. The autopsy report was given to the investigating officer, DSP Vishnu Priya, by the court…. (Times of India 2/7/15)

2. Dalit commission member calls separate crematoria inhuman (2)

Karnal: Showing deep concern over separate crematoria for Dalits in Haryana villages, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) member Ishwar Singh has demanded that this practice be made a criminal offence. Ishwar Singh, who was here on Friday to convene a meeting with the district officials, said that Haryana had the dubious distinction of being a state committing a large number of violations of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. “Of the total crimes registered in Haryana, 9.52% cases relate to Dalit atrocities. It is higher than the national average of 7%. This data reflects a biased mindset, leading to curtailment of the basic human rights of Dalits. It is a matter of worry that such violations are routine and the state must take serious note of it,” said Singh, a former member of Rajya Sabha from Haryana. He said that he had got several complaints from Haryana where it was alleged that members of the Dalit community were not being allowed to cremate bodies at places where the last rites of upper caste people are performed. “I am personally aware that even the funeral processions of Dalits are not allowed to cross through the streets dominated by upper castes. I strongly believe that the Centre should pass a resolution to ensure that bodies are not discriminated on the grounds of caste and the last rights must be performed at the same place,” he told reporters. Singh, who is incharge of five states on violations of the SC Act, said that despite tall official claims, inhuman practices like manual scavenging were still practised in Haryana. “I have recently written to the Union government to bring changes in the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 as it is not implemented in its true spirit. Despite strict legal provisions, instances of atrocities are repeated in various parts of the country,” he said. Singh said that as per official records, Dalits comprise 46% of the total strength of students studying in government schools, and suggested that public officials should also admit their wards in such schools. “It is a worrying trend as the standards of education are quite poor in government schools and Dalits are being marginlised. I am of the opinion that wards of public officials, including the deputy commissioner, should be enrolled in government schools. The mechanism may infuse a new lease of life in the neglected sector of education,” he said…. (Hindustan Times 4/7/15)

3. Dalit youth murder: Fact-finding team demands CBI probe (2)

Chennai: A fact-finding team consisting of Dalit scholars and academics has termed the death of a Dalit youth, whose body was found on a railway track in Namakkal, as a “clear case of honour killing” and have demanded a CBI probe. A team of the Intellectual Circle for Dalit Actions (ICDA), which included academics such as C. Lakshmanan of the Madras Institute of Development studies and Dalit writers like Stalin Rajangam, said in a report that the investigation by the local police into the murder was clearly “slow and sloppy”, with the prime accused still absconding. According to the report, published after a visit to the area last week, several factors clearly establish that Swathi, who belongs to the Gounder community, and Gokulraj, the Dalit youth, who was murdered, were in a relationship. “In fact, Gokulraj had recently bought a diamond ring on instalment basis from a jewellery shop which seems to indicate that the couple may have thought about marriage,” said Mr. Rajangam. The report said the youth had been threatened of dire consequences even a year earlier for his relationship with Swathi. “This fact has to be thoroughly investigated,” the report said. The team said the role of the prime accused, Yuvaraja of the Dheeran Chinnamalai Gounder Peravai, had been underplayed. “He was actively involved in campaigns against inter-caste marriages,” Mr. Rajangam said, urging the government to ban such organisations and incentivise inter-caste marriages. Sources said Yuvaraja was also an active organiser of campaigns against writer Perumal Murugan last year over the contents of his book Madhorubagan. Protests broke out after several caste and Hindutva organisations demanded the ban of the book for its portrayal of Gounder women. In fact, as early as in 2012, The Hindu had reported that youth belonging to smaller caste-based organisations had begun a campaign in colleges in the Salem area against inter-caste marriage. The report claims that this campaign could have given the perpetrators the advantage of a network that identified inter-caste relationships. (The Hindu 6/7/15)

4. Atrocities Against SC/ST Highest in Capital (2)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: State capital Thiruvananthapuram tops the list for crimes committed against members of the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe communities. The capital has been maintaining the position for the past four years. As many as 536 cases have been registered in the district, according to statistics presented in the Assembly on Monday. Of the 536 cases, 404 have been registered in rural Thiruvananthapuram alone, according a written reply given by Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala. 132 were registered in the city limits. As many as 278 cases were registered on charges of harassment of women, 57 in the city and 221 in the rural limits. In 126 cases, chargesheets were issued. The total number of accused in these cases, the Home Minister said, was 459 of which 202 have been arrested. No one has been punished so far and 12 cases are still under investigation. Across the state, during the four-year period, 3,634 cases have been registered for atrocities against SC/ST communities, 1,809 cases for harassment of women. Of the total 2,642 accused, 1,572 have been arrested and 14 punished. Thrissur district is second in the list with 473 cases of which the rural areas recorded 332 cases and city limits, 141. Kollam, which is third, registered 441 cases of which 283 cases were registered in the rural areas and 158 in the city limits. Kozhikode registered 279 cases, with rural Kozhikode alone recording 190 cases. (New Indian Express 7/7/15)


5. Odisha to go for Pulpwood Livelihood Plantation for Tribals (6)

BHUBANESWAR: In a move to increase livelihood options in tribal-dominated areas against the backdrop of the changing climatic conditions, Odisha has decided to go in for massive pulp wood plantation covering 60,000 hectares over the next five years. The plantation will be carried out in the public private partnership (PPP) mode, according to a note prepared by the state government. It said the stress on pulpwood plantations would lead to a win-win situation for farmers and paper manufactures, as the project would cater to the needs of both. Vagaries of climate and an uncertain market, as also pressure from middlemen, have led to the farmers incurring losses from crop cultivation. “Through this PPP model, the poor farmers will get direct benefits from their produce through a direct marketing channel of the company,” said the concept note prepared by the state horticulture department. The project will be implemented in Koraput, Rayagada, Nabrangpur, Malkangiri and Gajapati districts. The interested industries and horticulture department would identify the farmers for pulpwood plantations, to be carried out in the horti-forestry model. “The government will facilitate and encourage the farmers to go for pulpwood plantations if they have land. It will be a buy-back system, ensuring a win-win situation for both the farmers and the paper manufacturing companies,” Horticulture Director Susanta Nanda told IANS. He said it would provide ample scope for sustaining a large number of agro-industries which generate immense employment opportunities. The government expects the project to generate 20 million man days, which will uplift the socio-economic condition of the tribals. “The farmers will enter an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the companies so that paper manufactures buy their plants for use in their industries,” Nanda said. Odisha has a number of paper manufacturing companies, including J.K Paper and Emami Paper Mills, which will benefit from the pulpwood plantations. “It’s a great initiative by the government. We are happy to partner with the government. The scheme would carter to the need of the company and immensely benefit the farmers in tribal areas,” a senior official of J.K. Paper, which has a paper manufacturing mill in Rayagada district, told IANS. Many paper industries are importing raw material from Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh to run their mills as raw material is scarce in Odisha, sources said. As the continuous rise in raw material costs is squeezing their profit margins, paper manufacturers have increased the area under pulpwood cultivation over recent years.

According to a study by Emkay Research, total sowing by leading paper producers was at 315,127 hectares in 2012-13 against 268,246 hectares in the previous year and 202,284 hectares in 2009-10 across the country. (New Indian Express 1/7/15)

6. Landlessness is higher among Dalits but more adivasis are ‘deprived’ (6)

New Delhi: Adivasis or Scheduled Tribes are the most deprived among rural households in India, despite their suffering much lower levels of landlessness and dependence on manual casual labour compared to the Dalits or Scheduled Castes. According to the results of the Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011, nearly 79 per cent of rural adivasi households are considered “deprived”. This is higher than the 61 per cent for all rural households, the 55 per cent for non-SC/STs, and the 73 per cent for Dalits. The higher incidence of deprivation is notwithstanding the fact that just over half the ST households are dependent on manual casual labour as a source of income, as against well above two-thirds for Dalits. Also, 38 per cent of Adivasi families — twice the proportion for SCs — are engaged in cultivation, which is indicative of their owning land. Around 45 per cent of SC households are both landless and derive a major part of income from manual casual labour. This proportion, too, is below 30 per cent for adivasis. How do higher landlessness and manual casual labour dependence among Dalit families square up with their lower deprivation incidence, as per the SECC data? It has to do with the way the deprivation numbers have been arrived at. The SECC has identified 14 parameters of exclusion. Fulfilling even one of them would result in a household being treated as non-deprived. The parameters include households paying income or professional tax; having any member who is a government employee or earning more than Rs 10,000 per month; owning a 2/3/4 wheeler, refrigerator or landline phone; staying in a pucca house with three rooms; and farming over 2.5 acres of irrigated land. The results show more rural Dalit households (91 lakh or 27.4 per cent) than adivasis (42 lakh or 21.4 per cent) fulfilling at least one of the 14 parameters that disqualify them from the deprivation category. There are more motorised vehicle, refrigerator or pucca house owners among SCs than STs . One reason for the ability for even landless manual labour-dependent families to be able to own consumer durables may be wages. These have risen even after adjusting for inflation over the last decade, thanks to non-farm employment generation from high economic growth and also welfare programmes like MGNREGA. But can ownership of consumer durables be used as criteria for excluding households from the deprived category? “You cannot equate ownership of a two-wheeler with having a government job. The latter promises permanent income, whereas the former can be had even with borrowings or remittance monies from relatives in cities that aren’t sustainable,” said Sukhdeo Thorat, former UGC chairman…. (Indian Express 5/7/15)

7. Tribals’ Fight for Land Enters 118th Day (6)

NERIYAMANGALAM: For more than three months, a group of over 100 tribals and their families have been living in temporary sheds on a portion of the District Agricultural Farm in Neriyamangalam in a form of protest. Their stir, demanding the government to protect the land allotted to them from private encroachers, enters 117th day on Monday. A N Babu, one of the organisers of the protests, said, “We are assembled here to prevent the lands allotted to us through the government’s tribal rehabilitation programme from going into the hands of private property owners.” Despite obtaining the title deeds for land in Neriamangalam, a lot of tribal families have been living in the rented huts within the same locality, he said. The government rolled out its tribal rehabilitation programme in Ernakulam in 2002 and identified  120 landless tribal families within the district as beneficiaries. The project aimed to provide them rehabilitation in the 12.8 acres of inhabitable land craved from District Agricultural Farm in Neriamangalam. “The whole process was done without planning. The government awarded title deeds to the identified 120 families. They were originally land-less tribals engaged in inland fishing in Piravom and they were given lands in Neriyamangalam, which is essentially a forest,” Babu said. As a result a majority of the families – 76 to be precise – refused the title deed and they were rehabilitated at Edakkattuvayal near Piravom. Eleven families of the remaining beneficiaries have been paying land tax to the Neriamangalam village office till September 2010, awaiting the government to clear the rest of the formalities and build them houses on the allotted land. “But after September 2011, the village officer refused to accept our land tax payments because he said our title deeds have been cancelled,” Babu said. “When we came back to see what happened to our land, we found others cultivating in the property allotted to us. This was what triggered us to launch this protest, which was soon joined by several other tribal families, who claim to have similar problems,” he added. The protesters have built huts at different part of the 12.8 acres identified under the tribal rehabilitation programme and named the area ‘Thalakkal Chandu Pattika Varga Gramam’. “The Ernakulam District Collector has ordered the revenue officers and the tribal development officer to ensure that those who have been awarded title deeds in the tribal rehabilitation programme of the government should be given land by April 30. However, that order has not been implemented so far,” said E T Natarajan, the general secretary of Hindu Aikya Vedi, which has pledged their support for the tribal cause. (New Indian Express 6/7/15)

8. Protest against State’s indifference towards landless tribals (6)

KALPETTA: : A group of tribals under the aegis of the Wayanad Bhoo Samrakshana Samiti took out a march and staged a dharna in front of the Collectorate here on Wednesday in protest against the alleged move by the State government to provide land to three religious institutions at throwaway prices. P.R. Vijayan, chairman of the organisation, said though 10,722 landless tribespeople in the district have been waiting to get land under the ‘Ashikkum Bhoomi Adivasikku Swantham’ and ‘three cent land for landless’ projects, the government was yet to provide land on the grounds that it could not identify any land for the purpose, he said. What has irked the protestors is that the State government had allotted nearly 9.6 hectare of revenue land to three religious institutions, including 5.5358 hectares of land to St. George Forane church at Kallodi and two hectares each to St. Antony’s Church, Pazhur, and St. Mary’s College at Sulthan Bathery, in the district at a nominal rate. He said leased land was being given at just Rs.100 an acre to the religious institutions. Whereas, the Revenue officials had asked the government many years ago to disburse it to landless tribespeople, he added. If the government failed to resume the land and disburse it to landless tribesmen, the organisation would intensify agitations, Mr. Vijayan said. K.P. Haridas, state general secretary, Hindu Ayikya Vedi, inaugurated the march. (The Hindu 9/7/15)


9. More girls being born in Navi Mumbai (8)

Navi Mumbai: Cutting through the gloom of female foeticide, a bright ray has highlighted the heart-warming figure of 930 girls born in Navi Mumbai in 2014 for every 1,000 boys. The number is up from 890 in 2011. Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation officials attributed the healthy rise in the number of its girls to vigilance over diagnostic centres in the satellite city over the last few years, reducing sex determination tests and possible foeticide. The NMMC even received an appreciation certificate from the state government in 2013 for its action under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act (PCPNDT Act) against erring diagnostics centres. “Between 2011 and 2012, health officials of the civic body carried out raids on several diagnostic centres in the city. A total of 21 such centres were found to be carrying out sex determination tests and action was taken against them. Four doctors were convicted. Two were punished with two years of imprisonment by the court and two others got simple imprisonment of six months and fine,” said B N Birajdar, who was the advocate for NMMC in the cases. The crackdown was the result of a massive sex selection scandal in Beed district that came to light over 2011-12. Alarmed by the rampant sex selection offered by unscrupulous people and a skewed sex ratio, the government pushed for strict implementation of the law. It insisted on proper paperwork to discourage illegal tests and resorted to sealing ultrasound machines and taking doctors to court in case of any slip-up. The steadily improving sex ratio in Navi Mumbai has gone hand in hand with continuing vigilance on diagnostic centres. “NMMC health officials carry out checks every three months on the diagnostic centres. We examine the sonography machines to check whether they have been tampered with and also check validity certificates, records and registration,” said Dr Deepak Paropkari, head of health department, NMMC. The Navi Mumbai corporation has probably done a better job than even the BMC, said Varsha Deshpande of NGO Lek Ladki Abhiyan. In 2013, the sex ratio in Mumbai was 930 girls for every 1000 boys. “Since 2010, they (Navi Mumbai civic officials) have registered cases against 14 doctors and sealed several machines. However, Navi Mumbai is a tricky mix of urban and rural, and therefore one needs to look beyond official numbers,” she added. “The increased action against diagnostic centres in the city by health officials helped curb sex determination. But we have noted there is a need to bring a change in mindsets as most of the sex discrimination cases involved educated and upper middle class families. We need to carry out awareness campaigns, mainly in schools and colleges, explaining laws to improve the female birth ratio in future,” said Vrushali Magdum, member of the Navi Mumbai advisory committee on implementation of PCPNDT. “There is much more awareness about the law and its consequences among doctors now,” said Dr Suchitra Pandit, former president of the Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI). She added that the organization, through seminars, taught doctors basic things like how to fill Form F, where medical details of a pregnant woman has to be meticulously filled up. A BMC official said reporting of illegalities has also improved following the enforcement of PCPNDT. (Times of India 1/7/15)

10. UGC to probe Stephen’s abuse case (8)

NEW DELHI: On being prodded by the HRD ministry to look into the latest sexual harassment case in St Stephen’s College, University Grants Commission has appointed an officer, Sunita Siwach, for the job. She will visit the college to examine if its Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) is functioning, find out why if it’s not and advise on how matters can be expedited. “I would welcome a full judicial inquiry by either a sitting or a retired judge of the Supreme Court into this alleged case of sexual harassment, covering all aspects of it,” principal Valson Thampu said on Sunday. “I would even welcome a CBI inquiry. It is important for all concerned for the truth come to light.” More than the harassment itself, it is the alleged mishandling of it that has irked students and teachers. The woman researcher, who has accused the former bursar—her thesis supervisor—of sexual harassment, has also accused the college’s administration of “shielding” him. She withdrew her complaint to ICC—lodged early this year after much delay because of Thampu’s alleged interference and discouragement—by email on June 20. She’d written, “I have absolutely no faith in the way the proceedings before the committee have proceeded. I strongly believe an attempt is being made to character assassinate me and save Dr Satish Kumar, the bursar.” However, her withdrawal wasn’t accepted and on June 25, she was asked to appear before the committee on July 2. She wrote back reiterating her decision to withdraw and refusal to appear before the committee. A few days later, she also released recordings of meetings—allegedly between her, Thampu and Kumar—in which, if they are genuine, there are clear indications that she was being discouraged from filing an official complaint. Thampu said, “I don’t know about the functioning of ICC as it is completely outside the principal’s purview. It is constituted under the national act and orders of the Supreme Court. As a law-abiding citizen, I will not interfere with the functioning of a statutory body entrusted with ensuring justice to women, to which the college is committed wholeheartedly.” Of UGC’s examination, he added, “I cannot speak for ICC but in my capacity as principal, I welcome the UGC’s participation. Whatever doubts have been cast on the impartiality, independence and efficiency of the committee, I hope, will disappear thereafter.” These allegations of deliberate mishandling have called the functioning of ICCs and Delhi University’s own apparatus to investigate sexual harassment cases in question and made the college itself the centre of protest. Women’s groups have condemned the complete replacement of the previous policy—Ordinance XV-D—with the Sexual Harassment in Workplace (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2013. Though it was never fully implemented, with its provisions on elected members of committees and student and karamchari representation, it made for a fairer system. Women’s groups have alleged the college has seen a “spate of sexual harassment cases that have been poorly investigated by the administration”. Another protest is planned for Monday. (Times of India 6/7/15)

11. Woman ‘burnt alive’ in police station dies (8)

Meerut: A day after she was sexually assaulted and allegedly burnt by two policemen at a local police station in Barabanki, mother of a local journalist, succumbed to burn injuries on Tuesday. According to the medical superintendent of the Civil Hospital in Lucknow where she was being treated, the victim was almost completely burnt when she was brought for treatment. The middle-aged anganwadi worker from Gaha village, in her statement before a magistrate while had said the two policemen poured petrol over her and burnt her after trying to rape her inside the premise of Kothi police station on Monday. This comes over a month after Jagendra Singh, a Shahjahanpur journalist died after being burnt allegedly by cops for writing against a U.P. minister on Facebook. Santosh, son of the victim who is associated with a local hindi daily in Barabanki demanded a CBI probe in the killing of his mother. He demanded murder charges be registered against the accused cops. “The charges against the cops have been registered under sections of the IPC which are pretty minor and will ensure that they are scot free in a week,” he said. According to Santosh, a case was registered Against the cops for using abusive language. “They have suspended for detaining my father for more Han 24 hours. These charges are very minor in nature which is no justice to me and my dead mother,” he told the media. The two cops the Station House Officer of Kothi Police station Rai Saheb Yadav and Constable Akhilesh Rai have been suspended. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has ordered a magisterial probe. The woman had gone to Kothi police station to enquire about her husband after he was detained by the police in connection with a recent clash. When she requested the cops to release her husband they allegedly asked for bribe. Her refusal to pay bribe led to heated exchange of words between them after which the two cops took her into a room. According to the written statement of the woman: “The SHO Yadav and Constable Rai took me into a room where they tried to take away my jewellery and outrage my modesty. When I raised an alarm they doused me with petrol and burnt me.” The police, however, maintained that she self-immolated. Her son, Santosh, rejected the police version saying there was “no reason for her to self-immolate”. While Akhilesh Yadav is under fire because of law and order situation, the Opposition on Tuesday claimed the Barabanki incident would not have happened had the cops and the minister allegedly responsible for burning Jagendra Singh, would have been sacked. The State BJP Chief Lakshmikant Bajpai told The Hindu on phone that “the assault of a woman by none other than cops who are supposed to be the protectors and her being burnt alive is the real face of the so called good governance of Samajwadi Party. (The Hindu 8/7/15)

12. SC Verdict Boosts Women’s Rights (8)

The Supreme Court verdict that an unwed mother can be the sole guardian of her child is a leg up for women’s rights. In the instant case, the woman did not want to reveal the identity of the child’s biological father because he was a married man with a family and did not want to take any additional responsibilities. She also did not want to attach the tag of “father” to the man who had no interest in the welfare of the child. She wanted only the child to be the inheritor of her property and income. She did not want his involvement, when he was not ready to share the burden of bringing up the child. The litigant had a special problem. She was a Christian, a fact that did not allow her to be the guardian of the child by virtue of her maternity. In other words, she suffered on two counts. As an unwed mother, she suffered from inequities based on social prejudices and as a Christian, she suffered from the inequities of the law. Under the Guardianship and Wards Act, the child’s father’s consent was a must for her to become the guardian. In fact, that was what the High Court also decided. However, the Supreme Court took into consideration the fact that she was “well-educated, gainfully employed and financially secure” to meet the needs of her child. An upshot of the verdict is that an unwed mother can hereafter receive birth certificate of her child by merely submitting an affidavit. Also, the child’s father’s consent will not be necessary for the mother to get the guardianship of her child. In other words, the verdict has great significance for women.  As the apex court has pointed out, the petition also highlights the need for a uniform civil code, which the Constitution mandates. The case had arisen only because the petitioner was a Christian. Had she been a Hindu, she could have been the child’s sole guardian by virtue of her maternity. The Christians face discrimination as they cannot adopt. They can only be guardians. Once the child attains adulthood, the guardianship will also end. They themselves have been demanding reforms in their personal laws. There are many contradictions in the personal laws, as are applicable to various communities. It is time they are sorted out in the larger interests of the country. After all, women have every right to be treated as equal citizens of the country. (New Indian Express 8/7/15)

13. Need for substantive representation of women on boards: Maneka (8)

New Delhi: There is a compelling need for substantive representation of women on the boards of companies rather than a token representation through family members, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said here on Wednesday. Gandhi also expressed concern that though the ministry of corporate affairs and SEBI have mandated that companies must have at least one woman on their boards and it was observed that this was often being done by appointing the wives or daughters of the promoters on the board. Gandhi was inaugurating a conference on ‘Women at Workplace,’ organised by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) on Wednesday. “I have written to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to figure out how we can have a substantive representation of women on the boards rather than a token representation through the family members,” she said. She also stressed the need for the setting up of the internal committees to address sexual harassment at workplace. “I receive a large number of complaints on a daily basis where organisations are seen to be failing in their duty under the Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013,” she said. She further said though she took up the issue with the apex body, the response wasn’t encouraging. “I had taken up the matter with the apex national chambers of commerce and industry asking them to sensitize their corporate members. However, the response from the chambers was not very encouraging,” she said. She stressed that all organisations having 10 or more persons working with them including some women are required to constitute the internal complaints committee as well as provide sensitisation training to all the employee of the company. “I would request all the chambers to take it up as a mission so that all the members start complying with the provision of the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2013,” added Gandhi. She also stressed upon for providing enabling environment for women to train them for various kinds of professions. “We have revised STEP scheme and made it easier for NGOs engaged in training of women to access our assistance. The companies can contribute in this direction in a big way through their CSR initiatives. I will be happy to work with any company or groups of companies who come forward with concrete proposals for providing skill to women,” she pointed out. She also sought a conducive atmosphere for women at workplace. “In order to help more and more women to participate in the workforce, it is critical that we provide encouraging and safe work environment to them,” she added. (Business Standard 9/7/15)


14. Survey punches holes in govt claims on child labourers (14)

BHOPAL: Turning state government’s claims on its head about miniscule number — 108 of child labourers, in the state, 2011census puts count at 7,239 across the state. The damning facts came out in a survey, interns of Madhya Pradesh Human Rights Commission (MPHRC). The findings were shared on Wednesday. Over 152 child labourers, 24 parents and 19 employers were made to fill questionnaire during study. Around 67% of 152 labourers were found in age-group between 12 and 16 years of age. Of them, 22 were into hazardous work. Close to half of child labourers did not have pure water to drink or access to school, according to a press released issued by the commission. Close to 50 kids did not have electricity in home. Another surprising fact was 136 child labourers had their families, but despite that they had to work. Similarly, 117 kids of 152 kids were into permanent work and were not a part-time worker. Students also met officials of labour department, who pointed illiteracy as main reason for the practice. MPHRC additional director (public relations) LR Sisodia told TOI, “These are findings of a study conducted by interns and would be shared with departments for their reaction and the departments will also be asked about action they are going to take to check on illegal practice. (Times of India 1/7/15)

15. ‘Operation Muskan’ to trace 84 missing children (14)

MYSURU: The Mysuru city police have launched ‘Operation Muskan’ to find 84 children, who have remained untraceable. This has been launched in response to the nationwide campaign to trace missing children, and will be held the whole of this month. A statement issued from the Police Commissioner’s office said all officials and personnel have been given necessary training and instructed to visit neighbouring States, if needed, to trace the children. The police have roped in representatives of District Child Protection Unit, Department of Labour, Women and Child Welfare Department, and NGOs engaged in the area of missing children. The police also urged the public to provide information about such children, if they come across them, to the nearest police station. Meanwhile, Fr. Francis John, Director of Don Bosco Makkalaya, told The Hindu that the police should look for runaway children in bus-stands and railway stations and make efforts to reunite them with their parents. The police should get in touch with childlines, the helplines for children run by NGOs in various cities, to trace them. They should look for missing children even in websites of NGOs like Don Bosco, which has a missing children bureau, where photos of runaway children are displayed. Pointing out that most missing children would have run away from homes and some could have been trafficked, Fr. Francis said chances of tracing girl children was higher as they do not go far, unlike the boys, who go from one city to another and take up jobs. Emphasising the need for the police to be “child-friendly” in their efforts to trace the missing children, Fr. Francis said it was better if such children are found early. “For, if they fall into the hands of anti-social elements, things will get difficult,” he said. (The Hindu 3/7/15)

16. Identity cards for children’s home inmates (14)

COIMBATORE: The inmates of children’s homes in the district would soon be issued identity cards as a measure of protection. The State Government had already issued directions to enrol all inmates for Aadhaar cards. Coimbatore district had a total of 78 children’s homes having 4,436 children as inmates. The decision was taken after the District Child Protection unit led by District Child Protection Officer G. Vijaya held consultations with various Government agencies involved in protecting children’s rights such as the Department of Social Welfare, National Child Labour Project, District Differently Abled Rehabilitation Officer, Integrated Child Development Services, Child Welfare Committee, Anti Human Trafficking Unit and Juvenile Special Unit of the police besides child Welfare Officers in the Railways and Tamil Nadu State Aids Control Society (TANSACS) personnel. A DCPU official said that it was also decided to strengthen the village committees formed to tackle child abuse and strengthen children’s rights. They are headed by respective panchayat presidents with the local Block Development Officer being the convener. These committees would be asked to convene more frequently and would be used to spread awareness about child rights. Volunteers would also be roped in to conduct awareness programmes in rural areas. Further, visual content and games would be utilised to create awareness about child abuse in schools. A short film on child abuse would be shown initially in government schools. Special emphasis would be paid to train children on how to avoid getting kidnapped and avoid strangers. (The Hindu 6/7/15)

17. Eight cases of child abuse every day but conviction rate at an abysmal 2.4% (14)

NEW DELHI: Eight cases of sex crimes against children have been registered every day in the last two years. About 6,816 police cases were registered from November, 2012— when the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Act (POCSO)—came into force up to March, 2015. The highest number of FIRs has been registered in Rajasthan followed by Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala according to data available with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). The number of convictions is only 166 that is 2.4% of the total cases registered while in 389 cases accused were acquitted. There is a rising trend of crime against children. This is also borne out by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data that has recorded 33,052 Cases, 38,172 cases and 58,224 cases during 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively. According to a study conducted by the WCD ministry in 2007, over half of the children surveyed reported having faced some form of sexual abuse, with their suffering exacerbated by the lack of specific legislation to provide remedies for these crimes. While rape is considered a serious offence under the Indian Penal Code, the law was deficient in recognizing and punishing other sexual offences, such as sexual harassment, stalking, and child pornography, for which prosecutors had to rely on imprecise provisions such as “outraging the modesty of a woman”. Recognizing the problem, the government introduced POCSO to address rampant child sexual abuse through less ambiguous and more stringent legal provisions, championed the introduction of a specific law to address this offence. The law addresses crimes of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children. It defines different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative assault, as well as sexual harassment and pornography, and deems a sexual assault to be “aggravated” under certain circumstances, such as when the abused child is mentally ill or when the abuse is committed by a person in a position of trust or authority vis-a-vis the child, like a family member, police officer, teacher, or doctor. People who traffic children for sexual purposes are also punishable under the provisions relating to abetment in the Act. The Act prescribes stringent punishment graded as per the gravity of the offence, with a maximum term of rigorous imprisonment for life, and fine. (Times of India 9/7/15)


18. Minorities being victimized in India, UNHRC told (7)

Geneva, July 01 (KMS): Kashmiri representatives, Altaf Hussain Wani and Shamim Shawl have said that with the rise of Hindu extremist BJP to power the religious hatred against minorities in India has infiltrated all spheres of life – from politics to educational institutions. Altaf Hussain Wani while taking part in debate under agenda item 9 during the 29th session of the UN Human rights Council in Geneva said that heavy militarization of civilian spaces and occupation of premises of educational institutions in occupied Kashmir had created an unsafe educational environment in the territory. He drew the attention of the Council to this unsafe environment due to which the parents were forced to send their children to India. “Students from Kashmir face diverse challenges while pursuing education in India. Kashmiri students are questioned at every station and airport of India. They are harassed, detained, rusticated from the educational institutions and in some cases tortured to death,” he said. During last two years, he added, 6 young scholars of Kashmir died mysteriously in different educations institutions and over 200 students were rusticated and scores were detained arbitrarily. Shamim Shawl in her statement submitted to the UNHRC under the agenda item 9 expressed concern over the discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities in India. She said that the Saraswati Shishu Mandirs and Vidya Bharati School in India carried biased historical and cultural narratives that misrepresented and under-represented the contribution of the religious minorities to the history of India. “Violence against the minority communities is also a feature and from time to time communal hatred is spread amongst the people,” she said and gave the shocking example of blatantly communal and hate speeches by the leaders of BJP, RSS and VHP advocating violence against the Muslim community. (Kashmir Media Service 1/7/15)

19. SC bats for single moms, uniform civil code, says keep religion away from law (7)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday said religion must be kept at a distance from law in a secular country like India and favoured implementation of Uniform Civil Code as enshrined in the Constitution. The SC refused to consider tenets of Christian religion while favourably deciding the rights of an unwed Christian mother who had challenged a Delhi high court order, directing her to reveal the name of the child’s father when she sought guardianship. The court, however, noted that the Christian unwed mother is at a disadvantage in comparison to an unwed mother belonging to other communities where the mother is considered the natural guardian. “India is a secular nation and it is a cardinal necessity that religion be distanced from law. Therefore, the task before us is to interpret the law of the land, not in light of the tenets of the parties’ religion but in keeping with legislative intent and prevailing case law,” Justice Vikramajit Sen said. “Christian unwed mothers in India are disadvantaged when compared to their Hindu counterparts, who are the natural guardians of their illegitimate children by virtue of their maternity alone, without the requirement of any notice to the putative fathers. It would be apposite for us to underscore that our Directive Principles envision the existence of a uniform civil code, but this remains an unaddressed constitutional expectation,” he said. In Sarla Mudgal case in 1995, the SC had said, “Where more than 80% of citizens have already been brought under codified personal law, there is no justification whatsoever to keep in abeyance, any more, the introduction of uniform civil code for all citizens in India.” Yet again in 2003, in John Vallamattom case, the SC had highlighted the desirability of achieving the goal set by Article 44 of the Constitution. (Times of India 7/7/15)

20. RSS affiliate seeks redefinition of minority institutions (7)

NEW DELHI: Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal, a front organization of RSS, on Wednesday demanded that definition of minority institutions be changed. Releasing its exhaustive memorandum to the HRD ministry for new education policy, BSM joint organizing secretary Mukul Kanitkar said minority-run institutions have misused the privilege given to them by the Constitution. “We are mulling legal option to change the definition including going to the Supreme Court,” he said. Kanitkar pointed out that there are innumerable instances when minority-run institutions have more students from majority community. However, the tag of being a minority institution helps them in not implementing the Right to Education Act. “It is a misuse,” he said, adding that the original idea of giving them autonomy to spread education among minorities has not been fulfilled. Kanitkar said the criterion of minority institutions should be on the basis of number of minority students enrolled rather than on management being run by minorities. For the new education policy, BSM has proposed an eight-year plan of general education at the completion of which students will have practical knowledge of science and productive physical capacity. Broadly, in the eight-year plan, BSM wants children to be taught mother tongue as the first language and Hindi or English or Sanskrit or any classical language or regional language as additional language. Other subjects would be mathematics that helps in daily transactions, general science, social studies, physical work, hygiene, moral education and social service, sports and physical education and life skills like stitching, agriculture, cooking, computer, electric fitting and plumbing etc. Emphasising on value education, BSM wants healthy relationship between the teacher and student, compulsory daily prayer and regular tributes to great personalities from India and world. BSM’s recommendations prepared after feedback from 4000 teachers and educationists have also demanded setting up of an independent, autonomous education commission for supervising and controlling all aspects of education system. The proposed commission’s unit should be in all districts and 65 to 75 per cent of its members should be from the field of education and rest from the industry, social service and bureaucracy. (Times of India 9/7/15)


21. Maharashtra to de-recognise madrasas not teaching primary subjects (7)

Mumbai: Madrasas which do not teach primary subjects such as English, Maths and Science would be considered as “non-schools” and children studying in them as “out of school” students, Maharashtra government today said. “Madrasas are giving students education on religion and not giving them formal education. Our constitution says every child has the right to take formal education, which madrasas do not provide,” State Minorities Affairs Minister Eknath Khadse told PTI. “If a Hindu or Christian child wants to study in a madrasa, they will not be allowed to study there. Thus, madrasa is not a school but a source of religious education. Thus we have asked them to teach students other subjects as well. Otherwise these madrasas will be considered as non schools,” Khadse said. He added that Principal Secretary of Minority Affairs department Jayshree Mukherjee has written a letter to Principal Secretary of School Education and Sports Nand Kumar in this regard. Khadse said the School Education department has planned a survey of students that are not taking formal education on July 4. “Students who are studying in madrasas that do not provide formal education will be treated as out of school students. Our only aim behind doing this is to ensure that every child of the minority community gets a chance to learn and come into the mainstream, get good paying jobs and have a prosperous future,” Khadse said. The minister said that out of a total 1,890 registered madrasas in the state, 550 have agreed to teach the four subjects to students. “We are even ready to pay madrasas for giving students formal education and are ready to provide them teaching staff as well,” Khadse said. (Deccan Herald 2/7/17)

22. RSS shakha spooks NE Delhi Muslims (7)

NEW DELHI: Tension is simmering in northeast Delhi’s Sriram Colony over holding of an RSS shakha in a local park. Residents of the area, which is dominated by Muslims, claim that the shakha activities are disrupting their prayers this Ramzan. They also fear further confrontation on the occasion of Eid. The local RSS unit has allegedly planned a bigger congregation on the festival day, which is likely to be observed on June 18-19. The locals gather in the park on Eid every year and offer prayers. But this year, they fear, they may not be allowed to do so if the RSS shakha is underway. Brinda Karat, senior CPM member, met Delhi Police commissioner B S Bassi, along with some members of the minority community, to voice their concern. “The police commissioner said he will look into the matter and do the needful,” she said. The Delhi prachar pramukh of RSS, Rajeev Tuli, denied the claims of the minority community. He said RSS shakhas are being held in the park for more than three decades. “Recently, some local people threw stones when the shakha was on which left two participants injured,” he said. Tuli claimed the rumour of simmering communal tension is being spread by ‘mischievous elements’. The park, which is at the centre of controversy, is surrounded by houses of Muslims. Locals said the minority community constitutes a majority of the population. “A lot of religious and community activities have been organized in this park before. But we haven’t witnessed such tension ever,” said Zishan Mohamad, a college student residing in the area. The residents have asked for police protection but they claim no action has been taken. “We have been living in harmony for many years. It’s only recently that a lot of people from outside have started taking part in the RSS sessions,” said Aijaz, another resident. (Times of India 4/7/15)

23. ‘Educated Muslims do not need sermons from Shiv Sena on family planning’(7)

MUMBAI: Muslims, especially those who have small families, reacted sharply to Shiv Sena’s remarks that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should “ensure that Muslims accept the necessity of family planning”.They slammed the Sena’s “slanderous and provocative” remarks in its mouthpiece Saamna on Monday which asked the Sangh to pressure the government to strictly impose family planning. “Educated Muslims know the benefits of small families; they don’t need sermons from Shiv Sena on family planning. Educated Muslims plan their families carefully and don’t go for many children,” said Noor Ahmed, owner of the popular Colaba-based eatery Baghdadi who has two sons—Taufique (30) and Moiz (24). While Taufique has graduated in hotel management, Moiz is an IT professional. “I studied till just SSC as I had to run my father’s business. But my wife and I decided to keep our family small and provide the best education that we could afford to our children,” said Ahmed. As education deepens among the community and economic condition improves, Muslims have realized the importance of family planning. “When our son Asjad was born five years ago, we felt blessed. My wife and I decided that he would be our only child. We didn’t need any lecturing to understand how a small family is financially and physically healthy. The emphasis should be on creating awareness and improving people’s educational and economic condition, not making divisive statements,” said real estate consultant Asad Shaikh from Mira Road. His wife Kehkashan added: “As I have one child, I can tutor him myself. This was our own decision because of our education and knowledge, and not due to politicians’ pressure.” Mechanical engineer from Bandra Mahmood Khan (65)has two daughters—one is a brand manager in a pharmaceutical firm while the other is employed with a multinational. “Why is the Sena targeting Muslims when population is a problem with every section which is poor and illiterate? Sena should pull up mahants, yogis and sadhvis who exhort Hindus to produce many children to ‘counter’ Muslim population. Muslims are not overtaking Hindus as Sena would like us to believe,” he said. Senior executive with an MNC Muzaffar Kalimullah, who has two kids, said the Sena should desist from making inflammatory statements. “The Parivar has often accused Muslims of practising polygamy. The accusation is wrong; the community prefers monogamy and and most Muslims want to keep their families small.” (Times of India 8/7/15)


24. Police silent on securing religious sites apart from churches: Centre tells Delhi HC (7)

New Delhi: Centre told the Delhi HC that the police was silent on securing religious sites apart from churches. The submission was made by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) before a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath which was hearing a PIL, filed in the wake of attacks on churches in the national capital, seeking protection of religious rights of Christians. Central government standing counsel Anil Soni, appearing for MHA, referred to a joint affidavit filed by Delhi Police and the ministry and said the document was “silent” on what has been done to secure other religious sites. Soni said that according to police, last year there were “106 incidents relating to the trespass, theft, vandalism or destruction at temples, two cases in relation to mosques and 10 in connection with gurudwaras”, whereas there were only five attacks on churches in the same period. The bench, thereafter, directed Delhi Police to file a status report in four weeks on what steps it has taken to protect other religious sites and listed the matter for further hearing on 26 August. In the joint affidavit, the police had said that every church and minority-run schools and educational institutes have been provided round the clock security through “dedicated deployment”.”It is being ensured that PCR vans, emergency response vehicle and motorcycle patrol around churches/missionary schools for enhanced security. At all vulnerable locations, static deployment is made during night hours,” the ministry had said in the joint report. The affidavit had been filed in the PIL by advocate Reegan S Bell who had also sought a status report from the Centre, Delhi government and police on action taken by them regarding the attacks and efforts made by them to secure these places against such incidents in future. On 24 April, a single judge bench of the high court while referring the matter to the bench headed by Chief Justice G Rohini had observed that “whether it’s a church, temple, gurudwara, mosque, we have to make sure all religious places are equally saved”.The plea had said that since last December, five churches in Delhi have been vandalised but till date no arrests have been made except in one case, while no case have been solved yet. The government has failed to prevent such attacks, it had alleged. The Delhi Police rejected the petitioner’s claim, saying “by carrying out physical visit to each police station in Delhi, the data related to incidents reported in church premises in last five years was gathered”. “As per the report, there are nine cases reported in Delhi which are related to incident (which) occurred in church premises in the last five years. Interrogation of accused persons arrested in these cases has already been done during the course of investigation of this cases. But (there is) no clue so far,” it had said in the affidavit. “Local traditional sources have also been deployed to collect information about the criminals involved in this incident. The services of special staff of the district are also being utilised,” the affidavit had said. It had also said that there are 240 churches and 91 Christian-run schools in Delhi. “The DCP and police station staff have also been directed to make surprise visit to the churches/Christian missionary schools. “The directors and management of these institutions have been requested to install CCTV cameras and deploy guards for safety and security of these places. At present, 161 churches and 69 schools have installed CCTV cameras and 15 schools have got installed cameras on the insistence of police,” it had said. (FirstPost 1/7/15)

25. Church wall row: Cant Board member writes to def min (7)

MEERUT: The Meerut Cantonment Board has demolished the wall of a church. Church authorities were raising the wall higher, to prevent people from dirtying the premises of the church with empty liquor bottles. Jagmohan Shakaal, an outgoing member of the Cantonment Board, described the demolition of the church wall as an instance of the “double-standards” of the Meerut Cantonment Board. He said all kinds of construction activity is allowed within the precincts of the Wheler’s Club, also within the jurisdiction of the Board. He said he had raised this issue even with the defence minister, in a letter. Robin Nath, state president of the All India Isaai Mahasabha, told TOI, “Under the Cantonment Act, the boundary wall can be raised to eight feet without any permission. We were raising the wall from three to six feet. We were only trying to protect the church from people who parked their vehicles such that these almost obtruded into the church, and then sat around eating chicken from nearby street stalls and drinking liquor. There are a number of chicken-selling eateries now near the church. After enjoying their meal and drink, these people would empty the garbage in church premises. We will also write to the defence minister in this regard. We are set to file an RTI petition to understand under whose authority the wall was demolished.” In his letter to the defence minister, Shakal said, “The double standards of the MCB against illegal construction have been denting its reputation. The boundary wall of Saint Joseph Church is only three feet high. One can easily jump into the church. For better security, the height was being raised to six feet, but the demolition squad arrived on Monday and pulled down the wall. A number of miscreants would have alcohol and dump empty bottles in the church premises. Besides, there have been several attempts at theft. The church has become unsafe.” Shakal alleges that at the Army-run Wheler Club nearby, construction is on in full swing without prior permission from the Cantonment Board, but that activity is not disturbed. MA Zafar, spokesman for the Meerut Cantonment Board, asked about the allegations of double-standards, said, “We do not know of any construction at Wheler’s Club. If it is indeed true that unauthorised construction is happening there, we will take action. The Club is on old lease B-3 land, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Cantonment Board. Rules are the same for everyone.” (Times of India 8/7/15)


26. ‘137,000 refugees, migrants crossed Mediterranean’ (13)

A record 137,000 people made the perilous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe in the first half of 2015, most of them fleeing war, conflict and persecution, the United Nations said Wednesday “Europe is living through a maritime refugee crisis of historic proportions,” the UN refugee agency warned in a report, adding that the number of people making the crossing swelled 83 per cent in the first six months of 2015 compared to a year earlier. The situation is expected to worsen as more clement summer weather allows ruthless people smugglers to dispatch more people on the dangerous crossing, often in rickety boats and at the mercy of human traffickers. The immigration crisis is a burning issue for the EU, where member states have been wrangling over the best ways to tackle human trafficking and arguing over how to share the burden of helping new arrivals, many of them ill, starving and destitute. The soaring numbers arriving in Italy and Greece, before moving on to other northern European states in the hope of finding jobs, has sparked outcry and growing anti-foreigner rhetoric in many countries. It hailed Brussel’s decision to redistribute 40,000 Syrian and Eritrean asylum-seekers. (Asian Age 2/7/15)

27. 173 Uighur refugees arrive in Turkey from Thailand (13)

Ankara (Turkey): A total of 173 people from the minority Chinese Muslim community of Uighurs have arrived in Turkey from Thailand, where they were being held after fleeing China, a Turkey-based Uighur group said on Thursday. Recep Akyol of the East Turkestan Migrants Association told The Associated Press the group, mostly women and children, arrived in Istanbul on June 30 and were being resettled in the central Turkish city of Kayseri, which boasts a strong Uighur community. Turkey has ethnic and linguistic ties to the Uighurs. Under pressure from Turkish nationalist groups who advocate closer links, it has been trying for months to convince Thailand and China to allow the group to resettle in Turkey. The refugees had faced repatriation to China, where they feared mistreatment. The Uighurs’ resettlement comes as relations between China and Turkey have been strained over Turkish media reports suggesting that Uighurs were being banned from worship and fasting during the Muslim month of Ramadan. Turkey this week summoned the Chinese ambassador to convey Turkey’s concerns over the reports. Beijing in turn, expressed its displeasure with Turkey’s complaint. Seyit Tumturk, the deputy head of the World Uighur Congress, thanked Turkish authorities on Wednesday for securing the 173 Uighurs’ release. He said they were among a group of about 250 Uighurs held in Thai camps and hoped that the remaining refugees would also be allowed to leave Thailand. (The Hindu 2/7/15)

28. Indrakaran meets President, seeks High Court bifurcation (13)

Law Minister A. Indrakaran Reddy on Monday urged President Pranab Mukherjee to use his good offices towards bifurcation of Hyderabad High Court, a demand which has been pending since formation of Telangana State. The informal appeal came during a meeting that Mr. Reddy had with the President along with Sirpur MLA Koneru Konappa and others. The MLA submitted a petition urging the President to look into the issue of giving SC caste certificates to Bangladeshi refugees who live in refugee camps in Kagaznagar, Sirpur and Koutala mandals in his constituency. He apprised Mr. Mukherjee of the economic and social condition of the 12,000 refugee families, half of which are Namashudras. According to Mr. Konappa, the government had recognised the Namashudra people as SCs when they started coming into the country since 1965. The Union government, however, cancelled the certificates in 1995 which brought untold hardships upon the poor families, he added. (The Hindu 7/7/15)

29. Government is Gagging Us: Vamsadhara Oustees (13)

SRIKAKULAM:  Displaced people of the Vamsadhara project staged a maha dharna at Hiramandalam Monday, sparking tension in the area. People of the villages in the reservoir area gathered at Hiramandalam and took out a rally to the Tahsildar’s Office, protesting the 10-year delay in solving the problems of the project oustees. Chaotic scenes marked the rally as police stopped protestors who tried to barge into the Tahsildar’s Office. The protestors raised slogans demanding the tahsildar to come out and solve their problems. When even the MRO did not respond, they again tried to enter the office only to be stopped by the police who had already laid siege to the protestors. On the occasion, CPM leaders Ch Tejeswar Rao, Krishna Murthy and Simhachalam said that though the people vacated the places and ceded their lands for the project, the government was suppressing the displaced people. They alleged that the government was gagging them by using police force. The problem would not be solved unless the displaced people get justice, the CPM leaders said. There was a stampede-like situation when the oustees got into an argument with the police. The protestors staged a sit-in on the road when the police tried to move them back. They threatened to stop the project works till the government provided proper rehabilitation measures and jobs to the oustees. It is not proper to command without paying compensation to the displaced people, they said. The protestors submitted a memorandum ventilating their grievances to MRO J Ramarao. (New Indian Express 7/7/15)


30. Relaunched Re 1 Note Costs Government Rs 1.14 (1)

NEW DELHI:  Do you know how much the government spends on printing a one-rupee note? The Security Printing and Minting Corporation of Indian Limited (SPMCIL) has replied to an RTI query that the cost of printing one rupee note is Rs 1.14!  RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agarwal said that printing of one-rupee note was discontinued about two decades ago because of high printing cost. Also, notes of denominations of rupees two and five were subsequently discontinued for the same reason. But, the Finance Ministry subsequent to a gazette-notification in December  2014, re-issued one-rupee notes on March 6, 2015 at Shrinathji Temple, Nathdwara, Rajasthan. The relaunched currency notes will be made up of cent percent cotton rag and will weigh 900 grams per square metre with a thickness of 110 microns. The watermarks of the new note include an Ashoka Pillar symbol in the window without the words ‘Satyamev Jayate’, a latent numeral at the centre and the concealed word ‘Bharat’ (in Hindi) at the right side of the note. The Union Finance Ministry is the issuing-agency for one-rupee note, signed by the Finance Secretary. All other Indian currency notes are printed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), bearing the signature of its governor. “The cost of one-rupee note is Rs 1.14 (provisionally and unaudited) as determined in accordance with the principle of costing and costing module implemented in SPMCIL,” said an RTI reply. According to Agarwal,  the new one-rupee notes are, however, not seen even by staff-members of distributing-agency RBI. The new notes are just souvenirs for endorsing signatures of top financial bureaucrat on currency, he added. Agarwal, quoting  RBI sources, said that some limited number of new one-rupee note packs have been sent to the Finance Ministry at their request. “Enquiry should be made if retrogressive step of re-issue of costly one-rupee notes was taken so that signatures of top bureaucrat of Union Finance Ministry may appear on these notes for becoming a historical feature in future,” he said. (New Indian Express 2/7/15)

31. Army’s 100 Crore Donation for Kashmir Floods Only on Paper (1)

NEW DELHI: It has now been confirmed that the much-publicised event where Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag had handed over a donation cheque (of amount equivalent to one day’s salary of all ranks) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for Jammu and Kashmir flood relief was nothing more than a photo-op. In reply to an RTI query, the PMO has confirmed that it has not received the donation till date. On the occasion of the 67th Army Day on January 15, Gen Singh had presented a cheque titled ‘one day’s pay of all ranks of Indian Army’ to PM Narendra Modi in the presence of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. “Donation is yet to be received in the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF),” B K Roy, Under Secretary and Central Public Information Officer, PMO, said in reply to a RTI query on June 24. This revelation comes as a huge embarrassment to the Ministry of Defence(MoD), which was in the news recently for submitting a bill of Rs 500 crore to the Union government for the national service it had rendered during last year’s J&K deluge. The Army had played a major role in the rescue-and-relief operations the devastating floods, the worst witnessed in the picturesque state in nearly half a century. In an operation that lasted for two weeks, the troops had rescued over two lakh stranded people. It was first reported by Express on January 18 that many Army officers were upset with the ‘arbitrary’ decision taken by Army Chief to donate a day’s pay to contribute `100 crore to the PM’s relief fund to help the flood-hit in Jammu and Kashmir. In fact, annoyed with the decision taken without their consent, over 2,000 Army men, including officers wrote to the office of the Controller of Defence Accounts (CDA), which handles the salaries of Army personnel, conveying their disapproval at the decision. Some of them went ahead, saying they will take legal action if any amount is deducted from their salary account. Realising the discontent among the officers, the Army Headquarters (HQ) had no other option but to approach the Office of the CDA, which eventually advised them that it would require a consent letter from each soldier for deduction of their salary to avoid any legal action or further controversy. But nearly six months on, the Army has failed to meet its commitment to the PMNRF. The Army HQ initiated the process of collecting the money nearly two months after the Army Day, on March 12. The letter issued by the Adjutant General branch titled ‘Voluntary Contribution of One Day’s salary by Indian Army personnel to Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund for floods in J&K’ was signed by an officer of the rank of Brigadier. (New Indian Express 5/7/15)

32. Supreme Court notices to 6 parties, government and Election Commission on RTI plea (1)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notices to the Centre, the Election Commission and six national political parties — BJP, Congress, NCP, CPI, CPI(M) and BSP — on a writ petition seeking political parties to be brought under the ambit of the Right to Information Act. A three-judge bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justices Arun Mishra and Amitav Roy issued the notices on a petition by the Association for Democratic Reforms and RTI activist Subhash C. Agrawal after hearing counsel Prashant Bhushan. The bench sought the respondents’ reply in six weeks. Mr Bhushan argued that political parties held significant power and hold over the legislature and executive as well as their own candidates. This hold, he said, had become absolute due to the parties’ power to disqualify elected Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assembly under the Constitution (anti-defection law). He also argued that the parties received huge sums from the public as donations and were not liable to pay taxes and must therefore be accountable to the public. Mr Bhushan noted that political parties had defied the CIC’s order for over two years. The petitioners sought greater transparency and accountability in the functioning of all recognised national and regional parties in India. (Asian Age 8/7/15)

33. Rs 94 crore spent for adverts on clean-up drive (1)

New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has spent Rs 94 crore on advertisements for the Prime Minister’s pet project, the Swachchh Bharat Mission. The major chunk of funds have been spent on audio-visual advertisements (Rs 43.64 crore) and advertisements on TV channels (Rs 25.88 crore). The ministry of drinking water and sanitation has revealed in an RTI query that the government had spent Rs 2.15 crore for advertisement and publicity, Rs 70.80 lakh on advertisements in print newspapers, Rs 43.64 crore on audio-visual advertisements, Rs 25.88 crore advertisements through DAVP on TV channels, Rs 16.99 crore advertisements on Doordarshan and Rs 5.42 crore of advertisements on radio during 2014-15. “The department of drinking water and sanitation of the Government of India runs a scheme, Swachchh Bharat Mission (rural), which was earlier Nirmal Bharat Abhiyaan. Under the scheme, states are provided with technical and financial assistance,” the ministry said in its reply. The scheme was launched by the Prime Minister on October 2, 2014, which was expected to cost over Rs 2 lakh crore over a five-year period. The scheme also targets to accelerate sanitation coverage in rural areas to achieve the vision of Swachchh Bharat by October 2, 2019, the 150 birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. An RTI response said the district administration transfers funds to panchayats which spend the amount sent under the scheme. “Sanitation being a state subject, the responsibility to implement on the scheme is on the state governments,” it said. During the UPA regime a somewhat similar programme — the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyaan — was implemented across the country. (Asian Age 9/7/15)


34. ‘Recognize madrassas as regular schools’ (11)

PUNE: Managements of madrassas in the city on Thursday said they were not averse to the state education department’s one-day survey on July 4, but the government could have considered their demand of recognizing these institutions as schools. The survey dubs their students as “out-of-school”. P A Inamdar, president of Maharashtra Cosmopolitan Education Society, said under the provisions of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, the government is bound to conduct a survey to determine children who are not going to regular schools. “When the government comes out with a scheme based on the findings of the survey, only then will we be able to comment if the government is trying to interfere with the running of madrassas. Many madrassas have opted for modernization programmes. This shows that that the management and parents, are interested in mainstream education too,” he added. The authorities complained that government has failed to take cognizance of their demand of registering madrassas as regular schools. “It will help us hire teachers for mathematics and science,” said the principal of a madrassa in Vishrantwadi with 60 children who are also enroled in nearby schools. “Most of our students are from a humble background. How can we afford the fees for them when their families cannot spend Rs 500 a month on their education,” he added. Qari Eqbal Usmani runs a madrassa for 50 boys in Dapodi, half of whom go to a civic-run school nearby. The other half are too old to attend regular school. They are coached in the madrassa itself and appear for the Secondary School Certificate examination as external students. “A madrassa is just like a school with emphasis on religious education which the government should recognize,” said Kari Idris, who runs a madrassa for about 300 girls in Kondhwa. There are about 70 madrassas in Pune city. While most emphasize on religious teachings, some are finding ways to provide mainstream education to their students. “About 700 students from madrassas in Pune and other cities appeared for the examinations conducted by the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) this year. We are telling the madrassa authorities to encourage their students to appear for the exams conducted for standard III, V and VIII. So they can appear for the standard X exam as external students later,” said Naser Khan, coordinator of the programme. (Times of India 3/7/15)

35. Give academics more autonomy, urges RSS body (11)

New Delhi: An RSS-backed organisation, the Hindu Education Board, has criticised the existing education system for breeding “inefficiency and corruption” across the country, and has pitched for institutes to craft their own academic agenda. “Our regulatory system is complex and confusing. It breeds inefficiency and corruption while stifling initiative and experimentation. It should give way for a facilitative and accommodative system which stresses on objectivity, compliance, transparency and disclosure,” the outfit has told the HRD ministry, now holding consultations prior to formulating a new education policy. Asking the government to do away with the affiliation system as it dissuades colleges from innovating and “encourages non-serious players to enter the ‘education market’,” the board said: “In its place, we should have a system where educational institutions have the latitude to craft their own academic programmes, develop curricula and also grant degrees.” It said this must be coupled with the setting up of a robust accreditation system run by professional bodies in which accreditation is given at the level of individual academic programmes rather than at the institutional level. The board’s views on regulatory mechanisms and its push for autonomy for educational institutes may be welcomed by many, especially in academia. Among its more debatable suggestions are that ayurveda, siddha and other indigenous medical systems be included in an “integrated syllabus” for medicine. It has also called for major changes in all fields of higher studies, ranging from social sciences to humanities, medicine and science and technology, besides introduction of value education so these can become a “differentiator” between “Bharatiya” and other education systems. (Asian Age 6/7/15)

36. India made impressive progress in providing primary edu: report (11)

UNITED NATIONS: India has made “impressive” progress in providing primary education to its children but it is still struggling to achieve similar results in lower secondary education and has the largest number of out-of-school adolescents, a UN study said on Tuesday. According to the study by the UN educational, scientific and cultural organisation (Unesco) and the Education for All Global Monitoring Report (EFR GMR), 124 million children and adolescents are now out of school while international aid to education continues to remain below 2010 levels. “India has made impressive progress in the provision of primary education but is struggling to do the same for lower secondary education,” the report said. In 2011, the latest year with data, more than 16 million young adolescents of lower secondary school age were not enrolled in school in India. In addition, Bangladesh, Mexico, Indonesia, Niger, Pakistan and the Syrian Arab Republic each had more than 1 million out-of-school adolescents. The report noted that India is providing financial resources to help children with disabilities attend mainstream schools and adapt school infrastructure. In addition, teachers are being trained on inclusive education, with resource centres established to support clusters of schools. India, which has the largest number of out-of-school adolescents, has seen a reorientation of external support from basic to secondary education between 2012 and 2013: aid to basic education in India fell from US $ 100 million to US $ 27 million and aid to secondary education rose from US $ 21 million to US $ 232 million between 2012 and 2013. According to the latest Unesco Institute for Statistics data, there were more than 0.5 million out-of-school children of primary school age in at least 19 countries. At least one million children were denied the right to education in India, Indonesia, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Sudan, Sudan and Tanzania. India had 1.7 million out of school children of primary school age in 2012. The latest numbers show that some 24 million children will never enter a classroom with girls remaining the most disadvantaged cohort figuring in the study. In South and West Asia alone, 80 per cent of out-of-school girls are unlikely to start school compared to just 16 per cent for their male counterparts. UNESCO’s Director General Irina Bokova pointed to warnings that unless countries “make serious commitments” towards increasing education aid, the ambitious targets made by the international community promising 12 years of free and equitable access to quality education “could remain elusive for millions of children and youth.” Despite a six per cent increase in aid to education, investment levels are four per cent lower today than in 2010 and risk stagnating for the next few years. “Aid needs to be shooting upwards, not creeping up by a few percentage points,” declared Aaron Benavot, Director of the EFA GMR. Estimates suggest that it will cost an extra US $ 39 billion to provide the 12 years of education to everyone in low and lower-middle income countries. (Times of India 7/7/15)

37. CBSE makes special educators must in all schools (11)

Nagpur: The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has now made it mandatory for all affiliated schools to appoint a special educator so that children with learning disabilities could be assimilated with other students. Apart from the central board’s philosophy of “inclusive practices” in schools, this directive has also been necessitated due to strict guidelines of the Right to Education Act (RTE). DTS Rao, board’s joint secretary, wrote in the letter to schools containing above directions, “Board will appreciate cooperation of the schools in implementation of the above.” Laying down broad guidelines, CBSE said a special educator was specifically required in schools to work with children and young adults who required additional support in order to complete their learning successfully. Rao wrote, “Special educators (SE) will focus on children with physical disabilities, sensory impairments, developmental disabilities such as autism, mental retardation, cerebral palsy and specific learning disabilities as they are emotionally vulnerable and have behavioral difficulties”. The scope of work has been widened for SEs as CBSE says they could also work with “gifted and talented children”.But finding qualified SEs is a big challenge for schools. Annapoorni Shastri, senior principal of Bhavan’s BP Vidya Mandir (Shrikrishna Nagar), said, “In Nagpur it is difficult to get SEs with proper qualifications. Part of the problem is that in teacher training colleges, special education course is focused on kids with hearing and speaking disability rather than autism etc.” Schools where such children are enrolled said teaching approach has to be tailor-made. Shastri said, “For an autistic child there has to be one-on-one teaching and they cannot be burdened with all subjects at once, hence the open schooling system is for them. For others, CBSE does offer choices of subjects like music, e-typing etc which are relatively easy to handle.”… (Times of India 8/7/15)


38. Survey shocker: Half of rural India touched by poverty (21)

NEW DELHI: India has a problem at hand and its magnitude is much higher than what was imagined or reported. That is the short and succinct message of the socio-economic caste census (SECC) released on Friday. According to the census, 49% of rural households show signs of poverty. And 51% of households have ‘manual casual labour’ as the source of income. Whichever way the figures are sliced and diced, the poverty data leaves no scope for assurance or optimism. Till now, every survey had been showing poverty as receding. The survey has used seven indicators of deprivation: All definite pointers to subsistence-level existence and serious handicaps like ‘kuccha houses’, landless households engaged in manual labour, female-headed households with no adult working male member, households without a working adult, and all SC/ ST households. While there can be room for correction, experts are unanimous that this would not change the bleak picture significantly. For instance, they are unanimous that all those dependent on ‘manual casual labour’ for livelihood — 51.14% of households — are bound to be poor. The dismal scenario is illustrated by another set of dire figures: 2.37 crore households live in one-room kuccha houses, constituting 13.25% of the 17.91 crore rural households. At the same time, 30% of rural households own no land and are engaged in manual labour. The overall poverty figures for the country will also take into account the urban household survey that is yet to be released. But they, whenever they are out, are unlikely to change the overall picture. The degree of deprivation as evidenced by the rural survey poses an intractable challenge for the Modi government if it wants to draw up a consolidated list of the poor, known as ‘Below Poverty Line’. If the government goes by the new evidence, the BPL category would balloon beyond its fiscal capacity. Conversely, if it seeks to put a ceiling and depress the figures, it would attract the kind of controversy that had hit the UPA…. (Times of India 4/7/15)

39. India has made progress towards realising the Millennium Development Goals: UN (21)

New Delhi: India has made notable progress towards realising the Millennium Development Goals, including of reducing poverty by half and securing gender parity, but the achievements across the goals vary, a major UN report has revealed. “India has already achieved the target of reducing poverty by half by official estimates and is close to doing so by international estimates. “It has already achieved gender parity in primary school enrolment and is likely to reach parity in secondary and tertiary education also by 2015,” says the report on Millennium Development Goals released by the United Nations Economic and Social Communication for Asia-Pacific (UN-ESCAP). While India is on track to achieving the hunger targets, it remains home to one quarter of the world’s under-nourished population and nearly a third of world’s underweight children, the report said. India also has nearly a third of the world’s food insecure people, it added. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon had released a 2015 report on Millennium Development Goals yesterday. Noted economist and member, NITI Aayog, Bibek Debroy, along with Nagesh Kumar, Head, UN-ESCAP, and Rebecca Tavares released the MDG report and Asia-Pacific MDG report here today. The report revealed that while India is on track to achieving gender parity at all levels of education, women’s literacy rates lag behind that of men, indicating poorer learning outcomes for the fairer sex. Securing opportunities for women and ensuring their empowerment remain major development challenges. (Business Standard 7/7/15)

40. Mother of six ends life due to poverty (21)

MUMBAI: A 37-year-old woman committed suicide at her Malwani residence on Monday, fed up of poverty. Noori Qureshi, the deceased, was a mother of six. Her husband, Ehsaan, is an autorickshaw driver. According to the police, the family had difficulty making ends meet. With Eid around the corner, Noori felt the pinch as there was no money for festivities. Noori and her family lived at the New Collector Compound in Malwani. On Monday, Noori hanged herself with a dupatta from a rod in her house. Her family discovered her hanging and informed the police. She was rushed to a hospital where doctors pronounced her dead. A case of accidental death was recorded by the Malwani police. The police are recording Ehsaan’s statement. No suicide note was found. (Times of India 8/7/15)

41. Bombay HC seeks reply from Maharashtra on starvation death (21)

Nagpur: The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked the Maharashtra government to file an affidavit on its non-implementation of the National Food Security Act, 2013, following a starvation death in Tiroda, Gondiya, district. A division bench comprising Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Indu Jain asked the principal secretary, food and civil supplies department of the state, to file the detailed affidavit within two weeks. The court orders came on a public interest litigation filed by Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti president Kishore Tiwari, who alleged the state government’s failure in implementing the food security act led to the starvation death in the backward Gondiya district of the state. The victim, Lalita S. Rangari, was a Dalit widow, aged 36 and mother of two children, one of whom is visually disabled, allegedly because of starvation. Terming this as ‘gross negligence’ on the part of the state government, Tiwari in his PIL said that the state government has failed until now to identify the ‘eligible’ and ‘priority’ households under the NFS Act after it came into being on September 10, 2013. Moreover, the PIL claimed, attempts by the government to reduce the quantity of food grain supply through the public distribution system (PDS) also caused great hardships to the poorest of the poor in the past one year. “The report of starvation death is shocking…It is a stigma on civilized society and thus is a matter of great concern… This unfortunate incident could have been avoided if the state had performed its obligation under the NFS Act,” the petition pointed out. Of Maharashtra’s population, 76.32 percent in rural areas and 45.34 in urban areas is required to be covered under the Targeted PDS, he added. “The NFS Act is a complete code in itself…and gives effect to the right to life as guaranteed by the Constitution of India under Article 21. Till date, the state government has not framed any guidelines to implement it properly and effectively, which led to the starvation death,” Tiwari said. He demanded directions to the state to implement the NFS Act properly, order a probe into the starvation death and adequate compensation to the deceased woman’s family. The petition will come up for next hearing on July 22, said the petitioner’s lawyer Vinod Tiwari. (Business Standard 9/7/15)


42. MNREGA played key role in rural development: CPI (14)

New Delhi: With the Socio Economic and Caste Census revealing that 75 percent of rural households have the highest earning member with a salary less than Rs.5,000, CPI leader D. Raja said even this could not be possible if there was no rural employment guarantee act. The rural employment guarantee act – Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) – was launched in 2006, when Left parties were supporting the ruling United Progressive Alliance. “This government should not try to use these figures to say MNREGA is not effective. It was because of the scheme that even this income was recorded,” Raja told IANS. “The farmers are in distress. Agriculture is not generating money. The situation is worse for the farm labourers,” he said. “There is unprecedented inequality in rural and urban income. This forces people to come to cities to work as labourers. The MNREGA only helped contain this migration,” the Communist leader said. Raja blamed it on the “neo-liberal” and pro-corporate government policies. “The poor keeps getting poorer,” he said. Raja also expressed apprehension that the government might use this as an excuse to further cut funds to MNREGA. “We needed to protect agriculture,” he said. The findings of the Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011 for Rural India were released on Friday that also showed only 8.29 percent of the rural households reported a member who was drawing more than Rs.10,000 per month. The census covered all the 640 districts in India. (Business Standard 3/7/15)


43. 44 lakh families subsist on casual labour (14)

JAIPUR: The findings of ‘Socio-Economic and Caste Census’ (SECC) have brought to fore the poor conditions in which the rural population of the state is living. The census found that over 44 lakh households were earning their bread by doing casual manual labour. That’s little less than half of all rural households. Highlighting the importance of agriculture in the state, 41.7% households (42.6 lakh) are into cultivation. The much heralded non-agricultural enterprises are providing livelihood to just 1.5 lakh households, a mere 1.4% of the total. The casual manual labour has emerged as the main source of household income in rural parts with 43.61% of households deriving their income by doing the casual labour. “People who don’t have a fixed source of income generally get into the casual labour. The trend increases as the yield per acre is very low and to sustain family, people move out from farming,” said Nagendra Khangarot, agriculture expert. Meanwhile, the percentage of households with begging as their main source of income is the second highest in the country after Odisha. Nearly 48,000 households (0.47%) are reported to have been living on charity or begging. Apart from that, 16,000 households (0.16%) make their ends meet by rag-picking. Domestic service, part-time or full-time, provides income to 2.6 lakh households (2.54%) in the rural parts. The SECC, perhaps, brings to fore a more authentic picture of the lives of rural people than Census. The Census gives figures of ‘agricultural labourers’ whereas the SECC gives figures of those working as casual manual labourers, who are not confined to agricultural labour alone. Due to pressure on land, fragmentation, and low returns, a vast army of people, both men and women, are turning to any kind of casual labour to earn a living. (Times of India 7/7/15)

44. Labour laws take centre stage (14)

Following up on Rajasthan’s lead, a few states have begun to simplify their labour laws but the Centre is now trying to nudge all states into reforming their labour legislations. While the labour ministry is in discussions with state labour officials, the issue was also taken up by the labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya over the past month in meetings with state labour ministers. “The states should take action for reform in labour laws at their level to promote a simplified and rationalised labour regime aimed at higher productivity and economic growth,” he had said at meetings with state ministers of North Central region and eastern region. Earlier, the Prime Minister’s Office too is understood to have written to state governments encouraging them to take forward labour law reforms. Rajasthan, which kicked off labour reforms last year and amended provisions of the Factories Act, Industrial Disputes Act, Apprentices Act and Contract Labour Act, is also working on amending the Rajasthan Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1958 that would help simplify approvals and improve safety conditions for workers. The draft amendments, that are expected to be taken up by the state Cabinet soon for approval, have significantly also proposed to include BPOs and electronic data processing firms as commercial establishments. Since this is a state law, it would not require any assent from the Centre and the state is hopeful of that the amendments would be cleared by the end of the year. “The response form investors has been very good since we amended labour laws. Our aim is not only to attract investments but also create jobs in the state. Now, we are working on further simplifications,” said a senior state labour official, adding that the state is also planning to highlight its simplified labour law regime at the state’s investment summit in November. Job creation too seems to be getting a boost in the state with as many as 600 private industrial training institutes opening up in the last one year. Apart from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh has amended its labour laws while Gujarat and Maharashtra too have initiated the process. The Union government too has amended the Apprentices Act, 1961 and the Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) Act while amendments to the Factories Act, 1948 are pending with the Parliament. It has also finalised changes to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 and is working on a new umbrella legislation for small factories. … (Indian Express 7/7/15)

45. MNREGA in world’s largest public works scheme: World Bank (14)

India’s rural employment guarantee programme, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGA), has been ranked as the world’s largest public works one, providing social security net to almost 15 per cent of the country’s population, the World Bank has said. India is among the five middle-income countries running the world’s largest social safety net programmes, said a World Bank Group’s report. “The world’s five largest social safety net programmes are all in middle-income countries (China, India, South Africa and Ethiopia) and reach over 526 million people,” it added. The combined spending on social safety nets in 120 developing countries amounted to about $329 billion between 2010 and 2014, it said. But, the report said, three quarters of the poorest people in low-and lower-middle income countries, and more than one-third of the poorest people in middle-income countries, lack safety net coverage and remain at risk.India’s mid-day meal scheme has been classified as biggest school feeding programme, benefitting 105 million beneficiaries. The top honours for public works programme went to MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act) with 182 million beneficiaries or 15 per cent of India’s population. The World Bank ranked the Janani Suraksha Yojna with 78 million beneficiaries as the top-most social security programme with conditional cash transfers. Also, it ranked the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme as the second-largest unconditional cash transfer social security progamme in the world. Initiatives such as the unique identification hold the potential of improving coverage, implementation, and coordination across programmes in the future, it said. In addition, there are many state-level initiatives aimed at increasing performance of social protection programmes utilising information technology and innovations. (Business Standard 8/7/15)


46. Bihar cabinet decisions: 50% quota in govt contract approved (25)

PATNA: Keeping in view Bihar assembly elections in September-October, the state cabinet on Tuesday took several populist decisions, including 50% reservation to scheduled castes/tribes, backward and economically backward castes and backward caste women in all government contracts up to Rs15 lakh. Briefing media after the cabinet meeting, cabinet secretariat department’s principal secretary Shishir Sinha said people belonging to SCs would get 16%, STs 1%, EBCs 18%, BCs 12% and BC women 3% in the 50% quota in contracts. In another major decision, the government has done away with the mandatory 75% attendance of students in schools for financial year 2015-16. Now, the government school students can avail the benefits of merit scholarship, cycle and ‘poshak’ yojanas this year without any condition. In another decision to woo government employees/officers, the cabinet cleared the proposal to adjust their strike period absence, from September 15, 1997 to March 12, 2013, in their earned leave. Now, their strike period salary would not be deducted. The government also simplified the procedure of payment of grants to the unaided educational institutions. The amount would be sent directly to Bihar School Examination Board which will credit it to the bank accounts of the educational institutes concerned through RTGS. The government also agreed to put ‘Dangi’ caste (Annexure-I) from backward to extremely backward caste category. ‘Tanti’ (Tatwa) under EBC has been reverted to backward caste category. The proposal to share the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) amount (50:50) from the current financial year was also approved. The state share this year would be Rs1032.03 crore for the construction of 2,80,255 houses under the scheme. The cabinet also cleared the Bihar Public Service Commission recommendations for principals in five government polytechnic colleges. They are Dr Barun Kumar Rai, Dr Anil K Singh, Dr Kumari Anima, Dr Chandrashekhar Singh and Dr Fazle Sarwar. The dismissal of Mukesh Kumar Singh, the then assistant engineer in WRD at Chandradeyi subdivision in Araria, was also sealed. Singh, under suspension, is reporting to the office of chief engineer, water resources department, Patna. (Times of India 1/7/15)

47. HC seeks govt reply on quota plea (25)

ALLAHABAD: Hearing a writ petition seeking direction to the Central as well as state government not to continue reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other backward class candidates in future, the Allahabad High Court on Friday asked both the governments and state to file their respective replies (counter affidavits) within four weeks. Hearing a writ petition filed by Prabhat Kumar Singh, a high court lawyer, a division bench comprising Justice Rajesh Kumar and Justice Sher Bahadur Singh directed to list this matter for hearing after six weeks. In the writ petition, it was alleged that provisions of providing reservation now be declared ultra vires to the Article 14 (right to equality), Article 16 (right to equal opportunity in employment) and Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty) of the Constitution of India. In the petition, it was further requested that in substitute, the reservation be provided to all castes. It elaborated that 50% of the total seats be reserved for all castes and the remaining 50% be left open for the meritorious candidates belonging to all castes. (Times of India 4/7/15)

48. DMK Asks Centre to Release Census Info on Caste (25)

CHENNAI: DMK president M Karunanidhi urged the Centre to immediately release the caste data enumerated under the Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011 so that appropriate upward revision could be done in reservation. “The caste data should be released immediately, delaying it will not do any good for Other Backward Classes,” he said. He urged that the reservation for OBCs, Scheduled Castes and Tribes must be upwardly revised after consideration of the caste data. “I urge the Centre to focus on formulating new schemes  for their (OBCs, SCs, STs) socio-economic upliftment,” the DMK chief said in a statement here. Referring to the huge data on socio-economic status released by the Centre, he said, “We do not understand why they say that the data on caste will be tabled in Parliament when they have put out so much on socio-economic front.” He quoted Chairman, National Statistical Commission  Pronab Sen as saying that the caste details will be tabled in Parliament at the appropriate time. PMK and Rashtriya Janata Dal have already demanded release of caste details of the Census, he said. (New Indian Express 6/7/15)

49. Activists to pressurise Govt to implement Sadashiva Commission Report (25)

BALLARI: The newly formed Ballari district-based Asprashya Samudayagala Okkoota will be launching ‘jail bharo’ campaign on July 9 in Ballari to pressurise the State Government to accept Justice A.J. Sadashiva Commission’s Report to provide internal reservation among the Scheduled Castes (SCs). H. Siddanna, K.M. Jayagopal, K. Venkateshmurthy, M. Shivappa, T. Pampapatti among other members of the Okkoota, while talking to presspersons here on Tuesday, took exception to the Siddaramaiah Government for not initiating any steps to accept the report, table it before the Assembly and forwarding it to the Union Government for approval. “Mr. Siddaramaiah, as the leader of the opposition, said many times that if Congress came to power, it would implement the Commission’s Report. Even after two years, he still has not taken any steps, which is very unfortunate,” they regretted. The members said that social justice continue to be a ‘mirage’ for the untouchable community even after 67 years of independence. They also blamed the Ministers and legislators representing the untouchable communities for not taking the issue (further action on implementing the Commission’ Report) very seriously and said that they would be forced to agitate outside their residences very soon. “If the report of the Commission had to be kept in cold storage, why was the Commission constituted, besides spending public funds to the tune of crores of rupees,” they questioned. The members want Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to table the report in the ongoing session of the legislature and recommend the Union Government to implement it, failing which they would be forced to intensify their agitation. (The Hindu 7/7/15)


50. Offer legal aid in high court in line with SC directives: NGO to govt (1)

AURANGABAD: A Jalna NGO has urged the state government to formulate a scheme for middle income group in the high court based on the Supreme Court direction of 2013. The legal aid group provides fixed fee structure for the legal services and give a choice of lawyers for petitioners and litigants. SC Middle Income Group Legal Aid Society, which runs the scheme, provides legal aid services to the middle income group citizens, whose gross income does not exceed Rs 60,000 per month or Rs 7,50,000 annually. According to this scheme, the fee and the other charges, including typing and drafting, are fixed. The client seeking justice in the SC through the scheme, deposits a fixed amount with the legal aid society, which offers services of three lawyers and the client can select one of them, said Rakesh Agrawal, general secretary of People’s Rights Vigilance Organisation from Jalna. Agrawal said the state government could offer the scheme to the citizens having income range between Rs 50,000 a month and Rs 4 lakh per year. He had made four representations to the state government since 2013 following the SC direction, but the government has so far failed to respond. The SC appoints a panel of lawyers under the scheme whose patron-in-chief is the Chief Justice of India. The lawyers appointed on the panel of advocates have give in writing that they would abide by the terms and conditions upon assignment of a case under the scheme. Agarwal said if the scheme is implemented in the high court, it would benefit a large number of litigants. The NGO, represented through its general secretary Agrawal and president Arun Ghode, had approached the high court, party in person, in 2012 seeking directions to the appropriate authority to implement the SC-like scheme for the middle income group in the high court. On November 19, 2013, while disposing the petition, the high court bench, Aurangabad, comprising Justice A H Joshi and Justice Ravindra V Ghuge observed ‘there exists a scheme and mechanism functioning at the level of Supreme Court for giving legal aid and assistance to citizens, who are commonly known as members of middle class…and that similar arrangement should also be made available at state level.’The court had further observed ‘since the petitioner is pursuing a laudable cause, let him invoke appropriate forum, i.e. the state government.’ The court also made it clear ‘if inspite of due persuasion, the government doesn’t pay attention to the petitioners representations, the petitioner would always be free to take recourse to any forum under the writ jurisdiction.’”If the state government continues to take our representations for granted, we will have again to approach the high court drawing its attention toward the apathetic approach of the state government,” Agrawal said adding, “if implemented, it will help hundreds of people affordably to seek justice in the high court, which they otherwise find difficult and expensive.” (Times of India 2/7/15)

51. Innocent persons should not be arrested, says rights team (1)

VELLORE: The police have been requested to ensure that innocent persons are not arrested in connection with the violence leading to injuries to several police personnel and lathi charge on the agitators in Ambur on June 27, A. Marx, Chairman of the National Confederation of Human Rights Organizations told newspersons here on Friday, disclosing the details of the interim findings of a fact-finding enquiry into the incidents. It may be recalled police resorted to lathi-charge when the agitators demanding the arrest of Martin Premraj, Inspector of Police, Pallikonda pelted stones at the policemen who were maintaining law and order, and set fire to several police vehicles and private vehicles and stoned buses. The agitators, mostly members of the Thowheed Jamath and Thamizhaga Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam alleged that Mr. Premraj was responsible for the custodial torture of Shameel Ahmed, a former shoe factory employee in a woman missing case, leading to his death in a Chennai hospital on June 26. Mr. Marx along with Mohammed Shipli, social activist involved in campaigns against the violation of human rights of the minority Muslims visited the place in Pallikonda where Shameel Ahmed was allegedly tortured during police interrogation, and the families of persons arrested in connection with the Ambur violence. The relatives of Shameel who went to meet him during custody had stated to the team that they heard him shout during custody. The confederation chairman said that when he was speaking to P.K. Senthilkumari, Superintendent of Police, Vellore district at the Ambur Town Police Station on Friday along with four other persons who showed him the spot of custodial torture in Pallikonda, some other police officials arrested them in his presence and put them in the police lock up. On his objection, they were released from the lock-up on the instructions of the SP, he said. Mr. Marx said that the SP told the team that the police arrested only those persons whom they knew had indulged in violence. He said that according to his knowledge, 50 per cent of the arrested persons were innocent. Asked why the team did not enquire into the human rights violations against the police personnel injured in the violence, Mr. Marx said that the police department was conducting an enquiry into the violence. “Our organisation cannot waste the minimum resources it has in conducting an enquiry into the human rights violations against the police personnel. We will give importance only to human rights violations against the vulnerable sections of the society such as minorities and Dalits. There has been an intelligence failure in the incidents. Police should have mobilised force to prevent the violence, which they failed to do”, he said. The team would meet the injured police personnel and others connected with the incidents next week and release its final report to the media and to the police department, he said. (The Hindu 4/7/15)

52. NHRC notice to health secy on treatment of HIV+ woman (1)

MEERUT: A week after TOI carried a story about the stigmatization of an HIV-positive woman who had arrived at the LLRM Medical College here for the delivery of her baby, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), taking suo motu cognizance of the report, issued notices to the secretary, department of health, UP and senior superintendent of police, Meerut, seeking detailed reports in the matter in four weeks. In a statement issued to the press on Monday, NHRC, quoting the TOI report, said, “doctors not only openly declared an expecting mother as an AIDS patient by pasting a big piece of paper on her bed that screamed ‘Bio Hazard +ve’ but also made her clean her medical waste. A senior doctor also abused the woman for ‘bringing another deceased child into the world’.” The woman, aged 30 years, was admitted to the hospital for a Caesarian delivery on June 19. After the report of her ill-treatment was published, one doctor at the hospital was relieved of her duties. District project coordinator Deepak Sharma of the care and support centre attached to the district unit of Uttar Pradesh Positive Living with HIV AIDS Society welcomed the move by the NHRC. “This is indeed a positive development that NHRC has taken notice of the discrimination meted out to the woman. I hope it will go a long way in bettering the treatment offered to PLHIVs (Person Living with HIV+) in future.” (Times of India 6/7/15)

53. India’s directional change (1)

India’s decision to abstain on a July 3 vote at the UN Human Rights Council is at odds with its traditional voting pattern in UN forums against Israeli military actions against Palestinian civilians. But it is hardly at odds with the general directional change in the outlook of Prime Minister Narendra Modi towards Israel — a solicitous turn which appears to go beyond India’s weapons purchase relationship with Tel Aviv. There seems an ideological concord going. The vote pertained to a UN inquiry report on the assault on Gaza by Israel in 2014 in which nearly 1,500 Palestinian civilians were killed. The report blamed Israel for “extensive use of weapons with a wide kill and injury radius”. It also criticised the Palestinian militant group Hamas for killing six Israeli civilians. The voting motion asked Israel and Palestine to cooperate with the International Criminal Court. It also asked Israel to bring to justice those responsible for human rights violations, which was Israel’s real concern. The US backed Israel, voting negative. But EU voted positive. India abstained in the company of Kenya, Ethiopia, Paraguay and Macedonia. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had phoned Mr Modi before the vote. But the external affairs ministry statement on the episode was disingenuous. It said India abstained because it “generally” does not back motions that are linked to the ICC, to whose creation it is not a signatory. In 2011, in the UN Security Council, India backed a vote against Libya which alluded to the ICC. (Asian Age 8/7/15)


54. Second wife also has legal right to pension, says Madras (19)

CHENNAI: Even if a couple is not formally married, living together confers legal rights said the Madras high court granting family pension to the second wife of a deceased police official. S Suseela said her husband K Stanley was employed as head constable in Coimbatore district. He married one Suganthi on June 6, 1973. Out of the wedlock, they had girl child who was named Rooth Espia. Two years later, the couple had some differences and started living separately. While the first marriage was still subsisting, Stanley married Suseela on June 23, 1976. The couple had a boy Nakeeran who was now 35-year-old, she said. Sugnathi filed a divorce petition before the district judge Erode,an she was granted divorce in November 2003. Suganthi, however, died in December 2005. Meanwhile, Stanley had retired in 2001 and was provided family pension. In 2007, he gave a representation to the superintendent of police Coimbatore to include the name of Suseela as nominee for receiving pension. Stanley died in October 2011. The SP sent a proposal to the principal accountant general ( accounts & entitlements) to sanction family pension to Suseela in September 2014. This was, however, rejected in February 2015. Suseela then moved the Madras high court. Justice D Hariparanthamam said even if the marriage was not valid, Suseela was living with Stanley since 1976. She remained with Stanley till his death. Also, Suganthi had been granted divorce, and Stanley had nominated his second wife for receiving family pension. The accountant general had failed to take into account the entire facts of the case, said the judge quashing the order. He then directed the pension to be paid from the date of death of Stanley within a period of 12 weeks. The authorities had also to pay monthly pension regularly to Suseela, said the judge. (Times of India 2/7/15)

55. Supreme Court permits unwed mothers to have guardianship without consent of father (19)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday passed a landmark judgement, permitting unwed mothers to have the guardianship of their child without the consent of the biological father. According to reports, a bench, led by Justice Vikramjit Sen was adjudicating a plea by a woman challenging the necessity of involving the father in a guardianship petition. According to the petition, the father of the child does not even know about his existence. As per the guidelines stated under Guardians and Wards Act and the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, a notice has to be sent to the child’s father to obtain his consent when a plea for guardianship is moved. In this case, the woman has said that she does not want to disclose the parentage as the father has nothing to do with the upbringing of the child. (DNA 6/7/15)

56. Birth certificate single mom’s right (19)

New Delhi, July 6: When a single woman or unwed mother applies for her child’s birth certificate, it must be issued on the basis of her affidavit and without insisting that she disclose the name of the father, the Supreme Court ruled today. The court also held that an unwed Christian mother could assume the guardianship of her child without issuing prior notice to the father for permission as laid down in an 1890 law applicable to the community. The directive on the issuance of birth certificates will apply to all unwed mothers in the country irrespective of their religion. The order on guardianship will be confined to Christian women as the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890, applies only to the community. Hindus and Muslims are governed by their respective guardianship acts. “In today’s society, where women are increasingly choosing to raise their children alone, we see no purpose in imposing an unwilling and unconcerned father on an otherwise viable family nucleus. It seems to us that a man who has chosen to forsake his duties and responsibilities is not a necessary constituent for the well-being of the child,” the bench of Justices Vikramjit Sen and A.M. Sapre said. The mother’s intent in insisting that the father should not be “publicly notified seems to us not to be unreasonable”, the bench added. The bench upheld a petition filed by an unwed Christian woman who had challenged a Delhi High Court judgment in August 2011. The high court had upheld a civil court’s directive that her plea for guardianship of her son could not be entertained unless she disclosed the name and address of the father of the child. The Supreme Court ruled today: “The law is dynamic and is expected to diligently keep pace with time and the legal conundrums and enigmas it presents…. We direct that if a single parent/unwed mother applies for the issuance of a birth certificate for a child born from her womb, the authorities concerned may only require her to furnish an affidavit to this effect, and must thereupon issue the birth certificate, unless there is a court direction to the contrary.” The court explained why the ruling would go beyond an individual case. “Trite though it is, we emphasise that it is the responsibility of the State to ensure that no citizen suffers any inconvenience or disadvantage merely because the parents fail or neglect to register the birth,” it said. “Nay, it is the duty of the State to take requisite steps for recording every birth of every citizen. To remove any possible doubt, the direction pertaining to issuance of the birth certificate is intendedly not restricted to the circumstances or the parties before us.” Until now, in the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, for instance, it was mandatory to mention the father’s name for obtaining a birth certificate. The birth certificate can be issued against the signature of the mother but she has to mention the name of the child’s father. The application form in Calcutta has a column for the father’s name. Once the form is submitted, the contents are fed into a digital system where the column for the father’s name is a mandatory field, which means the system will not accept the application if the space is left blank. “We will think about what to do in case we receive such an application (from an unwed or single mother),” said Atin Ghosh, mayoral council member, health, in Calcutta. The woman who had filed the appeal in the Supreme Court had given birth to her son in 2010 and raised him without any assistance from or involvement of his father. Keen to make her son her nominee in all her savings schemes and insurance policies, she had applied for guardianship. But she was told by authorities to get a formal guardianship certificate as the 1890 law considers the father is the natural guardian of a Christian child. She approached the Supreme Court after her petitions were dismissed by the lower courts. The Supreme Court upheld the woman’s plea and asked the civil court to reconsider her application for guardianship. The apex court said the “mother is best suited to care for her offspring, so aptly and comprehensively conveyed in Hindi by the word ‘ mamata’”.But it added: “The uninvolved parent is… not precluded from approaching the guardian court to quash, vary or modify its orders if the best interests of the child so indicate.” The court also referred to an “unaddressed constitutional expectation”.”Christian unwed mothers in India are disadvantaged when compared to their Hindu counterparts who are the natural guardians of their illegitimate children by virtue of their maternity alone, without the requirement of any notice to the putative fathers,” it said. “It would be apposite for us to underscore that our Directive Principles envision the existence of a uniform civil code, but this remains an unaddressed constitutional expectation.” Similarly, the bench said, Mohammedan law accords the custody of illegitimate children to the mother and her relations. (The Telegraph 7/7/15)

57. SC bats for single moms, uniform civil code, says keep religion away from law (7)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday said religion must be kept at a distance from law in a secular country like India and favoured implementation of Uniform Civil Code as enshrined in the Constitution. The SC refused to consider tenets of Christian religion while favourably deciding the rights of an unwed Christian mother who had challenged a Delhi high court order, directing her to reveal the name of the child’s father when she sought guardianship. The court, however, noted that the Christian unwed mother is at a disadvantage in comparison to an unwed mother belonging to other communities where the mother is considered the natural guardian. “India is a secular nation and it is a cardinal necessity that religion be distanced from law. Therefore, the task before us is to interpret the law of the land, not in light of the tenets of the parties’ religion but in keeping with legislative intent and prevailing case law,” Justice Vikramajit Sen said. “Christian unwed mothers in India are disadvantaged when compared to their Hindu counterparts, who are the natural guardians of their illegitimate children by virtue of their maternity alone, without the requirement of any notice to the putative fathers. It would be apposite for us to underscore that our Directive Principles envision the existence of a uniform civil code, but this remains an unaddressed constitutional expectation,” he said. In Sarla Mudgal case in 1995, the SC had said, “Where more than 80% of citizens have already been brought under codified personal law, there is no justification whatsoever to keep in abeyance, any more, the introduction of uniform civil code for all citizens in India.” Yet again in 2003, in John Vallamattom case, the SC had highlighted the desirability of achieving the goal set by Article 44 of the Constitution. (Times of India 7/7/15)

58. SC Verdict Boosts Women’s Rights (19)

The Supreme Court verdict that an unwed mother can be the sole guardian of her child is a leg up for women’s rights. In the instant case, the woman did not want to reveal the identity of the child’s biological father because he was a married man with a family and did not want to take any additional responsibilities. She also did not want to attach the tag of “father” to the man who had no interest in the welfare of the child. She wanted only the child to be the inheritor of her property and income. She did not want his involvement, when he was not ready to share the burden of bringing up the child. The litigant had a special problem. She was a Christian, a fact that did not allow her to be the guardian of the child by virtue of her maternity. In other words, she suffered on two counts. As an unwed mother, she suffered from inequities based on social prejudices and as a Christian, she suffered from the inequities of the law. Under the Guardianship and Wards Act, the child’s father’s consent was a must for her to become the guardian. In fact, that was what the High Court also decided. However, the Supreme Court took into consideration the fact that she was “well-educated, gainfully employed and financially secure” to meet the needs of her child. An upshot of the verdict is that an unwed mother can hereafter receive birth certificate of her child by merely submitting an affidavit. Also, the child’s father’s consent will not be necessary for the mother to get the guardianship of her child. In other words, the verdict has great significance for women.  As the apex court has pointed out, the petition also highlights the need for a uniform civil code, which the Constitution mandates. The case had arisen only because the petitioner was a Christian. Had she been a Hindu, she could have been the child’s sole guardian by virtue of her maternity. The Christians face discrimination as they cannot adopt. They can only be guardians. Once the child attains adulthood, the guardianship will also end. They themselves have been demanding reforms in their personal laws. There are many contradictions in the personal laws, as are applicable to various communities. It is time they are sorted out in the larger interests of the country. After all, women have every right to be treated as equal citizens of the country. (New Indian Express 8/7/15)


59. AFSPA: Amnesty seeks probe into human rights violations in J&K (1)

NEW DELHI: Calling the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) as one of the “primary facilitators of impunity” by security forces, Amnesty International on Wednesday demanded its repeal and sought investigation into cases of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir by an “independent and impartial” authority. The international human rights body has also sought removal of all “requirements of sanction or prior permission” to prosecute security force personnel and has held “lack of political will” as a long-standing problem in Jammu and Kashmir. The demands have been made by Amnesty International in a report, titled “Denied: Failures in accountability for human rights violations by security force personnel in Jammu and Kashmir”, which was released here today. “One of the primary facilitators of impunity is the existence of Section 7 of the AFSPA under which security forces are protected from prosecution for alleged human rights violations. This legal provision mandates prior executive permission from central or state authorities for prosecution of a member of the security forces,” the report reads. “The lack of political will to account for past and present actions of the security forces, including the state police, is fortified by legislation and aggravated by other obstacles to justice, especially for those who lack financial resources or education,” it adds. The 72-page report is an analysis of government and legal documents related to over 100 cases of human rights violations committed between 1990 and 2013. It also contains 58 case studies of alleged excesses by the armed forces in the state. Amnesty has asked the government for an independent and impartial probe into all human rights violations in the state. “Both the governments of India and Jammu and Kashmir must take immediate steps to ensure that all human rights violations and crimes under international law alleged to have been committed by Indian security forces, including police, are investigated by independent and impartial authorities,” the report recommends. (Times of India 1/7/15)

60. Police firing has killed at least 78 in city since 1988 (1)

New Delhi: The national capital has witnessed 78 civilian deaths in about 208 incidents of police firings since 1988, with as many as 693 others sustaining injuries. An average of four incidents of police firing — totalling more than 35,000 — have also been recorded in the country daily that resulted in deaths of two civilians every day on average since 1988. According to data supplied in answer to an RTI application, filed by South Delhi resident Ved Pal, in about 35,753 recorded incidents of police firing as many as 17,064 civilians have been killed since 1988 across the country. It also noted that 2,832 police personnel lost their lives during the same period and 33,046 cops sustained injuries. In the capital city, as many as 1,332 police personnel were injured during the same period and three of them their lives. In 2000, most casualties for both civilians and security forces were recorded, with eight people losing their lives in police firings and 58 people injured. For the police, a total of 255 personnel were injured in the same year. In 2012, high casualty figures were again recorded, with 131 people left injured and one losing life in police firings and 60 police personnel were injured, with one losing his life in the same year. The data compiled by the National Crime Bureau Record from 1988 to 2013, shows 18,710 civilians have been injured during incidents of police firing all over country, with states like Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Assam and Jammu and Kashmir registering the maximum number of causalities. The data, however, does not include the records from the year 1998, which is also unavailable on the NCRB website. Thirty-six year-old Pal, who had filed the RTI plea on the issue last month, said that the data on killings of and by Naxalites or terrorists receives a lot of attention, but civilian deaths at the hand of the state are rarely discussed. (Asian Age 2/7/15)

61. 26 hurt in clashes after undertrial lynched by guards in UP jail (1)

JAUNPUR: An undertrial lodged at a district jail here was beaten to death allegedly by prison guards for harassing a female colleague following which the inmates clashed with jail officials injuring 26 people, including six policemen. Superintendent of Police Bharat Singh said that the inmate, Shyam Kumar Yadav, had harassed a female jail guard on Saturday evening. Agitated with his act, the jail guards assaulted Yadav, who later died at the district hospital, he said. When the inmates came to know about the undertrial’s death, they clashed with the jail guards and indulged in violence, the SP said, adding 26 people, including six policemen, were injured in the incident. Police lobbed tear gas shells, used water cannon and fired rubber bullets in a bid to control the situation, which was brought under control in some time, he said. The SP said that the matter is under investigation. (Times of India 5/7/15)

62. Journalist’s mother ‘set ablaze by 2 policemen’ in UP’s Barabanki (1)

BARABANKI: The mother of a journalist was set ablaze on Monday at Kothi police station here allegedly by two policemen after she refused to “bribe” them to free her husband, prompting authorities to suspend the two officials and register a case against them. But the policemen have denied the charge, saying that the woman had immolated herself. The condition of Nitu Dwivedi is said to be serious as she was rushed to district hospital here and later referred to a Lucknow hospital’s trauma centre. Superintendent of Police Abdul Hamid ordered suspension of police station in-charge and sub-inspector against whom cases have been lodged under various sections of the IPC. Additional police force has been deployed in the area in view of tension over the incident. The woman in her statement before a magistrate and media alleged that she was abused and humiliated when she refused to meet the demand of Rs one lakh for freeing her husband. The visuals of the woman, whose son is associated with a Hindi daily, went viral on the electronic media as the incident took place barely a month after journalist Jagendra Singh was set on fire allegedly by some UP policemen in Shahjahanpur district. According to the police, Nitu had gone to inquire about her husband Ram Narain, who was taken into custody on Saturday. They said that station in-charge Ram Saheb Singh Yadav and sub-inspector Akhilesh Rai allegedly humiliated, abused and chased her away. In a fit of rage, she sprinkled petrol and set herself on fire at the gate of the police station, police said adding that she was rushed to district hospital in a serious condition. Police said Ram Narain was brought to the police station on Saturday night for questioning in connection with firing over eve teasing in Gaha village here. When asked for comments, ruling Samajwadi Party leader and UP minister Shivpal Yadav said the entire incident will be probed and strict action will be taken against the guilty. (Times of India 6/7/15)

63. Woman’s Custodial Death Sparks Outrage in Assam, Meghalaya (1)

GUWAHATI: A Shillong woman’s custodial death under mysterious circumstances in Guwahati has led to an uproar both in Assam and Meghalaya. Victoria Dayoun Kharkongor, 39, was brought to the Dispur police station from the International Hospital in the city at around 9:30pm on Sunday after the hospital authorities had complained that she was “restless”. “At around 10.20pm, the lady went to the toilet attached to the police station but when she did not come out, the personnel on duty broke open the door and found her hanging with a veil-like piece of cloth,” Guwahati Police Commissioner Mukesh Agarwal told reporters. “She had been found loitering in the complex of the International Hospital and was in a restless state. We still don’t know why she went to the hospital,” Assistant Commissioner of Police S L Baruah told Express. The police have ordered a probe into the incident, which will be conducted by Joint Commissioner NMASF Haque, who has been given 48 hours to submit the report. “…He (Haque) has been entrusted with the task of conducting an inquiry and asked to submit the report within 48 hours regarding the cause and circumstances leading to the death of the lady and fix responsibility for lapses, if any, on the part of the police personnel,” the police said in a release. Meanwhile, the influential Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) alleged that the woman was raped and murdered. “She was raped and murdered but the police are trying to keep things under wraps by suggesting that she was not mentally sound. If that were indeed the case, she should have been taken to a hospital. Why was she brought to the police station?” asked KMSS president Akhil Gogoi. “We demand a CBI probe into the incident. It will unravel everything,” he added. Shillong-based rights activist Agnes Kharshiing slammed the police for “lapses”. “The police themselves claimed that the woman was mentally deranged. So when a mentally deranged person was in their custody, they should have been extra careful,” Agnes told Express. “A person, who is not mentally sound, can take the extreme step. So, why did they allow her to close the door?” the activist argued. (New Indian Express 7/7/15)


64. Shun abuse on social media: PM Modi(1)

New Delhi: With the social media becoming a platform for slugfests among followers of various leaders, Prime Minister Narendra Modi advised restraint Thursday on abusive and harsh language. He urged his followers to curb negativity on the social media. Mr Modi asked all those using social media to focus on positivity and creative energy to contribute to the nation’s development and growth. Mr Modi, an avid user of many social media platform, was interacting Thursday with a group of 125-odd social media activists associated with the “MyGov” platform, at a Digital India review meeting. Mr Arvind Gupta, chairman of the BJP’s IT Cell, citing the PM’s message at the interaction, said the activists were told to ignore the negativity and take positive energy forward. “He guided everyone on the power of positive and creative energy that should be harnessed to contribute towards the development and growth of India. He also asked them to help make the Digital India programme successful to help transform India through direct sharing of ideas with the government,” said Mr Gupta. He added that the PM encouraged active volunteers to discuss their experiences and share ideas on the “MyGov” platform. Mr Modi also discussed the power of participative platforms or “digital democracy” and the power of positivity and creativity that lies within the social media. A volunteer who attended the meeting said the Prime Minister cautioned them against responding to abusive language or negative comments in the same tone. “Why should we give that person a reply in the same language… We should send across a positive message from our side,” the activist quoted the Prime Minister having told them. (Asian Age 3/7/15)

65. Cause of death of journalist covering Vyapam scam not clear, says India Today Group (1)

New Delhi: The India Today Group on Saturday said that the cause of the death of its reporter who was probing the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh was “not clear” and hoped that doctors and law enforcement agencies are able to establish the reason behind it. Akshay Singh, a TV news reporter based in Delhi, was suddenly taken ill and died in Jhabua district on Saturday after he had finished interviewing the parents of a girl who had been found dead near railway tracks following her naming in connection with the scam. “The cause of his sudden demise is not yet clear. We mourn the death of our valued colleague. Our thoughts and prayers are with Akshay’s family. We hope that doctors and law enforcement agencies are able to establish the cause of Akshay’s death,” the group said in a statement. It said it is saddened by the untimely death of the reporter, who had been working with Aaj Tak as a special correspondent since December, 2013. Akshay had been on an assignment in Madhya Pradesh investigating the Vyapam scam for the past four days, it added. The group said that Akshay worked with the Special Investigation Team of Aaj Tak and was an enterprising journalist who had many hard-hitting investigations to his credit. Akshay had on Saturday called on the parents of Namrata Damor, whose body had been found under mysterious circumstances near railway tracks in Ujjain district. Namrata’s father Mehtab Singh Damor said Akshay and two others visited their house this afternoon. After the interview was over, someone was sent to get some papers photocopied. As Akshay was waiting outside Damor’s house, he suddenly started frothing at the mouth. He was rushed to a civil hospital and later to a private hospital, but doctors failed to revive him. From there, he was taken to another hospital in nearby Dahod in Gujarat, where he was declared brought dead. (FirstPost 5//7/15)

66. Centre to support retention of criminal defamation (1)

NEW DELHI: The Centre will oppose petitions filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of criminal defamation provisions in the Indian Penal Code. The Centre is likely to file the affidavit on Saturday in response to the petitions as directed by a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and P C Pant on Wednesday. Official sources said the affidavit would argue for retention of Sections 499 and 500 IPC in the statute book. The petitioners – Swamy, Rahul and Kejriwal – had rushed to the SC with appeals seeking quashing of criminal defamation cases filed against them in various parts of the country and had also moved writ petitions seeking quashing of criminal defamation provisions, terming them as a serious onslaught on a citizen’s fundamental right to free speech. The Centre is likely to convey to the SC through its affidavit that criminal defamation provisions have stood the test of time and were in existence before the Constitution was framed by the leading lights of the freedom struggle, sources said. The Constitution and Parliament had decided to retain criminal defamation provisions as a safeguard against persons making wild and baseless allegations against others, the sources said. On Wednesday, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi had pleaded with the bench of Justices Misra and Pant to refer these petitions to a five-judge constitution bench as the petitioners had raised an important constitutional question requiring interpretation of important aspects of constitutional provisions, including restrictions imposed on free speech under Article 19(2). Rohatgi drew support from former solicitor general T R Andhyarujina, who is assisting the court in this matter as amicus curiae. He said the issues raised by the petitioners were complicated and needed interpretation of various provisions of the Constitution while keeping in mind the dynamics of social requirements. The bench said two-judge benches of the Supreme Court in the past had decided major constitutional issues like validity of Section 377 of IPC and Section 66A of Information Technology Act. However, it agreed to take the AG’s contention into account while deciding the petitions. The court also requested the AG to meet the petitioners’ argument that abolition of criminal defamation provision in foreign countries should have a decisive bearing on the course of scrutiny of criminal defamation laws in India. Both the AG and Andhyarujina said abolition of criminal defamation in foreign countries was done because civil defamation cases resulted in expeditiously imposing heavy damages on those guilty of defaming others. “But in India, civil defamation suits continue for years and mostly result in out-of-court settlement,” the AG said. The court will commence hearing on the three petitions from Tuesday and promised a speedy decision. “Otherwise, the Supreme Court will get flooded with appeals seeking quashing of criminal defamation cases filed across the country,” Justice Misra said. (Times of India 9/7/15)


67. Tension in Muzaffarnagar village, Muslims remained besieged in a mosque for half a day

Muzaffarnagar: A group of Muslims from Bhumma village in Muzaffarnagar remained besieged in a mosque for half a day after it was surrounded by angry villagers protesting the killing of a Hindu youth nearby. The Muslims were rescued on Tuesday afternoon after police dispersed the mob with a lathicharge and by firing shots in the air. Trouble began Monday night after four motorcycle-borne assailants allegedly shot Satveer (25) outside his house in Bhumma. Soon, dozens of Hindus gathered outside the victim’s house to protest police inaction. Three policemen were reportedly in the area when the murder took place.Police said the mob pelted stones and even fired weapons. “Several Muslims who live close to the area took refuge in the mosque. They remained there till Tuesday afternoon till we rescued them after dispersing the mob,” a senior police officer said. He added that a police constable was injured in the mob rampage. The protesters also torched a vehicle and damaged several others. Police said two of Satveer’s assailants — Yaqub and Monu — have been arrested. “We have arrested two persons, while a massive hunt is on to arrest the other two. The situation in the town is tense but under control,” said Rakesh Jolly, Superintendent of Police (Crime), Muzaffarnagar, who has camped in the area since Monday night. Meanwhile, Satveer’s family blamed police inaction for his death. “He was shot dead in the presence of three policemen, including one inspector, but they did not even attempt to nab the culprits, who managed to flee,” Arjun, Satveer’s younger brother, told The Indian Express. Following the incident, the station house officer of Meerapur police station, Shoaib, and three other policemen posted there have been suspended by SSP H N Singh. Villagers are demanding that a murder case be lodged against them. “A compensation of Rs 5 lakh has been announced from the Chief Minister’s discretionary fund, while a note has also been forwarded to the government for a job for his younger brother Arjun. The locals demanded a compensation of Rs 25 lakh initially but a settlement was reached,” said Ram Kishan Sharma, ADM (Finance). This is the third incident that has led to communal tension in western Uttar Pradesh in recent times…. (Indian Express 1/7/15)

68. Hindus, Muslims pelt stones at each other as violence erupts yet again in Ballabhgarh (7)

Ballabhgarh: Violence erupted at Atali in Ballabhgarh once again on Wednesday after Hindus and Muslims in the village pelted stones on three separate occasions. At least four people were injured in the violence, police said. Though police claimed that it was too early to identify the trigger for the violence, residents said the first clash took place in the morning when namaz was being read at the mosque. “We were praying at the mosque when stones were thrown. At the same time, the Hindus in the adjacent temple were participating in a kirtan using loudspeakers and this sparked the violence,” Nizam Ali alleged. The police said that at the time of the initial stone-pelting in the morning, six or seven Muslims were present at the mosque and they took refuge at the residence of a community elder. The violence that ensued lasted about an hour, with individuals from both communities climbing atop buildings and throwing bricks, stones and bottles, the police added. The mosque, which had been burnt during earlier riots, was once again desecrated on Wednesday, police said. While the Muslim community maintained that they were attacked first when they were inside the mosque, the Hindu community in the village denied the charge. “It’s completely untrue. They attacked the women of the village, who were at the temple, with stones and two of them were injured,” Satish Chaudhury said. The mosque had served as the flashpoint for communal riots in the village on May 25, as 2,000 heavily armed men allegedly set the mosque on fire as well as several Muslim homes and shops in an hour-long rampage. Fifteen people were injured and almost 150 Muslim villagers camped at the Ballabhgarh police station until June 3. While the administration and the police have consistently maintained that the village has been peaceful following the riots, residents claim otherwise. “Ever since we have returned, things have been tense. We were told that we could pray peacefully. But the reality is very different. We have given written complaints to the police about the every day social boycott we are facing, but no action has been taken,” Ali said. While seeming sporadic, residents said the violence had followed a strict pattern through the day, coinciding with the timing of prayers at the mosque. “After the initial violence in the morning, two separate incidents of stone-pelting took place when we went to the mosque to pray in the afternoon and again in the evening. We also found that they had desecrated the mosque when we went to pray in the afternoon,” Ehsan Mohammad alleged, while adding that the community decided to break their fast for Ramzan indoors and not venture out. Subhash Yadav, Commissioner of Police, Faridabad, said, “We have deployed additional forces at the village and all roofs have been cleared. We have deployed personnel on roofs also.” .. (Indian Express 2/7/15)

69. Communal violence: Police detain Jats in Atali over clashes (7)

New Delhi: After a second spurt of violence disturbed the calm at Atali village in Ballabhgarh last week, police detained a number of members from the Jat community on Saturday. The village remained tense after the detentions, which comes a day after a delegation of Muslims from the village met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi. While most of the Muslims had left their homes after the recent violence, the Jats in the village alleged that the police action was “one-sided” and “biased”. Last Wednesday, violence once again erupted at the village after Hindus and Muslims pelted stones at each other on three separate occasions. While four people were injured, a number of Muslim families left the village, shaken by the fact that the violence took place in the presence of heavy police deployment. A total of three FIRs were filed after the violence. Commisioner of Police (Faridabad) Subhash Yadav said, “We have detained a number of people from Atali on the basis of complaints. Police have rounded them up and the process of verification is going on. After this concludes, we will be producing them in court and formally arresting them.” Yadav, however, refused to divulge the number of people who have been detained. The village — now almost completely devoid of any Muslim population — remained tense. Most Jat families alleged that police were biased and the arrests reflected political pressure. “The Muslims went and met Rajnath, so police had to do something. They arrested young boys from our community who had nothing to do with the entire incident,” Manoj Chauhan, a resident, said. Others alleged that while complaints from the Muslim community had been duly noted, Jats alleged that their complaints — pertaining to the violence — had been ignored. “The violence was from both sides. Some Muslims came to our temple and desecrated it. They abused our wives and daughters and threw stones at them. But police doesn’t want to listen to us,” Satish Chaudhury, another resident, said. The Muslim community leaders are quick to point out that though the police detention took place immediately after the meeting with the home minister, their demands were yet to be met. “Our homes were burnt. Our lives destroyed. The violence and ostracisation continues. Yet, police has made no arrests in the initial violence,” Isak Lambardar, the community elder, said. The first incident of violence in the village on May 25 saw almost 2,000 heavily-armed men allegedly setting fire to the village’s only mosque, Muslim homes and shops. Fifteen people were injured and almost 150 Muslim villagers camped at the Ballabhgarh police station until June 3…./ (Indian Express 5/7/15)

70. Prohibitory orders in Ambur (7)

AMBUR: Fearing communal tension may flare up again, the government on Monday clamped prohibitory orders under Section 144 of Cr.Pc in Ambur and Vaniyambadi areas, which is returning to normalcy after witnessing violence in the last week of June following a custodial death. Noticing that discontent was simmering among the public in the Ambur taluk and surrounding areas, the district administration has enforced the prohibitory orders till July 15. The order has stalled the plans of Hindutva outfits to conduct protests and campaign this week following the good response to the bandh by Hindu Makkal Katchi last Saturday against the riot by a section of Muslim outfits, which went on a rampage injuring 38 police personnel, including the SP and damaging public property. A few more Hindu outfits were planning to take out rallies and processions this week. The order, issued by Revenue Divisional Officer (Tirupattur) Rangarajan, prohibits entry of any person with the intention of organising or participating in any demonstration or meeting or procession and unlawful assembly, which carries the potential of bringing unrest and threat to peace and tranquillity of public. BJP leader Vanathi Srinivasan, who had come to Vinnamangalam near Ambur, was denied permission to hold a press meet. The media contingent accompanied her in the train and interviewed her. Meanwhile, Ambur was limping back to normalcy. As many as 131 Muslims have been arrested till now for indulging in violence alleging custodial torture of Shameel Ahamed. The arrests continue with three more being arrested on Monday. Meanwhile, the woman who went missing leading to the arrest of a person and subsequently his death in Ambur last week will stay in a women’s hostel for the time being. Pavithra (23) was produced before the Madras High Court on Monday before a Division Bench comprising Justices S. Tamilvanan and C.T. Selvam, in the presence of her husband, her five-year old child and her parents. (The Hindu 7/7/15)


71. 2 Bajrang Dal activists held for assaulting man (26)

Muzaffarnagar: Two Bajrang Dal activists were arrested for allegedly beating up and parading a person for stealing a calf from a chowshed in Shamli district, police said here today. Bajrang Dal district convener Vivek Premi and activist Sanni were arrested yesterday for allegedly assaulting the man, said SP Vijay Bhushan. The incident, which took place last week, led to tension in the area, police said, adding, besides the arrested duo, a case has been registered against four other persons. Police initiated action after a video of the incident surfaced on social networking websites. Meanwhile, the man is currently lodged in Muzaffarnagar district jail after he was arrested on the charges of theft and animal cruelty, police said. (Business Standard 1/7/15)

72. RSS ‘wrath’ over razing of temples may hit Metro work (26)

JAIPUR: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) anguish over the demolition of temples might affect the construction of Jaipur Metro (B) as the Jaipur Metro Rail Corporation (JMRC) has to raze nearly seven more temples in the Walled City area falling on the corridor. Residents of Walled City, who was always against shifting and demolition of ancient temples, have gained courage too to protest after the Sangh statement. Ram Charan Mehta, a resident of Walled City, said, “The district administration and Metro officials have razed the centuries-old temples against the wish of people. Huge deployment of police force was made to stop us from protesting. A common man cannot fight beyond an extent against the government. Now, we will not allow to demolish more temples.” The JMRC recently demolished two famous Rojgareshwar Mahadev and Khasthharan Mahadev temples, obstructing the construction of Metro corridor proposed from Chandpole to Badi Chaupar. According to Jaipur Metro sources, the JMRC will shift 13 temples from the Walled City area falling on the corridor. So far, only six priests have agreed, while remaining still has not signed the consent letter. Sources in the department said, “If the remaining temples are not razed, the work will definitely be stalled leading to the delay in project. Certainly, it’s a fresh trouble for JMRC.” Sangh has pulled the BJP ministers and MLAs for keeping mum when 80 temples in the city were demolished. However, the list of civic bodies to raze these temples for developing infrastructure project is long. As per a JDA survey, there are 400 religious structures constructed on government land. The JDA is demolishing the temples claiming many were hindrance in traffic flow. The drive was started after the Supreme Court empowered committee had criticized the state’s urban development & housing department for turning a blind eye towards encroachments, particularly the religious ones. Apart from the civic bodies, the committee had also held the district administration responsible. “It was mentioned in the letter that the temples built on the encroached land cause traffic congestion and inconvenience to the residents. The government land can be utilized in a better way such as night shelters, so that more people can be benefited,” said an official (Times of India 6/7/15)

73. Shiv Sena dares Centre on Uniform Civil Code (26)

Mumbai: Stepping up its hardline Hindutva stand, the Shiv Sena on Monday targeted the Muslim community, saying it needed to take up family planning as its increasing population would cause geographical, linguistic and sentimental problems and affect the unity of the country. It also dared the Centre to come up with the Uniform Civil Code, saying ghar wapsi campaigns would not solve the population problem. In a controversial editorial in Sena mouthpiece Saamna, the party also expressed doubts over the Centre’s ability to take a tough stand and bring in family planning measures to control the increasing Muslim population. “From 2001-2011, Muslim population increased by around 24% and must have increased by another 5-10% till 2015. The increasing population causing linguistic, geographical and sentimental imbalances will eventually lead to cracks in the country’s unity,” it said. The mouthpiece also alleged that the increasing population of Muslims was part of a conspiracy to take over the nation. Taking potshots at the likes of BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj, who are advocating increase in Hindu population and ghar wapsi, the Sena said the country needed a Uniform Civil Code and not a population spurt to contain the problem. While Sena leaders sought to justify the remarks, state BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said, “Our agenda is based on stability and well being, irrespective of caste, creed or religion.” (Hindustan Times 7/7/15)

74. RSS affiliate seeks redefinition of minority institutions (26)

NEW DELHI: Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal, a front organization of RSS, on Wednesday demanded that definition of minority institutions be changed. Releasing its exhaustive memorandum to the HRD ministry for new education policy, BSM joint organizing secretary Mukul Kanitkar said minority-run institutions have misused the privilege given to them by the Constitution. “We are mulling legal option to change the definition including going to the Supreme Court,” he said. Kanitkar pointed out that there are innumerable instances when minority-run institutions have more students from majority community. However, the tag of being a minority institution helps them in not implementing the Right to Education Act. “It is a misuse,” he said, adding that the original idea of giving them autonomy to spread education among minorities has not been fulfilled. Kanitkar said the criterion of minority institutions should be on the basis of number of minority students enrolled rather than on management being run by minorities. For the new education policy, BSM has proposed an eight-year plan of general education at the completion of which students will have practical knowledge of science and productive physical capacity. Broadly, in the eight-year plan, BSM wants children to be taught mother tongue as the first language and Hindi or English or Sanskrit or any classical language or regional language as additional language. Other subjects would be mathematics that helps in daily transactions, general science, social studies, physical work, hygiene, moral education and social service, sports and physical education and life skills like stitching, agriculture, cooking, computer, electric fitting and plumbing etc. Emphasising on value education, BSM wants healthy relationship between the teacher and student, compulsory daily prayer and regular tributes to great personalities from India and world. BSM’s recommendations prepared after feedback from 4000 teachers and educationists have also demanded setting up of an independent, autonomous education commission for supervising and controlling all aspects of education system. The proposed commission’s unit should be in all districts and 65 to 75 per cent of its members should be from the field of education and rest from the industry, social service and bureaucracy. (Times of India 9/7/15)


75. India bans trade with Islamic State firms (12)

New Delhi, June 30 (Reuters): India on Tuesday banned trade in oil and other products with entities linked to the Islamic State, complying with a UN resolution to act against militants active in oil-rich countries such as Iraq, Syria and Libya. “In compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution …, trade in oil and refined oil products, modular refineries and related materials, besides items of cultural (including antiquities), scientific and religious importance is prohibited,” India’s commerce ministry said in a notification. The rapid rise of Islamic State, which first emerged in Syria and Iraq, is worrying Western powers who fear the militant group will forge a base just across the Mediterranean from mainland Europe. Earlier this month, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi urged the international community to help prevent the group from gleaning profits from oil smuggling. (The Telegraph 1/7/15)

76. Internal Security Doctrine Must be Codified to Counter Terror Threats (12)

Two recent reports published abroad throw a flood of light on the terrorist threat to India. These reports should enable the Government of India evaluate its preparedness to deal with the looming threat. The US State Department has released its Country Reports on Terrorism for the year 2014.  It clearly says that “India remains one of the persistently targeted countries by insurgents and trans-national and domestic terrorist groups”. Among the insurgents, the report has highlighted the violence perpetrated by Maoists. Referring to the trans-national groups, the report states that Pakistan “did not take action against other groups such as Lashkar-e-Tayyiba which continued to operate, train, rally, propagandize, and fund raise in Pakistan”. It goes on to say that the “Afghan Taliban and Haqqani leadership continued to find safe haven in Pakistan, and although Pakistan military operations disrupted the actions of these groups, it did not directly target them”. Globally, the report has highlighted the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) and drawn attention to its “unprecedented seizure of territory in Iraq and Syria, the continued flow of foreign terrorist fighters worldwide to join ISIL, and the rise of lone offender violent extremists in the West”. In this context, it has stated that, according to Indian officials, government has taken the threats posed by the ISIL seriously, but a very small number of Indians are believed to have been recruited into the organisation. The report nevertheless cautions that “given India’s large Muslim population, potential socio-religious marginalisation, and active ISIL online propaganda efforts, there remains a risk of increased ISIL recruitment of Indian nationals.” The report has also drawn attention to the Al-Qaida announcing the establishment of a unit of the organisation in the Indian subcontinent. Commenting on India’s preparedness, the report acknowledges that in the wake of 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack, the country attempted to enhance its counter-terrorism capabilities, but deplored that these were “hampered by poor inter-agency coordination and information sharing”.  The report also said that the “local police forces led at the state level have limited command and control capacity and suffer from poor training and equipment”…. (New Indian Express 4/7/15

77. Terror Outfits Recruiting Youth in Border Villages: Intelligence Agencies (12)

NEW DELHI: Days after fresh recruits of terror outfit Hizb-ul-Mujahideen posted a group photo on social media platform, the intelligence agencies have warned that at least 14 LeT and 5 Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorists have infiltrated into J&K and are preying upon naive youth from villages situated in bordering districts. LeT runs recruitment and training centres in Muzaffarabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Multan and Quetta. JeM is running two terror training camps for recruits in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Top sources said JeM group is led by Gazali, a battle hardened terrorist from Pakistan, who is believed to be operating in Awantipora. An interception from across the border has indicated that Gazali’s close associate Haroon, a Pakistani national, is also operating in the region to lure the youngsters. JeM which continues to receive funding from the ISI and its sympathisers in Saudi Arabia and the UK, is suspected to be responsible for fidayeen attack in Kathua in March. “These terror operatives from Pakistan are using the network honed by their sleeper cells to make inroads in villages,” the sources said.  It is learnt that LeT Commander Abu Qasim alias Mohammad Bhai and his close aide Abu Dujana – both from Pakistan – infiltrated into J&K and joined several other LeT terrorists operating in the Valley. LeT commander Khumani,  who was trained in Pakistan, has also been identified by the intelligence agencies after they intercepted several chats between the terrorists and their handlers in Pakistan. “Electronic interception indicates that terrorists may be moving in the areas of Bogund, Baan and Khudwani. Security forces are on high alert,” he added. Although, LeT is banned by Pakistan, the US, the UK and India, it uses Jamat-ud Dawa, a charity organisation to disguise its terror activities and raise finances.  Though the government claims that infiltration figures have gone down drastically in the last one year, terrorists continue to find fault-lines in border security.  An officer from the security establishment said footprints of Pakistani terrorists in Budgam, Pulawama and Shopian are a major worry for the security forces as these areas are considered to be sensitive. (New Indian Express 7/7/15)

78. Maharashtra govt feels threat to LeT terrorist Jundal’s life (12)

NEW DELHI: There is a threat of assassination of suspected top Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist Abu Jundal, a key conspirator of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, from ‘rival groups’ during his transportation from jail to court, the Maharashtra government feels. A trial court, which is hearing terror cases against Jundal, was informed of the Maharashtra government’s apprehension by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) which has requested the court to expedite the proceedings and conduct the case proceedings through video conferencing so that Jundal is not required to travel from jail to court. The agency, in its plea, also said that because of the threat to Jundal alias Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari, who is presently lodged in Arthur Road jail in Mumbai, he could not be produced before the city court on several occasions despite issuance of production warrants against him. The application for video conferencing was filed before District Judge Amar Nath who is hearing a case in which Jundal was chargesheeted for offences punishable under the IPC and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for allegedly attempting to recruit men through Internet for banned outfit, Lashkar-e-Toiba, and conspiring to carry out terror activities in India. NIA had chargesheeted Jundal for allegedly conspiring to carry out terror activities in India, including the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks and 2006 Aurangabad arms haul case. In the plea, NIA also referred to a resolution passed by the Maharashtra government in May 2013 by which Jundal was excluded from personal appearances in court due to threats of possible bids of assassination or abduction. Referring to the resolution, NIA, in its plea, said, “exclude the personal appearance of the accused Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari….after taking into consideration the request of the Commissioner of Police, Mumbai to exclude the above-mentioned accused person from personal appearance before court in various cases registered against him due to possibility of assassination bid on the life of accused by rival group or a bid to abduct.” The agency also told the court that the resolution was challenged by Jundal before Bombay High Court, but his plea was dismissed. “By virtue of order passed by state government… and order of divisional bench of Bombay High Court… the jail authority is not producing accused Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari… inspite of the production warrant issued by this court directing jail authority to produce the accused before him to answer the charges levelled,” the NIA application said. The court has issued notice to Jundal’s counsel MS Khan and sought his reply on NIA’s plea. The case is at the stage of arguments on framing of charges in the case. The court will hear arguments on NIA’s plea on July 17. Jundal is considered to be one of the masterminds of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks in which the lone arrested accused Ajmal Kasab was convicted and hanged. Jundal was reportedly directing the terrorists during the attacks from the ‘control room’ in Pak-occupied Kashmir. (Times of India 9/7/15)


79. NIA files charge sheet against two Maoists in Kolkata court (12)

Kolkata: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday filed a charge sheet indicting two Maoists involved in a Kolkata and Jharkhand-based module for waging war against the state as well as conspiracy for terrorist attacks. “In supplementary charge sheet filed before a special court here, the NIA indicted Mohan Viswakarma and Arjun Ganjhu for offences under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, conspiracy to commit terrorist act and for being a member of a terrorist organisation,” the agency said in a statement. Both Viswakarma and Arjun Ganjhu are members of the Communist Party of India-Maoist which has been declared as a terrorist origination by the central government. Viswakarma from Bihar’s Imamganj was arrested by the Special Task Force of the Kolkata police from the city while Ganjhu hailing from Jharkhand’s Latehar district was nabbed from Ranchi in July 2012. Following their arrest, a large quantity of unfinished parts of about 800 hand grenades, in different stages of preparation, were recovered from a transport agency as well as various workshops in Kolkata. Following a directive from the union home ministry, the NIA took up the probe from the Kolkata STF in April 2013. (Business Standard 3/7/15)

80. Maoist killed by comrades for being an informer (12)

RAIPUR: A Maoist commander was allegedly killed by his colleagues in Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Sukma district due to a reported rift in Maoist ranks in Bastar region of the neighboring Telangana state. The charred body of the Maoist cadre, identified as Badru alias Masa, a section commander of military platoon number 24 of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist), was recovered from Permpara village forests under Gadiras police station limits on Monday, Sukma ASP (Anti-Naxal Operations) Santosh Singh said. Badru was allegedly dubbed as a police informer and a cheat, who is not loyal to the CPI (Maoist), by rebels before killing him, the police official said. The ASP said that a senior level Maoist military wing cadre Hemla Bhagat and his wife Kosi, chief of the Dandakarnya Kisan Majdoor Sanghthan, are among rebels who were reportedly killed by their own colleagues early this week. Information received indicates differences among Maoist cadres from the Bastar region and senior leaders from Telangana, which led to these killings. “We have inputs that these Maoists were murdered after directions from a senior woman Maoist leader handling the outlawed movement in South Bastar. Further investigation is on in this connection,” the police official said. Badru was killed with sharp-edged weapons at a so-called people’s court (Jan Adalat) organised by Maoist rebels on Friday in the same region after which his body was set ablaze. After Badru’s family members informed the police about the incident, security personnel recovered his body from the spot and sent it for post-mortem. The ASP said that three other Maoist leaders were also reportedly eliminated by their own Maoist colleagues in Sukma during the past week. However, no specific inputs about the places of their public trial (people’s court) nor their bodies have been recovered. (Times of India 7/7/15)

81. Surrender of Maoist led to spate of killings: police (12)

RAIPUR: Four Maoists — Hemla Bhagat, Kosi, Badru and Hinge — were killed by their own party men in the last 10 days and Maoist leader Hurra, who feared for his life, managed to escape and approached the police. The Bastar police have not made Hurra’s surrender public. However, based on his confessions and revelations, The Hindu has learnt that the surrender of the Maoist Malangir area committee member Sannu Potam alias Kiran to the police on May 24 triggered the spate of killings. Kiran had run away from a meeting of the DVC. Someone from the party was to be held responsible for his surrender. An inquiry took place and five Maoists Hemla Bhagat, Kosi, Badru , Hurra and Hinge were suspected to be responsible for his surrender for their proximity to him in his last days in the Maoist organization, sources have told The Hindu. All five Maoists were detained by their own party men in the second week of June and were kept at different locations in Gadiras area of Sukma and Aranpur area of Dantewada. The first killing took place on June 22 when the Divisional Committee member of Darbha area and the chief of Maoist’s military intelligence wing Hemla Bhagat was killed and his dead body was thrown near Nihadi village in Jagargunda belt of Sukma. According to sources, Bhagat was very close DKSZC (Danda Karanya Special Zonal Committee) member and South Regional Committee Secretary Ganesh Uike and had accompanied him on his trips to Kolkata, Delhi, and Hyderabad. His proximity to Ganesh Uike and his knowledge of secret urban Maoist network because of his travel with Uike, may have contributed to his elimination,” an officer who interrogated Hurra told The Hindu. Kosi and Hurra somehow managed to escape from Maoist custody on June 24. Hurra managed to reach his village and contacted police, however, Kosi, who was on her way to Aranpur police station to surrender, was intercepted by Acheli range committee members of the Maoists. She was beaten to death near Gotgul village and her dead body was thrown in an open field.Hinge was also killed after Kosi. Badru, a DVC member in Darbhra area was killed on July 2 on the orders of Dabha DVC member and Malangir area committee in-charge Nirmala and Deva. “Only a DKSZC member can authorize the killing of a DVC level cadre. But the killing of Badru at the hands of Nirmala and Deva and in the absence of area leader Surinder, suggests intense rivalry among the Maoist guerrillas. Highhandedness of Nirmala was cited as one of the reasons for surrender by Kiran and another senior Maoist two years ago. Now she has led the killing of Badru without taking permission from senior leaders. She is the only Telagu leader active in Darbha,” informed another official based in Jagdalpur. Darbha committee of Maoists is considered a dreaded unit which carried out the attack on the Congress convoy in 2013 and killed 15 security men in 2014. The recent killings suggest that all is not well in this unit of the ultra-left organisation. (The Hindu 8/7/15)

82. Maoists regaining ground in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana? (12)

HYDERABAD: Outlawed Maoists seem to be regaining ground in the interior villages of the two Telugu states if one goes by the spurt in Naxalite activities in the last six months. About 40 Maoist-related incidents, including killings and exchange of fire, have been reported since January 1 in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana while as many as 44 Maoists and their sympathizers were arrested. Most of those held were trying to recruit cadre for the CPI (Maoist) from villages. This year, the Maoists killed four people, burnt seven vehicles and conducted two recruitment drives albeit unsuccessfully. The police recovered three explosives dumps and also killed a Maoist in an exchange of fire. The Naxalites also pasted wall posters listing a set of local demands in some villages to make their presence felt. There was also an attempt to make Adilabad part of the Dandakaranya region. The police, on the other hand, have succeeded in convincing a number of Maoists, including dalam leaders and deputy commanders, to surrender. In all, 100 Maoists gave up arms so far this year. Andhra Pradesh has witnessed more Maoist activities as compared to Telangana in the last six months. Maoists killed three people and reportedly conducted two recruitment drives besides holding the party plenary. About 30 Maoists were arrested in AP as against 14 in Telangana. The two incidents of exchange of fire were also reported from AP. With the Maoists attempting to regroup themselves on AP-Odisha, AP-Chhattisgarh and Telangana-Chhattisgarh borders, the police in both the states have taken up a novel campaign to deal with the security threat. They are now seeking the help of the families of Maoists to convince them to lead a normal life. Last week, Karimnagar district police superintendent D Joel Davis released a wall poster with the photographs of top Maoists and the rewards they carry on their head. He called upon senior Maoists Muppalla Lakshman Rao alias Ganapathi, Mallojula Venugopal Rao alias Prahlad and Pulluru Prasada Rao alias Chandranna to give up arms. “The parents of many Maoist leaders are old. The Maoists should surrender and serve their parents. They should leave their outdated ideology, join society and utilize the reward money and other government benefits for the welfare of their families,” Joel observed. The police have also been holding health check-up camps in villages to wean away people from the influence of Left extremism. They have also increased the movement of the police personnel in the forest areas, particularly in Visakhapatnam, Khammam, East Godavari, Warangal and Karimnagar districts. Warangal rural SP Ambar Kishor Jha held a meeting with the relatives of Maoists where parents urged their sons and daughters, who are underground, to leave violence and benefit from the government’s generous schemes for surrendered Naxals. In some places, the police presented clothes and medicines to the old parents of Maoist leaders hoping that the gesture will bring the security forces closer to people in interior villages. (Times of India 9/7/15)


83. ‘Operation Muskan’ to trace 84 missing children (1)

MYSURU: The Mysuru city police have launched ‘Operation Muskan’ to find 84 children, who have remained untraceable. This has been launched in response to the nationwide campaign to trace missing children, and will be held the whole of this month. A statement issued from the Police Commissioner’s office said all officials and personnel have been given necessary training and instructed to visit neighbouring States, if needed, to trace the children. The police have roped in representatives of District Child Protection Unit, Department of Labour, Women and Child Welfare Department, and NGOs engaged in the area of missing children. The police also urged the public to provide information about such children, if they come across them, to the nearest police station. Meanwhile, Fr. Francis John, Director of Don Bosco Makkalaya, told The Hindu that the police should look for runaway children in bus-stands and railway stations and make efforts to reunite them with their parents. The police should get in touch with childlines, the helplines for children run by NGOs in various cities, to trace them. They should look for missing children even in websites of NGOs like Don Bosco, which has a missing children bureau, where photos of runaway children are displayed. Pointing out that most missing children would have run away from homes and some could have been trafficked, Fr. Francis said chances of tracing girl children was higher as they do not go far, unlike the boys, who go from one city to another and take up jobs. Emphasising the need for the police to be “child-friendly” in their efforts to trace the missing children, Fr. Francis said it was better if such children are found early. “For, if they fall into the hands of anti-social elements, things will get difficult,” he said. (The Hindu 3/7/15)

84. Activists Rescue 270 Children From Trafficking in Berhampurm (1)

BERHAMPUR (ODISHA):  Around 270 children were rescued from being trafficked to other states in recent months by childline activists and Government Railway Police (GRP) from the railway station in Berhampur, which seems to have become the transit point for child traffickers.Most of the children, rescued since 2014, are teenage girls from Kandhamal, Gajapati and Ganjam districts, said director of an NGO ISRD-Childline, Sudhir Sabat. Acting on a tip-off, child rights campaigners with the help of GRP personnel have been raiding trains and railway stations to foil trafficking bid, while in some cases, the traffickers escaped from the spot, he said. Giving details about some operations, he said the campaigners rescued 16 teenagers on May 20. Five of them were from Kandhamal, while others were from Cuttack and Dhenkanal districts. The GRP arrested four persons, including three women, for trafficking the girls to Samalkot and Bhimavaram in Andhra Pradesh promising them jobs in different firms, said co-ordinator of Childline, Berhampur, Prabhu Prasad Patra.  Similarly on June 6, police rescued four children from the bus stand at Daringibadi in Kandhamal district, while they were waiting for a bus to come to Berhampur railway station from where they would have taken a train to Mumbai, in which a person from Jharkhand was arrested. Two children belonging to Kandhamal were rescued after being trafficked to Tamil Nadu, while three others of Gajapati district had been rescued from Goa, childline activists said. Berhampur railway station has emerged as a major transit point because it has good road connectivity with Gajapati and Khandamal districts. They come here in buses to catch trains of Tamilnadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Andhra Pradesh, the campaigners said. An anti-human trafficking unit should be set up at Berhampur railway station to crack down child traffickers, said Sabat. At present, one unit is operating in the police headquarters of every district. (New Indian Express 5/7/15)

85. Kerala HC Orders CBI Probe on Child Trafficking to Orphanages (1)

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Monday ordered a CBI probe into the alleged trafficking of children to orphanages in Kerala from eastern states by pointing out that a central agency is required to conduct a proper investigation. Rejecting state government’s contention that the ongoing probe by crime branch will suffice, a division bench led by chief justice Ashok Bhushan said, ” Repeated incidents of bringing large number of children to the state and that too in violation of the rules and regulations clearly indicate the necessity of proper investigation in the matter and punishment of the guilty.” In deciding to order a CBI probe, the court considered CBI’s stance in court that it is willing to conduct an investigation. A total of four petitions were heard by the court, including a public interest litigation seeking a CBI probe that was filed by Palakkad-based All Kerala Anti Corruption and Human Rights Protection Council through advocate BH Mansoor. The court was assisted in the case by advocate Devan Ramachandran as amicus curiae. In the judgment, the court specifically directed that the CBI probe should not be limited to the two cases registered by Palakkad railway police but should include all cases registered for child trafficking in Kerala in which the victims were brought in from other states. Further, the court ordered that all orphanages in the state that are registered under a 1960 law (Orphanages and Other Charitable Homes (Supervision and Control) Act) should also get registration under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, commonly known as the JJ Act. Such a directive by the court is expected to prevent incidents of trafficking as JJ Act only allows for entrusting a child to an orphanage only if the child welfare committee of the child’s native place confirms that the child is in need of care and protection. Additionally, the court weakened an order issued by Kerala government in 2010 exempting orphanages registered under the 1960 law from obtaining registrations under the JJ Act. The court also ordered district collectors to provide necessary assistance to child welfare committees in each district for carrying out proper inspections at all orphanages and child homes. The CWCs should take appropriate measures as directed in the JJ Act after this regarding the children housed in the orphanages, the judgment said. Through the judgment, the court banned orphanages in the state from receiving children from other states unless it is with prior approval of Orphanage Control Board and duly recommended by the concerned state government. The court had pointed out in the judgment that the children who were brought to Kerala were not in fact orphans. While children without parents are considered as orphans, those who were brought to the state had parents, the court said. (Times of India 6/7/15)


86. Cash-for-vote: ACB moves SC against bail to Revanth Reddy (5)

Hyderabad: Telangana Anti-Corruption Bureau, which is probing the cash-for-vote case, has moved the Supreme Court against the Hyderabad High Court’s order granting bail to TDP MLA A Revanth Reddy and two others. A special leave petition has been filed seeking cancellation of the bail, ACB Director General A K Khan said. The SLP was filed on the grounds that the investigation was still going on and the High Court had not appreciated the evidence against the accused, he told PTI. Reddy, the prime accused, along with Harry Sebastian and Uday Simha, was released from Cherlapalli Central Prison here yesterday after getting conditional bail. On May 31, Revanth Reddy, the deputy floor leader of TDP in Telangana assembly, was arrested by ACB with Sebastian and Simha while allegedly paying a bribe of Rs 50 lakh to Elvis Stephenson, a nominated MLA, for supporting TDP nominee Vem Narendar Reddy in the Legislative Council election. (Zee News 2/7/15)

87. Lokayukta corruption row: Opposition mounts pressure for CBI probe (5)

Belagavi: Keeping up pressure for removal of Lokaykuta Bhaskar Rao and a CBI probe into alleged bribery scandal in the anti-graft body, Opposition BJP and JDS members today staged a walkout from the Legislative Council, accusing the government of shielding the corrupt. As the House proceedings began, BJP and JDS sought to move an adjournment motion on the scandal that has rocked the Lokayukta office and demanded removal of Rao, alleging his son was involved in corruption amounting to crores of rupees. In their joint notice for adjournment motion, both parties said several social organisations, legal fraternity and its associations had expressed their dismay against the “corrupt” Lokayukta which was weakening the very institution and he should be removed. As BJP leader K S Eshwarappa began speaking, he was interrupted frequently by the ruling Congress members which enraged his party members who staged a walkout, followed by their counterparts in JDS also. Minister and Leader of the House S R Patil told reporters it is very unfortunate that BJP and JD(S) members walked out only because some from the ruling bench interrupted them. “The government has no intention of protecting anyone. But government has no power for removal of Lokayukta as per the Lokayukta Act 1984,” he said. Later, Eshwarappa told reporters that the government should seek opinion from legal experts on the charges levelled against Lokayukta. A situation had arisen where all officers are scared of Lokayukta due to threat from his son, Eshwarappa said. The was protecting a corrupt Lokayukta, he alleged. JDS senior member Basavaraj Horatti wanted to know as to why government is protecting the Lokayukta. An FIR was filed yesterday against the Lokayukta’s son in connection with the alleged scandal on the basis of a complaint that an executive engineer was asked to pay Rs 1 crore bribe to avoid a raid. Rao, a former High Court Chief Justice, has rejected allegations that his son was involved in the scandal and said he would resign if the charge was proved correct. The case has been handed over to a Special Investigation team by the government on the request by the Lokayukta. (Business Standard 2/7/15)

88. Coal scam: SC notices to CBI, ED (5)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the CBI and ED to respond on a plea for a probe into the alleged recovery of unaccounted cash and other documents during a raid on Aditya Birla Group’s corporate office premises as part of investigation into the coal block scam. A Bench led by Justice Madan B. Lokur also issued notice to both agencies on allegations raised by NGO Common Cause about the diversion of coal from a captive coal block allotted to Reliance ADAG’s Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project in Madhya Pradesh. This alleged diversion of coal, according to the NGO represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, had led to a loss of Rs. 29,000 crore to the State exchequer. Alleging hawala transactions, the NGO cited media reports claiming that search operations conducted on October 15, 2013, by the CBI at Aditya Birla Group’s corporate office in the capital allegedly led to the recovery of unaccounted cash, diaries and other incriminating documents. The group has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Meanwhile, the Bench asked Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi to enquire with former CBI Special Director M.L. Sharma if he is ready to assist the Central Vigilance Commission probe against Ranjit Sinha, who is accused of scuttling the coal scam probe during his tenure as CBI chief. The hearing also saw the Supreme Court-appointed Special Prosecutor in the coal block scam, senior advocate R.S. Cheema, urging the apex court to consider the possibility of setting up another Special Court to try the cases. Mr. Cheema, said there are as many as 12 FIRs pertaining to coal block allocations made during 1993-2005. (The Hindu 7/7/15)

89. Supreme Court to hear petitions seeking CBI probe into Vyapam scam (5)

New Delhi/Bhopal: As the mysterious Vyapam scam is getting murkier with each passing day, the Supreme Court on Thursday will hear pleas of Congress leader Digvijay Singh and three whistle-blowers’ seeking an apex court-monitored CBI probe into the matter. A bench headed by chief justice HL Dattu had agreed to give an urgent hearing over the said scam and had posted all petitions to be heard today. The infamous Vyapam scam also includes a string of mystery deaths. A battery of high-profile lawyers are likely to be fielded to argue for an investigation into the Vyapam scam by the CBI which should be monitored by the apex court. According to reports a possible argument could also take place for the removal of Madhya Pradesh governor Ram Naresh Yadav for his alleged role in the irregularities. Digvijay Singh and the three whistle-blowers – Ashish Chaturvedi, Anand Rai and Prashant Pandey – while demanding for a SC-monitored CBI probe had said that they have no faith in the state agency’s Special Task Force (STF) that is probing the scam. Meanwhile, taking a dig at Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress leader termed Vyapam as the ‘Mama (Uncle)’  of all scandals. (Zee News 9/7/15)


90. Demolish Sundarbans building: NGT to central ministry (9)

KOLKATA: The National Green Tribunal (Eastern Zone bench), on Wednesday, directed the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to demolish a four-storied building at Gadkhali in the Sundarbans that is nearing completion. The order was passed after authorities in West Bengal failed to take steps to stop the construction that is within Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) – I. The West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) has also been directed to file a report on why mechanized boats, motor boats and launches plying in the Sundarbans should not be forced to undergo pollution tests. NGT took up the matter of degradation of the Sundarbans after reports were published on the subject by TOI. Environment activist Subhas Datta was appointed amicus curiae by the bench and he visited the Sundarbans and filed a comprehensive report to the NGT on the ground situation. On January 6, Datta informed the bench about the building being constructed on the river at Gadkhali. He submitted before the NGT that the area is within CRZ-I comprising a highly sensitive ecological zone. After the chief secretary submitted that no permission has been granted, the NGT directed the zilla parishad of South 24-Parganas and other concerned authorities to take necessary steps. The bench was displeased when the state environment department submitted that it had no information about the construction. On hearing this, it directed the Union ministry to demolish the structure. “I also brought up the issue of kata tel (adulterated fuel) used by boats and launches plying in the Sundarbans. Both the district magistrate and police superintendent of South 24-Parganas were directed to take appropriate steps. The WBPCB was also directed to carry out surprise checks to apprehend those using the adulterated fuel. I also submitted that a system should be evolved to issue Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificates to launches, mechanized boats and motor boats plying in the Sundarbans as their exhaust also causes harm to the flora and fauna. The NGT then directed the WBPCB to file a report on the matter. The bench also set up a team comprising three advocates, the government lawyer, WBPCB lawyer and experts and myself to visit the Sundarbans and report back on depletion of the mangroves. The chief secretary has been directed to provide all support,” Datta said. The green activist also pointed out to the bench that a 23-member committee constituted by the chief secretary on February 27 to look into the problems faced by the Sundarbans hasn’t met even once. The bench then directed the chief secretary to convene a meeting of the committee within a fortnight. (Times of India 1/7/15)

91. 10 environmentalists protest against cutting of trees in village (9)

MADURAI: Around 10 tree huggers from Nanal Nanbargal staged a protest against cutting down of trees at Checkanurani village near Usilampatti on Tuesday. The orders to chop off trees came from the Usilampatti revenue divisional officer (RDO) for the expansion of the road from Checkanurani to Usilampatti, which will connect Cochin National highway. Balasubramaniam, RDO of Usilampatti said, “The tender valuing a total of Rs 5 lakh has been granted to cut down trees on April 22.” As only 11% of Madurai comes under the forest area, the group staged a protest citing the environmental effect of deforestation. Tamil Dasan, one of the members of Nanal Nanbargal said, “Orders have been given to cut 246 trees. Deforestation causes climate changes and rainfall will get affected.” Unwilling to give up, the group will be carrying out the protests along with 50 villagers in Checkanurani. “The protests will be carried out on Friday. We will not stop unless they stop cutting the trees,” added Dasan. (Times of India 1/7/15)

92. Mobile radiation not harmful to health, environment: BSNL (9)

AGARTALA: There is no decisive data or evidence so far to show that radiations from mobile phones or towers have adverse health or environmental effects in India, a top BSNL official here said. “There is no conclusive study, data or evidences about the bad health or ecological effects of radiation from mobile phones or towers in India,” Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) chief general manager (northeast circle one) DP Singh told reporters. He said: “India’s stringent measures against radiation from mobile phones or Base Tower Stations (BTS) are ten times more than the USA and European countries.” According to the officer, there are about 775,000 BTSs in the country and so far only about 90 cases have been found to be non-compliant by the department of telecommunication (DoT) and penalty has been imposed on the operators. “A penalty of Rs 10 lakh has been imposed in each case on defaulting operators in case any BTS is found to be non-compliant,” said Singh, who was earlier looking after the radiation related affairs in the DoT. The BSNL official said that regular audit of electromagnetic field levels from the mobile towers through TERM (Telecom Enforcement Resource Monitoring) cells of the DoT is being done to ensure that prescribed standards are implemented. Singh said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has done a large number of studies over the past two decades to assess whether mobile phones and BTS pose potential health risk. “A section of so-called experts and environmentalists to achieve their personal gain and business benefit are occasionally spreading exaggerated facts about radiation from mobile phone or towers based on some myth and falsehood,” the BSNL CGM said. “These experts and environmentalists without any conclusive study and facts sometimes say that sparrows and other birds are vanishing, affecting breeding or reproduction, and foods due to radiation from mobile phone or BTS,” he added. “Had this (radiation) been harmful, Europe and the US would have done away with it long ago. Here, people make occasional hullabaloo about the harm being done by mobile towers, but actually nothing like that happens.” The CGM said that the DoT has recently sanctioned Rs 5,336 crore for the improvement of mobile and internet services in the eight northeastern states. He said the BSNL would set up several hundred Wi-Fi hotspots in northeastern states soon, besides improving machinery and quality of service in the region. (Times of India 6/7/15)

93. ‘Aggressive environment conservation policy in the offing’ (9)

New Delhi: Environment and Forests Minister Prakash Javadekar on Wednesday said more “aggressive” and “affirmative” steps to conserve the environment and wildlife would be taken once parliament approves a new measure in this regard. “Today, we only have Rs.250 crore but once the CAMPA bill gets passed, we will have Rs.35,000 crore (at our disposal). We will have very aggressive and very affirmative better monitoring of forests and better wildlife management,” he said. The minister was speaking to media persons after chairing a meeting of National CAMPA Advisory Council (NCAC) here. Javadekar, who is the chairperson of the NCAC, said he was hopeful that the CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority) bill will be passed in the monsoon session of parliament. The minister said the CAMPA bill was being discussed and considered by the standing committee and hoped that they would submit their report early. “As soon as they do it, we’ll bring that in Parliament and I am sure all parties will support the release of Rs.35,000 crore for greening the country. We are taking it on a top priority,” he said. The minister said the government was taking “right steps” which the “world will appreciate”. (New Kerala 8/7/15)


94. Farmer Suicide: Court hears plea against martyr label for farmer (20)

New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Wednesday sought the Delhi government’s response to a petition against its decision to officially describe Rajasthan farmer Gajendra Singh, who committed suicide at an AAP rally at Jantar Mantar, as a “martyr” and to seek an end to “glorification” of his death. A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath sought response from the Delhi government by September 2 on a public interest litigation filed by advocate Avadh Kaushik. Earlier, the court asked the AAP government to submit a copy of the April 29 Cabinet decision to accord “martyr” status to the Rajasthan farmer who committed suicide on April 22 by hanging himself from a tree at Jantar Mantar during an anti-land bill rally of the Aam Aadmi Party. An RTI reply revealed that the Delhi government had decided to construct a memorial to Singh and other farmers who committed suicide and to provide jobs to their family members, said the petitioner. The AAP government’s decision to accord Gajendra Singh the status of a “martyr” and name a compensation scheme after him, according to the petitioner, amounted to “abetment of suicide.” He argued that glorifying such an act of “cowardice” was not justified. After Gajendra Singh’s suicide, the Delhi government launched a farmers compensation scheme in his name — Gajendra Singh Kisan Sahayata Yojana — for Delhi farmers whose crops were destroyed by unseasonal rains. (Asian Age 2/7/15)

95. Mahrashtra farmer suicides: Yavatmal collector summoned (20)

Nagpur: The Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has summoned the Yavatmal collector over the spate of suicides reported among Kolam tribal farmers of this district in the past few months, an activist said here on Saturday. The notice follows a complaint lodged by Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti President Kishore Tiwari mentioning how the state government has flouted Bombay High Court orders of 2001 to provide food, shelter, drinking water to the tribal regions. “SHRC Chairman Justice S.R. Bannurmath has directed the collector to appear before it in Amravati next Tuesday (July 7) and submit a report on my complaint,” Tiwari told IANS. The complaint points out the miserable conditions of the Kolam tribal farmers in the region, especially Ialkapod of Ralegaon sub-district of Yavatmal. Tiwari alleged in his SHRC complaint that the administration informed the Bombay High Court vide an affidavit that all Kolam tribals are covered under the Antyodaya Scheme for food security. “The ground reality is totally different. Nearly 50 percent of the Kolam tribals are denied foodgrain under the scheme, the grain supply remains irregular and the tribals don’t get rations for three months in a row while it is being diverted and siphoned off in the black markets,” he said. This and other issues, like denial of land rights, institutional credits and other welfare schemes which are diverted to others, has resulted in hundreds of Kolam tribals committing suicides. “Over that, they had to bear the brunt of Maharashtra Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse’s utterances in May 2015 that tribal farmers don’t commit suicide as they are ‘morally strong’, but the government had no solution to stop farmland suicides,” Tiwari rued. Way back in 2001, the state government made assurances of providing the Kolam tribals with houses, proper toilets and other facilities, but it is yet to materialise due to the apathy of the local district authorities, Tiwari added. (Business Standard 4/7/15)

96. 25 farmers committed suicide in Karnataka since June: CM (20)

Ballari: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah today said that twenty-five farmers have committed suicide in Karnataka since last month. Eight of the farmers were debt-ridden sugarcane growers while others committed suicide for different reasons, he told reporters here. Assuring the farmers that the government was with them, the Chief Minister appealed to not take such extreme step in future. Siddaramaiah also said the government would take action against private money lenders, who fleece the farmers. A spate of farmers’ suicides in recent weeks had brought the agrarian crisis, particularly relating to sugarcane growers, to the fore. The payment of dues to sugarcane farmers by mill owners had also rocked both the house of legislature, now in session at Belagavi. (Business Standard 5/7/15)

97. 2 Debt-ridden Farmers End Lives (20)

HASSAN/RAICHUR:  Two more farmers have ended their lives owing to debts in the state. Puttaswamy Gowda (53) of Haruvanahalli village in Channarayapatna taluk of Hassan died at the Adichunchanagiri Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS) in Bellur on Sunday night. He had recently consumed poison unable to repay debts. Gowda had borrowed Rs 2 lakh by pledging his land and was unable to repay it due to crop loss. Shravanabelagola police have registered a case. It may be recalled that 10 farmers have committed suicide in the past 10 days from across the district. In Raichur district, Basappa (40) from K Basapur village of Sindhanur taluk committed suicide owing to the debts on Monday. He hanged himself after his paddy crop failed. He had taken loans up to Rs 4 lakh from banks and was depressed as he could not repay them. He killed himself when his family members were not in the house. Sindhanur tahsildar Gangappa, DySP Shridhar Maliger and Circle Inspector Ramesh Rotti visited the spot. Sindhanur rural police have registered a case. Only four days ago, a farmer committed suicide at Durga Camp in Sindhanur taluk. (New Indian Express 7/7/15)

98. 37 Days, 38 Farmer Deaths, Lenders Face Heat (20)

BELAGAVI: The government has decided to set up enforcement cells in all districts and bring necessary amendments to the Karnataka Moneylenders Act, 1961, to keep a check on moneylenders. This move comes in the backdrop of increasing farmer suicides due to harassment by moneylenders. As of today, very few districts have enforcement cells and these will be strengthened. Announcing this in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday, Cooperation Minister H S Mahadeva Prasad said the government has decided to bring an amendment with more stringent laws to curb exploitation of farmers and the poor by moneylenders.Deputy commissioners and SPs in all the districts will be directed to strengthen task force committees, he said. Law Minister T B Jayachandra said the government is serious in bringing in regulations to check the exorbitant interest rates charged by moneylenders. He said the government would also look into reasons behind the rising incidents of farmer suicide. Opposition leader Jagadish Shettar pointed out that in one instance, seven farmers had committed suicide in one day. He urged the government to think of alternatives to arrest farmer suicides and suggested covering all the agriculture families under co-operative institutions. He expressed fear that further delay may lead to a spike in farmer suicides. S Ramesh Kumar (Congress) said the existing laws have enough provisions to act against moneylenders harassing street vendors, petty shop owners and the innocent poor. The Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) has decided to visit the families of the farmers who committed suicide to distribute cash compensation. While the quantum of compensation is yet to be finalised, KPCC plans to distribute Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh to the distressed families, according to sources. The government, however, is bound to pay a one-time cash compensation of Rs 1 lakh to families of farmers who commit suicide due to agrarian reasons. According to party sources, the initiative to reach out to these families has come from All-India Congress Committee (AICC) vice-president Rahul Gandhi and the party’s state unit has been asked to act on it speedily. Following the diktat, KPCC has sought data on farmer suicides in the state. It has already collected statistics from the Agriculture Department. Party sources said as per the records of the department, 31 farmers had ended their lives between April 1 and June 1 this year, unable to bear the burden of debt and other farming-related issues. Farmer suicides have been reported from Belagavi, Mandya, Chamarajnagar, Haveri, Kalaburagi, Bidar, Hassan, Tumakuru, Raichur and Chikkamagaluru districts. (New Indian Express 9/7/15)


99. Amendments unacceptable, says RSS outfit (4)

NEW DELHI: The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) scrutinising the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2015, has sought a week’s extension for presenting its report to Parliament. This was announced by its chairman S.S. Ahluwalia at the ninth meeting of the panel on Tuesday, which saw RSS outfit Swadeshi Jagran Manch express strong reservations to the amendments proposed by the government to the 2013 Land Act. In a major embarrassment to the National Democratic Alliance government, the SJM observed that the government showed “undue hurry’’ in replacing the 2013 Land Act with LARR (Amendment) Ordinance 2014 and described some of the official amendments as “detestable’’ and “unacceptable’’. Appearing before the Committee, SJM co-convenor Ashwini Mahajan emphasised that the consent and social impact assessment clauses could not be diluted and made it clear that the “problems in non-acquisition of land were not coming in the way of industrialisation.” He sought a land use policy that sets a judicious ceiling on land use for agriculture, forests and industry and said farmland should not be acquired for any other purpose in the interest of food security for the country. Acquisition of multi-crop land should be avoided. The SJM observations echoed the reservations expressed by farmers’ organisations making it obvious that the government remains on a sticky wicket on the issue and will find it difficult to get the amended Bill passed in Parliament with several Opposition parties having reservations. Speaking to The Hindu, a panel member said of the 50-odd organisations and individuals that have appeared before the 30-member committee in its nine sittings, at least 90 per cent have expressed opposition to the Bill. Asserting that social impact assessment of big projects on society, environment and economy was a well-established international practice, the SJM said violation of the norm as well as not seeking consent was “against natural justice’’ for those affected by proposed land acquisition. Consent of farmers should be obtained, government should not acquire for private entities and land use change must not be allowed. The All-India Kisan Sabha also opposed the Bill. Scientific and agriculture institutions including the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Pusa, and National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning, Nagpur, which also appeared before the panel, cautioned the government against using productive soil for industrial purposes which may jeopardise food security. Only, representatives of the industry body, FICCI, backed the major amendments, including doing away with clauses for consent and social impact assessment. It wanted no burden of rehabilitation of displaced people to fall on private purchasers of land. (The Hindu 1/7/15)

100, NDA allies express reservation against Land Bill (4)

New Delhi: NDA allies Shiv Sena, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Swabhimani Paksha have expressed reservations against the land bill proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Government. According to reports, the parties think that land is a priceless asset of the farmers and should not be acquired without consent. The bill proposes amendments to the Land Acquisition Act of 2013. It is currently with the Joint Committee of Parliament for detail discussion on the provisions of the controversial legislation, which is about to conclude its consultation process and consider it clause-by-clause next week. (Zee News 2/7/15)

101. Land acquisition worries Bhogapuram plot purchasers (4)

VISAKHAPATNAM: At a time when the proposed Greenfield International Airport at Bhogapuram was witnessing opposition from small and marginal farmers, purchasers of plots in the neighbourhood are confused about the fate of their investments. While some of the purchasers are worried if the state government would undertake any land acquisition, others are concerned whether there would be any restrictions on construction if their plots happen to be in the vicinity of the airport. According to realty sources, more than 30 residential plots are located in and around Bhogapuram with the price of plots ranging between Rs 3,800 to Rs 7,000 per square yard depending on the proximity of the land to the National Highway-16. “There is a lot of confusion among people about the areas, which will be taken over by the state government for development of the airport. While those who have already purchased the land are checking if their layouts fall under the limits of the proposed airport, others who were interested in purchasing land here are waiting for things to settle down so that their investments are safe,” said realtor Venu Mohan. A resident of Pedawaltair, M Kishore Kumar, said, “I was actually thinking of purchasing land near Bhogapuram, but finally due to high price I had to settle for a spot near Anandapuram.” However, Kumar is a relieved man as he doesn’t have to worry about the acquisition issue. “But one of my friends had purchased land near Bhogapuram and is now running around checking if his land falls under the airport plan or not.” Noting that investments closer to the highway are likely to be more beneficial for purchasers, marketing manager of real estate firm, K Prabhakar said, “The land closer to the highway near Bhogapuram is going at around Rs 6,000 to Rs 6,500 per square yard. The land price has almost doubled within the last one year close to the highway and people are still buying despite such high prices.” However, he said, “The plots available between 3 and 5 km from the highway are noticing a slight drop in conversions because of the airport acquisition issues.” Another real estate developer Rama Rao (name changed), said, “Usually purchasing land too close to the airport is not good as has been noticed in Bengaluru and Shamshabad. The land should be around 10 km away from the airport in order to get a good value for the plots. But, if the airport plan succeeds in the next 5-7 years, then the area will witness a good growth.” (Times of India 6/7/15)

102. Congress backs pro-farmer changes in NDA’s land bill (4)

New Delhi: Amid its bitter battle against the BJP on the land bill, the Congress has actually offered support to two key amendments to the contentious legislation. The amendments are pro-farmer and were brought by the NDA government through its land ordinance in December 2014. The principal opposition party, however, remain opposed to all other key provisions of the bill including the removal of the requirement of seeking the consent of affected families before acquisition for most projects. In its note to the parliamentary joint panel on land bill, the congress “approved” the provision for mandatory employment for farm labour whose land has been acquired.  The joint panel will submit its report to parliament on July 28. It also wants the amendment that provides higher compensation in acquisition for national highways, metro rail, atomic energy projects, defense establishments and electricity related projects. In the UPA’s land law, it offered enhanced compensation for certain purposes like setting up of industries. But kept land acquisition under 13 Central acts, which related to government projects, out of the purview of the law. This resulted in two categories of compensation. The NDA’s original ordinance last year abolished the two-tier system. Finance minister Arun Jaitley said it would allow a large section of famers and land losers to get enhanced compensation. This is the first time the Congress has supported, albeit partially, some changes in the NDA’s land ordinance. The stand of the Congress also indicates an admission that there are scopes of improvement in its own law. The proposal to create a special category of projects under section 10A that attracts exemption from the consent requirements, Social Impact Assessment and experts’ review, has also been opposed by the Congress in its note.  It also opposed to widening the definition of “private entities”, expansion of industrial corridors and the provision that defaulting officials cane be prosecuted only after government sanction. The Congress’  latest stand doesn’t brighten the prospect of the passage of the land bill as the party remains firmly committed to oppose all “pro-business” amendments. Last week, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi met e-entrepreneurs and told them he is not anti-industries but added that economic growth shouldn’t come at the cost of livelihood of poor and farmers. (Hindustan Times 8/7/15)


103. “Realistic health policy must to ensure healthcare to all” (3)

Theni: The Indian Medical Association, Cumbum Valley branch, has appealed to the government to roll out a realistic health policy with a view to providing overall benefits to the entire population of the country, and to increase the allocation for healthcare in the Union budget to at least 2.5 per cent of the GDP, keeping in mind the increasing treatment costs. A Central Act to protect doctors while on duty and medical establishments from public outrage is the need of the hour, according to N.R.T.R. Thiagarajan, honorary secretary, IMA Cumbum Valley branch. In a release issued here on Wednesday, he said that all doctors must devote 10 per cent of their time to community service. Expressing grave concern over high maternal mortality and infant mortality rates and the inability of the government in containing the spread of communicable diseases, he said that a new health policy and an increase in allocation of funds for healthcare were essential. IMA State president R.V.S. Surendran said that the right to health should be made a fundamental right. To achieve this, the government should strengthen healthcare delivery system and support private healthcare sector. Already the IMA had directed doctors to follow several practices in public interest, including devoting an hour in a week to promoting Swachch Bharat-Swasth Bharat Programme, providing concession to the elderly, working towards eradicating discrimination against girl child, offering special privileges to women delivering a girl child, performing free heart surgeries to poor girl children suffering from complex congenital heart diseases and adopting villages. (The Hindu 2/7/15)

104. K’taka reports highest number of maternal deaths in South India (3)

Bengaluru: Karnataka continues to report the highest number of deaths of expectant mothers in South India, though it boasts of achieving the millenium development goals for Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) and Infant Mortality Rate (IMR). While Kerala reports 61 maternal deaths per lakh, in Karnataka it is as high as 133. When it comes to IMR, the State reports the second highest number of infant deaths among Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Attribute this to the lack of human resource in rural areas and minimal awareness about the need for institutional delivery, opine experts. According to officials from the Department of Health and Family Welfare, the highest number of cases are reported from districts in North Karnataka such as Belagavi, Kalaburagi, Yadgir, Koppal and Raichur. Doctors blame anaemia and late referrals. Speaking to Deccan Herald, Dr Malini K V, member, Federation of Obstetric and Gynecological Societies of India said that late referrals, mostly due to the lack of awareness, lead to most of the complications and death. “Even as there are a lot of government schemes that attract women towards an institutional delivery, not all women come early. Some of them take medications in their hometown and come to hospitals only in the last moment,” she said. The government has been providing iron and folic acid supplementation to girls. However, anaemia continues to be the leading cause of death in pregnant women. “Just a week ago, we came across a patient with Haemoglobin (Hb) as low as 5 g while the ideal is 12 g,” Dr Malini said. Besides, she said it is essential for pregnant women to get their Hemoglobin levels checked at least four times in the nine months. “Pregnancy induced hypertension and gestational diabetes are also seen often and can only be addressed through regular follow-ups that most women do not come for,” she said…. (Deccan Herald 5/7/15)

105. Census presents grim figures on health, education (3)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: This bit of medical data will perhaps be a wake-up call to state planners when they consider allocating funds for treatment of mental ailments and geriatric care in the state. Kerala tops in the number of people with mental ailments in the country and the percentage is disconcertingly higher than the national average, the 2011 socio economic and caste census shows. There are 38,388 people afflicted with mental ailments of some or other forms in the state and they constitute around 0.14% of the population. The national average is just 0.08%.Similarly, the census data show that there are 50,429 people who are mentally handicapped, which is also above the national average. The national average is .08% of the population as against 0.14% in Kerala. The number of widowed people is also amongst the highest in the country, with around 14.75 lakh widowers of the 2.7 crore people surveyed. The state has the highest number of people who have lost their spouses. Experts say one of the reasons for the high percentage of widowers in Kerala could be the longer life expectancy in the state. The state economic review points out that the life expectancy of men is 68 years and women 73 years. “The population of the aged in Kerala is increasing at a rapid rate. Within two years, 2% of the population would be above 80 years. If the present trend persists, by 2030 Kerala’s older population (20%) will be more than its child population (18%). The protection and welfare of the aged will be a major challenge to the state,” the review notes…. (Times of India 6/7/15)

106. One in every 45 kids born here dies before first b’day (3)

NEW DELHI: Infant mortality rate (IMR) is one of the key health indicators of a state, but Delhi, despite being the hub of high-end medical services in India, continues to fare poorly on it compared with larger states like Kerala. The Economic Survey Report 2014-15 shows that 22 out of every 1,000 children born in Delhi in 2013 (the latest available data) died within a year of birth. That’s one in 45 children. In Kerala, the IMR was less than 12 per 1,000 births, or one in 83. The number of children dying within 29 days of birth in Delhi—called neonatal mortality rate (NMR)—was 15 per 1,000 births in 2013. Experts said conditions arising in the period immediately before and after birth cause the maximum infant deaths, followed by hypoxia, birth asphyxia and other respiratory conditions. “The government is promoting institutional childbirth but the infrastructure required for these remains poor. Many women go to private nursing homes for delivery where there is no facility for giving emergency care to the newborn if a situation arises,” said Dr Ajay Gambhir, president of National Neonatology Forum. He said the number of nurses is also not adequate. In the year 2001, Delhi’s IMR was 24 per 1,000 births. It reduced to 13 per 1,000 in 2004 and 2005 but has been on the rise ever since. Delhi’s NMR was 14 per 1,000 in 2001 and reduced to 9 per 1,000 in 2004 before increasing again. Dr Sidharth Ramji, who heads the neonatology unit at Lok Nayak Hospital, said public sector hospitals are overburdened and the private sector is unaffordable for most people. “The cost of ICU care for a newborn in most big hospitals is Rs 10,000-30,000 which the poor and lower-middle classes cannot afford. The government should add newborn care facilities in peripheral hospitals to take the burden off bigger hospitals,” he said. Dr Ramji added that none of the CATS ambulances run by the state have incubators which are a must to transport critically-ill newborns. Experts also stressed on the need to reduce infection in children’s wards and improving the nursing facilities so that attendants are not allowed in the emergency areas. (Times of India 9/7/15)


107. NHRC notice for denying treatment to an expecting mother on unconfirmed reports of HIV

New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that the general hospital at Sirsa in Haryana declared a pregnant woman, under their treatment for the last six months, as HIV positive and declined treatment to her when she was brought to the hospital following labour pain on the June24. The hospital staff humiliated her when the family members brought to their notice the fact that she had been getting pre-natal treatment at the same hospital for the last six months. Reportedly, the family was constrained to shifting her to a private hospital in the town on a motorcycle as the hospital, allegedly, did not provide an ambulance even against the payment. Subsequently, she delivered a male child at a private hospital which also declared that she was not HIV positive. The Commission has observed that the contents of the press report, if true, amount to serious violation of human rights of the victim. Accordingly, it has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Haryana calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks. According to the media report, Civil Surgeon, Sirsa has admitted that there was some blunder by the staff. The woman was brought to the hospital and somehow she tested positive in the Tridot Test. Even as her blood sample was being subjected to the ELISA Test for confirming the result, someone in the staff told her family that she tested positive for the HIV, which resulted in the chaos. (New Kerala 1/7/15)

108. Cuba first to end transfer of HIV from mom to kid (3)

Washington: Cuba has become the first country in the world to eliminate the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to baby, the WHO said, hailing the success as “one of the greatest public health achievements possible”. “This is a major victory in our long fight against HIV and sexually transmitted infections, and an important step towards having an AIDS-free generation,” said Dr Margaret Chan, World Health Organisation director-general. “Eliminating transmission of a virus is one of the greatest public health achievements possible.” “This is a celebration for Cuba and a celebration for children and families everywhere. It shows that ending the AIDS epidemic is possible and we expect Cuba to be the first of many countries coming forward to seek validation that they have ended their epidemics among children,” said the executive director of UNAIDS. Untreated, women with HIV have a 15-45 per cent chance of transmitting the virus to their children during pregnancy. That risk drops to just over 1 per cent if antiretroviral medicines are given to both mothers and children throughout the stages when infection can occur. (Asian Age 2/7/15)

109. NHRC notice to hospital for refusing treatment (3)

NEW DELHI: The Government General Hospital at Sirsa in Haryana recently declared a pregnant woman — under its treatment for the last six months — HIV positive and declined treatment to her when she was brought to the hospital following labour pains. The hospital staff reportedly humiliated the woman when her family members brought to their notice the fact that she had been getting pre-natal treatment at the same hospital for the last six months. The family was constrained to shift her to a private hospital in the town on a motorcycle on June 24, as the hospital allegedly did not provide an ambulance even against payment. Subsequently, she delivered a baby boy at the private hospital, which declared that she was not HIV positive. The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognisance of reports about the incident, while observing that it amounted to serious violation of human rights of the victim. It has issued a notice to the Haryana Chief Secretary calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks. According to reports, the civil surgeon in Sirsa has admitted that some blunder had been committed by the staff. The woman was brought to the hospital and somehow she tested positive in the Tridot test. Even as her blood sample was being subjected to the ELISA test for confirming the result, someone in the staff told her family that she tested positive for the HIV, which resulted in chaos. (The Hindu 5/7/15)

110. City Hospital Pays for Botched HIV-Positive Report (3)

CHENNAI: A city resident has been awarded compensation by the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, after a reputed private hospital wrongly certified him as HIV-positive and thus unfit for employment. This cost him an overseas job with a Japanese firm. Taking serious note of the hospital erroneously certifying R Mohanan of Tiruvanmiyur as HIV-positive without a more accurate follow-up test, the commission, headed by retired Justice R Regupathi, awarded him Rs 60,000 as compensation and cost. The incident happened in February 2007, when Mohanan approached the hospital in Adyar for the pre-employment medical check-up as mandated by the employer, Haneda Consultants and Agencies Private Ltd, for a road project in Algeria. After the tests, he was declared HIV-positive, and the medical report said “NOT FIT” in bold letters. Just a week later, he was informed that his job offer stood cancelled. Since the issue affected his family life, Mohanan and his wife opted for another check up, this time at the Voluntary Health Services, where both were declared HIV-negative. Following this, he again approached the hospital and underwent a detailed test. This time, much to his relief, the result was negative for both HIV-I and II. Armed with the two reports that said he was HIV-negative, Mohanan and his wife approached the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission with a complaint against the hospital, seeking Rs 30 lakh as compensation for negligence, damage to reputation and mental agony due to deficiency in service. The hospital argued that the Japanese company had made arrangements and payment only for rapid ELISA test, which has an element of error. There was an ‘advice’ in the report to undergo the more accurate Western Blot test, contended the hospital, faulting the petitioner for not following the advice. After hearing the contentions put forth by both parties, the commission rejected the hospital’s claim and said there was gross negligence and deficiency in service. (New Indian Express 6/7/15)

111.   109 blood banks in T found unsafe (3)

HYDERABAD: Lakhs of people in the city and the districts may have been receiving bad blood for years and exposing themselves to serious infections, experts said on Wednesday after the Drug Control Administration (DCA) found that 109 registered blood banks in the state have been flouting safety norms. In the course of inspection of 132 banks, DCA inspectors were shocked to find faulty storage of blood, absence of sterility testing within the blood bank premises, lack of medical and technical experts and even overpriced blood being sold to poor patients. In the absence of sterility testing mechanism, there is no way to establish that the blood bank is free from infections. “The work area is considered to be a highly sterile zone. If not, the blood could even be infected with HIV AIDS,” said a DCA official. Every blood bank needs to maintain proper staff to ensure there are no lacunae in the collection of blood. “If there are inadequately trained medical and technical staffers, the chances of things going awry are very high. All the blood banks need to work according to the drug and cosmetics act,” said a blood safety officer from the State Aids Control Society. These banks also indulged in making their work a profit-making model by hiking the price of blood, which again is a direct violation of the law as the blood must be given for free to Thalassaemia patients. “The different components of blood like plasma and platelets require different temperate zones to be preserved. But that was not available with these blood banks, making them vulnerable to infection,” another DCA official said, adding that the banks must maintain record of their sales and donors in order to identify potentially infected blood. The blood banks have been served notices. They would be given seven days to respond and correct the mistakes, following which the DCA would suspend their license and shut them down. (Times of India 9/7/15)


Posted by admin at 10 July 2015

Category: Uncategorized


1. Ambedkar statue damaged, Dalit outfits protest (2)

MADURAI: Tension prevailed at Avaniyapuram as a statue of B R Ambedkar was found with minor damages on Friday morning. The index finger and thumb of the right hand of the statue were broken. The spectacles, which were made of iron, was also damaged. The people who spotted the damages on Friday morning reported the matter to the police. Functionaries from various dalit outfits thronged the spot when the information reached them. They blocked the road for a few minutes and raised slogans demanding safety for the statue and the early arrest of the miscreants. A large number of police personnel were posted to prevent any untoward incident. Police said outfits like Aathi Tamizhar Peravai, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal, Puratchi Puligal and Tamizh Puligal gathered at Madurai Municipal Colony in Avaniyapuram. However, after the intervention of city police, they withdrew the blockade. Following the incident, protests were held in Melur and Tirumangalam. People belonging to different outfits raised slogans against the incident in front of the Madurai bench of the Madras high court. The city police said a case has been registered under the Tamil Nadu Public Property (Prevention of Damage and Loss) Act, and they were searching for the miscreants. Avaniyapuram police inspector Sethu Mani Mathavan said police have assured that the demands of the functionaries of the Dalit outfits will be fulfilled. Also, they have started to restore the statue, install CCTV camera and provide lights, he said. The Ambedkar statue, installed by the state government, was opened several years ago, when Kakkan was a minister of the state. Police said this was not the first instance of desecration of statues. Such incidents have taken at least three times place in the recent years. Police sources said there were 22 statues in Avaniyapuram police limit, of which 12 are Thevar statues, three are Ambedkar statues, five Marudhupandiar statues and one is a Periyar statue. (Times of India 20/6/15)

2. UP brothers, who cracked IIT, fought dalit stigma as much as poverty (2)

REHUA LALGANJ (Pratapgarh): It was not just straitened financial circumstances but also the villagers’ casteist mindset that the Saroj brothers fought along their way to achieving their IIT dream. Caste biases run so deep here that even as they returned home feted by chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Sunday, stones were thrown at their house. “There were five or six stones thrown at our home. We informed the police,” Raju Saroj told TOI. Otherwise, the brothers said, the villagers have become nice to them, especially since they shot to limelight after their incredible IIT success. It wasn’t always like this. The villagers would mock the Saroj brothers when they dared to study. They were told that as dalits, they need not study any further as they have no future. Even their drainage line was cut off a few weeks ago. But, the family today is being idolized by the same villagers.When Brijesh was applying to Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya for the first time, villagers had said he would never get through. As if that wasn’t enough, when his roll number appeared in the list of those selected, a neighbour tore up the newspaper and threw it away. They always pulled us back. There were no words of encouragement,” recalled Brijesh. When Raju applied a year later, 40 other children had applied as well. Only Raju made it. “The people then said our family has some ‘source’, that’s why we got admission,” said Raju, without a trace of resentment. “Navodaya was my turning point,” said Brijesh in crisp English. Before Navodaya, the boys were always pulled into the caste yolk. They were asked their caste by villagers, bus drivers and co-travellers. “People here are stuck in another century. They don’t want to move forward,” says Raju. “As my sons were studying in cities, villagers thought I had lots of money. They asked for my BPL card to be withdrawn,” said Dharmraj. But there were words of encouragement as well. “These two were the stars of our village from childhood as we knew that one day they will make their family and the entire village proud,” said Rakesh Jaiswal. He’d taken CPMT but could not make it. Hare Ram Yadav, principal, Vikas Uchchatar Madhyamik Vidyalaya, where the Saroj brothers had studied till class V, and who till a couple of days back had told Raju it would’ve been better had he had taken ITI, gave a different spiel on Sunday when TOI revisited the village. “When they were small, they used to tell me they wanted to become doctor and engineer and I only honed their skills,” he said. He tactfully concealed the fact that in 2005, one of the teachers had beaten young Brijesh when the 10-year-old had questioned his Sanskrit translation. Gulab Soni, their immediate neighbour, said, “We were sure of their achievements since they were kids.” As the celebrations were on, he merrily sipped soft drink offered by Raju’s elder. “Yeh log aapke saamne naatak karte hain. In logon ne hamara bathroom jaane ka rasta bhi band kara diya hai aur aaye din dhamki dete rahte hain” (these people are acting before you. They had even blocked the path I took for bathroom),” said Shiv Nath Saroj, the grandfather of the Saroj brothers. “They’ve stopped all the approach paths, barring one, for our house claiming that it was their own land. Had it not been thin lane, we could have not able to move out to go to the loo in the open,” he added with moist eyes. “We’ve been tormented for years as all of us have struggled against poverty and stigma to achieve what we are today. Had it not been TOI, this success story would not have been noticed,” said Munna Saroj, uncle of these boys. (Times of India 22/6/15)

3. Teacher’s dumb act ends Dalit girl’s education (2)

RAMANATHAPURAM: Children drop out of school for various reasons. For 15-year-old A. Muthulakshmi, a Dalit girl suffering from partial hearing loss, a malfunctioning hearing aid effectively ended her schooling. The teenager, hailing from a poor family in Peravoor, was in tears at the Collectorate here on Monday as she could not pursue her education after her teacher asked her to leave the school for the simple reason that she could not hear properly in the classroom. As her education came to an abrupt end, Muthulakshmi visited the Collectorate with her parents to request Collector K. Nanthakumar to provide her a sewing machine to supplement family income. However, officials turned her away saying she was still a child. Muthulakshmi was a normal child till the age of 11 when she suffered partial hearing loss. She was studying at Peravoorani Government High School and continued her studies with the help of hearing aid. In 2014-15, when she was in Class X, water seeped into her hearing aid and stopped working. Her class teacher pulled her up for not being attentive and sharp like other students. When she explained her difficulty, the teacher, instead of helping her to buy a new hearing aid, asked her to leave the school. “I cried before the teacher asking her not to send me out of school. But, she stood firm and I was soon given a transfer certificate,” Muthulakshmi told reporters. Her father K. Azhagan, a sanitary worker at the Peravoor Panchayat Union, said that he had also pleaded with the teacher to allow his daughter complete at least Class X, but in vain. With no other option, Muthulakshmi joined ‘Sigaram Vattara Kalainjiam’ and underwent a three-month cutting and stitching course in tailoring. “I am scared of being humiliated,” said Muthulakshmi when asked whether she would go back to school if she gets a new hearing aid. (The Hindu 23/6/15)

4. Dalit priest’s suicide: Tamil Nadu minister Panneerselvam’s brother gets bail (2)

MADURAI: A sessions court in Theni on Wednesday granted bail to O Raja, brother of Tamil Nadu finance minister O Panneerselvam, in a case relating to the suicide of a dalit priest. The Madurai bench of the Madras high court on June 11 directed Raja to surrender before the sessions court within three weeks and file a bail application. The high court also directed the court to pass orders on Raja’s petition on merits. Accordingly, Raja surrendered before the court on Wednesday. Later, when his case was called for, he filed a petition seeking bail. (Times of India 24/6/15)

5. 100 dalit Christians re-convert to Hinduism in Gorakhpur (26)

Lucknow: After several months, Uttar Pradesh had the first instance of “ghar vapsi” when saffron outfits in Gorakhpur re-converted nearly 100 Dalits from Christianity to Hinduism. Reports said members of Hindu Yuva Vahini, the outfit belonging to Gorakhpur BJP MP Mahant Adityanath, held a special ceremony at the Dalit hamlet of Mohaddipur in the town on Wednesday evening in which around 100 Christian Dalits were welcomed to Hinduism. Vahini activists had earlier rounded up four Christian priests and nuns, who they alleged “lured” poor Dalits into their faith. “Every family (embracing Christianity) were promised cash and a house,” Vahini’s state general secretary Ram Bhual Kushwaha alleged. Saffron activists handed the priests and nuns to the local police demanding stern action against them, but the police released them later since they did not find materials encouraging conversion in their possession. The outfit vowed to bring back everyone “lured” into conversion from Hinduism. “Our workers are keeping a close watch on conversion activities,” Kushwaha said. Hindu Yuva Vahini is active in Gorakhpur, Deoria, Kushinagar, Sant Kabir Nagar and other districts. Police in Gorakhpur said security personnel have been kept in full strength in the locality as a precautionary measure. Saffron outfits launched a state-wide “ghar vapsi” programme to welcome converts from Hinduism back to their ‘home faith’. Re-conversion programmes across the state triggered a strong reaction from Christian and Muslim communities. (Deccan Herald 26/6/15)

6. Dalit woman gang-raped in Bhojpur, 3 held (2)

ARA: A newly married Mahadalit woman was gang-raped by four men on the outskirts of Karisath village in Bhojpur district around Saturday midnight. Taking swift action, police on Sunday arrested three persons in this connection. The three have been identified as Indu Dom and Jaiky Dom of Town police station area, and Bhola Ram of Maula Bagh locality under the same police station area. They were later sent to jail. Police brought the woman to Ara sadar hospital for medical examination. Police are searching for two others involved in the incident. According to the complaint lodged with woman police station here, Reena Kharwar (name changed), a resident of Bihia in the district, got down from a passenger train at Jagjivan Halt, about 4km from Ara railway station, late on Saturday evening and reached Chandwa under Nawada police station area. Five persons were following her en route Chandwa, who forcibly took her to a field near Karisath village and four of them outraged her modesty one by one, the complaint said.The woman reached Ara in the wee hours of Sunday and narrated her ordeal to a mobile police party, which took her to Nawada police station. SDPO Binod Kumar Raut said the woman got down from a train at Jagjivan halt and reached Chandwa on foot. “The five miscreants followed her. Seeing them, the woman complained to a mobile police team there that the miscreants were chasing her. The police team shooed away the miscreants and hired a three-wheeler to take her to Karisath. After the police team left the place, the miscreants forcibly boarded the same three-wheeler, took her to Karisath and gang-raped her in a field,” he said. The accused, however, said all of them, including the woman, are luggage-lifters. The woman had snatched a chain from a passenger and they were demanding their share in the booty but she refused and instead implicated them in the false case of rape, they said. (Times of India 29/6/15)


7. Tribes denied right to collect forest produce (6)

Palakkad: The Forest Department’s refusal to renew the annual licence of 27 cooperative societies under the Kerala State Development Corporation for SC/ST Communities (KSDCSSC) to collect minor forest produce (MFP) has put to difficulty a large number of tribal beneficiaries in areas such as Attappady, Idukki, and Wayanad. The annual licence of the societies expired on March 31. Since then, the Forest Department has not allowed tribespeople to enter forest areas to collect 147 MFP, including honey and broom grass. The traditional right of Adivasis to collect the produce is recognised under the Forest Rights Act. According to Forest Department sources, the State government has delayed the process of renewing the licence on the basis of certain proposals to hand over the rights to Forest Development Committees (FDCs). The FDCs are constituted by the department, but have meagre representation of tribespeople. If implemented, the majority of tribal beneficiaries would be denied the right to earn a steady income. The two cooperatives in Attappady have 4,600 tribal beneficiaries; most of them belong to the backward Kurumba community. “Renewing the licence is an annual affair normally involving no complications. The Chief Conservator of Forests issues the order and each society should sign a direct contract with the Divisional Forest Officer concerned. But no such process has taken place in the last three months, and this is the right time to collect honey in abundance,” says P.V. Santhosh, who works at a society at Sholayur in Attappady. (The Hindu 21/6/15)

8. Tribal Woman Gang-raped in Bengal, Four Arrested (6)

KOLKATA: A tribal woman was allegedly gang-raped after being abducted from a marriage party in West Bengal’s Birbhum district, police said on Sunday. Four people have been arrested in this connection. The incident happened Friday night in Tantipara of the district, some 180 km from Kolkata. Following a complaint by the victim, police on Saturday night arrested four people. According to the complaint, about six to eight people abducted the woman who had come to attend a marriage in the village and took turns to rape her. “We have arrested four people in this connection. The accused today (Sunday) were presented before a court which sent them to nine days’ police custody,” said Additional Superintendent of Police Ananda Roy. (New Indian Express 22/6/15)

9. Tribal people and forest staff clash in Yellendu mandal (6)

KHAMMAM: Tension gripped Bojjaigudem village in Yellendu mandal on Monday when a section of local tribal people put up stiff resistance to the attempts by the Forest Department staff to dig up trenches in forest land at the village. According to sources, a group of villagers mainly comprising tribal women squatted in front of an excavator brought by the Forest Department staff to demarcate the forest land for the purpose of digging contour trenches as part of plantation drive. The situation turned tense with the protesters preventing the staff from proceeding ahead claiming right over the land citing some pattas reportedly issued by the Revenue Department staff in the past. The Forest Department staff claimed that the land falls under the limits of the reserve forest area. However, the staff, accompanied by the local police, reportedly made a vain bid to carry out their task, resulting in tension in the village. Amid widespread protests by the local villagers, the police dispersed the protesters. Meanwhile, in a statement CPI (ML-ND) district secretary P Ranga Rao alleged that the staff concerned behaved in a highhanded manner with the agitating tribal women at Bojjaigudem. (The Hindu 23/6/15)

10. Tribesmen to Intensify Fight for Rights (6)

KOCHI: Issuing a stern warning to the State Government for allegedly going slow on the Cabinet decisions taken after the recent ‘Nilpu Samaram’ (standing protest), a convention of the Janajagruti Samiti and the Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha (AGMS) on Wednesday decided to adopt a multi-pronged approach to press the authorities to deliver. “Even after six months, the government has not taken any concrete step to implement the Cabinet decisions taken on December 17, 2014, on the demands raised at the Nilpu Samaram,” said AGMS leader C K Janu. “There are no practical difficulties in implementing the decisions. Instead of allocating land to the tribesmen under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), the government is trying to subvert it. We are continuing the fight peacefully. But, don’t push us to the extreme,” she said. (New Indian Express 25/6/15)

11. HC order on property gives tribal women shot in the arm (6)

SHIMLA: With intervention of the high court, tribal women in Himachal Pradesh would finally get the right over ancestral property. For the past around two decades, tribal women in Kinnaur district were struggling to change the draconian law which deprived them from staking claim on ancestral property. But now, the high court has ordered that “daughters in the tribal areas of Himachal Pradesh shall inherit property in accordance with Hindu Succession Act, 1956 and not as per customs and usages” in order to prevent the women from social injustice and prevention of all forms of exploitation. The customary law that debars women from right to inherit property is recorded in “Wazibul Arz”, a document of survey done at the time of settlement during the early 20th century. With this order, tribal women have received a shot in the arm otherwise women in Kinnaur had decided to discuss issue of property right in the July 6 gram sabha meetings. “Court order would help in restoring honour of tribal women,” said Ratan Manjri, 62, of Ribba village of Kinnaur district, who was the first to raise her voice against the draconian law. “I was not aware that the high court is hearing a case that would change the fate of tribal women. Our organization Mahila Kalyan Parishad had written letters to all gram panchayats to discuss the issue on July 6 but now, following court orders, we would discuss how the decision would be implemented,” she added. In the entire tribal district, Manjri was the lone women who had inherited the ancestral property, despite having a brother, after her mother wrote the entire agricultural land in her name at Ribba village. She said that tribal laws allow only male members right to inherit ancestral property while women were kept out of revenue records as inheritors. As chairperson of Mahila Kalyan Parishad, a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Reckong Peo, Ratan Manjri was spearheading the movement against discriminatory age-old law in Kinnaur. The success for this campaign could be gauged from the fact that over 21,000 women had put their signatures to amend the law. “If a tribal woman is single and her parents leaves behind property then as per customary law she was not eligible to inherit the same and property goes into the hands of other male relatives leaving the woman pauper throughout her life. But now things would change for the better following the court order,” she added. Tashi Palki from Lahaul-Spiti said that in earlier times, the family values were high but now if a woman is deserted or is widowed, she loses respect in the family and is often abandoned to live at the mercy of God. “It’s because she does not have anything in hand. If she is given the right to inherit property, she can actually live with dignity on her own,” she added. While disposing of a case of Rasalu belonging to Gaddi tribe, Justice Rajiv Sharma gave the landmark judgment which has brought smiles on faces of thousands of tribal women residing in Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti, Pangi-Bharmaur regions of Chamba district. The court said that laws must evolve with times if societies are to progress. “It is made clear by way of abandoned precaution that the observations made hereinabove only pertain to right to inherit property by the daughters under the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 and not any other privileges enjoined by the tribal in tribal areas,” court added. (Times of India 28/6/15)


12. Woman allegedly branded with hot iron for dowry (8)

Tumakuru: A case was registered in Saturday afternoon that a 28-year-old married woman was allegedly branded with a hot iron rod in a village in Madhugiri taluk in the district by her mother-in-law and sister-in-law for dowry. Though the incident took place on June 1, the woman told her parents about the incident on June 17, when she went their house in Nelamangala taluk in Bengaluru Rural district. She was taken to a hospital for treatment. Subsequently on Saturday, her parents filed a complaint at Midigeshi police station. The woman was married to Nagaraj, who belonged to a village in Madhugiri taluk, two years ago. The couple have a daughter. Nagaraj had married her after divorcing his first wife. Her mother-in-law, Hanumakka, and sister-in-law, Thammakka, allegedly branded her with hot iron rod on June 1 demanding dowry. Deputy Director of Women and Child Welfare Nanjegowda told The Hindu, “I have directed the staff of Santhvana Kendra to meet her and if she needs we will also provide her accommodation.” All support from the department would be extended to the woman to pursue her case, she added. (The Hindu 20/6/15)

13. DCW calls for inquiry into Stephen’s sexual harassment (8)

NEW DELHI: Calling the alleged sexual harassment case at St. Stephen’s College, “shameful” for the reputation of the institution, the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) has called for a through probe into the matter. DCW chairperson Barkha Shukla Singh on Saturday said, “The matter should be investigated and those who are found guilty should face action.” An FIR under Section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) was registered against Satish Kumar, an assistant professor at St. Stephen’s chemistry department, after a PhD student filed a complaint against him. The student, who is doing her PhD under Mr. Kumar, has also alleged that college principal Valson Thampu tried to protect him when the matter was reported to the college authorities. Though Mr. Thampu confirmed the fact that the victim had raised the matter with him, he denied allegations of trying to protect Mr. Kumar. The college also issued a statement saying, “Such a complaint was duly and promptly forwarded by the principal to the internal complaints committee, and an inquiry is under way.” The Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) and the Association of Old Stephanians have also condemned the incident. “Mr. Thampu’s tenure as principal is replete with instances of illegalities and misdemeanours. We demand that he immediately step down, failing which the Supreme Council should sack him. We also demand that Dinesh Singh, Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University, initiate an inquiry in the present case and all the past sexual harassment cases at the college immediately,” a statement by the Association of Old Stephanians said. (The Hindu 21/6/15)

14. Men outnumber women in media in India, Pakistan (8)

Bangkok: Although the presence of women in media has more than doubled in two decades, they constitute only 28.6 percent of the media workforce in Asia and the Pacific. These are some of the findings of a new study, “Inside the News: Challenges and Aspirations of Women Journalists in Asia and the Pacific”, launched by UNESCO, and the UN Women and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). It was released here on Monday. Only two regions in the world, Eastern Europe and Nordic Europe, have crossed “one-third Rubicon” occupying 33 percent or more of the top management and governance jobs in the media. Asia and the Pacific are located at the other end of the scale with “women occupying only about a fifth of governance positions and holding less than 10 percent of top management jobs”.It is not just in numbers but also in salaries that women are adversely affected. “There is a clear gender pay gap, with women on average earning USD 436 per month, compared with men earning USD 506 per month,” the report says. Cambodia and Pakistan had the widest gender pay-gap with men earning much higher salaries. Pakistan, the report says, has one of the worst gender imbalances evidenced in the research in terms of the gender pay gap. The report states that sexual harassment remains a key issue in media workplaces with 34 percent of journalists in Asia and the Pacific saying they witnessed sexual harassment at work. At least 17 percent of female journalists have personally experienced workplace sexual harassment, and 59 percent of the time it is a superior who is the perpetrator. The report, which analysed the media in seven countries in Asia and the Pacific, reported that Sri Lanka and Malaysia had the highest incidence of sexual harassment among respondents at 27.7 percent and 20.6 percent respectively. Further, nearly half of all respondents (42.5 percent) said there was no official complaints cell or anti-sexual harassment policy in their workplace. In its analysis of the Indian media scene, the report remarks that the country has a well-established media and its strong media landscape was full of women journalists. “Yet while the advantage of class, caste and higher education has seen some women climb to the top rungs of the profession, the majority of women journalists today are still concentrated on the middle and lower rungs of the profession.” Sexual harassment remains a critical issue for the industry, the report adds. In Pakistan, the report says, despite a vibrant media industry, “the media and its unions remain extremely male-dominated with women coming up against ‘glass ceilings’ and slowed down by ‘sticky floors’, evidenced in the lack of women in decision-making roles”.Nevertheless, women within the industry are strong and defiant, and are regularly challenging this status quo on gender rights issues and sexual harassment. In terms of portrayal of women in the media, in South Asia, respondents felt women were most commonly depicted as ‘victims’, whereas in South East Asia and the Pacific respondents felt women were most commonly depicted as ‘family figures’. Three case studies from India form a part of the report. The story of Tongam Rina, Associate Editor of the Arunachal Times, who, in 2014, became the first Indian journalist to be honoured by Reporters Without Borders among “100 information heroes”, figures in the report. The role of Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) and Women’s Feature Service (WFS) are the other two featured case studies. (New Kerala 23/6/15)

15. The Missing Girls of Maharashtra & Gujarat (8)

NEW DELHI: There is a shortfall of 73 percent and 55 percent in inspections of sonography centres in the western states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, two of IndiaÂ’s richest. The child sex-ratio (number of girls under six years per 1,000 boys) in the states are among the lowest in India, especially in backward districts, such as Beed in MaharashtraÂ’s Marathwada region (807) and Surat district (831) in Gujarat. The national average is 914. Verdicts have been pronounced in 23 cases of 603 reported cases of child marriage in Maharashtra with 580 cases pending for 2013-14. No one has been convicted in Gujarat under the prohibition of Child Marriage Act, although 659 cases are registered. A wealth of laws and programmes instituted to protect girls are failing them in IndiaÂ’s two most economically-developed states, Maharashtra and Gujarat, according to recent reports by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG). Both states are failing to implement the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PC & PNT), which prohibits sex selection, before or after conception, and regulates diagnostic techniques to prevent misuse for sex determination used in female foeticide…. (New Indian Express 24/6/15)

16. Delhi budget: Steps to make women secure (8)

NEW DELHI: Women’s security, in addition to empowerment initiatives, got a prime space in the budget with the government proposing CCTV cameras and deployment of marshals in DTC and cluster buses. Delhi government has also made it mandatory for all public transport vehicles, including taxis and autos, to install GPS. The government has proposed a fund of Rs 160 crore for this initiative. Deputy CM Manish Sisodia said, “A pilot scheme for installation of CCTV cameras in 200 DTC buses has already been launched.” This will not only check incidents of eve-teasing and violence against women, but also instill confi dence among them to use public transport. “It will be compulsory for drivers and conductors of all public vehicles to attend the gender sensitization programme at the time of annual renewal of their vehicles roadworthiness inspection,” Sisodia said. Empowerment initiatives include the Education Credit Guarantee Scheme in which female students are exempted from furnishing collateral for availing education loan and interest rates are lower. The government also plans 300 creche facilities in slums and JJ clusters under the Integrated Child Development Scheme. Nearly 1,200 children living in government-run homes/ institutions will be provided vocational training in collaboration with National Skill Development Council. (Times of India 26/6/15)

17. Cabinet may give nod for more teeth to NCW next week (8)

NEW DELHI: The National Commission for Women (NCW), charged with protecting women rights, could soon be granted powers of a civil court to investigate, summon and penalize. The bill could be taken up by the Union Cabinet next week with the women and child development (WCD) ministry keen on bringing the legislation in the monsoon session of Parliament. The amended bill excludes two significant changes that have diluted the proposed legislation. The ministry headed by Maneka Gandhi had proposed that the chairperson should be a retired judge and the commission should have the power to arrest, similar to powers given to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). In the present bill, the chairperson can be a person of eminence as well and powers of arrest have not been given to the commission. “The bill could be taken up by the Union Cabinet next week. We hope to table it in the monsoon session,” a ministry source said. The bill to give more powers to the NCW was cleared by a group of ministers headed by finance minister Arun Jaitley in April this year. According to the present bill, the commission can investigate, summon and penalize to enforce attendance in order to provide rights for disenfranchised women. The commission will have all powers of a civil court trying a suit while investigating any matter, and in particular in respect of matters like summoning and enforcing the attendance and examining on oath, discovery and production of any document, receiving evidence on affidavits, requisitioning any record from any court or office. Every proceeding before the commission shall be deemed to be a judicial proceeding within the meaning of Sections 193 and 228 and for the purpose of Section 196 of the IPC, according to the amendments.The commission can also utilize services of any officer or investigation agency of the Centre or state governments for the purpose of investigation. Its main functions will be to investigate and examine all matters relating to the safeguards provided to women under the Constitution and other laws and review the existing laws and suggest amendments or remedial legislative measures. As per the proposed amendments, the commission will be vested with the power to impose a fine of Rs 100 per day subject to a maximum of Rs 5,000 on a person who fails to produce any document or appear before it without sufficient reason. The fine can be recovered as if it were arrears of land revenue. According to sources WCD wanted an additional director general/inspector general officer on the board of NCW as a member which the law ministry has opposed suggesting senior IPS officer on the board may prove to be counter-productive as he may influence investigation in fields where SPs are his service juniors. Now, the provision of having additional DG/IG as NCW member has been dropped. Another provision added is that filing of Action Taken Reports (ATRs) to NCW has been made mandatory. A statutory provision will be inserted in the Act where action taken by the states or departments concerned will be made mandatory to be reported to the NCW. These clauses will give statutory backing to NCW for getting government departments and others to report back on its queries. (Times of India 28/6/15)


18. Over 8,000 children work in Delhi’s garment sector (14)

NEW DELHI: More than 8,000 children including 70 per cent girls are engaged in child labour in the garment sector in Delhi, a recent study has found out. The study ‘Hidden Workforce’ conducted by the non-profit organisation, Save the Children, was launched by the Delhi Government’s Women and Child Development and Social Welfare Department on Friday. The report found out that a significantly higher number of children were engaged in household-level work with 87 per cent children working in home settings and only 13 per cent worked in Addas (household-based units where unrelated adults and children work together). Due to this, despite the reported reduction in overall child labour over the past decade, there has been a comparative growth of child labour in the informal sector. Minister for Women and Child Development and Social Welfare, Delhi government, Sandeep Kumar said: “It is perturbing and shameful that children’s engagement in informal labour, including in the garment industry — which has also contributed to the rising rate of school drop-outs — continues to be a sad reality in the national Capital.” “There is an urgent need to tackle the situation and we can achieve this if the social organisations work in co-ordination with the government. Our government is working on a scheme to eradicate child labour and we aim to achieve it within the next five years,” he added. According to the report, child labour in the garment industry is one of the rapidly growing unorganised workforces in cities like Delhi, owing to sub-contracting and outsourcing of work. (The Hindu 21/6/15)

19. Survey finds child beggars in comfort zone (14)

CHANDIGARH: With a pick-and-drop service in place, income of Rs 300 (approximately) a day and no burden of studies, child beggars in the city hate the idea of a better life. This is what a survey conducted by students of Panjab University under their internship programme with Chandigarh Commission for Protection of Child rights, has found out. Students were divided into five teams, “Team 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5″. They found that in every 10 sectors there were 100 to 150 child beggars. Most of them said they had no parents and lived with relatives. They claimed that they went to school but begged in the evening. With vacations now under way, they resorted to the practice full time, the survey stated, adding that depending on the day, the beggars shifted to different sites. For instance, on first Ramzan, all of them gathered outside mosques. The survey further claimed child beggars had their special pick-and-drop services. “In Industrial Area, we found beggars living in Hallomajra and every morning and evening being dropped and picked. This hints towards a racket,” said Ginny Mahajan, one of the team leaders. The students also rescued some beggars who needed urgent help. One of them was a girl missing from Moradabad. “We found her begging in Furniture Market. She said she lived with her aunt. When we cross-questioned the two, we found the answers didn’t match. We called the police and the child rights commission. It was then found that she was missing from Moradabad and her father’s brother had dumped her in Chandigarh,” said Yudhvir Singh, one of the team leaders. One of the teams also called the child helpline and informed about child labourers working in dhabas in sectors 7 and 27. All the students belonged to different departments of PU. (Times of India 23/6/15)

20. 25 children rescued (14)

NEW DELHI: In a major operation, the Office of South Delhi District Magistrate on Wednesday rescued 25 children from Yusuf Sarai Market and Gautam Nagar area. Officials said the rescue operation led by SDM Hauz Khas was carried out after DM South Niharika Rai received information about the children working in production units and shopping arcades. Officials said various shops and temporary structures were sealed during the raid where children were found to be working in deplorable conditions. “Twenty five children in all have been rescued and have been taken for medical examination. Strict action is being taken against the offenders under Child Labour Act, Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 Juveniles Justice (Core & Protection of Children) Act and Rules there under,” Ms Rai said. (The Hindu 25/6/15)

21. “Child labour increased by 53 per cent in urban India” (14)

KOLKATA: At a time when Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi has supported the controversial amendment to the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act which allows children under 14 years of age to work in family-run enterprises, a recently-concluded analysis by Child Rights and You (CRY) revealed that there has been a significant increase in working children in the age group of 5-9 years. Compiling data from the 2001 and 2011 census, the report states that in urban areas while the number of working girls rose by 240 per cent, it increased by 154 per cent for working boys. Overall, there has been a 53 per cent increase in child labour in urban India, while there is a drop of about 29 per cent in rural areas. “Society is largely to blame for the increase in working children in urban areas as most of the children work as domestic helps,” chairperson of the West Bengal State Commission of Protection of Child Rights Ashokendu Sengupta told The Hindu . “This increase in urban child labour could be attributed to increased migration, including seasonal migration for employment as well as trafficking of unaccompanied minors,” director, policy and research, CRY, Komal Ganotra said. (The Hindu 26/6/15)

22. Child rights panel to probe girl’s rape case (14)

Ludhiana: Punjab State Commission for Protection of Child Rights will supervise the probe of a 14-year-oldgirl, who fell in the trapof a child traffickinggang and was later raped by two persons. In the meantime, Division No. 7 police have also registered a case of rape under Section 376 of the IPC against unidentified persons and started the investigation. President of NGO Swami Vivekananda Manch Mohit Sood along with BJP leader Gurdeep Singh today met Punjab State Commission for Protection of Child Rights chairman Sukesh Kalia demanding fair probe in the matter. (The Tribune 28/6/15)


23. Protect Rights of Minorities Under RTE Act: Tribal Leader (7)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A joint committee has been formed to chart out programmes against the Supreme Court verdict that excludes aided or minority schools from the purview of the Right to Education (RTE) Act. Mariyappan, a noted tribal leader, inaugurated the meeting convened to discuss the issue.The representatives of the committee pointed out that with this directive, the state now has no legal recourse to protect the educational rights of the children. “This will have far-fetched ramifications as the state has many educational institutions belonging to minority groups. The rule will also negate the rights of many students belonging to the marginalised community,” they said. They representatives added that they will also hold a massive protest march with the coordination of tribal groups across the state. RIGHTS executive director V B Ajaykumar presented the topics. (New Indian Express 23/6/15)

24. Saffronisation of education: Madurai HC notice to MHRD (7)

MADURAI: The Madurai bench of the Madras high court on Thursday ordered notice on a public interest litigation, which sought a direction to district collectors not to interfere in the rights of minorities. Madurai-based advocate and Puthiya Tamilagam state youth wing secretary S Baskar Mathuram has filed the petition. He said the management of a private school in Palakarai in Trichy forced 150 Muslim students who were on the Ramadan fasting, to consume ‘Nilavembu Kasayam’ (herbal concoction used to cure dengue fever) on June 22. In another incident, the AVC College in Thanjavur allegedly forced the Muslim girls to remove their burqas and wear other dresses, he said. Opposing the two incidents, parents and members belonging to concerned local Jamath staged protests in both the places following which the police rushed to the spot and pacified them, he said. “The activities are nothing but a clandestine move by the ministry of human resource and development (MHRD) in saffronising the education department,” he charged. He also said the de-recognition of Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle at IIT-Chennai, making yoga compulsory in all central government educational institutions, distortion of history books, are examples of saffronisation of education. When the matter came up for admission, the division bench ordered notices to the MHRD secretary, state’s chief secretary and director general of police and adjourned the matter. The petitioner said the management of a private school in Palakarai in Trichy forced 150 Muslim students who were on the Ramadan fasting, to consume ‘Nilavembu Kasayam’ (herbal concoction used to cure dengue fever) on June 22. (Times of India 26/6/15)

25. Minorities can self-attest community certificates to get benefits of govt schemes (7)

New Delhi: People belonging to minority communities will no longer have to secure certificates from officials to avail of benefits of welfare schemes, with the government making it clear that self-attestation was enough. “In this context, it is informed that minority certificate is not mandatory for getting the benefits of welfare schemes being implemented by the ministry,” the Ministry of Minority Affairs has said in a recent communication to the states. The government has notified six communities as minorities — Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis and Jains.The latter’s inclusion was notified in January last year. The removal of requirement of minority certificates is in keeping with the government’s decision to accept self-attestation across all departments and educational institutes. The development came after the ministry received several representations from people belonging to minority communities, especially Jains, complaining about not being able to avail of benefits extended to them in the absence of certificates testifying to their communities from the concerned state government authorities. The ministry had last year done away with the requirement of submission of affidavits towards community certificate and income certificate under pre-matric, post-matric and merit-cum-means based scholarship schemes for students belonging to the notified communities. It had stated that for community certificate, self certification by the student is sufficient. The decision also comes in wake of the ministry launching programmes for raising the socio-economic profile of the minorities. These include the USTAAD programme for capacity building and updating the traditional skills of master craftsmen and artisans who in turn will train the minority youths in various traditional arts and craft. The ministry is also in the process of launching a programme called ‘Nai Manzil’ which seeks to bridge the knowledge gap of students passing out of Madrasas and facilitating their admission into mainstream schools and colleges. (Indian Express 29/6/15)


26. On International Yoga Day, Muslims resist, embrace occasion (7)

NEW DELHI: Even as the nation set new records on the first International Yoga Day on Sunday, there were mixed reports of participation by Muslims in yoga celebrations across India. Muslims mostly chose to stay away from the events in West Bengal, Jabalpur and Ujjain. However in Kerala’s Malappuram district, Bhopal, Nagpur and Hyderabad, they enthusiastically participated in yoga programmes. Politically volatile Hyderabad turned into a huge yoga ground with politicians joining hands with denizens to be part of the world’s first International Yoga Day celebrations. In the Old City, yoga enthusiasts also assembled before the historic Charminar to perform Surya Namaskar before the break of dawn. The universal appeal of yoga saw the participation of Urdu schools in Nagpur despite the longest Ramazan fasting period in three decades. Zaffar Khan, president of Urdu Schools Headmasters Association, said, “We stopped eating food at 4.05 am today and won’t be having another morsel till 7 pm. Every day the fasting period is almost 15 hours but that was no reason for skipping Yoga. My staff members too joined in and in our school campus we did Yoga exercises.” Defying stiff opposition from religious outfits, hundreds of Muslims, especially youth joined yoga celebrations all over Malappuram district. Inaugurating the the Pukayur yoga session, Muslim League MLA KNA Khader attacked yoga opponents in his inaugural speech terming them ignorant about the relevance of yoga. Another Muslim League MLA P Ubaidulla inaugurated the yoga session organised by Nehru Yuva Kendra with around 500 participants. At the Aligarh Club, it was yoga with a difference – in place of the mats, participants just jumped into a pool! “International Yoga Day was a good excuse to do something different. We picked ‘water yoga’ and we intend to make it a regular part of our fitness regimen. Water yoga also has a special appeal for being so novel,” said Javed Mahmood, coach at Aligarh Club, who has been a state-level swimming champion. In Mumbai, activist Firoz Mithiborewala said that he did yoga. “Instead of uttering Om, I took the name of Allah. There was no surya namaskar and I did it comfortably. I saw a sense of bonding and solidarity among the practitioners. It was a moment of pride when so many people did yoga, a form of exercise which originated in India. I am glad I was part of the historic even,” said Mithiborewala. In Bhopal, Syed Rubab Fatima, 47, who has been practising yoga since 2000, led the international yoga day celebrations at the sprawling Lal Parade Grounds, sharing the dais with chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. A devout Muslim, she offers namaz five times a day and also does surya namaskar, breathing in with the name of Allah…. (Times of India 22/6/15)

27. VHP, Muslim personal law board spar over Yoga Day (7)

NEW DELHI/LUCKNOW: The hotheads of All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) got into a sharp altercation on Tuesday with Sadhvi Prachi reacting acerbically to the Muslim body’s charge that the Union government had selected June 21 for the International Yoga Day as it is RSS founder Keshavram Baliram Hedgewar’s death anniversary. “They should connect themselves with the traditions of India, the culture of India… there’s no need for any objection. If they are objecting, then they should go to Pakistan. People who are objecting to it have no right to reside in India,” the sadhvi said when asked to react to AIMPLB’s opposition to Yoga Day.On Monday, AIMPLB’s executive member Maulana Ather Ali had called the Yoga Day a conspiracy to enforce “Brahmin dharma and Vedic culture” all over the country, with the board writing to its members and asking all Muslim organizations to close ranks against the “Hindutva forces”.For the first time, the board asked its members to engage clerics who deliver Friday sermons to object to ‘Surya Namaskar’ and yoga as these don’t comply with Muslim religious beliefs.”India’s pluralistic ethos is under assault from Hindutva forces. We’ll do everything required to save our religious beliefs,” Maulana Ather Ali had said. His comments came days after BJP MP Yogi Adityanath’s said those opposed to ‘Surya Namaskar’ should go “drown in the sea” amidst protests by Muslim groups over participation in the June 21 event. On Tuesday Prachi intoned: “They (AIMPLB) have India’s food and sing songs of Pakistan. Yoga works like a binding factor. It’s not related to a single religious belief. Democracy does not tell you to object India’s traditions and cultures.”.. (Times of India 24/6/15)

28. UP to Take Muslims, Hindus Together for Pilgrimage (7)

LUCKNOW: The Uttar Pradesh government has chalked out a first-of-its-kind plan to take a group of Hindus and Muslims on a joint pilgrimage. The ‘dharmarth karya’ department has issued a government order (GO) in which 10 Muslim and Hindu devouts from each district will be taken on a pilgrimage in a single trip, including a visit to Pushkar and Ajmer Sharif in Rajasthan. Pushkar is holy for Hindus while Ajmer Sharif is venerated by Muslims as well as people of other faiths. Principal Secretary (Religious Works) Navneet Sehgal told IANS that the process of receiving applications and subsequently sorting them out has begun in all the 75 districts of Uttar Pradesh. “The idea is not only to provide better travel opprtunities to the residents of UP and the elderly but also to promote communal harmony,” the official said. The tour will be conducted by the state government, under the ongoing Samajwadi Shravan Yatra – a state sponsored pilgrimage started a few months back, with help of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).A special train with arrangement for 1,044 berths has been booked for the pilgrimage. The proposed date for the pilgrimage is July 23 and the department is working to ensure that the ‘yatra’ takes off on time, officials say. This time the state government has also made online registration facilities available for people. The devout will have to submit documents required for availing the trip along with an application. The applications are invited till July 10 after which these would be sorted out and travel tickets issued. In the first round, 900 devotees were taken to Haridwar and Rishikesh in Uttarakhand. In this trip to Ajmer Sharif and Pushkar Teerth Raj in Rajasthan, the pilgrims would be getting air-conditioned luxury buses after the train journey to travel to their destinations. The pilgrims would be provided budget lodging and given a travel kit. “Other than this, they would be given morning tea, breakfast, lunch, evening tea – only on the train journey – and a nutritious dinner,” said Sehgal. (New Indiasn Express 26/6/15)

29. New proactive group within unsettles Muslim law board (7)

New Delhi: There is growing disquiet in the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) over the emergence of a “proactive” group which wants to “act”, along with members of the majority community, to “safeguard” Muslim interests. The announcement of the Majlis-e-Amal or implementation committee has been described as routine but there are several in the board — it positions itself as a spokesperson of Muslim opinion in India and the chief custodian of Muslim personal law and the Shariat — who believe it is being formed to open a channel with the Prime Minister. At a meeting of its executive in Lucknow on June 6-7, the Majlis-e-Amal, headed by Wali Rahmani, a cleric based in Munger in Bihar who is also the board’s working general secretary, took a call to “act” with members of the majority community to “safeguard” Muslim interests.The last time a committee was tasked with protecting the constitutional rights of Muslims was in 2010 — it was asked to deal with specific grievances with the Waqf Act and some judgments seen as intruding into Muslim personal law. Rahmani has emerged as the face of the new “active” board — Rabey Nadwi, the board chairman, is in his 90s and age has also caught up with Maulana Nizamuddin of Biharsharif, the general secretary. Earlier this month, Rahmani reached out directly to Muslim organisations, institutions and imams of mosques, asking them to maintain vigil against attacks on Islam’s teachings. He also alleged that the celebration of the International Day of Yoga by the government on June 21 was part of a conspiracy to link the exercise to the RSS. Within the board, there is suspicion about the agenda of the Majlis-e-Amal. Because in March, the usually sedate meeting of the board was disrupted in Jaipur over the presence of “non-members” — Zafar Sareshwala, a businessman who is also chancellor of the Hyderabad-based Maulana Azad National Urdu University and is considered close to the Prime Minister, could not enter the meeting because several members protested. There are some who believe the actions of the committee will find place in the run-up to the Bihar assembly elections. Qasim Sayyed, editor-in-chief of Rozanama Khabrein, said: “By appearing to be very active and pro-Muslim, the board actually wants to polarise the Bihar polls and is being used as fuel for that purpose. What is the sense in raising these things? Is this the time to raise the temperature and be hot-headed? They want to do this and also cosy up to Modi by demonstrating that they are the true Muslim representatives.”… (Indian Express 29/6/15)


30. Nun assault: Catholic society protests in Raipur (7)

RAIPUR: Day after a nun was sexually assaulted at a medical centre on Saturday, thousands of people including women from catholic society and others took out silent rally from Byron Bazaar church in state capital, registering strong protest demanding justice and protection of nuns. Large number of people on Saturday evening had taken out candle march at Jai Stambh Chowk condemning the act as shameful and questioned security of nuns. While police claims to have rounded up two persons in this regards, Raipur SP BN Meena said that as per the medical test report, the woman has suffered attempt to rape and refuted charges of gang-rape, which was initially suspected. “About 5-6 persons have been detained for interrogation who reside nearby infirmary and few are frequent criminals.” Even the survivor who initially stated before police that she was gang-raped had later changed her statement saying that it was attempt to rape, as her trauma seized. In their investigation, police found that as the infirmary building is located at an isolated place with huts of slum close to premises, accused could be someone who were familiar to architecture of the building. “As the lock of room wasn’t found broken, accused must have jumped the wall and simply walked inside the room which wasn’t probably locked from inside,” GP Singh inspector general of police (Raipur range) said. The 45-year-old nun was found semi-clad, unconscious and hands tied in a room of medical centre being run by Christian missionaries on Saturday, near Pandri locality in state capital of Chhattisgarh. (Times of India 21/6/15)

31. Catholic church members stage protest in city (7)

COIMBATORE: Members of the Catholic Diocese of Coimbatore staged a protest on Saturday in front of the St Michael’s Cathedral against a television programme that aired on a private channel which raised allegations on the church and the bishop. S Shanthi Roselin, 40, from Kottaimedu, alleged that the priest who had murdered her 18 year old daughter, Fathima Sophie, near Walayar in Palakkad on July 23, 2013 had accepted on the show that he had accidently killed the girl, which was shot as a sting operation. After the show aired, several protestors gathered outside Shanthi’s residence and threatened to kill her. She had filed a complaint at the Ukkadam police station regarding the incident and FIR was registered against six persons. The vicar general of Coimbatore John Joseph Stanis who led the protests said that the case was dismissed several moths ago by the Kerala police and the accused H Arocikaraj was also dismissed by the bishop after some enquiries. “We are ready to help her to get justice for her daughter but that does not mean she can make slanderous remarks about the church and the priests,” he said. (Times of India 22/6/15)

32. 80% Dalit Christians Facing Caste Discrimination (7)

DINDIGUL: Around 80 percent of Dalit Christians suffer from caste discrimination in the Church especially in some Dioceses with a group of persons enjoying foreign funds, according to Christopher of Dalit Viduthalai Iyakkam (Dalit Liberation Movement). Deposing before the TN Minority commission, which held a review meeting here on Tuesday, he alleged that people belonging to the minority communities are being denied their rights. Drawing the attention of the panel to the closure of the Kuralampatti church by the Tahsildar, Fr Ramesh sought adequate security for the minority community. Responding, Murugesan, Tahsildar, Dindigul West, said permission would be given for holding prayer service in the church if it did not disturb locals. esides complaints against minority-run schools denying admissions to students belonging to those communities, there were also demands for community certificate to those who had converted to Buddhism. Some aided schools were accused of not providing 18 percent reservation for Dalits and STs. Commission chairman Bishop Rev Prakash computerised community certificates for Buddhism could not be given at present and steps would be taken to give hand-written community certificates. He said people could approach the district minority welfare office and avail the benefits given by the government. Giving statistics, he said `2.14 crore scholarship was given to minority students in 2014-2015. Financial assistance of `6.08 lakh was offered to 15 members of Muslim Mahalir Uthavum Sangam. While 480 people were given identity cards by the Ulema and Employees Welfare Board, free cycles were distributed to 352 Ulemas besides spectacle assistance of `18,000 to a few. Moreover, 20 beneficiaries have availed marriage assistance and `1.545 croe worth loan was extended to a total of 310 people. The review meeting was attended by panel members Sardar Manjith Singh Naiyar, Justin Selvaraj, James and Kalamani. District Collector T.N.Hariharan and Naganathan, district backward and minority welfare officer, and other officials were present. (New Indian Express 24/6/15)

33. 100 dalit Christians re-convert to Hinduism in Gorakhpur (7)

Lucknow: After several months, Uttar Pradesh had the first instance of “ghar vapsi” when saffron outfits in Gorakhpur re-converted nearly 100 Dalits from Christianity to Hinduism. Reports said members of Hindu Yuva Vahini, the outfit belonging to Gorakhpur BJP MP Mahant Adityanath, held a special ceremony at the Dalit hamlet of Mohaddipur in the town on Wednesday evening in which around 100 Christian Dalits were welcomed to Hinduism. Vahini activists had earlier rounded up four Christian priests and nuns, who they alleged “lured” poor Dalits into their faith. “Every family (embracing Christianity) were promised cash and a house,” Vahini’s state general secretary Ram Bhual Kushwaha alleged. Saffron activists handed the priests and nuns to the local police demanding stern action against them, but the police released them later since they did not find materials encouraging conversion in their possession. The outfit vowed to bring back everyone “lured” into conversion from Hinduism. “Our workers are keeping a close watch on conversion activities,” Kushwaha said. Hindu Yuva Vahini is active in Gorakhpur, Deoria, Kushinagar, Sant Kabir Nagar and other districts. Police in Gorakhpur said security personnel have been kept in full strength in the locality as a precautionary measure. Saffron outfits launched a state-wide “ghar vapsi” programme to welcome converts from Hinduism back to their ‘home faith’. Re-conversion programmes across the state triggered a strong reaction from Christian and Muslim communities. (Deccan Herald 26/6/15)


34. India observes World Refugee Day (13)

New Delhi: Aiming to raise awareness about the plight of refugees, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today held series of programmes across the country to mark the World Refugee Day. “Today is World Refugee Day. On this day, we celebrate the courage and resilience of refugees and join together in our support for displaced people around the world,” UNHCR said in an official statement. In an event organised in Mumbai, Bollywood actor and UNHCR celebrity supporter John Abraham interacted with young refugees from Afghan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Somalia. He also addressed the youth about “empowerment, importance of education and of living a meaningful life”, it said. Delhi marked the Refugee Day with an exhibition of renowned photographer Raghu Rai’s photographs depicting refugees’ daily struggle to restore their lives, organised at Rajiv Chowk metro station in collaboration with Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. A Youth Meet was also organised in Delhi earlier this week featuring wide range of activities of UNHCR, including film screening, food kiosks, painting exhibition, dance programmes and other traditional cultural activities. Annual World Refugee Day campaign was launched in India earlier this week at Don Bosco school in the national capital. The theme for the celebrations this year was “With courage let us all combine”, aiming to bring the public closer to the human side of the refugee stories by sharing stories of hope and resilience of displaced people, showing them as “ordinary humans living in extraordinary circumstances” UNHCR said. There are around 32,000 persons of concern to UNHCR in India, of whom some 26,500 are recognised refugees and another 5,700 are currently registered as asylum seekers, mostly from Afghan and Myanmar, with smaller groups from countries other countries including Somalia, Iraq and Iran, it added. Most of them are based in Delhi, with smaller pockets in other locations in Telangana, Jammu, Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and UP. (Zee News 20/6/15)

35. Plight of refugees moves UNHCR ambassador John Abraham (13)

MUMBAI:  “We left the Sri Lankan coast in a fishing boat and luckily made it to India. The boat that went before us capsized and there were no survivors,” 25-year-old Krishandhini recalls that fateful day when she was forced to leave her war-stricken homeland. She is one of the many Sri Lankan Tamils who had to flee their country and find refuge in India. She is now living with her family in a refugee camp near Chennai. Krishandhini is just one of the 32,000 refugees registered under United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) India, and was one of the seven young refugees to open her heart out to actor John Abraham on the World Refugee Day. Mr. Abraham, a celebrity supporter of UNHCR India, spent a few hours with the refugees from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Somalia on Saturday. Mr. Abraham, star of films like Dhoom and Kabul Express, found their stories extremely moving. “While shooting for Kabul Express in Afghanistan, I had a firsthand experience of a war-torn area and saw a lot of Afghans leave their country. Also, the Sri Lankan crisis has been very close to my heart. These experiences have been an eye-opener. The plight of refugees not only in India but all over the world has to be taken note of,” Mr. Abraham said.It has been 25 years, but the struggle for survival continues for Krishandhini and her family. She and her elder sister, Divya 27, were sent to college by her parents. They hold an MCA and B.Tech-IT degrees respectively, but have found it extremely difficult to find a decent job due to their refugee status. “Our mother stayed away from us for 12 years. She went abroad and found a job as a cook. She had to leave to raise the money for our education. We are well educated but since we are refugees, we do not have a proper identification document and are consequently unable to find a job that pays well and can support our family,” Ms. Divya told The Hindu. Jafar belongs to the Rohingya community in Myanmar and had to abandon his home due to the oppression of the government. They initially found refuge in Bangladesh but due to frequent communal tension in that country, they soon moved to India. He now lives in Shaheen Bagh in New Delhi with his family. “We had to take an official permission even for travelling from one village to another. Men are forcefully taken by the Myanmar army to work as labourers. Many have never returned, nobody knows if they are dead or alive. Even to get married, we need to take permission from the government. They refuse to recognise us as equal citizens,” Jafar said. He finds going back to his native land a far dream. Though this new land has not imposed restrictions on him, there exists a thick air of distrust between the refugees and the locals. Finding a well paid job is very difficult for him and people from his community. He wishes to study but earning enough to make the ends meet is his first priority. 20-year-old Barlin lost her father to the Somalian conflict in 2005. She was separated from her family and even today does not know their whereabouts. In 2010, she was adopted and brought to India. Her new friends in India helped her learn Hindi and now she works as a translator, helping other Somalian refugees settled in New Delhi. As much as she likes her new home, she wishes to be at a better place. (The Hindu 22/6/15)

36. SL Refugees Allege Illegal Custody, Torture by Police (13)

MADURAI: Sri Lankan Tamil refugees of Aanaiyur camp here are living in morbid fear borne out of police torture. They allege that the police have been taking them into illegal custody, torture them without even filing a First Information Report (FIR) and release them after they are found innocent. In the past week alone, the rural police have taken four refugees – R Muthu Kumar (34), N Denikaran (29), V Alaguraja (48) and J Pratap (23) – into custody suspecting their hand in various theft cases. They were later released, but only after being subjected to physical abuse. “The police made a call to my friend’s mobile and said they wanted to question me regarding a quarrel case. Later on Monday night, four policemen, most of them in mufti, took me to the Alanganallur station. There they beat me up and forced me to take responsibility for a theft that occurred at Dinamani Nagar near Anaiyur. They released me only on Wednesday morning,” Denikaran said. M Saraswathi, wife of Muthukumar, one of the victims, claimed that the police took her husband while they were sleeping on Tuesday night. “I told them that he was not involved in any crime and requested them to spare him. I assured that I will bring him to the station in the morning if they wanted to question him. But they did not pay heed and dragged him into their vehicle even as my children held on to him tightly,” she alleged. Narrating the police torture, Muthukumar, a building painter, said, “They thrashed me with sticks and kicked me with their boots causing injuries all over my body. I pleaded with them that I was not involved in any theft but still they tortured me for about five hours.” Muthukumar is not new to police atrocities. In the past too, he had been taken into custody and tortured only to be released later after they found that it was another person, his namesake, who had committed the offence. Another victim Pratap alleged that he was released only after the police forcefully took `6000 from him. Meanwhile, a senior police official said “Seasoned criminals are booked under Section 41 of CrPc and taken into custody for investigation.” But he denied beating them up. Henri Tiphagne, a human right activist, said   “Taking anyone into custody without a summons is a human rights violation.” (New Indian Express 25/6/15)

37. China and India stay quiet as refugee crisis worsens (13)

HONG KONG:When a deadly earthquake rocked Nepal in April, China and India rushed to send relief supplies and search-and-rescue teams. But when another humanitarian crisis – boats bearing thousands of migrants – appeared off Southeast Asian shores a month later, Asia’s two most populous countries said and did little. Instead, offers to resettle the migrants came from Gambia and the United States. The wealthiest nations in the Asia-Pacific region stood back as well. Australia declared it would not resettle the migrants, mostly Rohingya Muslims fleeing religious persecution in Myanmar or poor Bangladeshis seeking jobs. Japan pledged $3.5 million in emergency assistance but also refrained from offering to take in any displaced people.More than a month after Malaysia and Indonesia agreed to provide temporary shelter for up to 7,000 of the migrants stranded at sea, there has been no sign of progress in finding them a permanent home, nor any hint that Myanmar would address the conditions driving the Rohingya exodus. And Asia’s most powerful nations are essentially sitting out the crisis. Their passivity is all the more striking because, halfway around the world, European leaders have been actively debating a response to their own migrant crisis, in which more than 1,700 people from Africa and the Middle East have died trying to cross the Mediterranean this year. President Xi Jinping of China and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India often present their nations as emerging global powers, promoting regional cooperation. Both countries also share a border with Myanmar and enjoy economic leverage as major trading partners, and in China’s case, as a top source of foreign investment. But neither has pressured the government on its treatment of the Rohingya or played a significant role in efforts to resettle them. During a meeting of the UN Security Council last month, China insisted that the matter was an internal one for Myanmar to resolve. …. (Times of India 29/6/15)


38. RTI activist threatened for not withdrawing plaint against engineer (1)

Bengaluru: A 54-year-old RTI activist has sought police protection after receiving a threat call from a person claiming to a BBMP ‘union leader’. The activist had refused to withdraw a complaint to the Lokayukta against some BDA officials about irregularities in culverts repair works. Activist N Jagadesh said one ‘Mayanna Gowda’, who claimed to be a ‘union leader’ of BBMP, called him up on June 19 and asked him to withdraw his complaint against assistant executive engineer Keshava Prasad. Jagadesh has recorded the entire conversation in his mobile phone and played it in front of DCP Lokesh Kumar on Saturday. Initially, Mayanna, who made the call from a mobile phone, invited Jagadesh for a compromise. “People only make mistakes. KeshavaPrasada sir seems to have acted under some pressure. Let’s compromise. I am an expert in compromises and I never play any double game,” Mayanna reportedly told Jagadesh. When Jagadesh refused to budge, Mayanna is heard saying: “You have wife and kids. Don’t you? Just think, man. Compromise is the best solution.” In April, Jagadesh had lodged a complaint with the Lokayukta against BDA commissioner Shyam Bhat and Keshava Prasad after an RTI reply revealed that BDA had spent Rs 8.5 crore on ‘culverts, metalling and asphalting, and re-asphalting’ from 2007 till 2015. However, spot inspections and inquiry with departments concerned showed no such work had been done. The bills were raised and issued against names of five contractors. DCP Lokesh said they have accepted the complaint and are investigating. (Times of India 22/6/15)

39. Modi Government Granted Indian Citizenship to 4,300 Afghan, Pakistan Hindus ? (26)

CHENNAI: Has the Narendra Modi government granted citizenship to 4,300 Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan and Afghanistan during its last one year in office as claimed by a news agency report a week ago? Highly improbable, if one goes by the RTI reply provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs. The RTI document that Express has access to shows the actual number of people, who were granted citizenship from these two countries, was a modest 515 in 2014 and just 150 till the first week of June this year. The widely published agency report had stressed that this was an initiative of Home Minister Rajnath Singh following his party BJP’s declared policy that India is a “natural home for persecuted Hindus”, who were welcome to seek refuge. Ironically, it is Rajnath’s ministry that gave the actual figure under RTI following an application by Vinoth Ranganathan, co-founder of, a Bengaluru-based organisation that helps citizens with RTI applications. According to the information, signed by MHA’s director (citizenship) and CPIO, Pravin Horo Singh, the total number of persons granted citizenship during the whole of 2014 was 611, while that for this year till June first week was 189. These people came from 25 countries, including the UK, the US, the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, Bangladesh, China, Italy, Kenya and Liberia. “It is the information provided in the RTI that is genuine. I have been tracking the issue by getting the information through a RTI filed in March and June. The difference is only 40,” said Vinoth, pointing out that the figure of 4,300 was never substantiated by the media. From Pakistan, 267 people were given citizenship last year, and 83 this year till June. Similarly, from Afghanistan, 248 and 67 were given citizenship last year and this year respectively. From another neighbour, Bangladesh, 24 and 7 persons were granted citizenship during the same period. While granting citizenship to Pakistan and Afghanistan refugees may be a priority for the Centre, the figures as highlighted in media were in contrary to the official data being released to a RTI query. (New Indian Express 23/6/15)

40. RTI case disposal down by half in first half of 2015 (1)

CHENNAI: The number of RTI appeals disposed by the Tamil Nadu State Information Commission in the first six months of this year has come down by almost half in comparison to the numbers of cases disposed in the same period last year. And this is mainly due to post of chief information commissioner falling vacant in April. Statistics show that TNSIC cleared 2,788 appeals between January and June 2015 compared to 5,521 appeals cleared in the same period in 2014. It cleared 10,831 appeals in 2013 and 6,406 in 2012 in the first six months. Sources say the number of pending appeals is more than 15,000 but the government is yet to appoint a new chief since K S Sripathi retired as state chief information commissioner on April 26. Under the RTI Act, a state can have 10 commissioners and a chief, but TNSIC, The commission receives an average of 60,000 applications a year, has only four commissioners — Christopher Nelson, P Thamilselvan, B Neelambikai and S F Akbar. Former central information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said that if four commissioners could dispose 2,788 cases in six months, it would take at least three years to dispose the pending appeals alone. “I used to dispose 500 appeals a month when I was in the central information commission. TN government should appoint a few RTI activists as commissioners for the effective function of the commission,” he said. Venkatesh Nayak of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, an NGO, said the TN government should not delay appointment of commissioners and ensure that appeals do not pile up. He also urged the TNSIC to disclose its annual reports on the website. When contacted, P W C Davidar, principal secretary of personnel and administrative reforms department, refused to comment about the appointment of the new chief information commissioner. A senior TNSIC official denied the allegations. “The commissioners are disposing appeals regularly but we have not uploaded all the cases disposed on the website because of staff shortage.” An online petition, launched by RTI activists seeking appointment of an eminent chief information commissioner and information commissioners not connected with bureaucracy or politicians, has received more than 150 signatures. Activists say the TN government has not been tabling annual reports in the assembly since 2008, claiming it is short of Tamil translators. The annual reports should declare the number of RTI applications received by PIOs, cases disposed of and fines imposed on PIOs for violations under the RTI Act. (Times of India 25/6/15)

41. MEA refuses RTI plea on Lalit Modi passport (1)

New Delhi: At a time when external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj is under fierce attack from the Opposition for “helping” Mr Lalit Modi obtain UK travel documents, her ministry has refused to provide any information about the passport issue involving the scandal-tainted former IPL boss. The ministry has refused to answer an RTI application containing seven questions, including one on who had taken a decision not to appeal in the Supreme Court to challenge the Delhi high court’s decision restoring Mr Modi’s passport, according to PTI. The MEA, however, said the application has been “transferred” to its Consular, Passport and Visa Division as well as to the ministries of finance and Home, according to the reports. The MEA response drew sharp criticism from the Congress and the Left. Responding to an RTI plea containing seven questions, the MEA reportedly said that while a part of the queries did not come under the purview of the transparency law, it pleaded lack of information regarding the other queries. “Kindly note that the office of External Affairs Minister (EAM) has informed that the questions in Serial 1 to 3 of your RTI does not seem to fall under the purview of the RTI Act, 2005. As regards queries Sl No. 4 to 7, no information is available with EAM’s office,” the MEA reply, dated June 26, was quoted by the news agency as having stated. The RTI query, filed by one Rayo from Haryana, was received by the ministry on June 19 when the Opposition was piling pressure on Ms Swaraj on the Lalit Modi controversy. The first three questions included why Ms Swaraj did not advise Mr Modi to apply for a temporary travel document to the Indian high commission in London instead if she intended to help him on humanitarian grounds to travel to Portugal. It also asked why the external affairs minister did not insist on Mr Modi’s return to India as a condition for issuing a temporary Indian travel document. The questions from No. 4 to 7 included a query on whether the government has lodged any objection with the UK for granting a residency permit to Mr Lalit Modi, who has refused to appear before the Enforcement Directorate, and what steps the government has taken since the issue of a fresh passport to the former IPL boss to enforce the ED summons. It also included a query on who took the decision not to file an appeal in the Supreme Court against the Delhi high court’s ruling setting aside the cancellation of Mr Lalit Modi’s passport. It asked whether the ED, at whose instance the passport was cancelled, was consulted on the issue. The RTI application also asked about the government’s response to Mr Lalit Modi’s “wild charge that his life will be in danger if he returned to India”. The MEA’s action drew stinging criticism from the Opposition, with the Congress calling it against the “spirit” of the RTI Act and the CPI(M) alleging that the transparency law has been “sabotaged” by the Modi government. “This is against the spirit of the RTI Act. In fact, any private information need not be disclosed, but here is a case which is affecting even the security of the country and a person who is a fugitive, who is an absconder, against whom there is an inquiry going on… And when information is sought on that, it simply cannot be treated as a private matter,” senior Congress leader P.C. Chacko was quoted as saying. CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat said it was “more than just stonewalling”, adding, “It’s a shame that the RTI Act, which provides a framework for some amount of transparency in governance, has been completely diluted and sabotaged by the Modi government … So the government which came on claims of transparency and good governance is sabotaging the initiatives. Now they say they do not have the information… Makes a mockery of the act itself and the law for transparency.” The BJP, however, made a cautious defence with party spokesman Nalin Kohli saying, “There is a process about RTI, and there are certain rules about it, and these rules are followed. If it is about specifics, the concerned officers would be the right place to ask.” (Asian Age 29/6/15)


42. Time to check dropout rate among Muslims (11)

Anis is barely 12-years-old but he works from 10 am to 9 pm at a motorbike workshop in Chintal Basti. “I left school last year. My father who is an auto-rickshaw driver fell sick and there was no money at home. I am the eldest. When I left school I was in standard sixth. It was an English medium school. I get Rs 75 daily for six days of the week,” teary-eyed Anis says, as he narrates his story that clearly seems far from happy. He has three more siblings, all younger to him, who have to be fed and if possible, sent to school. There is another boy, Naseem, who works at a bangle shop in Lad Bazaar. He dropped out of an Urdu medium school about two years ago when his father died in a road accident. He makes about Rs 2,000 every month. “Future? I don’t know. I have two younger sisters, one of them goes to school and the other works as a domestic help like my mother,” he says struggling to visualise what his life would be five years hence. Like them, there are thousands of other Muslim boys and girls who have dropped out of school because they had no other option. They now assist their parents, mostly mothers, in making ends meet. Most of them come from large families where parents have either separated or one of them have died or suffered some debilitating disease. There are other reasons too – all of which, put together, have sent the dropout rate among Muslim students to an alarming high. Year-wise religion-based figures of students against the total numbers are not available. But a source in the Education Department pegs the total number of Muslim students registered with government recognised schools (English, Urdu and Telugu medium) in Telangana in 2014 at 11,70,303. But there is no breakup of students at the primary, upper primary and high school levels. The gender-wise division of students too isn’t available. Therefore, it is just a figure that gives a vague insight into the level of education among Muslims. However, if the registration of students in Urdu medium schools is counted as one of the many indicators for this, then we have some numbers that speak for themselves. For instance, the total number of students in all government Urdu medium schools, in 2014, stood at 2,47,668 at the primary level in Telangana. The same year the students in upper primary level were 71,980 and at high school were only 11,321– 8,693 girls and 2,628 boys. Of the 11,321 students only 7,956 cleared the examination. The ratio of boys to girls remained almost the same among successful candidates. In 2013 a total of 14,512 students—3,388 boys and 11,124 girls—wrote the 10th exam from united AP, of which 10,725 passed out. Similarly, in 2012 a total of 15,586 students—3,700 boys and 11,886 girls—sat in 10th grade exam. Of this 11,839 or 76 percent passed out. If 2014 is taken as a point of comparison with the previous two or three years, then it forms a grave pattern indicating a steep rise in dropouts among Urdu medium students. According to a report published in Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi, the dropout rates of Muslim students has shot up to 50% between Classes VIII and IX. The figure is over 20% in Classes V and VI and nearly 30% in Class VII. The condition of Urdu medium schools in Telangana is regrettable with no teachers and no infrastructure. The situation becomes worse at the undergraduate or post graduate levels. There are few takers for MA Urdu in Osmania University, Satavahana University or Telangana University. “When feeder institutions are not producing enough students, how can there be takers for MA Urdu,” a professor of Urdu asked…. (Times of India 21/6/15)

43. Manish Sisodia requests Smriti Irani for removal of ‘no detention policy’ (11)

New Delhi: Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who also holds the education portfolio, on Monday requested Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani for the removal of the ‘no detention policy’ till class VIII under the RTE Act. The Delhi Minister tweeted that he had again requested Irani to remove the policy on the sidelines of the National Yoga Teachers’ Conference held on Monday at Talkatora stadium. He added that because of the policy the education in schools till class VIII was in a bad shape. Sisodia had recently written to Irani in this regard. He had suggested that the ‘no detention policy’ should be restricted till class III. The no detention policy introduced under the Right to Education Act automatically promotes students up to Class VIII. Critics have argued that the policy has led to poor learning outcome in classes. At the event, Sisodia said the state government is currently working on a project under which they plan to reduce the syllabus by 25 percent and replace it with “most essential subjects of life” like yoga, music, sports, theatre, etc. (DNA 23/6/15)

44. Activists make political buck out of RTE (11)

Nagpur: Politicians and organizations connected to them are quick to spot issues that can be capitalized for political gains. In Nagpur, the current issue is Right to Education (RTE) Act. RTE admissions here have been landing into one controversy or another and this has attracted attention of various groups ready to “help aggrieved parents”.These groups are either NGOs or organizations affiliated to politicians who otherwise have no interest in education sector. They are now seen trotting to education department offices and schools with parents in tow demanding admissions. The sole NGO formed for RTE issue a couple of years ago now finds itself competing with opportunistic newcomers. An education official told TOI this problem is growing by the day. “Almost every week, I see some new organization coming with half a dozen parents and demanding to know why admissions under RTE quota have not been completed. All they want is admission for kids of parents in their group. None of these newcomer groups has knowledge of what the RTE rules are,” he said. When TOI spoke to a representative of one such group, she had no idea under which rule or GR the RTE admissions were being claimed. The immediate issue with RTE admissions is whether schools have to give admission in both pre-primary and primary sections. The Nagpur education department, which basically goofed up the entire process, is of the opinion that admissions have to be done at both the levels. They cite a circular from January with these instructions. However, the circular actually says compulsory admission has to be given in only one section. If there are vacant or backlog seats then these have to be filled in at primary level. State’s principal secretary for school education Nand Kumar clarified these points to Nagpur education officials during a conference in city on June 4 but by then it was too late. RTE lottery had been conducted and the software allotted seats to parents at both pre-primary and primary level. With hundreds of parents breathing down their neck, the education department simply put the onus on 69 schools that had refused to comply. With increased media coverage, came hordes of self-proclaimed activists, who promised parents a solution. Some flaunted their contacts with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis while others dropped names of bureaucrats. Meanwhile the issue is dying a natural death. There’s case pending at Bombay High court and the education department is saying ‘sub-judice’ to avoid getting involved further. (Times of India 25/6/15)

45. States likely to raise saffronization of education at CABE meeting (11)

NEW DELHI: After spending more than a year reconstituting the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE), which also includes state education ministers as members, the HRD ministry has called its first meeting on July 18. The meeting is expected to be a stormy affair. While the HRD ministry is keen to take stock of progress on consultations for the New Education Policy (NEP) and bringing changes in the Right to Education Act, opposition-ruled states are set to raise the threat of saffronization of education and proposed changes in NCERT textbooks. Sources said the ministry has been waiting for long to take decisions on a few important issues. “We want to build consensus. Since states as well as academicians are members of CABE, it will be easy to discuss many issues in the meeting,” an official said. In case of NEP, sources said, states have not been very prompt in giving feedback to the Centre. The tentative deadline for announcing the broad contours of NEP is September. “But it looks like announcement will be delayed a bit. After receiving the feedback, more consultations will take place at the Centre. In CABE, we will request states to take it up on priority basis,” a senior official from the ministry’s school department said. He also said the HRD ministry is likely to explain its stand on proposed changes in NCERT textbooks. “States will be convinced with our reply,” he said. Sources said the delay in constituting CABE was on account of getting new members. After the HRD ministry finalized the names, it was sent to Prime Minister’s Office for approval. The new CABE consists of names like Jawaharlal Kaul, vice-chancellor of Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal Central University; D N Bezboruah, former head of Editor’s Guild; Vijay Bhatkar, chairperson, board of governors, IIT-Delhi; Manish Sabharwal and Indumati Rao. Rohan Murty of Murty Classical Library of India being brought out by Harvard University Press has been dropped. (Times of India 29/6/15)

46.  ‘Centre’s new education policy framing process not transparent’ (11)

Kolkata: The central government’s process of formulating India’s new education policy is not “transparent” and “inclusive”, according to activist Ambarish Rai. Rai, national convenor of the Right to Education Forum, a network of 10,000 grassroot organisations working in 18 states, said: “We appreciate the initiative to revamp the education policy but we do not support the way it is being done. The process is not transparent.” Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani recently said the new education policy will be formulated in consultation with the states. While the government launched the exhaustive exercise earlier this year for holding consultations aimed at the drafting a new national education policy and invited suggestions and discussions towards that end, Rai said consultations are yet to take place. “They want to draft it by December but where are the consultations and meetings at the ground level? The centre should consider all stakeholders and not just a few selected people. The method is not inclusive,” Rai said. Further, Rai said the terms and conditions of the new framework have not been presented clearly to the citizens. He was speaking at a workshop on Saturday with representatives from 12 NGOs working with the youth in Kolkata demanding the implementation of RTE in West Bengal. Organised by NGO SPAN, the ‘Youth Stand for RTE – solidarity building workshop’ was designed to bring in the voice of youth to raise awareness on RTE implementation in the state. (Times of India 30/6/15)


47. Yoga needed for pot-bellied rich, not poor: Lalu Prasad (21)

PATNA: RJD chief Lalu Prasad on Friday said there was no need for the poor to practice yoga and it is actually meant for those who have eaten funds of poor and became rich and super rich. “Poor and the poorest of the poor have no need to practice yoga because they have not accumulated fat on their bodies,” Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader said here at a party function.The former Bihar chief minister also said even he did not need to practice yoga. “Poor people have to be provided adequate food first for their survival. There are 14 crore poor people in the country who are fighting hunger.” He said landless farmers, poor labourers, milkmen to rickshawpuller have no problem of pot-belly because they worked hard. “What is the need for them to practice Yoga?”The RJD leader said that Yoga had turned a fashion among a section of the people who have been suffering from obesity and accumulated fat on their bodies by eating into the funds meant for the poor. “BJP president Amit Shah and RSS people who have become fat, will practice yoga. But no need for poor people with symptoms of malnutrition to practice it,” Lalu Prasad said. (Times of India 20/6/15)

48. APL families show little interest in food subsidy (21)

BENGALURU: While the Opposition and ruling MLAs had forced the State government to offer subsidised food through public distribution system to above poverty line (APL) families, these beneficiaries seem to have shown little interest in availing themselves of the subsidy. The State government had included subsidised food items for APL families from June 1, but data from the Department of Food and Civil Supplies shows that less than one per cent (0.89 %) of the total 33 lakh APL ration cardholders have registered at ration shops to get rice and wheat at subsidised prices.There are 33.78 lakh APL cardholders and only 30,268 have registered at around 20,000 designated ration shops by paying a registration fee of Rs. 10. After registration, the APL families get enrolled in the department website from where the monthly quota is released. Under the scheme, APL families can avail themselves of rice and wheat at Rs. 10 and Rs. 15 a kg, respectively. Each family is eligible to get a monthly quota of 10 kg each of rice and wheat. The department had opened registration counters across the State to enable the families to apply for cards. However, APL cardholders have not been showing interest and prefer purchasing food from the open market at much higher prices, officials pointed out. For such families, ration cards seem to be restricted only for address proof and to use as one of the government documents to get services such as claiming insurance under the State government’s Rajiv Arogya Bhagya scheme, officials added. In some towns and cities, APL ration cards have been lying in the department offices as families have not even approached the officials to collect them. (The Hindu 22/6/15)

49. Poverty ratio declines, Scheduled Caste literacy rate improves (21)

New Delhi: Reflecting the growing economic prosperity of Delhiites, the city has witnessed a decline in poverty to about 10 per cent of the total population in 2011-12 from over 14 per cent. The literacy rate among the Scheduled Caste population of the city has registered a steady spike. According to the latest Economic Survey, there were 23.3 lakh people living below poverty line (BPL) in 2009-10, but the number decreased to 16.96 lakh in 2011-12. Poverty had increased to 14.2 per cent in 2009-10 in comparison to 13 per cent in 2004-05, but it fell to 9.91 per cent of total population in 2011-12, a significant decrease. “Per cent of population below the poverty line in Delhi was less than the national level in all period covered under the study. During 2011-12, 21.92 per cent of the population of India were under below poverty, while it was 9.91 per cent in Delhi.” It noted that people living in Delhi who earned less than Rs 1,145 in rural areas in 2011-12 and Rs 1,134 in urban areas, were considered to be in the BPL category. Besides, the survey revealed that the literacy rate in the Scheduled Caste population has registered a steady rise, with the figure going up from 20.86 per cent in 1961 to 70.85 per cent in 2001 and 78.89 per cent in 2011. Although the 2011 figure was below Delhi’s overall literacy rate of 86.20 per cent, it remained above the national average of 63.07 per cent. (Asian Age 25/6/15)

50. 3.6 L Benefit from Rural Poverty Elimination Plan (21)

BHUBANESWAR:  Around 3.6 lakh people from scheduled categories and economically weaker sections of the society of 10 districts have been benefited under World Bank-assisted Targeted Rural Initiative for Poverty Termination and Infrastructure (TRIPTI) programme. The project, a poverty reduction programme, aims at enhancing the socio-economic status of the poor, especially women and disadvantaged groups, in 38 blocks of 10 districts. The project launched in November 2009 has mobilised 79,000 self-help groups (SHGs) and made them economically self-sustainable by leveraging funds from commercial banks and other financial institutions to meet their credit needs for establishing micro-economic activities. The implementation completion and results report (ICRR) of the World Bank Mission team said around Rs 446 crore has been invested in the project and 79,000 SHGs have been mobilised and empowered against a target of 30,000. Around 1010 gram panchayat level SHG federations have been made active and sustainable and they are now providing lending support to SHGs. Capital investment of Rs 570 crore for gram panchayat level formal structure (GPLF) management has now grown to Rs 1,402 crore. Around 73 per cent of community loans have been used in agriculture and related activities and about one lakh households have upgraded their productive activities through adoption of the system of rice intensification (SRI), line sowing and seed village concepts. The micro-economic activities by the SHGs have brought around Rs 120 crore of incremental income to beneficiaries in last three years. The report of the World Bank Mission team headed by Jim Hancock  was discussed at a high level meeting, presided over by Chief Secretary GC Pati on Saturday here. The TRIPTI project was implemented in 38 blocks of 10 districts of Angul, Balasore, Bhadrak, Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Kendrapara, Khurda, Nayagarh and Puri. Feedback from stakeholders show that approaches like proper identification of the poor, micro and household investment plan, capacity building of community through incentive-based process, record keeping, identification of bank mitras from among SHG members, dedicated and professional implementation structure along with transparency and accountability have made the project successful. The Chief Secretary asked Odisha Livelihood Mission functioning under the Panchayati Raj department to document the interventions and processes already proved successful in project areas and replicate them in livelihood mission activities. (New Indian Express 29/6/15)


51. ILO echoes unions’ reservation against labour law amendments (14)

New Delhi: International Labour Organisation has put its weight behind trade unions in India which hold that certain proposed amendments to labour laws would go against the interest of workers. ILO will hold two-day national conference of central trade unions on June 29-30 for firming up a paper on issues raised by workers’ representatives in various tripartite consultations on labour laws amendments. According to sources, the ILO held regional consultations on various labour law amendments proposed by the government in Chennai and Bhubaneswar recently. During the regional discussion, it was observed that there are no provisions in the Labour Code on Industrial Relations, 2015 aimed at “promoting collective bargaining. Instead, there is an emphasis on arbitration, a mode of dispute resolution that could be disadvantageous to workers for more reasons than one”.The bill provides that all office bearers of a registered trade union will have to be persons actually engaged or employed in the establishments or industry with which the trade unions is concerned. That means that outsiders cannot be associated with trade unions. The bill prepared by the Labour Ministry proposes to combine Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the Trade Unions Act, 1926, and the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946. The ILO along with the trade unions found this provision to be contrary to the principle of freedom of association. It was also pointed out that various provision of the bill refer to either recognised or certified negotiating agent but it does not provide for procedure for recognition of such agents. During the regional discussion, ILO also agreed with the reservations of the trade unions against many other points raised by the trade unions on not only the bill but other contentious amendments. Under this bill, the employers with up to 100 workers, will not be required to seeks government’s permission for retrenchment. Moreover it proposed to make it tougher to form trade unions. Unions are also opposing Small Factories bill which proposed to keep units employing less than 40 workers out of the purview of 14 labour laws including EPF & MP Act 1951, ESI Act 1948 and Industrial Dispute Act 1947. They had also protested against proposed amendment in the EPF & MP Act, to provide an option to formal sector workers to choose between EPF and New Pension Scheme. The unions had decided on May 26 to go on one day strike on September 2 to protest against government’s indifference toward their 10-point agenda and unilateral labour reforms. (Business Standard 21/6/15)

52.  “Adhere to labour laws” (14)

Nagercoil: The Department of Labour has launched a special drive to enforce labour laws in educational institutions, tutorial colleges and technical institutes run without government aid. A release issued by Inspector of Labour V. Palanisamy here on Sunday said that the department launched the drive May as per the directions of Commissioner of Labour P. Amutha. Mr. Palanisamy said that many institutions failed to adhere to the rules and regulations with regard to minimum wages, equal remuneration, payment of bonus, and motor transport workers. They also failed to comply with the provisions governing maintenance of transport vehicles operated by them. The department would rope in consumer organisations to create awareness among parents of students of the safety standards of the vehicles run by educational institutions. He said that the Commissioner of Labour had also directed the Inspectors of Labour Department to ensure that the provisions of labour laws were complied with by the managements of private educational institutions, in many of which non-teaching staff were employed as clerks, typist, cashiers and librarians, office assistants and assistants, gardeners, ayahs watchmen and scavengers, and motor transport workers as drivers, conductors and mechanics. As per the Motor Transport Workers Act, the transport workers should be provided with uniforms, leave with wages and weekly holidays, etc. Mr. Palanisamy said that Section 15 of the Tamil Nadu Labour Fund Act, 1972 stipulated that every employee and employer should contribute a sum – Rs. 21 per head per year – to the Secretary, Tamil Nadu Labour Welfare Board, Chennai, by January 31. Under Section 28 of the Act, the Labour Department could collect the contribution as arrear of Land Revenue under the Tamil Nadu Revenue Recovery Act, 1864 by submitting proposals to the Collectorate. (The Hindu 22/6/15)

53. CCP seeks labour commissioner’s advice on employees’ demand  (14)

PANAJI: The Corporation of the city of Panaji (CCP) has written to the labour commissioner’s office asking for advice on whether the demand made by the CCP employee’s union for payment of wages for the eight days ‘tool down’ strike was legitimate. CCP has also asked the union to defer its strike till they get a reply from the labour commissioner’s office. “The decision to write to the labour commissioner for an opinion was made during an earlier meeting with the chief minister,” deputy commissioner Sudhir Kerkar said. The CCP employee’s union had gone on an eight-day ‘tool down’ strike on December 16. CCP councilors, at an ordinary council meeting held on June 4, had resolved not to pay wages for those days that the workers were on strike. The strike had been undertaken to demand that 333 daily wage workers employed by CCP be regularized immediately and that daily wages be increased to Rs 499 from Rs 221. “If the labour commissioner directs us to pay the wages for those eight days then we will abide by that opinion,” mayor Shubham Chodankar said. Chodankar denounced the allegations made by the union leaders that commissioner Sanjit Rodrigues was creating hurdles in the negotiation process and instead backed Rodrigues fully. “What the commissioner has said is that if the council gives clearance (wage hike) he will abide by it. When it involves financial implications, it is the council’s decision that counts,” Chodankar said. The union led by Shiv Sena leader Ajeetsingh Rane kept up the pressure on the mayor and on the commissioner. The CCP employees union, backed by the state Shiv Sena committee, undertook a massive protest outside the CCP office. The workers launched their innovative protest, a ‘chaddi-baniyan abhiyan’ to draw attention to their demands. “We can go on a strike anytime because we have given a strike notice already,” union leader Swati Kerkar said. Though discussions between CCP, the workers’ union and the state government had made some headway, talks fell through when CCP refused to pay the workers for those days that they were on strike. CCP had offered to increase the daily wage for workers handling garbage by 35% to Rs 300 from the present Rs 221 per day while other workers would be paid Rs 260 instead of the current Rs 221 per day. For this CCP has made a provision of Rs. 3.5 crores. The union, however, refused to discuss any of its demands until CCP agreed to pay the wages for the eight-day strike. In order to make sure that the situation remained under control, police were deployed outside the CCP office. On Monday, the CCP employees union took a unanimous decision at its general body meeting to go on strike. (Times of India 25/6/15)

54. Self-certification for 16 labour laws in Maharashtra (14)

MUMBAI: In order to promote the ease of doing business, the Maharashtra government has announced a scheme which allows factories and shops self-certification pertaining to 16 labour laws. However, this will not apply to businesses involving chemical or hazardous products. Self-certification has been introduced for 16 labour laws including the Payment of Wages Act, 1936; Minimum Wages Act 1948; Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970; Payment of Bonus Act, 1965; Factories Act, 1948; and Maharashtra Shops and Establishment Act, 1948. Also, the Child Labour Act, 1986 and Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) 2013 and the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961. The government says the scheme will benefit nearly 35,000 factories and over 27 lakh shops across the state since it will cut down on inspections by the labour department. Those who want to participate in the scheme will have to register with the state labour commissioner. Once the scheme is implemented, labour inspections will be conducted only once every five years. However, the state is free to conduct random checks on the factories that have registered under the scheme and act against those found to be violating the laws. (Times of India 26/6/15)


55. Figure of disabled aspirants at DU goes up by 70% (25)

NEW DELHI: The number of candidates for Delhi University’s persons with disability quota has risen by over 70% this year. There are a total of 1,031 candidates in all three disability categories—blindness and low vision (460), hearing impairment (137) and locomotor disability and cerebral palsy (434)—combined, a sharp increase from 2014′s 600-odd. However, even if all 1,031 find seats in DU, there would still be vacancies in the persons with disability quota which is 3% of the total—54,000—undergraduate seats. The Equal Opportunity Cell will study the marks scored by these applicants and is planning to write to the Dean Students’ Welfare “to direct college to keep cut-offs for reserved categories realistic”.”There may be just a few students in the 95% and above group but colleges set cutoffs with only them in mind. At some colleges, the first cut-off for PWD candidates is only a few percentage points lower than what it is for general-category,” says Bipin Tiwary, OSD-EOC. For instance, Atma Ram Sanatan Dharma College’s computer science cut-off was 98-100% for general category and 96-98% for PWD. The sudden increase in the number of applicants Tiwary ascribes to DU’s efforts to make its premises accessible and that DU is perceived to be “sensitized and proactive.” The university had waived hostel fees for students of this category and reduced mess-hall fees to half from November, 2012. Then, Tiwary says the EOC is ensuring that “every department has ramps and accessible toilets”. “Eighty buildings have already been covered.” (Times of India 21/6/15)

56. Medical, paramedical intake issue may reach SC (25)

AHMEDABAD: When will their admissions take place? This question is haunting students of medical and paramedical courses who have already filled up their forms. The matter is likely to go to the Supreme Court. A couple of years back, the apex court had directed all state education boards to complete admissions by June 25, before the all-India quota admissions begin. With this deadline staring them in the face, the Admission Committee for Medical and Para Medical Courses (ACMPMC) officials are likely to approach the SC to seek more time. The committee is likely to file an affidavit in the SC on Tuesday. “Admissions in medical and paramedical courses take place on the basis of marks of the Gujarat Common Entrance Test (GujCET) and XII (Science) results. But, till date, rechecking of some class XII (Science) answersheets are still underway. The results are expected by June 30. Before this, we cannot conduct the admission process,” said an ACMPMC official. In 2014 too, the ACMPMC had approached the SC and the court had granted time till July 10 to complete the first round of admissions in this course. “We will act according to the SC’s directives. This time too, we hope to get some respite from the court,” said an ACMPMC official. ACMPMC officials said that unlike last year, there were more aspirants for courses. In all, 28,558 forms were filled up for the 11,000-odd seats. ACMPMC hopes to declare the merit list on July 2. (Times of India 23/6/15)

57. No change in 2L RTE beneficiary families’ income for 3 years (25)

JAIPUR: The annual income of over 2 lakh beneficiary families under the Right to Education Act has remained unchanged for the past three years. According to RTE guidelines, children of parents whose annual income is up to Rs 2.5 lakh are eligible for admission in private schools that keep a quota of 25% of the total seats for them. But parents, who submit affidavits about their incomes every year, have not shown an increase in their incomes for the last three years. Their incomes have remained below Rs 2.5 lakh, the upper limit in Rajasthan under the RTE. This is second highest upper limit in the country under the Act. A senior government official handling RTE confirmed TOI that most of the affidavits received from parents have not shown a single penny’s increase in three years. “We have no such mechanism to cross-check the income of existing RTE families due to shortage of staff. Even the RTE guideline is silent on physical verification of parents’ incomes,” said the officer. Rajasthan is a leading state in the country in terms of RTE admissions in private schools. Till the 2015-16 academic session, the state has 6.5 lakh students admitted under this Act. Damodar Goyal, an educationist, sees this as the main reason why the state has admitted highest number of students in the country under RTE since 2011-12, including 1.57 lakh in 2013-14 and 2 lakh in 2015-16 sessions. A close look at the admission pattern this year shows that out of 2 lakh admissions only 80,000 were from the economically weaker sections, while 1.20 lakh admissions were from the disadvantaged groups. State RTE rule doesn’t put any income cap for SC and ST students. As a result, many doctors and even bureaucrats have admitted their wards under the RTE scheme. Goyal added that upper limit for the economically weaker sections should be brought down to either the BPL level or maximum of Rs 1 lakh income per annum. He suggested that present practice of determination of income by two eminent persons like municipal councillors, sarpanch etc should be disbanded and affidavit filed by the applicant should be verified through revenue officials. Pranjal Singh, head of Abhytthanam Society working for RTE, says the income cap of Rs 2.5 lakh in Rajasthan is being misused grossly. “Places like Delhi have an upper limit of Rs 1 lakh and even in economically poor states like Bihar and Odisha the upper cap on income is less than Rs 1.5 lakh,” said Singh. The figures matter for the common man due to the fact that the government is spending around Rs 14,000 per child admitted under the RTE. In the last academic session, state spent Rs 105 crore on reimbursements to private schools on account of admissions under RTE. A chartered accountant on condition of anonymity said that many parents are not interested to show their income beyond Rs 2.5 lakh so to take the benefit of this scheme. (Times of India 26/6/15)

58. Orphans deserve a berth in OBC list: BC Commission chief (25)

TIRUPATI: National Commission for Backward Classes Chairman Justice V. Eswaraiah on Sunday strongly vouched for inclusion of the orphaned children in the Other Backward Classes (OBC) list, saying that the category is ‘most deserving’ for the status. Justice Eswaraiah, who visited the TTD’s Sri Venkateswara Balamandir, a special home for the orphaned and destitute children here, said: “The deserving categories should get the benefits of reservation policy. The orphans are oppressed as they don’t have parental affection, emotional attachment and any guide force for future. I believe that reservation should not be given only on the basis of social marginalisation, but on the basis of deprivation too,” he says. Taking a cue from the Supreme Court’s observation that the transgenders are entitled to a berth in the OBC list, Justice Eswaraiah recently mooted the idea of including orphans in the list for ensuring reservation for them in public sector undertakings and central educational institutions. (The Hindu 29/6/15)


59. NHRC serves notice to Surendranagar collector (1)

RAJKOT: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notice to Surendranagar district collector for not complying to its order with regard to practice of manual scavenging in Dudhrej municipality in the district. The Commission has asked the collector Udit Agarwal to personally remain present for hearing on July 28 if he fails to submit report by July 21. The commission in August 2014 had directed Agarwal to submit report on practice of manual scavenging in Dudhrej municipality following a complaint filed by Dalit Rights activist Kirit Rathod. He had sought NHRC’s intervention to prevent manual scavenging in Dudhrej municipality. “Despite sufficient time and opportunity having been given, the requisite Report has not been received. In these circumstances, let summons be issued for the personal appearance of District Magistrate, Surendranagar, before the Commission on July 28 at 11.00 am along with the requisite report. In case the report is received on or before July 21 the personal appearance of District Magistrate, Surendranagar, shall stand dispensed with,” said the notice issued two weeks ago. The Safai Kamdar Hak Rakshak Samiti, Surendranagar, had come up with documentary evidence on manual scavenging and demanded ban on the practice that Mahatma Gandhi called ‘Shame of the Nation’. The organization in association with Ahmedabad-based Navsarjan Trust, had demanded urgent steps to stop the practice and employ the people in other respectable jobs. “The municipality employs people who are forced to do manual scavenging, that is, clean up human excreta from public places. This is disgraceful,” Rathod alleged in complaint to NHRC. He had further claimed that the practice was violation of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013. (Times of India 21/6/15)

60. Over 40 percent Indians deprived of basic rights: SC judge (1)

Agartala: “Over 40 percent out of 1.25 billion Indians are acutely deprived of certain basic rights and opportunities,” said Justice Thakur, who is also the executive chairman of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA). Delivering his speech at a symposium here on Saturday night, the apex court judge said: “Over 40 percent of Indians are living below the poverty line. They also are surviving with lack of literacy, lack of basic opportunities and scopes besides economic deficiencies.” He said the NALSA and State Legal Services Authorities were working to provide various legal services and conducting awareness programme for the benefit of the people specially those are deprived, tribals and scheduled caste. “As a rule, judges are governing the justices and legal matters, but a father also must do justice to his children, a husband or a wife must do justices to each other, a parliamentarian or a legislator must do justice to the people of their constituencies and a minister do justice to all his subjects,” he said. “All of our target must be to support neglected people of our society. Injustice cannot be tolerated in our system,” Justice Thakur said, adding that poverty should not be an impediment in providing justice to the weaker section of society. NALSA`s executive chairman said it was a challenge to make disadvantage and illiterate people aware of their rights in a country where legal literacy percentage was much below the expected level. “There is a commitment to ensure that poor people have equal access to justice. We have been devising our own ways to reach out to them. In this mission, students are our ambassadors,” Justice Thakur said. Tripura High Court Chief Justice Deepak Gupta said that according to a survey conducted by a Guwahati-based NGO, over 86 percent of tribals were not at all aware about the legal aid services. Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, State Legal Services Authority`s executive chairman and Tripura High Court Judge Utpalendu Bikash Saha were among others who spoke at the symposium, organised to spread the legal knowledge among the students, youths and others. The NALSA has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, to provide free Legal Services to the weaker sections of the society and to organise Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes. (Zee News 21/6/15)

61. NGOs oppose Criminal Procedure amendment (1)

Mumbai: The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and Police Reforms Watch — an umbrella organisation for the movement of various voluntary groups and activists committed to monitoring the implementation of police reforms — have demanded that the recent state Cabinet decision to make certain amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) be withdrawn. The NGOs have alleged that the amendments would make prosecuting a public servant in corruption and torture cases even more difficult than it is at present. On June 6, the state Cabinet approved the decision to amend CrPC’s Sections 190 and 156(3) to the effect that a magistrate would not be able to take cognisance of a complaint against any public servant, including MLAs, bureaucrats, corporators, and even elected members of municipalities and panchayats without the prior sanction of the respective competent government authorities. The sanction of the Speaker of Legislative Assembly would be required to register a case against an elected representative, while sanction of the chief secretary would be necessary for action against bureaucrats. Investigating agencies are restrained from even conducting preliminary enquiries into the complaints and allegations without getting prior sanction from government. Maja Daruwala, director, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, said, “The Cabinet decision is against public interest. The proposed amendments, if passed, will increase the pool of impunity that already exists. The very notion of asking for permission to even investigate possibly corrupt officials goes against our beliefs in democratic governance. There is no transparency about how sanctions are given or refused.” The NGOs have claimed that the state government’s decision is in contravention of Supreme Court judgment of 2013 which lays down that where the facts given in a FIR make out a cognisable offence, it is mandatory for the police to file the FIR. The police may conduct a preliminary inquiry only when it is unclear whether the offences are cognisable or not. (Asian Age 24/6/16)

62.  ‘Happy that awareness on rights has increased’ (1)

RAICHUR: Meera C. Saksena, Acting Chairperson of the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission, expressed happiness at the increasing number of complaints being lodged with the commission and varied issues being covered in the complaints, as a result of higher human rights awareness among people. She called upon the rights activists and other educated people to join hands with the commission in further spreading the awareness in order for it to reach the last person in society. She was addressing a public meeting after launching the Raichur chapter of Indian Human Rights Panel, a civil society rights organisation, at Pundit Siddarama Jambaladinni auditorium here on Thursday. “The State Human Rights Commission has, after its establishment in 2005, received over 50,000 complaints, of which around 35,000 have been disposed of. It is a good development that in recent years, there is a gradual increase not only in the number of complaints being lodged with the commission, but also in the diversity of issues being covered in the complaints. This is largely to growing awareness among people. The human rights activists and educated people need to join hands with the commission in further spreading the awareness as a movement,” she said. Apart from individual complaints, she said, non-governmental organisations and media have, since the beginning, been major sources of information about human rights violations. Assuring to safeguard the complainant, Ms. Saksena called upon the people to come forward to report the human rights violations around them. “You need not spend even a single rupee for reporting human rights abuse around you. You can even report human rights violations by just calling us through a toll free number,” she said. She held “delivery mechanism” responsible for failure in proper implementation of various welfare, civic and developmental programmes. “Legislatures have made many laws and government have come up with various programmes. If they are not benefiting the intended, it is the failure of delivery mechanism, which we must take seriously,” she said. (The Hindu 26/6/15)


63. 2.64 Crore Cases Pending in Indian Courts: Law Minister (19)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:  As many as  2.64 crore cases are pending in various courts across the country, Union Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda said on Sunday.The government is also taking steps to fill 360 vacancies of judges in the High Courts, he said, addressing a meet-the-press programme organised by the Thiruvananthapuram Press Club. Priority will be given to the conduct of Lok Adalats for encouraging out-of-court settlements, he said, adding that 44 lakh cases are pending in the High Courts alone. The government’s aim was to make the law simple and accessible to the common man. Redundant and obsolete laws have to be axed from the statute books, Gowda said, adding that the government intends to have a national litigation policy soon. He stressed the need for speeding up the commercial litigation process and arbitration. Gowda said that the labour laws have to be amended as “no one is prepared to invest in India.” Labour welfare, he added, was indeed an area of concern. (New Indian Express 22/6/15)

64. Subramanian Swamy challenges hate speech law in SC (19)

NEW DELHI: After challenging the validity of the criminal defamation law, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has now challenged before the Supreme Court various provisions of the Indian Penal Code dealing with offences of ‘hate speech’, saying they were violative of the fundamental right to freedom of speech. According to the law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or hurt religious feeling or promote enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc. Swamy contended in his plea that Sections 153, 153A,153B, 295, 295A, 298 and 505 of the IPC in respect of so-called “hate speech” were used to penalize people for expressing their views even within the bounds of reasonable restrictions and they should be set aside. Section 153 deals with provoking people with the intent to cause riot and Section 153A talks about promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc. Section 295 makes injuring or defiling places of worship with the intent to insult the religion of any class an offence. Section 298 covers cases of hurting religious sentiments deliberately. “All these sections do not have any safeguards within which a person can publicize his analysis of various nuanced truths of interaction between groups which differ on the basis of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community,” Swamy said in his petition. He contended that under the present law, a person couldn’t attempt to initiate a public debate to modify people’s perception as the person was “chilled or gagged” under the present law. “By these laws, therefore, not only are such persons harassed by a criminal prosecution which could continue unendingly, but also on that pretext, a vibrant and vigorous public discourse essential in a democracy is gagged. There is also thereby violation of the citizens’ fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression,” he said. Swamy also urged the court to stay criminal proceedings initiated against him in Delhi, Mumbai, Assam, Mohali and Kerala for expressing views on terrorism which was termed as hate speech under the IPC provisions. “It is submitted herein that in all these impugned sections, there is a presumption that such utterances, whether honest or not, do actually and invariably result in the commission of the offences per se. It is submitted that this is not correct,” he said. He said a person should not be prosecuted under these sections for expressing his views if there was no violent consequences or reaction within a reasonable span of time. The Supreme Court is likely to take up Swamy’s petition in the second week of July. (Times of India 23/6/15)

65. PIL against Repromulgation of Land Bill Ordinance (19)

NEW DELHI:Three city-based NGOs and the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) on Thursday filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the NDA Government’s attempt to re-promulgate the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Ordinance. The PIL contented, “The government in complete contravention of the basic Constitutional ethos, that lawmaking function is of Parliament, has proceeded to issue the impugned Ordinance and seek to govern this country through Ordinance raj. It is the third Ordinance to be passed successively by the Central government in its attempt to thrust a land acquisition law on the country which does not have the sanction of Parliament.” The Supreme Court had in April sought the Centre’s response on a similar PIL. The apex court had issued notice to the government seeking reply in four weeks’ time. Petitioner advocate Devadatt Kamat argued, “It is not only arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution, but is also a fraud on the Constitution, for the government to promulgate successive Ordinance assuming itself the legislative power of Parliament.” (New Indian Express 26/6/15)

66. HC gives 2 weeks to state on PIL regarding law to run casinos (19)

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today allowed two weeks time to Maharashtra government to file its reply to a public interest litigation demanding that a four- decade-old law which makes it legal to run casinos in the state be brought into force. A bench, headed by Justice V M Kanade, asked the state government to take a stand on the issue within a fortnight and inform the court whether it intends to implement this law. According to the petitioner, Jay Satya, a law student, the Maharashtra Casinos (Control and Tax) Act was passed by the Assembly and published in the government gazette in July 1976. However, it has not been notified yet. Satya found out through the Right to Information that the Act received the Governor’s assent on July 22, 1976. Last December, he wrote a letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis requesting him to notify it but there was no reply. The Act provides for licensing of casinos, permitting certain types of casino games, taxation of the money paid or agreed to be paid by the participants by way of stakes or bets, etc. Goa and Sikkim are the only two states which currently allow casinos, the PIL says, alleging that government of Maharashtra has “arbitrarily and unreasonably” kept in abeyance the Act by not notifying it. (Business Standard 26/6/15)

67. Can expansion of fundamental rights post-1977 stop another Emergency? (19)

A little over 40 years ago on June 12, 1975, Justice Jagmohan Lal Sinha of Allahabad high court inflicted a stinging moral and mental blow to then PM Indira Gandhi. The HC annulled her election to Lok Sabha from Rae Bareli, taking away her authority to remain PM. She appealed in the Supreme Court. Celebrated lawyer Nani Palkhivala argued for interim relief before Justice Krishna Iyer on June 23, 1975. Palkivala later wrote, “The interim order (passed on June 24, 1975) was that pending the hearing and final disposal of the appeal, Mrs Gandhi could continue to sit in the Lok Sabha and participate in the proceedings of that House like any other member. The only restriction on her was that she was not given the right to vote. “The judge mentioned that this did not involve any hardship because Parliament was not in session at the time and that I (Palkhivala) could renew the application for the right to vote when Parliament reassembled. The evening of that very day (June 24, 1975), I saw Mrs Gandhi at her residence and told her that I found the interim order very satisfactory and she should not worry about the case since the judgment of the trial court did not seem to be correct on the recorded evidence.” He further said, “In less than 36 hours, Emergency was declared, invaluable fundamental rights of the people were suspended, and the PM virtually acquired all the powers of the leader of a totalitarian state. That was the black morning of June 26, 1975.” What followed were dreadful days of Emergency. Overnight, protectors turned predators. They want only inflicted misery on citizens and settled personal scores. With impunity, they butchered fundamental rights of citizens and threw them into prison even for a murmur of protest. Elected representatives either sided with the authoritarian ruler, went underground or were jailed. The citizens’ sole refuge was the judiciary. Preventive detentions under Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) were challenged in high courts through habeas corpus writs. Fali S Nariman recounted in his autobiography ‘Before Memory Fades’, “Nine high courts in the country, including the high courts of Allahabad, Bombay, Delhi, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana, held that notwithstanding the imposition of Emergency and the Presidential Order, courts were empowered to examine whether orders of detention were in accordance with MISA under which detenus were detained.” The HCs upheld the rule of law and those judges stood by their oath. The Centre and state governments challenged these HC decisions in the Supreme Court, the lead one being the infamous ‘ADM Jabalpur’ case. If the majority in bureaucracy and police either enjoyed the draconian power or acquiesced to implement patently illegal orders, four of the five judges of the SC in ADM Jabalpur case displayed lack of spine and delivered a skewed judgment – that even the most important right to life could be suspended during Emergency…. (Times of India 29/6/15)


68. State Liable to Compensate in Balangir Custodial Death: NHRC (1)

BHUBANESWAR: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has slapped a notice on Odisha Government asking why a compensation of `5 lakh should not be recommended for the kin of Basanta Pradhan, who died last year following torture in the custody of Balangir Police. It has also sought to know what actions have been initiated to arrest the police officials involved in the case. The Chief Secretary has been asked to respond to the show cause notice within six weeks. In June last year, Pradhan was held on suspicion of mobile phone theft by Balangir Police where he was subjected to torture. Two weeks later, he died, triggering unrest and violence in the Western Odisha town. In its notice, the NHRC stated that the report submitted by Additional DGP of Human Rights Protection Cell (HRPC) of State Police has found sufficient evidence to establish complicity of policemen in the incident. The investigation found the allegation of custodial torture to be true against the then Inspector-In-Charge of Balangir Town Tareuqe Ahmed, SIs Anant Kumar Pradhan and Malay Kumar Panda, ASI Dilip Kumar Dang, constable Brindavan Meher and home guard Saroj Kumar Naik under Sections 120B/341/342/343/323/330/348/302/34 of the IPC. The report also said none of the accused has been arrested as they have absconded. The human rights panel observed that the allegations made by the complainant are now admitted in the report of ADG of HRPC. “Therefore, the State is strictly liable to pay necessary compensation to the family of the deceased. The Chief Secretary is directed to response why a compensation of `5 lakh should not be recommended to be paid to the kin of the deceased within six weeks,” the notice said. The Chief Secretary’s reply should also indicate the progress made in the arrest of the accused involved in the crime. It should also be intimated what departmental action was taken against the erring police officials, it added. The petition for compensation was filed by rights activist Prabir Kumar Das. Last year on June 10, Pradhan, a resident of Hatapadapada in Titlagarh, was detained by Titlagarh Police in connection with a mobile phone theft case that had taken place in Balangir. He was later handed over to Balangir Police, which released the youth from its custody five days later. However, Pradhan did not keep good health after the incident and died on June 28 prompting allegations of custodial torture. The incident snowballed into a major law and order situation as angry locals ransacked the office of the SDPO holding police responsible for Pradhan’s death and demanded action. (New Indian Express 22/6/15)

69. Pay compensation if police fail to crack cases: High Court (1)

MADURAI: In a ruling that might come as a shocker to police officers and solace to victims of crime, the Madras High Court Bench here has held that the State government is liable to pay compensation to the victims even in cases which remain unsolved for years together and recover the money from the criminals after the police succeed in nabbing them. Passing interim orders on a petition filed by the father of a 15-year-old girl who was murdered for gain in Pudukottai district in March 2011, Justice S. Nagamuthu said: “When a citizen’s right is infringed by an unscrupulous criminal and when the crime could not be even detected by the State agencies, then the State government is liable to pay compensation.” The judge agreed with petitioner’s counsel G. Karuppasamy Pandian that neither the Crime Branch-Criminal Investigation Department (CB-CID) nor the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had been able to crack the murder case despite having dealt with it for nearly two years and 20 months respectively. “The State is constitutionally obliged to guarantee a dignified life to its citizens and it includes sufficient safety and safeguard to their person and property… but here is a man who has been waiting for justice for the past four years having lost his lovable daughter in her teenage. He is crying for justice at least to know the perpetrator of the crime. “The sufferings of the petitioner and his other family members and the mental agony and trauma caused to them as a result of the occurrence cannot be viewed lightly. Article 21, considered to be heart and soul of the Constitution, guarantees a very precious fundamental right to life which includes fair investigation and fair trial as against any crime,” the judge observed. Pointing out that a Victim Compensation Scheme, framed by the State government in 2013 following the introduction of Section 357A to the Code of Criminal Procedure in 2009, provides for a compensation of Rs. 3 lakh in cases of death, the judge ordered that a cheque for the amount should be handed over to the present petitioner and his wife in open court on July 27. (The Hindu 23/6/15)

70. RPF constables beat labourer to death, injure two others (1)

Patna: Railway Protection Force (RPF) constables picked up three labourers on the suspicion that they were involved in a theft and allegedly thrashed them, leaving one of them dead and two others seriously injured. Three persons including two RPF constables have been arrested in the connection, while the police have launched a manhunt to nab others involved in the incident. The police said the incident happened during the early hours at Locomotive Colony in Karbigahiya locality under Jakkanpur police station in Patna. The deceased labourer has been identified as Rampreet Rai (32), a resident of rural area of the district. Jakkanpur Station House Officer (SHO) Deepak Kumar said, “As per our information, the three labourers were sleeping under Karbigahiya overbridge. A few RPF constables came there, accused them of theft saying such incidents have increased in their colony and took them to their colony.” Kumar said the three labourers were held captive in a room in the residential colony and beaten so badly that one of them died on the spot while two others were left seriously injured in unconscious state. The SHO said the two injured have been admitted to Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH). “We have informed Rai’s family members. Two RPF constables and another person who assisted them have been arrested. They are being taken to the police station where we will lodge an FIR against them,” the SHO said. (Zee News 26/6/15)

71. Compensation for custodial torture (1)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The tough stance adopted by State Human Rights Commission chairperson J.B. Koshy has forced the Home Department to follow a directive issued by the commission in 2009, according to an official release issued by the SHRC. The order pertained to an incident which occurred on January 16, 2009, when the Kallambalam police took a college student, Sujith, into custody, in a case wherein a girl had been reported missing from Kallambalam. Sujith was allegedly tortured by the police before he was let off. He later sought treatment at the medical college hospital. The SHRC had registered two cases at the time and after detailed examination, ordered the government to pay Rs.10,000 as compensation to Sujith. The commission also directed the government on August 4, 2009, to conduct an inquiry and to exact the amount from the police officers found guilty in the incident and to take action against them. After five years, in July 2014, the State Police Chief had approached SHRC to report that verbal inquiries conducted by the police had been inconclusive. However, the SHRC rejected the government stance and insisted that the compensation be given. The Home Secretary said that it had issued orders offering a compensation of Rs.10,000 to Sujith and that the said amount would be exacted from the police office rs implicated in the case. (The Hindu 29/6/15)


72. Madhya Pradesh journalist set afire and buried in Maharashtra (1)

BHOPAL: While Uttar Pradesh police is investigating the death of Joginder Singh — a journalist set on fire in Uttar Pradesh after he accused a state minister of being involved in illegal mining and land seizures, yet another journalist from Madhya Pradesh has been set on fire and killed over a similar issue. The deceased Sandeep Kothari, 44 had gone missing from his house in Katangi area of Balaghat district in Madhya Pradesh on June 19. His family members had lodged a missing person’s complaint with the Katangi police station on June 20. During investigation police rounded up three youths from the locality on Sunday who allegedly confessed to have murdered him. They said he was set afire, murdered and buried in forest area of Nagpur district in Maharashtra. Police team has been sent exhume his charred body.”We have arrested three suspects in the case. They are being interrogated. Initially it seems to a personal rivalry our investigations are on,” IG Balaghat DC Sagar told TOI. (Times of India 21/6/15)

73. Journalist burnt to death by mining mafia (1)

Balaghat (M.P.): A 40-year-old local journalist was burnt to death allegedly by three persons, suspected to be closely linked to mining mafia, who set him ablaze apparently over his refusal to withdraw a court case, police said on Sunday. The burnt body of Sandeep Kothari, who was abducted from Katangi tehsil in Balaghat district two days ago, was found lying near the railway track at Sindi in Wardha district of Maharashtra on Saturday night, police said. Additional Superintendent of Police Neeraj Soni said Mr. Kothari was out on bail for the last two months in a rape case. “His [Kothari’s] body was identified by his brother.” The BSP demanded a CBI probe into the murder, saying the scribe’s family was “tormented” by the sand mafia as he had “exposed” their activities. The former MLA from Balaghat, Kishore Samrite, said Mr. Kothari was falsely implicated in more than 12 criminal cases. “He was externed as he wrote against and lodged complaints against manganese and sand mafias and other high and mighty people involved in organised crimes. His family too was tormented by mafias,” said Mr. Samrite. Police arrested three persons, Rakesh Nasvani, Vishal Dandi and Brijesh Duharwal, all from Katangi, in connection with Mr. Kothari’s murder. The Sub-Divisional Officer of Police (SDOP) J.S. Markam said they suspected that the three were engaged in illegal mining and running chit fund companies. They had allegedly kidnapped Mr. Kothari and set him ablaze. They were pressuring Mr. Kothari, who was working as a tehsil correspondent for some Jabalpur-based Hindi dailies, to withdraw a case of illegal mining he had filed against some persons in a local court. Police suspect Mr. Kothari was kidnapped and murdered because he refused to withdraw the matter. “We are investigating the case from all angles and a police team is camping in Nagpur. It will be premature to conclude the exact reason behind the kidnapping and killing,” Mr. Markam said. Mr. Kothari was abducted on June 19 night when he was headed towards Umri village with his friend on his bike. His bike was hit by a four-wheeler and its occupants bundled him inside the vehicle and fled before beating up Mr. Kothari’s friend Rahandle who was riding pillion, the SDOP said. Police had seized the car used for kidnapping Mr. Kothari, he said. — PTI (The Hindu 22/6/15)

74. J&K minister’s guards thrash journalist (1)

SRINAGAR: Jammu & Kashmir agriculture minister Ghulam Nabi Lone’s security guards allegedly assaulted a journalist after he objected to their lewd remarks about his wife here on Monday. The journalist, Javaid Malik, alleged he was assaulted when he tried to seek the minister’s intervention. He told reporters he was traveling with his wife in a car at Bagh-e-Mehtab when Lone’s motorcade passed by. “I made way for the cavalcade but the guards passed lewd comments on my wife that I even cannot narrate,” Malik said. Malik said he stopped the motorcade and sought the minister’s intervention. “When I narrated the whole incident, the minister instead of taking action against the cops, directed his guards to beat me up. I was ruthlessly thrashed and beaten to pulp at the minister’s behest.”He said the guards kept beating him despite his wife’s pleas. “Later, I was bundled into a vehicle and handed over to police station, Chanapora,” said Malik. Lone was not available for comments. (Times of India 23/6/15)

75. Murdered MP journo was framed in 19 false cases (1)

BHOPAL: Months before he was murdered earlier this week, Balaghat journalist Sandeep Kothari approached senior police officers several times fearing he may be killed by land and mining mafia. For last eight years, he was framed in cases ranging from goat theft to gang-rape. The accused in Sandeep’s murder were connected to all the cases in some manner, claimed Atul Jain, the journalist’s lawyer. While three persons, Vishal Tandi, Brajesh Daharwal and Pappu alias Shahid, have been arrested for the murder, the prime accused, Rakesh Narswani, is still at large. Jain said Sandeep was jailed in a rape case for over 16 months before his acquittal on January 4 this year. More than 20 cases were lodged against Sandeep in many police stations across Balaghat district and neighbouring Maharashtra, said Jain. “Barring one case, he was acquitted in all,” said Jain.A Dalit woman, who filed a complaint of rape against Sandeep on August 2013, later filed an affidavit in the same court saying she was forced to register the complaint against him. Jagat Mohan Chaturvedi, special judge (atrocities), said, “Accused can’t be held guilty when her statement is untrustworthy.” In a false gang-rape case filed against Sandeep and his brothers this year at Bela police station of Umred tehsil in Nagpur district, Maharashtra police did not come across evidence against him. “Besides, call details of his mobile showed he was never in Umred. The case was closed,” police officials from Bela told TOI. In a three-page letter sent to IG Balaghat on February 5, Sandeep even named the accused saying they had been hatching a conspiracy to kill him. They misled the police and levelled false allegations against him, he said in the letter. The unfolding of events later proved him dead right, said Sandeep’s brother Rahul. (Times of India 27/6/15)

76. Pak journalist shot dead in Balochistan (1)

Karachi: A young Pakistani journalist was shot dead at his residence in Usta Mohammad district of Balochistan on Sunday morning. According to the Express Tribune, 35-year-old Zafarullah Jattak was affiliated with a Quetta-based newspaper. Jattak was sleeping when the attack occurred. The deceased was working as tehsil reporter for Daily Intikhab. DSP Khawand Bukhsh said that armed men barged into his home and opened fire. Jattak died on the spot while his killers escaped unchallenged, he added. It is not yet clear whether it was a case of targetted killing of a media person or a murder linked to an old enmity. (New Kerala 29/6/15)

COMMUNAL RIOTS                           

77. Communal violence: State govt. issues orders to drop 175 cases (7)

MYSURU: The State government has issued orders to withdraw the 175 cases of communal violence booked during April and July, 2009, in Mysuru and during 2010 in Shivamogga and Hassan. The Home Department, in its orders issued on June 16, directed the Director of Prosecution and Government Litigation to take appropriate steps to withdraw the cases from the courts by submitting necessary applications. The Government Orders, which follow a Cabinet decision to the effect earlier this month, cites Section 321 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for dropping the communal violence cases. Communal violence had broken out in Kyathmaranhalli in Mysuru after miscreants threw the carcass of a pig at a place of worship in April 2009. A second round of violence gripped Mysuru in July that year. Out of the 42 cases booked during the two bouts of violence, the government has now withdrawn 40. Communal riots broke out in Shivamogga and Hassan in 2010 after the translated version of author Taslima Nasreen’s article was published. Of the 117 cases booked in Shivamogga during the period, 114 have been withdrawn. In Hassan, all the 21 cases have been withdrawn. Tanvir Sait, Congress MLA for Narasimharaja Assembly Constituency in Mysuru told The Hindu that the cases pertaining to murder had not been withdrawn. Meanwhile, the former Mayor and Kyathmaranhalli councillor Srikantaiah, whose house was also attacked in 2009, has welcomed the dropping of proceedings. The gesture will promote communal harmony and help people belonging to different faiths to live in peace and harmony, he said. “Some political parties and organisations, for their narrow political gains, had falsely alleged that only Muslims were getting a reprieve,” he said. But, at least 30 per cent of the persons booked in Mysuru and Hassan were Hindus. In Shivamogga, about half of the persons facing charges were non-Muslims, he added. (The Hindu 20/6/15)

78. Fatehpura resident arrested in connection with riots (7)

VADODARA: A resident of Fatehpura was arrested by the police in connection with the communal riots that broke out in Fatehpura on June 7. The rioting began after a temple idol in Fatehpura was damaged by some unidentified person. The cops had to lob 28 tear gas shells to quell the rioters and control the situation. Deepak More, who is member of the trust that manages the temple, has been arrested by the police. The cops said that More knows the person who had damaged the idol. “A meeting had happened just three or four days before the rioting occurred and More had attended the meet. Those who attended the meeting had planned to create ruckus in Fatehpura. We are now trying to track down others who attended the meeting,” said E Radhakrishana, city police commissioner. When asked whether More had vandalized the idol, Radhakrishana said that they are trying ascertain it. The police have arrested several persons for rioting but they haven’t able to track down the person who damaged the idol. Locals allege that the idol may have been damaged either due to property dispute or to create disturbance ahead of the upcoming civic polls. (Times of India 21/6/15)

79. Religious violence still a concern: report (7)

Washington: Religion-based violence in Indian society “continued to be a concern,” during the first year of Narendra Modi’s rule as Prime Minister, according to a report on worldwide human rights abuses released by the U.S. State Department In its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices unveiled on Thursday the Department said that the most significant human rights problems were police and security force abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and rape; widespread corruption that contributed to ineffective responses to crime, including those against women and members of scheduled castes or tribes; and societal violence based on gender, religious affiliation, and caste or tribe. The report alluded to “several instances” during the 2014 general elections, in which individuals faced arrest for allegedly posting political comments on Facebook. It cited in particular the case of Goa-based Devu Chodankar who was the subject of a complaint filed on May 23, 2014, allegedly for urging community members on Facebook not to vote for Mr. Modi. Following this “police detained and interrogated Chodankar for allegedly accusing Modi of planning a holocaust against Muslims and Christians… [and] confiscated Chodankar’s computer and other related items,” the report noted. While the report referenced some states’ laws restricting religious conversion, the Department also appeared to have closely tracked a report submitted to the Indian government by three senior police officials from Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and one Intelligence Bureau representative entitled ‘Strategy for Making Police Forces More Sensitive Towards Minority Sections,’ which the report said “acknowledged bias within the police force against Muslims and reported the Muslim perception of police as communal, biased, and insensitive.” Last summer in some areas such as Bastar district of Chhattisgarh numerous village councils passed resolutions banning non-Hindu religious “propaganda,” prayers, and speeches in their villages, the Department said. Additionally the report highlighted communal violence in Pune in late May, wherein social media posts triggered multiple arson attacks on Muslim-owned shops and mosques and an assault against a Muslim cleric. It underscored the June 2 incident in which a group beat Mohsin Shaikh, who was returning from prayers in Pune, to death, allegedly targeting him for his “Muslim appearance.” In that case police arrested members of the Hindu Rashtra Samiti and pressed murder charges against its chief, Dhananjay Desai, the Department added. Similar to previous reports on religious freedoms issued by the U.S. government, this week’s report also drew attention to concern expressed by civil society activists “about the Gujarat government’s failure to hold accountable those responsible for the 2002 communal violence in Gujarat.” More broadly, other human rights problems of India that found mention in the report include disappearances, hazardous prison conditions, arbitrary arrest and detention, and lengthy pre-trial detention, all exacerbated by a judiciary that “remained backlogged, leading to lengthy delays and the denial of due process.” (The Hindu 26/6/15)


80. Yoga not secular: VHP’s Praveen Togadia (26)

Jaipur: Amidst opposition in some quarters to observing International Yoga Day, VHP International Executive President Dr Praveen Togadia on Monday said that the discipline was never secular and was more of “Vedic and sanatan”.He also said that Surya Namaskar was an essential part of the exercise form and no performance of yoga was complete without it. “Om and Surya Namaskar, two exercises of yoga, are very necessary and without them, yoga is incomplete,” Togadia told reporters at a VHP event here. The Hindu right-wing leader leader further said that “yoga was never secular, it is more ‘Vedic and sanatan’ (ancient)”. “Namaj and yoga are two different things. Those who do not want Om and Surya Namaskar, they should practise only gym activity for better health,” he said. “Those who want to live healthy life should opt for yoga, and those who want to commit suicide (not better life) could avoid it,” he warned. He also said that VHP would not allow any changes to be introduced in yoga exercises. On the sidelines of a state-level training event, Togadia added that five lakh health ambassadors would be trained under a VHP programme over the next three years. He also said that similar training programmes would be launched in 300 cities. After several Muslim groups expressed reservations against offering ‘surya namaskar’ and reciting Sanskrit ‘slokas’ during the yoga ‘asanas’ to be performed during the June 21 International Yoga day event on Rajpath in New Delhi, the government had decided not to include ‘surya namaskar’ and ‘om’ chanting in the set of ‘asanas’ to be performed during the official celebrations. (Zee News 22/6/15)

81. Modi Government Granted Indian Citizenship to 4,300 Afghan, Pakistan Hindus ? (26)

CHENNAI: Has the Narendra Modi government granted citizenship to 4,300 Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan and Afghanistan during its last one year in office as claimed by a news agency report a week ago? Highly improbable, if one goes by the RTI reply provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs. The RTI document that Express has access to shows the actual number of people, who were granted citizenship from these two countries, was a modest 515 in 2014 and just 150 till the first week of June this year. The widely published agency report had stressed that this was an initiative of Home Minister Rajnath Singh following his party BJP’s declared policy that India is a “natural home for persecuted Hindus”, who were welcome to seek refuge. Ironically, it is Rajnath’s ministry that gave the actual figure under RTI following an application by Vinoth Ranganathan, co-founder of, a Bengaluru-based organisation that helps citizens with RTI applications. According to the information, signed by MHA’s director (citizenship) and CPIO, Pravin Horo Singh, the total number of persons granted citizenship during the whole of 2014 was 611, while that for this year till June first week was 189. These people came from 25 countries, including the UK, the US, the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, Bangladesh, China, Italy, Kenya and Liberia. “It is the information provided in the RTI that is genuine. I have been tracking the issue by getting the information through a RTI filed in March and June. The difference is only 40,” said Vinoth, pointing out that the figure of 4,300 was never substantiated by the media. From Pakistan, 267 people were given citizenship last year, and 83 this year till June. Similarly, from Afghanistan, 248 and 67 were given citizenship last year and this year respectively. From another neighbour, Bangladesh, 24 and 7 persons were granted citizenship during the same period. While granting citizenship to Pakistan and Afghanistan refugees may be a priority for the Centre, the figures as highlighted in media were in contrary to the official data being released to a RTI query. (New Indian Express 23/6/15)

82. Stray incidents during VHP sponsored Jehanabad bandh (26)

Patna: VHP activists on Saturday pelted stones at a Jan Shatabdi Express train in Bihar`s Jehanabad district to enforce a shutdown called to protest the police firing on people, police said. Hundreds of Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists armed with bamboo sticks created panic and terror in Jehanabad, about 50 km from Patna, and pelted stones at Jan Shatabdi Express train, a district police official said. “They also attacked policemen who tried to pacify them,” officials said. Police had to resort to lathicharge and fire tear gas shells to disperse the VHP`s activists after they went on rampage at several placeas. The bandh evoked a mixed response as shops and markets remained closed in some areas but vehicles could be seen plying. The VHP activists were demanding action against police officials who opened fire on June 25 on people at Soiya Ghat and Malahchak in Jehananad town when they went out of control during a protest over a land dispute with another community Refuting the VHP claim that four people were injured in the firing, police said only one person was injured. The district administration has deployed additional security forces and videographers to record the VHP`s activities during the shutdown. (Zee News 27/6/15)

83. Saffronisation of Education: States to raise the issue in CABE meeting (26)

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has called the first meeting of Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) on July 18. Along with CABE, the meeting will also include all the state education ministers as members. The meeting is expected to address some major issues as the HRD ministry will discuss about the progress of the New Education Policy (NEP) and the changes in the Right to Education Act. Whereas, the opposition states will raise the threats of saffronisation of education and the changes in NCERT textbooks. According to the TOI, an official said, “We want to build consensus. Since states as well as academicians are members of CABE, it will be easy to discuss many issues in the meeting.” The deadline for declaration of NEP is September. A senior official from the ministry’s school department said, “But it looks like announcement will be delayed a bit. After receiving the feedback, more consultations will take place at the Centre. In CABE, we will request states to take it up on priority basis.” There was a delay in constituting the members of CABE, in order to get new members. Once the names were finalized, they were sent to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for approval. The new names that are a part of CABE are Jawaharlal Kaul, vice-chancellor of Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna (Garhwal Central University) D N Bezboruah (Former head of Editor’s Guild) etc. (India Today 29/6/15)


84. Over 2,000 killed in terrorist attacks, blasts since 1989: MHA (12)

New Delhi: Over 2000 people, including several security personnel, have been killed in terrorist attacks and bomb blasts in the last 25 years, an RTI query has revealed. According to an RTI reply by Internal Security Division of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, “2129 people, including security personnel, have lost their lives in terrorist attacks and bomb blasts on Indian soil between 1989 and May 31, 2015.” The major terror attacks in this period are 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts, 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, 2006 Mumbai train blast, 1998 Coimbatore serial blasts, 2005 Delhi blasts, 2006 Varanasi blast, 2007 Samjhauta Express bombing, 2008 Guwahati serial bomb blast and 2010 German Bakery blast. In reply to a separate RTI query, the Left Wing Extremism Division of the Ministry stated that Rs 595 crore was disbursed among ten naxal affected states in the last three years for security-related schemes. Between 2012-13 and 2014-15, Chhattisgarh received Rs 135 crore under security related schemes while Jharkhand got Rs 164 crore and Odisha Rs 110 crores, it said. Among other states, West Bengal received Rs 46.72 crore, while Rs 44 crore were released for Bihar, Maharashtra recieved Rs 29.56 crore, Uttar Pradesh was issued Rs 14 crore and Madhya Pradesh received Rs 2.60 crore. Andhra Pradesh received Rs 45.12 crore in the period, while following the bifurcation of AP, the newly-formed state of Telangana received Rs 5.09 crore in 2014-15, the Ministry informed. (Zee News 21/6/15)

85. Taliban attack Afghan Parliament, kill 2 (12)

Kabul: Taliban militants launched a brazen assault on the Afghan Parliament Monday, triggering gunfire and explosions and sending lawmakers scurrying for cover in an attack that killed two civilians, including a child. The raid came as the Afghan President’s nominee for the crucial post of defence minister was to be introduced in Parliament and ended two hours later with the killing of all seven attackers, including a suicide car bombing. “First a car bomb detonated on the main road near the Parliament building, then a group of attackers entered a building in front of Parliament,” Kabul police spokesman Ebadullah Karimi said. The insurgents were repelled after failing to enter the Parliament but took up position in a partially-constructed building nearby, he said. Officials said two civilians, a woman and a child, were killed in the attack, which left a thick plume of smoke hanging over the Parliament complex and tore a huge crater in an adjoining street. Deputy interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said there were seven attackers and the health ministry reported 31 people, including five women and a child, wounded. Dramatic television footage of the moment the first explosion struck showed pandemonium and screams inside Parliament, with Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi sitting in his chair, calmly telling lawmakers “it’s an electrical issue”. MP Mohammad Reza Khoshak, who was in the chamber at the time, described hearing “a loud explosion, followed by several other smaller explosions”. “In a few seconds the hall was filled with smoke and MPs began fleeing the building,” he said. The attackers also fired rocket-propelled grenades at the Parliament, causing some damage to the complex. The Taliban launched a countrywide offensive in late April, stepping up attacks on government and foreign targets in what is expected to be the bloodiest fighting season in a decade. A district in the northern province of Kunduz fell to the Taliban on Monday, the second such loss in two days. Officials said the militants were able to take over when urgently needed reinforcements failed to arrive. The Taliban captured Dasht-e-Archi district a day after hundreds of militants fought their way to the centre of the adjacent district of Chardara. “The Taliban managed to take it over this morning as the area has been surrounded for days,” Nasruddin Saeedi, the district governor who escaped to the provincial capital, Kunduz city, said. “There are many foreign fighters with heavy machine guns. We have asked for reinforcements, but none arrived.” Afghan soldiers were preparing a counter attack to retake both districts, another local official said. The militants recently rebuffed requests from senior Afghan clerics to halt attacks during the fasting month of Ramzan even as a surge in violence has sent civilian casualties soaring. “Several mujahideen have entered the Parliament building,” Taliban spokes-man Zabihullah Mujahid posted on Twitter. “The attack happened at a time when the defence minister was being introduced.” The police denied that Taliban fighters had breached the high-security complex. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan strongly condemned the raid, saying it was a “clear and deliberate affront to democracy in Afghanistan”. (Asian Age 23/6/15)

86. Congress seeks court-monitored probe into Malegaon blast case (12)

NEW DELHI: Congress on Thursday demanded that the judiciary monitor the Malegaon blast probe, attacking the Modi government after the public prosecutor alleged that she was under pressure from National Investigation Agency (NIA) to go soft on the accused. AICC spokesman Ajay Maken said, “It is a very serious matter. The NIA director general should be immediately removed because he is responsible for it. The Supreme Court or the high court should monitor the NIA investigation directly. We no longer have faith in the probe being carried out by the NIA under government of India or home ministry.” Congress spokesperson Shobha Oza called it “undeclared emergency”. (Times of India 26/6/15)

87. Kuwait Terror Attack Killed Two Indians (12)

NEW DELHI: Two Indians were among 27 killed in a suicide bombing that targeted the Shia Imam-al-Sadiq mosque in the eastern part of Kuwait on Friday. According to the Indian Embassy in Kuwait, Rizwan Hussain and Ibne Abbas, both from Uttar Pradesh, were taking part in the prayers when a fidayeen from terror outfit Islamic State, wearing an explosive vest, detonated the IEDs, killing 27 and injuring 200. The Embassy has also issued an advisory asking all Indians to take precautions for their safety and security in Kuwait. Rizwan Husain, a native of Sultanpur district, was working as a watchman in the mosque while Ibne Abbas from Ambedkar Nagar district in UP was working as a driver. A suspected IS Twitter account known to be spreading propaganda had claimed responsibility for the attack, which is first such terror act on a mosque in the Emirate. “In view of the bomb blast on June 26, all members of Indian Community in Kuwait are advised to take precautions for their safety and security in the country,” the embassy statement added. Security experts allege that wealthy donors from Kuwait helped IS to grow, providing the outfit with financial aid. They also noted that Kuwait was on the IS hit-list as it joined the anti-IS coalition.  (New Indian Express 29/6/15)


88. Maoists call for shutdown, torch tractors in Bihar (12)

Patna: Maoists called for a two-day shutdown beginning Tuesday in Bihar over the killing of their men and burnt down eight tractors and set ablaze a mobile tower in separate incidents, police said. “A group of armed Maoists torched eight tractors in Agrail village in Vaishali and set ablaze a mobile tower in Gausganj village near Paliganj in Patna early Tuesday,” a police official said. Maoists are protesting against the killing of twelve of their men in neighbouring Jharkhand early this month and the security forces’ operation against them, police said. Taking serious note of the incident, officials at the police headquarters in Patna have directed the district police to intensify combing operations against Maoists. (New Kerala 23/6/15)

89. Cops nab Maoist carrying Rs 5L reward on head (12)

PATNA: Police on Monday nabbed an alleged Maoist Shivji Dhobi alias Baba Tyagi from Paniara village under the Ghosi police station area in Jehanabad district. He was carrying a reward of Rs 5 lakh on his head. Police said Shivji would head the Bihar-Jharkhand special area committee of banned CPI (Maoists). Considered a good planner and execution of the ultra-left outfit, the sexagenarian is suffering from acute diabetes and other ailments. A doctor identified as Kamlesh used to accompany Shivji during his movement, but he escaped when police stormed Shivji’s hideout. Sources said several teams, including that of CRPF, Special Task Force of the state police and central intelligence agencies, were working to nab Shivji. He was hugely respected by the rank and file of CPI (Maoists), the sources said and added he planned the loot of 30 rifles from SAP jawans in Goh block of Aurangabad district on July 13, 2013. His squad also participated in the face-off between Jharkhand police and Maoists in Chaupan in January this year. According to a police officer, now that Shivji is behind bars, no top Maoist in the Magadh division is left scot-free. “As for his replacement in the outfit, we will have to be on watch,” the officer said. (Times of India 23/6/15)

90. New Maoist committee gives security forces jitters (12)

VISAKHAPATNAM: With the security forces gradually limiting the movement of the CPI Maoists in the Andhra-Odisha Border (AOB) area, the banned outfit has reportedly modified its tactics as well as its organizational structure. The naxals are believed to have formed a new committee called the Malkangiri-Visakha-Koraput divisional committee with an experienced leader at the helm to strengthen the rank and file and regain their past glory. According to sources, the new division was formed after the visit of Maoist central committee leaders to Visakha Agency in May and June this year. Around 14 leaders from the Dandakaranya Zonal Committee of Chhattisgarh, including Maoist central military chief Namballa Kesava Rao alias Ganganna and central regional bureau (CRB) chief Katakam Sudarsan alias Anand are learnt to have visited the district. Few days after their visit, another team of nine members interacted with the squads and area committees in the AOB, sources said. They said the new committee was aimed at not only strengthening the naxal presence in the AOB areas, but also to safeguard their movements in Chhattisgarh. If the AOB Maoists become weak, the ones in the Dandakaranya zone would be in danger as security forces of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha would seal the borders and corner them. Though one Venu calling himself the head of the Malkangiri-Visakha-Koraput divisional committee has already begun issuing press notes, the Visakha Rural cops suspect that Venu is none other the dreaded Gajarla Ravi alias Ganesh alias Uday, the present Malkangiri-Koraput border (MKB) divisional committee secretary. Ravi, a native of Warangal district, was one of the Maoist representatives that attended the meeting with the state government in 2005, following which he became famous as Charchala Ganesh. “Ravi, a chronic diabetic, worked as a North Telangana Special Zonal Committee (NTSZC) member but when the NTSZC lost grip over Telangana due to severe repression by security forces in the form of encounters and arrests as well as surrenders of squad members, he was transferred to the AOB Special Zonal Committee,” a senior police officer involved in anti-naxal operations told TOI. “Uday might have been given charge of the new division as he has good organisational skills. The Reds will now try to concentrate on areas where they have lost their grip and chalk out plans to strengthen their presence AOB, which is the key to protecting their movement in Chhattisgarh,” a senior police official in Visakha agency said. Sources said that the Maoists set up the new committee to guide the other divisions after the strength of potential leaders reduced in Visakha, Malkangiri and Koraput. However, all the three divisions would now be treated as sub-division committees led by commander rank naxals, who would become members of the new divisional committee. (Times of India 28/6/15)

91. 5 Armed Maoists Visit Tribal Colony in Wayanad (12)

MANANTHAVADY: Sending out a strong message to the state government on the existence of maoist activism post Roopesh-Shyna arrest in Coimbatore, an armed group of five rebels have reportedly visited households at Kurichiya colony near Melathalapuzha. By 7.30 pm on Friday, a group of five gun-wielding men and women visited tribal households in the colony. The group disclosed their identities as Manoj, Sreeni, Anu, Varghese and Jenny to inhabitants of the household. Further, the group of three men and two women who were in green uniforms lectured the tribals about development of the marginalised people in the state. “Tomorrow, the state police and media will flock your houses once they learn that we visited you,” the rebels said to the tribals. Before the group disappeared, they handed over the pamphlet ‘Kaattu Thee’ to them. The Thalapuzha police have registered a UAPA case after recording the statement of the residents of Kurichiya colony. Maoist presence in Wayanad was last reported on December 13, 2014 at Vellamunda. “We have taken the issue seriously. Our investigation procedures are underway and we are not in a position to divulge the nature of the investigation now,” said Premkumar, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) of Mananthavady. (New Indian Express 29/6/15)


92. Seven arrested for child trafficking in Faridkot (1)

Faridkot: Faridkot district police today claimed to have busted an inter-state gang of seven members and recovered a 2-day-old infant who was allegedly being sold to Panchkula based couple for Rs 2.80 lakh. Acting on a tip-off, police arrested the buyer when he allegedly reached the bus top to take the infant here yesterday. The gang of seven members, including four women and parents of the infant were also arrested, they claimed. According to SSP Charnjit Sharma, Paramjit Kaur and her husband Pirthi Singh of Bazighar Basti were going to sell their child to a couple from Panchkula. After the infant was examined at Guru Gobind Medical College and Hospital, he was handed over to Krishan Dham, a local NGO. The middlemen have been identified as Kulwinder Kaur of Moga, Parminder Kaur of Faridkot, Gurmeet Kaur of Jaitu and Mamta from Barnala, he said. Out of the Rs 2.80 lakh deal, the child’s parents were suppose to get Rs 70,000 and the middlemen were to get the rest, police said.

Vikas Goyal, the buyer from Panchkula has also been held, SSP said. A case under Section 370 of IPC (buying or disposing of any person as a slave) and Section 2 of the Human Trafficking Act has been registered, he said. (Zee News 20/6/15)

93. Trafficked Assam girl saved from prostitution racket (1)

New Delhi: After a case of prostitution was registered with Assam Police, Delhi Police’s Crime Branch rescued a 15-year-old kidnapped Asamese girl from central Delhi’s Shakurpur on Saturday, police said. Police said the girl was lured on the pretext of getting a job and was handed over to a placement agency. She was rescued after Delhi Police’s Crime Branch was contacted by Assam Police. “We were informed that the girl had been kidnapped by some of her family members,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Ravindra Yadav. The Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) of Crime Branch traced her to placement agency LG Enterprises in Shakurpur. “The girl had been employed as a domestic worker,” Yadav added. A case under sections 366-A (procuration of minor girl), 372 (selling minor for purposes of prostitution) and 373 (buying minor for purposes of prostitution) of the Indian Penal Code is registered with Kaliabor police station in Assam. The girl told police that she was regularly beaten up after being kidnapped from outside her house. She was later kept confined at several places in Delhi and NCR, where she was also sexually assaulted by the kidnappers.“The girl was beaten up saying that she was purchased from her relatives and hence, she will have to obey their orders,” another police officer said.Police are now probing if she was sold to any gang here which runs an interstate prostitution racket. “We are yet to unearth the entire trafficking racket and are conducting raids to make arrests,” Yadav added. Police are mulling to add charges under Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act. Further action would be taken on the basis of the girl’s statement under section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. (Deccan Herald 21/6/15)

94. Consultation on child trafficking issues held (1)

Kakching : With the objective to sensitise the alarming situation of Child Trafficking in State and explore strategies to prevent it, a One Day Consultation on “Child Trafficking Issues” was held at DRDA Conference Hall located inside the Office Complex of Chandel DC on Wednesday. The consultation programme was organised by New Era Environmental & Development Society (NEEDS) Imphal under the sponsorship of Child Rights & You (CRY) for the leaders of civil societies, church leaders, NGO workers, student leaders, police personnel, doctors as well as the officials of Social Welfare Department in the district. Resource persons of the consultation, Th Modhuchandra Singh, SDPO Chandel; K.Pradip Kumar, CRY Fellow and Ashim Gosh, Associate General Manager CRY deliberated on topics “Child trafficking scenario in Manipur State since the last 4-5 years”, “causes, traffickers and destination” and “the role & responsibility of the concerned stakeholders” . (Manipur: E-Pao  25/6/15)

95. Underaged girls rescued in Kalaburagi, trafficking in women busted (1)

KALABURAGI: The police, Child Line volunteers and the district child protection unit have busted what appeared to be a human trafficking network in the guise of marriage and rescued two girls who were to be taken to Rajasthan. While Jyothi (12) was married to a 40-year-old from Rajasthan, Jagadevi (16) was scheduled to be married to another person from the State. They were rescued from two houses at Pala and Srinivas Saradagi villages on Wednesday. Preliminary investigation by the police and inquiries by the volunteers of Child Line and the child protection unit revealed that Hemraj from Rajasthan, who had married a girl from Pala a few years ago, had come to Kalaburagi city on June 3 and started scouting for gullible and poverty stricken families who could part with their girls for a “cost”. First, they persuaded the widowed mother of Jyothi living in Ram Nagar locality in Kalaburagi city to marry her daughter to Vijay Singh and reportedly paid her Rs. 25,000. The marriage was performed secretly at a small temple in the KIADB Industrial area at Kapnur in Kalaburagi. Later, the same family persuaded another poverty stricken family at Srinivas Saradagi village to marry Jagadevi to Sunil Prabhati (35), who is a cousin brother of Hemraj and they were also paid Rs. 25,000. The marriage of Jagadevi was fixed at a temple in Srinivas Saradagi village on June 26. There was high drama in the morning when the volunteers and the police swooped down on the house at Pala where Vijay Singh and Jyothi were sheltered along with Hemraj and his wife, Ramabai. They presented Jyothi before the police without any protest. Neither the girl nor the family from Rajasthan provided clear answers to the questions by the police personnel. Based on the information provided by Hemraj that another marriage is fixed at Srinivas Saradagi, the police team visited the village and rescued the girl from a locked house. Superintendent of Police Amit Singh told The Hindu that Vijay Singh and Sunil had been picked up for questioning and Hemraj and Ramabai too would be detained. The two girls would be subjected to medical tests before admitting them to the home for girls. Cases under the Prevention of Child from Sexual Offence, Human trafficking and other sections would be booked against the culprits. (The Hindu 25/6/15)


96. Complaint against Ashish Joshi on ‘blanket-tea scam’ (5)

New Delhi: The Delhi government’s Anti-Corruption Branch has received a complaint against former Delhi Dialogue Commission member-secretary Ashish Joshi, alleging misuse of funds allocated to the Delhi Urban Improvement Shelter Board from the Centre for Holistic Development, an NGO that works for homeless people. “As much as Rs.12 crore, which was allocated to DUSIB by the Lieutenant-Governor for schemes aimed at making the lives of the homeless in Delhi better, was misused during the last financial year,” CHD’s Sunil Kumar Aledia said in his complaint. According to the complaint, an estimated 20,000 blankets, sheets and other provisions were procured at double the price from the market while tea, which was supposed to be provided free of cost to those living in shelters for the homeless, was procured at Rs. 9 per cup, which exceeded the sanctioned cost of Rs. 4 per cup. Mr. Aledia’s complaint also charged Mr. Joshi, who was a member of DUSIB at the time, with a “large-scale scam” in the utilisation of funds meant for de-addiction centres under the government and “unwarranted expulsion” of inmates from night shelters. (The Hindu 21/6/15)

97. Lalit Modi row: PM Narendra Modi didn’t fulfill ‘no corruption’ promise, says Congress (5)

New Delhi: The Congress on Tuesday upped the pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party to take action against leaders who have been accused of helping former IPL chief Lalit Modi. Addressing a press conference, Congress leader Sachin Pilot demanded that “Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje must resign on moral and legal grounds to pave way for a fair investigation”. Raje is facing allegations of giving a secret testimony supporting Lalit Modi’s immigration plea in the UK. Her son, Dushyant Singh, has also been accused of receiving money in illicit transactions from Lalit Modi. Further, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has admitted to helping Lalit Modi secure travel documents in the UK. “BJP is saying that till the time documents aren’t verified they won’t ask CM Raje to step down. But who will verify them?” Pilot asked. “Double standards of BJP have been exposed. I had expected the PM to live up to his words of ‘no corruption’,” the Congress leader said, adding “PM Modi’s famous words ‘Na khaunga, na khaane dunga’ have come back to haunt him”. “BJP will have to ask the ministers to resign,” Pilot said. He further slammed the BJP for speaking in two voices on the Lalit Modi issue. “First BJP says Lalit Modi will be arrested the moment he comes to India. Then they say help extended (to Lalit Modi) was on humanitarian grounds,” Pilot said, adding the Congress party will be on the streets tomorrow demanding Raje’s resignation. Pilot also backed BJP leader and former home secretary RK Singh’s remarks that it was wrong to meet or help Lalit Modi. “I am sure there are several others like RK Singh ji in the BJP who are of the same view. Leaders in BJP and other parties openly say investigation must be conducted and these people must step down to allow a fair investigation,” Pilot said. Singh said earlier today that a police commissioner meeting an absconder is not correct. He was referring to the meeting between Rakesh Maria, now Police Commissioner of Mumbai, and Lalit Modi. “Lalit Modi should be brought back and he should face trial,” Singh added. It is totally wrong to meet or help an absconder, he stated. (Zee News 23/6/15)

98. K’taka govt moves SC against Jayalalithaa’s acquittal (5)

New Delhi: The Karnataka government today moved the Supreme Court challenging the state high court verdict acquitting Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in the disproportionate assets case. The state government in its appeal, filed through advocate Joseph Aristotle, has sought setting aside of the Karnataka HC order and also pleaded that the disqualification of the AIADMK chief be restored. It has also alleged that it did not get ample opportunity to put forth its case before the high court. The Karnataka High Court had on May 11 acquitted the AIADMK leader in the case, saying that her conviction by the special court suffered from infirmity and was not sustainable in law. The special court had last year held Jayalalithaa guilty of corruption and sentenced her to four years imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 100 crore (Deccan Herald 23/6/15)

99. CBI must probe cash-for-vote, Congress says (5)

HYDERABAD: The Congress party on Sunday demanded a CBI investigation into the cash-for-vote case and even threatened to file a public interest litigation (PIL) if the two warring governments failed to recommend a probe by the central agency. “We want Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu and Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao to recommend this case to the Central government for CBI investigation immediately,” AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh told reporters. Considering the sensitivity of this case, he said the CBI investigation must also be monitored by a special investigation team (SIT) appointed either by the Hyderabad high court or the Supreme Court. “If it doesn’t happen, both the state Congress committees of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh will file a PIL in the high court seeking to order a CBI probe in the case,” Singh said prior to an event to commemorate the 94th birth anniversary of former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao, in the city on Sunday. Lashing out at both Naidu and KCR for playing politics over the issue, Singh said, “Naidu is raising the issue that his phone was tapped, but he has not denied the fact that his party member was bribing the nominated MLA,” adding, “But why is KCR not openly saying that Naidu’s telephone was never tapped?” Replying to a question on the controversy over implementation of Section 8 of the Andhra Pradesh State Reorganisation Act, Singh said once Parliament passed the Bill, it became law of the land. “It is for the Government of India and governments of AP and Telangana to interpret the Act and apply it accordingly,” he said. While the Congress broke its silence a month after the cash-for-vote case raged into a controversy, Singh’s comments comes at a time when the BJP is subtly trying to mediate between the two states. Sources in the Congress said the party didn’t want to lose out to the BJP in the game of political one-upmanship at a time when the crucial elections for the Greater Hyderabad Corporation (GHMC) and by-poll for the Warangal Lok Sabha seat are around the corner. On current national politics, the AICC general secretary said Prime Minister Narendra Modi owes an explanation to people on the involvement of Union ministers in various scandals. He said there was enough evidence that minister for external affairs Sushma Swaraj had the prime minister’s nod before sending emails to the British High Commission recommending travel documents for disgraced former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi — when he wanted to move out of London. (Times of India 29/6/15)


100. New policy to solve solid waste issue (9)

New Delhi: Centre has kicked-off second generation reforms in fertilizer sector by framing a policy to produce compost from urban waste, which it believes would reduce chemical use and enrich soil. A cabinet note circulated by Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers offers incentives to manufacturers for producing compost and use municipal waste as manure in agro sector. India’s total municipal waste based compost production potential is around 40 lakh tonne, given the roughly 600 to 650 lakh waste generated annually by the cities and towns. The country’s current installed capacity for compost production is around 10 lakh tonne while the consumption is around 1 lakh tonne. Cities may have small-scale plants to produce compost, but incentives to manufacturers are vital to encourage firms to set up large-scale compost production units, a ministry official told Deccan Herald. Sources said the government is hoping to halve manure prices in three to five years as it boosts up production, while demand for manure is also soaring due to increase in organic farms. The way many chemical fertilizer companies include manure in their product list is a sign that compost production is fast becoming a serious business, the official said. Also, compost production would solve the issue of solid waste management, one of the greatest problems Indian cities are grappling with in recent times. Their struggles in managing waste are exacerbated by the financial crunch. The new policy would solve the urban waste crises and the predicament of chemical usage in agro sector at one stroke, noted another official. (Deccan Herald 22/6/15)

101. Amaravati faces risk of industrial pollution (9)

HYDERABAD: Amaravati, the proposed mega capital of Andhra Pradesh, will face a major threat of water pollution from Narla Tata Rao Thermal Power Station (NTTPS) if immediate remedial measures are not taken, warn experts. The north-west boundary of the new capital city extends up to Borupalem on the right bank of the Krishna, while the NTTPS sits right diagonally opposite, a kilometre away from the left bank of the river. The drinking water needs of Amaravati will be met from the Prakasam barrage across the Krishna, downstream of NTTPS in Vijayawada. In fact, the state government plans to supply water from the Krishna reservoir to the entire capital region, whose population is likely to touch 10 million by 2030. Though NTTPS authorities have taken several remedial measures in the recent years to arrest pollutants from leaking out, researchers have found that chemicals from the thermal plant’s effluents still make their way into the air and water. Besides heavy metals, the hot water released by the NTTPS into the Krishna has been affecting the ecology of the river, particularly the aquatic life. According to experts, even the treated effluents released into the hot water canal that empties into the river are so bad that animals like cattle hesitate to enter the seemingly placid water. Y Hanumantha Rao, associate professor in the department of chemistry, Andhra Loyola College (Autonomous) in Vijayawada, who conducted a study on the pollution caused by the thermal plant, told TOI that though the new capital, including Vijayawada city, may not face any immediate danger, the consequences will be catastrophic in the long run due to accumulation of pollutants. Unlike other thermal plants, effluents from NTTPS are released in the upstream of a major water body (Prakasam barrage). As the water is impounded in the barrage, it results in piling up of harmful chemicals, particularly non-degradable ones. A new canal should be dug to let out the treated effluents in the downstream of the barrage to protect the fragile environment of the river. The temperature of the hot water released by NTTPS has been found to be around 40 degrees and the temperature zone extended up to 200 metres into the river water. “NTTPS authorities should do a lot more to protect the ecology of the river and the life of residents, plants and animals in the capital region,” he said. G V Ramana of the department of physics, Andhra Loyola College, was part of the research team, which published the study in the Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Hanumantha Rao added that heavy metals such as chromium, manganese, iron, nickel, copper and zinc are being leached into the river from the thermal plant’s fly ash due to anaerobic conditions. “The accumulation of these signals the alarming situation ahead for people in the surrounding districts as the water is being supplied for drinking and agricultural purposes. The hot effluents merge into the Prakasam barrage on which people in five districts depend for their drinking water needs. About 12 lakh acres are cultivated under the barrage ayacut,” he said. (Times of India 24/6/15)

102. Delhi air has high doses of most toxic pollutant (9)

NEW DELHI: Delhi’s air pollution levels are among the worst in the world but new research is pointing at something even more worrying. A government agency that recently started monitoring the most dangerous class of particulate pollutants — ultrafine particulate matter or PM1 — found its levels to be quite high even in the low-pollution pre-monsoon season in comparatively cleaner locations of the city such as central Delhi’s Lodhi Road. PM1 is the tiniest class of pollution particles. Studies show it’s the primary cause of pollution-linked incidence of cardiovascular disease. Much finer than PM2.5, PM1 particles can easily penetrate very deep into the lungs or enter the blood stream. Currently, no safe standards have been set for PM1. Yet, there are several reasons why experts are ringing the alarm bells on the pollutant’s levels in Delhi. According to monitoring agency SAFAR, PM1 levels on certain days had peaked to 70 micrograms per cubic metre, higher than even the national safe standard for PM2.5, which is 60mg/m3. PM1 is a fraction of PM2.5 emissions but SAFAR scientists say their levels should be extremely low or none because of their health implications. “On most days, the proportion of PM1 is about 35% of the PM2.5 emissions but on Thursday it was more than 50% of PM2.5 emissions. This shows that people are breathing in ultrafine particles that have serious health impacts,” said Gufran Beig, project director, SAFAR. PM1 levels remain high even in wet weather because rain doesn’t wash away very fine particles, Beig said. “If PM1 is 50% of PM2.5 concentrations, we should really be worried,” said Anumita Roychowdhury of Centre for Science and Environment. T K Joshi, director of Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH), explains why this is so. “There is no safe standard for PM1 simply because there is no level that can protect everyone from its health impacts. There are people who are extremely sensitive to even very low levels. The current thinking is that we reduce the fine particles as much as possible. It is a very expensive proposition though,” Joshi said. He said PM1 particles can enter the blood and circulate, affecting the inner walls of arteries and causing cardiovascular problems. “Since they get diffused with the blood, new research also suggests they can travel to the brain and are linked to strokes,” added Joshi. A study by the School of Public Health at Fudan University in China, for instance, found that particles in the air measuring between 0.25 to 0.5 microns in diametre had a closer relationship to human health, especially an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. Monitoring of PM 1 levels can help the government address the major source of pollution. Unlike PM10 (coarse pollution particles) which can go up due to dust, PM1 is entirely because of combustion. “The major contributor to PM1 is from the transport sector, particularly diesel vehicles,” said Beig. “There have been studies in the UK that found 90% of diesel emissions to be PM1 particles. It’s not surprising to find high PM1 levels even in cleaner areas because these cannot be seen and they don’t collect together like the bigger particles. Such tiny particles cannot occur naturally in the environment. They are most likely from traffic sources,” said Roychowdhury, who heads CSE’s clean air campaign. The PM 1 particles are so light that now for vehicles with Euro 5 fuel standard, the emission is being counted in number of pollution particles as against the weight of particles. A study by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur published in 2010 also found similar concentrations of PM1 in Kanpur. They found PM1 levels to be between 30 to 13 micrograms per cubic metres in the monsoon season. Another study conducted in Hong Kong by the School of Human Settlements and Civil Engineering, Xi’an Jiaotong University and other universities, found vehicle exhaust was the largest contributor to PM1 (38%), followed by secondary aerosols (22%), waste incinerator/biomass burning emissions (16%), residual oil combustion (12%), industrial exhaust (7%) and re-suspended road dust (5%). Annual average PM1 concentrations in 2005 when the study was conducted ranged from 44.5 to 19.5 micrograms per cubic meters. PM1 is not being monitored widely like PM10 or PM 2.5 particles. SAFAR plans to set up another PM1 monitor at a more busy location in Delhi. (Times of India 27/6/15)


103. Bt Cotton leading to suicides in rain-fed areas: U.S. study (20)

New Delhi: The cultivation of Bt Cotton, a genetically modified, insect-resistant cotton variety, is a risky affair for Indian farmers practising rain-fed agriculture, says a latest study published by California-based agricultural scientists in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe . Annual suicide rates of farmers in rain-fed areas are directly related to increase in Bt Cotton adoption, say the scientists Andrew Paul Gutierrez, Luigi Ponti, Hans R. Herren, Johann Baumgartner and Peter E. Kenmore, who are associated with the University of California, Berkeley, and the Centre for the Analysis of Sustainable Agricultural Systems, California. Revisiting the raw annual suicide data for Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra during 2001-2010, the authors found 86,607 of 549,414 suicides were by farmers, and 87 per cent were men with the numbers peaking in the 30-44 age group. Total suicides per year per State were regressed singly on the averages of proportion of area seeded to rain-fed cotton, average farm size, cotton-growing area, area under Bt Cotton, proportion of area under Bt Cotton, and simulated average yield a hectare that includes the effects of weather. Excluding the proportion of area seeded to rain-fed cotton, linear multiple regression shows suicides decrease with increasing farm size and yield, but increase with the area under Bt Cotton, the authors say. The study is significant for two reasons. First, most cotton cultivation in India is rain-fed. Second, between 2002 and 2010, the adoption of Bt Cotton hybrid went up significantly to 86 per cent of the total cultivated area of cotton in India, says the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications. Though cultivating the Bt Cotton variety may be economic in irrigated areas, the costs of the seed and insecticide increase the risk of farmer bankruptcy in low-yield rain-fed settings. The study challenges the common assumption in economic analyses that cotton pests must be controlled to prevent monetary losses, thus encouraging Bt Cotton adoption. The annual emergence of the key cotton pest pink bollworm in spring is poorly timed to attack rain-fed cotton and large populations of the pest fail to develop in non-Bt rain-fed cotton, the authors say. This reduces, and usually prevents, the need for Bt Cotton and disruptive insecticides. The authors recommend that high-density short-season cotton could increase yields and reduce input costs in irrigated and rain-fed cotton. Bt Cotton has been shown to improve cotton yields by past studies, such as the one conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute in 2012. This study, examining the contribution of Bt Cotton adoption to long-term average cotton yields in India in nine cotton-producing States from 1975 to 2009, showed that Bt Cotton contributed 19 per cent of the total yield growth over time, since its introduction in 2002.However, experts have responded to the new Berkeley study with concern. Former Union Environment and Rural Development Minister and Rajya Sabha member Jairam Ramesh told The Hindu that India, now being the second largest country in the world cultivating Bt Cotton, could not afford to ignore the findings of this new study. “These findings call for serious discussion relating to the GM crop’s long-term sustainability in Indian agriculture,” he said. Veteran agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan said the merits of Bt Cotton adoption remained debatable as some had approved it for giving a better yield, while some questioned the claim. (The Hindu 21/6/15)

104. Farmers unhappy over meagre hike in minimum support price for paddy (20)

SALEM: Various farmers associations have criticised the paltry increase in the minimum support price for paddy announced by the Centre recently and appealed for reasonable hike with immediate effect. The meagre hike only proved the step-motherly treatment meted out to the agriculture sector by the Centre, they alleged. A.R. Shanmugam, president of the Salem District Agricultural Production Committee, Panamarathupatti, said that the Centre a few days ago announced the increase of Rs. 50 per quintal (from Rs. 1,360 to Rs. 1,410) in the minimum support price for paddy, which was very much unjustified. The farmers had to invest much for procuring fertilizers and quality seeds. Farm labour had also become very scarce. Moreover, farmers suffered heavy loss regularly due to natural calamities. Increasing the minimum support price for paddy by just 50 paise per kg would in no way benefit the farming community. The meagre hike was a big disappointment, Mr. Shanmugam said and pleaded with the Government to hike the minimum support price by Rs. 500 per quintal. The Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam affiliated to the Communist Party of India (CPI) too criticised the Centre’s decision and said that it was nothing but ‘betrayal of farmers’. The prices of all farm inputs had gone up manifold and the farmers were expecting reasonable hike in the paddy support price, said R. P. Ramasamy, president of the Salem district unit of the Sangam. The Centre should reconsider its decision and hike the support price to bring solace to the suffering farming community, he said. C. Vaiyapuri, president of the United Farmers’ Association – Tamil Nadu, said that the measly increase in minimum support price was a big disappointment. Noted farm scientist M. S. Swaminathan recommended the fixation of the minimum price for agricultural produce based on the expenses incurred plus 50 per cent incentive. The Government should implement Mr. Swaminathan’s recommendation while fixing the price for paddy and other agricultural produce. Mr. Vaiyapuri also pleaded with the Centre to fix the minimum support price for ordinary paddy at Rs. 2,500 per quintal, special grade at Rs. 3,000, dhal between Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 5,500 per quintal, millets between Rs. 2,000 and Rs. 2,500 per quintal and oil seeds between Rs. 4,000 and Rs. 5,000 per quintal. (The Hindu 22/6/15)

105. Sugarcane farmers find resonance in K’taka suicide (20)

Meerut: A day after a distressed debt-ridden sugarcane farmer allegedly committed suicide by setting fire to the crop and jumping into it in Mandya district of Karnataka, local farmers held a memorial service for him on Friday. Finding resonance with farmers’ struggle across the country, they observed a two-minute silence and prayed for the departed soul. Expressing his condolences, president of the Bharatiya Kisan Andolan (BKA), Kuldeep Tyagi said, “I offer my condolences to his family and to the families of other farmers who were forced to take the extreme step. Farmers in the state have been struggling as sugar mill owners have not paid them their dues.” Ningegowda, a 60-year-old physically challenged sugarcane farmer in Mandya district, also met a similar fate. According to a TOI report, a heavily debt-ridden Ningegowda committed suicide after being humiliated by moneylenders in front of his family. Tyagi, who led the delegation that met minister of state of agriculture Sanjeev Balyan recently, slammed the minister. “When we requested the minister for a loan waiver for farmers in the state, he said it was not possible as it was the sole prerogative of the state government. He said they had to help farmers from across the country and not just one state. If our counterparts in the south are also committing suicide, whose responsibility is the government taking? The Centre has failed farmers and there is a conspiracy to create a Kisan-mukt Bharat (farmer-free India).” With at least seven farmer deaths in less than two months, Meerut has witnessed a spate of farmer suicides this summer. After unseasonal rains damaged crops, farmers have been demanding a loan waiver from the Centre and state government. (Times of India 26/6/15)

106.  ‘Pay dues to farmers and recover by auctioning sugar’ (20)

BELAGAVI: The issue of dues to sugarcane farmers rocked the Legislative Council on the opening day of the session at Belagavi, with Leader of Opposition K.S. Eshwarappa demanding that the Government pay the dues out of its own coffers and then recover it by auctioning the sugar seized from defaulting mills. Mr. Eshwarappa raised the issue as an adjournment motion, but it was later taken up for debate under Rule Number 68. He said that it was the only way to stop “serial suicide” of farmers. He said the government had already seized 7,80,000 metric tonnes of sugar from factories which would fetch the Government Rs. 1,575 crore at the rate of Rs. 20 per kg. “Pay the dues first and then recover it by auctioning the money at the earliest,” he said. The debate in the Council, taken up as priority ahead of the question hour, kept getting derailed as the ruling party and Opposition leaders kept sidetracking the issue to trade charges against each other. (The Hindu 29/6/15)


107. Farmers’ land will not be given to any corporate: Birender Singh (4)

KAITHAL (HARYANA): Claiming that lands acquired by the Centre will be utilized only for development projects, union minister Chaudhary Birender Singh has said not an “inch of farmers’ land” will be given to any “corporate house”. “Not an inch of farmers’ land will be given to any corporate house,” union minister for rural development said yesterday while addressing a public meeting in Rajound village here. Singh also accused the opposition parties of misleading the agrarian community in the country on the contentious Land Bill. “The opposition, which was badly defeated in last Lok Sabha polls, is misleading farmers on the issue,” Singh said. Asserting that his maternal grandfather Chhotu Ram always fought for the cause of farmers and downtrodden, he said, “So how can I work against the interest of farmers.” The union minister said that crores of youth of the country were looking for employment. “But they cannot be provided jobs only in agriculture sector which, in any case, was not financially viable anymore because of depleting land holdings,” he said. “Only industrialization of the country is an option to provide jobs and ensure economic uplift meant of the people of all sections of society,” Singh added. (Times of India 21/6/15)

108. Govindacharya, Anna Hazare’s bodies oppose changes in Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill

New Delhi: More organisations and farmer groups making representations to the Joint Committee of Parliament, which is examining the NDA government’s Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, opposed the changes to the 2013 legislation on Tuesday.Among them were former BJP ideologue Govindacharya and social activist Anna Hazare’s organisations, which questioned the “haste” with which the changes were being brought in through ordinances. They alleged that the changes will “damage” farmers and are aimed at “furthering the interests of capitalists”. The panel, headed by BJP MP S S Ahluwalia, heard Hazare’s Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Andolan Nyas (BVJAN), the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), All-India Kisan Sabha, Asian Centre for Human Rights and the Centre for Policy Research among others during its seventh meeting on Tuesday. Joint Parliamentary Committee: Land Bill provisions ‘alarming’, drop them, farmers tell panel In a written representation, Govindacharya said the government’s move to promulgate an ordinance thrice on the matter has sent a message that it was being done to further the interests of capitalists at the cost of farmers. He demanded that the Centre drop the ordinance route and make a law better than the 2013 Land Acquisition Act. Hazare’s BVJAN questioned the use of the word “private entity” and the government’s intent behind it, claiming it was “anti-farmer”. In its suggestions, it said there was lack of clarity in the definition of infrastructure projects and objected to the acquisition of multi-crop land. “Government today wants to acquire that land, which give more than two crops annually. This is anti-farmer and anti-agriculture. This will bring down agriculture production and in times to come will lead to food grain problem,” it said. In a written submission, Hazare said his organisation’s struggle was not against any individual or party but against the system. A number of Gujarat-based NGOs also raised their objections before the panel, saying abolishing key clauses reflected the NDA government’s “top down” approach to development. (Indian Express 24/6/15)

109. Yadagiri power plant rehabilitation to cost Rs. 500 crore (4)

NALGONDA: The Rehabilitation and Resettlement of 4,000 MW Yadadri Thermal Power Plant of Damarcherla will cost the Telangana government an estimated Rs. 500 crore. According to a report forwarded by the district administration to the State government recently, land acquisition alone, to cover as many as 2,503 families, would cost Rs. 352 crore. The process will take at least five months. Among the people to be displaced, 1,622 families are tribals while 109 families belong to the Scheduled Castes. As many as 121 families from two villages would also lose their houses under the project. They would get a new colony with the government planning to provide all facilities by investing Rs. 90 crore. Out of the 4,656 acres of land acquired, 2,260 acres of land belongs to farmers. Energy Minister G. Jagadishwar Reddy said that they would offer more than three times the land value to each farmer, apart from providing employment to one person from each family. Those who do not want to take up the job would have two options. First, they can get Rs. 5 lakh, a one-time payment, or Rs. 2,000 per month for 20 years. Apart from constructing houses for 121 families, the government will also pay Rs. 50,000 for shifting their house and Rs. 50,000 towards settlement. Farmers who have cattle and livestock, will get Rs. 25,000 for transporting them, while those who are running business, would also get an equal amount. Issuing a notification for land acquisition and R&R, the State government declared that they would be able to complete the R&R within five months. The authorities also promised to relocate three religious structures in the villages. As part of compensatory afforestation measure, the State government had allotted 8,654 acres land. (The Hindu 27/6/15)

110. Save Sacred Groves Plan to Win Tribals’ Confidence (4)

BHUBANESWAR: In Odisha, where tribal communities fight industrialisation, mining and displacement, the Government is trying to win their confidence by protecting the sacred groves, which hold tremendous socio-ethnic value for the indigenous population. There are about 2,100 sacred groves in the State, as per the latest estimate of Forest and Environment Department of Odisha Government. The Department has, now, decided to prepare management plans for these groves so that these small patches of forests can be developed and conserved. It has decided to initiate conservation plans for 500 sacred groves during the current financial year. The plan will include plantation activities, access to water and even sheds for tribal communities to congregate. The Department will spend Rs 1 lakh on each of these sacred groves during the year. “The plan is to cover all the 2100-odd sacred groves with the development and conservation plans by 2019,” sources said. Since tribal communities share a natural bond with these groves given their socio-ethnic background, the Department believes that the protection and development will bolster conservation activities. The management plans will be prepared in consultation with these tribal groups so that they have a stake in conservation activities. “A major objective is to strengthen the bond between local communities and nature since forest density is higher around these sacred groves compared to other areas because they guard these patches with pride. Since the tribal communities have an ownership feeling, conservation becomes easier,” the sources added. The sacred groves in the State are located in hilly regions, mostly in Eastern Ghats where tribal communities and their sub-groups live. Not so long ago, the Dongoria Kondhs raised one of the most-talked about resistance when the Government tried to acquire Niyamgiri Hills for bauxite mining in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts. With the Supreme Court stepping in, the primitive group won the battle as a spree of palli sabhas gave thumbs down to the mining plan for Vedanta Group. Odisha is home to over 60 tribal communities of which 12 are designated as particularly vulnerable. At least 23 per cent of the State’s population comprises tribal groups. Geographically, over 40 per cent of the State is schedule area. The Forest Department sources said the sacred grove conservation and management plan will not be confined to just 2,100 groves. “We had conserved about 200 sacred groves last year and will carry out a mapping to locate more such sacred groves in next few years where these plantation and development plans will be continued,” said the sources. (New Indian Express 29/6/15)


111. 49 Per Cent of TN Women Anaemic, Says District-level Health survey (3)

CHENNAI:With almost half the number of women in Tamil Nadu suffering from anaemia, iron deficiency continues to be a major public health concern. According to the latest District Level Health Survey (DLHS-4)–2013-14, 49.2 per cent women between 15-49 years are anaemic in Tamil Nadu. Though it has fallen from 56.5 per cent in 1998-99 in the third round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS), experts feel that the slow pace of decline has to be looked into seriously. “A complex issue, anaemia is largely invisible, leading to serious physical and economic consequences. Lack of awareness and adequate government response are the main cause,” says Girija Kumar Babu, Joint Secretary of Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW). As per DLHS 4.46 per cent of adolescent girls (10 to 19 years), 56 per cent of pregnant women, 60 per cent of children (6 months to 3 years) in TN are anaemic. Defined as decrease in red blood cells or haemoglobin in the blood, anaemia leads to malnutrition in children and lack of productivity amongst adults. It remains the main reason for infant and maternal mortality. According to UNICEF, 1000 women in Tamil Nadu die each year during delivery of which 200 are due to anaemia. The report notes that up to 10 per cent of infant deaths could be avoided if the disorder is tackled effectively. “Anaemia in women, adolescent girls and pregnant mothers has a direct impact on infant and maternal mortality rate. If a baby doesn’t get adequate nutrition in the first 1000 days, then it will never reach in life its full potential,” says a city based nutritionist. The National Institute of Nutrition prescribes an average of 17 mg of iron per day for a man, women 21 mg, pregnant women 35 mg, children 9-16 mg and adolescent girls 26-28 mg. According to UNICEF, anaemia levels in rural TN is 49.7 per cent while it is 48.8 per cent in urban areas. Job Zachariah, chief of UNICEF–TN, suggests inclusion of nutrients would address this problem. “Human body absorbs iron from non vegetarian food easily than from vegetarian diet. Adding greens, meat, egg, pulses, almonds, brown rice and food items containing Vitamin C like lemon and orange would help in iron absorption,” he says. Simple things like better diet supplemented with iron-rich foods would help maintain nutrition levels and prevent iron deficiency. “A woman must always check her haemoglobin levels before pregnancy,” says a city based nutritionist. Experts also believe that including a greater quantity of pulses in the Public Distribution System (PDS) would help mitigate iron deficiency levels. “PDS only provides rice and not pulses. Malnutrition levels in the state are high, but the PDS functions from the Food Security Act point of view, where rice is mandatory and not pulses and other proteins,” bemoans Dr R Rukmani, Director of Food Security at MS Swaminathan Research Foundation. (New Indian Express 20.6.15)

112. 96 percent of Swachh Bharat money in J&K unspent (Special to IANS) (3)

New Delhi, June 24 (IANS/IndiaSpend) Sanitation in Jammu & Kashmir is among the worst in India, with more than 54 percent of more than 1.2 million households without toilets and the 2014-15 target for household latrines falling short by 86 percent, according to government data. While J&K is ranked third, the two worst states are Odisha and Bihar, according to the Baseline Survey 2012 of the union ministry of drinking water and sanitation. A state of 12.5 million people, J&K did not use about 96 percent of the money granted by Delhi for the sanitation programme for 2014-15, using Rs.4.66 crore of Rs.121.52 crore. “The sanitation programme is at a preliminary stage in the state,” said Khurshid Ahmad Shah, Secretary, Rural Development. “We are taking measures to fulfil our objective, and it will be done very soon.” That does not appear immediately evident. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much-talked-about sanitation programme, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA), is largely unimplemented in J&K, which is partly ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party. In J&K, 6,351 schools lack toilets for girls and 8,098 lack toilets for boys, according to data from the state’s Unified District Information System for Education (DISE Survey 2014-15). More than 71 percent of schools have no basins or taps to wash hands near toilets and urinals. “Sanitation facilities in the state are very poor, and this is not only limited to villages,” said Dr Nisar ul Hassan, a senior doctor at Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital in Srinagar. “The situation is similar in cities and healthcare institutions as well. Hepatitis A and diarrhoea, particularly in children, caused by rotavirus are common among patients where sanitary facilities are poor.” Forty cases of viral hepatitis, caused by unsafe government-supplied drinking water, were reported from a village in northern Kashmir last month, according to the union ministry of health and family welfare. The successor to an earlier sanitation programme called the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, SBA seeks to eliminate open defecation in rural areas of the country by 2019….  (Business Standard 24/6/15)

113. Delhi lags behind Kerala, Tamil Nadu on health indicators (3)

NEW DELHI: Delhi remains behind states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu in key health indicators, such as the infant mortality rate (IMR). The Economic Survey report 2014-15 shows that 22 of every 1,000 children born in the city in 2013 (the latest available data) died within a year of birth. The number of children dying within 29 days of birth—also called neonatal mortality rate (NMR)— stood at 15 per 1,000 births for the corresponding year, as per the civil registration system. Dr V K Paul, professor and head of the pediatrics department at AIIMS, said the figures reflected lack of infrastructure. “Kerala and Tamil Nadu fare much better in terms of IMR despite having a larger and more diverse population. Tamil Nadu has tribal and coastal populations that are uneducated,” he said. Dr Paul added that neonatal ICU facilities in Delhi need to be increased and mothers need to be made aware about the best practices. Dr Krishan Chugh, chairman of the department of paediatrics at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said the institutional birth rate has gone up in Delhi. “Deaths are still happening due to poor ante-natal care, and in some cases mothers reach hospital for birth too late,” he said. The report shows that the percentage of gross state domestic product (GSDP) spent on healthcare in Delhi has reduced from 1.05 in 2006-07 to 0.96 in 2014-15. In 2001, Delhi’s IMR was 24 per 1,000 births. It reduced to 13 per 1,000 in 2004 and 2005 but has been on the rise ever since. Delhi’s NMR was 14 per 1,000 in 2001 and reduced to 9 per 1,000 in 2004 but has been increasing ever since. Experts said conditions arising in the period immediately before and after birth cause maximum infant deaths, followed by hypoxia, birth asphyxia and other respiratory conditions. “The government is promoting institutional childbirth but the infrastructure required for it remains poor. Infection rates are high in most maternity centres due to poor hygiene. The number of doctors and nurses is also not adequate,” said an expert. (Times of India 25/6/15)

114. Primary healthcare staff to protest against privatization (3)

JAIPUR: The state government’s decision to hand over primary health centres and affiliated sub-centres from across the state into private hands to be operated under the public private partnership (PPP) mode has triggered protest from healthcare staff and social organizations. Nursing associations along with pharmacists and lab technicians have planned to gherao the health directorate demanding to withdraw the decision on Monday. Moreover, they will boycott work for two hours. “We will protest at the health directorate. The government has taken a decision which is not at all beneficial for the people in healthcare. A person who opted for nursing courses with a hope that he will get a government job is feeling cheated. Now, at the PHCs, the private players will rope in nursing staff on contract basis. Also, there is a big difference between the salaries and other benefits in government jobs and private jobs,” Sanjeev Yadav, district president (Jaipur), Rajasthan Rajya Nursing Association (United) said. He said that for the past few days, hospital staff is boycotting work for two hours in a phase-wise manner to express their protest. “The protest is happening across the state,” he said. Besides, the social organizations in the state have strongly opposed government’s decision to handover PHCs to private bodies and demand that the decision be revoked immediately. There are 2,082 PHCs and affiliated sub-centres in the state, which will be operational on PPP mode. Chhaya Pancholi of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA), Rajasthan, said that the government should rather increase its spending on health and ensure that there are enough funds for upgradation and strengthening of primary health care infrastructure and systems for effective monitoring of services rather than washing away its hands of its basic responsibility of delivering primary health care. Pancholi pointed out that as per the announcement by the state, these private bodies would be responsible for appointing doctors, paramedics and other staff at the healthcare facilities and will have to ensure that quality health services are delivered to all. Government, thus, would only act as a financing body and the functioning of the primary health sector would be left in the hands of private providers; is what it alternatively suggests and this is something which is extremely tricky and dangerous. (Times of India 29/6/15)


115. This vaccine could help block HIV (3)

WASHINGTON: Scientists have designed a new experimental HIV vaccine that may stimulate the immune system to block infection from the deadly virus. New research led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and the Rockefeller University shows in mice that the vaccine candidate can stimulate the immune system activity necessary to stop HIV infection. The findings could provide key information for the development of an effective AIDS vaccine, researchers said. The research, published in the journals Cell and Science, represents a leap forward in the effort to develop a vaccine against HIV, which has so far struggled to elicit antibodies (immune system molecules) that can effectively fight off different strains of the virus. “The results are pretty spectacular,” said Dennis Burton, chairman of the TSRI department of immunology and microbial science. While many vaccines for other diseases use a dead or inactive version of the disease-causing microbe itself to trigger antibody production, immunisations with “native” HIV proteins are ineffective in triggering an effective immune response, due to HIV’s ability to evade detection from the immune system and mutate rapidly into new strains. This challenge has led researchers to believe that a successful AIDS vaccine will need a series of related, but slightly different proteins (immunogens) to train the body to produce broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV- a twist on the traditional “booster” shot, where a person is exposed to the same immunogen multiple times. The scientists tested one of these potential proteins, an immunogen called eOD-GT8 60mer, using a technique called B cell sorting. The researchers showed that immunisation with eOD-GT8 60mer produced antibody “precursors” — with some of the traits necessary to recognize and block HIV infection. This suggested that eOD-GT8 60mer could be a good candidate to serve as the first in a series of immunisations against HIV, researchers said. “The vaccine appears to work well in our mouse model to ‘prime’ the antibody response,” said TSRI professor David Nemazee. (Times of India 20/6/15)

116. Focus on preventing HIV infections: UNAIDS (3)

Washington: Countries that have been worst affected by HIV must focus on preventing new infections and expanding access to anti-retroviral treatment to stop the risk of epidemic rebounding, says a new report from the UNAIDS and Lancet Commission. “We must face hard truths – if the current rate of new HIV infections continues, merely sustaining the major efforts we already have in place will not be enough to stop deaths from AIDS increasing within five years in many countries,” said lead author and professor Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. While unprecedented progress has been made to increase access to HIV treatment globally, the rate of new HIV infections is not falling fast enough, the report said. This, plus the high demographic growth in some of the most affected countries, is increasing the number of people living with HIV who will need anti-retroviral therapy to stay alive. “We have to act now. The next five years provide a fragile window of opportunity to fast-track the response and end the AIDS epidemic by 2030,” said Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS. “If we don’t, the human and financial consequences will be catastrophic,” Sidibe said. The report clearly shows the urgent need for substantial global solidarity to front-load investments. The need for investment is particularly acute in low-income countries with a high HIV burden. The report also called for leveraging lessons learned in the AIDS response to be applied to new and existing global health challenges. The report makes seven key recommendations, leading with the urgent need to scale up AIDS efforts, get serious about HIV prevention, and continue expanding access to treatment. Other recommendations include efficient mobilisation of more resources for HIV prevention, treatment, and research, and for robust, transparent governance and accountability for HIV and health. (The Hindu 25/6/15)

117. Inhuman treatment: UP hospital brands AIDS patient, reveals her HIV positive status (3)

MEERUT: How are AIDS patients treated in Indian hospitals? Thirty-year-old Meena’s (name changed) story might give an indication. Admitted to Lala Lajpat Rai Memorial Medical College in the city on June 19 for a caesarean delivery, doctors not only pasted a big piece of paper on her bed that screamed ‘Bio Hazard +ve’, complete with the red AIDS ribbon drawn on it to announce that here was one battling the deadly virus, she was also made to clean her own medical waste after the stitches were cut three days later. Not stopping at that, a senior doctor also allegedly abused Meena for “bringing another diseased child into the world”. Because of the handwritten pamphlet, all her relatives and friends who visited her at the hospital have now come to know of her HIV positive status, adding to the woman’s extreme anxiety. When news about the ill-treatment of Meena reached the Care Support Centre (CSC) that fights for the rights of people living with HIV (PLHIVs), members of its district responsible team (DRT), Ritu Saxena and Vinita Devi, went to the hospital where they found the piece of paper still stuck to her bedside. “We immediately tore it off and took the authorities to task. Fearing that the issue might become too big to handle, the hospital staff rushed to control the damage,” Saxena told TOI on Thursday. Hospital authorities confirmed the “unfortunate” incident and said they have apologized to the patient. “I understand this should not have happened but the doctors have given a written apology and the patient has made peace with the staff,” said Abhilasha Gupta, head of the obstetrics and gynaecology department at the hospital. Talking to TOI from her bed, Meena said that she had contracted the disease from her husband eight years ago and had kept it a closely guarded secret. “Due to the negligence of the doctors, it has now become public knowledge,” she said. “Not only did I have to face abuse about my condition, even my girl child was not spared. They termed her a ‘dreaded disease’,” she wept. CSC coordinator Badri Singh has now filed a written complaint with the nodal officer at Anti Retro Viral Therapy Centre, LLRM. “The pasting of the paper sheet at the bedside was wrong. It is the medical staff’s duty to respect the secrecy of a patient’s medical condition. I will certainly look into the other allegations as well,” said chief medical superintendent of the hospital Subhash Singh. (Times of India 26/6/15)

118. HIV prevention project workers not paid regularly (3)

Bengaluru: Apart from this, bureaucratic hurdles have resulted in the funding for Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society (KSAPS) to be routed to the State government treasury and not directly to the KSAPS as done earlier. This has caused a considerable delay in payment of funds for the prevention programmes. The direct impact is on contract employees, outreach workers and peer educators involved in Targeted Intervention (TIs) programmes among high-risk groups, including female sex workers and Injecting Drug Users (IDUs), whose monthly payments have been delayed. Besides, most of the counsellors in the 1,637 integrated testing and counselling centres (ICTCs) have also not been getting their salaries regularly. Upset and de-motivated over this, these workers recently met the Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society (KSAPS) Project Director S.G. Raveendra, who explained the situation to them. “The project director told us that payment of his salary has also been delayed. But they are big shots who take home hefty pay packets. What do we do when we do not get even the meagre Rs. 3,000 that is paid to us per month?” asked Veena from Samara, a community-based organisation running five TIs. Last year also too the prevention programme took a beating as funds from September 2014 to March 2015 were released only in April. Bharathi, Secretary of the Karnataka Sex Workers’ Union, said: “Frequent disruption in payment of salaries is affecting the health of thousands of sex workers, who are leading the HIV prevention programme.” Mr. Raveendra said NACO had released Rs. 23 crore in the first week of June. “We will soon get the money through the State treasury. Pending payments will be cleared in a week’s time,” he added. (The Hindu 26/6/15)

119. Saviour Couple for HIV Patients (3)

KOCHI: When they reached the Government Medical College ten years ago, their daughter’s recovery from pneumonia was their only concern. However, after Nayana succumbed to fits and pneumonia a year later,  Kumar P and his wife Anitha decided to create larger meaning to their lives. Their daughter’s death was a turning point in their lives after which they started taking care of HIV/AIDS infected patients seeking treatment at Kozhikode Medical College. Serving as bystanders or caretakers for these patients over the past four years, they set out to start an organisation, ‘Santhwanam’. The organisation, which was formed in 2010, has been working for the protection and rehabilitation of HIV patients and is being supported by various NGOs. Apart from striving hard to meet the daily hospital needs of these patients, they organise celebrations on special days for them and create awareness among the public on the disease. “It was during Nayana’s treatment that we came across these patients, who were abandoned by relatives after being confirmed as HIV positive. Also, when Anitha was admitted for headache and vomiting sometime later, we began to interact with them more closely. There were patients who have money, but no one to help in taking an X-ray or a scan, as well as those having no money to meet the food and medical expenses. We then started visiting the hospital on a weekly basis to help them. When we realised that they needed constant support, we also started offering free services daily. Doctors like Dr Sheela Mathew and the nurses here supported us, especially by providing financial  contribution to purchase medicines for the patients,” says Kumar. ‘Santhwanam’, which is functioning as a community care centre, is a house for a number of patients, including those who come for just one or two days’ stay. Those who are completing a course of a medicine are also welcome to stay. Whether one is a Keralite, Tamilian or a Bengali, every HIV-infected person will find a place at Santhwanam. Currently, various NGOs have pitched in to support the organisation. Moreover, the couple also distributes nutritional food kits to patients other than the inmates of Santhwanam every month. “With our limitations such as lack of doctors or nurses and unavailability of extra toilets inside the house, we find it difficult to house everyone who knocks at our doorsteps. We also do not take women patients as we don’t have a separate stay facility and caretakers. But if someone is in severe condition, we ourselves take care of them,” says Anitha. Anitha and Kumar say that they are not concerned of their own financial security. “We eat the same food prepared for them and stay along with them. After losing Nayana, we are not concerned about anything else and if one day, our situation turns worse, we expect that there would be people to protect us too,” they say. (New Indian Express 29/6/15)


Posted by admin at 30 June 2015

Category: Uncategorized


1. Nine dalits injured in attack in Sikar (2)

JAIPUR: Heavy police force was deployed in Gandakya ki Dhani in Sikar’s Dantaramgarh, a day after nine Dalit people were injured after members of an OBC community attacked them over a land-related old dispute. The assailants also set on fire a thatched house belonging to dalit families. Two injured are undergoing treatment at SMS Hospital in Jaipur. The incident took place over a piece of land over which both the Dalits and Kumawats (an OBC community) claim ownership. Even as Dalit families live on the land, the dispute is pending in a court. One Mularam Kumawat along with 50-60 others attacked the Dalit members and injured them. “Several members of a caste attacked Dalit people following a land related dispute which left nine people injured. Two of them were referred to SMS hospital in Jaipur for treatment,” police said. Both the dalits and Kumawats (an OBC community) stake claim on the land and the matter is sub judice. After the incident, Additional SP Rakesh Kachwal and others rushed to the spot and additional policemen were deployed in the area. (Times of India 11/6/15)

2. Two dalit youths shot dead in dispute over Rs 4 (2)

GHOORPUR (Allahabad): A clash over payment of mere Rs 4 turned deadly when a group of brahmans fired at two dalits, killing them, and injuring three others in Mohddinpur village in Ghoorpur, 25 km from Allahabad on Friday. In the backlash that followed, angry dalit mobs set fire to the flour mill and a portion of the house of the people who had shot and killed the dalits. Four people, including the main accused, Suresh Dubey, were arrested, and heavy police force was deployed in the village. Those killed were identified as Rahul Bhartiya (19) and Shubham Bhartiya (18) of Mohddinpur and Dandi village. Rahul was a BSc student while Ashu had cleared his intermediate. Rajat and Vikas Bhartiya, and another youth injured in the attack, were admitted to a nursing home where their condition was said to be stable. Trouble began when Rajat (22) reached the flour unit of Suresh and Rakesh Dubey and demanded 154kg of flour that he had given them for grinding on Thursday. When Suresh told them the cost of grinding was Rs 154, Rajat paid him Rs 150 and said the remaining Rs 4 would follow. At this, Suresh began arguing with Rajat and allegedly made some coarse remarks. Rajat left and returned to the shop with Rs 20, and allegedly threw it at Suresh’s face, asking him to take his Rs 4 and return the rest. Feeling insulted, Suresh and his brothers attacked Rajat with a sharp edged weapon, leaving him bleeding. Suresh then ran to his cousins Rahul, Ashu, Gulab, Vikas and others, exhorting them for revenge. When the relatives and other villagers saw Rajat bleeding, they moved towards Dubey’s mill and surrounded the house and the shop. Sensing danger, Suresh took out his licensed double barreled gun and fired from the terrace twice, killing Rahul and Shubham instantly. Hearing the gun shots, other villagers came out of their houses and attacked and flour unit and set the house of Dubeys on fire. A case was lodged with Ghoorpur Police under relevant Sections. The licenced weapon used in the crime was seized. Senior police officers including SP Ashutosh Mishra, rushed to the spot with heavy police force and brought the controlled the situation. (Times of India 13/6/15)

3. Ambedkar statue vandalised; Dalits protest (2)

Phagwara: A statue of B. R. Ambedkar was allegedly vandalised at village Palahi near here on Sunday, sparking protests by Dalits who blocked roads at many places in the district. The statue’s raised arm was found twisted and damaged in a park at village Palahi, the police said. Protesting against the incident, members of Dalit community blocked traffic on Phagwara-Chandigarh bypass in front of Palahi village, at Bhullarai crossing of the by-pass and Phagwara-Palahi crossing on Phagwara-Hoshiarpur road, they said. Led by BSP leader Jarnail Nangal and Ambedkar Sena Moolnivasi Punjab President Harbhajan Suman, protesters raised anti-government slogans. The protesters also threatened to call for a bandh on Wednesday if the culprits are not arrested by then. They alleged that it was the second such incident of vandalisation in two-and-half-months. Earlier, a statue of Ambedkar was damaged in local Palahigate mohalla in the intervening night of April 4-5 and police failed to trace the miscreants, they alleged. They also alleged that miscreants had intentionally vandalised the statues in the localities with Dalit population in order to create tension.They demanded immediate arrest of culprits and security for all statues of Ambedkar. – PTI (The Hindu 15/6/15)

4. Dalit girl severly beaten up after her shadow falls on high caste muscleman (2)

Chattarpur: In a shocking incident, a minor Dalit girl was allegedly thrashed by higher caste women in Ganeshpura village here after the victim’s shadow fell on a muscleman belonging to their family, police said today. The incident took place on June 13 and the complaint was also filed on the same day at Gadi Malhera police station, Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP), Neeraj Pandey said.According to the complaint lodged by the girl’s father, the problem began when his daughter was fetching water from a village hand pump and her shadow fell on muscle-man Puran Yadav (belonging to a higher caste) when he happened to pass from there, the ASP said. The episode enraged the family of the muscle-man to such an extent that the women of the family severely beat the girl and threatened that if she was spotted again at the hand pump, they would kill her, he said. Yadav’s family also prevented the victim from going to police station, but they somehow managed to reach there. A case under sections 323, 341, 506 of the IPC has been registered against the accused and further investigation is underway. In several remote pockets of India, where untouchability is still prevalent, people from the lower caste are forbidden to come in contact with those belonging to the higher rung so much so that they can’t share their food, cook for them or even look them in the eye. It is even forbidden for their shadow to fall on higher caste people, who consider it as defiling or polluting. (Indian Express 17/6/15)

5. NHRC orders action against headmistress for illtreating dalit girls (2)

MADURAI: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked Tamil Nadu government to explain why 25,000 each should not be paid as relief to two girls of a panchayat union middle school in Tirunelveli, who were forced to clean the toilets by the headmistress of the school. According to the state organiser of the Arundhadhiar Pengal Ezhuchi Iyakkam (APEI), K Maria Selvi, their organisation held regular Sunday classes called Arundhadhiar Ilan Kanal Sirar Mandram. There the school students were asked to give an account of their week’s study and also if they had any problems related to it. “It was there that the two students, Petchiamma, 11, and Sermakani, 12, came forward to tell us about the harassment they faced at the hands of the headmistress of Ettankulam Panchayat Middle School,” she said. The girls were allegedly forced to scrub and wash the toilet used by the headmistress, Sathya Bama, who was allegedly biased against dalit students. They said the toilet had squirming worms and they refused to clean it, earning the ire of the headmistress. The APEI staged demonstrations on April 8, 2013 and also sent petitions to the collector, chief educational officer, elementary educational officer and superintendent of police. The CEO conducted enquiries with the students and the teachers and the allegations were confirmed and the headmistress was transferred. Member of the commission, Justice D Murugesan, has recommended that the state government initiate action against the headmistress for her misconduct. Social justice department, which has to take action, should submit a report within six weeks. (Times of India 18/6/15)


6. Prevention of Witch Hunt Cannot Remain on Paper (6)

The rising social and development index in Odisha appears to be a misnomer as large parts literally continue to writhe in the dark ages, strangled by superstition and blind belief that have propagated sorcery and witch-hunting. In a most recent incident two persons were beaten to death by a lynch mob on suspicion of practising sorcery in a village in the southern district of Gajapati. Ironically, the villagers employed another purported sorcerer to identify the two victims. The police may have arrested more than a score of people including a sarpanch but the incident epitomises a malaise that runs deep. Only last month in another incident villagers fed excreta to a man, accusing him of practising witchcraft, in Ganjam. Social ostracism, torture, parading naked, feeding excreta and even lynching people on suspicion of being sorcerers or witches is common despite the existence of the Odisha Prevention of Witch Hunting Act, 2013. As many as 17 of the 30 districts are beset with the problem. The crime branch records show at least 154 witch hunt killings between 2010 and 2013, but the figures only reveal a fraction of the incidence as most cases are not reported. The issue is complex and problems manifold. Tradition and customs, lack of education, infrastructure, access to healthcare and justice for the marginalised tribal communities coupled with a serious neglect of the social evil by the government and law agencies has rather sustained and nurtured the practice even to this day. For many tribal communities, sorcery continues to be the first recourse in illness and diseases, theft or justice. In case of wrongs, the blame is on persons suspected to be practising sorcery or witchcraft. Women are the worst victims. Though Odisha is among the few states in India to enact the law against witch hunting with stringent punishment, enforcement is lacking due to ignorance of policemen. A concerted effort alone can get rid of the evil. Strict enforcement of law should accompany a sincere effort to educate the tribals against the practice with the involvement of all sections. Strengthening of infrastructure is also a must. (New Indian Express 11/6/15)

7. Mastermind of Assam’s tribal massacre arrested (6)

Guwahati: A top Bodo militant, allegedly one of the masterminds behind the massacre of at least 80 people in Assam in December last year, was arrested by the army and Assam Police on Monday, officials said. Based on intelligence inputs, Sumanta Basumatary, a top member of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland-Songbijit (NDFB-S) faction’s central council, was apprehended from Tukrajhar in Chirang district. Sumanta Basumatary alias B. Sinaihang, is the self-styled joint secretary of the newly formed central council, and a trained terrorist of the outfit’s 42nd Batch Bhutan, an official statement said. His responsibility was coordination of terrorist activities, internal discipline, media interaction and propaganda. “Sinaihang was very close to the outfit’s new vice president G. Bidai and is believed to be the brain behind the killing of tribals in December 23, 2014, in Kokrajhar district. Thereafter, he fled to Bengaluru and recently returned to Chirang,” the statement said. Calling Sinaihang’s apprehension a “major blow to NDFB-S”, the statement said the apprehension and earlier operations have “substantially degraded” the outfit’s capabilities in Kokrajhar and Chirang districts. “The army’s relentless operations in difficult and inaccessible jungle areas of Chirang district have forced the NDFB-S terrorists to flee from their hideouts and move to vulnerable areas, where they are being apprehended or neutralised by the security forces,” the army said in the statement. Facing the brunt, the NDFB-S has aligned itself with the UNLFW, an umbrella organisation of northeast terrorist groups. A series of attacks by militants in December 2014 resulted in deaths of around 80 people, mostly tribals. The attacks took place in Chirang, Sonitpur and Kokrajhar districts, and were carried out by the NDFB-S. (Deccan Herald 15/6/15)

8. Campaign demanding protection of tribal rights launched (6)

KHAMMAM: The CPI (ML-New Democracy) district committee launched a campaign titled Podu Bhoomula Parirakshana Porata Yatra in the predominantly tribal-populated Gundala mandal on Monday demanding protection of the rights of tribal people over ‘Podu’ lands. The party district secretary, P. Ranga Rao, participated in a rally held in Gundala, marking the beginning of the two-week-long yatra slated to be organised in several mandals in the district. Tribal people from various parts of the mandal and its adjoining tribal sub-plan mandals in Kothagudem division took part in the rally. Addressing the participants, Mr. Ranga Rao alleged that tribal people were being denied rights over ‘podu lands’ in their possession for many years. Efforts are on to drive Adivasis away from their natural habitat, he charged, alleging that the coercive measures against the hapless Adivasis amounted to depriving them of their traditional source of livelihood (podu cultivation). Ineffective implementation of the Forest Rights Act has compounded the woes of tribal people, he deplored, asserting that the yatra will be spearheaded in several mandals across the district to safeguard their rights at any cost. Meanwhile, the activists owing allegiance to the CPI (M) Wyra division committee took out a huge rally in Khammam demanding grant of rights to tribal people over ‘podu’ lands. They staged a dharna near Collectorate to press for their demand. CPI (M) State leader Nunna Nageswara Rao and others led the demonstration. (The Hindu 16/6/15)

9. Odisha to empower tribal women through diary cooperatives (6)

Bhubaneswar: Odisha will empower tribal women through diary cooperatives so that they get opportunities to earn more, an official said on Wednesday. State-run dairy cooperative Orissa State Cooperative Milk Producers’ Federation Limited (OMFED) has received Rs.46.45 crore from the union tribal affairs ministry to implement this, OMFED chairman Bishnupada Sethi told IANS. Tribal women play a significant role in animal husbandry. Women constitute 70 percent of the labour force in livestock farming, while dairying provides women with a regular daily income, vital to household food security and family well-being, he said. Women are not only centrally involved in milk production, but also in collection, processing and marketing of diary products, he added. OMFED aims to educate and empower tribal women by providing better training and facility so that they earn more through diary activities, he said. It also has plans to establish 300 new women tribal cooperative societies by enrolling 9,000 members within three years beginning 2015-16, he said. The fund sanctioned by the ministry will be utilised for providing training to the tribal women, setting up exclusive women milk cooperative society, and creation of necessary infrastructure, Sethi said. Odisha has a population of 41 million and nearly 23 percent of them are tribals. (Business Standard 17/6/15)

10. Ensure justice for unwed tribal mothers: DIG (6)

KALPETTA: State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) DIG S. Sreejith has directed the officials concerned to ensure justice for unwed tribal mothers in the district. He was speaking to presspersons here on Thursday after attending a sitting of the panel. Mr. Sreejith said there were more than 350 unwed tribal mothers in the district. But many a time, the officials concerned were not able to help them as the perpetrators exerted pressure on the women to hide their identity and even financially assisted them, Mr. Sreejith said. The police department, tribal activists, and members of the Kerala Mahila Samakhya Society (KMSS) should organise programmes to create awareness among the tribal women against such atrocities and take steps to ensure justice for the unwed tribal mothers, he said. KMSS State project director P.E. Usha, District Police Chief S. Ajitha Begum attended the sitting.(The Hindu 19/6/15)


11. Domestic violence case: Somnath Bharti unleashed dogs on me during pregnancy, alleges wife (8)

New Delhi: In more shocking allegations, the wife of former Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti has charged him with unleashing dogs on her when she was pregnant and subjecting her to severe mental and physical torture, which were termed as “baseless” by the AAP MLA. As protests mounted against him, Bharti briefed Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal about the issue. In her complaint filed with the Delhi Commission for Women, Bharti’s wife Lipika also alleged that he had forced her to go for abortion when she became pregnant for the third time and that she once tried to slit her wrist due to unrelenting torture. “In her complaint, she mentioned that her husband used to unleash dogs on her when she was in seventh month into her pregnancy. She said he once forced her to abort and that she tried to slit her wrist,” DCW Chairperson Barkha Singh said. Lipika said in her 26-page complaint to DCW about a “persistent threat to her life” from Bharti. The couple has two children and Lipika lives separately in Dwarka along with the kids. A lawyer by profession, Bharti, who was Law Minister during AAP’s first stint of 49-day government, denied the allegations as “totally baseless”.Bharti was yesterday slapped with notices by DCW after Lipika levelled charges of domestic violence, mental torture, dowry and forgery against him. The DCW has asked him to appear before it by June 26. The DCW chief said, “The couple had met on shaadi.Com and Bharti had told her lies about he owning an international law firm.” Meanwhile, women’s wing of Delhi BJP held protests against Bharti condemning his alleged torture of his wife. Scores of protesters marched towards his residence in Malviya Nagar, demanding a thorough probe into the matter. In his reaction, Bharti said “I love my wife and my little children. The allegations are totally false.” Surprisingly, the DCW chief, a former Congress MLA whose tenure as chief of the women panel ends next month, attacked Chief Minister Kejriwal wondering whether he will take a position in support of Bharti like he did in a case involving AAP leader Kumar Vishwas. “I want to know whether Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal who had taken a proactive stance to protect Kumar Vishwas, will do the same for Somnath Bharti,” Singh said. Last month, DCW had summoned Vishwas after a woman AAP volunteer accused him of not dispelling “false rumours” of his having an illicit relationship with her. (Zee News 12/6/15)

12. CCTV in 5,000 Delhi buses in I phase, Rs 100 cr to be spent (8)

New Delhi: In an effort to enhance security in city buses, particularly for women commuters, Aam Aadmi Party government has decided to install close circuit television (CCTV) cameras in 5,000 buses in the first phase, besides deploying trained marshals. The government will make a provision of around Rs 100 crore in the upcoming Budget to execute the flagship project for CCTV installation that will cover DTC and Orange-colour Cluster buses At present, there are around 4,700 DTC buses out of which 924 standard-floor buses (yellow) are all set to be scrapped as they have completed their age. Apart from that, 1,300 cluster?buses, run by Delhi Integrated Multi-Model Transit System (DIMTS), are also plying in the capital. “Government has decided to install CCTV cameras in 5,000 DTC and cluster buses. As per plan, three CCTV camears will be installed in each bus to keep a close vigil on every passenger,” Transport Minister Gopal Rai told PTI. According to the government, installation of CCTVs will help to check any attempt of violence against women or eve-teasing in buses. “CCTVs will be installed in all DTC low-floor buses, including air conditioned buses. All the 1300 cluster buses (orange) will also come under this project,” the minister said. A senior official said that government will make a provision of Rs 100 crore in the upcoming Budget to execute the project. Apart from CCTV project, around five thousand trained marshals will also soon be deployed in all buses to put a check on incidents of eve-teasing and violence against women. “At present, the government is currently providing training to personnel of Home Guard and Civil Defence as marshals to prevent and deter crime, especially against women. “Government will also make a provision of some funds for them separately in the Budget. “These marshals will soon be deployed in the city’s buses plying in the national capital,” the official also said. (Zee news 14/6/15)

13. Property: Daughter has share but father has will (8)

Despite a historic amendment in 2005, the Hindu inheritance law still suffers from gender bias. It is 10 years since the daughter has been brought on a par with the son under the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 (HSA). This historic amendment of 2005 never made much of a splash though, unlike other farreaching enactments of the same year such as RTI, NREGA and even the domestic violence law. The lack of buzz about giving the daughter as much share as the son in the joint family property may seem ironic considering that this very proposal was one of the main reasons why the consolidated Hindu Code Bill championed by India’s first law minister B R Ambedkar had been scuttled in the nascent republic to appease conservative forces. Does this mean that the notoriously patriarchal Hindu society has since become more accommodating of gender equality? Not necessarily, for there is little data available on the extent to which the amended Section 6 of the HSA conferring the same rights and liabilities on the daughter and the son in the ancestral property has been implemented across the country. Unlike in the case of RTI and NREGA, there has been no noticeable attempt on the part of the government to spread awareness about the change in property rights. Nor have civil society groups been anywhere as vigilant in monitoring the enforcement of HSA 2005 as they have been about the accrual of benefits from the more high-profile laws of that year.Anecdotal evidence suggests that the import of the 2005 amendment is yet to sink in among the intended beneficiaries. Whether the women concerned are still ignorant about their new succession rights or have chosen to ignore them, Hindu ancestral properties have largely remained the preserve of their male counterparts. As a study conducted by a feminist group, Partners for Law in Development, put it, “The de facto situation continues to be one where women forfeit these rights to avoid strained family ties.” What is particularly difficult for the daughter is to invoke her entitlement, under the 2005 amendment, to claim par tition of an ancestral home even when male heirs from her family are residing there. Apart from the lag in the implementation of the 2005 amendment, the Hindu inheritance law is in need of further changes for it to be rid of the remnants of gender discrimination. One such remnant flagged by the Law Commission in 2008 relates to the implications of a Hindu woman dying without leaving behind a will. If she dies as a childless widow, the husband’s heirs alone inherit her estate. But then, since she is entitled post-2005 to inherit property from her parents’ side as well as her husband’s side, would it not be logical to give equal rights of succession to her heirs from both sides? The Law Commission suggested that Section 15 of the HSA 1956 be amended so that “in case a female Hindu dies intestate leaving her self-acquired property with no heirs, the property should devolve on her husband’s heirs and also on the heirs of her parental side”. This would surely be an apt sequel to the 2005 amendment, which too had been effected at the instance of the Law Commission. Another retrograde provision waiting to be discarded is a gratuitous concession made to the Hindu right in 1954 while enacting a secular law for solemnising nondenominational “civil marriage”. Section 19 of the Special Marriage Act says that any marriage performed under that law of a Hindu belonging to an undivided joint family shall be deemed to result in his “severance from such family”.Thus, there is a statutory sanction to disinheriting from the ancestral wealth any Hindu who resorts to civil marriage, which is an option available to those who wish to avoid religious rituals or marry outside the community (without converting the spouse). Such a disincentive to civil marriage is out of sync with the spirit of the 2005 amendment and the social trend towards inter-caste and inter-community marriages. It also serves as an obstacle to India moving towards its constitutional goal of uniform civil code… (Times of India 16/6/15)

14. Modi wants ‘Girl Rising’ campaign to focus on female foeticide (8)

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asked representatives of ‘Girl Rising’, a global campaign to educate and empower girls, to focus on the issue of female foeticide in India. Representatives of “Girl Rising” including its India Ambassador and actress Freida Pinto and vice president of its global programmes Samantha Wright met the Prime Minister in Delhi. “The Prime Minister said the “Girl Rising” campaign in India should focus especially on the problem of female foeticide,” an official statement said. The Girl Rising campaign is anchored by a feature film that is being remade into several Indian languages. The representatives also appreciated the Prime Minister’s “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” initiative. In February this year, Ms Pinto and Priyanka Chopra had launched a new campaign ‘Girl Rising India’ campaign aimed at changing the lives of girls across the country. Through powerful storytelling and visible advocacy, Girl Rising’s India campaign is designed to spark grassroots, community-led change for girls. (Asian Age 17/6/15)

15. Gang-rape: three youths arrested (8)

Bengaluru: A 15-year-old girl was allegedly raped by three youths from her neighbourhood on Wednesday afternoon. J.P. Nagar police rounded up the three youth hours after the incident was reported to them on Wednesday night. Police confirmed that the preliminary report of the medical examination conducted on the girl at Victoria Hospital confirmed rape. Police sources said that the girl is being taken care of by the Child Welfare Committee (CWC). The girl is a school dropout. She was living with her grandmother in a slum in J.P. Nagar police limits. The incident occurred on Wednesday around 2 p.m. when she was alone at house as her grandmother had been out on work. The three youth — Asai (20), a vegetable vendor; Santosh (19), a water can delivery boy; and Ajay (20), an auto driver — lured her out. Asai had befriended her earlier. They took her to an under-construction building in a deserted spot where they allegedly raped her. The alleged sexual assault lasted for more than an hour, investigations have now revealed. The youth let the girl go only after she promised not to reveal the incident to anybody. She reported the incident to her grandmother, who approached the police and lodged a complaint. Police Commissioner M.N. Reddi said that the three have been arrested and booked under POCSO Act, 2012 and under Section 376D of Indian Penal Code for gang rape. (The Hindu 19/6/15)


16. Over 50 percent rise in child labour in Indian urban areas: CRY (14)

Kolkata: Child labour in urban India increased by over 50 percent between 2001 and 2011, a report by NGO CRY said on Thursday, highlighting the links to the rise in migration. An analysis of the census data by CRY (Child Rights and You) said child labour in urban areas in the country increased by 53 percent over 2001-2011. The report was released Thursday ahead of the World Day Against Child Labour on Friday. “Working children between 5-9 years increased by 37 percent. Of particular concern is the whopping rise in child labour in the age group of 5-9 years in urban areas – the number of working boys grew by 154 percent whereas the number of working girls grew by 240 percent,” the analysis said. Five Indian states – Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra – harbour the majority of working children. These states account for more than 55 lakh child workers. The observations of the heightened numbers in urban spaces is of “utmost concern”, according to Komal Ganotra, director, Policy and Research, CRY. “This is of utmost concern especially since enforcement machinery is primarily based in urban regions and the implementation of child protection structures is stronger in urban India. “This increase in urban child labour could be attributed to increased migration including seasonal migration for employment as well as trafficking of unaccompanied minors,” Ganotra said. (Business Standard 11/6/15)

17. Every 11th kid in India a part of the labour force: Study (14)

NAGPUR: More than 120 million children between ages 5 and 14 across the world are involved in child labour, according to some estimates. Of them, 10.13 million are in India. Despite the United Nations and the constitutions of several countries constituting laws against it, child labour is prevalent all through the globe even today. The situation in India is so bad that every eleventh child in the country is part of the labour force. Child labour in the country is mainly concentrated in five states including Maharashtra. In the state, 5-6% of the working population consists of children. This information was released by NGO Child Rights and You (CRY) on the occasion of World Day against Child Labour on Friday, based on the analysis of 2011 census figures. A study to determine the attitude of young India on the issue was also released on the occasion. Friday was World Day against Child Labour. “Our Constitution guarantees the rights for children against child labour and gives them the right to education to children up to the age of 14. Yet, today we stand as a nation that has been incapable of making any significant progress when it comes to child labour and the ever-increasing numbers prove this. Isn’t it time for a conversation around the incontestable rights of a child to a safe, secure and healthy childhood; free from abuse, labour and other discriminatory practices?,” said Kreeannne Rabadi, regional director of CRY (West). This persistence of child labour is rooted in poverty, lack of decent work for adults, lack of social protection and a failure to ensure that all children are attending school through to the legal minimum age, she added. With insufficient education and skills, child labourers often grow up to get poorly paid jobs or be unemployed, forcing them to push their own children into the workforce. “The government has made several good laws but their implementation is lacking. Citizens can help in this by being our informants and sources. However, most of the times when a person calls us to complaint, they are not ready to get involved by accompanying us to the place or staying at the place they are complaining about. When we go there later, the children are nowhere to be found,” said Vasanti Deshpande, executive director of city-based NGO Vardaan that is also a part of government’s Childline project. What is most important is to work towards preventing the causes like poverty, widespread unemployment and not understanding the importance of education among the economically backward classes, she added. Rehabilitation of these laboureres can be done through vocational training, she said. “Mostly, as a society, we need to be more sensitive towards the needs of our children,” said Deshpande….  (Times of India 14/6/15)

18. Total prohibition of child labour stressed (14)

MADURAI: The government should totally prohibit child labour and stop all attempts to regulate it, the Tamil Nadu Domestic Workers’ Union said here on Saturday. Addressing a press conference, P. Clara, its State coordinator, said that the move to include a provision in Section 3 of Child Labour Act 1986 to allow children below 14 years of age to work in home-based business would create a loophole to promote child labour. It would open the door to exploitation of children and also create cheap labour. She pointed out that sustained efforts by various organisations over the years had resulted in an increase in the number of children going to school. But relaxing the existing law to allow children to work after school hours would increase the number of child workers, harm their health and deprive them of their right to recreation. Child labour could be eradicated by sending all children to school and providing adequate jobs for their parents. She said that the differentiation of work as hazardous and non-hazardous was meaningless as any work was hazardous to a child. While the government should empower and sufficiently fund local bodies to deal with child labour it should withdraw the move to amend the Child Labour Act as it would go against the spirit of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child. All children below 18 years of age should be brought under the ambit of right to education, Ms. Clara said. (The Hindu 15/6/15)

19.  ‘Gift of education’ for poor children (14)

Virudhunagar: Scholarships and learning materials to pursue education were handed over to poor children and former child workers at a function organised by Udhavum Ullangal, a Chennai-based service organisation, at Kalaimagal Higher Secondary School, Tiruthangal, on Sunday. The ‘gift of education’ was presented to former child workers recovered by the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) by C. Ramasubramanian, State Nodal Officer, District Mental Health Programme, and B. Ramachandran, District Educational Officer. T. Narayanasamy, Project Officer, NCLP, addressed the gathering. The children, who received the scholarship, included those who had scored high marks in this year’s public examinations. B. Shankar Mahadevan, founder, Udhavum Ullangal, said that the organisation had been providing assistance to children from underprivileged background to pursue education for the last 15 years. In Sivakasi, the focus had been on former child workers. Mentorship sessions were being held in Sivakasi once in two months to guide the children. Sessions at these classes were handled by those pursuing higher education with assistance from Udhavum Ullangal. Mr. Shankar Mahadevan pointed out that two women, who were rescued from child labour by the NCLP, were now working as nurses in Tirunelveli, after qualifying themselves in nursing with Udhavum Ullangal assistance. The award of scholarship could be extended further with assistance from philanthropists of Virudhunagar and Sivakasi, he said. (The Hindu 18/6/15)


20. India objects to US Congress panel’s stand on minorities (7)

NEW DELHI (TIP): The government on June 4 strongly objected to the latest move by a panel of the United States Congress to highlight allegations of violence against religious minorities in India. New Delhi said that the briefing held by Tam Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC) of the United States Congress in Washington DC on Wednesday was an effort based on “lack of understanding of India, its Constitution and society”. The TLHRC – a panel of the US House Committee of Foreign Affairs –held the briefing, which highlighted violence against Muslims, Christians and other religious minorities in India. “We have seen media reports about a briefing by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Committee on ‘Violence against Religious Minorities in India.’ We regard such efforts as based on lack of understanding of India, its Constitution and society,” said Vikas Swarup, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, in a statement. “It is well known that the Constitution of India guarantees equal religious, social and political rights to all its citizens, including minorities,” he added. Representatives Joseph Pitts and Jim McGovern of the US Congress co-chair the TLHRC. Both of them joined co-chair of the American Sikh Caucus, Representative Patrick Meehan. The briefing, according to the TLHRC website, outlined the “important legal, social and cultural issues” related to the “persecution of minorities” in India. (Indian Panorama 12/6/15)

21. Notice issued to 10 minority schools in Mumbai (7)

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government has sent show-cause notices to 10 high-profile schools in Mumbai for not admitting minority students despite enjoying minority status. “These schools enjoy various facilities and concessions from the government on the pretext of being a minority school. However, we have reports that none of these schools enrolled a single minority student in the last three years,” said State’s Minority Affairs Minister Eknath Khadse. All 10 schools are situated in South Mumbai. Of the 10, four belong to Christian and Parsi communities respectively, while the rest are of the Jain community. The trusts or associations who run these educational institutes have been asked to present their case before the State government in the coming week. If the schools fail to respond, the government may suspend their minority status. In all, the State has 2,490 educational institutions with minority status. In addition, there are 414 engineering and 306 medical institutes which enjoy this status. The government has also decided to initiate action against those institutes of higher education which fail to admit the prescribed minimum of 51 per cent minority students. “Many a time it has been observed that seats are sold to students for a price and minority students are neglected. We will take steps to withdraw their minority status if such practice is observed for three years continuously,” said Mr. Khadse. (The Hindu 12/6/15)

22. Commission comes to the aid of undertrials (7)

Vijayapura: The Karnataka State Minorities Commission is planning to set up a committee of judicial experts to look into cases of financially weak undertrials from minority communities. Chairperson of the commission Balkhees Banu said she had come up with the initiative after visiting Parappana Agrahara jail in Bengaluru, where many were languishing as they were unable to get legal help or raise resources for the bail amount. “Nearly 2,017 undertrials of over 4,000 were from minority communities and in penury, with none to pay their bail amount,” she said. The committee would particularly look into cases where an undertrial has served more than the prescribed term for an offence, she said. The commission also plans to help children of undertrials by admitting them into minority schools/hostels where free education would be given along with scholarship. “I have decided to constitute a four-member committee to study the socio-economic condition of the inmates,” Ms. Banu said. (The Hindu 15/6/15)

23. Civil Society slams NDA govt, says attacks on minorities up (7)

New Delhi: A report compiled by Civil Society, “365 days — democracy and secularism under the Modi regime” has hit out at the Central government over attacks on minorities and hate speeches. It said such incidents have become more common in the past year. Highlighting the number of attacks on minorities, deaths, and vandalism of churches and mosques, the report also said that some communities were feeling threatened. “We could document only a fraction of what has happened during the past year,” said Harsh Mander, one of the assessors of the report. Activist Shabnam Hashmi said the NDA government has, at times, refused to accept that there has been communal violence. “The report clearly breaks that myth. The Sangh has realised that large-scale violence attracts international media attention and therefore now, meticulously planned high-intensity localised violence coupled with high-pitched hate campaigns is used across India to polarise people and further marginalise the minorities,” Ms. Hashmi added. According to the report, the first few weeks of the government saw 113 communal incidents and the subsequent months (May-June 2014) witnessed 15 killings and 318 people getting injured in such incidents. The report added that the new government was providing credibility to myths and superstitions, with the field of science taking a hit. “During the past one year, we have also witnessed an unprecedented four-pronged attack on scientific temper, rational thinking and scientific establishment of the country,” said P.V.S. Kumar of Civil Society. Efforts like reviving the Saraswati, claims that aircrafts were invented in ancient India and yogis had pioneered the concept of TV were attempts in this direction, he added. The activists said while compiling the report they also learnt that some villages in Chhattisgarh were passing orders banning the entry of non-Hindu priests. However, Ms. Hashmi said, there was strong resistance to such “nefarious designs” by the Sangh. (The Hindu 19/6/15)


24. Muslims can take Allah’s name in place of shlokas: Minister (7)

NEW DELHI: After dropping ‘Surya Namaskar’ from the official yoga programme to “avoid controversy”, the government on Thursday said chanting ‘shlokas’ during ‘International Yoga Day’ was not “compulsory” and appealed to Muslims to participate in the event.Shripad Naik, minister for Ayush, the coordinating ministry for the event at Rajpath on June 21, said Muslims can “take the name of Allah instead of reciting ‘shlokas’” during the event. While some minority groups have objected to the holding of the event by government, especially inclusion of Surya Namskar, representatives of some Muslim organizations who met Naik today said those opposing yoga were “enemies of humanity” and yoga has nothing to do with religion. External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had said a committee which decided the common yoga protocol had not included Surya Namaskar “because they wanted easy asanas (exercise) in it, which can be performed by anyone.”Naik on Thursday said, “We did not include Surya namaskar to avoid controversy. And, moreover, it’s difficult to do it. But Surya Namaskar is not religious. We want the whole event to go smoothly.” “Shlokas are not compulsory. Shlokas are merely prayers but it is not compulsory. They can even take the name of Allah instead of chanting shlokas. I request the Muslims to participate and unite the country,” Naik told reporters after meeting a delegation of Muslim organizations. In the wake of International Yoga Day on June 21st, prominent city socialites and Yoga practitioners performing Yoga postures as a flash mob in Bengaluru on may 31, 2015. (TOI photo by K Sunil Prasad) Opposition has been voiced by some organizations, including the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, against performance of Surya Namaskar, saying it is against their faith. “We did not make anything compulsory. Even the HRD ministry has merely appealed to the educational institutions.Noting that yoga is a matter of pride and has “nothing” to do with religion, the minister said that yoga unites people and is done for fitness. “If people aren’t fit there won’t be any development. The protests are misleading. Muslims would be co-partners not just participants,” he said. Meanwhile, Daudi Bohra community members who met the minister welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative and said the event does not have any religious connotations. “There’s yoga in namaaz but namaaz isn’t yoga. Those who oppose it are enemies of humanity because yoga is for the well being of humans,” Maulana Syed Kaukab Mujtaba Abidi, president of Majlis Ulema e Hind (Uttar Pradesh), told reporters. (Times of India 11/6/15)

25. Study shows NCR homeowners turn away Dalits and Muslims (7)

A study on discrimination in urban housing rental preferences, to be published in a forthcoming issue of Economic and Political Weekly, shows high levels of exclusion of Dalits and Muslims in the five metropolitan areas of NCR. The team of researchers, led by Prof S K Thorat, chairman of the Indian Council of Social Science Research, and comprising scholars such as Anuradha Banerjee, Vinod K Mishra and Firdaus Rizvi, covered attempts to get houses on rent in Delhi, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon and Noida between January and March 2012. The methodologies included contacting the “home-providers” via telephone or meeting them face to face. In both the methodologies, the home-seekers had the same credentials but for their names that indicated their caste and religion.The telephonic audit had a total of 1,469 home-seekers, 493 each bearing upper-caste Hindu, Dalits and Muslim names. While not one of the 493 high-caste home-seekers received a negative response, about 18 per cent of Dalits and 31 per cent of Muslims faced outright rejection, found the study. Together those receiving either a negative response or a positive one with conditions attached worked out to 41 per cent in the case of Dalits, and around 66 per cent for Muslims. tenantsThe face-to-face audit covered 198 home-seekers, with 66 high-caste Hindus, Dalits and Muslims each. While 97 per cent of upper-caste Hindus got a positive response, 44 per cent of Dalits and 61 per cent of Muslims faced rejection. Together those receiving either a negative response or a positive one with conditions attached worked out to 51 per cent in the case of Dalits, and 71 per cent for Muslims. In other words, the chances of Dalits and Muslims finding a house fell in the case of face-to-face contact. It also means that a significant number of Dalits and Muslims have to spend much more to stay in accommodations in NCR than their upper-caste counterparts. “This indicates a clear case of market failure,” says Thorat, “where even prosperity does not allow you to buy your way out of discrimination… The studies do reveal that Muslims are even worse off than Dalits as far as the rental housing market goes.” “Non-monetary motive often prevails among landlords renting out houses,” says the study, which chose Delhi for the research as it is often considered amongst the most migrant-friendly and cosmopolitan cities in India…. (Indian Express 16/6/15)

26. Muslims to participate in SoBo event (7)

MUMBAI: Several Muslim activists have pledged support to the celebrations of International Yoga Day on June 21 and they will participate in the event “Yoga by the Bay’, organized by TOI-backed Equal Streets Initiative. “Yoga has many health benefits and it should not be linked to any religion. We will take part in the event on June 21 on Marine Drive to celebrate International Yoga Day,” said M A Khalid, general secretary of the All India Milli Council. Activist Firoz Mithiborewala said that 117 countries, including several Muslim nations, would be celebrating it and it would send a wrong message if Muslims opposed it. “This is a proud moment for India that the world has acknowledged yoga’s importance. Even if it originated in Hinduism, there is no harm in adopting something from other cultures as long as it doesn’t impinge on somebody else’s religious rights,” said Mithiborewala. Salim Alware of Indian Muslim Intellectual Forum said that Muslims would do yoga minus surya namaskar and without uttering Om. (Times of India 19/6/15)


27. CBCI unhappy over decision to organise Yoga day on June 21 (7)

Kochi: Catholic Bishops Conference of India, apex body of the Catholic priests in the country, on Thursday expressed displeasure over government’s decision to organise Yoga day on June 21, saying Sundays are “sacred day” for Christians in the country. CBCI President and Syro-Malankara Major Archbishop Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, however, said the Church was not against Yoga, which was described as “anti-Islam” by certain Muslim bodies including All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB). Lamenting that “important events are being observed on Sundays these days”, the Cardinal said the Church will raise its concern before the authorities concerned. “We are not against Yoga. But it is sad that such important events are being observed on Sundays these days. Sundays are holy day for Christians. Organising such programmes on Sundays will clash with our belief,” Cleemis, also the leader of the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC), told reporters here. The Catholic church’s reservations against Yoga came amid opposition from some minority groups, including AIMPLB, against compulsory yoga classes in schools. Government has said participation in June 21 events to mark International Yoga Day was not “compulsory”.KCBC had rallied behind the Supreme Court judge Justice Kurian Joseph who had opposed the decision of Chief Justice of India H L Dattu to convene a conference of judges on Good Friday in April this year. (Zee News 11/6/15)

28. Kerala Bishop criticized for inter-religious marriage remarks (7)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: An organisation representing OBC Hindu community in Kerala today criticised the Catholic bishop’s views on inter-religious marriages and said a case should be registered against him for his remarks. General secretary Valappally Natesan of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam organisation said a case should be registered against Idukki Bishop Mar Mathew Anikuzhikattil for his remarks which discouraged inter-religious weddings as it was against the values and beliefs of the Christian community. The youth wing of SNDP took out a march to the Secretariat here protesting against the remarks. Addressing a pastoral convention at nearby Kanjirapally in Kottayam, the Bishop had said Christian girls were being targeted by boys of other religions. “Mixed marriages are against Christian beliefs. It will destroy our values and beliefs,” he said, adding, the faithful should resist such trends and not fall prey to it. (Times of India 14/6/15)

29. 5 Held for Attack on Prayer Hall (7)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Attingal police on Monday identified and arrested five persons in connection with the attack on a Christian prayer hall here on Sunday. The accused are T T Anoop, 38 of Elappuram, Attingal; Anoop, 30 of Kizhuvalam; Abhijith,22 of Attakulam Attingal; Vimal, 30 of Kizhuvalam and Deepu, 20 of Kallambalam. According to the police, the five are suspected to be RSS activists who unleashed an attack on the prayer hall, leaving many devotees injured. The incident occurred on Sunday at 12.30 pm, when 50 of the suspected RSS activists barged into the prayer hall situated at the Attingal Riot Memorial Library hall and attacked the people assembled in the hall, including the pastor, without any provocation. The prayer group named ‘Reaching the world with love ministry’ was conducting the weekly prayer meet. Over 200 people were gathered for the prayer meet. “Despite manhandling the devotees, the activists also allegedly vandalised valuable equipment including televisions and cameras and destroyed the food kept for lunch. The injured people were – including pastor Siju, 24 – Sam, 26, Valsala,48, Binu, 42, Saju, 24 and Baby Girija, 45. All of them are out of danger and recovering well. However, the investigation is on to find more persons involved in the attack and they will be nabbed soon,” a police official said. Rural SP Shefeen Ahamed said that the assailants allegedly broke a finger of a middle aged woman and even beat up a physically challenged man seated on a chair, asking him to get up and clear off. “This is an attack on the freedom of religion”, the SP said. Condemning the incident, Home Minster Ramesh Chennithala said that it was nothing but an attack on belief and everyone had the right to believe and worship. However, the government and the citizens were committed to giving full protection to them. (New Indian Express 16/6/15)

30. West Bengal nun rape case: Mastermind arrested, two more to go (7)

Kolkata, June 18: Nazrul Islam alias Nojul the mastermind in the nun rape case was arrested by the West Bengal CID. His arrest is a major development as he along with Rehman were the two who masterminded this attack which was aimed at robbing the convent. Nazrul was picked up from the Sealdah Railway station. A state intelligence bureau official tipped off the CID about his presence at the Platform Number 5. The CID immediately pressed its officers into action and arrested him. Nun rape case: Mastermind arrested The mastermind behind the attack: Nazrul and Rehman are the two persons who masterminded the attack according to the investigation being conducted by the CID. The entire operation was planned in Bangladesh and they had roped in some locals too for this crime. While it was initially touted by many as a hate crime against the Christians further investigations made it clear that the intention was robbery. Also read: Nun rape case: Mastermind Milan Sarkar arrested As per the interrogation of the accused, they said that they wanted to rob the convent but were caught in the act by the nun. When she tried to stop them, they assaulted her physically, the investigation also suggested. Six down, two to go: The arrest of Nazrul takes the number of persons arrested up to six. Rehman is already in the custody of the CID. He will now be interrogated along with Narul and the CID would look to work out more leads in the case. Apart from being questioned about the incident, they would also be asked about the whereabouts of the rest of the accused. CID officials say that in all there were 8 persons involved in the incident. The other two persons who are still at large are Bombay Salim and Tuhin. The CID believes that these two persons are very much in India and have not slipped into Bangladesh. (One India 18/6/15)


31. Centre Told to Make Clear Stand on Medical Seats to Sri Lankan Refugees (13)

CHENNAI: Madras High Court has directed the Centre to make clear its stand on whether it is inclined to make any provisions to allot medical seats for Sri Lankan refugees. The First Bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice TS Sivagnanam passed the order on a petition from R Sri Priya, a practising advocate. T Nandini, daughter of a refugee couple who came to Tamil Nadu in 1990 and settled down in the refugee camp at Arachalur, Erode district, had passed the Plus Two examination, scoring 1170 marks out of 1200. She applied for admission to the MBBS course in Government Kilpauk Medical College and was called for counselling. But, her candidature was rejected as she was a Lankan refugee. Based on news reports about her ordeal, the advocate moved the PIL seeking a direction to reserve seats for Sri Lankan refugees. Responding to the PIL, Additional Solicitor General G Rajagopalan submitted that a communication from the Union Home Ministry about the existing scheme to accommodate candidates from friendly foreign countries including Sri Lanka, would not apply to children of refugees. Recording the submission, the Bench directed the Central government to clarify its stand on providing medical seats to Sri Lankan refugees, in the context of the present case where the candidate was born and educated in India. (New Indian Express 12/6/15)

32. Govt grants citizenship to 4,300 refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan (13)

NEW DELHI: As a first step to grant Indian nationality to nearly two lakh refugees from neighbouring countries, the NDA government has given citizenship to around 4,300 Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan and Afghanistan in one year. During the entire tenure of UPA-II, the figure stood at 1,023. The citizenship to these refugees have been given at the initiative of Home Minister Rajnath Singh following BJP’s declared policy that India is a “natural home for persecuted Hindus” who will be welcome to seek refuge. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had, during the Lok Sabha election campaign, said that Pakistani and Bangladeshi Hindu refugees will be treated like any other Indian citizen. There are around two lakh Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan currently living in India. Ever since the Modi government assumed charge in May 2014, nearly 19,000 refugees have been given long-term visas in Madhya Pradesh. Around 11,000 long-term visas were given in Rajasthan and 4,000 long-term visas were given in Gujarat, official sources said. In April, the home ministry had rolled out an online system for submission of Long Term Visa application and for its processing by various agencies. The decision has been taken to address the difficulty being faced by Hindu and Sikh minorities of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who come to India with the intention to settle permanently. There are about 400 Pakistani Hindu refugee settlements in cities like Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jaipur. Hindu refugees from Bangladesh mostly live in West Bengal and northeastern states. Sikh refugees mostly live in Punjab, Delhi and Chandigarh. (Times of India 14/6/15)

33. Myanmar Tamils another victims of human trafficking (13)

Kuala Lumpur: As the plight of Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar hit headlines, minority Tamils are lesser known victims of human trafficking crisis and their situation is worse as they are not recognised as refugees. Tamils, who are predominately Hindus and Christians and are descendants of rice growers in the Thaton and Bhamo districts of Myanmar, are conned by job agents who send them to Malaysia as bonded slaves. They were fleeced by agents of human trafficking rackets who lured them to leave the country with promises of job in Malaysia, the Star paper reported. However, they ended up being packed in the same boats with Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants, sailing for up to two weeks without food and after that being tortured at transit camps along the Thailand and Malaysia border, the daily said. Many of them said they had sold their properties to pay the agents but ended up as bonded slaves for the trafficking syndicates, which sent them to construction sites in Penang, Kedah and Perlis states in Malaysia, the Star said. 21-year-old Tamil migrant S Parimala said many in her group left home before the military junta in Myanmar announced the issuance of identification cards during the middle of last year. “We are in limbo because according to Rohingyas who just arrived, we could be shot if we return without identification papers and we are also living in fear of the authorities in Malaysia. We are stateless but UNHCR office refuses to give us refugee status,” she told the daily. She said about 110 Myanmar Tamils were now spread out in construction sites and living in squalid conditions. Another migrant, James Kanna, said, “I was duped into believing that I could enter the country legally.” He added that he too tried to get refugee status but was rejected. “I have not seen my son for a year and I don’t think I can see him again. He probably thinks I am already dead,” said the widower who left his son with a neighbour. Tens of thousands of minority Rohingya Muslims facing persecution in Myanmar have fled the country in recent years. Joined increasingly by economic migrants from neighbouring Bangladesh, they mainly headed for Malaysia and Indonesia. The exodus was largely ignored until a crackdown on the people-smuggling trade in Thailand last month caused chaos as gangmasters abandoned their human cargos on land and sea. (Deccan Herald 15/6/15)

34. Amnesty condemns ‘shameful’ world response (13)

London: Rights group Amnesty International on Monday slammed world leaders for “condemning millions of refugees to an unbearable existence” and demanded they work closely to resolve the “worst crisis” since WWII. “From the Andaman to the Mediterranean people are losing their lives as they desperately seek safe haven,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty’s secretary general, as the group published a report ahead of World Refugee Day on June 20. “The current refugee crisis will not be solved unless the international community recognises that it is a global problem that requires states to significantly step up international cooperation,” he added. In its report, the London-based group urged the international community to establish a fund for refugees and collectively commit to resettling a million refugees over the next four years. “The refugee crisis is one of the defining challenges of the 21st century, but the response of the international community has been a shameful failure,” said Shetty. “We need a radical overhaul of policy and practice to create a coherent and comprehensive global strategy.” The situation is particularly “desperate” for four million Syrian refugees, 95 percent of whom live in five countries neighbouring Syria (Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt). Amnesty warned that these countries were being overwhelmed by “such huge burdens”. “No country should be left to deal with a massive humanitarian emergency with so little help from others, just because it happens to share a border with a country in conflict,” said Shetty. On the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean, Amnesty welcomed measures taken by European Union members to strengthen the Triton border security operation, but called for further action, notably by creating more legal avenues for resettling refugees.AFP(The Hindu 16/6/15)


35. AAP upset with Tomar, may expel him over fake degree charges (1)

AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal is disappointed with Tomar as he had convinced him about the authenticity of his degree by showing a fake RTI report, as per media reports. Jitender Singh Tomar was taken into custody by the Delhi Police on Tuesday after an FIR was filed against him for allegedly possessing fake degrees. After arresting Tomar from his house, the Delhi Police took him to Faizabad district in Uttar Pradesh. On Wednesday, Tomar was taken to K S Saket PG College in the Faizabad district, where he claims to have studied, and was asked to show the classrooms and labs. But, the former Delhi Law Minister failed to recognize the classrooms and labs. Even the lectures at the college and Tomar’s alleged batchmates failed to recognize him. Jitender Singh Tomar has been charged with IPC section 467 for forgery, section 468 for forgery with purpose of cheating and section 120 (B)  for criminal conspiracy. (Deccan Herald 12/6/15)

36. UP RTI activist murdered by village head (1)

BAHRAICH: An RTI activist was brutally beaten up by the pradhan of Gaura village under the jurisdiction of Hardi police in Bahraich on Friday night. He died of injuries in the district hospital on Saturday. The accused has been arrested. Reports said Guru Prasad, 48, was kidnapped from his house and beaten by the village pradhan and his henchmen on Friday as he dared to challenge their might by seeking information on the development in the village. Prasad sat on a dharna at the office of the block development officer on Monday. He called off the dharna and returned to his home on the assurance of officials on Friday. Instead of taking action against Trilokinath, the officials allegedly persuaded the activist to call off his dharna, reports added. “Prasad, who was the block convener of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), had sought information on the development of the village from pradhan Trilokinath some time back. The latter had threatened him of dire consequences,” alleged the victim’s family. His wife Brijrani told TOI that Prasad had sought information about several village development projects under Right to Information (RTI) Act. However, she could not provide details. Mahsi block development officer (BDO), who is also the officiating public information officer (PIO), Mohd Nafees said: “Since January, I did not receive any application from Prasad.” Brijrani and other family members of Prasad alleged that a few people, including Trilokinath, came to their house on Friday evening and kidnapped Prasad. They beat him to death near the police station. Superintendent of police (SP) Neha Pandey said that accused Trilokinath had been arrested. “A case of murder has been registered against Trilokinath. Additional force has been deployed in the area.” District convener of AAP Santosh Kumari and general secretary Hamid claimed that Prasad used to regularly seek information about civic issues under RTI. “We condemn the murder. It’s a failure of law and order machinery,” they added. (Times of India 14/6/15)

37. RTI Act is perfect, no need to amend it, says CIC (1)

New Delhi: There is no need to amend the Right to Information Act as the law is perfect, says new Chief Information Commissioner Vijai Sharma as he appealed to public authorities to set their internal machineries right so that more information is in public domain and there is no need for RTI pleas. Citing the case of six political parties which did not follow orders of the Commission bringing them under the RTI Act, Sharma was asked whether there are lacunae in the Act which let the erring public authorities go unpunished and more powers could be given to the panel. A full bench of the Commission of which Sharma was a member had conceded that since the political parties did not appoint an information officer, the panel cannot impose a penalty as such proceedings can only be initiated against a Central Public Information Officer as per law. “We are here to implement the Act as it is. My experience has been I don’t think so (need for amendment). The act as it is OK. In so far as the objective of the RTI is concerned and the objective of the RTI Act is to ensure easing access to Information, the Act that we have today that is alright and serves its purpose,” he said in an exclusive interview to PTI. When asked whether the political parties not following orders of CIC may set a wrong precedent as other public authorities may ignore its orders in future, Sharma said several High Courts have termed the Commission as a tribunal where it hears both sides and give its opinion on the basis of what is given in the law. The Chief said while “precedence” is important the situations can be different in different cases. After assuming charge as as seventh Chief of the CIC, Sharma, who is a former bureaucrat like all his predecessors, told PTI that public authorities have to set their own internal machineries right so that more and more information is put in public domain thus avoiding need for RTI pleas. Asked about public authorities not following orders of the Commission on putting travel expenses of the Ministers in public domain, Sharma said any public authority which does not follow the orders needs to be “penalised”.”There can be no doubt that order which has been passed by this Commission have to be complied with and if there is a complaint that has to be attended to in accordance with law,” he said. Despite orders of the Commission and orders of the DoPT, travel expenses of the ministers are not being put in public domain by the NDA Government, a practice which was followed by erstwhile UPA Government. Sharma said that when an information seeker approaches a public authority, it should be able to provide information in accordance with the time period provided and that information should be relevant. “It should not be evasive information,” he said. He said public authorities should identify flippant, frivolous and vexatious applications through “some objective criteria, some determinant criteria” and attended to in a way which ensures that the genuine RTI applicants do not get handicapped. (DNA 15/6/15)

38. Sharad Pawar, nephew grabbed land in Baramati: RTI activist (1)

Mumbai: An RTI activist from Pune has alleged that NCP chief Sharad Pawar and his nephew former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar have been involved in a land grabbing case in Baramati, which is also the hometown of the Pawar family. Activist Ravindra Barhate said that the Pawars transferred forest land to their family trust violating rules and regulations in connivance with Pune collector Saurabh Rao. The disputed land, admeasuring 73-acres situated in the Karhati village of Baramati, was originally allotted to an education trust called Krishi Udyog Mool Shikshan Sanstha that runs an agricultural school with the same name since 1980. But ignoring the Bombay Public Trusts Act (BPTA), the land was transferred to another trust Vidya Pratisthan, held by Sharad Pawar and his family members, Mr Barhate alleged. The activist has been following the issue for the last six months and has decided to file a criminal writ petition against senior NCP leaders and government officials including chief minister Devendra Fadnavis for inaction. He claimed that Mr Fadnavis had been assuring him that he would take action, but has done nothing so far. According to the RTI activist, it is a clear case of blatant misuse of power as the land transfer deal has violated the Bombay Public Trusts Act (BPTA). Section 36 of the said Act states: No sale, exchange or gift on any immovable property and no lease for a period of exceeding ten years in the case of agricultural land or for a period of three years for non-agricultural land of building; belonging to a public trust shall be valid without previous sanction of the charity commissioner. “Despite this, in August 2008, a lease agreement was signed by agricultural school trust to hand over the land to Vidya Pratisthan trust headed by Sharad Pawar. This transfer of land becomes illegal as no prior permission was taken from the charity commissioner. Moreover, the land was registered and it was transferred to Vidya Pratisthan’s name on October 17, 2014 by paying Rs 1.94 crore. This includes occupancy price of land, stamp duty and registration fees,” Mr Barhate alleged. The RTI activist has acquired all the related documents through RTI, copies of which are with this newspaper. “For transferring the land to their own trust, Ajit Pawar was first made chairman of Krushi Udyog Mool Shikshan Sansthan after the then chairman of trust Padmatai Siddhya abruptly resigned from the post in 2005. But the ‘change report’ was rejected by the assistant charity commissioner K.R.P. Mukkawar for not following due procedures on November 20, 2014,” said Mr Barhate. The activist further said that he has filed a complaint with various government agencies including charity commission, Bund Garden police station, revenue minister Eknath Khadse and CM, but is still waiting for action to be taken in the case. Mr Barhate has also said that if proved wrong, he is ready to face criminal action. NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said that the party has no connection with the matter and that it is only related to Vidya Pratishthan. While a clarification released by Vidya Pratishthan said the transfer was done following all the rules and regulations. (Asian Age 16/6/15)


39. Inmates reform lives with education (11)

JAIPUR: Where there is a will, there is a way. This saying aptly fits around 45 prisoners of Bikaner Central Jail who have decided to reform their lives through education. And in their endeavour, the Indira Gandhi National Open University’s (IGNOU) is playing a crucial role. The open varsity recently opened its centre at the jail. These inmates are pursuing courses in nutrition, healthcare, agriculture, tourism, human rights, social work and business management. Among these prisoners is Prabhu Singh who is serving life imprisonment. He is handicapped by both hands, and is dependent on other inmates for his routine activities. However, his limitation didn’t deter him from becoming one of the first inmates to enroll for the bachelor preparatory programme launched by IGNOU. “His positive attitude and determination are quite inspiring. As he can’t hold books, he asks other inmates to read out the chapters to him, so that he can memorise them,” said jail superintendent Kailash Trivedi. He said the inmates are being given free education, as it is sponsored by the government. “There are plans to increase the number of courses offered to jail inmates. Currently, the focus is on introducing vocational and skill-oriented programmes. These prisoners will be qualified to take up various jobs after they walk out of the jail,” said IGNOU centre coordinator Parasmal Jangir. (Times of India 12/6/15)

40. 99.4% of all candidates fail AIPMT every year (11)

Only 0.6% of those who take the All India Pre-Medical Entrance Test crack it. That’s an unbelievably high-stakes game, for a mindboggling 99.4% fail to crack the exam. Over 6.3 lakh students took this year’s test. The total number of MBBS seats in the country is around 52,300. Government colleges have a little under 25,000 seats. The all-India quota is 15% of these, excluding institutions like AIIMS and JIPMER. Therefore, lakhs vie for around 3,700 seats. That’s where the 0.6% success rate comes in. Even if all 52,000 seats were up for grabs, only 8% aspirants would make it. With such a huge demand-supply skew, many parents and students are often desperate to adopt fair and foul means to grab a seat and rackets have sprung up over the years tapping this desperation. In the government sector, 183 colleges have less than 25,000 seats. Government medical college seats are coveted for offering education at highly subsidised rates, costing between Rs 25,000 and Rs 75,000 for the four-and-a-half year course, and most of these colleges offer better education. The private sector offers just 19,000 seats, if we leave out management quota (approximately 30% of seats), which are sold for Rs 55 lakh and Rs 80 lakh. Even from these 19,000, thousands are diverted to the management quota to be sold every year for hefty sums. Not only do most private colleges charge between Rs 15 lakh and Rs 40 lakh for the MBBS course, most aren’t known for quality of education. With the government for decades not investing enough in starting more medical colleges and increasing number of seats, the private sector is making a killing. “The astronomical cost of medical education in the private sector is going up, increasing the demand for government medical colleges seats, where entrance exam is the only way to get in. Entrance exams for medical colleges are conducted by most countries, including the US, without regular leaks, as it happens in almost all entrance examinations in India. There’s a need to upgrade tech used in conducting such examinations. Law enforcement is so lax that hardly anyone gets convicted for involvement in leaks,” said executive director of the National Board of Examinations, Dr Bipin Batra. He welcomed the SC judgement which is expected to frame guidelines for every university or board that sets exams. (Times of India 16/6/15)

41. Statewide Congress stir against education business (11)

GANDHINAGAR: Congress party has threatened to stage a state-wide protest against commercialization of education in Gujarat. President of Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee, Bharatsinh Solanki, said on Monday, “Report of the National University Of Educational Planning And Administration very specifically states that in the area of primary education Gujarat ranks 16th in the country. So far as secondary education is concerned Gujarat is down to the 23rd position. This speaks volumes about the level of education in Gujarat and the lack of commitment of the state government towards this issue.” “Recently the chief minister herself admitted that education prevails on pamphlets. This admission proves the pessimistic attitude of the Gujarat government towards primary, secondary, higher secondary, higher and technical education. Gujarat is lagging behind on this rather critical frontier in comparison to other states of India,” he said. (Times of India 16/6/15)

42. CBSE Schools Asked to Form ‘Inclusion Committees’ to Help Special Children (11)

COIMBATORE:  The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has asked all schools affiliated to it to form ‘School Inclusion Committees’ to address the needs of children with special needs. Each committee should include four members: school counsellor, special educator, teachers’ representative and the principal, who will be its chairperson. The committee should act as the facilitator to promote inclusive education at the school level and in the neighbourhood. The committees should also be a referral agency for children from disadvantaged groups and weaker sections of society. “In pursuance of the Right to Education Act and Persons with Disability Act, the Central Board of Secondary Education is providing various exemptions for children with special needs to ensure their active and successful participation in the school system. It is often observed that these provisions are not reaching the targeted population and are often misinterpreted by students and stakeholders in inclusion education,” D T Sudharsan Rao, Joint Secretary, CBSE, said in a circular. “All the issues with regard to admission, classroom placements, curriculum transaction, exemptions in examination and any other issued to safeguard the interest of children with special needs shall be addressed by this committee at school level,” Rao said. The committee should also take steps to raise public awareness on the importance of equality and overcoming discrimination and prohibit any kind of harassment and victimisation of any child with special needs in school. “Children with special needs require extra care and special attention. Teachers need to spend more time with them if they are slow learners and have regular interaction with their parents,” said  is very less, said K Navamani, Principal, Angappa Senior Secondary CBSE School, Coimbatore. However, the number of students with special needs is low in CBSE schools, she added. (New Indian Express 17/6/15)


43. PM assesses preparations of ‘Housing For All’ project (21)

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday called for a holistic approach towards meeting the target of “Housing for All”, a priority project of his government. Chairing a meeting to assess the work done so far in rural and urban areas, Modi stressed on the need for official agencies to adopt a flexible approach, taking into account local conditions such as building material, habits and lifestyles. “A tribal may prefer a house made from traditional local materials rather than bricks and mortar, and therefore should be facilitated accordingly,” the prime minister said. The meeting was attended by Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu, Rural Development Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh and senior officers from the ministries of HUPA (housing and urban poverty alleviation) and rural development, NITI Aayog and the PMO. Modi was quoted as saying in a statement that in rural areas, the goal should be achieved “village-by-village”, so that the progress was tangible and can be monitored effectively. “All common facilities and required connectivity should also be conceived and delivered along with housing – so that we move towards the concept of ‘samasya-mukt gram’ (problem-free village),” Modi said. For urban areas, Modi suggested that urban solid waste can be used to make bricks, which would be useful as building material. He said all newly-constructed houses should take into account the required norms in disaster-prone areas. (Business Standard 11/6/15)

44. One Million Nepalis Slip Below Poverty Line Due to Earthquakes (21)

KATHMANDU:  Nearly one million people have slipped below poverty line in Nepal due to two powerful earthquakes that left about 9,000 people dead and a trail of destruction across the country.”The earthquakes have pushed 982,000 more people back into poverty due to the loss of assets and income generating opportunities,” according to a report by Nepal’s National Planning Commission. The draft report on Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), which will be given final shape soon, has put the needs estimate of the country at USD 6.66 billion or nearly one-third of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. The draft PDNA, prepared by the NPC working with some 250 Nepali and international experts, divides the damage assessment into 21 sectors. It has calculated the damage extent in housing and human settlements, the sector suffering the most damage, at Rs 330 billion. Damage to education and tourism is estimated at Rs 28 billion and Rs 18 billion respectively. NPC handed over the PDNA draft report to Prime Minister Sushil Koirala on Friday. Vice-Chairman of NPC Govind Raj Pokharel claimed that the report will be finalised by June 18 and will include inputs from broader consultations to be organised in Kathmandu on Saturday, as well as donors’ comments thereafter. The report will be tabled before the donor community at an international donors conference here on June 25 to collect resources for the post-quake rebuilding and reconstruction. The government is also mulling to form a high-level implementation agency for the reconstruction tasks and a law for this purpose is in the making. In order to convince the donor community, the government is also expected to establish an agency for implementation and reconstruction in a fast-track mode. Altogether 36 out of the total 75 districts in Nepal are affected by the 7.9 magnitude earthquake on April 25 which was followed by another 7.3-magnitude earthquake on May 12. However, 14 districts including three districts in the Kathmandu valley fall under most-hit regions (New Indian Express 14/6/15)

45. Drought may hit rural India, aggravating poverty (21)

NEW DELHI: India’s farm economy could contract this fiscal year for the first time in over a decade because of drought, threatening Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s drive to lift millions in the countryside out of poverty and bolster his party’s support. Roughly half of India’s farmland lacks irrigation and relies on monsoon rain, but this year’s rainfall is officially forecast to be only 88 per cent of the long-term average and, for the first time in nearly three decades, farmers face a second straight year of drought or drought-like conditions. That comes on top of a crash in commodity prices, unseasonable rain earlier this year and delayed sowing late last year because of scanty monsoon rain. “Farmers are already reeling under heavy losses … and now they don’t have money to irrigate their fields or use an optimum level of inputs like fertiliser,” said Ashok Gulati, an agricultural economist who formerly advised the government on crop support prices. In the last official drought in 2009-10, the agricultural economy expanded about 1 per cent. But several private economists, including DH Pai Panandiker of think tank RPG Foundation, said the challenges in this fiscal year from April could shrink output by as much as 4 per cent, which would be the first contraction since 2002/03. Panandiker estimated that a 4 per cent decline in farm output, which accounts for about 16 per cent of Asia’s third-biggest economy, could shave 0.6 to 0.7 per centage point off the overall growth rate, all other things being equal. Such a decline could bring the overall growth rate down below the 7.3 per cent seen in fiscal 2014/15 and push more people in the countryside closer to penury. The central bank is looking for 7.6 per cent growth this fiscal year, having just cut its forecast from 7.8 per cent. Monsoon rain has picked up after a delayed start but small-scale farmers are struggling. “My two children go to a private school, where I have to deposit 25,000 rupees ($391) every six months,” said Uday Vir Singh, a farmer in Mathura, a semi-arid city in Uttar Pradesh. “God forbid I may soon have to pull them out of school,” he said, sitting under a tree where farmers had gathered to protest at delays in getting compensation for recent crop damage…. (Times of India 15/6/15)

46. Food Security Act to be Implemented by September in Bengal (21)

KOLKATA: The National Food Security Act would be implemented in West Bengal by September this year, its Food and Supplies minister Jyotipriya Mallick assured the state assembly today. Already three districts are under the purview of the act and more districts are being included in phases as digital cards are being delivered by the agencies handling them. By September the entire state would be brought under the scheme and a total 6.1 crore people would be benefited, he said. The government was constructing godowns to handle the increased quantity of food grains required to implement the scheme, he added. (New Indian Express 16/6/15)

47. Almost 2,50,000 children facing starvation in South Sudan, says UN (21)

Beijing: Almost 2,50,000 children are facing starvation in South Sudan due to the military battles witnessed by the nation since 2013, the United Nations has warned. Toby Lanzer, the UN humanitarian coordinator who was recently expelled from South Sudan, said that in half of the country, one in three children were acutely malnourished, reported Xinhua. He also noted that about two-thirds of the country’s 12 million people were in dire need of aid as around 4.5 million faced severe food vulnerability. Lanzer added that a continuing war in South Sudan will lead to ‘economic collapse.’The country attained independence from Sudan in 2011 but plunged into crisis in December 2013 as troops loyal to President Salva Kiir clashed with defectors led by his former deputy Riek Machar. The conflict soon became a full-blown war, with violence taking an ethnic flavour. It left thousands of South Sudanese dead and compelled around 1.9 million people to flee. (New Kerala 17/6/15)


48. ‘Highest average man days under MNREGA only 49 days’ (14)

Man days under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), supposed to offer a minimum of 100 days’ employment per rural household per year, have been between 23 and 40 in the past eight years. And, the highest annual average recorded in the past few years has been 49 days, Birender Singh, Union minister for of rural development, panchayati raj, drinking water and sanitation, told Business Standard. States are finding it tough to engage local labour as they refuse to work at a wage rate lower than that prevailing in the market. “In some states, the wage rate offered in the market is higher than the MNREGS wages. So, the local labour does not accept employment under MNREGS.” (Business Standard 13/6/15)

49. Will protect workers’ interest, says India at ILO (14)

New Delhi: In the wake of growing protests by trade unions, India assured the International Labour Organization (ILO) of protecting workers’ interest. Addressing the United Nations body, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said that the Government of India is committed to protect and safeguard the interests of workers and upholding the dignity of labour. He also highlighted the measures taken to improve social security cover to workers of unorganised sector while addressing the International Labour conference held at Geneva last week. The trade unions are opposed to proposed changes in labour laws. The trade unions are up in arms over these proposals which would make it difficult for the workers to register and run trade unions. They have also announced national strike on September 2. “The government is committed to protect and safeguard the interests of workers and upholding the dignity of labour. Financial inclusion and social security cover for everyone is the top priority for the government especially for the vulnerable class of workers, “he said. He highlighted government’s effort towards providing social security covers to the unorganised workers. He said also that the government has initiated the process of providing an umbrella card to the unorganised sector workers. “This move will bring social security coverage for 1 billion people. For the organised sector, portability of provident fund benefits in a hassle free manner has been assured for more than 50 million workers,” he said. However, he iterated that poverty eradication and job creation are the top priorities of the Narendra Modi government. “India believes that poverty eradication and job creation are primary objectives to achieve inclusive growth under the ambit of Sustainable Development Goals in United Nations Framework,” he said. He referred to Make in India, Skill India, Digital India and Smart Cities Project in this context. (Deccan Herald 15/6/15)

50. Protest against denying jobs under MGNREGS (14)

NAMAKKAL: Stating that they were denied jobs under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) because they did not construct individual toilets at their homes, workers staged a protest outside Collectorate here on Monday. Villagers of Prandagam in Paramathi Velur said that over 50 people were denied jobs for many months as they did not construct toilets at their residences. Hence, a meeting was held in which employment was assured for all. On Monday, a protest was organised by agricultural workers of the Communist Party of India that condemned the panchayat president’s act. The protestors said that their livelihood was affected for no reasons and vowed to intensify their protest if jobs were not provided to them at the earliest. (The Hindu 16/6/15)

51. Enact a bill to protect interests of maids: DWF (14)

VIJAYAWADA: The Centre should enact a bill to provide safeguards for the domestic help engaged in households across the country, urged the Domestic Workers Federation (DWF) here on Tuesday. SK Alisha, city coordinator of the Montfort Social Institute (MSI) of which the DWF is an affiliate, said that the act should ensure minimum wages, weekly offs and extra pay for additional work. He appealed to the government to carry out a national-level survey on the economic conditions of the domestic helps. Addressing a function on the occasion of the International Domestic Workers Day, Alisha pointed out that most of the maids were denied minimum wages and were subjected to sexual abuse and harassment. But there was no legal mechanism that would come to their rescue, he rued. Alisha said that MSI would take the initiative to apprise the public representatives on the importance of passing a bill which will protect the interests of domestic help. T Shankar, MSI leader, underlined the need to organize a large number of maids working in the informal sector under horrible working conditions. Officials of the labour department should visit the houses where the maids are engaged and see whether the labour act is implemented at the workplaces. It is quite unfortunate that the government lacks tools to quantify the volume of work done by the maids and fix wages accordingly,” he said. Krishna Babu, another MSI activist, informed that efforts were underway to promote vocational skills in the maids like tailoring to augment their incomes. Most of the other speakers at the function complained that there were no fixed working hours for them unlike their counterparts engaged in the organised sector. They sought wage fixation based on the size of families for which they are working. (Times of India 18/6/15)

52. HMDA Employees Sacked Outsourcing Staff’s Plea for Reinstatement (14)

HYDERABAD: The outsourcing employees of the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) urged Metropolitan Commissioner, Shalini Mishra to reinstate the 199 outsourcing employees whose services were terminated abruptly. These 199 outsourcing employees who were working in different categories were removed from service on April 23, 24 and 29 respectively without any prior intimation, the workers said. After submitting various representations to the labour Commissioner, senior officials and elected representatives of various parties, the issue was put before the Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. He was said to have instructed Principal Secretary to CM, S Narsing Rao to begin the process of reinstating the said HMDA outsourcing employees. Accordingly, a note was issued by the Principal Secretary on June 8 to examine and take immediate action on the matter. But, no action has been taken so far, complained the employees. Meanwhile, it is learnt that, instructions from the Metropolitan Commissioner have been given to 17 of the 199 outsourcing employees, ordering them to rejoin their duties with immediate effect. The other employees claim that majority of the 17 members are not qualified for the job and are also non-local (natives of Andhra Pradesh). The terminated employees feel that this move is reportedly meant to humiliate them and requested the chief minister and senior officials to reinstate their jobs as soon as possible. (New Indian Express 19/6/15)


53. SC/ST Staff Demand Scrapping of DPC List (25)

BHUBANESWAR: A piquant situation arose in the State Secretariat on Thursday when Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe employees shouted slogans alleging discrimination against them in promotion and demanding scrapping of the list prepared by the Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC). The employees gathered on the corridor near the main entrance of the ground floor and shouted slogans when Ministers were on their way to the Cabinet Meeting. They wanted to meet Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who takes the corridor route to his chamber. However, police did not allow the agitating employees to meet the Chief Minister. The agitators were dispersed forcibly before the arrival of the Chief Minister. “This is harassment of SC/ST workers. This is a discrimination,” said Vivekananda Samal, secretary of Odisha SC/ST Workers’ Association. Later, the SC and ST employees sat on a dharna till 5 pm, Samal said. The SC and ST employees alleged that while employees belonging to the general quota get promotion to the posts of desk officer and under secretary, they cannot reach these posts. Describing the DPC list as faulty, general secretary of Odisha SC/ST Workers’ Association Ananta Kumar Majhi demanded that it should be scrapped. The association members had met Chief Secretary Gokul Chandra Pati to draw his attention to the demand. On the other hand, members of Odisha Sachivalaya Seva Sangha had protested in front of the office of the Chief Secretary on Wednesday demanding immediate publication of the Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) list. (New Indian Express 12/6/15)

54. Subdivision of OBCs not on our agenda, Centre says (25)

NEW DELHI: Union social justice minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot has said the Centre is not considering any proposal to subdivide the OBCs as proposed by the National Commission for Backward Classes. “There is no such view within the government. There is no discussion at any serious forum. This issue is not under examination,” Gehlot told TOI about a recent proposal of the panel. In an April missive, the NCBC asked the Centre for a direction on whether it should go ahead with “subcategorization of OBCs” for which the preliminary process had been initiated after a nod from the UPA regime. The panel argued that subdivision would ensure equitable distribution of Mandal reservations. “Subcategorization” is seen as the solution to the grievance that stronger backwards have cornered the reservation benefits to the detriment of weaker sections within the category. The socially feeble groups are unable to compete with the empowered castes with whom they vie for OBC quota benefits. It is proposed that OBCs be divided into subgroups as per their social profile, with 27 per cent quota apportioned among them in proportion to their population. If the social justice minister’s response betrays a reluctance to bite the bullet, the stance could be owing to its possible implications for Bihar elections due later this year. There may be a fear that subdivision would anger the stronger backwards like yadavas and kurmis. The leaders of the two communities — Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar — have joined hands in an alliance against BJP. There is a conflict between weaker and stronger OBCs over the issue. While the former feel it would boost their chances of tapping the Mandal quotas, the latter are apprehensive that it would limit their playing field to just a fraction of the 27 per cent quota available to them. Consequently, the resentful stronger backwards could consolidate aggressively in favour of the RJD-JD(U) combine. On balance, BJP believes it can dent the vote base of Lalu-Nitish alliance and may want to avoid a provocation like subdivision. Observers, however, argue that it may not be as big a political risk since subdivision would be lapped up by the weaker OBCs who see it as panacea to their sidelining by their empowered brethren since the onset of Mandal benefits. The weaker OBCs far outnumber their empowered counterparts, forming a stronger vote bank. A decision based on political grounds, experts lament, would sound the end of what is a progressive step to refine the affirmative action regime, skewed as it is in favour of a small section of the backwards. (Times of India 13/6/15)

55. Jat quota issue: Community members to gherao PM’s residence (25)

Merut: In a bid to seek reintroduction of reservation for Jats, which was cancelled by Supreme Court in March, the community has decided to gherao the residences of Prime Mintiser Narendra Modi and other cabinet ministers in July. Annoucning this here yesterday, Akhil Bhartiya Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti National President Yashpal Malik told PTI today that the court’s order has “jeopardised the future of thousands of youths”.He further stated that the prime minister and BJP National President Amit Shah on March 27 had assured Jat leaders that the Centre will take appropriate steps in this regard and will try to find out a solution.”But nothing has been done so for. Thus we doubt the intention of the government,” he added.During the meeting, the samiti also demanded jobs and admissions under OBC reservartion catergory for jat youths, who had cleared exams, interviews and other formalities before the court’s decision. The apex court, in its verdict on March 17 this year, had set aside the 2014 notification of the then UPA government to include Jats in the central list of Other Backward Classes (OBC) in nine states for quota benefits. (Business Standard 15/6/15)

56. SC scraps pre-medical entrance test, orders new one in four weeks (25)

New Delhi: In a major verdict, the Supreme Court on Monday scrapped the All India Pre-Medical Entrance Test (AIPMT) for 2015-16 following the leak of its question paper and circulation of the answer keys through electronic devices at different examination centres in 10 states. The AIPMT was conducted for 15 percent all-India quota seats. A vacation bench of Justice R.K. Agrawal and Justice Amitava Roy, while cancelling the examination and directing its re-conduct within four weeks, said: “We are aware that the abrogation of the examination would result in some inconvenience to all concerned and that same extra time would be consumed for holding a fresh examination with renewed efforts.” Holding that the entire conduct of the AIPMT has been rendered “futile by a handful of elements seeking to reap undue financial gain by subjecting the process to their evil manoeuvres”, the court said: “We have thus no hesitation to order that the All India Pre-Medical and Pre-Dental Test stands cancelled.” “This, according to us, is the price the stakeholders would have to suffer in order to maintain the impeccable and irrefutable sanctity and credibility of a process of examination, to assess the innate worth and capability of the participating candidates for being assigned inter se merit positions commensurate to their performance based on genuine and sincere endeavours,” said Justice Roy, while pronouncing the judgment. While directing the re-conduct of the entire test, the court rejected the Central Board of Secondary Education’s (CBSE) plea not to scrap the test as it would affect 6.30 lakh students and also the re-conduct of the examination could not be completed before four months. Taking note of the plea of “enormity” of the task and the time frame of “four months” flagged by the CBSE, the court said: “We would emphasize that this is an occasion where it (CBSE) ought to gear up in full all its resources in the right spirit, in coordination with all other institutions that may be involved so as to act in tandem and hold the examination afresh at the earliest”.It was a “collective challenge” that all the role-players would have to meet, by rising to the occasion and fulfil the task ahead at the earliest, “so as to thwart and abort the deplorable design of a mindless few seeking to highjack the process for selfish gain along with the unscrupulous beneficiaries thereof”, the court said. While ordering that the exam be re-conducted, the court noted that on previous occasions “such type of examination had been held anew within a period of one month”.Observing that all other institutions would not “lag behind to extend all possible assistance to the Board in its renewed endeavour” involving “tireless efforts”, the court said: “The CBSE would now have to hold a fresh examination at the earliest, by complying with all necessary and prescribed norms, being mindful of the exigency amongst others of the commencement of the academic session which presently stands scheduled to be on and from August 1, 2015.” The court’s order came on a PIL and other petitions seeking the re-conduct of the examination in the wake of the leak of the question paper, contending that it has compromised the integrity of the entrance test. (New Kerala 16/6/15)


57. NHRC sends notices to Tihar authorities (1)

New Delhi: Taking suo motu cognisance of media reports on illegal activities inside Tihar jail premises, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to the prison authorities, asking them to submit a report in this regard within two weeks. “The Commission has taken suo motu cognisance of media reports that there are about 20 gangs of inmates operating inside the Tihar jail who facilitate mobile phones, coolers, porn magazines and protection from sexual abuse to prisoners who can pay them,” the NHRC said in a statement. They even plot crimes, including murder, both inside and outside the prison, it said.”The contents of the press reports, if true, raise serious questions about human rights of the prisoners as well as people outside the prison,” the statement said. Notices have been issued to Principal Secretary (Home) and Director General (Prisons) and a report has been sought in this regard within two weeks, it said. The Commission has also authorized one of the SSPs in the Investigation Division to conduct an inspection of Tihar jail and verify the allegations. According to media reports, 17 deaths have taken place inside the jail in the last four months, raising serious questions about the much needed security infrastructure. It was also reported that the prison is vastly over populated with 14,000 prisoners squeezing into the capacity of 6,250. (Deccan Herald 11/6/15)

58. 150 dead, now Madras HC to monitor ban on manual scavenging (1)

CHENNAI: Pointing out that more than 150 people had died since 1993 while manually clearing sewerage blocks in Tamil Nadu, the Madras high court said it would henceforth monitor implementation of manual scavenging laws in the state.The first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice T S Sivagnanam, passing orders on a PIL filed by ChangeIndia director A Narayanan last week, said, “In our view, it is necessary to take expeditious steps to implement the provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers & Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, coupled with the directions of the Supreme Court in letter and spirit promptly.” The bench also made it clear that the authorities must take note of all materials provided by Narayanan in his PIL. The PIL listed more than 150 people, with names and addresses, who had been killed during manual scavenging work in the state since 1993. The PIL wanted the court to direct the government to implement all the provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers & Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013. Although officially banned, workers continue to be sent down manholes and sewage pits to cut cost or make up for lack of necessary equipment. Often old pipelines clog up too frequently. The state must also be asked to complete identification of families of all people who have died in sewerage work involving manholes and septic tanks since 1993 and award compensation of 10 lakh for each such death within a timeframe, Narayanan said. In response to his list of 150 victims, government said only about 60 had been killed in such incidents. It said a little over 50 cases had been verified, and compensation paid to 29. Underscoring the Act as well as the apex court rulings governing the issue, the judges said no further directions were necessary. The judges then asked the government to file progress/compliance reports every three months till full compliance is ensured. The matter was adjourned to September 10 for further hearing. (Times of India 15/6/15)

59. Foreign Contribution Regulation Act: New crackdown on NGO foreign funds (1)

New Delhi: The NDA government has proposed a series of amendments to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) to strengthen its scrutiny of financial transactions involving NGOs. In the most important change, the government plans to equate “economic security” for NGOs under the FCRA with the definition provided in Section 2 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Section 2 of the UAPA, amended in 2013, reads: “Economic security includes financial, monetary and fiscal stability, security of means of production and distribution, food security, livelihood security, energy security, ecological and environmental security.” According to the proposed changes, NGOs and organisations that receive foreign donations will now have to share personal details, bank account details and bio-data of their trustees with the government. Also, banks will have to provide online access to the Home Ministry and Intelligence Bureau (IB) for monitoring the utilisation of accounts of all FCRA-registered associations. In April, the Home Ministry had cancelled the registration of Greenpeace India for “adversely impacting the economic security” of the country. The government also plans to “clearly define” provisions under the law that require “prior approval” for associations to receive foreign funding — 16 organisations are currently under this category, the latest being the Ford Foundation. When contacted, a senior government official denied that these amendments were part of a clampdown on NGOs. “There is no attempt to clamp down on NGOs, we are making arrangements to make the entire procedure transparent. On many occasions, the NGOs are not aware about the rules and procedures to be followed, the idea is to educate them too,” the official said. “We propose to clearly define prior-approval category… The procedures for placing NGOs and associations under this category also need to be laid down threadbare. Apart from this, the government will periodically issue advisories and cautionary notices to foreign donors as well so that the rules are reiterated to them,” the official added. According to the amended rules, any foreigner associated with an NGO, who is visiting India, will have to furnish his/her details with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO), spelling out the purpose as well as the dates of the visits. The NGOs will have to list all their activities and declarations on a website, and register themselves under one of the nine Indian Acts: Societies Registration Act, 1860, Indian Trust Act, 1882, Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956, Religion Endowments Act, 1863, Charitable and Religious Trust Act, 1920, Mussalman Wakf Act, 1973, Wakf Act, 1954, Public Wakfs Act, 1959 and Section 12 A of IT Act. (Indian Express 15/6/15)

60. Condition of schools: NHRC issues notice to Delhi govt (1)

New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a notice to Delhi government over the “pathetic state of affairs” at the schools run by it and sought a detailed report in the matter within four weeks. “The commission has taken suo motu cognisance of a media report highlighting a survey exposing the pathetic state of affairs in the 720 schools of Delhi government,” it said in a statement here. According to the report, a survey conducted by Delhi government’s Education Department has found that government schools faced shortage of teachers and lacked clean drinking water and toilet facilities. Also, in some cases, teachers were found to have consumed alcohol during duty hours. Instances also came to light of teachers and principals verbally abusing students and their parents as well. Facilities for computer education were almost non- existent with schools having no computers or just one for all the students. There were also major security lapses within the schools, said the survey, which was held pursuant to an initiative by the Deputy Chief Minister to obtain students’ suggestions for improvements at government schools. (Business Standard 16/6/15)


61. Civil society must have a say in judges’ appointment, Centre tells Supreme Court (19)

NEW DELHI: Appointment of judges shouldn’t be the exclusive preserve of the judiciary and civil society must be allowed to participate in the selection process as the “largest consumer of justice”, the Centre told the Supreme Court on Thursday while justifying the role of two eminent persons in the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC). Appearing before a 5-judge Constitution bench, headed by Justice JS Khehar, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi said the times have changed and legal acumen cannot be considered the sole criteria for appointment of judges. Describing NJAC as a broad-based system than the collegium, he said the two eminent persons would bring in “diversified views” in the appointment process. “People outside the judiciary must also have a say in judicial appointments. They are the largest consumer of justice delivery system and must have a say. Appointment of two eminent persons in NJAC is a decision to bring such people on table. What is wrong if a person of the stature of Satyajit Ray, MS Swaminathan, Verghese Kurien, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or a cricketer or film star are appointed in the panel. They have deeper understanding of society and culture than judges,” the AG said. Pointing out that the NJAC Act fails to define “eminent person”, the bench, also comprising Justices J Chelameswar, Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Kumar Goel, said it is very subjective term and asked what would happen if a ‘B-grade’ film star is appointed as an eminent person. “How can an eminent person decide the suitability of a candidate for judgeship. From whom they would get information and data on the basis of which decision should be taken. How would they help in the selection process?” asked the bench. The court also raised questions over the lack of provisions for removal of the two eminent persons from the six-member NJAC panel and asked whether there was any scope for judicial review of their selection. “There are no eligibility criteria for being an eminent person and there is also no provision for their removal from NJAC. Tomorrow if he goes berserk, what will you do. There is a procedure for removal of all persons from Constitutional posts but no such procedure is there (in NJAC) for the eminent person. There must be some checks and balances so that action can be taken if something goes wrong,” the bench observed. A combative Attorney General replied that the collegium system was too stereotyped and time has come to replace it. “The proposition that only judges know the best is fraught with danger. The court cannot ignore or be oblivious to the changing times. The mindset must change and the court must live up to the requirements of changing times. Our society is very mature. What paths the society should undertake should not be left only to judges,” he said. Advancing arguments on the role of the two eminent persons in the panel, Rohatgi said, “Many traits of a person must be considered before appointing him as a judge and those traits can be analysed by a person from outside the legal field. It’s a procedure followed in many countries. Judges are not aware about life beyond law. Why should you feel that only you could do the job,” he argued. The AG said the questions raised by bench are in vacuum as the NJAC has not started functioning and rules and regulations can be put in place to sort out any problem. He said an eminent person can be removed by the commission itself. “Are you saying that hire and fire policy will be applied for the eminent person. It looks odd that commission would form rules for removal of its own member,” the bench countered. The AG said NJAC cannot be quashed just because of few deficiencies. (Times of India 12/6/15)

62. Five major high courts without regular chief justices (19)

While the stalemate over the creation of the National Judicial Appointments Commission drags on, as many as five major high courts are forced to make do without a regular chief justice. And out of the sanctioned strength of 1,017 high court judges across the country, vacancies have grown to the extent of 37%. In percentage terms, the worst affected high courts as of June 1 are Chhattisgarh (55%), Allahabad (51%) and Karnataka (47%). In absolute terms, the high courts with the most number of vacancies are Allahabad (81/160), Punjab and Haryana (30/85), Bombay (29/94), Karnataka (29/62) and Gujarat (23/52). The high courts being administered by acting chief justices are Punjab and Haryana, Gujarat, Gauhati, Hyderabad and Karnataka. Gujarat has had an acting chief justice for the longest period: Justice VM Sahai has been officiating in Ahmedabad since September. The Karnataka high court is the latest to join the list of those without a regular chief justice: Subhro Kamal Mukherjee assumed the office of acting chief justice only on June 1. Thus, Karnataka and Gujarat have the dubious distinction of figuring among the high courts with a high proportion of vacancies and those without a regular chief justice. Incidentally, the vacancies in the Karnataka high court may soon touch the half-way mark (31/62) as Justices A S Pachhapure and C R Kumaraswamy, who successively dealt with the Jayalalithaa disproportionate assets case, are due to retire over the next two months. The freeze on judicial appointments due to the ongoing battle over NJAC in the Supreme Court has so far not affected the Kerala high court, where there is no vacancy (0/38). The only other high courts that have not contributed to the overall tally of 372 vacancies out of 1,017 sanctioned posts are smaller ones: Tripura (0/4), Sikkim (0/3) and Meghalaya (0/3). Though there is no stay on the constitutional amendment and law passed last year bringing the NJAC into existence, judicial appointments to the Supreme Court and high courts have been on hold despite the formal notification of the new system on April 13. This is mainly because of the stated reluctance of Chief Justice of India HL Dattu to serve as the chairman of the NJAC while its validity is under challenge before the Supreme Court. Another sticking point is the appointment to the NJAC of two eminent persons, who are to be selected by a committee consisting of the CJI, PM and the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha. In view of the urgency of the matter, an apex court bench is specially holding hearings even during the ongoing summer vacation. The Supreme Court itself has three vacancies against the sanctioned strength of 31 judges. The Delhi high court in its neighbourhood should serve as a reminder of the gravity of the situation: against its sanctioned strength of 60, it has 19 vacancies. (Times of India 15/6/15)

63. Cabinet set to okay BIS law amendments (19)

NEW DELHI: Paving way for a robust regime of standardization of most of the good, services and processes, the Cabinet is likely to approve the proposed amendments in the Bureau of India Standards (BIS) Act. The amendments envisages widening the list of products that need to get standard certification and stricter regulatory mechanism including ban on sale of faulty products, their recall and delegating more authority to the regulator to order compensation to consumers. While the amendments propose to bring more products and services under the ambit of BIS to push the agenda of “zero defect zero effect” call of Prime Minister, it significantly proposes that the certified jwellery shops across the country would be held liable if they are found selling any non-Hallmark items. At present, there are mandatory standards for only 122 category of items as per the Industrial Development Regulation Act. Some of the other major changes proposed include for recall of products including from the gowdowns that carry tags such as ISI mark but don’t conform to prescribed norms. Moreover, if the sample tests carried out by the agency show non-conformity with the prescribed standards, then it will publicize such test results. “This is a move to discipline the manufacturers. This naming and shaming will have greater impact rather than just fining them as it hits their brand,” said a government source. TOI has learnt that the bureau will also have the power to order repair, replacement of articles, process and services that are found faulty or deficient. The consumers have to be compensated in case of damage caused by such products or services. “There are also new provisions in the Bill to take stricter action against the violators to ensure that they follow the norms after obtaining a certification to use the IS mark,” said an official. The BIS Act was enacted in 1986 and has not been amended since then. (Times of India 17/6/15)

64. NGOs to face tighter forex scrutiny soon (19)

CHENNAI: The Union home ministry is preparing to tighten its grip on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that receive funds in foreign exchange with a proposed draft amendment to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) making it mandatory for banks to report to the ministry within 48 hours of forex remitted to accounts of such entities that lack FCRA registration. The amendment stipulates that NGOs or individuals receiving foreign contributions submit details of funds within seven days of receiving them on their officially declared websites or the site prescribed by the Centre. The amendment makes it mandatory for NGOs to submit their annual accounts to the ministry. The ministry’s move to amend the act follows its recent cancellation of the registration of more than 1,000 NGOs. Its main aim remains to make changes to the FCRA – a worry for many organisations – for more transparency in donations that NGOs receive in foreign exchange. “The amendments are meant to promote transparency in the receipt and utilisation of foreign contributions by these organisations as well as the reporting mechanism of banks by using available information technology,” a ministry official said. The amendments will also improve the existing system of receipt of requests for registration, prior permission and renewal of registration under FCRA, he said. If the government approves the amendments and has them notified in the gazette, new NGOs seeking FCRA registration will only be able to do so online after obtaining a digital signature. “The applicant should upload the digitally signed application with scanned documents within the timeframe as prescribed by the Centre [within the timeframe applicable],” the draft amendment says. Banks must intimate the ministry about forex remittances to FCRA-registered NGOs within 48 hours. All NGOs that receive foreign exchange will have to re-register or renew registration by March 2016. If the Centre amends the FCRA before next March, not many NGOs will have permission to receive foreign exchange. “The proposed move to amend the act is welcome for the sake of transparency,” said K Shivakumar, treasurer of Voluntary Action Network India (an association that represents NGOs). Making it compulsory for NGOs to report details on foreign exchange received and spent on a daily basis, however, will only interfere in their functioning, including those with bona fide intentions, he said. The ministry aims to stifle NGOs and reduce their numbers through the amendments, Development Promotion Group head R Bhakther Solomon said. “To demand the furnishing of details of foreign exchange receipts and spending is asking for too much,” he said. “Banks are likely to find it tedious to dispatch such details to the ministry on a daily basis.” It may be viable for banks to send quarterly details instead, Solomon said. The ministry has sought comments from stakeholders before July 1, after which the Centre could make amendments to the FCRA. (Times of India 19/6/15)


65. Nawaz Sharif: Pakistan will protect its interests (1)

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday attacked the “irresponsible and imprudent” statements emanating from India, following the counter-terror action in Myanmar and vowed to protect his country’s “vital interests at all costs.” Addressing a conference of Pakistan’s envoys here, he said such statements vitiate the atmosphere and take the two countries away from the goals of regional peace and stability. “At the same time we will not abandon our moral high ground because of provocations.” He said the issue of Jammu and Kashmir cannot be relegated to the back-burner. Mr. Sharif pointed out that last Tuesday during his meeting with the U.N. Secretary General in Dushanbe, he urged him to play a proactive role in promoting peace in the region. He had also reminded him that it was incumbent on the Security Council to ensure early implementation of its resolutions on J&K. Meanwhile, the Senate in its resolution said Pakistan would never allow its territory to be violated by India under any pretext. It stated that the Pakistan armed forces were fully capable of giving a fitting response to any incursion and the Pakistani people stand shoulder to shoulder with their armed forces, Radio Pakistan reported. Condemning the Indian leaders’ comments, the resolution said such statements confirm apprehensions about India’s intention to destabilise Pakistan. The House urged the international community to take note of such “provocative statements” which it said negatively affected the prospects for regional peace, sovereignty and stability. The resolution said at a time when the entire Pakistani nation, particularly the armed forces were engaged in a battle against terrorism, Indian provocations were not only undermining Pakistan’s anti-terror campaign but actually aiding and abetting terrorists fighting against Pakistan. Concluding the discussion, Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq said that being a nuclear power Pakistan’s defence had been made invincible. He alleged that India, while making a “useless effort” to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, was “violating the U.N. Charter by carrying out human rights violations in Kashmir.” (The Hindu 12/6/15)

66. Rights body looks into torture of activists (1)

CUTTACK:  The Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has directed the Railway IG to enquire and submit a report within a month about the allegation against the Inspector in charge (IIC) of Cuttack GRP for illegally arresting six SUCI activists, including a woman and allegedly torturing them in custody. “While the party activists were engaged in public subscription collection in specified party boxes, the IIC booked them on charges of extortion,” said Khageswar Sethy, a local office-bearer of the SUCI. Not only were party workers wrongfully arrested, they were also illegally detained in the lockup and subjected to inhuman treatment, Sethy said. (The Hindu 14/6/15)

67. Detailed probe sought into ‘fake’ encounter (1)

NALGONDA: Members of the association of Maoist martyrs’ parents termed the encounter killing of 19-year-old Vivek Kodamagundla and two other women Maoists on the Telangana-Chhattisgarh border ‘fake’. The body of Vivek was brought to his residence at Suryapet on Sunday for the last rites. Vivek’s father, Yogananda Chary, said his son was caught by the police before the encounter and killed in cold blood. A woman from the association said all three youth were killed in the joint operation of Telangana and Chhattisgarh police in a fake encounter. “They were tortured, their arms twisted before they were shot dead and they suffered fractures,” she said. “What was the need to torture the boy even if he was a Maoist?” she questioned. Vivek’s mother, Madhavi, and his father said that their son always used to talk about socio-economic inequalities in society. He always used to express his willingness to work for the poor. They expressed regret that his life had ended at a tender age. “Who gave the police the right to kill him?” she questioned. They all sought a detailed probe into the encounter of the three youth. (The Hindu 15/6/15)

68. Report sought on Palamau killings (1)

Ranchi, June 16: National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken suo motu cognisance of last week’s killings of suspected Maoists in an encounter in Palamau, dubbed as fake by the victims’ relatives and also the banned rebel outfit, sending notices to chief secretary Rajiv Gauba and DGP D.K. Pandey. In its notice sent by email today, the rights panel has sought a detailed report on the encounter within four weeks. A joint team of the CRPF’s elite CoBRA Battalion and district police carried out the operation on June 9, killing 12 suspected Maoists, including “Dr Bomb” or “doctor wa” who had planted a 2kg bomb inside a dead jawan’s stomach in 2013. Of the 12 male bodies, one was a para-teacher and four looked like minors, raising doubts on whether the four were innocent casualties. Palamau IG A. Natarajan and SP M.K. Patel led the team, but Maoists claimed that it was the handiwork of Jharkhand Jan Mukti Parishad, a pro-police outfit. The NHRC mail says that the incident took place at Bakoria village in Satbarwa after the alleged encounter”Observing that Right to Life is a Constitutionally guaranteed Fundamental Right and no person should be deprived of his life except according to procedure established by law, Mr. Justice D. Murugesan, Member of the Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police, Government of Jharkhand calling for a detailed report on the alleged encounter, narrating the full sequence of events, within four weeks,” the notice further says. Yesterday, Jharkhand government transferred additional director-general of police Rezi Dungdung from the CID and handed him charges of JAP. Dungdung, considered to be an effective and honest officer, was shown the door only after two months of his posting in the CID, the police wing that is supposed to carry out independent inquiries into cases of encounters between police and suspected Naxalites. Former deputy inspector-general of Palamau range Hemant Toppo was also transferred to Jungle Warfare School in Netarhat. (The Telegraph 17/6/15)


69. Journalist burnt alive: PCI Chairman calls it attack on freedom of press, demands SIT probe (1)

Dehradun: His son and other family members have alleged that he was set afire by the henchmen of UP Cabinet Minister Ram Murty Varma and some police personnel for writing on his alleged involvement in illegal mining and land grabbing. An FIR has been filed aginst Verma and five others for allegedly killing the journalist. Strongly condemning the murder of a journalist who was allegedly burnt alive at Shahjehanpur in Uttar Pradesh, Press Council of India Chairman C K Prasad on Wednesday said it was an attack on freedom of press and demanded an SIT probe into the incident. “The murder of a journalist at Shahjehanpur in UP is certainly an attack on the freedom of the press and as such it should be treated seriously. The state government should appoint a Special Investigative Team consisting of officers of impeccable character and track record to get to the truth of the matter as it allegedly involves a minister of the state Cabinet,” the PCI Chairman said at a press conference here. The journalist, Jagendra Singh, succumbed to burn injures at a government hospital in Lucknow late on Monday evening. His son and other family members have alleged that he was set afire by the henchmen of UP Cabinet Minister Ram Murty Varma and some police personnel for writing on his alleged involvement in illegal mining and land grabbing. An FIR has been filed aginst Verma and five others for allegedly killing the journalist. Prasad also announced that the Press Council of India (PCI) would appoint a fact-finding committee which would visit the place of the incident and submit its report on the basis of which the Council would take appropriate action. Replying to a question, Prasad said the Press Council had already appointed a sub-committee to look into attacks and killings of journalists across the country and its report was expected shortly. PCI member K Amarnath, who is also convener of the PCI Sub-committee on Safety of Journalists, informed that the panel which visited 11 states to inquire into attacks on journalists had almost finalised its report. “During its inquiry, the Committee found that 79 journalists were killed in the country in the last two and a half decades. “There has been conviction in very few cases and other cases are either still pending trial or the culprits have been let off by the courts for lack of evidence,” he said.  He said the Committee was thinking of recommending enactment of a special law for the safety of journalists by Parliament and separate statistics should be collected by the National Crimes Statics Bureau on attacks and murder of journalists in the country. (DNA 10/6/15

70. UP scribe killing: 5 policemen suspended; family seeks CBI probe (1)

Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh government today suspended five policemen, suspected to be involved in the murder of a scribe in Shahjahanpur district this week, even as the family of the journalist sought CBI probe into the incident. UP minister Ram Murti Verma, who has been accused of orchestrating the murder and was named in the FIR, is reportedly on the run. The deceased journalist’s elder son sought a CBI probe into the incident. He said that he will write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this regard. He also alleged that he was being pressurised to hush up the matter by people “close” to the minister, who were also offering him bribe and a government job. Meanwhile, SP leader Mithilesh Kumar was heckled and confronted by agitated family members of Singh when he went to his house in Shahjahanpur. The action against the policemen came a day after Governor Ram Naik took up the matter with Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav after a massive outcry against the incident in which a minister Ram Murti Singh Verma allegedly conspired. “SP Shahjahanpur has suspended five policemen, including Station House Officer Shri Prakash Rai, with immediate effect,” IG (Law and Order) A Satish Ganesh told reporters here. The other four included Sub-Inspector Krantiveer Singh, Head Constable Subhash Chandra Yadav and constables Udayveer and Mansoor. Journalist Jagendra Singh was allegedly set on fire during a police raid at his house in Awas Vikas Colony of Sadar Bazar area on June 1. His family alleged that the police officials set him on fire. Singh succumbed to the injuries on June 8. An FIR was registered against minister for Backward Classes Welfare Ram Murti Verma, Inspector (Chowk) Sri Prakash Rai, Gufran, Akash Gupta, Amit Pratap Singh and Bhure for killing Jagendra. The journalist invited Verma’s ire by posting reports on Facebook about illegal mining activities and land grabbing against the minister. The FIR lodged against the minister by Singh’s son alleged that the minister sent the team of policemen to his house who doused Singh with kerosene oil and set him on fire. From his death bed, he narrated the incident to IG Amitabh Thakur and in his dying declaration went viral on news channels. (Business Line 13/6/15)

71. Another U.P. journalist attacked (1)

Meerut: Days after a Shahjahanpur-based social media journalist was set on fire for writing against a Minister in the Akhilesh Yadav government, a brutal attack on a TV journalist has come to light from Pilibhit district. Haidar Khan, who was reporting on cases of land grabbing by a local criminal Arvind Prakash, was attacked by him on the night of June 13. An FIR has been registered against Prakash and his associates under various sections of IPC. Prakash’s associates, Sudhir and Pyare Lal, have been arrested. Khan, a stringer for a local TV news channel and a resident of Sherpur Kalam, told the media that on June 13 he received a phone call about an important story in a nearby village but when he reached the spot he was attacked by Prakash and his two friends. “I was attacked by Prakash and his two friends who tied me to a motorcycle and dragged me,” Mr. Haidar Khan told the media. “I fell unconscious and after that I was dumped on the road from where people took me to the local police station from where I was taken to the government hospital in Pilibhit,” said the injured TV reporter. “I had highlighted in one of my reports that Prakash was trying to pressure his father to transfer six acres of agricultural land which belongs to his brother who is blind. He had thrashed his father in order to force him to transfer the land to him, which I had reported,” Mr. Khan claimed. (The Hindu 16/6/15)

72. Protest against ban on Telugu news channel (1)

NIZAMABAD: Activists of Congress, TDP, CPI (ML)-New Democracy, people’s organisations, and student unions staged protests in front of the railway station here on Tuesday against the continuation of ban on the telecast of the ABN-Andhra Jyothy news channel. They took out a rally from the Press Club. Speaking on the occasion, DCC president Taher Bin Hamdan described the imposition of ban and its continuation as violation of freedom of speech and expression. Demanding an immediate lifting of prohibition on the television channel the CPI (ML)-New Democracy leader V. Prabhakar said that it would be unfair on the part of rulers to continue restrictions on the television channel. BC Vidyarthi Sangham president Srinivas Goud and TUWJ district president A. Sailu participated. Sangareddy Staff Reporter adds: Demanding the State government to lift the ban on the news channel, journalists took out a rally on Tuesday. Journalists also held dharna at Collectorate and later submitted a memorandum to the officials. (The Hindu 17/6/15)


73. 13 arrested for Fatehpura rioting, three cops injured (7)

VADODARA: At least 13 people were arrested for rioting that broke out in the communally sensitive Fatehpura area in the Walled City late on Sunday night. Three policemen were also injured in the clashes that were sparked after an idol in a temple was desecrated by some miscreants. As soon as the news about the desecration spread, mobs from both communities started gathering on the roads and entered into heated arguments. The situation snowballed and heavy stone pelting began in the area. The violence was reported on the stretch between Champaner gate and Bhandwada area during the rioting. The accused torched an old house owned by Narmada Rana in Fatehpura. There were four persons present in the two-storied house when the arson took place but they managed to flee safely. The mob also set on fire a motorbike, damaged two ATM centres and ransacked some roadside stalls in the area. “The mobs targeted policemen too. We lobbed 28 tear gas shells to disperse the rioters. The situation was brought under control within two hours,” said assistant commissioner of police C division Saurabh Singh. The rioters did not spare firemen too who rushed to the spot to douse the house on fire. The police are trying to ascertain reasons behind the desecration of the idol and also attempting to track down the accused. Singh added that 45 people have been named in the FIR and combing operations are on in Fatehpura to track down other culprits. Three companies of State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) have been deployed in the riot- hit areas to avert any escalation. Fatehpura is one of the most communally sensitive areas in the city. It has a mixed locality with people from different communities staying close-by. Usually, it is among the first to witness trouble during communal riots. Spots like Ranavas, Bhandwada and Lal Akhada are notorious for trouble mongering during the riots. (Times of India 10/6/15)

74. Muzaffarnagar gangrape: Court representative of victims ‘threatened’ (7)

New Delhi: The Pairokar or the court representative of the seven women who were allegedly gangraped during the communal violence that engulfed Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh in September 2013 was allegedly threatened by one of the accused at a local court on Wednesday. The Pairokar had accompanied one of the women, whose case has recently been reopened, to the Muzaffarnagar district court. Outside the court, Amarpal, one of the accused, allegedly accosted and threatened him, after which the Pairokar drew his licensed revolver for self-defence. The Pairokar has worked closely in the investigation of the cases and aided the Special Investigation Cell that probed the various cases of communal violence, said sources in the police. He has received death threats earlier, when he lived in Fugana village, where six of the rape cases allegedly took place, they said. Following the threats, he shifted to Kairana area of Shamli district, while continuing to help the rape victims proceed with their cases in the court. But the police have dismissed the incident at the court as a mere “misunderstanding”. “The Pairokar saw the accused suddenly and thought his life was in danger. But that wasn’t the case. There was a court hearing and both parties happened to be in the court at the same time. We detained both parties and they have come to a mutual understanding, “ said Muzaffarnagar SSP KB Singh. Advocate Vrinda Grover — the lawyer for the seven women — said the incident raised questions about the safety of the Pairokar and the rape victims, adding that his testimony would be “critical” in the trial of the gangrape cases. “The incident is a cause for concern. The case is at a very critical juncture and the safety of the witnesses and the victims can’t be compromised,” she said. After the incident, social activist Shabnam Hashmi and lawyer Ratna Appnender have written to the Muzaffarnagar police and sought their intervention. The police should ensure that the Pairokar “remains safe and is not selectively targeted due to the fact that he is the Pairokar of the seven victims of gangrape during communal violence,” they stated in their letter. (Indian Express 11/6/15)

75. Communal tension spread in Dhar town after inflammatory posters (7)

MHOW: Communal tension was spread in Khalghat village of Dhar district on Sunday morning after inflammatory posters were found pasted on the walls in the village. Actually, posters were found pasted on a large number of public and private buildings in Khalghat village, in which derogatory and objectionable remarks and messages against a community were written. The posters were probably pasted on Saturday night as they were noticed on Sunday morning. As the information reached the residents, a large number of people gathered on the streets and the matter was reported to Dhamnod police station, on which the police party reached there. The saffron leaders called for a meeting in Dhamnod and the matter was discussed. Mahesh Karma, Dhamnod VHP president told that the posters have certainly hurt the sentiments of the community. He said that such incidents have occured earlier also and the cases were registered everytime but no action could be taken as the miscreants were never identified. Sub Inspector Lokendra Chowdhry of Dhamnod police station who is investigating the matter, told that till now, the police hasn’t got any lead regarding the identities of the people who had pasted the inflammatory posters. (Times of India 14/6/15)

76. Ballabhgarh Communal Violence: Muslims reject compensation of Rs 1 lakh per family as too little (7)

New Delhi: Riot-hit Muslims of Atali village have refused to accept the compensation amount of Rs 27,46,000 offered to them by the district administration, as they alleged that it is far less than what was promised to them initially. They also alleged that essential services such as transport and goods were being “denied” to the community. Kapil Patwadi from the Ballabhgarh Revenue department said, “The process of giving compensation to those in Atali has begun. A total amount of Rs 27,46,000 is being given out to 28 families who were affected by the riots. The money has been divided based on an assessment of the damage done.” While the Revenue department maintained that the compensation had been accepted by the Muslim community, riot victims said this was not the case. “The damage done to our homes and belongings is one thing. But we were also in a situation where we couldn’t return to our homes for almost two weeks. Farming has suffered and those with businesses have had to start from scratch. Before returning home, we were promised a total of Rs 1 crore to be divided among those affected,” Nizam Ali, a resident, said. National Minority Commission member Farida Abdullah Khan, who had visited the Ballabhgarh police station and the village after the rioting, also said that the compensation offered was “inadequate”.“Earlier, the administration talked about giving compensation that amounted to a crore. This is very inadequate. If you go to the village and see the damage that has been done, this will become apparent. Moreover, the lives of the community has been completely displaced,” she said. Villagers added that the continuing denial of essential services to Muslims was further leading to financial losses. “Auto-rickshaws driven by Hindus do not stop for us. They (Hindus) are refusing to sell us the small things we need. So a lot of people have begun leaving the village, while the old have simply stopped going into the city for work. A few families, who are wealthier than the rest are supporting the entire community right now,” Mohammad Ehsan, a villager, said. Members of the Jat community, however, denied that there was any “official” decision to boycott services to Muslims. “There are some people who do not wish to interact with the Muslim community since they are insisting on building the mosque. But there has been no official decision. It is a personal matter,” Sudhir Sharma, a villager, said. Violence broke out in Atali village on May 25 after 2,000 heavily-armed men selectively targeted Muslim homes located near an under-construction mosque — which served as the flashpoint for the violence… (Indian Express 15/6/15)


77. National Hindu meet wants Hindu nation (26)

PONDA: Supporting the idea of declaring India as a Hindu nation, religious leaders attending the fourth ‘Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Adhiveshan’ (National Hindu Convention) under way at Ramnathi, Ponda, have expressed their “whole-hearted support” for it. Advocating the need of the ‘Hindu Rashtra’ (Hindu nation), national guide of Hindu janajagruti samiti (HJS), Charudatta Pingale asked, “If Christians can have 157, Muslims have 52 and Jews and others have two nations, why Hindus don’t have at least a nation?” He said if every religion can have their nation, Hindus should be allowed to have a nation. Pingale was addressing the gathering about the achievements of past conventions and programmes of the ongoing convention. He said ‘Hindu Nation’ is essential for the welfare of the world and not the Islamic State. “We will accomplish establishment of ‘Hindu Nation’ by following the path of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Peshwas,” he said. The convention will be held until June 17 at Ramnathi temple hall, Ponda, and is being attended by over 390 representatives from over 200 Hindu organizations from 21 states of India along with Nepal and Bangladesh. It will discuss the establishing of a Common Civil Code across the nation, rehabilitation of Kashmiri Hindus, removal of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, love jihad, ghar wapasi (home return), increased killings of Hindu leaders, riots, etc, the organizers said. The convention began with the blowing of a conch, lighting a traditional lamp, recitation of vedic mantras. Cyriaque Vallee, originally hailing from France and the main guide of Spiritual science research foundation; Acharya of Arsh Vidyapith, Andhra Pradesh; Swami Pranavatmanand Saraswati, mahant of Nityanand Dhyanpith, Karnataka; Nitya Shantimayanand; and representatives of Swami Narayan sect, and Gujarat Divya Jivandas Maharaj, were present at the inaugural function.  (Times of India 12/6/15)

78. Practitioners say yoga has nothing to do with religion (26)

NAGPUR: Doubts, apprehensions and controversies are flying thick and fast as International Yoga Day approaches on June 21. The missive about compulsory adherence to yoga in schools has put minorities on the edge. But those who practise and preach yoga say it is just a fitness regimen. Conservative minds attribute religious connotations to yoga, says Mukul Guru, founder of Yoga Sanskar in the city. “This hesitation over surya namaskar is strange. There is only one sun which gives light, heat and energy to everybody in the world. So how would a series of exercises going by the name of surya namaskar affect religious beliefs,” he asks. The Om chant increases activity of vocal chords, mind and body. This is good for everybody regardless of what religion they follow, he feels. Yoga unites body and mind which is not possible in any other form of exercise, says Payal Adwani, a yoga instructor. “Every religion says we should possess healthy mind and body. Yoga can achieve this,” she says and adds, “I teach yoga to many Muslims. The Gayatri chants play continuously in my classes and nobody objects. Everybody chants Om and does surya namaskar.” More than religion, it is politics that is affecting yoga, feels Pramod Malwe of Institute of Naturopathy and Yoga. “June 21 is also the death anniversary of Dr Keshav Hedgewar, the founder of RSS. Perhaps many are seeing this Yoga day as pushing of Hindutva agenda. I think we should take a broad-minded approach as in future Yoga may become a symbol of unity of all religions,” adds Malwe who teaches yoga to Muslims and Christians too. Not just gurus, even physiotherapists say yoga forms the basis of exercises for back pain, lung ailments and bypass surgeries. “I suggest chakrasan, sarpasan for back pain and pranayama for lung and heart ailments. I have worked in Saudi Arabia and there too I would prescribe the same,” says physiotherapist Sudhir Mangrulkar. “When blood is needed, nobody asks whose blood it is nor are the bags sold on religious considerations,” he adds. There is no logic in connecting yoga with religion, feels professor of physiotherapy at GMC Dr Umanjali Dumke. People of all religions are well aware of its merits. “If you consider the process of offering namaaz, then there are many postures that are similar to yogasanas. Muslims have a better range of motion and less pain incidents because of these postures that they take while offering prayers,” she adds. Describing Yoga as a supportive treatment, Dr Smita Deshmukh, a cardiac rehabilitation specialist, says, “Yoga aligns our entire body system. In cases of hypertension it will assist a patient to stabilize along with medication. In the later stages of post bypass surgeries, yoga helps in achieving mental peace and physical well-being.” The doctor adds that yoga is all about self-discipline. “All over the world, people learn and practise yoga to avail its health benefits. It is everybody’s right to be healthy,” she says. (Times of India 16/6/15)

79. Bigger Hindutva organizations have become inactive: Pramod Muthalik (26)

Panaji: Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik on Wednesday claimed that bigger Hindutva organisations have become inactive leaving the smaller groups to unite for the cause. “Today, bigger Hindutva organizations have become inactive. On the contrary, all small and big Hindu organisations who are striving sincerely for the cause of Hindutva are getting united,” Muthalik said addressing the All India Hindu Convention in Goa through tele-conferencing. Muthalik has been banned from entering Goa by the state government fearing law and order situation, which has forced him to cancel his visit for the convention. “I am confident that this Hindu Parivar will definitely establish Hindu Rashtra with divine power and Hindu unity,” he said. Muthalik, who was linked to the 2009 Mangalore pub attacks, said BJP government was displaying double standards on the issue of Hindutva. “BJP government has refrained a real Hindu activist like me from entering Goa although every Indian citizen has freedom of speech and expression. On one hand, anti-nationals like drug mafia, Taliban are allowed entry in the state, a patriot like me is disallowed,” he commented adding “I feel proud that BJP fears a real Hindu activist.” Referring to the ongoing controversy surrounding Union Minister Sushma Swaraj and Lalit Modi, Muthalik said, “She assisted corrupt Lalit Modi on humanitarian grounds as latter’s wife is suffering from cancer.” Muthalik said that on the same ground Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, a key accused in 2008 Malegaon blast case, should also be assisted. On the contrary, on similar humanitarian grounds, no one assists Sadhvi Pragya Singh who too is suffering from cancer and is in jail for years. This is unfortunate”, he added. (Asian Age 17/6/15)

80. VHP to collect stones for Ram temple (26)

AYODHYA: Asserting its resolve to build the Ram temple, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Wednesday said it would launch a nationwide drive to collect stones for construction of the temple here and asked the Muslim community not to pose any hindrance. “About 2.25 lakhs cubic ft of stones are required for the construction of the Ram temple and about 1.25 lakh cubic ft of stones are ready at the VHP’s headquarter in Ayodhya. The rest one lakh cubic ft stones would be collected nationwide from Hindu devotees,” VHP leader Ashok Singhal said.Mr. Singhal said that within one year, these stones would be collected and gathered in Ayodhya. Stone-carving for the construction of the Ram temple would be speeded up so that within a year all stones were ready for the construction, Mr. Singhal said addressing a press conference here after the executive body meeting of the Ram Janma Bhoomi Nyas trust, which is the VHP’s supreme body empowered to take decisions on the temple construction issue. “The Muslim community should leave their claim over Ayodhya, Mathura and Kashi,” the VHP leader said. (The Hindu 17/6/15)

81. ‘Will form Hindu nation without political party support’ (26)

PANAJI: The ‘All India Hindu Convention’ concluded on Wednesday with a call to work towards establishing a Hindu nation, without banking on the support of any political party for now. Charudatta Pingale, national guide of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, said that the participants in the convention expressed that the BJP government has disappointed Hindus on almost all aspects of Hindutva. Around 400 representatives of over 210 organizations participated in the 4th convention this year from June 11 to June 17 at the Ramnath Temple premises, Ponda. Rehabilitation of Kashmiri Hindus, providing shelter to displaced Bangladeshi Hindus, withdrawing Article 370 and reconstruction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya are few of the examples where the government has let us down, he said. “The possibility of establishing a Hindu nation to the medium of political parties is getting progressively remote. Therefore, the participating organizations have expressed their readiness to effect complete change of power by creating awareness in the Hindu community through convention, dharma sabhas, agitations at various levels from regions to districts, without depending on any political party,” said Pingale. Social networking sites would be appropriately used to further the cause, he added. (Times of India 18/6/15)


82. Intelligence agencies map out 17 terror camps in Myanmar (12)

GUWAHATI: Indian intelligence agencies have pinpointed locations of at least 17 camps of NE militants inside Myanmar. A source said the locations of these camps are within the 40km radius from the India-Myanmar border. But he did not disclose the names of the areas or outfits. India and Myanmar share a 1,643km-long border — Arunachal Pradesh (520km), Nagaland (215km), Manipur (398km) and Mizoram (510km). Almost all militant outfits of the region, which include NSCN (Khaplang), Ulfa(I), NDFB(S) and all Meitei outfits, are known to have camps in Myanmar’s western front. The camps are reportedly in the Taga area across the Tirap-Changlang-Longding districts of Arunachal Pradesh and across the border with Manipur and Nagaland. The NSCN (Khaplang) has always been based in Myanmar with Khaplang being a Hemi Naga tribesman from Myanmar. He also has a ceasefire agreement with Myanmar, which was signed in 2012. The Meitei groups moved across the border after counter insurgency operations were stepped up in Manipur over the years, while Ulfa and NDFB shifted base after rebels of these outfits were flushed out of Bhutan in 2003. “The nearest camp is just 6 to 7km from the international border and the rest are scattered within the 40-km range. There are exact coordinates of the locations of all these camps,” the source said. On Thursday, Union home minister Rajnath Singh chaired a high-level meeting on the situation in the northeast, which was attended by defence minister Manohar Parrikar, national security adivser (NSA) Ajit Doval, vice-chief of the Army, Lt Gen Philip Campos, and officials from intelligence agencies. The source said Indian intelligence agencies have also identified a few Myanmar-based Chinese NGOs who are helping NE militant groups in various ways. (Times of India 12/6/15)

83. 4 Assam terrorists hiding in Bengaluru arrested (12)

BENGALURU: Four persons allegedly belonging to the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) were arrested in a late-night operation on Friday. Tonon Basumatri, Sundun Basumatri, Nerson Basumatri and Jibnal Nersary, belonging to the NDFB’s Sonjit group, were hiding in their Laggere house, near Peenya. They work in a bag-manufacturing unit at Srigandhakaval, off Magadi Road, police said. “They are among 38 Bodo militants who have migrated to various southern states. Nearly 20 of them are employed in the city and elsewhere in the state. On Friday at 9.30pm, Assam police and Internal Security Division (an anti-terrorism wing of Karnataka) raided the house where they were staying. Search is on for more militants,” said a source in ISD. Bengaluru police said the militants were planning attacks on prominent personalities in Karnataka and garnering support from their friends in the state. Assam police said in the past two years, Bodo militants have unleashed terror in Assam. Many from the northeastern states have fled to Bengaluru fearing backlash from local residents. The arrested men have been booked under Sections 121, 121A and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC, and Sections 4 and 5 of the Essential Services Act read with Sections 10,13 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. The four were produced before the jurisdictional magistrate court in the city. Assam police will obtain a transit warrant to take them to their state for further investigation. (Times of India 14/6/15)

84. NSCN-K plotters on the run in Myanmar (12)

New Delhi: The National Investigation Agency has zeroed in on four masterminds of the worst attack on the Indian Army on June 4, that was led by key NSCN(K) operative Niki Sumi, who incidentally is also in charge of the outfit’s military operations. The plot was hatched in Myanmar, with intelligence sources saying Niki Sumi had escaped just hours before the retaliation by Indian Army special forces, who attacked his Ponue camp in Myanmar. Sumi is now learnt to be shifting base every 15 days. In addition, the role of two other key NSCN(K) members, Neymlang and Starson Lamkang, is also being looked into. While Neymlang is said to be a military operational strategist, Lamkang looks after the financial resources of the terrorist group. While the operation was carried out by the NSCN(K), it also got logistical support from local KYKL chief Oken, top sources said. The NIA, with help from Central intelligence agencies, is conducting investigations into one of the worst attacks on the Indian Army in recent times. It is also suspected that Niki Sumi has escaped to a high-security training camp somewhere in north Myanmar, where he is said to be under heavy protection of some Myanmar Army units as well as members of China’s People’s Liberation Army. Investigations have also confirmed a strong nexus exists between the NSCN(K) and a faction of the Myanmar Army and the PLA, under whose influence it is alleged to have called off the ceasefire with the Indian government. The government is now considering imposing a ban on the NSCN(K) under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), with the Union home ministry preparing to take the matter to the Cabinet. KYKL is already banned under the UAPA. NIA sources said Sumi was working on the directions of NSCN(K) chief S.S. Khaplang, who is also wanted for his role in hatching the entire plot. (Asian Age 16/6/15)

85. Activists, Parties Petition against Arrests under UAPA (12)

COIMBATORE:Activists from more than 20 outfits, including political parties and civil society groups, under the banner of the Organisation for the Protection of Democratic Rights, petitioned city Police Commissioner A K Viswanathan, against what they perceived to be a witch-hunt by the police against people from disenfranchised communities, for simply supporting subversive ideologies. In their petition, the activists said that since May 2014, 10 persons were booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Following the arrest of five alleged Maoists near Karumathampatty last month, three others were arrested near Pollachi for allegedly inducting a 23-year-old youth into the Maoist movement. Two more were arrested by Coimbatore city police for allegedly raising slogans in front of the Q Branch office in HUDCO Colony. The petitioners alleged that five of the 10 persons arrested were Dalits, and that the police were misusing the UAPA and clamping down on dissidents. They said that the now defunct preventative detention laws, such as the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) had been used to crack down on the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and expression granted to civilians. The 26/11 bombings in Mumbai had been used to justify the framing and enactment of the UAPA, which still had the repressive and draconian measures from the POTA and TADA Acts, they said. The laws had been used in the past to unjustly charge and imprison Dalits and people from tribal communities, they alleged. The petition went onto outline the 2004 verdict by the Supreme Court that by simply expressing support to a banned group could not be construed as a criminal offense. The recent verdict of the Kerala High Court, which had again reinforced the verdict of the apex court, in a separate case, was also highlighted. The petitioners alleged that those with political ideas and beliefs, which questioned the authority of the state, were being subjected to arbitrary arrests and that the rights of these arrested people are being crushed by the state apparatus. Responding to the petition, CoP Viswanathan, said that there was no concerted effort to clamp down on any legal organisation. He said that the two organisations to which the two persons who were arrested by Peelamedu police belonged to, had been given permission in the past to stage protests and other events. He contended that the arrests had been made not because of the ideologies or political affiliations of the two men, but because of their involvement in an unlawful act – the raising of slogans in front of the Q Branch office. The organisation also submitted a copy of the petition to district Superintendent of Police M Sudhakar… (New Indian Express 18/6/15)


86. In Jharkhand, child soldiers fight a forced war under Maoists (12)

Gumla/Lohardagga (Jharkhand)| Lodged in a fortified remand home in a Jharkhand district overrun by Maoist extremists, 15-year-old Mohan Oraon has recurrent nightmares about armed guerrillas viciously thrashing his father a few years ago after the teenager refused to accompany them to their forest haven. “They hit my father repeatedly with rifle butts. Unable to bear his suffering, I decided to leave with the fighters,” Oraon recalled, speaking to HT over the phone from the correctional facility for juvenile offenders. In the Maoist camp where he stayed with other children, he was made to wash dishes, fetch water and haul baggage, before being caught during a raid by armed forces about two years ago. For being in conflict with law, he was declared a child soldier and sent to the remand home. Like Oraon, scores of boys and girls are recruited against their will by left wing extremist (LWE) groups, including the CPI (Maoists) in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, in a bid to bolster their military youth wing and replenish depleting forces.The issue was in the spotlight this week when security forces found the bodies of three child soldiers in full battle fatigues after a fierce shootout in the jungles of Palamu district in Jharkhand. “While the Maoists exploit children by voluntarily and forcibly recruiting them in armed conflicts, police are equal culprits as they show no maturity by pushing minors arrested from Maoist camps behind bars,” said lawyer Deepti Singh, who is also a tribal rights activist. “Often they fudge the ages of the arrested child soldiers and implicate them in crimes they would not have committed. The children thus languish in jails for many years and, once out, they turn more violent,” she argued. A report released by Delhi-based Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) in 2013 found that at least 3,000 children, some as young as six, were drafted by insurgent groups across India, with the majority recruited in Maoist-affected states. UNICEF defines a child soldier as a person “under 18 years of age who is part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force or armed group in any capacity, including but not limited to cooks, porters [and] messengers.”Lucky ones like Oraon manage to survive. But dozens have died fighting a war that has no meaning for them. The death of 10-year-old Jaguri Birhor while planting a landmine in Jharkhand’s Latehar district two years ago and of the three unidentified child soldiers on Monday are glaring examples. Recruitment of child soldiers has intensified in the past three years since the Centre and states launched coordinated offensives against the militants.In the absence of domestic and international monitoring systems on the use of children in conflict zones, HT contacted some child soldiers who shed light on the patterns of recruitment by extremists and their use in the rebel-affected heartlands of Jharkhand.After he escaped from a Maoist camp this month, 15-year-old Dheeraj Karmali told police the Maoists hold sway in his village. “Armed guerrillas came to our locality, held a friend of mine and me by the collars and dragged us along with them while the village elders shut themselves in their homes,” he said. … (Hindustan Times 12/6/15)

87. Maoists torch vehicles engaged in road construction in Odisha (12)

Koraput (Odisha): A group of around 30 armed Maoists today torched at least two vehicles and a machine used in road work in a bid to disrupt construction process here, police said today. The Maoists swooped down at Tolo Ganjeipadar village, about 70 km from here, under Pottangi police limits on Thursday midnight and set the vehicles on fire, they said. “The Maoists reached the camp of the contractor where the labourers were sleeping and first asked them to leave the area at the earliest. Later, the group of Maoists set fire to a JCB machine, a tractor and a mixture machine engaged in the road work,” they said. “The Maoists have also damaged around 15 other equipment used for the road construction work before leaving the spot,” the source added. From the crime spot, the police recovered two Maoist letters in which the rebels have warned not to continue the road work in the area. “Adivasi’s will not be benefited by the road. Stop the road work immediately. If the contractor dares to deviate from our diktat then he will be punished,” the Maoist letter reads. Police investigation has been initiated and combing operation has been launched in the area. “Srikakulam-Koraput division of CPI (Maoist) is behind the offensive. Preliminary investigation show that earlier the Maoists had never opposed the road work,” SDPO (Sunabeda) Ashok Pattnaik said. (Deccan Herald 13/6/15)

88. Over 15,000 Killed in Naxal Violence Since 1980: MHA (12)

NEW DELHI: Over 15,000 people, including more than 3,000 security personnel, have been killed in Naxal violence in the last 35 years, an RTI query has revealed. According to the Union Home Ministry, while 12,177 civilians have fallen prey to Left-Wing Extremism during this period, 3,125 security personnel, too, lost their lives tackling the Naxal menace. Also, as many as 4,768 naxalites were killed by security forces between 1980 and May 31, 2015, an RTI query has revealed. Another query under the RTI Act had the ministry stating that Rs 3,038.86 crore was disbursed among the various states in the last three years for the modernisation of the police force. Between the 2012-13 and 2014-15 fiscal years, Andhra Pradesh received Rs 161 crore under Modernisation of Police Force (MPF) scheme while Uttar Pradesh got Rs 377 crore. Among other states, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand received Rs 73 crore and Rs 69 crore, respectively. Following the bifurcation of AP, the newly-formed state of Telangana received Rs 68.13 crore in 2014-15. A third RTI query found that the ministry has given approval to develop 400 fortified police stations and posts in 10 Left-Wing Extremism-affected states. A sum of Rs 2 crore is being released for each fortified station with the expenditure in this regard to be shared on a 80: 20 basis by the Centre and the specific state, the ministry informed (New Indian Express 14/6/15)

89. Re-arrested Maoist sympathiser produced in court (12)

COIMBATORE: Maoist sympathiser C. Kannan (46) of Madurai, was produced in the court on Wednesday. He was formally re-arrested by the Coimbatore District Police, at Coimbatore Central Prison, on Tuesday for allegedly enrolling a youth of Angalakurichi village, near Aliyar, in the Maoist movement and was produced before the court in connection with this. Kannan entered and left the court raising slogans supporting Maoist movement. He denied his role in the case in which he was booked by the Aliyar Police on Tuesday. Principal District Judge (PDJ) R. Pongiappan directed that Kannan should be under judicial custody till July 2. He was taken back to the Coimbatore Central Prison where he has been lodged since his arrest along with Maoist leader Roopesh, his wife Shyna and Maoist sympathisers Anoop (31) and C. Veeramani alias Eswaran (60), at an eatery in Karumathampatty at the outskirts of Coimbatore, in the first week of May. Meanwhile, lawyers of People’s Union for Civil Liberties filed a bail plea for Shyna before the PDJ here on Tuesday. The organisation’s State General Secretary, S. Balamurugan, told The Hindu that this plea has been listed for hearing on Friday – June 19. “Roopesh and Shyna have two daughters, who are now under the custody of Shyna’s mother at Thrissur. Shyna’s presence is socially and economically required for the two girls,” he said and added that there are no cases against Shyna in Tamil Nadu or anywhere else. Roopesh and Shyna are in Kerala where they are being quizzed by the Kerala police in connection with the cases against them there. (The Hindu 18/6/15)


90. 125 trafficked girls from 18 states rescued in one year (1)

PANAJI: From April 2014 to May 2015, 125 girls were rescued from prostitution in Goa. They hail from 18 states, though many of them are from the northeast states. An NGO, Arz, said that there is need for a special court to deal with human trafficking cases. Arz on Wednesday released posters on human trafficking at the police headquarters. Arz director Arun Pandey said that the distribution of 125 girls from across 18 states spreads over the northeast states, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. “When we talk about Goa, we find that the state is a destination for human trafficking and if we look at the statistics, we find girls from most states in India. Last year girls were trafficked to Goa from nearly 18 states. Girls are trafficked from not just withing the country but from across the border as well and brought to Goa,” Pandey added. He also said that Goa is a market where there is demand and supply. “To some extent we find that supply is being addressed with police and NGOs rescuing these girls who are being trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation in Goa,” Pandey said. Arz works closely with the police to combat trafficking of persons for the purpose of sexual abuse and commercial sexual exploitation in Goa Deputy inspector general of police (DIG) V Renganathan said the Goa police are determined to deal with the issue of commercial exploitation of women and children. On whether Goa police supports the NGO’s claims, superintendent of police Karthik Kashyap said “In the course of raids we have rescued 100 victims belonging to many different states, and he (Pandey) is right as far as origin is concerned and most of them are from northeast states particular from very bad economic backgrounds.” He added that of late police are rescuing most girls from the NCR region, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Kashyap also said that cases of rescues have increase in the state. Police added that there is a possibility of girls being trafficked from Nepal because of the earthquake. (Times of India 11/6/15)

91. UP government to install CCTV cameras to check human trafficking (1)

LUCKNOW: In a bid to check human trafficking from neighbouring Nepal, the Uttar Pradesh government has decided to install CCTV cameras on crossing points in bordering districts and maintain round-the-clock vigil. “After natural calamity in Nepal, there was exodus of people, but there were also inputs of human trafficking as well,” IG (Law and Order) A Satish Ganesh told reporters here. He said that to review the situation, principal secretary (Home) Debashish Panda held video conferencing with the district magistrates, police chiefs, officers of Sashastra Seeema Bal (SSB) and other officers. “The principal secretary directed that a strict vigil should be maintained at crossing points by installing CCTV cameras,” the IG said. He said it was directed that telephone numbers of officers involved in checking such activity should be displayed at check points and prominent public places, like railway stations, bus stands and police stations, so that public cooperation could be taken. Ganesh said that 35 anti-human trafficking units were operational in the state and they have been equipped with required resources. He said it has been directed to maintain mutual cooperation between administration, police and intelligence agencies and active cooperation of social organisations should also be taken. The IG said that to provide latest information to the agencies a state-wide training programmme would be organised and in this series, it has been decided to organise training programmes at zonal levels in Gorkahpur on June 22 and on June 29 in Lucknow. Districts bordering Nepal, include Gorakhpur, Maharajganj, Pilibhit, Siddharth Nagar, Lakhimpur, Kushinagar, Bahraich, Shravasti and Balrampur. (Times of India 11/6/15)

92. Myanmar Tamils another victims of human trafficking (13)

Kuala Lumpur: As the plight of Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar hit headlines, minority Tamils are lesser known victims of human trafficking crisis and their situation is worse as they are not recognised as refugees. Tamils, who are predominately Hindus and Christians and are descendants of rice growers in the Thaton and Bhamo districts of Myanmar, are conned by job agents who send them to Malaysia as bonded slaves. They were fleeced by agents of human trafficking rackets who lured them to leave the country with promises of job in Malaysia, the Star paper reported. However, they ended up being packed in the same boats with Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants, sailing for up to two weeks without food and after that being tortured at transit camps along the Thailand and Malaysia border, the daily said. Many of them said they had sold their properties to pay the agents but ended up as bonded slaves for the trafficking syndicates, which sent them to construction sites in Penang, Kedah and Perlis states in Malaysia, the Star said. 21-year-old Tamil migrant S Parimala said many in her group left home before the military junta in Myanmar announced the issuance of identification cards during the middle of last year. “We are in limbo because according to Rohingyas who just arrived, we could be shot if we return without identification papers and we are also living in fear of the authorities in Malaysia. We are stateless but UNHCR office refuses to give us refugee status,” she told the daily. She said about 110 Myanmar Tamils were now spread out in construction sites and living in squalid conditions. Another migrant, James Kanna, said, “I was duped into believing that I could enter the country legally.” He added that he too tried to get refugee status but was rejected. “I have not seen my son for a year and I don’t think I can see him again. He probably thinks I am already dead,” said the widower who left his son with a neighbour. Tens of thousands of minority Rohingya Muslims facing persecution in Myanmar have fled the country in recent years. Joined increasingly by economic migrants from neighbouring Bangladesh, they mainly headed for Malaysia and Indonesia. The exodus was largely ignored until a crackdown on the people-smuggling trade in Thailand last month caused chaos as gangmasters abandoned their human cargos on land and sea. (Deccan Herald 15/6/15)

93. Child trafficking: TN gets NHRC notice (1)

CHENNAI: The National Human Rights Commission, responding to media reports that children are being trafficked frequently from many districts in Tamil Nadu to Kerala, issued notices to chief secretaries and directors general of police of both the states on Monday. They have been asked to reply to the notices within eight weeks. Reports of trafficking of children in the age group of 12 and above have been appearing in the media and NHRC member Justice Murugesan, taking suo mutu cognizance of one such media report on June 14, quoting the state coordinator of Tamil Nadu Domestic Workers’ Association, issued notices to chief secretaries and directors general of police of the two states to enquire into the matter and submit reports. “Most cases of trafficking of children to Kerala have been reported from Salem and Villupuram districts,” noted child rights activist A Devaneyan told TOI. “Most of them are girls and they are taken to Kerala under the guise of domestic work and then forced into sex trade. The parents forget about them after a few years,” he said. Poor people in Villupuram and Salem districts as well as in the districts bordering Kerala fall prey to them. “During our interaction with some parents of these children, we found that in most cases they did not have money to marry off their girl children. Hence, they send girls to Kerala to work as domestic help and earn money on their own for their marriage,” said Devaneyan. An NHRC release said children from Salem and Villupuram districts of Tamil Nadu were being trafficked to Kerala and auctioned at Thrissur as domestic help. Reportedly, these children were also being subjected to sexual harassment, the release said. Murugesan has observed that the contents of the press report, if true, amounted to serious violation of human rights of the children. A number of brokers, who are part of the racket, approach poor parents in villages in the two districts and brainwash them and take their children along with them by paying a paltry amount. Children are being trafficked to Kerala from other parts of the country as well. Recently, 53 children from the NorthEast were rescued from Palakkad railway station. “Though the caretakers mentioned that they were brought to Kerala for education, authorities did not allow them to proceed and sent the children back with their parents to their respective states,” said Devaneyan. In another case, children from West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar were rescued last year at Palakkad railway station. More than 580 children from these three states were on their way to some orphanages in Kerala. They were stopped midway at Palakkad and child rights officials from those states said it was utter poverty that forced the parents to send their wards to Kerala. (Times of India 16/6/15)


94. Now, Bhujbal booked in Delhi’s Maharashtra Sadan case (5)

MUMBAI: Two days after booking him over allotment of a Kalina plot to a builder for construction of a library , the Anti-Corruption Bureau on Thursday lodged another criminal case against ex-PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal for his alleged involvement in the New Delhi Maharashtra Sadan scam. Along with Bhujbal, his son Pankaj and nephew Samir have been named among the 17 accused in the case. Bhujbal has been booked under Section 13 (1-C and D) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and various sections of the IPC for misusing his official position for personal gains by corrupt means for pecuniary advantage and for cheating and forgery . In the wake of a PIL filed by AAP activist Anjali Damania, the Bombay high court had asked the ACB to form a special investigation team to probe charges against Bhujbal and his family members. Anjali Damania’s contention was that the contract for construction of the Maharashtra Sadan was awarded to Chamankar Enterprises without following the due process of law and in lieu, the firms and trusts controlled by Bhujbal and his family members had received huge kickbacks. The ACB found that after the contract was granted to Chamankar Enterprises, a huge amount of money was transferred from the partners of Chamankar Associates to firms directly or indirectly controlled either by Bhujbal or his family members. In addition, the contract for supply of furniture to the Maharashtra Sadan was granted to a firm owned by members of the Bhujbal family . More than Rs 15 crore was paid to Parvesh Constructions, Bawesh Developers and Armstrong Energy , all firms owned or controlled by Samir and Pankaj Bhujbal, the probe has revealed. The ACB has estimated a loss of Rs 2,867 crore to the state exchequer, while the public accounts committee, which too probed the scam, estimated the loss to be in the region of Rs 5,000 crore to Rs 6,000 crore. The ACB probe has also confirmed that Chamankar Enterprises was awarded the contract for construction of Maharashtra Sadan without inviting tenders. In fact, the finance, housing and urban development department had strongly opposed the proposal, saying it was bad in law. Chamankar Enterprises had submitted a proposal for rehabilitation of slum dwellers on two Andheri plots belonging to the revenue de partment. Chamankar had proposed that while he would provide free houses to the slum dwellers, in lieu, he should be given the vacant Andheri plots and he would construct, free of cost, the Maharashtra Sadan, the Andheri RTO building, the High Mount guest housein South Mumbai and any other construction admeasuring 14,000 sq metres as proposed by the state . The project cost proposed by him was worth Rs 82 crore. The finance department had strongly objected to the proposal, saying it was wrong to give the contract to an “isolated” developer. It had also said that he would gain huge profit in terms of the additional FSI and TDR he would receive. But Bhujbal succeeded in securing approval for the project from the high-level infrastructure committee headed by the then CM on May 5, 2006. (Times of India 12/6/15)

95. Sushma Swaraj helped get UK travel documents for ‘fugitive’ Lalit Modi (5)

NEW DELHI: BJP’s celebrations at having ensured a year of scam-free government were interrupted by the disclosure that foreign minister Sushma Swaraj had in her official role interceded with the UK government and top-ranking Labour Party MP of Indian origin Keith Vaz in July 2014 to organize a travel document for Lalit Modi, the controversial creator of the IPL. Modi, who’s been living in the UK since 2010, could otherwise not have travelled out of that country since his Indian passport had been revoked by the UPA government in 2011 for evading Indian authorities who wanted to question him for alleged serious foreign exchange violations. The opposition seized upon the disclosure made by Times Now that within less than a couple of months of taking over as foreign minister on May 27, 2014, Swaraj wrote to UK’s high commissioner to India James Bevan and Vaz with the assurance that the Indian government had no objection to grant of travel documents to Modi, who is wanted by Enforcement Directorate and whose repatriation had been sought twice by the UPA. The opposition alleged that Swaraj helped a fugitive because he had, a year before, helped her husband’s nephew Jyotirmoy get admission in University of Sussex for a law course. The Modi government and the BJP, supported by the RSS, however, toughened out the first serious allegation of impropriety against one of its senior functionaries by claiming that Swaraj had helped Modi on “humanitarian grounds” and because he was Indian. Swaraj said she had responded to Modi’s plea that he be allowed to travel to Portugal so could he sign consent papers for his wife’s cancer surgery. She stressed that she had made it clear to the British authorities that they should help him only if their rules permitted. In a series of tweets, the foreign minister, who had explained her side of the story to the Prime Minister on Friday, also pointed out that the Delhi high court has since restored Modi’s passport and that her nephew had secured admission on merit much before she became a minister. BJP chief Amit Shah endorsed the defence to say “no big moral issue” was involved as he rejected the demand for Swaraj’s resignation. Home minister Rajnath Singh also came out in her support after a meeting with the PM. Modi has a ‘blue corner’ notice pending against him for defying summons from the Enforcement Directorate to join investigations into alleged offences in Rs 125 crore for awarding the overseas telecast rights of the second edition of the IPL to a foreign-based broadcast company, an arm of Sony Corporation. ED got his passport revoked after he left for UK in May 2010 and refused to cooperate in the investigations. (Times of India 15/6/15)

96. Congress indefinite stir from today to oust Vasundhara (5)

UDAIPUR: Congress, at its executive committee meeting held in Udaipur on Wednesday, passed a resolution demanding the resignations of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and chief minister Vasundhara Raje. Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Sachin Pilot said that party workers across the state would take to streets from Thursday to press for the resignations. Swaraj and Raje were accused of secretly facilitating former IPL czar Lalit Modi, who is wanted by the Enforcement Directorate for alleged forex violations. Accusing Swaraj and Raje of misusing constitutional posts, the party demanded that cases be registered against the duo under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Pilot questioned prime minister Narendra Modi’s silence on the controversy. “The PM had made corruption a big issue during the general elections, but he is silent now. Why is he not even tweeting about it?” Pilot asked. Former chief minister Ashok Gehlot demanded that Raje should explain why her son Dushyant Singh’s company received investments from Modi, who is wanted in the country for financial irregularities. Gehlot, while addressing the meeting, highlighted how Modi used to act as a de facto chief minister from a five star hotel in Jaipur during Raje’s first tenure as CM. “Between 2003 and 2008, Modi spent more than 50 nights at Hotel Rambagh Palace where bureaucrats used to queue up outside his room with official files,” Gehlot said. Gurudas Kamat, AICC general secretary and party’s Rajasthan in-charge, said, “Lalit Modi purchased shares in the company of Raje’s son at a much higher price. To return the favour, Raje exercised her influence over the British authorities in a letter showing off her family background and political strength to help Modi get immigration documents.” Kamat also recalled the Raje-Modi proximity. “Lalit Modi was then the only person who could enter Raje’s house after 7.30 pm. Why? Raje should explain that,” Kamat said. He quipped, “Raje seems to be searching for another Modi in her present tenure as she is unable to take decisions now.” Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Kamat said, “Sushma Swaraj claims to have helped Lalit Modi on humanitarian grounds. Would she or the prime minister help Dawood Ibrahim and other gangsters also to travel to India if they made such appeals? Is this a new policy of the Narendra Modi-government — that of helping defaulters and culprits who are being chased by the enforcement agencies?” Gehlot said, “The BJP had made a big uproar on black money and corruption issues before the elections, but after coming to power, its ministers’ involvements in the same acts are coming to light. Their true faces have been exposed and people have realised the government’s motives.” (Times of India 18/6/15)

97. State yet to take a call on probe into Consumerfed corruption (5)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The State government is yet to take a call on holding an inquiry into the alleged financial irregularities in the civil works worth Rs.45 crore executed by the Kerala State Consumers’ Marketing Federation (Consumerfed) in the past five years. A three-member internal team, which randomly examined 50 of the 1,852 files related to the works, undertaken by the Special Project Wing of the federation, had detected misappropriation of funds worth Rs.30 crore. The report says, ‘85 per cent of the civil works were taken up with the intention of perpetrating corruption and swindling money. None of them were recommended by the officials concerned.’ The works were mostly done to deck out the head office in Kochi, regional and zonal offices, Thriveni and Nanma Stores, Neethi Medical Stores, their warehouses, and also the IMFL outlets run by the federation. The former managing director had appointed a pharmacist at the Neethi Medical Stores, K. Ajith Kumar, as officer on special duty with over-arching powers for implementing the works, ignoring the fact that he had no previous experience in construction or civil works, sources say. During 2010-11, the wing undertook works worth Rs.7.70 crore; Rs.6.89 crore in 2011-12; Rs.18.35 crore in 2012-13; Rs.11.66 crore in 2013-14; and Rs.40 lakh in 2014-15. The committee detected violation of norms for such work. The special wing went ahead with the task without securing administrative sanction, preparing an estimate, site plan, and even without competitive bidding. Fake quotations for works were furnished in the name of non-existent organisations, sources say. The inquiry team has specified instances of the undue haste shown by the finance monitoring committee in clearing the bills submitted by the contractors, without proper verification. The report has recommended a thorough probe against the former managing director and Mr. Ajith Kumar who is still an employee of the federation and steps to realise the loss from them. But the government has not taken any action on the report so far, sources say. (The Hindu 19/6/15)


98. Vedanta’s Iron Ore arm in Goa does its bit for environment sustainability (9)

PANAJI: As part of its efforts towards environment sustainability in Goa, Vedanta Limited has undertaken a drive to plant sapling as well as a cleanliness drive at its Bicholim mine, which is operated by its iron ore mining arm. The company also distributed solar lanterns to tribal communities”We hope to co-create a model of sustainable community living for others to replicate and will soon be implementing the CII’s biodiversity Indian Business Biodiversity Initiative,” said president, group sustainability and CSR Roma Balwani. In Goa, the company organized a drive to plant saplings where school students participated. The company also conducted a solid waste management awareness drive and took children to visit the mines. The global natural resources company invested Rs. 361 crores towards environment sustainability in the previous financial year and planted 7.12 lakh trees in India itself. (Times of India 11/6/15)

99. Cutting carbon emissions could escalate hunger: Study (9)

New York: As several nations brace for implementing plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions, such efforts to rein in global temperatures may lead to more people going hungry, a new study suggests. “That risk doesn’t negate the need for mitigation but highlights the importance of comprehensive policies,” said lead researcher Tomoko Hasegawa from the National Institute for Environmental Studies in Japan. Previous studies have shown that climate change reduces how much food farms can produce, which could lead to more people suffering from hunger. Curbing the greenhouse gas emissions that lead to climate change can help maintain the yields of existing crops. But there might be indirect ways in which cutting emissions could actually put more people at risk of going hungry, said the study published in ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology. “For example, some grasses and other vegetation used for biofuels require agricultural land that might otherwise be used for food production. So, increased biofuel consumption could negatively affect the food supply,” Hasegawa noted. Also, the high cost of low-emissions technologies such as carbon capture and storage will be borne by consumers, who will then have less money to spend on food. The researchers used multiple models to determine the effects of strict emissions cuts and found that many more people would be at risk of hunger than if those cuts weren’t in place. The team concluded that governments will have to take measures, such as increasing food aid, as they address climate change. (Business Standard 14/6/15)

100. Mining on coastal sand dunes poses environmental hazard (9)

VISAKHAPATNAM: Mining in the dune sand along the coastal belt of Andhra Pradesh has raised many eyebrows. While the coast boasts of being rich in mineral deposits, especially Ilmenite (ore of Titanium), environmentalists believe human intervention and construction activities have resulted in vanishing sand dunes and depleting beach sand. Black sand and sand dunes are a common sight on the beaches in Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam or Kakinada. But its not always mud and garbage that makes the beach black. Mineral deposits like Ilmenite (ore of Titanium) lay in abundance in these beaches giving it a black look. Titanium is a light-weight tough metal that can withstand extremes of temperature and is usually used in the aircraft industry and manufacture of spacecrafts. Extraction of Ilmenite from the beaches of coastal Andhra Pradesh has already started in Srikurmam of Srikakulam district by a private firm, while applications for leases from various other companies are under consideration by the state government. The most promising deposit is in the 21km coastal stretch between Nagavalli and Vamsadhara rivers along the Srikurmam coast. However, mining can ecological hazardous to the non-renewable natural asset. The geology department of Andhra University published an article in April on the mineral deposits in the ‘Journal of Economic Geology and Geo Resource Management’. As per the study conducted by professor M Jagannadha Rao, J Venkata Ramana and T Karuna Karudu, Ilmenite concentration is almost 50% in the dunal system along the east coast belt. The deposits also differed geochemically from one area to another. In the east coast, the mineral is mainly found in the sand dunes of Gopalpur in Odisha and Srikakulam, Bheemilipatnam, Visakhapatnam and Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh. The beach sands of north coastal AP are also rich in garnet, sillimanite, zircon, rutile, monazite (radioactive thorium-bearing) and pyriboles deposits, which is yet to be extracted. “Extraction of Titanium ore from Ilmenite deposits entails various processes including dredging and removal of sands, jigging and magnetic separation. The process has already started at Srikurmam and will soon begin on a commercial basis at other beaches of Vizag, Bheemili and Kakinada. However, it has several adverse impacts on the coastal ecology and environment,” professor M Jagannadha Rao said. According to reports, near the areas in Gopalpur where mining has been going on in full-scale by a private firm, dead fish have been found floating and endangered Olive Ridley turtles have lost their habitat. Elaborating on the environment hazards, environment and heritage activist Sohan Hatangadi said, “Wherever mining takes place, the local flora and fauna gets affected besides the historical places in the vicinity. Many species become extinct or lose their habitat. Nesting and breeding grounds of endangered Olive Ridley turtles are also destroyed. Sand dune depletion and erosion would continue, which again is hazardous to the environment.” “Due to extensive mining, the mud and slime would pollute the sea water thereby reducing the biological oxygen demand. Therefore, fish and other aquatic creatures die and birds can’t feed on the fish. The mangroves would also perish. The entire food chain would eventually get affected, which in turn would also affect the fishermen community,” Prof Rao said. Another cause of concern is the radioactive monazite deposits which occur in the same level as Ilmenite. “As per the mining rules, only the state government has the right to mine thorium-bearing radioactive minerals like monazite. But since it’s of more or less the same density as Ilmenite, the two can get mixed up and nobody can ascertain if private companies are also craftily extracting this mineral,” said the geologist. (Times of India 15/6/15)

101. Bombay High Court pulls up state over policy on noise pollution (9)

Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Wednesday reprimanded government of Maharashtra for not following its order passed earlier asking it to frame a policy to control noise pollution and remove illegal pandals erected on public places, roads and footpaths during festivals. The government was supposed to file a compliance report in the court; but the judges were informed that the court order had not been complied with till now. The court was informed that no policy had been framed by the government in connection with noise pollution. The judges were also informed that it also did not take any action against organisers for violations of noise pollution rules and erecting illegal pandals in public places such as outside schools, hospitals, roads, footpaths, bus stops, among others. Irked with this, the division bench of Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Revati Mohite-Dere reprimanded the state for not following its order. The bench adjourned the matter for hearing after a week and also asked the government details of music instruments used by DJs during such celebration that causes noise pollution. The judges clarified that they were not against festival celebration but were against it becoming a nuisance for citizens. The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by district Thane-based Dr Mahesh Bedekar raising concern over the nuisance created by various organisers of religious festivals with regard to noise pollution and erection of pandals on streets and footpath causing trouble to many citizens. In March this year, the high court had observed that every citizen has a fundamental right to silence and to live in peace and comfort and the same could not be disturbed by organisers celebrating religious festivals. The high court had then asked the government to frame a policy and set up a redressal mechanism by which common citizen could lodge complaints and expect prompt action by the authorities concerned. The judges had also directed authorities concerned to withdraw licences of those Ganpati mandals which violate rules. (Asian Age 18/6/15)


102. Farm widow ends life, 100 days after meeting Maharashtra CM (20)

Yavatmal (Maharashtra): Barely 100 days after meeting Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, a farm widow from Pipmpributi village here ended her life on Friday, a watchdog NGO said. Fadnavis had called on and consoled the victim, Shanta Tajane — whose husband Prahlad Tajane had committed suicide four years ago — while on a tour of the district on March 3 this year. “At the meeting, she had demanded a well, a motor pump and electric connection to continue tending her farm which was lying abandoned after her husband’s suicide. However, despite Fadnavis’ assurances, there was no progress in the matter and she took the extreme step today,” Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti President Kishore Tiwari told IANS. He added that after Prahlad Tajane’s death four years ago, the government had given an aid of Rs.100,000, of which Rs.30,000 was disbursed as interim relief and the balance was kept in a joint bank account with the state government. Tiwari said Shanta Tajane’s problems were compounded as she was unable to withdraw the balance amount (Rs.70,000) from the bank account, as nobody guided her on the formalities to be completed at the collector’s level. Out of sheer frustration, she ended her life and her last rites were completed in the village on Friday afternoon. The farm widow’s suicide came a day after a former director of a local cooperative credit society Madhav Gole Patil in Ghoddhara village committed suicide by jumping into a well. “Patil, who was a cotton farmer and a social activist, left a suicide note in which he urged the government to give farm loans waiver, higher minimum support price to agriculture produce and disbursement of the relief aid declared in October 2014,” Tiwari said. This year, since January 1, the number of farmers suicides has touched around 1,090, though state government officials question whether all are related to the agrarian crises. (New Kerla 12/6/15)

103. Cane farmers set to turn assembly session bitter (20)

BELAGAVI: The suicide of a debt-ridden cane farmer last week and the dues sugar factories owe farmers will once again rock the Belagavi assembly session set to begin here on June 29. Farmers’ organizations and the BJP are set to corner the chief minister on the crisis brewing in the farming community. The November 2013 winter session was marred by the suicide of farmer Vittal Arabhavi from Kankanwadi village in Raibag taluk. Arabhavi consumed poison in front of the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha when the session was in progress. The suicide led to widespread protests by farmers across north Karnataka districts forcing chief minister Siddaramaiah to announce an additional Rs 150 as support price for per tonne sugarcane. Last week Gurunath Chapgaon, 55, of Badal Ankalagi village of Belagavi taluk committed suicide by consuming pesticide. Hinting at Gurunath’s death as an issue to fight anti-farmer policies of the government during the session, Kurubur Shantakumar, state president of Karnataka Sugarcane Farmers Association, met the family members of the farmer on Friday. He announced a massive protest and hunger strike during the session. Shantakumar demanded that the government file criminal cases against Malaprabha Cooperative Sugar factory of MK Hubli and penalize it Rs 25 lakh and transfer the same amount to the victim’s family. He alleged that the farmer committed suicide because the sugar factory delayed in its payment. According to Sugar (Control) Order, factories must pay farmers within 14 days of sugarcane supply, which did not happen in this case. He also demanded Rs 10 lakh compensation to the farmer’s family. Farmer forums have threatened Mallikarjun Jakati, state president of Karnataka Krishi Sangh and Basavaraj Malali, district president of Karnataka Rajya Raitha to stage a protest in front of district minister Satish Jarkiholi’s residence demanding clearance of sugarcane dues for 2013-14. (Times of India 13/6/15)

104. Farmers suffering from depression, need support: BJP (20)

BHOPAL: BJP national vice-president and Madhya Pradesh party in-charge Vinay Sahasrabuddhe on Monday said that not making crop insurance a priority in the country has resulted in increasing cases of depression and addiction with our rural population. Defending the necessity of crop insurance for farm sector, Sahasrabuddhe said, “Insurance has been defined as mitigation of uncertainties. And with that definition, agriculture being a sector where uncertainty is largely prevalent, a national crop insurance should be a major agenda.” Sahasrabuddhe was addressing a gathering of agricultural and insurance experts at the inaugural session of the two-day National Conference on Crop Insurance being held here. “Not taking crop insurance seriously so far, has had damaging repercussions. At one time depression was a phenomenon of urban society. But today, psychiatrists have more patients of addiction and depression coming for the villages,” he said. The BJP vice-president argued that independent organisation Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini conducted a study of 2,500 farmers of the Vidharba region of Maharashtra who committed suicide. “It was found that the village commune and institutions have undergone a sea change. When a farmer commits suicide, he hardly gets the sympathy of his neighbours the way he would be grieved even ten years ago. The village school, panchayats and temple do not give him the social and community support that it did at one time. And the administration consists of people from outside, officers who have the knowledge but are not that sensitive,” Sahasrabuddhe said. “Under such circumstances, a crop insurance policy can provide the support and security that is badly required by the agrarian community at these times,” he added. The BJP leader said that crop insurance could stop the drop-out rate of farmers. “We talk of school-drop-outs hardly noticing the drop-out from the far sector. The village youth no longer wants to make a career and living out of farming largely because of the risk factors,” he said. (Times of India 15/6/15)

105. Rahul visits family of farmer who committed suicide in Punjab (4)

Fatehgarh Sahib (Punjab): Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi today met the family of Punjab farmer Surjit Singh who killed himself in Fatehgarh Sahb on June 11, a day after the Centre announced marginal increase in MSP. Mr. Gandhi expressed solidarity with the crisis-hit farmers. Surjit Singh had explained the Punjab agrarian crisis to Mr. Gandhi on his mandi visit on April 28. Today’s visit was kept a secret from the leaders of the Punjab Congress unit which has been involved in a leadership tussle. Surjit Singh, while explaining the farming community’s distress to Rahul, had said: “If the farmers’ issues remain unresolved, many farmers might commit suicide.” “My father owed six acres but we are tilling 19 acres on contract. Due to less production, the family gets nothing as all the amount is paid to clear dues of land owners. He was under depression. He consumed Celphos (a brand name for compound Aluminium Phosphide),” Surjit Singh’s son Kulwinder Singh said. The farmer had a debt of around Rs. 13 lakh. (The Hindu 18/6/15)


106. NCP against Land Acquisition Act amendment’ (4)

PATNA: In a scathing attack on PM Narendra Modi led NDA government’s claim with regard to the GDP growth rate achieved in last one year, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar said on Wednesday it has been achieved by substantially slashing the Plan fund. The BJP-led NDA government at the Centre has claimed 7.4% GDP growth rate besides maintaining that PM Modi had inherited 4.7 growth rate from the Congress-led UPA. The NCP was also a partner in the UPA government. “The central government is patting itself on the 7.4% growth rate. But, this is not the result of increase in tax revenue. On the contrary, it has been achieved by cutting the Plan fund,” Pawar said, adding that allotments under MNREGA and several other schemes that took care of the empowerment of weaker sections have been cut. He said the UPA never made cuts in the Plan-fund allotments in 10 years, even when the country was battling with recession. “If you leave out the organized sector, the rest of people feel cheated. Neither has their income increased in proportion to price rise nor have employment opportunities increased,” Pawar said, adding the industry is still under impact of recession and the agriculture scenario, too, is bleak. Pawar was addressing the delegate session of his party during the concluding session of its national convention after he was unanimously re-elected NCP president. “The industry hoped that downturn in the purchase of consumer goods would end, but if the monsoon remains weak, the situation would further worsen,” Pawar said, adding: “A large segment of the corporate world has started saying that the economy is directionless and is caught in quagmire of slogans and mere promises.” Pawar said not only foodgrain production has fallen and farmers have been distressed by serial crop losses due to unseasonal rains and hailstorms, but the central government has made no budgetary allotment to address their problems, and schemes like Green Revolution in northeast and national horticulture mission, too, would be hit. Heavy cut has been made in budgetary allotment to agriculture from Rs19,852 crore to Rs17,000 crore, Pawar said, adding that allotments on Rashtriya Kisan Vikas Pariyojana and animal husbandry have also been slashed, and the central government’s claim with regard to introduction of Soil Health Card is misplaced as it is 10 years old. Pawar said PM never talks about people’s plight in his speeches, nor in his ‘Man Ki Baat,’ and added that data regarding farmers’ suicides are being manipulated or misrepresented. Pawar said the NCP would resist any amendment regarding consent clause and compensation in Land Acquisition Act (2013), as the new Bill gives freedom and guarantee to corporate bodies to “loot.” The PM hides several facts from people with regard to grant of land to the corporate houses, Pawar said, adding the country needs bringing agriculture back on the rails, “not the snatching of peasant’s land by giving an allurement of job to one member from his family for his alienated land.” (Times of India 11//6/15)

107. Tribal, forest workers protest against land acquisition ordinance, demand stay on Kanhar dam project (4)

LUCKNOW: Tribal and left groups from across the state took part in a demonstration organized by the All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP) at Laxman Mela ground in the state capital on Friday against the land acquisition amendment ordinance of the Modi sarkar. Organized as a part of AIUFWP’s land rights movement, the protest saw tribal pledging to fight against the pro-corporate land acquisition amendment till their last breath. Apart from scraping the land amendment ordinance issued by the third time by NDA government after failing to get it pass through Rajya Sabha, the protesters demanded implementation of the Forest Rights Act and land rights for landless peasants and agricultural workers. The leaders said that the Joint Parliamentary Committee examining the land ordinance should reach out to the farmers, tribal and workers of this country and hold wider consultations, public meetings and public hearings on the Bill, especially where local communities have been affected by past or present experiences of land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement like in Kalinga Nagar and Dhinkia to Narmada, Sompetta, Raigarh, Madurai, Mundra, Kanhar, Bhatta Parsaul, Jashpur and Dholera among others in different parts of the country. The tribal also demanded end to state repression in Kanhar valley and action against those responsible for the police firing on villagers protesting peacefully in Sonbadhra on April 14 and 18, 2015, against illegal land acquisition in the Kanhar valley for construction of a dam. They said that the National Green Tribunal stay order on Kanhar Dam should be implemented and all leaders arrested for participating in protest must be released. (Times of India 12/6/15)

108. Raising Narmada dam height could lead to calamity bigger than Nepal temblor: Committee (4)

New Delhi: A Central fact finding committee has warned against increasing the height of Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada river in Gujarat, saying that it could lead to a calamity bigger than the earthquake in Nepal. In consultation with Delhi Solidarity Group, the six- member Central fact finding committee, including two members each from CPI and Congress and as many independent experts, on May 9 and 10 visited several villages in the Narmada Valley which are affected by the Sardar Sarovar project to find the current and actual ground situation of the project, affected families, and extent of resettlement and rehabilitation. The committee today released its report “Drowning a valley: Destroying a civilization” from Sardar Sarovar project submergence areas in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat. “Even with the present height of about 122 meters, the team found that many families have not been recognized as submergence zone families. “With the raising of the height of the dam structure by 17 meters to nearly 139 Meters, thousands more will be severely affected and submerged,” said environmentalist and energy expert Soumya Dutta, one of the six committee members. Dutta also warned that it will lead to a calamity bigger than Nepal earthquake. “This would be a massive disaster and government should conduct a scientific study to calculate back water,” he said. The committee said that Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Union governments have claimed in the Supreme Court that the rehabilitation of all affected families is now complete following which clearance to raise the height of the dam by 17 metres was given. “Government lied before the court as thousands of families are still living in the villages in the submergence zone, that they have not been given land based compensation as per Supreme Court order and tribunal awards,” Dutta said. The report said that thousands of affected families are still awaiting their due compensation and rehabilitation. Another member of the committee, Annie Raja, who is also the general secretary of National Federation of Indian Women, accused the state and Union governments of violating orders of the Supreme Court and the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal. “The physical condition of the rehabilitation sites is pathetic, with wild growth on them… no roads, no water supply or electricity. Along with the lack of schools, health centres etc, affected families are refusing to settle in rehabilitation sites,” Raja said. The report also highlighted that affected families have complained of large scale corruption in land allotment. “Many land allotments were done illegally to people who are not really project affected. Some of the land allotted to affected people was already allotted on the name of someone else,” Raja said. The committee’s report will be sent to the Central government, relevant state governments and other commissions to highlight the plight of project-affected people. (Business Standard 14/6/15)

109. Oustees should take back land given to Adani Group: Patkar (4)

Chhindwara: Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar who reached Chhindwara on Tuesday to attend a hearing of an old case of alleged unlawful assembly, raised demand for giving back the land taken over for Adani Group’s power plant and Pench diversion project coming up in this MP district. Patkar, who has been opposing both the projects, was arrested on November 4, 2012, at this town when the Pench irrigation project was being inaugurated. She had remained in custody for three days along with other activists. Addressing a group of around 200 farmers here, Patkar along with other activists Dr Sunilam and Aradhna Bhargav exhorted the audience to take back the possession of their holdings and start cultivating the land. She argued that the land, orignally acquired for Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board (MPEB) plant in 1986 and later handed over to Adani Group, should now go back to the original owners, according to the land acquisition law of 2013. “The section 24(2) of the law says ‘if physical possession is not taken over for the project after five years of granting the compensation award, the land goes back to the original owner’. In this case, the award was passed in 1986 and farmers continued to till the land until 2010 when Adani entered the scene,” she said. Going by the five-year standard, the land should now be returned to PAPs (project affected persons) and the acquisition process should start again under the new law, she said. Adani got 750 hectares land for setting up a 1320 MW power plant here affecting over 1500 families, she informed. This applies to the Pench diversion project also for which the awards were granted from 2006 to 2012, claimed Bhargav. A petition was submitted to the district collector Mahesh Chaudhary who said they will have to move the court for that, said Patkar. She alleged that even the Pench diversion is being done to ensure water supply for Adani’s plant. It will also affect water supply to Maharashtra, she warned. After the meeting, Patkar claimed to have got a message right then that the high court in Indore had extended stay on dispossession of PAPs of Narmada project in Dhar and Badwani districts of MP in a petition seeking implementation of the Section 24(2). “This is a major victory for us,” she said. Farmers present in the rally said they were tilling the land transferred to Adani Group till 2010, after which the company took possession and built a fencing around the area. “Though access to the land is allowed for grazing the cattle, the company does not allow cultivation,” said Sajje Lal of Chausa village. “We have no other choice but to either work as labourers with others or depend on milk business that hardly fetches any remuneration,” added Sumer Yadav also from Chausa. Meanwhile, PAPs of the Pench project said the government deposited compensation amount in their bank accounts without their knowledge. Only 10% of them have used the amount and the majority continue to cultivate the land till date. The money that ranges up to Rs 1 lakh an acre is too less going current land prices, they say. (Times of India 17/6/15)


110. Consumer court orders fertility clinic to pay Rs 31 lakh (3)

Bengaluru: The consumer court, on Thursday, asked the Base Fertility Medical Science Private Limited (BFMSPL) and Srushti Medicare Research Foundation (SMRF) to pay Rs 31 lakh as compensation to nine complainants. In his order, Syed Ansar Kaleem, president of the Consumer Court, observed that the complainants suffered a lot, physically and mentally, due to the wrong treatment by the said centres. The complainants, during January 2013, were promised 100 per cent results in the Base Fertility package scheme, with which K T Gurumurthy was associated. As their treatment was not successful, several patients had lodged a complaint against the centre. The complainants had paid Gurumurthy, the first respondent, lakhs of rupees and followed his advise. Nagesh, an RTI activist who has been associated with the case, said that several other patients had come forward to file complaints.“We are also contemplating on lodging a complaint against the small screen actors who appeared in advertisements for these centres,” he added. (Deccan Herald 12/6/15)

111. 400 million people don’t have access to key health care services: World Bank report (3)

Washington: Some 400 million people worldwide lack access to essential health services, and the cost of healthcare is forcing many into poverty, the World Bank and World Health Organisation reported today. A new report by the bank and WHO on tracking universal health care (UHC) coverage said more people than ever around the world, 80%, have access to key health services. Universal health care, the two institutions say, encompasses services that should reach everyone regardless of socioeconomic level: family planning, antenatal care, skilled support when giving birth, child immunisation, TB treatment, HIV antiretroviral therapy, improved water sources and improved sanitary facilities. But hundreds of millions are reached by only a few of those services. In addition, in low and middle-income countries, 6% of the people were at risk of being forced into or pushed further into poverty by health care costs. “This report is a wakeup call: It shows that we’re a long way from achieving universal health coverage,” said Tim Evans, senior director of health, nutrition and population at the World Bank. “We must expand access to health and protect the poorest from health expenses that are causing them severe financial hardship.” For some kinds of services, well over 80% of people have access, the report says. And it said that the impoverishing impact of catastrophic health expenses has diminished over the past decade. “However, there is still a long way to go on the road to UHC, both in terms of health service and financial protection coverage,” the report said. The new report seeks to define UHC, in terms of measurable essential services, to be able to assess how governments and communities are performing. (Business Stndard 13/6/15)

112. Right to health services in State soon: Gogoi (3)

GUWAHATI, June 15 – Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today reiterated the State government’s plan to introduce right to health services wherein free healthcare services would be given to all poor and common people, and gradually the spectrum of the services would be scaled up to cover all sections of the people of the State. Speaking at the inaugural function of the 200-bed District Hospital at Sonapur today, Gogoi said that providing affordable, accessible, accountable and quality healthcare services to all sections of the people had been a long cherished commitment and the government was working persistently towards that end. He further said that the right to health services, which the government is contemplating to bring in, would ensure basic healthcare to everybody. Asserting his commitment to ensure better health to all, Gogoi said the government had passed on necessary instruction to the health and family welfare department to ensure better treatment, better medicines to reduce maternal mortality rate, infant mortality rate and finally improving the overall health scenario in the State. He said with the existing medical colleges and hospitals, the proposed four medical college and hospitals being set up at Diphu, Dhubri, Nagaon and Lakhimpur would be able to take healthcare to every family. (The Assam Tribune 15/6/15)

113. Global health funding stalled in recent years: Study (3)

New York: After growing rapidly from 2000 to 2010, global health funding remained stagnant between 2010 and 2014, amounting to $35.9 billion in 2014, says a study. Funding decreased by 1.6 percent between 2013 and 2014, the researchers found. Global health financing increased significantly after 2000, when the United Nations established the Millennium Development Goals, which included a strong focus on health. This trend in funding has only recently started to change, according to new research by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. “Even though funding growth has stalled in recent years, it is clear that funding in support of specific Millennium Development Goals grew at an exceptional rate,” said the study’s lead author Joseph Dieleman, assistant professor at IHME. The article was published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).Since the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were launched in 2000, donors have invested $227.9 billion to help achieve the health-related MDGs, which target maternal and child health, HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. Yet funding for many of these areas decreased between 2013 and 2014. Development assistance for tuberculosis, maternal and child health and HIV/AIDS fell by 9.2 percent, 2.2 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively. Development assistance for malaria increased by 0.4 percent during this period. The silver lining in the study is that health spending by the governments of low and middle-income countries reached an all-time high of $711.1 billion in 2012, growing 9.7 percent between 2011 and 2012. “While a great deal of attention is focused on donors’ efforts to improve health in developing countries, the countries themselves invest much more money.” “For every $1 donors spend in global health, developing countries spend nearly $20,” Dieleman concluded. (Business Standard 17/6/15)


114. India Scraps Import Duties on AIDS Drugs to Battle Shortage (3)

MUMBAI: India has scrapped customs import duties for drugs and test kits used to treat AIDS in an effort to cut prices across the country, as it struggles to cope with an ongoing shortage in its national program to fight the disease. More than a third of India’s 2.1 million HIV/AIDS patients depend on getting their daily antiretrovirals for free from state-run distribution centres, but many of them have been facing shortages or stock outs for months. The notice put out by the Central Board of Excise and Customs this week intends to make it cheaper to import raw materials that are used to make antiretrovirals under the national program, BB Rewari of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) told Reuters. Currently, U.S. firm Mylan Inc and India’s Aurobindo Pharma supply AIDS drugs to the government program. The exemption applies to certain first-line and second-line antiretroviral drugs used to treat adults and children, as well as to certain diagnostic kits and equipment that are used by NACO, Rewari said. He added the drugs under exemption make up roughly 95 percent of the antiretrovirals used by India’s AIDS patients under the national program. The exemption, which will remain in effect until March 2016, is the national AIDS control department’s latest effort to deal with a chronic shortage of HIV/AIDS drugs at home, even though Indian companies are some of the world’s major suppliers of AIDS drugs. Local firm Cipla Ltd made headlines in 2001 by making antiretrovirals for Africa for under $1 a day. The AIDS control program has been in disarray for months after the government changed the way over $1.3 billion in federal funds were distributed, according to data and letters seen by Reuters. Construction of clinics in rural areas has been delayed and many health workers have quit. Government officials have previously told Reuters of a lack of participation by local drugmakers in the tenders floated by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) to procure drugs. Industry insiders, meanwhile, cite delayed tender approvals, supply bottlenecks and late payments, as well as poor coordination between the central and state governments. AIDS drugs sold on the open market are expensive, so in an effort to make those more affordable, the government is likely to add more AIDS drugs under price control by including them in the national list of essential medicines, people involved in the process told Reuters in April. (New Indian Express 11/6/15)

115. Poverty Makes HIV Positive Man, Daughter Forgo Treatment (3)

BHADRAK (ODISHA):A 40-year-old HIV positive man and his daughter, also affected by the virus, have been running from pillar to post to avail medicines and benefits entitled to them. Bikash (name changed) of Bhatapada panchayat in Chandbali block of Bhadrak district, who lost his wife to the dreaded disease nine months back, have stopped taking treatment for lack of money. The father and daughter were diagnosed with the virus about five years back. “First my wife suffered from prolonged fever, cough and diarrhoea. I took her to SCB Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack where she tested HIV positive. Later, I and my two children were examined. Fortunately, my 12-year-old son was found safe,” Bikash said. Bikash earns livelihood by repairing bicycles. The meagre  earning from the job is not enough even to sustain his family. At the same time, he has to arrange money for treatment of his daughter and himself. “I earn only Rs 50 a day and it is difficult to manage my family. In such a situation, how can I meet the treatment cost,” he wondered. Bikash used to work with a construction company in Chennai about 10 years back and after working there for two years, he left for West Bengal where he took up a similar work. Not sure, where he contracted the disease, Bikash said it might be while staying in Chennai. Bikash claimed that though he is a BPL card holder, he is yet to get a house under IAY, Biju Pucca Ghara Yojana (BPGY) or Mo Kudia Yojana. Repeated requests for a house under any of the Government schemes have fallen on deaf ears, claimed Bikash. Bikash and his daughter have not been paid the pension given to HIV patients and medicines from anti-retroviral therapy centre for the last five months.Though he has been appealing to the district administration officials for financial help, nothing has come forth. Chandabali Block Development Officer Manoj Patra said he had not received any written grievance from anyone. (New Indian Express 16/6/15)

116. Anti-HIV drug shortage in Maharashtra, MSACS centres have only 3-week supply (3)

Mumbai: The 72 antiretroviral therapy (ART) centres in the state, which distribute free medicines to patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), are running out of drugs. The current stock will last only for another three weeks and patients are being given medicines for fewer days. The Maharashtra State Aids Control Society (MSACS), which runs these centres, has already asked the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) to speed up the supply to avoid any further shortage. “We are making sure that no patient misses the dose. Instead of giving them a month-long drug supply, we are instead giving them a fortnight’s medicines,” said Kushalsinh Pardeshi, project director, MSACS. Currently, NACO is responsible for supplying drugs to the groups working with Aids patients. Agencies such as MSACS, implement the programme which involves testing, treatment and prevention to reduce HIV transmission. HT accessed the drug availability at the 72 centres and found the glaring shortage of these life-saving drugs. For instance, as on June 10, these centres had a stock of just 6.64 lakh stock of first-line drugs, Zidovudine, Lamivudine and Nevirapine, (a combination of drugs given to patients during the first-line of treatment), while the requirement was 42.45 lakh. “We are confident that patients will not be affected. We have already received additional drugs from other states. The centre has also promised to supply the drugs at the earliest,” said Pardeshi. Sources said that drug manufacturing companies have demanded exemption from taxes, which is one of the factors causing the delay in supply. The second-line drugs, which are given to patients who do not respond to first-line drugs, are also in short-supply. Dr Ishwar Gilada, president, Aids Society of India (ASI), said, “Patients are given one or two drugs and are asked to buy the remaining from the chemist, leading to a mismatch in doses.” A senior NACO official, said, “The supply will be restored in a few days. There are 25 different drugs beings supplied, there is always some drug which will remain in shortage.” (Hindustan Times 16/6/15)

117. Compensation paid to HIV patient in open court (3)

MADURAI: The State government on Tuesday disbursed a compensation of Rs. 1.5 lakh, as directed by the Madras High Court Bench here on June 9, to a HIV patient who was made to undergo imprisonment for about seven years in an unconnected case. Dindigul Superintendent Police handed over a cheque to the victim in the presence of Justice S. Nagamuthu who had ordered a total compensation of Rs. 6 lakh after holding the State vicariously responsible for the “serious human rights violation.” After recording the disbursal of the first instalment, the judge ordered that the rest of the money should be paid to the victim within two months. (The Hindu 17/6/15)

118. Panchayat-level funds sought for HIV awareness campaign (3)

KASARAGOD: There is a sharp increase in the number of HIV cases in India, and there is need for panchayat-level allocation of funds to create awareness against the disease, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) working for the HIV infected has said. Those infected with HIV faced numerous difficulties. Centres to test the immunity level of the infected should be set up, K. Kunhikrishnan, Project Director, Vihaan, said at a press conference here on Thursday. “Today, one is driven to visit the Thrissur medical college for second line medicine and Chennai for viral load tests. Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) pension has not been disbursed since April last year. There is no centre in Kerala to rehabilitate the paralysed nor for giving counselling,” he said. Those given three cents land were not able to remit tax for want of survey number, he said. The authorities concerned should address the issues faced by the HIV infected, Mr. Kunhikrishnan said. (The Hindu 19/6/15)

Posted by admin at 19 June 2015

Category: Uncategorized


1. Dalit deaths trigger concern (2)

Mumbai, May 31: A fortnight after a Dalit youth was murdered by eight dominant caste youths in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar for having a pro-Dalit slogan as his ringtone, another youth from the community has died under controversial circumstances in police custody in the same district. Nitin Balu Sathye (22) died in police custody on May 29 after being arrested on suspicion of being a robber in Ahmednagar city. “Sathye and (Sagar) Sehejwal (the youth whose murder was triggered allegedly by the ringtone) are victims of an anti-Dalit mindset. Intolerance – religious or caste – has become rampant. Whoever is raising their head to assert themselves is being crushed in the current political atmosphere – whether in the IIT in Chennai or in the interiors of Maharashtra. “These attacks are coming because Dalits have become politically assertive and some members of the dominant caste are not being able to handle that,” Dalit activist and B.R. Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar told The Telegraph. Ahmednagar superintendent of police Sourav Tripathi said there were reports of robbery in the Kotwali area and a team of policemen was patrolling the streets late on Wednesday night when they spotted Sathye on a motorbike with a pillion rider “moving around suspiciously”.The SP added: “The police party flagged them down and detained Sathye while the pillion rider escaped. He was then brought to the Kotwali police station where he was interrogated and then arrested around 7am on Thursday. The policemen in charge of him have claimed that Sathye then escaped with his bike from the police station around 5pm on the pretext of going to the toilet. Chased by the police, he allegedly hit a lamp-post, fell unconscious and later died in a private hospital. “But since this is a custodial death, I have suspended the policemen involved in the matter and, as per norms, ordered a CID inquiry.” Prakash Ambedkar said Sathye’s death was “not due to any accident – it was custodial murder”.”Sathye had no criminal record – yet he was picked up on the basis of suspicion, he was not produced before a magistrate after arrest and then he died in custody due to police torture. The police would have hushed up the matter but for protests by his family and neighbours.” On May 16, another Dalit youth, a nursing student, was brutally killed by high caste assailants. Sehejwal (21) was sitting with his cousin at a beer outlet in Ahmednagar’s Shirdi town when his mobile phone rang. The ringtone was ” Kara kitihi halla, majboot Bhimacha killa (Holler as much as you can, the fortress of Bhim is strong).” Dalits in Maharashtra refer to themselves as Bhim after Babasaheb Ambedkar’s first name. Sehejwal’s ringtone irritated eight youths belonging to the dominant Maratha community sitting at another t able. They allegedly abused and thrashed Sehejwal, all the time asking if he would still use the same ringtone, the police said. “They hit him with a beer bottle, kicked and punched him and then tied him to their motorbikes and dragged him into a forest where his mutilated body was found later,” Prakash Ambedkar said.Four of the eight assailants were arrested on May 22 with the help of evidence from CCTV footage in the beer bar. The others are absconding. (The Telegraph 1/6/15)

2. Sonia Gandhi writes to PM Modi expressing concern over atrocities on Dalits (2)

New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi Monday wrote to PM Narendra Modi on the “distressing rise in the incidents of atrocities against Dalits” and accused his government of letting lapse an ordinance brought by the UPA government to “strengthen the implementation” of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Sonia wrote that even though the Standing Committee which examined the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, which replaced the ordinance, tabled its report in December, the “government did not bring it to the Parliament for passage in the Budget session.”She said that while it is important to ensure that a fair inquiry is conducted in such cases and the guilty are punished, it is equally important to strengthen the institutional machinery charged with the welfare of Dalits. (Indian Express 2/6/15)

3. Dalit families want to relocate (2)

MUMBAI: Facing a social boycott from upper castes and fearing possible violence, all 13 Dalit families of Ansurda village in Osmanabad in Maharashtra have written to District Collector Prashant Narnavre seeking rehabilitation near an urban area. Mr. Narnavre said the administration would ensure the safety of the Dalits and see to it that their constitutional rights were not violated. On April 28, the Dalits took out a procession to mark the birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar, where songs dedicated to the Dalit icon were played. “A few upper caste youths objected to it and demanded that we play songs on Shivaji Maharaj. We played those songs too,” Nishikant Humbe, one of the Dalits from the village, told The Hindu. The young men desecrated the image of Dr. Ambedkar and abused Dalit women, according to a police complaint filed by the families. The police arrested four youths, of which two were minors. “The fact that we filed a complaint enraged the upper castes and they called for a social boycott,” said Bibhishan Avadhute, another villager. Ansurda, with a population of over 1,500, has only 13 Dalit households — 11 of Buddhist Mahars and two of the Mang community. The Dalits were asked not to drink water from public taps and their cattle was barred from grazing in the village. Shopkeepers were asked not to sell groceries to them. Despite the continuous boycott for over 12 days, no case has been filed under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. “On the contrary, all the arrested four came out on bail,” Mr. Avadhute said. While the boycott was officially called off on the Collector’s intervention, the situation remains unchanged. “We are still denied groceries from shops. Members of the upper castes have put saffron flags everywhere to threaten us. The police deployed by the Collector do nothing but watch. We want to shift somewhere safer,” said Sushma Sonawane, another villager from Ansurda. The families are living in fear of a possible attack by the upper castes. (The Hindu 5/6/15)

4. Dalit groom becomes first to ride horse in Rajasthan village (2)

JAIPUR: Anil Raigner (22) has become the first dalit groom of his village — Pathredi — in Rajasthan to ride a horse for his wedding procession. The procession passed through upper caste settlements in the village with much pomp on Thursday while 125 policemen guarded it in presence of top police and district administration officers. Pathredi is home to about 50 dalit families and none among them has ever ridden a horse for wedding procession. The security arrangements were made in the backdrop of tensions reported from various parts of the state recently after upper castes prevented dalit grooms from riding horses. “We deputed nearly 20 policemen at the groom’s house prior to the wedding. When his nikasi (a ritual before the wedding) procession was taken out in the village on Thursday, there were nearly 125 policemen for security,” said a police officer. Raigner rode the horse from his house to the village temple where prayers were offered before he left for nearby Jahidpura village, where he tied the knot.”People from upper caste do not like it (dalits riding horses), so there was no point in creating unnecessary tension. But Raigner expressed his desire to ride a horse following which it was planned for the first time,” said Dayaram Raiger, a local resident. Some villagers from upper castes offered to be present at the wedding procession to ensure that nothing went wrong. But the administration did not want to take any chances and offered security.Preventing dalits from riding horses, entering temples and cremating bodies in crematoriums is common in Rajasthan. A petition filed before the Rajasthan high court on May 29 highlighted 20 cases in which dalit grooms were not allowed to ride horses in 2014 alone. (Times of India 5/6/15)

5. IIT-Madras Lifts Ban on Dalit Student Group (2)

CHENNAI: Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-M) today reinstated recognition of a student group, whose de-recogition had triggered a controversy, and appointed a professor as its faculty advisor, bringing an end to the more than a week-long standoff. The re-instatement of recognition to Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC) and appoinment of Professor Miland Brahme as Advisor came after a meeting between the Dean of Students and representatives of APSC held today, ending the confrontation that had left the campus in turmoil. “The Dean of Students reinstated the recognition of APSC as an independent student body, and after consultation with the APSC representatives, recommended Professor Milind Brahme as the Faculty Advisor,” an official release from IIT-M said. “Professor Brahme has consented to advise APSC as required in the guidelines for independent student bodies,” it said. IIT-M found itself at the centre of a controversy after it recently derecognised APSC, many of whose members are Dalits, following a complaint that it was critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Union HRD Minster Smriti Irani also came under fire from political parties including Congress and students’ bodies for the action against the APSC.  IIT-M had, however, maintained that “as per the guidelines in force, student bodies cannot use its name or its official entities in any capacity to publicise their activities or garner support without official permission.” With students staging protests demanding withdrawal of the action, IIT-M had last week convened a meeting of the Board of Students. Noting that the Board of Students met and discussed the issues raised by APSC regarding modifications and suggestions for ensuring uniform guidelines for independent student bodies, the release said, some of the suggestions will be taken up in “due course”. “Some of these will be implemented by the Office of Dean (Students), while the Student Affairs Council, Board of Students, and Senate will take up the modifications in due course for consideration as per established procedure,” it said. APSC and Dean of Students expressed satisfaction that the matter “has been closed”, the release said.  (New Indian Express 8/6/15)


6. HC asks govt to consider demand for separate tribal panchayat (6)

KOCHI: Kanikkaran, a scheduled tribe that is predominantly settled in Nedumangadu taluk in Thiruvananthapuram, has raised the demand before the high court that a separate panchayat should be established. In the petition filed by ‘Adivasi Kanikkar Samyuktha Sankhom’, it was pointed out that members of the tribe had been demanding establishment of a panchayat with headquarters at a place called Parandode, for long. Population of Kanikkaran tribe is 11,876, as per the 1991 census, and they are one of the 35 tribal groups in Kerala. Though scheduled tribes form 1.1% of the state’s population, at 3.64 lakh, there is only a single scheduled tribe panchayat in the state at present. Kanikkaran tribe is one of the six larger tribes in the state, after the most populous tribe Paniyan and second largest tribe Kurichian. Approaching the high court through advocate Latheesh Sebastian, P V Asokan and K Reghu, office bearers of the Sankhom, said the demand was raised before the director of panchayats in the form of a representation filed in May last year. During the hearing of the petition, Justice Dama Seshadri Naidu said records reveal that the principal secretary to local self-government department heard the petitioners on March 10 regarding non-inclusion of the proposed Parandode panchayat in the draft list of panchayats to be formed prior to the general election to local self-government institutions. Petitioners submitted that they feared that the authorities might not consider their claim for forming the panchayat before the proceedings for forming new panchayats was finalized. That was why they had approached the high court, the petitioners said. State government’s counsel told the court that government was not averse to considering the demand by the petitioners but it inevitably takes considerable time, the court was informed. Noting the government’s submission, the court ordered the government to consider the demand of the petitioners to form a new panchayat expeditiously, at any rate before the final list of new panchayats was prepared. (Times of India 1/6/15)

7. Tribal ‘sacrificed’ in Jharkhand for rain (6)

RANCHI/GUMLA: A 60-year-old tribal man, who went missing on May 28, was allegedly sacrificed in Jharkhand’s Gumla district for better rainfall and harvest. Police found Thepa Kharia’s headless body from his house at Kharvadih in the district’s Palkot block, 130km from Ranchi, on Sunday afternoon. They could not find the severed head, which villagers believe has been buried. Police ruled out role of Maoists or criminals in the murder after preliminary investigation. Kharia’s family suspects the man was killed by Orkas, a group of oculists in the district, who sacrifice humans and bury their heads in fields before sowing season “to please the rain God”.But FIR lodged by Jatru Kharia, nephew of Kharia, against unknown killers does not have any mention of Orkas, said police. “The villagers believe that Orkas have killed him. It is mysterious because Kharia did not have enemies and did not work for the police or Maoists. He was a landless farmer and chances of murder for property is also little,” said Palkot police station in-charge Ajay Kumar Thakur. “In case of human sacrifice, the body is offered to a deity and rituals are followed. Orkas, however, function differently. They sever the head and bury it in fields,” he added. Kharia lived alone as his son works in Goa. “He was last seen on Thursday evening. When villagers did not see him for two days, they went to his house and found his headless body,” Mayawati Devi, the mukhiya of Bilingbira panchyat, where the “human sacrifice” took place, said. “People in Gumla are very superstitious. The villagers are saying the Okras have killed him. He was an innocent man and no criminal or Maoist will kill him,” she added. Jharkhand has been reeling under extreme heat for the past two weeks with some parts of the state recording temperature as high as 47°C. Though weather predictions show sign of early monsoon, farmers in the state are sceptical after drought-like conditions in many districts, including Gumla, over the past two years. Terming human sacrifice as a “heinous crime”, former Gumla MLA Bairagi Oraon said the practice is age-old in the district. “Such incidents happened earlier too. It is believed that human sacrifice to rain God brings good rain and better harvest. It is done before the farmers start sowing paddy. But the tradition has almost vanished now.” Gumla SP Bheemsen Tuti said unless strong evidence was found to show involvement of Orkas, he would not comment. “The case is under investigation and so far no strong evidence has been found in connection with the murder,” Tuti said. Human sacrifice is common especially in backward districts like Khunti, Gumla and Lohardaga. In March 2012, a man was arrested in Lohardaga for “sacrificing” his wife. (Times of India 2/6/15)

8. Tribals flee home to escape torture (6)

BERHAMPUR: Tortured and harassed by Maoists, around 60 tribal families from the cut off area of Balimela reservoir in Odisha’s Malkangiri district, have left their homes. Members of these families approached the administration and Malkangiri Superintendent of Police (SP) on Wednesday seeking security and proper rehabilitation. These tribal families are from Andrapalli and Panasaput villages under Andrapalli panchayat of Chitrakonda block. Speaking to The Hindu , Malkangiri SP Mitrabhanu Mohapatra said the families had stated they had left their village and were staying with their relatives for the last one month. According to these villagers, they were being targeted by Maoists for the past few months. They alleged that for no reason Maoists had termed them police informers and their houses had been burnt or ransacked. Some of them were tortured by the Maoists. They complained that two villagers of their area had been murdered by Maoists in the recent past. But Malkangiri district police headquarter confirmed only one murder. The deceased was identified as Dasa Maandi of Jantri village of Andrapalli panchayat. In the meantime, the police have registered three cases in relation to terrorisation of tribal families by Maoists including one related to the murder of Maandi. The SP has taken up the matter with the administration so that some vocational training could be provided to these families under different government schemes to support their livelihood and rehabilitation. Mr Mohapatra said the exodus of these families was part of terror tactics of frustrated Maoists, who were losing base in the cut off area of Balimela reservoir due to increased area domination of security forces. The construction of Gurupriya bridge has also started which would provide proper road connectivity to 151 remote villages of this cut off area of Balimela reservoir. Frustrated by the dwindling support base, the Maoists have started using violence to terrorise innocent tribal families, said the SP. On the other hand, Maoists also came up with a statement that these families from the cut off area had not been terrorised by them, and alleged that the police had tactfully taken away these families from their villages. This was denied by the police. (The Hindu 4/6/15)

9. Tribals oppose mining in Odisha (6)

BHUBANESWAR: With the process having been initiated to allot Khandadhar iron ore reserve through the auction route, tribals residing in hilly terrains in Odisha’s Sundagarh district have announced that they will continue their resistance, which will be similar to their protest against the earlier proposal of handing over the reserve to South Korean steel behemoth, POSCO. Tribals here on Sunday demanded that Khandadhar should be declared as national natural heritage. Both the Union and the State government should give up the idea of carry out mining in the area, they warned. “We have been demanding a ban on mining in Khandadhar to save waterfalls and rich biodiversity as well as the habitat right of primitive tribal communities like Paudi Bhuyan under Forest Rights Acts 2006,” said Bilua Nayak, chieftain of Bhuyan community, addressing a press conference here on Sunday. Mr. Nayak said Khandadhar being the abode of their presiding deity, Kanta Devi, is sacred for them, and the Khandadhar hill is dotted with places of worships. More importantly, Khandadhar is a source of water for people in both Sundargarh and Keonjhar districts and it would be protected at any cost, he said. Similarly, Jhara Nayak, President of Khandadhar Surakhya Sangram Samiti said, “We had earlier announced not to give an inch from Khandadhar to POSCO. Now if fresh attempts are being made to dig out iron ore by destroying the ecology of Khandadhar, we are ready for a long-drawn fight.” Prafulla Samantra, prominent social activist and president of Lok Shakti Abhijan, said any mining in Khandadhar would jeopardise the livelihood of thousands of tribals in Sundargarh and Keonjhar district. Khandadhar is estimated to have 200 million tonne of iron ore reserve. The Odisha government had recommended mining lease in favour of POSCO, which proposed to set up a mega steel plant in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district. However, the Narendra Modi government, rejecting the State government’s appeal of allotment in favour of POSCO, asked Odisha to initiate the auction process. The tribals had already met Jual Oram, Union Minister of Tribal Affairs, who was opposed to any kind of mining in Khandadhar, and sought his intervention. (The Hindu 8/6/15)


10. Bring Acid Attack Survivors Under Disability Act: NCW (8)

NEW DELHI: The National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam today supported the proposal of bringing acid attack survivors under the Disability Act cover so as to provide them privileges in jobs and education. “We have recommended this to the Home Minister that acid attack survivors be brought within the ambit of the Persons with Disability Act so that they can get government jobs etc and he has agreed to look into it. “He was quite welcoming of the idea and said that he would look into it as to how this can be implemented,” said Kumaramangalam at the launch of the campaign ‘War Against Acid Violence’ and a Trauma Informed Care Kit (TICK) supported by the Acid Survivors Foundation of India (ASFI). She also vouched for the need to train the victims and rehabilitate them to make them self-dependent. “The acid attack survivors lack social support and people are not empathetic towards them. There is need to train them and rehabilitate them so that they can stand on their on own feet. Government and the private players need to step in to help them lead a normal life. “The acid attack survivors merely don’t need sympathy. They need to have some sort of life where they can live with dignity and self-esteem. And this is what the society as a whole does not accord them,” she said. Kumaramangalam also stressed on the need to introduce stringent laws to stop acid attacks and implementation of existing laws to combat the heinous crime. “We need to bring newer and tougher laws. In India we have quite many laws but they are not implemented properly. You see even though fast track courts have been set up for rape victims, the judgement is delayed,” she said. “There is immediate need to curtail the free sale of acids in the retail shops. Acid is freely available in our country. We need to look into the availability of acids and the manufacturers of acid. They don’t bother about where these bottles end up,” she said. The newly launched TICK claims to be the first of its kind and introduces the first holistic methodology for tackling the trauma consequent to acid attacks. A presentation by ASFI depicted various aspects of acid attacks pointing to the alarming rate at which the acid attacks have increased in the last one year. (New Indian Express 2/6/15)

11. Two Delhi women gang-raped by five men in Goa (8)

Panaji: Two Delhi-based women were allegedly gang raped and assaulted by five men, who posed as officers of the anti-narcotic cell of police, at a flat in Anjuna beach village in North Goa, police said on Wednesday. The women, aged 22 and 30, were holidaying in Goa and had hired a taxi to go to Anjuna beach when the accused stopped them midway in Arpora village posing as anti-narcotic cell officers. “The accused posed as policemen and waylaid a taxi in which the two women were travelling to Anjuna on Monday night,” Superintendent of Police Umesh Gaonkar told PTI today. They frisked the women’s bags and then took them to the flat where they allegedly raped and beat them. All the five accused were arrested today from the flat, in the presence of victims, after the taxi driver complained to the police. They were attached to a controversial nightclub at Calangute village which was recently demolished by local people for allegedly being a prostitution den. The accused were identified as Travor Joseph, Jeevan Pawar, Kamlesh Chowdhary, Ajay Kumar Khushwa and Nadim Sayyed. (Zee News 4/6/15)

12. Why Muslim women are at receiving end of bad marriages (8)

ALIGARH: With a Mumbai family court restraining a Muslim man from marrying a second time till he settled the rights and dues of his wife, the spotlight is on the Islamic law of ‘Khula’, which is a Muslim woman’s right to initiate divorce. Although the law was drafted to enable Muslim women to break free from an unhappy marriage, many women say they are unable to do so because the law is poorly enforced. Also, most men not only ask for the mahr money in order to grant the khula but also demand an unreasonable share in the woman’s dowry as well as her own property. Since the sharia courts do not have enforcement powers, women say that men don’t respond to notices sent by them. As a result, women who want to utilize the khula option end up going to the family court to seek a divorce. Farhana (name changed), a 27-year-old seeking khula for her 45-year-old mother, is one such woman caught in the dilemma of whether to opt for khula to get her mother out of an abusive marriage, or to approach the family court instead. “My father stopped living with my mother since a long time, and has also not been giving her maintenance money. Since my mother has the option of initiating khula, I want to consider the pros and cons of doing so. My only worry is that my mother should not be deprived of her money and I of her property. I will go to the court if things don’t turn out in our favor financially.” She is not the only one facing such a dilemma. Kausar Sakina is scouting for lawyers to fight her divorce case in the family court. She went to the sharia court first, but her husband turned hostile and threatened the qazi. The qazis say that if the man doesn’t respond, they can still grant divorce to the woman but she ends up not getting her money. “If in three months, husbands don’t respond to our notice, we annul the marriage. But we can’t make the man give back the woman’s dowry or her money,” said Qazi Shariate Amir Samdani. In Aligarh’s darul qaza, or Islamic court, 300 cases of khula were handled in the past few years of which in 200 cases, the women ended up without any money. Shaista Amber, who is the president of All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board, says that the problem lies in the male-dominated sharia courts. “I have dealt with 150 khula cases in the past three years. There is a problem in the way darul qaza handles women’s demand for khula – it is tilted too much in favor of men. I don’t agree that a woman should give away her mahr to get khula especially when in 89% cases that I have studied, women don’t even get their rightful mahr at the time of the marriage.” (Times of India 6/6/15)

13. Policies that bring about a healing touch to the people of Kashmir — Syeda Hameed (8)

NEW DELHI — Syeda Hameed, former member of the Planning Commission, extended her support for the repeal of the draconian AFSPA and called for policies that bring about a healing touch to the people of Kashmir. She was speaking at a symposium titled “Waiting Women of Kashmir”  after the presentation of the  research report titled, “Vulnerabilities of Half-Widows of Jammu and Kashmir: Role of the Judiciary, State, Civil Society and Community” held at Indian Social Institute, New Delhi.During the last three decades, Kashmir has witnessed immense human suffering on account of militancy and militarization.  Since the beginning of the insurgency, thousands of Kashmiris have gone missing. Among the disappeared men, there were many who were married, leaving behind wives now known as ‘half-widows’.  These ‘half-widows’, estimated to be over 1,500, are struggling to cope and adjust themselves to their new identity derived from the conflict in the region. Many of these vulnerable women are left to rebuild their lives and to face the struggle of everyday existence in the absence of male members in the family. The issue of ‘half-widows’ is symptomatic of how women in conflict zones are the most vulnerable object, of both, the patriarchal and traditional society and a militarized state.  The study conducted by Dr. Paul D’Souza, in collaboration with AMAN Trust, is based on responses from 150 households of half widows geographically spread across nearly 140 villages and towns in Poonch district of Jammu region and eight districts of the Kashmir valley, namely Baramulla, Pulwama, Srinagar, Shupiyan, Kupwara, Baandipora, Budgam and Ganderbal. It investigates the multiple vulnerabilities experienced by half-widows and how they been impacted, through the framework of “multidimensional vulnerabilities”. The framework explores mainly five Dimensions of Vulnerability, i.e. Gender, Social, Economic, Cultural and Health, and the degree of vulnerability in each case. The study also examines various supports for women caught in conflict from social networks, state actors and non-state actors during different situations in their state of vulnerability and presents recommendations for various stakeholders like the judiciary, state, civil society, and community for positive interventions in mitigating the vulnerabilities of half-widows.The findings of the study reveal that “half widows” experience moderate to high vulnerability in all the dimensions covered. Interestingly, they experienced high vulnerability on account of their gender (71%) and their economic condition (67%), while they experienced moderate vulnerability in their social milieu (83%), cultural practices (77%) and health related issues (55%). The plight of “half widows” is best captured in the words of a young mother: “I don’t know how to make him ( 6 year old son) understand the reality (of the disappearance of his father) because I told him that he has gone out of Kashmir for work. I don’t want him to experience the trauma I am experiencing.” Half widows are mainly among the economically poor and households at the bottom rung of society in rural areas even as their economic condition worsen day by day.  In a patriarchal society, they are not considered the head of the household, restricting their right to property or ownership and limiting their choices to those decided by others. Being neither a widow, nor a married one, they experience a life of ambiguity and a long period in the state of liminality. Almost all the half-widows depend on medication as multiple vulnerabilities have impacted their physical and psychological health. Over the years, the support and assistance to half-widows to adequately respond to or cope with the situation of vulnerabilities have not been forthcoming. Therefore, the study recommends sustained programmes from state institutions and civil society organizations that address the socio-economic and psychological issues faced by ‘half-widows’ of Jammu & Kashmir. Responding to the findings of the study, Ms. Sahba Hussain, a social activist, highlighted the need to focus on the political context of Kashmir that has produced half-widows. She also urged the gathering to go beyond the suffering of half widows and also bring out the strong voices of women crying for justice and engaging in the struggle and resistance to forces of violence. Ms. Urvashi Butalia, a feminist author and founder of Zubaan Books, admitted that the suffering of women in the conflict ridden Kashmir was initially ignored, but expressed happiness that in recent times there are a lot of writings emerging from Kashmir and of late the voices of Kashmiri women are also being published is various literary forms. (New Observer Post 6/6/15)

14. Haryana to honour activists for saving, educating girls (8)

Rohtak: Haryana will honour activists and organisations playing a significant role in implementation of the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ campaign, an official said here on Sunday. ‘Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao’ scheme, which seeks to address gender imbalance and discrimination against the girl child, was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Panipat in January. One hundred districts have been identified at the national-level with imbalanced gender ratio. These included 12 districts of Haryana, Yogender Singh Malik, the chief minister’s adviser on implementation of the save girl child campaign, told reporters here. He said the state was setting up ‘balika manch’, or girl platforms in schools to spread public awareness. Malik said this campaign had an action plan under which merely putting a check on female foeticide was not be enough but it would ensure overall physical and mental development of the girls. He said the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ campaign included putting a check on falling sex ratio, treating anaemia affected girls, providing better education to them and ensuring that the girls do not drop out. He said for an effective implementation of campaign, the Haryana government would honour activists and organisations at school and district-level. (Business Standard 7/6/15)


15. 785 Held Last Year for Child Labour: RTI Reply (14)

NEW DELHI: As many as 785 were convicted last year under the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act 1986 for the employment of children below the age of 14 years, reveals an RTI reply. The Ministry of Labour & Employment, which collected the data from states regarding the violation and conviction said that 1098 violations came to notice and 1054 prosecutions were launched against the violators. “Any person who employs a child in any occupation or process where employment of children is prohibited under the Child Labour Act, is liable for punishment with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three months, but which may extend to a year, a fine which shall not be less than `10, 000 but which may extend to `20,000 or with both,” the Ministry said in its RTI response. The Ministry also said that 5167 Special Training Centres under National Child Labour Project (NCLP) districts were operational till December 2014. The Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act prohibits employment of a child in 18 occupations and 65 processes and regulates the conditions of working of children in other occupations. Recently on May 13, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave its approval for moving official amendments to the Amendment Bill, 2012 allowing children below age 14 to work in non-hazardous family enterprises after school hours or during vacations. The Act also allows for employing children as artists in the entertainment industry, including advertisement, films, television serials or any such other entertainment or sports activities except the circus. (New Indian Express 1/6/15)

16. ‘Child sex abuse cases on the rise in Tamil Nadu’ (14)

MADURAI: A 14-year-old dalit girl from a village near Kodaikanal in Dindigul district was abused by two non-dalit men on May 7, and she is one among the increasing number of child sex abuse victims in the state, Evidence the NGO said. The Class 9 student from Alapatti village in Kodaikanal had gone out of her house on May 7 at about 8.30pm to go to the toilet. Two men, Siva alias Sokkanathan, 26, and Suresh, 37, who had gone there allegedly abducted her in a car and took her into a forest in the region and raped her. They dropped her near her house on the morning of May 8. A case was registered by the Kodaikanal all-women police station on May 9. The two men were arrested under Section 3(2)(5) of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989. According to Evidence, 677 sexual abuse cases were registered in the year 2011, which went up to 1,124 in 2014. This shows a 60% rise in the number of sexual abuse cases in Tamil Nadu in the last three years. In 60% of these cases, children are the victims, the NGO said. Also, the accused in these crimes are never subjected to any medical examination. It is mostly the victims who are subjected to a namesake examination. Children who are victims of sexual abuse become psychologically disturbed and they are never given proper counseling or medical treatment. Hence, the Tamil Nadu government should ensure that this victim is adequately compensated with proper counseling. The government should also bear the expense of her education, apart from giving the family a compensation of Rs ten lakh, the NGO said. (Times of India 5/6/15)

17. 48 pc Rise in Child Abuse Cases in TS and AP, Says Child Rights Panel (14)

HYDERABAD: Child abuse cases in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are on alarming rise with 48 percent increase every year. At the same time, the crime rate by juveniles has also went up in the recent years, according to the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights for AP and TS. Despite these facts, this constitutional body hardly receives any complaints from victims or their parents. The commission found that more than 1,000 cases of both sexual, physical assault against children and other violations of child rights from both the states every month. But majority of them are going unnoticed. Blame it on lack of awareness or the absence of strict Acts, more than 90 percent of such cases are not being reported either to the commission or to the police. Currently there are around 100 child abuse complaints pending with the commission, out of which more than half of them are taken as suo moto cases. Sexual violence cases against minors in both AP and Telangana are one of the highest in the country, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). But only three such cases are reported to the commission every month. Achyuta Rao, a member of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, AP and TS, said several of these cases are being settled by the police. To bring them into the light, the commission started taking suo moto cases based on news reports, he said. The commission has also expressed concern over rapidly increasing number of child labourers in Hyderabad. Recent rescue operations by the city police may have freed more than 500 children from factories, but there are thousands of children still stuck in domestic labour. A recent study by the commission discovered that even after the raids, highest number of child labourers are still working as house maids in apartments, especially in gated communities. Rao said often the commission’s attempts to rescue child labourers from apartments and gated communities face hurdles from politicians and influential businessmen who support the child labour mafia. (New Indian Express 8/6/15)


18. Funds meant for minorities’ welfare looted since independence: Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi (7)

NEW DELHI: In a veiled attack on Congress, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi today alleged that since Independence funds meant for welfare of minorities were not well spent and “looted” by middlemen and “power brokers”.”Much has happened in the past six decades but it can be clearly seen that justice has not been done with regard to socio-economic and educational empowerment of minorities. There can be vote-bank politics behind it or other things, I don’t want to delve into it,” Naqvi claimed. The Union minister of state for minority affairs was speaking at the inauguration of Central Waqf Bhawan, where cabinet minister for minority affairs Najma Heptulla was also present. He said judging from the “amount spent since Independence” in the name of education, development and empowerment of minorities, there “should not have been a single person” belonging to these sections, below the poverty line. “The money was not spent well and middlemen and power brokers continued to loot that money. We need to control such elements and this government has done that,” Naqvi alleged. He said it was a “priority” of the Modi government to ensure that every penny is well spent for the benefit of the people. Naqvi also claimed that he had travelled to across states but the impact of money spent by states “cannot be seen” on the ground. In a statement released by his office, Naqvi also said that “political secularists” should desist themselves from creating an atmosphere of fear among the minorities and misguiding them for furthering their political interests. “There was a competition among the so-called secularists to exploit these communities politically. Due to such approach, development of minorities especially Muslims has remained on papers only,” he said. Minority communities especially Muslims, should assess the central government on the basis of its work and not from the eyes of those people who are responsible for political exploitation of the Muslim community, he claimed. The minister also said there was a need for a war-like campaign to free waqf properties from the clutches of “waqf mafias”. (Times of India 1/6/15)

19. Centre Seeks Info on Minority Recruitment (7)

NEW DELHI: The BJP-NDA Government has started a headcount of the people hailing from the minority communities recruited for government jobs during the past one year to review Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new 15-point programme for the welfare of minorities. The government also wants to know the reason, if any, for the decline in the number of recruitments from the minority communities compared to the previous years. The Department of Personnel and Training(DoPT) in its latest order has asked all the Central departments to send details of people belonging to the minority communities employed between April 2014- March 2015. There are about 48 lakh Central government employees working in various departments. “The reasons for decline in the percentage of recruitment of minority community candidates as compared to previous year’s data may also be intimated,” an order issued by the DoPT to all the Central  ministries on May 26, said. The data on recruitment of minorities was sought from the ministries concerned. In addition to the five communities already notified as minority communities — Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) — it may be ensured that data relating to Jain community candidates are also taken into account in the annual consolidated data, the DoPT said. The persons appointed on transfer or deputation may not included in the report. (New Indian Express 3/6/15)

20. US panel views on minorities reflect lack of understanding about India: Govt (7)

New Delhi: India on Thursday dismissed allegations made during a US Congressional Commission briefing that “violence” against minorities was taking place after the advent of the Modi government, saying it was based on lack of understanding of India, its Constitution and society. “We have seen media reports about a briefing by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Committee (TLHRC) on ‘Violence against Religious Minorities in India’. We regard such efforts as based on lack of understanding of India, its Constitution and society,” Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry Vikas Swarup said. “It is well known that the Constitution of India guarantees equal religious, social and political rights to all its citizens, including minorities,” the Spokesperson said. The reaction came after an American lawmaker and a panel of four experts had on Wednesday decried alleged “violence” against religious minorities in India and appealed to the US administration to include human rights violations as an issue for discussion in its talks with the new Indian government. “Ever since the BJP has come at the helm of affairs, with Narendra Modi as Prime Minister, Hindutva forces are becoming more and more vocal with assertive notion of their strength,” alleged Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon, a retired professor of history from Punjab University. He was speaking at the briefing on ‘violence against Muslims, Christians and other religious minorities in India’. (Business Standard 4/6/15)

21. Bangladesh minority leaders “happy” about PM Modi’s visit to institutions (7)

Dhaka: More than 30 members of the minority community in Bangladesh will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday. Mr. Modi will spend about half an hour in the city’s iconic Dhakeswari Kali temple and exchange pleasantries with the community’s representatives. However, the members are excited, as for the first time an Indian Prime Minister is visiting the temple. At least three Dhaka based organisation of the minorities – Bangladesh Puja Udjapon (management) Council, Mahanagar Sorbojonin (for all) Puja Committee and the Hindu-Bauddha-Christian Unity Council – will send their envoys to meet the Prime Minister. While the first two committees are socio-religious in nature, the Council is a socio-political organisation. Initially, the committee members were unsure about the visit but later they were communicated that a delegation of various minority councils will have an opportunity to meet the Indian Prime Minister. A couple of MPs will also be part of the delegation. “However, this time we will not hand over any memorandum to the Prime Minister,” said Rana Dasgupta, the general secretary of Hindu-Bauddha-Christian Unity Council. The united front of the Dhaka’s minorities gave a memorandum to the Indian Foreign Minister during her visit. “But we are happy that an Indian Prime Minister is coming to the temple,” he said. In a country where the space for the minorities is increasingly shrinking, Mr. Modi’s visit to two institutions run by minorities was interpreted as an action in solidarity with the Hindu, Buddhist and Christian community. “Perhaps it was important for Mr.Modi to make a statement. A statement to ensure that the minorities and even a section of the majority community who believe in extending space to every community is shrinking in Bangladesh. By deciding to visit the minority institutions, for the first time, an Indian Prime Minister has just made the statement,” a noted writer of Bangladesh has told The Hindu on condition of anonymity. Mr. Modi will visit the Ramkrishnn Mission (RKM) and spend 20 minutes with the monks, many of whom know him for nearly half a century since he first interacted with the order. The President of RKM’s internal committee Gaurgopal Saha told The Hindu that the Prime Minister will participate in a special prayer for about 10 minutes, during his short stay. “From 13 centers of RKM across Bangladesh the followers of the order are invited and will be in the Mission. We are expecting more than 400 followers. Many are coming from the main branch in Belur Math in West Bengal,” Mr. Saha said. The Prime Minister will call on President of Bangladesh Mohammad Abdul Hamid. He will receive the Liberation War Honour to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee before returning to India. The Prime Minister is also expected to meet the chairperson of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Begum Khaleda Zia and official leader of the opposition. He may also meet a couple of members of a few relatively small political parties. (The Hindu 7/6/15)


22. Adani hires MBA grad who was denied job for being a Muslim (7)

AHMEDABAD: All’s well that ends well. Zeeshan Khan, who made national headlines after he was denied a job by a Mumbai-based diamond firm because of being a Muslim, has decided to join the Ahmedabad-based Adani group. “I received about a dozen offers following the religious discrimination I had to face. My mail box is flooded with solidarity messages,” says Khan, 22, who was in Ahmedabad to complete formalities at Adani’s corporate office. “Among all the offers I got, this was the best,” says Khan, who will join the group’s Mumbai office as an executive trainee. When asked why he chose to join Adani, he said it was one of the biggest integrated infrastructure companies in the country. “We encourage talent irrespective of caste, creed and religion. We found Zeeshan a competent candidate and hence a job was offered,” said an Adani spokesperson. In the third week of May, Khan had sent a email application to Hari Krishna Exports Pvt Ltd for a marketing job. Within 15 minutes, he received the reply: “We regret to inform you that we hire only non-Muslim candidates.” Khan and his friends put out a screenshot of the mail on social media and it went viral.Khan, who did his MBA in Mumbai, approached the Mumbai police and a case was registered against the company under section 153B of the IPC, which deals with national integration and provides for a jail term of up to three years for the guilty. Earlier this week, Khan received a call from the HR department of Adani group. “I cleared the interview and was offered this job,” he said. (Times of India 1/6/15)

23. Restore reservation for Muslims: NCP (7)

Mumbai: Taking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to task on his recent statement about the Muslim community, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has demanded restoration of reservations to the community in Maharashtra, which had been scrapped by the state government. The party has also demanded free education for underprivileged sections of the community and its representation in the government in all BJP-ruled states. Mr Modi on Tuesday appealed to Muslim leaders to judge him on the basis of his actions and performance, not by what his opponents have been saying about him, after meeting with a 30-member delegation of Muslim clergy and professionals. “I give you my word, I will respond if you knock on my door at midnight,” said Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, chief imam of the All India Imam Organisation, on behalf of Mr Modi, after the meet. Responding to his remarks, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik on Thursday said that if the PM is seriously thinking about the welfare of the community, he should start taking action rather than depending on statements. “The Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government in Maharashtra has scrapped reservation for Muslims in government jobs and educational institutions that was provided by the Congress-NCP government. We demand restoration of the facility immediately,” Mr Malik said. “Similarly, the betterment of the community can be made possible by involving it in the decision-making process. Thus, Mr Modi should start giving representation to the community in the government in all BJP-ruled states, or the Prime Minister’s statements can be seen as a mere damage-control exercise,” added NCP leader. NCP has made serious allegations about the Shiv Sena over on its alleged changed stand on the Jaitapur nuclear power project. Party spokesperson Nawab Malik said that Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray was in London on the day that senior Sena leader and environment minister Ramdas Kadam said they were not against Jaitapur nuclear power project. “Mr Kadam has recently said that Shiv Sena is not opposing the project but the locals are. This has created doubt among people as the Sena president was in London on the same day.” (Asian Age 5/6/15)

24. Suryanamaskar against Islam: Muslim law board (7)

Lucknow: “Surya namaskar should not be made mandatory in government schools,” because Muslims bowed only before ‘Allah.’ The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) will launch a nationwide campaign against making ‘surya namaskar’ and yoga compulsory in schools. The board’s executive council took the decision when the Modi government’s plan to observe International Yoga Day on June 21 and related issues came up for discussion at its meeting on Sunday.At the executive council meeting of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board here on Sunday, many members spoke up for a proactive role by the board on issues concerning the community. Executive council member Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali told The Hindu that the board decided to constitute a committee, headed by Maulana Wali Rahmani for the purpose. “The board’s view on ‘surya namaskar’ and ‘yoga’ would be put forth by the committee along with the explanation why they go against the beliefs of the Muslims, and why they should not be imposed on their children,” the Maulana said. Another board member Kamaal Farooqui said that it was against Islam to salute the sun. “Surya namaskar should not be made mandatory in government schools,” because Muslims bowed only before ‘Allah.’ “The board has the option to move the court and to launch a movement against the proposal,” he said. The meeting of the 51-member working committee, held at Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulema here, deliberated on several other issues, including the decision to install a Majlis-i-Amal (a committee to implement the board’s resolutions, its aims and objectives). Taking the support of other organisations, not necessarily those of Muslims, and people belonging to other faiths on issues related to the community was also brought up by some executive council members. Sunday’s meeting which ratified the decisions taken at the board’s annual convention held in Jaipur in December 2014 decided to name Maulana Rahmani as the acting general secretary and constitute a team of spokespersons for presenting the board’s views. Maulana Syed Nizamuddin will continue as general secretary. This was disclosed to journalists by board spokesman Maulana Abdul Rehman Qureshi, though there was no official briefing. In fact, it was Maulana Rahmani who made a forceful plea for setting up a panel of spokespersons for giving instant reactions because by the time the official response (from the board’s spokesman) came, it was too late. The decision to name spokespersons was taken after it was felt that there should be more interaction with the media. The issue was raised at the meeting by Qasim Rasool Ilyas, who said the media played a pivotal role and hence should be kept informed of the board’s activities. (The Hindu 8/6/15)


25. Peace rally on June 6 (7)

Imphal, June 01 2015 : A peace rally is going to take place on June 6 says Rev.K Premjit general secretary of Rally Committee, Meitei Christian. In a press meet held at the Press Club, Majorkhul on Monday Premjit informed that the rally will start from Presbyterian house, War Cemetery Road and go through Minuthong, Soibam Leikai, Palace compound and converge at Iboyaima Shumang Lila Shanglen. Premjit also informed that a meeting will also be held there. The rally is a peace walk to bring about communal harmony in the State, said the committee. The press meet also recalled the burning down of Meitei Christian church at Patsoi on May 13, 2015 during a mob protest and subsequent attack on some other churches. The committee also appeals not to target Meitei Christian. (Manipur E-pao 2/6/15)

26. Christian school ransacked in West Bengal, police blame burglars (7)

KOLKATA: In yet another attack on a christian missionary school at Madhyamgram in North 24 Parganas early on Wednesday, four class rooms were ransacked and official and educational equipments were also damaged. The almirah in an office room was also broke open and several articles in the almirah were also found scattered on the floor. Police are looking for the culprits. But no one has been arrested in this connection yet. The ransacking on Believers Charch missionary school at Abdalpur adjacent to the Badu Road towards Barasat’s Kharibari in Madhyamgram, barely 4 km from Kolkata Airport triggered a tension in the area. Panic gripped the bishop, fathers and nuns and the other teachers in the school and they also appealed to the police for a strong security arrangements for the school. Juria Bardhan, the bishop of the school lodged a complaint on Wednesday morning with Madhyamgram police station in this connection. The school was also remained closed on Wednesday. “We are really in panic following the attack for the first time in our under Charch school. We could be attacked any time. But We can’t understand why the ransacking was carried out and by whom. We have no problem with anybody in the locality. Most of the students come from local area. I have urged police to take a legal action in this connection and to provide adequate security for the school,” the bishop said. The regional co-ordinator of the school, Rabin Dutta said, “Several Christian missionary schools across the country already came under attack. The horror of recent past brutal attack on a Ranaghat convent and subsequent horrible torture on an elderly nun is yet to die down. We got frightened with the Wednesday’s attack.” He also said that the attackers damaged the books, study papers, several study equipments, food materials for the students and also musical instruments used by the students. The school is run under believers Charch here for over a decade. There are 130 students in the school and those students are studied at free cost. The lunch and tiffin are also provided to the students mostly come from under privileged families. The guardians of the students also launched an agitation to protest against the attack on an educational institution under the Charch. They have also demanded immediate arrest of the culprits. Police said the attack took place around 2.30 am and the goons sneaked into the building through an open window of a bathroom. “Initially we suspect that petty burglars could strike in search of valuables. We are however investigating the mater and a raid is on to nab culprits”, said Bhaskar Mukherjee,ASP, North 24 Parganas. (Times of India 4/6/15)

27. Christians protest against discrimination (7)

Imphal, June 06 2015 : Thousands of Christians in the valley protested on Saturday against discrimination on the Meitei Christians by the Majority groups and burning down of church by the some unknown persons. The protest rally was organized by Peace Rally Committee which was formed by Meitei Christian leaders under the theme “peace walk prayer” . The rally was started from Presbyterian House opposite DM College at around 10 am by passing through Minuthong road, Palace Compound later ended at Sumangleela Shanglen. Over five thousands Christians participated in the rally. Many slogans like “Please Stop burning Church” God Founded Church, lets us honour God” “Save the Church to see life and Future” “Church has the solution” Church can build up” “Manipur is a land of peace and prosperity”, etc. Later a public meeting was held at Sumang Leela Shanglen in the presence of MLA P Brojen Wangjing Tentha A/C.Representatives from various civil society leaders, students leaders and church leaders attended the Public meeting. The meeting also discussed the problems faced by the Meitei Christians in the valley mostly in the form of burning down church buildings, obstruction to construction works of Churches, pastors quarters, houses and threatening Meitei Christians, stoning during worship services and houses, etc. (Manipur E-Pao 7/6/15)


28. ‘Migrant boat still being held off Myanmar coast’ (13)

More than 700 migrants found packed aboard an overcrowded boat in the Andaman Sea were still being held offshore by Myanmar’s navy on Monday, more than three days after the converted fishing vessel was intercepted off the country’s coast. “The government is checking their identity, asking what they want to do and where they want to go,” government spokesman Ye Htut said, without providing further details of the boat’s location. “Usually, most of them want to go back to Bangladesh, so we will arrange according to their wishes.” Government officials have been tight-lipped about the identities of 727 migrants on the overcrowded fishing boat, found drifting and taking on water early Friday, as well as their eventual destination. The government initially labeled the migrants “Bengalis”, a term used to refer to both Bangladeshis and Rohingya Muslims, a largely stateless minority in Myanmar that the government refuses to refer to by name. Officials later said they believed most of those on board were from Bangladesh. A senior US official said Monday that resettlement in a third country is not the answer to the swelling tide of boat people in Southeast Asia and called for Myanmar to give citizenship to Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution there. Anne Richard, US assistant secretary of state for population, migration and refugees, said resettling all Rohingya refugees in the United States would entice others to leave their homeland. “The answer to the issue is peace and stability and citizenship for the Rohingyas in Rakhine state, and that is the solution.” she said. (Asian Age 2/6/15)

29. Families of IDPs to receive resettlement allowance (13)

COLOMBO: As many as 2,175 internally displaced Tamil families in Jaffna and Trincomalee districts are set to receive a financial assistance of Rs. 38,000 per family for resettlement with the Cabinet of the Sri Lankan government sanctioning Rs. 16 crore Lankan. Two hundred and four families in Sampur, Trincomalee district of the Eastern Province, and 1,971 families in Jaffna of the Northern Province will get the assistance initially. Of the amount of assistance, Rs. 25,000 is set apart for resettlement allowance and the remaining Rs. 13,000 for purposes such as clearing land and purchase of tools. The payment will be made on verification of claims by district-level officials, says an official in the Ministry of Resettlement, Reconstruction and Hindu Religious Affairs. Resettlement Minister D.M. Swaminathan, when asked for a reaction said he would not like to comment now. (The Hindu 2/6/15)

30. Migrants trapped in tussle between Myanmar and Bangladesh (13)

Maungdaw: Unwanted by Bangladesh and unwelcome in Myanmar, hundreds of stick-thin migrants found adrift at sea as a transnational trafficking route collapsed are now living in tents on a frontier scrubland. After weeks crammed together on a boat bound for Malaysia — a treacherous journey many braved to flee persecution or poverty — they are back near to where they began. Since Southeast Asia`s migrant crisis erupted more than a month ago, 4,500 Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants have been washed ashore, and the UN estimates that around 2,000 others are still trapped at sea. Myanmar found the boat of 733 Rohingya Muslims and Bangladeshis — the majority men but also including women and children — abandoned by people-smugglers late last month, and eventually allowed them to disembark in its western Rakhine state Wednesday. The would-be migrants were then driven to camps in a remote region near the Myanmar-Bangladesh border, where an earlier boatload of 200 men was already being held, to wait in limbo as authorities wrangle over which country they belong to. Neither nation has shown a willingness to accept them and rights groups are concerned some could be pushed to the wrong side of the border.Arriving at one of the camps, the men bathed for the first time in days and received urgent medical treatment, some attached to IV drips, as Myanmar immigration officials noted down names, ages and addresses of migrants now at the heart of a diplomatic tussle with Bangladesh. “I want to go back to Bangladesh. I`m praying to God to be able to go back home quickly,” said 20-year-old Shophikuu from Chittagong in Bangladesh, who like many others boarded the boat in the hope of earning a better living in Malaysia. Nishok, 24, is also desperate to get back to his family, saying he was forced to leave at gunpoint. “A broker asked me whether I would like to go to Malaysia. When I refused to go, he pointed his gun at me and took me to the boat,” he told AFP of the moment he was cornered by traffickers in Cox`s Bazar, an impoverished coastal region in Bangladesh where around 300,000 Rohingya refugees eke out a life alongside poor Bangladeshis…..  (Zee News 6/6/15)

31. Deportation of illegal migrants remains a farce (13)

GUWAHATI, June 7 –The process of detection and deportation remains a farce even after the scrapping of the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act by the Supreme Court, as the Government of Bangladesh often refuses to accept those sought to be deported as its own citizens, while, taking advantage of the loopholes in the system, the suspects manage to escape when their cases are tried by the tribunals set up under the provisions of the Foreigner’s Act. This trend is the reason for the growing demand for signing of a repatriation treaty with Bangladesh. Moreover, the new system of deportation of foreigners, introduced by the Government of India in 2013, slowed down the process of deportation even further and only 35 foreigners could be deported from Assam in the last two years. Following objections from Bangladesh, the Government of India introduced a new system of deportation of foreigners in 2013, which is a lengthy process and prevents forcible push back of foreigners. Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that as per the new system, whenever a person is declared as illegal migrant by a Tribunal, the Border Police informs the State Government with details of the person along with photograph. The State Government refers the matter to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and then the details are sent to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). The MEA, in turn, take up the issue with the Bangladesh High Commission. The Government of Bangladesh verifies the address given by the person declared as foreigner by the Tribunal and if that is found to be true, only then the person can be deported formally. After getting the clarification, the person is handed over to the Border Security Force, which arranges a flag meeting with the Border Guards Bangladesh to hand over the person formally. It turned out to be a very lengthy process and often, the Government of Bangladesh refuses to accept the person sought to de deported as its citizen. Sources revealed that the persons declared as foreigners by the Tribunals are kept in three detention centres. At present, 113 are kept in the detention centre in Goalpara, 49 in Kokrajhar and 45 are in Silchar. Interestingly, 28 persons kept in the detention camps are citizens of Myanmar. However, taking advantage of the loopholes in the system, majority of the suspected foreigners manage to escape when the trial is going on in the Tribunals. Sources admitted that there is no system of keeping the suspects under surveillance and taking advantage of it, the suspects manage to escape from one place to the other, making it impossible for the police to locate them. According to records available, during the period from 1986 to March this year, 6,16,213 inquiries were initiated by the Border Police and 6,09,377 of those have been completed. Altogether 1,19,641 cases were referred to the Tribunals and 49,314 persons have been declared as illegal migrants. However, only 900 of those could be deported and majority of those declared as foreigners are missing. During the same period, 27,251 fresh and re-infiltrators were pushed back. Sources said that 2,31,657 cases of Doubtful voters were referred to the Tribunals and 1,27,955 cases are pending before the Tribunals. (The Assam Tribune 8/6/15)

32. Sri Lankan refugee seeks compensation for daughter’s death (13)

MADURAI: An inmate of a refugee camp for Sri Lankan Tamils at Tiruvadavur near here has approached the Madras High Court Bench here seeking a direction to the State to pay his family a compensation of Rs.10 lakh for the death of his 11-year-old daughter when the asbestos sheets laid on the roof of their dilapidated house in the camp caved in on May 12 last year. When the matter came up for admission before Justice R. Mahadevan on Monday, he directed a government counsel to take notice on behalf of the Health and Family Welfare Secretary, Commissioner of Refugee Rehabilitation and the Collector. The writ petition had been filed by S. Athipathi who claimed to be residing in the refugee camp for more than 12 years. The petitioner, father of four children including the girl who died, said that the State Government had established the refugee camp in Tiruvadavur in 2002 by building about 400 houses measuring around 100 square feet each. The camp was filled up by shifting the inmates of another camp at Avaniapuram near here and his family was part of the migration. The occupants of Tiruvadavur camp faced several problems such as poor quality construction of their houses and absence of safe drinking water. Though several representations were made to the officials concerned to improve the infrastructural facilities, their pleas went unheeded, the petitioner said and claimed that the State was liable to pay adequate compensation for his daughter’s death. (The Hindu 9/6/15)


33. NGOs told to disclose info under RTI Act (1)

BHOPAL: State information commission has passed an order directing all substantially financed NGOs of the state to make proactive disclosure of information under section 4 of RTI Act. This will require NGOs to disclose a 17-point query list of the organisation under section 4 (1) (b) of RTI Act, 2005, and also appoint public information officers. The first interim order concerning the same was taken out on October 10, 2014, by state information commissioner Heeralal Trivedi. On May 5, 2015, the info panel asked general administration department (GAD) of the state to send the compliance report of the order within a month. In another significant move, chief information commissioner ordered chief secretary Anthony de Sa to bring all substantially funded NGOs of the state under the ambit of RTI Act. Speaking to TOI, state information commission Heeralal Trivedi who passed the order said “To begin with all NGOs in Jabalpur division have been ordered to comply with section 4 of RTI Act and NGOs have begun appointing PIOs.” When asked about compliance of the order in Bhopal and other divisions, the Trivedi said, “I have ensured the order is being implemented in Jabalpur division as it is my division but the implementations in other divisions have to be looked into by respective information commissioners”.Bhopal which needs a strict implementation of proactive disclosure of information in all the substantially financed NGOs which the city accommodates is the division of chief information commissioner KD Khan. The state commission has also passed an order wherein an applicant can ask for reimbursement of expenses borne by him while filing an appeal. (Times of India 1/6/15)

34. Rs 50k penalty slapped on B’luru South Tahsildar (1)

Bengaluru: In another rap to Bengaluru South Tahsildar Dr Dayanand, the Karnataka Information Commission imposed a penalty of Rs 50,000 on him on Wednesday for not furnishing information about the public land in two villages under his jurisdiction. RTI applicant Kalidas Reddy said he had filed four RTI applications in March 2013 before the Bengaluru South Tahsildar seeking details of public land in four villages of Thurahalli, Gubbalala, Subramanyapura and Vasanthapura. In April 2013 he filed the first appeal and in June 2013 he filed a second appeal before the Karnataka Information Commission. Six months after he filed the second appeal, hearing into the case began. “It’s now two years and I have not received even bit information,” said Reddy. On Wednesday when the case pertaining to Thurahalli and Vasanthapura village came up for hearing before Information Commissioner T Rama Naik, he imposed penalty in respect of the two separate RTI applications.  In the last one and a half years, many directions were given to provide the information but the Tahsildar remained defiant.  Earlier, in the separate RTI applications pertaining to Gubbalala and Subramanyapura, the Information Commission had imposed a penalty of Rs 10,000 each. (Deccan Herald 4/6/15)

35. 327 hills areas vulnerable to landslides (1)

Mumbai: About 327 hilly areas in Mumbai spread across 25 constituencies, accommodating almost over a lakh people, have been identified as dangerous and are vulnerable to landslides, a city-based RTI activist claimed on Friday. “As per information received through RTI, there are 327 hilly areas classified as dangerous spread across 25 constituencies. Of the 22,483 huts in these areas, the authorities recommended shifting 9,657 on a priority basis,” RTI activist Anil Galgali said. “The remaining huts were proposed to be protected by constructing retaining walls around the hills,” he added. Mr Galgali has also alerted the state government about the 327 hilly areas that are vulnerable to landslides owing to the monsoon expected shortly. In Mr Galgali’s email sent to the chief minister, the chief secretary and the BMC commissioner, he said that through his RTI queries about resettlement, he found out that across 25 assembly constituencies of the city’s western and eastern suburbs, there are 22,483 hutments in 327 hilly areas, which are located precariously and need to be shifted urgently. (Asian Age 6/6/15)

36. CIC case pendency touches 40,000 mark; panel remains headless (1)

New Delhi: Over 40,000 complaints and appeals are pending in the Central Information Commission (CIC) which is working without its Chief for more than nine months. A total of 40,051 cases — comprising 32,531 appeals and 7,520 complaints filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act — are pending in the Commission as on today, as per CIC official data. Of these, 15,736 appeals and complaints are pending before the Chief Information Commissioner’s bench. Rest of the cases are pending with seven Information Commissioners — Vijai Sharma, Basant Seth, Yashovardhan Azad, Sharat Sabharwal, Manjula Prasher, MA Khan Yusufi and Madabhushanam Sridhar Acharyulu, it said. Three posts of Information Commissioners are vacant in the transparency watchdog. Among the Information Commissioners, Sharma is tipped to be the next Chief Information Commissioner. His name is understood to have been cleared in a meeting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on June 1 with leader of Congress party in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is also the part of three-member selection committee headed by the Prime Minister, had also attended the meeting. Last month, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice president Rahul Gandhi had attacked the Prime Minister over the delay in the appointments of Chiefs of CIC, CVC and Lokpal, saying the government feared transparency. The delay in the appointment of Chief information Commissioner and Information Commissioners, which has resulted in high pendency, has been questioned by the RTI activists who have accused the government of “gradually killing” the transparency panel. “With huge number of pending cases in CIC, the Commission requires drastic reforms including its Chief to work on Saturdays,” said Lokesh Batra, RTI activist. Batra has also questioned the government’s reported move to appoint Vijai Sharma as the new Chief Information Commissioner, who is the senior-most Information Commissioner in the panel. “If he does become the CIC, then it is a bad joke on the transparency movement of this country considering that he has only 179 days left to serve before retiring on December 1, this year. CIC’s tenure is for five years. Why appoint somebody who is due to retire soon? This means the government will have to start another selection process soon,” he said. Another Bhopal-based activist Ajay Dubey said the government must ensure the appointment of Chief Information Commissioners and Information Commissioners in CIC. “The Centre is trying to gradually kill the transparency watchdog by delaying the appointments,” he said. Dubey said if the government wanted to choose a serving Information Commissioner as its Chief, it should have done that earlier. “Why to keep CIC headless for over nine months?,” he asked. RTI applicants have also complained of delay in sending reply to queries filed by them with government departments. “Applications are pending for over three months with government departments and there is no sense in approaching CIC as pendency is too large there,” an RTI applicant said. CIC, which is mandated to resolve appeals and complaints filed against government departments or public authorities by information seekers under the Right to Information Act, has been working without a Chief for over nine months, after the tenure of CIC Rajiv Mathur ended on August 22, 2014. The posts of Chief and a Vigilance Commissioner are also vacant in Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), the country’s top anti-corruption body. The term of Central Vigilance Commissioner Pradeep Kumar had ended on September 28, last year, while Vigilance Commissioner JM Garg completed his tenure on September 7. (Zee News 8/6/15)

37. Karnataka Ministers Run Up Huge Hotel Bills (1)

BELAGAVI:Despite being given food allowance during last winter’s legislative Assembly sessions held here from December 9 to 21, most ministers ran up huge dinner bills, which the government footed. Information obtained by RTI activist Bhimappa Gadad through the RTI Act revealed that the government paid Hotel Eefa on Club Road Rs 48 lakh towards food and lodging charges for ministers and some senior officials. The hotel bill of Rs 8,727 of Upa Lokayukta Justice Subhash Adi who was on an official tour on December 19 and one of Rs 11,497 against former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, who had stayed for a day on December 20 in the same hotel, were also paid by the government. Gowda was there to attend a wedding in Srimant Patil’s family at Athani. Gadad wondered how these two bills were included under legislature expenses. At a news conference here on Monday, Gadad said 10 ministers who stayed at the hotel ran up a bill of more than Rs 13 lakh. Minister HS Mahadev Prasad’s bill was Rs 1,98,936, TB Jayachandra Rs 1,84,856, Ramanath Rai Rs 1,27,376, Qamarul Islam Rs 1,26,799, Baburao Chinchansur Rs 1,24,254, P T Parameshwar Nayak Rs 1,18,758, M B Patil Rs 1,07,972, Umashree Rs 1,07,600, U T Khader Rs 1,05,875 and Vinaykumar Sorake Rs 1,05,136. Gadad expressed surprise over the huge dinner bills presented by ministers. He  said though the ministers were given a daily allowance of Rs 1,500, they ran up huge  hotel bills. (New Indian Express 9/6/15)


38. Display Online Seats Under RTE, Government Told (11)

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Tuesday directed the Department of School Education to display on its website details of number of seats available under the RTE Act, in different educational institutions in order to help the District Education Officers play a pro-active role. Justice T S Sivagnanam passed the orders on a petition moved by Change India, an organisation, seeking a single-window online system for admissions under RTE Act. According to the PIL, various media reported that the Tamil Nadu Nursery, Primary, Matriculation, Higher Secondary and CBSE Schools Association had on April 24 passed a resolution stating they would not comply with the provisions of RTE Act for the forthcoming academic year, which mandates to reserve 25 per cent of seats for children belonging to disadvantaged groups, as the government had not reimbursed the fee to the tune of `150 crore due to the schools. Stating that the resolution would adversely affect the students from disadvantaged groups, the petitioner sought the court to issue an interim injunction restraining the schools from filling up the seats reserved under RTE Act with general category students. When the petition came up for hearing on Tuesday, the Department of School Education filed its counter, submitting that the department would ensure wide publicity to facilitate students to enrol in the 25 per cent quota available under the Act. “As the Central government had refused to reimburse funds to educational institutions for admissions made under the Act, the State government, through a GO dated May 16, has sanctioned `97.05 crore to reimburse the fee charged by institutions,” the department said in its affidavit. Recording the submissions, the judge said that as submitted by the department, unfilled seats under the Act shall be kept vacant till  November-end in accordance with TN Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, so that direction may be issued to try to fill up the remaining seats. The court told the department to give the details of compliance within 4 weeks and posted the matter to July 6 for further hearing. (New Indian Express 3/6/15)

39. Vedanta Scholarship for Odisha Grads (11)

BHUBANESWAR: Vedanta Group launched a scholarship for students pursuing higher education – Odisha’s Young Achievers Scholarship Programme here on Thursday. The scholarship will cater to students opting for graduate courses in medical or engineering and award Rs 30,000 per year for five and four years respectively. Students with more than 70 per cent marks in Class XII examination can apply for the scholarship. The marks criterion has been relaxed upto 60 per cent for SC and ST students. Only those students whose parent’s annual income is less than Rs 2.5 lakh per annum can apply for the scholarship. Students opting for a degree in science will be awarded Rs 20,000 per year for three years. Reservation for girl students is upto 50 per cent and 22.5 per cent slots are reserved for SC and ST students in the scholarship scheme. CEO of Aluminium, Vedanta Ltd Abhijit Pati said, “This scholarship programme is the first pan-Odisha initiative by Vedanta to support meritorious students from economically weaker sections pursue graduate courses.” The scholarship was launched by Minister for Employment Technical Education and Training Sanjay Kumar Dasburma. Among others, Odisha Assembly Deputy Speaker, Sananda Marandi, President Vedanta University project BK Patnaik and Utkal University vice-chancellor Ashok Kumar Das were present. (New Indian Express 5/6/15)

40. ‘Make In India’ could revive engg education: DTE (11)

AURANGABAD: Even as almost 45% vacant seats in engineering colleges in the state last year posed worries before the institutes and government authorities, senior officials of the directorate of technical education (DTE) are hoping that the Centre’s ‘Make In India’ campaign would help dispel gloom prevailing over engineering education. Addressing a special seminar to guide the students and their parents on different career opportunities in engineering and technology ahead of the Centralised Admission Procedure, Mahesh Shivankar, DTE joint director for Aurangabad region, said the ongoing efforts of the government to boost the manufacturing sector of the country would create ample jobs. “If the manufacturing sector grows by say 2-3% due to the ‘Make In India’ campaign and associated efforts of the government, we could witness creation of thousands of jobs in the near future,” he said.  far as Aurangabad region of the DTE is concerned, around 50% of the 15,000-odd engineering seats had no takers in the last academic year. Shivankar specifically cited the ongoing Aurangabad-centric projects such the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) and development of manufacturing clusters, which hold huge potential for employment generation for engineering graduates. He said both traditional and unconventional courses could prove to be the best choices for the students, provided they choose a branch keeping their aptitude and skill in mind. “No branch can be termed as unimportant. Every branch of engineering and technology today possesses tremendous scope. If the students choose unconventional courses, they will face less competition and have good scope to excel. If they choose traditionally popular branches, they will have to demonstrate their knowledge and skills through action to achieve excellence,” he said. Shivankar said different engineering disciplines associated with manufacturing and other key sectors were merging together, giving scope for multi-disciplinary knowledge. Large number of students along with their parents took part in the seminar, which guided the students on carefully following the CAP for engineering and technology admissions. Umesh Kahalekar, head of the civil engineering department at the Government Engineering College, Aurangabad (GECA) guided the students on different stages of CAP. (Times of India 8/6/15)

41. Overhaul education, infuse Hindu thought, says RSS neta (11)

NEW DELHI: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) general secretary Krishna Gopal on Monday stressed on “complete overhaul” of Indian education saying “only assimilation of Hindu thoughts into country’s education can provide perfection of means and finish confusion of ends”.Addressing a conference of Hindu Education Board, an RSS-affiliate, attended by HRD minister Smriti Irani, railway minister Suresh Prabhu and minister of state for finance Jayant Sinha, Gopal said all streams of knowledge are meaningless till mixed with n Smriti’s presence, Indian spiritual thoughts. Gopal expressed dissatisfaction with the current education system, saying there is need to connect students with their “roots, culture and provide spiritual integration”.On her part, Irani said there is a need for new education policy which will help India leap forward. “But any effort made in this direction is seen as saffronization attempt,” she said. “We are ashamed of our own inherent strength, cultural heritage and glorious history. This is only possible in India. You have ancient mathematics, which is explored and applauded across the world. But, it is saffron in India,” she said. Irani also took potshots at those criticizing the government’s overdrive to observe International Yoga Day on June 21. “It is same here in case of Yoga also. It is being abelled as saffron way of living. Perhaps this is not possible in any other country. I wonder, if those 175 countries, which supported us at the UN for celebrating Yoga Day were also saffron?” Explaining the broad contours of the new education policy, Irani said under the leadership of Modi, India for the first time has initiated a nation-wide consultation. “Indians living in villages are being asked what should be the shape of education policy of our country and the views are being taken from those living in blocks, districts and states. Education is also not limited to policy draft, or school or university. It defines the existence of human being, the society,” she said. Prabhu supported the views of Gopal and said there is need to further develop linkage between higher educational institutions and the industry to take Indian education system to greater heights. Sinha said India can solve many of its problems by using its “civilisational heritage”. (Times of India 9/6/15)


42. What’s delaying Right to Food Act, PUCL wonders before Supreme Court (21)

NEW DELHI: The Centre’s resolve to rid the country of hunger will be tested with a petition being filed in the Supreme Court challenging the year-long delay in implementing the Right to Food Act and validity of three administrative directions issued by the government, postponing food and cash entitlements from reaching the poor. A petition filed by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), asks the Supreme Court to intervene with the government for the implementation of the National Food Security Act, 2013, and publication of the ‘final lists’ of Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011 to identify priority and Antodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households under the Act. The PUCL, represented by senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, contended that the 2013 Act was supposed to be implemented by July 5, 2014, but three successive administrative instructions on June 30 and October 14, 2014, and March 24 this year had delayed it. Besides, a period not exceeding 365 days was given to the State governments to identify the eligible households for foodgrain entitlements. This deadline expired on July 4, 2014. The PUCL petition in 2001 for enforcement of the poor’s right to food had seen the Supreme Court pass repeated directions to the government to provide food security. The litigation had largely influenced the 2013 Act, according to the fresh petition. The petition highlights several pitfalls for the apex court to consider in the government’s proposals to implement the Act. Section 4(b) of the Act requires that pregnant and lactating women be paid a cash benefit of a minimum of Rs. 6,000 through the Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY). The petition said a revised proposal for IGMSY is with the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. As per the proposal, IGMSY would reach all districts only by 2016-17, and that too if financial resources permit. In the second instance, the Act wants free meals to be provided through anganwadis to pregnant and lactating women and children up to the age of six years. The government proposes to do this through the existing Integrated Child Development Scheme, which has low coverage. Again, the Act entitles children aged between six and 14 to have cooked meals at government schools. The government proposes to do this through the prevalent mid-day meal scheme. However, the petition said, 3.9 crore of the 13.9 crore children under this scheme are deprived of this entitlement. It said both schools and anganwadi buildings suffer in terms of lack of basic infrastructure like kitchens, drinking water, sanitation facilities for proper implementation of the statute’s objectives. (The Hindu 1/6/15)

43. AP Government Spent Rs 40,000 Crore to Eradicate Poverty: CM (21)

RAJAHMUNDRY: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu said here today that the state government spent Rs 40,000 crore this year to “eradicate poverty” from the state. Speaking at Chebrollu village of Gollaprollu mandal of the district, while participating in the ‘Neeru Chettu’ campaign, he said the government has prepared a five-point formula to fight poverty. He said though the state has a deficit of budget of Rs 16,000 crore, it implemented several socio-welfare schemes to benefit of all sections of the people. “We are taking steps to put Andhra Pradesh in the top position by 2029 and taking measures to overcome the financial crisis,” he said, adding, it would take four years to complete the Polavaram project which would irrigate an additional 2.5 lakh acres of land in East Godvari district. He said he wanted the Pattiseema project to be launched to supply excess and waste water from the Godavari river to the drought-prone Rayalaseema region, but opposition parties have been creating problems and blaming his government. He said steps are afoot to strengthen Development of Women and Children of Rural Areas (DWACRA) groups for which the state government has already allocated sand auction and sale of generic medicines to such groups. The state government is taking steps to provide a 10 MPBS fibre optic internet connectivity to every house in the state at a cost of Rs 150 per month, he said. (New Indian Express 4/6/15)

44. When 2-min food becomes staple, you invite trouble (21)

They fed starving soldiers stationed in remote areas, millions of those displaced by natural calamities and silenced hunger pangs of thousands during economic crises. From once being a source of sustenance, instant food — pushed by aggressive advertising — is slowly evolving as a staple diet. However, letting the market chalk out one’s diet may not be a healthy plan, say nutritionists.Against the backdrop of Nestle India, maker of Maggi 2-Minute Noodles, being embroiled in a scare over the product allegedly containing dangerously high levels of lead, experts also highlighted the lack of nutrition in these products that are increasingly usurping the gastronomic space in the country. “People often think that having instant noodles or cereal in the morning is a wholesome meal. Convenience food need not always be nutritionally sufficient,” said nutritionist Meenakshi Bajaj. Her explanation: they are calorie packed, contain more taste enhancers, little nutrition and lack fibre. “In noodles, for example, the vegetables, which provide fibre, are too fine and they are dehydrated. While eating them once in a while is all right, it could lead to life-long constipation if taken on a regular basis,” she said. She added that most of the processed food have high sodium content. “To this, we add sauces, which again have high sodium content. So we are basically stuffing ourselves with a lot of sodium and little else.”Experts say instead of relying on a food culture developed over centuries, consumers are banking heavily on marketeers to plan their diet. “A breakfast comprising idli, sambhar and chutney contains calcium, fibre, vitamins and nutrients. That’s a wholesome meal,” said another nutritionist. She said some cereal brands claim that they are iron rich. “What they don’t tell people is that when this is added to milk, the calcium in it interferes with iron absorption in the body. So basically, what you’re having has very little nutritional value.” Experts say in several instant food products and breakfast cereals, the health benefits are either destroyed by the manufacturing process or stripped away before it. When manufacturers speak of ‘value-added’ products, they seldom look at the nutrition side, and instead look for ways to add cost to things by creating convenience. While several countries are reverting to their traditional cuisine, India is increasingly absorbing instant breakfast.Consumer activists have asked the government to strengthen policy guidelines and make nutrition-fact labelling mandatory in India. “Right now, it is mandatory for food products to only include the ingredients and composition. We still have a long way to go before including the nutritional content,” said Pradip Chakraborty, former director, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. (Times of India 6/6/15)

45. Poor Tripura tribal couple sell new born for Rs 4500 (21)

Khowai (Tripura): In a bizarre incident, a tribal couple in Tripura has claimed that they were compelled to sell their newborn son, as they were unable to bear the cost of bringing it up. The boy, the fourth child in the poverty ravaged family, was sold a day after his birth for Rs 4500. The incident took place in bordering Khowai district’s Munda Basti ADC (Autonomous District Council) village. “When my wife was three months pregnant, we (my wife and I) contacted the doctor for aborting. But then, a few villagers came to know about it and suggested us not to abort the child and that they will put me in touch with someone who will take the baby and give it a better life. Accordingly, I then contacted those people, and last Tuesday (June 2), the child was born, and on Wednesday at 11.20 a.m., we handed over the child. Those who took my son we very happy and gave me Rs.4500,” said Ranjit Tanti, the father of the baby. “I am not feeling bad. Rather, I am happy, because I know that we couldn’t have provided for him. He has gone to a rich family to live a better life, and I hope that in future, if he will be an owner of cars, I am happy.” Sima Tanti, the mother of the child, said she and her husband had decided to give the child away, as it was becoming impossible to run their family on their meagre income. “I and my husband had decided to give away our son hoping that he will lead a better life, be able to study there. We are poor and cannot educate him, as we do not have the money,” said Sima. The child was bought by a couple of Duski village under Teliamura, 35 km from the village. (New Kerala 7/6/15)

46. 14,737 BPL ration cards issued in four months (21)

Kozhikode: The Civil Supplies Department has issued ration cards to 14,737 beneficiaries in the Below the Poverty Line (BPL) category in the past four months with special focus on bedridden patients, physically or mentally challenged persons, cancer patients, and widows. Of this, 400 cards were issued during the Chief Minister’s mass contact programme. Officials said that Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AYY) cards were given to all eligible tribal families. Civil Supplies Department has also introduced a helpline number (1967) to register complaints regarding the public distribution system. Complaints are recorded as online data and will be sent to the respective offices to be redressed.“Ration card management system software is currently being updated as a part of the computerisation of ration cards. Once this is implemented, it will be easier to renew the present ration shops,” officials said. (The Hindu 9/6/15)


47. ‘Workers in unorganised sector will get social security soon’ (14)

NIZAMABAD: Union Minister of State for Labour Bandaru Dattatreya has said that the BJP led Narendra Modi government at the Centre aimed at providing social security to 45 crore workers in unorganised sector in the months to come. It had embarked on simplifying Labour Act to totally eradicate child labour system, ensure payment of minimum wages and skill development and employability among youth, he said while addressing the ‘Jan Kalyan Parve’ here on Monday. He said the Modi government increased the amount of the Central Housing Scheme to beedi workers from Rs.45,000 to Rs. one lakh. He said a 50-bedded hospital would be set up in the district for the benefit of workers and dispensaries would also be sanctioned. The long pending Peddapally-Nizamabad railway line would be completed by next year, he said, adding that the Centre would lay 1,000 km-long National Highways in Telangana. Emphasising upon the need of coordination between Centre and States for the speedy progress Mr. Dattatreya said that the Modi government would extend all possible help for achieving the Bangaru Telangana. BJP State president G. Kishan Reddy said that the NDA government introduced several schemes to benefit farmers. It increased the compensation for crop damage by four times and decided to pay full amount even if 33 per cent crop was damaged in calamities, he said. The party national general secretary P. Muralidhar Rao expressed the hope that in next four years the country would become number one in infrastructure by completing all pending projects. The BJP ruled States such as Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Chattisgarh established a record of 18 per cent, 10 per cent and 8 per cent agricultural growth rate respectively in the last ten years and which was far greater than the national average whereas the Congress ruled States registered below the national average, he said. Former MLA Yendala Lakshminarayana, party leaders Loka Bhupathy Reddy and Aljapur Srinivas also spoke. The party district president Palle Ganga Reddy presided. (The Hindu 2/6/15)

48. Save Indian workers from ‘slavery’ in Qatar: BMS (14)

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), the trade union wing of the RSS, has asked the government to step in to protect rights of Indians working in projects in Qatar, which is hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), the trade union wing of the RSS, has asked the government to step in to protect rights of Indians working in projects in Qatar, which is hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It said that since the past five years, more than 1.5 Million migrant workers, including those from India, Pakistan and Nepal, were in Qatar. “They are badly treated and not being paid their wages. No proper living arrangement. They are forced to use very un hygienic toilets, kitchens. They are also being forced to work more than 14 hours without any recess to have their food. Many of them have reached the condition of starvation and suffering from very critical diseases,” BMS general secretary Virjesh Upadhyay said in a letter to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj. He also said approximately 700 workers have died so far. At the time of the earthquake at Nepal, Nepali workers were not allowed to go home and contractors have snatched their passports and other related documents so that they cannot leave the country, the letter said. “This all is being done under controversial provision named “KAFALA” which in other words keeps a migrant worker like a slave,” Upadhyay said. Pointing out that many of the Human rights agencies and Amnesty International reports also reveal the deteriorated condition at Qatar, the letter said that though the Doha government was promising to address the conncerns it had not taken any step in the last five years. “Bharatiya Majdoor Sangh being a largest Central Trade Union of the Country takes the matter seriously & urge upon your good self to intervene the matter to make slavery end,” it said. (DNA 4/6/15)

49. Job Guarantee Under MGNREGS Fails Women in Odisha (14)

BHUBANESWAR: Though lakhs of persons are enrolled under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in Odisha, not many women benefit from it. The State, which has a huge casual labour population, continues to lag behind when it comes to participation of women in MGNREGS. This despite the fact that the scheme, besides guaranteeing work, is aimed at making a positive impact on the social and economic well-being of rural women.  It was designed to provide women the opportunity to earn equal wages as men and narrow the gender gap in income that is around 30 per cent at present across the country. According to the Ministry of Rural Development, of the total man-days generated under MGNREGS in Odisha, women participation is just 36.21 per cent against 63.79 per cent for men in the current financial year.  While this contradicts the fact that poverty forces women to take up casual jobs, stakeholders claimed that the primary reason behind low participation of women in MGNREGS is male-domination and lack of motivation. Apparently, neighbouring states like Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have greater participation of women at 55.73 per cent  and 49.56 per cent respectively. The situation in Odisha has more or less been the same since 2012-13. The percentage of women workforce declined from 39.06 per cent in 2012-13 to 35.57 per cent in 2013-2014. However, it saw a marginal rise of 0.19 per cent in the last fiscal when it notched 35.76 per cent. Of the total 38,63,571 man-days generated in 2015-16 financial year till today, 14,17,558 man-days have been by women. Although 81,00,343 women across the State are registered under MGNREGS, only 11,69,751 get work regularly. Elsewhere in the country, labour intensive works like farming pulls more women in to the workforce, but the concept is the opposite when it comes to Odisha where paddy cultivation is taken up extensively. There is also a huge gap in women participation as far as tribal and general districts are concerned. The director, Panchayati Raj Department, Deba Prasad Das, said women were not coming forward in coastal areas to take up MGNREGS offers for economic freedom due to various reasons including male domination. “But, as women are the dominating force in tribal societies, we see a lot of them demanding work under MGNREGS,” he said. Tribal districts like Rayagaga, Nabarangpur, Koraput, Malkangiri and Keonjhar have 32 per cent to 39 per cent women enrolled in MGNREGS projects but in districts like Balasore, Bhadrak, Cuttack and  Jajpur, it varies between 20 per cent and 29 per cent. The Centre has, meanwhile, asked the State Government to increase women participation to at least 50 per cent in the coming years. Secretary, Panchayati Raj Department, DK Singh said a target had been set to increase women participation to 40 per cent this year. “We are working on creating specific strategies to increase involvement of women in the job scheme. This includes taking up women-specific projects under MGNREGS, changing work hours to suit them and providing work-site amenities,” he said. (New Indian Express 7/6/15)

50. Odisha to raise Rs 1,000 cr fund for construction workers (14)

Berhampur: The state government has decided to raise a corpus fund of Rs 1,000 crore to assist the workers engaged in building and construction sectors. The Odisha Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board has already raised Rs 750 crore through collection of cess from different government constructions. “The corpus fund will be utilized in the welfare measures of the labourers, especially the construction workers in the state. The registered workers in the state would also get the benefits, even he/she works out of the state,” state’s labour and employment minister, Prafulla Mallick said. Several welfare measures including safety equipment, working tools, bicycle, marriage and education assistance to the children of the labourers, death and funeral benefits to the kith of the deceased are being provided to the registered labourers in the state, said the board’s chairman, Subash Singh. He said, the government has already announced to provide pension of Rs 500 per month to the labourers who have crossed 60 years. “The scheme is under the law department for framing the rule. The scheme will be implemented after it is approved,” Singh said. Both the minister and the board’s chairman conducted review on the implementation of different welfare measures in Ganjam. The state’s higher education minister Pradeep Kumar Panigrahi, several MLAs and labour officials also attended the review meeting. In Ganjam district, as many as 61,740 construction workers have been registered with the labour department. In the first three months of the current year, they had received around Rs 12.57 lakh in different welfare schemes. Ganjam stands third in the labour registration list after Khurda and Cuttack, said Mallick. “There is need to create awareness among the workers about the different labour welfare measures of the government. It should be displayed in wall writing at major places, including the panchayat walls,” the minister stressed. He said, “The government would maintain constant coordination with other states to check labour exploitation. We have already talked to states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.” (Business Standard 8/6/15)


51. Activist moves court over EWS reservation (25)

GURGAON: A city-based activist has moved the Punjab and Haryana high court challenging the non-implementation of a rule that allows 10% reservation for students under the economically weaker section (EWS) category. The activist pleaded that the high court give directions to the state government to implement provisions of 134A of the Haryana State Education Rules, 2003. “The academic session kicked off in April, but there is no clarity over admissions for students of classes I-VIII. At the last minute, the admission process was put on hold,” Satyaveer Hooda, the petitioner, said. “There are around 1,100 students waiting for admissions under the reserved quota in private schools of Gurgaon, while the count is 65,000 across the state,” he said. The court has issued a notice to the state government and has listed the matter for June 17. The district education officials say that they are helpless and the orders were issued by the state government and they have to implement them in letter and spirit. It is noteworthy here that on April 1, a double-judge bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court headed by Justice SK Mittal had directed the private unaided schools of Haryana to admit the EWS (economically weaker section) students under rule 134A for grade two to twelve. The court had also said that the provisions of Right to Education (RTE) Act will stand to apply in grade one. (Times of India 2/5/15)

52. Seek clarification on reservation list for Palike polls: High Court (25)

Bengaluru: The Karnataka High Court on Friday directed the State government to seek clarification on the reservation list announced by it as per the 2001 census for the elections to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike. Disposing of a petition filed by the Karnataka State Commission for Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) challenging the reservation list, Justice Raghavendra S Chauhan directed the government to seek clarification with the single bench which had directed it to conduct the elections with the existing delimitation of wards and reservation list. In the order, the bench said there was an apparent contradiction with respect to the constitutional provision regarding the reservation list and delimitation of wards and the judgement of the court. The government, therefore, needs to seek clarification for any modification of the same, it said. Supreme Court senior counsel Gopal Subramanium, appearing for the SC/ST Commission, contended that the reservation list announced by the government had not been done in accordance with the 2011 census, which was published in 2013. The senior counsel said the government had not announced the reservation list in the interest of the community, as there was a 48 per cent difference in terms of the population percentage of SC/ST. The reservation list was announced keeping the population count as per the 2001 census and not the 2011 census. He said the list was not in the interest Article 234 T of the Indian Constitution, which talks about reservation for SC/ST in the municipal elections. Additional Advocate General A S Ponnanna submitted that the deputy commissioner had already submitted the draft on the delimitation of wards as per the 2011 census and it had been forwarded to the Urban Development Department. Due to the pending litigation and the single bench order, the government had not yet notified it, he said. During the hearing, the bench observed why the High Court should provide instructions to the State government to conduct the BBMP elections and why the government was not able to take a decision on its own. (Deccan Herald 6/6/15)

53. Creamy layer cap may be Rs 8 lakh (25)

New Delhi: The Centre is likely to raise the creamy layer ceiling for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) from the present annual salary of Rs 6 lakh to Rs 8 lakh. If the government goes ahead with this proposal, families earning over Rs 8 lakh will not be eligible to seek OBC reservation benefits in government jobs and admissions in institutes of higher education. The government has reserved 27 per cent seats for the OBCs. Increasing annual salary bar from existing Rs 6 lakh to Rs 8 lakh would bring more backward class aspirants under the reservation net and increase competition in jobs and admission to educational institutions like IITs and IIMs. Recently, the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) had recommended the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to increase the creamy layer ceiling for OBCs from the existing annual salary of Rs 6 lakh to Rs 10.50 lakh. The creamy layer bars the affluent among the OBCs from reservation benefit on the basis of family income. Though the commission suggestion is not binding on the government for implementation, sources in the Ministry of Social Justice told Deccan Herald that it is studying it and trying to maintain balance. Instead of Rs 10.50 lakh as recommended by the commission, the government is thinking on limiting it to Rs 8 lakh per annum, the sources said. Taking into note the poor representation of backward classes in the central government jobs, the NCBC also recommended in its report that qualifying standards will be relaxed for the OBCs to fill the 27 per cent seats. A senior official in the commission said despite reservations, most of the seats for the OBCs in premier educational institutions such as IITs and IIMs have remained vacant and also in government jobs. (Deccan Herald 7/6/15)

54. HC refuses to vacate stay on quota for promotion to SC employees (25)

CHANDIGARH: Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday refused to vacate stay on its orders of restraining Haryana government from keeping 20% seats for Class III and IV employees belonging to scheduled caste (SC) category in departmental promotions. The court, however, allowed the petitioner employees to implead as party in the main case and issued a notice to general category employees and the state government.The court has passed these orders while hearing a petition filed by the SC category employees of the Haryana government seeking stay on the May 27 orders. It also refused to prepone the hearing of the case and fixed their appeal with the main petition on October 16. Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government in Haryana had issued the notification on May 15 providing benefit of quota in promotions of employees of SC category with effect from April 1, 2013. The notification was challenged before the high court by Dinesh Kumar Sharma and others, who are working as assistants in the Haryana Civil Secretariat. Hearing their plea, a bench headed by Justice Amita Rawal had ordered a stay on the notification on May 27. According to the petitioners from general category, the representation of SC in the cadre of assistants was more than 20%. They stated a further benefit of 20% reservation through the notification would amount to reverse discrimination causing immense injustice to the general category staff. They had also pleaded that in the M Nagraj case and several other judgments, the Supreme Court had ruled that provision as contained in Article 16 (4) of the Constitution enabled the government to provide for reservation only during initial recruitment and not for the subsequent stage of promotion. It was also argued that reservation in promotion was held to be violative of Article 14 of the Constitution by the apex court on several occasions. Aggrieved from the petition and stay orders, the SC category candidates have now move the high court. (Times of India 9/6/15)


55. Call to check rise in human rights violations (1)

Chikkamagaluru: State Human Rights Commission member C G Hungund said that the cases pertaining to the violation of human rights are increasing in the department of police and in order to put a stop on this, the issue will be brought to the notice of senior officials in police department. Briefing reporters, after visiting Mallegowda District Hospital, district prison and girls hostel in Chikkamagaluru on Monday, he said that if the police officials do not take necessary action to stop human rights violation incidents, the matter will be brought to the notice of the High Court judge. Lamenting on the increasing suicide cases of farmers in the state, he said the commission is aware of the deaths of farmers in the district as well. A discussion will be carried out with the department officials concerned, in order to take up suitable measures to prevent farmers’ suicides. Hungund said that the grants released under various packages by the government, and other schemes have not been reaching beneficiary farmers. He assured of recommending to the government for the increase in facilities given to farmers. He said during  his visit to the district hospital he has found that there have been many shortcomings in the hospital. The hospital has not been upgraded even after 10 years. There is acute shortage of staff, even though the number of patients has increased considerably. There are no cardiologists or related instruments for heart checkup and the patients from financially weaker sections are deprived of the facilities. Though a new ward has been reserved for the treatment of senior citizen, the ward has not been operational, owing to staff shortage. The problems will be brought to the notice of the government and directions will be given to take immediate actions. When the State HRC member visited government hostel for girls in Pension Mohalla, there were no students, due to summer vacation. He inspected the kitchen and gave instructions to the staff to maintain cleanliness and hygiene. He also paid visits to district prison and old age home and listened to the problems of the inmates. Deputy Commissioner B S Shekharappa, district health officer Dr Neeraj, district surgeon Doddamallappa were present among others. (Deccan Herald 2/6/15)

56. Foreign funding for NGOs: After inputs from IB, PMO tells Home Ministry to tighten FCRA regulations

NEW DELHI: Acting on instructions from the PM’s Office (PMO), the home ministry is stepping up scrutiny of foreign-funded non-governmental outfits based on recommendations of Intelligence Bureau, a move that could prove controversial coming as it does after actions against Ford Foundation and Greenpeace. The ministry plans to tighten some rules of the principal law governing the sector — the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).The home ministry has quickened its review of FCRA rules after the PM’s Principal Secretary Nripendra Misra wrote to Home Secretary LC Goyal asking him to put a mechanism in place “without any delay” to monitor foreign funding of NGOs.The Intelligence Bureau’s recommendations, numbering a dozen, were received last week. Encouraging transparency and improving oversight will be the “guiding principles” of the exercise, ET has learnt. PMO is said to be keen to have the new measures in place by June 15 in the interest of India’s “economic security”, officials said, explaining the urgency of the matter. The FCR rules were brought in by the erstwhile UPA government after FCRA was enacted in 2010, and these rules are now being tightened further. As part of the proposed changes, NGOs may have to provide details of all foreign funding within 48 hours to ensure transparency. “NGOs would be mandated to have a website on which they will be required to put out the details of each foreign inflow for public viewing within 48 hours of receiving the funds. This will include the source of funds, the intended activity for which the funds are expected to be used and the details of its partner NGOs in that specific project,” disclosed a senior government official. Annual audited reports for previous years should also be made public, the official said. The ‘oversight’ part of the new measures would allow the government to keep close tabs on NGOs through stricter checks and inspections. A detailed oversight system, describing each step, is being worked upon by the home ministry, officials said. “Each NGO would know the parameters on which it will be inspected,” an official said. The PMO communication to home ministry had stressed the “need for effective linkage between MHA, Reserve Bank of India and banks for effective monitoring” of NGOs. IB’s recommendations on the ‘oversight’ aspect is based on “it’s expertise in tracking NGOs misusing FCR Act and FCR rules,” a senior ministry official told ET. The Modi administration has been accused by critics of clamping down on foreignfunded NGOs. The US-based Ford Foundation, one of the biggest nonprofit organisations across the world, was put on a watch list by MHA and each of its foreign donations is now vetted before permission is given for it to be credited to any FCRA-registered NGO in India. “Officials of the Ford Foundation had met senior home ministry bureaucrats last week asking for a rethink on the move. Right now, there is no plan for a rethink till the inquiry against certain NGOs funded by Ford Foundation is complete. The ministry is soon going to take a decision on the propriety of the funding given to Teesta Setalvad’s NGOs by Ford Foundation,” a senior home ministry official said. (Times of India 3/6/15)

57. Red sanders killings: HC stays proceedings before NHRC (1)

HYDERABAD: The Hyderabad high court on Friday stayed the proceedings before the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) regarding the April 7 Seshachalam encounter in which 20 woodcutters were killed. This would provide relief to AP’s chief secretary IYR Krishna Rao and DGP JV Ramudu, who had been ordered to appear before the commission in New Delhi on June 9. A division bench comprising acting Chief Justice Dilip B Bhosale and justice SS Bhatt gave this interim order while hearing a petition filed by the AP government, which has questioned the powers of the NHRC in initiating a probe into the encounter. AP’s additional advocate general Dammalapati Srinivas told the court that the NHRC has been going ahead in the case in an ‘unlawful’ manner. “The involvement of NHRC is warranted when there are doubts raised about the authenticity of the ongoing probe by the state machinery. Moreover, the NHRC has unilaterally directed the CBI to take over the probe even without obtaining the consent of the state,” he said and contended that the commission was conducting a parallel probe. The additional AG also told the court about various directions given by the NHRC a week ago to the AP government and sought a stay on all of them. Paying Rs 5 lakh compensation to the families of the deceased and the appearance of the DGP and CS before the NHRC are some of the directions issued on May 29, 2015, by the commission. (Times of India 6/6/15)

58. Greenpeace India to present its case before political parties (1)

NEW DELHI: Greenpeace India will meet representatives of different political parties and raise the issue of fundamental rights, after the government suspended its FCRA registration and blocked its domestic and international bank accounts. Greenpeace India campaigner Priya Pillai said the organization will speak to all the political parties to stand up and protect the fundamental rights. Pillai was recently “offloaded” at Delhi airport from a flight to London where she was scheduled to make a presentation before British MPs regarding alleged human rights violation at Mahan in Madhya Pradesh. “Civil Society has an important role to play in a democracy. We will speak to all political parties to stand up and protect the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution. “We are calling on all political leaders across parties to stand up for Indian democracy and for the principles of freedom of speech and association,” said a statement from Greenpeace India quoting Pillai.On June 4, a delegation of civil society organizations met with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to discuss the issue. Greenpeace India had organized World Environment Weekend under which various environment related activities were planned across 148 cities including Jaipur, Pune, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai and Cochin.Last week, the Delhi high court had granted interim relief to Greenpeace India allowing it to access two of its bank accounts. On April 9, the MHA had suspended Greenpeace’s FCRA registration and blocked its domestic and international bank accounts. Sunanda Mehta, a Greenpeace activist, who participated in the Bangalore event said, “Greenpeace is under attack from the ministry of home affairs for speaking out, but criticism is an important part of any democracy. We are here to stand up for free speech. “If this government is keen on development, then it must work with civil society organizations like Greenpeace, instead of trying to silence them. Sabka saath, sabka vikaas has to be more than an empty slogan. (Times of India 8/6/15)


59. Court rejects qualified woman’s plea for maintenance (19)

Mumbai: Section 24 of Hindu Marriage Act is not meant for creating an army of such persons who would be sitting idle waiting for a ‘dole’ to be awarded by her husband who has got a grievance against her and moved the court for seeking relief against her, said Dr Laxmi P Rao, Principal Judge of Family Court here. Reuters photo for representation Refusing to grant maintenance to a highly qualified woman, a Mumbai family court has held that she cannot be permitted to sit idle and put her burden on the husband for demanding alimony during pendency of a matrimonial petition. Section 24 of Hindu Marriage Act is not meant for creating an army of such persons who would be sitting idle waiting for a ‘dole’ to be awarded by her husband who has got a grievance against her and moved the court for seeking relief against her, said Dr Laxmi P Rao, Principal Judge of Family Court here. “In view thereof I hold that the wife is not entitled for interim maintenance. At this stage she also cannot ask for permanent maintenance which can be claimed only at the end of the trial,” the Judge ruled while rejecting her application. The respondent-wife had filed an application claiming permanent alimony of Rs 25,000 per month from husband and the same amount towards interim maintenance u/s 24 of the Act. It was her case that her husband, a qualified engineer, has filed a divorce petition. The applicant said she was forced to leave her job in August 2013 and since then she is not having any source of income. She is totally dependent on the mercy of her parents and brother. Her husband is working in a reputed company drawing a monthly salary of Rs 45,000. The husband, while opposing wife’s application for maintenance, pleaded that he had never objected to the wife being a working lady. He said she had left the matrimonial home on December 8, 2012, on her own accord. Hence he is not responsible to maintain her. Moreover, he claimed, she is employed and earns a salary which is sufficient for her maintenance. She was earlier employed as a senior HR Executive with a reputed firm in Thane and later with another company in the same position in suburban Andheri. “Inspite of several efforts made by him to make her join him at the matrimonial home, she has not agreed. She is deliberately not producing her employment details. Hence she may be directed to produce her pay slip,” he pleaded. The court held that the wife was not entitled to claim maintenance firstly because she has earlier filed the petition under section 125 of Cr.P.C. and secondly because she has not approached the court for maintenance from the time of separation in December 2012 till March 2015. Thirdly, she has not relied upon any of employment documents to show that she is no more in service and lastly she is a highly qualified lady and is further persuing her MBA, the judge noted in the judgement on May 30. The judge relied upon a Madhya Pradesh High Court judgement which had held that a spouse, who has capacity of earning but chooses to remain idle, should not be permitted to saddle other spouse with his or her expenditure. The judge also held that a spouse who is well qualified to get service immediately with less efforts, is not expected to remain idle to squeeze out the other spouse by relieving him of his or her own purse by a cut in the nature of pendente lite (pending litigation) alimony. “The law does not expect the increasing number of such idle persons who by remaining in the arena of legal battles, try to squeeze out the adversary by implementing provisions of law suitable to their purpose,” the judgement further said. (Deccan Herald 1/6/15)

60. In 2 decades, govt faulted 20 collegium-approved judges (19)

NEW DELHI: The central government has in the last two decades raised objections against 15-20 recommendations of the Supreme Court collegium for appointment of judges in SC and high courts. Some of the objections were also made against the recommendations for appointment of chief justices of HCs. The information has been collated to address queries raised by a five-judge constitution bench hearing a case on the validity of the National Judicial Appointments Commission. These are part of the arguments in support of NJAC the government may present before the bench when the hearing resumes on Monday.The Centre’s objections were based on Intelligence Bureau findings, a process followed by the government in case of appointment of a new judge. Though an IB report is not ‘required’ in case of a permanent judge’s elevation, but the government may raise objections if it receives an adverse report.A source said, in most of the cases where the government had raised objections against the collegium’s recommendations, the apex court had accepted them and dropped appointments, barring three or four cases where the SC had reiterated its decision. Gopal Subramanium’s case was one of them who later withdrew his candidature for SC appointment.Earlier, the SC had asked the government to place on record facts that how many times the Centre had raised objections against collegium’s recommendations and in how many cases the SC reiterated its decision. The government has been strongly defending the NJAC which has replaced the two decades old collegium system. The six-member NJAC has dominance of apex court judges as three members are from the SC, including the CJI who is the chairman of the commission. Besides the CJI and two senior-most judges of the SC, the NJAC has the law minister and two eminent persons as the other members of the commission. Though the NJAC was notified in April, it could not be constituted as the CJI refused to be part of the process citing pendency of the case…. (Times of India 6/6/15)

61. BAI bats for single window system, consolidated labour laws (14)

AHMEDABAD: The Builder’s Association of India (BOI) has demanded from the Union government a single window system for all kind of clearances for construction projects. The apex body has also urged the Central government to consolidate labour laws and formulate single legislation for the construction industry. The BOI organized its first managing committee and general council meeting for the current financial year in Ahmedabad. “Enough is not being done by the government to redress the problems of the construction sector. A large number of projects are stalled due to lack of clearances be for environment, from civic bodies or banks and other statutory bodies,” said immediate past president of BOI Sushanta Kumar Basu. This has resulted in number of project not being able to repay loan installments in time and being declared non-performing assets by the banks, he added. Basu said that another pinching problem for the builders was the over 30 labour laws they have to follow. “To work and to adhere to all these laws at the same time is virtually impossible. Most of the provisions of these laws are outdated and irrelevant. So we have asked the Union Labour minister to consolidate these laws into one,” he added. BOI trustee D L Desai was of the opinion that union government’s call of housing for all by 2022 was a little unrealistic as there was not enough manpower and land available in the country. “In order to implement this programme we would need to build 60 lakh houses every year for next seven years. However, the current capacity is 10 lakh houses per year. Also, we need to increase the FSI in towns as there is shortfall of non-agriculture land,” Desai added. (Times of India 6/6/15)

62. Consumer court orders 12% compensation for flat delivery delay (19)

GURGAON: In a landmark ruling, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) on Monday asked real estate major Unitech to pay buyers compensation at the rate of 12% per annum for delay in delivery of flats, overruling the builder-buyer agreement that had set the rate at 1.8% per annum. The order came in a case filed by 24 buyers of a housing project, Vistas, in Sector 70 of Gurgaon. The buyers alleged that they had booked the flats in 2009-10 and delivery was promised in 36 months. In his order, Justice V K Jain directed the company to pay compensation at the rate of 12% per annum on the amount paid for the period from the date of delivery originally promised to the new date. The new delivery dates promised by the company are between February 2016 and February 2018. The NCDRC also ruled that any delay beyond the new deadline promised would draw a compensation of 18% per annum. “In order to ensure that the opposite parties honour the revised date of delivery of possession, compensation in the form of interest at a rate higher than 12% per annum should be paid by the developer if the revised date of delivery of possession is not honoured,” the judge said. A Unitech spokesperson told TOI the company hadn’t seen the order yet and would respond only after it went through it. In its last hearing in the case on June 1, the apex consumer court had rejected Unitech counsel Sunil Goel’s contention that it did not have the jurisdiction to surpass the builder-buyer agreement.The NCDRC had said any unfair trade practice can be challenged by it, even if there is a prior agreement between the parties. “When the buyer is made to pay 18% penalty for default, is it fair on the developer’s part to pay a mere 1.8%?” Justice Jain had said. The lawyer who represented the buyers, Sushil Kaushik, said, “When the buyers are made to pay a penalty at 18% (for default), the same rule should apply to the developer also.” Prasoon Dubey, one of the buyers, said, “The court has given a positive judgment for the original allottees, who stand to get a handsome amount as compensation. By March 2013, I have already paid Rs 50 lakh out of the total cost of Rs 54 lakh for a flat of 1,560sqft. Now, I am hoping that the developer honours the new deadline.” (Times of India 9/6/15)


63. Dalit deaths trigger concern (1)

Mumbai, May 31: A fortnight after a Dalit youth was murdered by eight dominant caste youths in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar for having a pro-Dalit slogan as his ringtone, another youth from the community has died under controversial circumstances in police custody in the same district. Nitin Balu Sathye (22) died in police custody on May 29 after being arrested on suspicion of being a robber in Ahmednagar city. “Sathye and (Sagar) Sehejwal (the youth whose murder was triggered allegedly by the ringtone) are victims of an anti-Dalit mindset. Intolerance – religious or caste – has become rampant. Whoever is raising their head to assert themselves is being crushed in the current political atmosphere – whether in the IIT in Chennai or in the interiors of Maharashtra. “These attacks are coming because Dalits have become politically assertive and some members of the dominant caste are not being able to handle that,” Dalit activist and B.R. Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar told The Telegraph. Ahmednagar superintendent of police Sourav Tripathi said there were reports of robbery in the Kotwali area and a team of policemen was patrolling the streets late on Wednesday night when they spotted Sathye on a motorbike with a pillion rider “moving around suspiciously”.The SP added: “The police party flagged them down and detained Sathye while the pillion rider escaped. He was then brought to the Kotwali police station where he was interrogated and then arrested around 7am on Thursday. The policemen in charge of him have claimed that Sathye then escaped with his bike from the police station around 5pm on the pretext of going to the toilet. Chased by the police, he allegedly hit a lamp-post, fell unconscious and later died in a private hospital. “But since this is a custodial death, I have suspended the policemen involved in the matter and, as per norms, ordered a CID inquiry.” Prakash Ambedkar said Sathye’s death was “not due to any accident – it was custodial murder”.”Sathye had no criminal record – yet he was picked up on the basis of suspicion, he was not produced before a magistrate after arrest and then he died in custody due to police torture. The police would have hushed up the matter but for protests by his family and neighbours.” On May 16, another Dalit youth, a nursing student, was brutally killed by high caste assailants. Sehejwal (21) was sitting with his cousin at a beer outlet in Ahmednagar’s Shirdi town when his mobile phone rang. The ringtone was ” Kara kitihi halla, majboot Bhimacha killa (Holler as much as you can, the fortress of Bhim is strong).” Dalits in Maharashtra refer to themselves as Bhim after Babasaheb Ambedkar’s first name. Sehejwal’s ringtone irritated eight youths belonging to the dominant Maratha community sitting at another t able. They allegedly abused and thrashed Sehejwal, all the time asking if he would still use the same ringtone, the police said. “They hit him with a beer bottle, kicked and punched him and then tied him to their motorbikes and dragged him into a forest where his mutilated body was found later,” Prakash Ambedkar said.Four of the eight assailants were arrested on May 22 with the help of evidence from CCTV footage in the beer bar. The others are absconding. (The Telegraph 1/6/15)

64. Security agencies last word on scrapping AFSPA: Jitendra Singh (1)

Jammu: Union Minister Jitendra Singh Thursday said that the last word on scrapping of AFSPA should come from the security agencies and not political functionaries in Jammu and Kashmir. “The last word on revoking AFSPA should come from the security agencies,” Singh, Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office, told reporters here today. “If the security agencies feel that there is an improvement in the situation or this is not the right time for revocation of AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir, that should suffice and we should not create an issue time and again,” he said. He was replying to a question on the demand for revocation of AFSPA in the state from some quarters, inluding by its coalition partner PDP. “These questions hardly need to be answered and my stand on this is consistent over the years. I am not qualified to answer this question,” he said. “I have always believed and that is my consistent point of view that this is a subject where the last word should come from the security agencies. Any political functionary on any of the highest post can provide suggestions on the issue but cannot be a deciding factor,” he said. On the issue of waving of Pakistani flags in Kashmir and hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani’s statement advocating it, he said, “Union Home Ministry and Government of India has made it clear that nobody has the right to wave Pakistani flags and incite masses. “We cannot tolerate such acts. We have been assured of appropriate action against those elements so that these things are not repeated again and again,” he said. Singh also attributed the militant attacks on owners of mobile cellular towers in the Valley to separatist politics ahead of the Amarnath Yatra. “It has been a general practice for the last few years that some anti-national start such activities ahead of the Amarnath yatra,” he said. “Some Kashmir centric mainstream parties too get tempted to be trapped into this sort of separatist politics,” Singh said, adding that such elements will be dealt with sternly. “I am sure that authorities will take action,” Singh said. In an apparent reference to such anti-national activities evoking strong reactions from nationalist people, he said that “whenever there is some challenge to country’s sovereignty, it leads to provocation”.”We have conveyed our concern to the state government and I hope that it will take action,” he said. (Zee News 4/6/15)

65. Rally against ‘harassment’ in Sonitpur dist (1)

TEZPUR, June 4 – Registering strong protest against the alleged harassment of innocent people living in the northern belt of Sonitpur district by the police and security forces, the Tezpur Bodo Sahitya Sabha on Wednesday held a mass rally at the Batachipur Milon High School. It may be mentioned here that in the aftermath of the carnage by NDFB (S) militants on December 23 last year in which about 70 people were killed, security forces, including the Assam Rifles, CRPF and BSF, were deployed in the Batachipur area to curb the ultra menace in the area. The security personnel have been involved in counter-insurgency operations since the last five months. However, during this period, many poor and innocent people, including social workers, have allegedly been harassed. This has irked the common people of the area, thereby affecting the good will between the security forces and the civilians built up through various programmes. The recent incident of the alleged physical and mental torture on a Bodo Sahitya Sabha member has added to the resentment of the people of the area. The mass rally on Wednesday, attended by about 5,000 people, started from the Batachipur Milon High School playground. The protesters raised slogans like ‘We want justice,’ ‘Stop torture on innocent people,’ ‘Bodos are also Indians,’ etc. Earlier, a protest meeting was also held in the High School playground. The central and district-level office-bearers of the Bodo Sahitya Sabha, including Liladhar Boro and Jailen Boro, and the secretary of the Sonitpur district ABSU, Khaneswar Boro were present in the meeting. Addressing the gathering, the president of the Tezpur Bodo Sahitya Sabha, Liladhar Boro held the Government responsible for the insurgency problems in the region. Stating that the Bodo society has no objection to the measures taken to curb the insurgency problem in the Bodo belt, he said that the literary body has been appalled by incidents in which innocent people were killed in fake encounters. “We have statistics that till date more than 5,000 innocent and peace-loving Bodo people have been killed or arrested and many women have been raped in the so-called counter-insurgency operations. This will not solve the problem, rather it will make the situation more critical. Over the years, we have seen that after such unnecessary harassment of innocent people, youths start joining insurgent outfits,” Boro said, adding that in the North-eastern region, the insurgency problem has been aggravated by the wrong policies of the police and security forces. “We expect establishment of peace by the security forces, but unfortunately, the security forces have been found disturbing peace and harmony and violating human rights, which should be stopped,” he said. (The Assam Tribune 5/6/15)

66. Delhi HC frees 5 men, says false rape charges destroy lives (1)

NEW DELHI: Just as rape causes great distress to the victim, a false charge destroys lives and damages reputation, the Delhi high court has said, acquitting five men who were jailed sixteen years ago on the charge of gangrape. “There is no doubt that rape causes great distress and humiliation to the victim of rape but at the same time false allegation of committing a rape also causes humiliation and damage to the accused. An accused also has rights which are to be protected and the possibility of false implication has to be ruled out,” a bench of Justices G S Sistani and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal noted in its verdict. The court set aside the conviction of the five men after it found that the woman who had leveled the charge of being gang raped gave inconsistent statements in court and hid the fact she was in a relationship with one of the accused. “Her version has no correlation with other supporting material being medical, scientific and expert evidence,” the bench observed. The trial court had gone with the story of the prosecution as recorded in the FIR lodged by the woman. In her complaint registered in 1994, the woman had claimed she met the main accused Praveen, and they became friends. She said one day he took her to a friend’s house and raped her. Later he also secretly filmed her being raped by Praveen’s friend Bittoo. In her complaint the woman maintained she was regularly raped by Praveen’s other friends, all of whom were arrested and charge sheeted by the police. In its judgment the trial court relied to a large extent on the claim of the woman and convicted the accused, even though, as the HC bench pointed out, there were glaring errors in her statements to the police. Pleading innocence, Praveen told the court that he was framed by the girl since he refused to marry her. He submitted to the court that since the complainant started loitering with some other boys, he refused to marry her and for this reason she falsely named him in this case. (Times of India 9/6/15)


67. Govt to engage with masses on social media (1)

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab government is all set to engage with people of the state on the social media for real-time updates and two-way communication. The government is marking its presence on popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and WordPress. An official spokesman of the state government said that information and public relations department has taken an initiative to foray into the world of social media to build a strong online presence. He said that official accounts of the Punjab government had been created on several platforms. The Punjab government would focus on regular real-time dissemination of government policies, programmes and initiatives beyond state boundaries. He said that the social media would increase audience reach and improve the accessibility of government communication for NRIs, besides increasing the speed of public feedback and input. He said that it would also help government reach specific audience on specific issues especially in the case of any emergency or natural calamity. (Times of India 2/6/15)

68. IIT ban shows free speech in danger (1)

Bengaluru: The ban on the activities of the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle, a students’ group at the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras, is alarming for the sheer intolerance that the action reflects. The group, made up of students studying at the prestigious institute, was critical of the Narendra Modi government’s policies including the proposed amendments to the land acquisition bill, the Maharashtra government’s ban on beef and the general rise in Hindutva politics. The group’s views were neither outlandish nor defamatory. On the contrary, it was a kind of criticism that is perfectly acceptable in a practising democracy like India. The intention behind much of the criticism was to trigger debate, the very reason behind the very formation of the group. Most higher institutions of learning, especially the well-regarded ones like the various Indian Institutes of Technology, Bengaluru’s Indian Institute of Science and Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, to name a few, have historically seen students set up various specialised study circles that are meant to be arenas for free flowing thought,  including what some could characterise as being even radical. This is the case across the world. Students have played a major role in influencing politics and countless top-ranking leaders have had their initial political exposure in the various institutions of study. The Ambedkar Periyar group too was one among these groups that debated, argued and fought over several issues of their choice. For the Human Resource Development Ministry to take cognisance of an anonymous complaint that the group was spreading “hatred against Hindus” and was engaged in “anti-Modi” activities is shameful. As some reports have suggested, the complaint should have been thrown into the dustbin and the matter left there. Instead, for the ministry to have forwarded the complaint to the authorities at IIT-Madras, was despicable. The very act of forwarding the complaint held an unspoken missive: take action. The Institute dean in charge of students then conducted himself in the most undemocratic manner – derecognising the group on the grounds that they were “misusing their privileges”. In the process, what should have been a non-issue has today come to occupy headlines across the media. What is alarming is that it sends a signal across the country that criticism of the establishment will not be tolerated. This goes against the fundamental ethos of democracy and the right to free speech. If criticism (even if it is severe, perceived to be unfair and has the potential to influence many people) is not allowed, the right to free speech is as good as dead. Lift the ban, now. (Deccan Herald 2/6/15)

69. Scribe assaulted, media body demands protection law (1)

Guwahati:  A scribe of a local television channel was allegedly assaulted in Ganeshguri area of Assam on Tuesday night. According to the FIR lodged by the scribe at Dispur police station, he was attacked by some unruly youths when he was on official duty along with his colleague. The police detained one person who allegedly assaulted the journalist and tried to break the camera of the news channel. Condemning the incident, Electronic Media Forum Assam (EMFA) on Wednesday urged the authorities to take necessary action against the assailants. Demanding a special law to protect media persons while on duty, EMFA president Nava Thakuria said in a statement here, ‘Unless media persons are ensured justice under the law, they may opt for soft issues resulting in lack of critical journalism.” – PTI (The Hindu 5/6/15)

70. Journalists’ financial state matter of concern, says Mukhtar Naqvi (1)

Pune: Expressing concern over “weak and insecure financial situation of media persons in India”, union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Sunday said it affects the “honest, transparent and professional journalism”.Addressing an award function, ‘Narad Puraskar’, for journalists here, Naqvi said the media is the most independent and powerful in India but weak and insecure financial situation of media people is a matter of concern. “We have to think seriously about the financial situation of media persons as they show direction to the society through their work. Due to media vigil, the governments work with complete alertness,” he said. “India is the biggest democracy of the world and media is an important pillar of the country. Safety, prosperity of this pillar is in the interest of our democratic system,” he added. Naqvi said that social media, along with electronic and print media, has also created a space for itself in the society. He urged journalists, especially the young ones, to avail benefits of the central government’s welfare schemes such as Atal Pension Yojna, Pradhanmantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojna and Pradhanmantri Suraksha Bima Yojna. (Business Standard 7/6/15)


71. Ballabhgarh Communal Violence: Won’t return till rioters held, say Muslims (7)

New Delhi: Tension continues to simmer between Muslims and Hindus at Ballabhgarh after meetings between the two communities on Sunday once again proved futile. Sources in the district administration admitted that they might have to change their dispute resolution strategy soon. The thorny issues in the ongoing tension are the Muslim demand for arrest of the accused and the construction of the disputed mosque in Atali village — the site of the original flare-up. “The first thing the Muslim community wants is the arrest of the Jat culprits. Only then will they return to the village. While the Jats will allow the Muslims to come back to the village, the construction of the mosque at the disputed site is not something most villagers are willing to concede,” a senior official, who didn’t wish to be named, said. Police said they were still trying to arrest the accused in the case.“We want the accused to be arrested promptly. There can be no talks until then,” Firoz Ali, a villager from Atali, said. “We are going to arrest them very soon. We have told the Muslim community about our efforts. The accused will not go unpunished. The situation is sensitive right now, so we need to proceed carefully,” Subhash Yadav, Commissioner of Police, Faridabad, said. Sunday was the third successive day when meetings to persuade the Muslim community to return to Atali village failed. The families had fled the village following communal violence on Monday evening. They are presently camped at the Ballabhgarh (City) police station. Like Saturday, a delegation of Jats, along with members of the district administration, met the Muslims and promised them that there will be no further violence. But talks failed once again as the construction of the mosque still continues to drive a wedge between the two communities. While Muslims maintain that the mosque is being built on Waqf land, Jats say the land belongs to the gram panchayat. The issue became the flashpoint for the rioting that saw hundreds of heavily armed men torch Muslims homes in an hour-long rampage. While the Jat delegation maintained that the construction of the mosque is not the issue, many in the village disagreed. “I don’t know what those who went to meet the Muslims said. But we are not going to allow the mosque to be built near the temple. First they wanted land for a graveyard. Now they want to build a mosque and tomorrow they will take over the village,” Satish Singh, a farmer in the village, said. (Indian Express 1/6/15)

72. Faridabad communal violence: Politicians demand immediate arrest of accused (7)

Faridabad: Leaders of different political parties on Monday demanded immediate arrest of the accused in the recent communal violence in Atali village in Faridabad, even as the affected families refused to return home and continued to stay at the relief camp in Ballabgarh police station. CPI(M) central committee member Tapan Sinha, accompanied by state party leaders, and MIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi, who met the affected families, also slammed the governments at the Centre and state and the district administration over the insecurity to the minority community. Sinha, accompanied by Comrade Surender Singh, Secretary of state wing of the party and a team of party members, accused a certain community of hatching a plan of violence well in advance. He said that the violence against the minority community that left over 20 houses burnt, was a well thought out and unprovoked attack. Confusion on the ownership of the land, where a mosque was being constructed, was deliberately being created he said, adding that the land is owned by the Waqf from 1972. At least five persons were injured and over 15 houses burnt on 25 May night when people from the two communities clashed over construction of the religious structure adjacent to the other community’s religious site. A few years back there used to be a graveyard which was shifted elsewhere since the area became densely inhabited. The graveyard was shifted to a place allotted by the government for the purpose, Sinha said. He accused the police and administration of not taking enough steps for preventing the riots, first and later, not doing the needful to nab the culprits. Sinha noted that the arrangements were totally insufficient for the people in this scorching heat as women and children are forced to live in tents with no arrangement for drinking water. He said the state government was “totally indifferent” to the problems of minorities. Neither the Chief Minister, nor his senior ministers have made any statement to console the aggrieved section of society, he said and demanded the immediate arrest of the accused named in the FIR. He also called for immediate repair of houses affected by the fire by the local administration and called upon the people of Faridabad to extend their help to the victims in order to increase the mutual understanding between the communities. MIM’s Akbaruddin Owaisi after meeting the affected families accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of not taking care of the minorities despite giving slogans like “Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas”.He said it was very unfortunate that such communal violence has happened in a village 50 kilometers from the capital. He also expressed dissatisfaction on the arrangements made for the victims in the relief camp even after one week of the incident and demanded immediate arrest of the people responsible for the violence. Hindu leader Sadhvi Prachi is also expected to visit the place later. (Firstpost 2/6/15)

73. Ten days after communal violence in Ballabgarh, Muslims return home (7)

Ballabgarh: Muslim families who had fled Atali village following communal clashes, returned home after ten days with full police protection on Wednesday after talks between the two communities were successful. Union minister and Faridabad MP Krishen Pal Gurjar, Haryana education minister Ram Vilas Sharma and Haryana PWD minister Rao Narbir Singh were also present during the talks.Though Hindus had already apologised for the May 25 incident and even agreed to allow construction of mosque at the original site, Muslims were adamant on arrest of the accused. Hindus again apologised on Wednesday and welcomed them to return their home. However, there were heated arguments between the two sides during the talks before a solution was worked out. “During the partition of 1947, the elders from Hindus of this village never allowed us to flee to Pakistan,” Mulla Shabbir, an elder, said hinting towards the Hindus present in the meeting. “If they had to kill us, they would have finished us during the partition. But they never did this,” he said. Both sides hugged Shabbir for his words which broke the animosity of the last ten days between the two communities. The ministers present at the meeting also announced that the mosque’s broken wall would be reconstructed and compensation would be provided to the victims from Haryana government. Both the sides later went to Ballabgarh city police station — where the Muslim families were camping for the last ten days. The administration arranged three buses and all the families boarded the buses towards Atali village amid tight security arrangements. “Security has been intensified in the village after the families returned home,” said Subhash Yadav, commissioner of police, Faridabad. Apart from the state police, jawans of the paramilitary forces have also been deployed in the village. On Monday, Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi and CPI (M) MP Tapan Sen visited Ballabgarh city police station demanding arrest of the accused in May 25 violence. Later, BJP leader Sadhvi Prachi also visited Atali village. She lambasted state administration for ignoring the plight of Hindus in the village. She said many women belonging to Hindu community were also injured when the clashes took place. On May 25, the violence in Atali began following a five-year dispute over the construction of a mosque. The mosque, adjacent to a temple, was torched and the Muslims of the village fled overnight. (Hindustan Times 4/6/15)

74. Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale’s poster pulled down (7)

Mumbai: A poster of the mid-1980s Sikh militant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, that was put up at a local gurdwara in Vikhroli (east) was removed by the local police before it could lead to communal tension on Sunday afternoon. While no FIR or complaint had been registered, the police also denied any tension in the area and maintained that the gurdwara’s office bearers were cooperating with them. According to a PSI with the Vikhroli police station, they saw a news flash on a Marathi channel on Sunday that reported having spotted such a poster when they rushed to the spot and removed it at around 3.30 pm. The gurdwara is under construction and is located on route number 7 in Tagore Nagar at Vikhroli (east). “It was a single poster with a photo of Bhindranwale and some text about him. We believe some youth must have put it up. No FIR has been registered in the matter yet,” said the officer. The officer maintained that the poster did not cause any tension with other communities despite which they were still monitoring the situation with regular patrols in the area to prevent any “potential” flare-ups. Cops also said they were likely to speak to the gurdwara’s trustees on Monday before deciding on the further course of action. (Asian Age 8/6/15)


75. RSS saffronizing education system: Congress (26)

BENGALURU: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) concept, calling for “Indianization” of the country’s education system has been criticized by former Union minister and MP Anand Sharma. Speaking to the media here in Bengaluru on the education system, Sharma claimed the RSS was getting more and more involved in the decision making policies of the NDA regime, for which the cabinet colleagues of Prime Minister Narendra Modi were giving a lot of leeway. Sharma. who is in Bengaluru to inspect the defence establishments, as part of the Parliamentary Defence Committee questioned the NDA government’s decision to keep HAL out of the MMRDA Rafale deal.” The UPA government had entered into a deal wherein HAL would make 108 fighter jets with the transfer of technology from the French company. However, the present government has left HAL out of the deal. This, despite HAL having an assembly line for the production of the Rafale,” he said. On the phone tapping and surveillance of political leaders in the country, Sharma said the UPA regime had confiscated a few imported phone tapping equipments after a some state governments and business houses had purchased it from outside. A few of these instruments were in circulation, he added. (Times of India 1/6/15)

76. PM Modi wasn’t talking about Hindus: Shiv Sena (26)

Mumbai: Shiv Sena has backed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks on zero tolerance towards religious discrimination and said that the PM’s comments were aimed not only at the Hindu community, but also at those involved in converting Hindu tribals to Christianity and Islam. In the party mouthpiece Saamana, the Sena said on Thursday that Mr Modi has warned fundamentalists from the Muslim and Christian community involved in forced conversions. But, propaganda has been created to suggest that the PM had only targeted Hindutva forces, the Sena said. “The Prime Minister has taken a tough stand against fundamentalism. He has also talked about zero tolerance towards religious discrimination. It was necessary, but for whom? Propaganda has been created that the remarks were for Hindutva forces, which is wrong. The Hindutva forces also existed in the Congress regime. In fact, the BJP could come to power because of the activeness of Hindutva forces during the Congress era,” the Sena said. The editorial came after Mr Modi said he would not tolerate any discrimination or violence against any community and termed anti-minority comments by some Sangh Parivar leaders “unfortunate” and “uncalled for”. “Hindutva is a culture and it should not be overzealous… There were attacks on churches in Delhi and Haryana after which Modi had to face criticism from Christians in the world. But has anyone tried to find out the reasons of the attacks and the real culprits? If this happened because of conversions, then Modi’s remarks are for those people (who are forcefully converting Hindus),” the Sena said. The editorial further read, “Modi’s comments were also directed at those who oppose the uniform civil code and those who oppose the scrapping of Article 370 of the Constitution. His comments also seem to be directed at AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi, who is stoking communal fire. Modi has also taken on those who unfurl the Pakistani flag in Kashmir,” the Sena said. (Asian Age 5/6/15)

77. Modi govt will go if it doesn’t build Ram temple, VHP says (26)

NEW DELHI: Although BJP president Amit Shah says that the Narendra Modi government doesn’t have the mandate to address its core issues, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a constituent of the Sangh Parivar, disagrees. The VHP has said that the huge mandate with which the Modi government came to power was not only for development but also to delver on its core issues, including building a grand Ram temple at Ayodhya. The Hindu outfit also reminded the government to be ready to “face the consequences” — like the previous NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee — if it did not deliver on the core issues. “The mandate which the BJP got in last general election was not merely for development. People expect that they will address the core issues too,” VHP spokesman and national secretary Surendra Jain told IANS. “Despite several comments on the issue by senior BJP leaders, our hope is still alive. We expect that this government will fulfill its commitment to construct a Ram temple at Ayodhya,” he added. Bharatiya Janata Party president Shah said last month that the party needs 370 seats in the Lok Sabha to address its core issues. Home minister Rajnath Singh said earlier that the core issues were not the government’s priority for now as it was focussed on development. Jain said building the Ram temple was also in the BJP manifesto. “How can they backtrack on the issue?” he asked. Jain said the previous NDA government didn’t address these issues, and the voters had shown them the door. “BJP leaders should learn from their mistakes of the past.” He said a committee of sadhus and spiritual leaders would soon meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to urge him to construct the Ram temple. Recently, the Shiv Sena, another BJP ally, had said that the Prime Minister should reveal his “Mann Ki Baat” on the contentious issue of the temple in Ayodhya. Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Katiyar, who was the face of the Ayodhya movement in the 1990s, has said that the government should resolve the issue through legislation or dialogue and not wait for the Supreme Court’s verdict. The Allahabad high court’s verdict on the disputed Babri Masjid-Ram Janambhoomi issue is on appeal before the Supreme Court. N(Times of India 6/6/15)

78. IIT-Madras Row: RSS mouthpiece backs action against Dalit students’ body (26)

New Delhi: Even as IIT-Madras revoked the ban on the Dalit students’ body, the RSS mouthpiece justified last month’s crackdown on Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle (APSC), while accusing it of propagating  “anti-Hindu” and “anti-Bharat” ideology. Alleging that educational campuses in the country are “inflicted” with Marxist or “red ideology”, an editorial in the latest issue of the Organiser also attacked Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for his recent visit to the Ambedkar memorial in Mhow in Madhya Pradesh, calling it an attempt to play votebank politics. “Recent issues of administrative disciplinary action against the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC) in IIT-Madras and Rahul Gandhi visiting Ambedkar’s birth memorial are similar attempts to mask great nationalist reformers like Babasaheb with Communist garb of class divisions or the Congress’ way of votebank politics,” the editorial said. Justifying the action against APSC, the editorial claimed that use of institutional space and symbols without permission amounted to “indiscipline” and the institution had every right to question its students. “The educational campuses are inflicted with the wide range of ‘red’ ideology that has used forums such as APSC to propagate anti-Hindu and anti-Bharat divisive ideology, which Dr Ambedkar would have never approved of.” Pointing out that nobody can and should support a ban on any student outfit for criticising government policies, it said the HRD Ministry had only forwarded a complaint by another section of students. “The pet projects of Aryan invasion, inciting hatred, breaking democratic norms of discourse for political gains and then misrepresenting facts through media is the ultra-communist strategy, which is perfectly used in this case. Mentors like Arundhati Roy can happily use these forums to propagate anti-India ideology,” the Organiser said, while calling Ambedkar a “confirmed enemy of Communists.” However, the RSS weekly favoured a dialogue to create an atmosphere of social harmony, instead of following the path of divisive ideologies. The mouthpiece also accused the Congress of “always misusing national icons” and  “appropriating anti-Brahminism movement” as a part of its strategy. In a sharp attack on Rahul Gandhi, it said: “No Indian would believe that a person who took 10 years to understand his party will rightly address the complex issue of caste-based discrimination and untouchability.” The weekly’s cover story titled ‘Poisoning Student Politics’ alleged that both APSC and Congress’s student wing, NSUI, were trying to spread message of “hatred and disorder.” While it accused the APSC of misrepresenting reformers for spreading hatred in student politics, it said the NSUI’s top leader, Rahul Gandhi, was preaching  disorder and misrepresenting the facts about RSS… (Indian Express 8/6/15)


79. Terror threat drives Taslima to US (12)

KOLKATA: The murder of three Bangladeshi bloggers and repeated threats to her life from terror groups has promoted Bangaldeshi author-in-exile Taslima Nasrin to leave Delhi and move to US. On Tuesday, she confirmed to TOI that she was in the US and said: “I will be back in India soon.” Taslima said she desperately tried to meet Union home minister Rajnath Singh to say she was feeling insecure and that her security needs to be strengthened, but could not get an appointment. This was just after a third Bangladeshi blogger — Ananta Bijoy Das — was murdered after Avijit Roy and Washikur Rehman. The terror group that had killed these atheist bloggers began threatening her, she tweeted. “They told me in a tweet ‘you are among the 84 in our hit list… count your days’,” Taslima said. Such death threats are not new to her, but Ananta’s brutal murder on May 12 shook her up, she says. The writer particularly fears Ansarullah Bangla Team, which has claimed responsibility for the three blogger murders. Ananta was very close to Taslima and had even written a poem on her. Soon after his murder, she sought an appointment with Singh, but apparently could not meet him. She refused to comment on why Singh did not meet her. Sources said that she had VIP security in Delhi — there was a police camp outside her safehouse and a security ring around her whenever she moved out. But she wanted the protection strengthened. Taslima, who holds a Green Card and Swedish citizenship as well, said she frequently travels to the US and Europe. “So it should not be concluded that I am leaving India for good. I often visit the US and I will be back to India when it is safe for me. Now, the terrorists might target me in the US, too. I always aspire to stay in Kolkata, but the Bengal government is not allowing me to stay there since 2007,” Taslima said. After a riot broke out in Kolkata in November 2007, she was forced to move out and has not been allowed back ever since. Taslima says she is a terror target because she writes against fundamentalists. She fears that terror groups from Bangladesh might have sneaked into India to assassinate her — her fears intensified after a Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen-Bangladesh terror network was busted in Bengal following the Burdwan IED blasts last year. Taslima has written in her blog that Bangladeshi police apprehend an attack on her. An organization called for Center For Inquiry (CIF) has arranged for her stay in USA, she said, adding that it is also organizing funds to support secular bloggers in Bangladesh so that they can move out of the country. (Times of India 3/6/15)

80. Police start restoring mobile networks in Kashmir (12)

Srinagar: After strict orders from Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayed and the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Jammu and Kashmir police have started restoring mobile phone transmission towers that were closed after terror attacks and threats in various parts of Kashmir, officials said on Wednesday. The police, with support of the Indian Army and the CRPF, are restoring mobile towers in south Kashmir and north Kashmir and most of mobile towers are likely to be restored by evening. We are restoring network services in the Kashmir Valley after facing militant threats to shut down the network. Our teams are on network sites to restoring the service, a telecom official told IBNS. On May 25, militants strike BSNL showroom in Sopore town and killed one employee of BSNL while two others seriously injured, while on May 27 a mobile tower owner was killed by unidentified gunmen in north Kashmir. The militants had issued several warning to the owners of the franchise offices of various telecommunication companies, including BSNL, asking them to shut down their business in and around Sopore. The state police have also deployed its men to protect the towers in vulnerable areas after Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed directed it to ensure security for the cellular towers and those manning them. The state police have assured the Union Home Ministry that if needed then the police will run the vulnerable towers. Police are restoring mobile network services in north Kashmir which was shut down after the killing of two persons and repeated threat posters pasted by Lashar-i-islam, Deputy Inspector General Police of North Kashmir told IBNS. He said 609 mobile towers, out of 1,058 shut down after militant threats, have started functioning again in the worst affected Sopore area after security and assurance grant to employees of cellular companies and mobile tower owners. The threat was made after equipment purportedly installed by terrorists on Badami Bagh in Sopore of Noth Kashmir cell phone tower was removed. Moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has condemned the attacks while Hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani described the attackers as enemies of people and their struggle. (New Kerala 3/6/15)

81. 20 soldiers killed in Manipur ambush in deadliest attack on Army in 33 yrs (12)

GUWAHATI/IMPHAL/NEW DELHI: At least 20 soldiers were killed and over a dozen injured in a well-planned and clinically executed militant ambush in Manipur’s Chandel district on Thursday morning — the deadliest such blow to the Army since 1982 when 20 jawans were killed in the state leading to escalation of militancy for years to come. Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the terror attack as “mindless” and “very distressing”. Defence minister Manohar Parrikar, home minister Rajnath Singh, national security advisor Ajit Doval and Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag went into a huddle to review the situation. An immediate outcome was an order given to the Army to launch “all-out search and destroy” operations against militant hideouts in thick jungles along the Indo-Myanmar border as well as the hinterland in Manipur, sources said. The chilling ambush rudely brought the Indian security establishment’s focus back to the northeast, often neglected due to its geographical distance from New Delhi — as compared to terrorism-hit Kashmir — despite its long porous borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh.It also put the spotlight on the sudden escalation in violence in the region ever since Naga militant outfit NSCN(K) pulled out of the 14-year-old ceasefire with New Delhi in March. In two ambushes soon after, 11 Army and Assam Rifles jawans were killed in Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland on April 2 and May 3. Experts fear an uneasy truce in the region, largely the result of ceasefire agreements signed between the Centre and several insurgent outfits over years, seems to be now unravelling. The newly-floated common platform of United Liberation Front of Western South East Asia — which includes NSCN(K), Ulfa(I), Kamatapur Liberation Organization and NDFB(Songbijit) — claimed responsibility for the attack. Ulfa(I) leader Paresh Baruah called up some local television channels to claim that NSCN(K) chief and front chairman S S Khaplang had ordered the hit. It was around 8.15am on Thursday that a convoy of 6 Dogra Regiment was ambushed near Paraolong village in southeast Manipur, near the Myanmar border. IED blasts first ripped apart Army trucks before rocket-propelled grenades and heavy automatic fire from a hillock felled the soldiers…. (Times of India 5/6/15)

82. Manipur ambush: NIA registers case against NSCN (K) (12)

GUWAHATI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Sunday registered the Manipur ambush case at its Guwahati branch office and accused chairman of NSCN (K) SS Khaplang of having hatched a conspiracy along with his top leaders to carry out the attack on 6 Dogra regiment convoy in which 18 soldiers were killed and 15 injured on June 4. An NIA statement said the case has been registered under Sections 302/307/120B/121/121A of IPC read with Section 25(1) (C) of Arms Act, 1959, Section 5 of Explosive Substances Act, 1908 and Sections 16/20 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. The case on the incident was earlier registered by the Tengnoupal police station of Chandel district in Manipur. “The aforementioned incident, representing an act of waging war against the government of India, is alleged to have been executed by armed formations belonging to the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) and its affiliates active in northeastern Region of India and along the India-Myanmar border region,” the NIA statement said. “The conspiracy behind the attack is suspected to have been hatched by the top leadership of the NSCN (K) led by Khaplang Pangmi of Myanmar, self-styled chairman of the outfit, Kughalu Molatonu of Nagaland, self-styled general secretary of Nagaland, Alezo Chakesang, self-styled information secretary, besides other senior members of NSCN (Khaplang) and other affiliate organizations,” it added. (Times of India 7/6/15)


83. Woman naxal killed in gun-fight with security forces in Chhattisgarh (12)

RAIPUR: A woman naxal was killed in a gun-fight with security forces in Chhattisgarh’s Maoist-hit Bijapur district on Tuesday, police said. The cadre was killed in an exchange of fire between a joint team of security personnel and ultras in the restive Mirtoor police station limits in the wee hours, a senior police official told PTI. Several joint teams of Special Task Force (STF), CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force), CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action) battalion, and district force were mobilised from separate places yesterday on a special anti-naxal operation in forests of Mirtoor, Jangla and Gangaloor police station limits, around 450 kms away from here, he said. While cordoning off Mirtoor region, security forces spotted a naxal camp near Bechapal village following which they started encircling the spot. Meanwhile, some armed insurgents smelled presence of security forces and opened indiscriminate firing at them, triggering a gun-fight between both sides, the official said. However, on seeing security forces zeroing on them, ultras fled to the dense forest. Later, during search of the spot, body of a woman naxal in uniform was found. One wireless set, two hand grenades, one 315 bore rifle and other materials were also seized from the spot, he said. The deceased naxal will be identified once the security forces will reach back to their camp along with the body, the official added. (Times of India 2/6/15)

84. 2 Women Naxals Killed in Police Encounter in Chhattisgarh (12)

RAIPUR: Two women Naxals were killed in an encounter with police in Kondgaon district of Chhattisgarh today, police said. Inspector General of Police (Intelligence) Deepanshu Kabra said that police raided a Naxal camp in a forest near Kimdi village under Dhanora police station limits. In the ensuing exchange of fire with Naxals, two women cadres were killed, he said. Police also seized weapons and other material left behind by the rebels, apart from recovering the bodies of two women, who were yet to be identified. Meanwhile, two Naxals, one of them carrying a reward of Rs eight lakh on his head, surrendered at the district police headquarters today. The surrendered Naxals were identified as Phoolsinh (32) and Ramoli (25). Kondgaon SP Abhishek Meena told PTI that Phoolsinh was carrying the reward of Rs eight lakh on his head. He had joined the movement in 2009. (New Indian Express 6/6/15)

85. Home to control scheme for Maoist-affected states (12)

New Delhi: The Union Home Ministry will get control of the Integrated Action Plan (IAP), a development scheme for Maoist-affected states, after Rajnath Singh reportedly took up the matter with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The IAP, which functioned under the Planning Commission, had been transferred to NITI Aayog after it replaced the Plan panel. Union Home Secretary L C Goyal confirmed that the Home Ministry was set to get control of the IAP. The UPA had launched the IAP in 2010 for 82 Selected Tribal and Backward Districts in Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-affected areas for accelerated development, which was later revised to 88 districts. The aim of the initiative, which was being monitored by the Commission, is to boost public infrastructure and services in 88-affected/contiguous districts. Each district gets Rs 30 crore to spend on such projects. “The NITI Aayog is not an implementing agency. It is the Home Ministry which is coordinating with other ministries to bring development in Maoist-affected states. It is almost certain we will get the IAP,” said a senior Home Ministry official. (Indian Express 7/6/15)

86. Maoist from Jharkhand arrested in Jalandhar (12)

JALANDHAR: Jharkhand police and counter intelligence wing of Punjab police arrested a Maoist, who was wanted in several cases in Jharkhand and was living in Jalandhar with a fake identity. According to a press release issued by the counter intelligence wing, Deenbandhu Patar with several aliases had joined the Maoists in 2010 and killed four people of his village. Later, he abducted two persons from village Beer Banki of Jharkhand and killed them. Police claimed that he was involved in various encounters with police from 2010 to 2014. He was a platoon commander and was working under zonal commander Kundan Pahan and the latter provided him arms training. Kundan was carrying a reward of Rs 5 lakh on his head. Police said that initially he was working as an informer for Maoists by tipping them off about the movements of police and paramilitary forces. “Ranchi police arrested him in 2010 and after his release in the same year he joined the Maoists,” police said. He married a girl against the wishes of her parents and then in October 2014 he escaped from a Maoist camp with a rifle and ammunition and Rs 2 lakh. He managed to get a voter card in the name of Sooraj Munda and came to Jalandhar in December last year, police said. (Times of India 8/6/15)


87. Drive to curb human trafficking in Bhutan (1)

KOLKATA: With Bhutan fast emerging as yet another centre for trafficking after Nepal, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has tied up with several agencies, including the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) to strengthen the border with India and counter movement of women and children who are sold to the flesh trade or end up as child labourers in several urban centres. The SSB is entrusted with guarding India’s border with Bhutan. “We conducted a workshop with the SSB and other agencies in the presence of officials from Bhutan at Siliguri recently to sensitize them on human trafficking and smuggling of migrants. Bhutan is feeling the heat of organized crime with more cases of human trafficking being reported every year. Boys and girls are trafficked from Thimpu and other parts of Bhutan to India and Nepal. Women from West Bengal and Assam have also been forced into the flesh trade in towns like Phuentsholing, Gelephug and Samdrup Jongkhar,” a UNODC official said. Several issues such as rehabilitation, co-ordination and mutual dependency were discussed in the workshop. Officials from the Australian customs and border protection service were also present during discussions. Officials from India and Bhutan spoke on existing legislative frameworks in their respective countries and the sharing of existing mechanisms to counter human trafficking and smuggling of migrants. Though the number of women and children trafficked from Bhutan is not as high as compared to countries like Nepal and India, there is need for sensitization in the country where lack of employment opportunities is an issue. Many cases are still not reported. “It is an immense issue confronting mankind and this region, in particular. The recent devastating earthquake in Nepal has already given rise to fears of trafficking and migrant smuggling from that country. Such crimes are engulfing the society and the ramifications are disastrous. All stakeholders will have to work together to counter the menace,” said Kuldiep Singh, IG, SSB. An important part of the discussions was interviewing skills and interrogation techniques to identify whether a woman or child is being trafficked. Bhutanese nationals don’t need to furnish passports while entering India. Neither do Indian citizens when they cross over into Bhutan. Everyday, hundreds of vehicles cross the border into India and travel to several parts of the country. The methodology of preparing checklists on identification and interception techniques was also discussed. (Times of India 1/6/15)

88. No. of trafficking FIRs rises 6-fold in 5 years (1)

Ranchi: The number of first information reports (FIRs) lodged in the state in trafficking cases has increased around six times over the past five years, shows the data compiled by the Crime Investigation Department (CID). As per the data, the number of FIRs in 2010 was only 25 that increased to 147 in 2015. This year, 70 FIRs have been lodged across the state between January and March. CID IG Sampat Meena said, “It is not that the number of cases has increased. The reason behind this increase in number of FIRs is the rise in awareness level. Now police are more aware of the trafficking issues and lodge FIRs immediately. Earlier, even if children were rescued, FIRs were not lodged.” Besides the police department, awareness among common people has also improved, said Meena.  ”Now, if a child goes missing, they (parents) immediately approach the police. We even get calls from individuals in Delhi who come across cases of children from Jharkhand working there,” she said. The CID data revealed that the highest number of cases lodged in the five years is 116 from Gumla followed by 76 from Ranchi and 56 from Khunti. The total number of FIRs lodged from January 2010 to March 2015 across the state was 465. Civil society organizations in Jharkhand have also played an important role in improving the situation, said IG Meena , adding that these bodies “are definitely working hard in providing us information and helping us in rescue operations”.However, social activists think that the police still do not consider trafficking a major issue. Baidnath Kumar, a social activist, said, “The number of FIRs has increased, which is good. But the police have still not brought human trafficking under major crime like rape, murder and dacoity. It is high time that now the police takes it seriously and put more effort in curbing the problem.” (Times of India 7/6/15)

89. Human trafficker shot dead in Bangladesh (1)

Dhaka: A Rohingya man accused of human trafficking has been shot dead in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar town, police said here on Monday. “The bullet-ridden body of 30-year-old Aman Ullah Anu was found at Ali Khali Laban field near a Rohingya refugee camp,” a police official said. Police are assuming that the Myanmar national might have been killed by other members of his trafficking ring following a row over sharing of money, bdnews24 reported. “Anu is a member of the gang that smuggles people to Thailand and Malaysia. He is accused in eight cases of human trafficking,” the official said. Originally from Myanmar’s Maungdaw, Anu lived in Nayaparha Rohingya camp at Cox’s Bazar. “We’ve found out that two rival factions of smugglers, in a row over money, exchanged fire in the morning. Teknaf police found the body at 8 a.m. after reaching the site,” the official added. Two firearms, bullet casings and two notebooks were found at the incident spot. (New Kerala 8/6/15)


90. Kalaignar TV got Rs. 200 crores through 2G scam: ED (5)

New Delhi: Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday told a special court that former Telecom Minister A Raja had “illegally” granted 2G spectrum licences to ineligible firms in lieu of which Rs 200 crore was allegedly transferred to Kalaignar TV, owned by DMK chief M. Karunanidhi’s family. Commencing final arguments in the 2G scam-related money laundering case, special public prosecutor Anand Grover alleged that a conspiracy was hatched by Mr. Raja and other accused and Rs. 200 crore was the “proceed of crime.” He claimed that the amount was transferred to Kalaignar TV through various firms and was returned only when Mr. Raja was called by the CBI for questioning in 2G spectrum scam case. “Kalaignar TV was owned by Kanimozhi (DMK MP) and Dayalu Ammal (wife of M Karunanidhi) who both are related to DMK supremo M Karunanidhi and Raja also belonged to the same party,” Mr. Grover told Special CBI Judge O P Saini. He further alleged that “the conspiracy was hatched by A. Raja and others, including the companies, for illegally granting telecom licences to ineligible firms.” Mr. Grover also said that the money was transferred to the TV channel through various companies in a circuitous route. The arguments on Monday remained inconclusive and would continue on July 27. Mr. Raja, Ms. Kanimozhi, Ms. Dayalu Ammal and 16 others, including nine firms, are facing trial in the case. The ED on April 25 last year had filed a charge sheet against the accused for alleged offences under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The court had on October 31 last year framed charges against the accused saying that Raja, allegedly in connivance with Kanimozhi, Dayalu Ammal and other co-accused, was involved in “parking” of illegal gratification of Rs 200 crore in Kalaignar TV. (The Hndu 1/6/15)

91. BJP wants list of arrested officials (5)

New Delhi: After a series of posters across Delhi by the AAP claiming to have arrested 35 officers on corruption charges, the Delhi BJP has challenged chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s government to issue a list of the 35 officers arrested by them on corruption charges. Delhi BJP president Satish Upadhyay on Tuesday said that the Delhi government is not serious on curbing corruption. In fact, the working of the ruling party ministers and MLA’s is only suggestive of their inclination to get the share of corruption. “For Arvind Kejriwal, corruption is a key to exploit people’s sentiments. Soon after coming to power, he used the corruption tag to put up his self publicity hoardings all over Delhi but after Supreme Court’s decision, he had to remove his photo hoardings,” said Mr Upadhyay. Mr Upadhyay said that nothing can be a bigger lie then this claim and we challenge the chief minister to come out with a list of the 35 officers who have been arrested. “The Bharatiya Janata Party believes this figure of 35 arrests is fudged as it is a matter of open knowledge and no one has heard of any single Class I or II officer being arrested,” he said. “The Delhi government website and its Anti Corruption Bureau too are silent on these details,” he added. The Delhi BJP chief also challenged the Delhi government’s decision to take on deputation five Bihar police officials for deputation in the Anti Corruption Bureau. (Asian Age 3/6/15)

92. Black money market larger than India’s education spend (5)

Wealth earned from crime, corruption and tax evasion, and illegally taken out of the country tops India’s total spending on education or health, according to a new study by financial watchdog Global Financial Integrity (GFI). Average yearly flows of such illicit finances, popularly called black money, were nearly 120% more than the government’s yearly education spend and about 100% more than health expenditure. The report correlated outflows of black money from 82 developing countries around the world and discovered that the poorer the country, the more money is illegally taken out, presumably to be stashed away in tax havens. Earlier GFI studies have found that nearly $1 trillion worth of illicit financial flows take place every year from developing countries. India was estimated to lose about $44 billion annually between 2003 and 2012, the total working out to a mind boggling $440 billion over the decade. Notably, GFI investigations have shown that globally, 80% of the illicit financial flows take place through trade misinvoicing done by international corporate entities. For India, this component is even more predominant, accounting for over 98% of illicit financial outflows.For India, the average yearly illicit outflow for the years 2008-12 was 4% of GDP, 10% of trade, 215% of foreign direct investment ( FDI), 40% of total tax revenue and 0.7% of capital stock, the report said. The report also found a disturbing correlation between illicit financial flows and higher levels of poverty, higher levels of economic inequality, and lower levels of human development, as measured by the United Nations’ annual Human Development Index. “Higher illicit outflows aggravate poverty, exacerbate income inequality, and erode human development in the world’s poorest countries,” said Joseph Spanjers, co-author of the report. Correlations are also found between higher relative levels of illicit financial flows and trade openness, tariff rates, and the efficiency of customs. But no correlation was found between indicators of quality of public institutions or rule of law like the Fragile State Index, Corruption Perception Index or Public Sector Management rankings, and illegal black money outflows. No correlation was found with broad fiscal or macroeconomic indicators either. Surprisingly, no correlation was found even between the extent of the shadow economy within the country and illicit financial outflows. Earlier GFI studies on India, Mexico, Russia and the Philippines had shown a link between the two phenomena. (Times of India 5/6/15)

93. Cash-for-votes scam: Naidu’s purported conversation adds new twist (5)

Hyderabad: A purported conversation in an audio tape between Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and nominated MLA Elvys Stephenson, aired in a section of local TV channels, gave a new twist to the cash-for-votes controversy on Sunday. Parakala Prabhakar Advisor (Communications) to the Andhra government strongly denied reports saying that the tapes were fabricated and the AP government will take up the issue seriously. The reported conversation suggested that the Andhra CM was giving “assurance of all sorts” to the MLA if he votes for TDP nominee in the Telangana Legislative Council election. Prabhakar further alleged that the Telangana Government is trying to malign the image of the AP chief minister by resorting to cheap tactics. “It is not the chief minister’s conversation. How come they are available outside. Telangana Government has to give answer to this. Telangana CM and Home minister should give answers,” Parakala said. He said that the Telangana CM is trying to mislead the people of Andhra Pradesh by resorting to “cheap tricks”.The anti-corruption bureau of Telangana is in the process of questioning TDP MLA Revanth Reddy and two others who have been arrested in cash-for-vote case. On May 31, the ACB arrested Reddy for allegedly trying to bribe the nominated MLA Elvis Stephenson to vote for TDP nominee in the Telangana Legislative Council election. Based on a complaint by Stephenson, ACB officials held Revanth, Sebastian Harry and Uday Simha after they were caught while allegedly handing over Rs 50 lakh to Stephenson. Earlier, Telangana Home Minister alleged that Naidu is the key person in the issue. (Zee News 8/6/15)


94. Andhra Pradesh eases compensation rules for heatwave deaths (9)

Gudur: As the block of ice under her husband`s body melted, Chanaga Ratnam wondered whether local officials would arrive in time to verify that he did indeed die from the extreme heat wave, thus qualifying her for compensation. The 55-year-old could not afford more ice to preserve Aankaiah`s remains for much longer, and was keen to cremate him as quickly as possible in line with local custom. Andhra Pradesh, which accounted for around two-thirds of 2,500 who died from the recent searing temperatures, has responded to such concerns, easing conditions for paying compensation of 100,000 rupees ($1,600). “Now the procedure has been changed; no post-mortem report is required,” said Y. Maithreya, local administrator of Venkatagiri, a town near the village where Ratnam lives. Most families are reluctant to conduct post mortems as superstitions abound about the removal of organs from the dead. Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu`s state government, which initially insisted on a post-mortem report to award compensation, realised it was impractical. Now, three local officials will inquire into deaths reported to be from the heat. If bodies have been cremated, five witnesses, usually neighbours or friends, are called together to determine the cause of death. “We have to verify all of this, since the compensation has to reach the right people; not those who have died of natural causes or heart attacks,” said Maithreya. The change comes as no comfort to Ratnam, widow of Chanaga Aankaiah, a 59-year-old farm labourer who died of sunstroke on Friday after going to work in fields around the village of Madhu Reddy Colony, near Gudur. “They called him for some odd jobs in the fields and he went enthusiastically,” she sobbed. “He came home, said he was unwell, drank some water and just died.” The Chanagas are among the poorest people in Andhra Pradesh, and work as farm labourers earning 150 rupees ($2.35) a day. Doctors and support workers have fanned out across the state to hand out relief materials like rehydration drinks and saline solutions, advising people not to go outdoors in the afternoons. “These deaths are easily avoidable,” said M. Sudhir Kumar, a civil assistant surgeon at Dakkili Primary Healthcare Centre. “All they need to do is follow basic precautions like avoiding working in the sun. Not many listen. What can we do? It`s a problem of poverty.” Recent natural disasters have highlighted India`s vulnerability to the effects of climate change. Following floods in Uttarakhand, northern India, that killed nearly 6,000 in 2013, the heat wave is the next danger sign. May was the hottest month on record in Andhra Pradesh for nearly four decades. A reported 1,677 people died from the heat wave in the state alone, up sharply from last year. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned in 2014 that freak weather patterns in India due to global warming could become more frequent, resulting in huge loss of life and crops. “The problem is made worse by people living in little huts with asbestos sheets for roofs,” said V. Haripriya, Deputy District Medical and Health Officer at Venkatagiri. “In villages in Andhra Pradesh it is very common for children to leave ageing parents behind while they seek a living in faraway cities. There is no one to care for the elderly.” Officials dismiss reports that Naidu`s offer of compensation has led to over-reporting of heat wave deaths in Andhra Pradesh. “It is wrong to say that the death toll figures include deaths due to old age or other reasons,” said Tulasi Rani, the state`s Special Commissioner for Disaster Management. (Zee News 2/6/15)

95. Delhi children suffer from lung damage as pollution levels spike daily (9)

New Delhi: Nearly half of Delhi’s 4.4 million school children suffer from irreversible lung damage from the poisonous air, wrote New York Times journalist Gardiner Harris in his last post from the capital after a three-year-assignment. The shocking article that went viral on social media and reproduced by some dailies reflected the concerns of thousands of parents whose children are suffering from severe respiratory problems, unable to deal with the rising pollutants and toxic particles in the capital’s air. Harris wrote about how his 8-year old son, Bram, began gasping for breath nine months after he moved with his family to Delhi. Such terrifying experiences are common for parents in the capital where an increasing number of children suffer from coughing and wheezing, symptoms of a much more dangerous malaise. Pallavi Sinha, 40, is scouting for a house in Pune. The Sinhas had moved to Indirapuram in Ghaziabad 10 years ago. But when their 10-year-old daughter Smriti suffered an asthma attack on Diwali last year, they decided to move out of the city. “We had started to fear Diwali ever since we moved to Delhi from Patna a decade ago. Smriti’s collapse last October because of high air pollution was the last straw, we’re all moving to Pune,” said Sinha, speaking to HT from Pune. When they had moved to Delhi, Sinha’s older daughter Ahana was 5 and Smriti was just a few months old. The baby first developed signs of lung distress at the age 3, which progressively became worse. At school, she occasionally faints on exertion. “It is hard to make friends at school as I can’t run and join them in sports,” says Smriti, 10. Ahana’s lungs took a hit at the age of 11, after she had spent six years in Delhi. Both have been diagnosed with asthma and use inhalers. Asthma has jeopardised Saksham Sharma’s childhood too, with the 12-year old spending all day playing video games or watching TV. “I hate it when other kids play outside and I have to sit at home. At school, too, I’m excused from sports because of my bad lungs,” says Sharma. “Many doctors treat the exacerbations and attacks and do not bother with baseline asthma control, which is critical. A child who may not become breathless may have an attack the moment his/her system is challenged, like when he goes out to play, and the lungs collapse,” says paediatrician Dr Anupam Sibal, director, hospital services, Apollo Hospitals. Dr Sibal explains that asthma can be managed effectively with medicines but parents need to follow-up regularly so that the medication can be enhanced or reduced as per the requirements of the case. “I’m really careful about what he eats, but we can’t ration his medicine,” says Saksham’s grandmother Usha Sharma, 66, who looks after him when his parents are at work. Every bit helps, as Saksham’s grandfather PD Sharma, 75, has found out. He has created a micro-garden in his terrace for Sakham to spend time in. “I love gardening but the main reason for these plants is Saksham’s health. Delhi’s pollution is a nightmare for my grandson, I’m just doing the best I can for him,” says Sharma. (Hindustn Times 4/6/15)

96. India needs ‘new way of environmentalism’: CSE’s Sunita Narain (9)

Stating that India’s environmental movement is at a crossroad, noted environmentalist and political activist Sunita Narain, who is associated with the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), has said that there is a need for a new way of environmentalism, one that can move beyond the problems of today and yesterday, and can embrace ideas without dogma, but with idealism and purpose. In an article written recently, which has been released on the occasion of World Environment Day, Narain opines that a particular brand of politics has to be imbibed to make this new way of environmentalism a reality. While acknowledging that there is a greater acceptance of India’s concerns on the issue of environment, Narain says there is also a growing resistance to taking required action, and as a result, every indicator shows that things on the ground are getting worse. “Our rivers are more polluted; much more garbage is piling up in our cities; air is increasingly getting toxic; and hazardous waste is dumped, and not managed. Worse, people who should have been at the frontline of protection are turning against the environment,” she says in her article. “They see it as a constraint to their local development and even as they may protest against the pollution of neighbourhood mines or factories, they have no reason to believe that their livelihood from natural resources is secured. They are caught between the mining companies and the foresters. Either way, they lose,” she adds. She acknowledges that while much has changed in the over decades since the beginnings of India’s environmental movement, yet nothing has changed. “The worst indictment is that over 700 million people in India still use dirty, polluting biomass for cooking food and that an equal number defecate in the open. They do not have access to the basics-clean water, hygienic toilets that do not end up polluting rivers and groundwater, and energy for lighting or cooking. Clearly, somewhere we are going wrong, very wrong,” she says. Targeting institutions for their oversight, Narain says many more actions need to be taken to ensure consistent protection of the environment, as many more people are interested in environmental issues. She says there are fundamental weaknesses and contradictions, one of which is, the fact that, “we have lost the development agenda in environmental management.” “Instead of working to regenerate the natural capital for inclusive growth, we have increasingly framed action as ‘development versus environment’,” she adds. “The management of natural resources-swinging between extraction and conservation-is leaving out millions who live on the resources. These people cannot afford either degradation of the resources or pure conservation. They need to utilise the natural resource for their livelihood and economic growth. In this way, the environmental movement is in danger of making enemies of the very people whose interest it is working to protect,” Narain maintains. She further states that the debate on environmental issues is getting increasingly polarised and seen as being obstructionist. She concludes by saying that solutions for environmental management require inclusive growth, as search for technologies and better sustainable approaches to environmental management. (The Financial Express 7/6/15)


97. Modi’s income insurance idea may not win over angry farmers (20)

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi plans to provide millions of farmers with income insurance linked to crop prices, officials say, but it may not do much to ease rural distress, with small farmers standing to benefit little and likely to be put off by bureaucracy. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, which swept to office a year ago, hopes to consolidate its power in local elections in large rural states over the next two years, but anger is growing after rain and hailstorms ravaged farms in the north, contributing to the suicide of hundreds of ruined farmers. Modi has already tried an income-based farm insurance scheme in his home state of Gujarat, with limited success – less than 10% of farmers opted into the scheme from 2013 as the method for calculating payouts was skewed against smaller farms. Details of the new insurance plan are still being worked out but federal farm ministry officials say the aim would be to ensure a guaranteed income for farmers by covering not just losses due to weather but also from any slump in produce prices. However, the absence of modern methods for assessing damage to crops or falls in yields will continue to favour big farmers over the 260 million smallholders in India who till plots smaller than 2 hectares (5 acres). Under the new plan – which a farm ministry official said was a priority for Modi – farmers would be paid if their income fell below a guaranteed minimum. That minimum would be set by multiplying the average yield in recent years in a cluster of villages by government-set crop prices. However, shortfalls would be based not on individual farmers’ yields but on those across a wider area, influenced by the higher yields of rich farmers able to afford better fertiliser and pesticide. So a farmer with a poor crop will only get the same compensation per hectare as others who may have had far higher yields. In the United States, satellites or drones are used to assess crops for income-based insurance policies but India still depends on more primitive methods, with personnel from land record offices travelling around villages to inspect damage. “We’re taking baby steps in satellite mapping of farms but unless the technology covers the entire country, crop loss assessment will remain a tedious, time-consuming and inaccurate process,” said Avinash Kishore, an economist with the US-based International Food Policy Research Institute…. (Business Standard 3/6/15)

98. Country’s top corporates owe U.P. farmers Rs. 6,000 crore (20)

Meerut: Several sugarcane farmers in Uttar Pradesh have committed suicide as they are yet to get more than Rs. 6,000 crore owed to them by some of the country’s top corporates for this crop season alone. The corporate houses that owe the State’s farmers money include Bajaj, Birla, Modi group and the liquor baron Ponty Chaddha-led Wave group. These private defaulters, which own 40 of the 103 sugarcane mills, have left the farmers in a state of crisis. According to an Uttar Pradesh Cane Development department document accessed by The Hindu, the figures of arrears the industrialists owe the State’s farmers are the highest in the country. The top defaulter is Bajaj group which is yet to pay Rs. 1598 crore to the farmers. The Mawana group, which owns three mills in the State, has defaulted on the payment of Rs. 524 crore. The Birla group, which owns five mills, owes Rs. 376.5 crore, the Modi group, with two sugar mills owes Rs. 406 crore. The Yadu group, owned by U.P. strongman D.P. Yadav has defaulted on payment of Rs. 50 crore. The Dalmiya group which owns three mills is yet to pay Rs. 94.3 crore. There are 20 others in the list with smaller outstanding amounts. Senior officials of the Cane Development department told The Hindu that the officials will soon initiate action against the top defaulters. A senior office-bearer of the Sugar Mill Owners Association said, on condition of anonymity, that the “government needs to seriously look at the crisis in the sugar industry and reward those who pay the farmers even in this crisis.” “There is no dispute that the private sugar mill owners owe more than Rs 6,000 crore as arrears but frankly, the industry is going through a big crisis. Due to the decreasing sugar prices we are unable to recover the money from the market. So, we are just not in a position to pay Rs. 240 per quintal,” he said. Sudhir Panwar, a farmer expert argued that farmers have not got even a fourth of the price of the sugarcane they sold to these private players. (The Hindu 6/6/15)

99. Shift farmers to countries which Modi has granted loans: VJAS (20)

Mumbai: Farmers’ advocacy group Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) on Sunday attacked NDA government over alleged farmers’ suicide in the country saying the crop growers should be “shifted” to one of the foreign nations to which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has granted loans. “It pains and shocks us to see Modi giving money to every country that he visits without making a single visit to the Vidarbha region where more than 1,300 farmers committed suicide last year. His election promise of waiving farm loans and granting fresh farm credit to indebted farmers has turned out to be an empty one,” VJAS convenor Kishor Tiwari told reporters here. Tiwari said that on Modi’s recent visit to Mongolia, he announced a credit line of USD 1 billion for its economic capacity and infrastructure as well as announced a fresh line of credit of USD 2 billion to Bangladesh. “Thus, to get a fresh farm credit, we urge Modi to shift us to either Mongolia, Bangladesh, Mauritius, Nepal, Fiji or Sri Lanka so that the agrarian crisis comes to an end,” he said. He said that it is “shameful” for the Indian government to give credit to other countries at a time when it has refused to give any money to farmers in Maharashtra citing financial constraints. (Zee News 8/6/15)


100. Opposition members may quit House panel on Land Bill (4)

NEW DELHI: Upset over the re-promulgation of the land acquisition ordinance when the Bill to replace it is under parliamentary scrutiny, some Opposition members on the Joint Committee of Parliament examining the draft legislation are toying with the idea of “boycotting” it. At least three members from different parties confirmed that they were in touch with one another and would take a decision on whether or not to participate in the work next week. “Both options — to boycott or to continue — are on the table,” a member said. But the Trinamool Congress has decided to fight it from within. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said in Hyderabad on Tuesday that the party was actively considering “withdrawing” from the committee. Mohammad Salim, the party member on the panel, said the Opposition members were in consultation with one another as the re-promulgation of the ordinance at this juncture was unacceptable. The CPI(M) would take a final decision at its central committee meeting here in the coming weekend, after consulting other Left parties, he said. “We will oppose the Land Bill 200 per cent, but boycotting parliamentary committee is not the solution. We will not allow the Bill. We will fight it every step,” Derek O’Brien, Trinamool member on the committee, said in a late-night statement. Jairam Ramesh, one of the Congress members, under whose watch as Union Minister the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act was passed in 2013, told The Hindu: “I believe that the third promulgation is an insult to the select committee and makes a complete mockery of its work.” Janata Dal (United) member Sharad Yadav was non-committal, saying a decision would be taken on his return to Delhi on Friday. Here are the six important facts you need to know about the Land Bill. Source:

1          The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 seeks to Amend the Act of 2013 (LARR Act, 2013).

2          The Bill creates five special categories of land use: 1. defence, 2. rural infrastructure, 3. affordable housing, 4. industrial corridors, and 5. infrastructure projects including Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects where the central government owns the land

3          The Bill exempts the five categories from provisions of the LARR Act, 2013 which requires the consent of 80 per cent of land ownersto be obtained for private projects and that of 70 per cent of land owners for PPP projects.

4          The Bill allows exemption for projects in these five categories from requiring Social Impact Assessment be done to identify those affected and from the restrictions on the acquisition of irrigated multi-cropped land imposed by LARR Act 2013.

5          The Bill brings provisions for compensation, rehabilitation, and resettlement under other related Acts such as the National Highways Act and the Railways Act in consonance with the LARR Act.

6          The Bill changes acquisition of land for private companies mentioned in LARR Act, 2013 to acquisition for ‘private entities’. A private entity could include companies, corporations and nonprofit organisations. (The Hindu 3/6/15)

101. Himachal Pradesh HC moved over land acquisition for road project (4)

SHIMLA: Opposing less compensation being paid for acquisition of their land for the construction of a four-lane road, some residents of Mandi district approached Himachal Pradesh high court on Tuesday. Admitting their petition, the court has directed the respondents, including Union government, state government, National Highways Authority of India, Mandi collector Mandi and land acquisition officer, Pandoh, to submit their replies within four weeks and posted the matter for June 30. The division bench of Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan accepted the application for writ petition filed by Brig Khushal Thakur (retd.), Bhagat Ram and Brajesh Mahant in a representative capacity on behalf of farmers and villagers belonging to Aut, Banala, Panarsa, Takoli Nagwain and Jhiri of Mandi district, who have been affected due to four-laning of NH-21 from Nagchala to Manali. Brigadier Khushal Thakur said that people whose land is being acquired are been denied their constitutional rights by non-implementation of various mandatory provisions as given in the New Land Acquisition Act. He said that affected villagers have been agitating to seek fair compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement as per the New Land Acquisition Act 2013 and 2015, for the loss of their land, livelihood, dislocation and displacement due to the proposed land acquisition. He said that affected farmers would be given only two times the market rate as compensation for their land and not four times as has been claimed by the state government. He said that as the state government was not ready to listen to the demands of farmers whose land was being acquired in violation of the new land Act, they were left with no other alternative but to move the court to seek justice. (Times of India 4/6/15)

102. Central team to study UP’s land acquisitionSubhash Mishra, (4)

LUCKNOW: Impressed by UP government’s hassle-free land acquisition for 302-km Lucknow-Agra Expressway, a six-member team from the Centre will arrive to study the model. According to sources, the team, comprising senior officials from the Centre, will interact with chief secretary Alok Ranjan, Uttar Pradesh Expressway Industrial Development Authority CEO Navneet Sehgal and IMDUP DG Netram. The Central team will be in Lucknow on June 9 and get a brief from the chief secretary and the UPEIDA CEO over peaceful acquisition of 28,000 acres of land for the country’s longest expressway. Highly placed sources said that the Centre had confirmed sending its team. The Lucknow-Agra Expressway has already drawn attention of the defence ministry which has requested the UP government to develop the project in such a way that fighter planes could also land on it in case of an emergency. “It’s a matter of delight that our land acquisition model and the progress in the expressway is drawing national and international attention,” said a senior officer. (Times of India 8/6/15)


103. Drive to arrest infant deaths (3)

Ranchi, June 1: The state is pulling out all the stops to streamline the healthcare system, beginning with a month-long campaign to reduce infant mortality rate (IMR). Chief minister Raghubar Das today kicked off Jharkhand Matri Shishu Evam Poshan Maah (Jharkhand Mother and Child Health and Nutrition Month) at Project Bhavan auditorium in Dhurwa, Ranchi, by administering vitamin dose to a child. Present on the occasion were health minister Ramchandra Chandravanshi, principal secretary, department of women and child development, Mridula Sinha, principal secretary of department of health and family welfare K. Vidyasagar and Unicef officials, among others. Under the campaign, the health department will administer Vitamin A to children aged between nine months and five years, de-worm children between one and five years with Albendazole tablets, administer vaccines, screen children from six months to five years by using the middle upper arm circumference (MUAC) tape and then refer those with less than 11.5cm MUAC to the nearest malnutrition centre. Urging the sahiyas, anganwandi workers and members of panchayat raj institutions to extensively take part in the campaign, Das said: “Human resource is the biggest asset of our country. Health facilities can improve only with the help of this resource. Jharkhand will be made a malnutrition-free state. We are in the process of appointing poshan sakhis (nutrition workers), who will visit every household and make a report card of children, pregnant women, lactating mothers and adolescents.” According to annual health survey (2012-2013), the national average of IMR is 42 deaths/1,000 live births. Jharkhand’s figure is far higher at 68 deaths/1,000 live births. Other initiatives that have been lined up are collection of salt samples from eight districts, namely Ranchi, Pakur, Dumka, Sahebganj, Palamau, Godda, Gumla and Lohardaga, where people are suffering from goiter; distribution of iron folic acid supplements among pregnant and lactating mothers; and promotion of infant and child-feeding practices. Mridula Sinha stressed on the need for joint team work to reduce IMR. “Anaemia is a major health issue among women, adolescents and children, and is one of the primary reasons behind maternal mortality, weakness, low birth weight. This campaign will help reduce anaemia among all age groups,” she added. (The Telegraph 1/6/15)

104. ‘Govt Spent Rs 8.5 Cr on Health Projects’ (3)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state government spent Rs 8.5 crore for the comprehensive healthcare project for scheduled tribes, Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Tribes P K Jayalakshmi said. The grants are distributed through the district medical officers. The utilisation certificate for the amount given to the DMOs should be submitted to the ST Development department. The minister refuted some media reports that only Rs 16 lakh had been spent for Kozhikode district last year. “The allegation is baseless. Rs 41 lakh was granted through the Kozhikode Medical College alone. Rs 10 lakh was sanctioned from the health care project fund in the 2015-16 financial year,” she said. The comprehensive scheme was started with an additional allocation of Rs 1,000 lakh crore from the Centre in 2007-08. As the fund was fully spent, the scheme was run by the corpus fund in 2012-13. It was made into a separate scheme from 2013-14, she said. The minister said the scheme intended to provide quality healthcare to the scheduled tribes through selected hospitals. The fund is spent to purchase medicines not available at the government hospitals, scanning facility, ambulance facility and food assistance for food. The funds to the 14 district hospitals are distributed through the district medical officers. Selected government hospitals and semi-government hospitals in the tribal belts are also included in the scheme.   Assistance is also provide to the patients of Government medical colleges, Pariyaram medical college, MCC Thalssery, SCTIMST and RCC through doctors. The scheme aims to cater to 14,000 beneficiaries in 2014-15. (New Indian Express 4/6/15)

105. Over 1,500 Garhwa kids suffer from malnutrition (3)

GARHWA: More than 1,551 children continue to suffer from severe malnutrition in Garhwa district. This despite repeated efforts to bring down the infant mortality rate and malnutrition among children. Infant mortality is much higher in the poorest areas of the district. This was revealed recently during a health check-up of 89,548 children between nine months and five years of age by the district social welfare department. While the health of 71,399 children was found satisfactory, over 16,598 children were found to be unhealthy for want of a nutritious diet. As many as 1,551 children were suffering from severe malnutrition and needed immediate treatment. The blockwise break-up of the number of children suffering from severe malnutrition include Garhwa with 436 followed by Nagar Untari 410, Kandi 356, Bhandaria 159, Ranka 58, Meral 56, Dhurki and Majhiaon 38. Devendra Narayan Singh, the district social welfare officer, has asked all CDPOs and supervisors to submit a comprehensive list of children suffering from malnutrition and get them admitted to the nearest malnutrition treatment centre. There are four such centres in the district’s Nagar Untari, Majhiaon, Bhandaria and Garhwa blocks. A total of 1,08,403 children between nine months to five years of age are registered in 1100 anganwadi centres. It is the duty of the anganwadi centre to provide nutritional supplements to children in the aforesaid age group, pregnant and lactating women. (Times of India 7/6/15)


106. Spurt in HIV Positive Cases Rings Alarm Bells in Bengal (3)

KOLKATA: West Bengal is fast becoming a high-risk HIV positive state. According to statistics for the last two years available with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,  West Bengal accounts for eight per cent of the nation’s 1.61 lakh newly-infected persons. A large number of skilled labourers, who are employed in Gujarat and Maharashtra, act as carriers of HIV AIDS on their return home. Earlier, West Bengal was a state with low HIV incidence. However, the spurt in the number of  infected adults over the last two years has made the health authorities sit up and take notice. Over the last couple of years, Bengal accounted for only 2.2 per cent of the 25 lakh people afflicted with the disease across the country. The high-risk category states were Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Manipur and Nagaland, mainly because of lack of sex education. In Manipur and Nagaland, the disease sneaked in from Myanmar through sex workers and heroin addicts. “In the early 90s, Manipur was known as the AIDS capital of India,” said a West Bengal health official. “But now the disease is spreading in West Bengal at such an alarming rate that we will soon be the AIDS capital of Eastern region because of our population and international borders.” he added. And regular check-up of migrant workers is required to stem the spread of HIV infections, he pointed out. The NGOs claim that because of their work in the red light areas, the number of HIV-positive sex workers has come down drastically. But, specialists in Kolkata, who treat men infected with sexually transmitted infections (sti), say otherwise. A doctor, who has a clinic in the city’s high-end Salt Lake locality, said, “I treat a large number of patients with gonorrhea, warts and syphilis. If not treated at the primary stage, these can prove fatal, but people are only worried about HIV and AIDS. My patients are not poor, but are from the middle and upper classes who think that having sex with high-class call girls is safe.” (New Indian Express 1/6/15)

107. Person with HIV loses in GP elections (3)

Udupi: Sanjeeva, an HIV positive person and a transgender, who fought the gram panchayat (GP) elections from Vandse Gram Panchayat in Kundapur taluk, was defeated in the polls on Friday. He had entered the fray with an intention to create more awareness about the needs of HIV positive persons and the problems faced by them. Speaking to The Hindu , Sanjeeva said that he had got only 95 votes and was defeated by a candidate supported by the Congress. “I did not spend any money on my publicity unlike others. I campaigned from house to house. I am happy that I got 95 votes. My intention was to create more awareness about the issues concerning HIV persons,” he said. Sanjeeva (42) has been HIV positive for the last 15 years. He has served as a board member of the Karnataka Network of Positive People and was the former president of District Network of Positive People. He is now a counsellor at Asare Samudaya Sanghatane, an organisation working for welfare of sexuality minorities. “There are nearly 5,500 HIV positive persons in the district. I will continue working for the welfare of the HIV positive persons. More opportunities should be created for HIV positive persons. They suffer due to stigma and discrimination,” he said. “I had thought that if I win, I will get a platform at least on the gram panchayat level to raise the issues related to HIV persons. I have lost the election but not my determination to serve HIV positive persons,” Mr. Sanjeeva added. (The Hindu 7/6/15)

108. Trained Volunteers Turn Bystanders of HIV Patients to Help Fight Stigma (3)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even when the state is going great guns in fighting HIV, there remained a major problem to solve – the stigma associated with hospitalising HIV patients without a bystander. To solve this, the Kerala State Aids Control Society (KSACS) has started training volunteers to accompany the HIV patient in hospitals. Those who are ready to volunteer were selected from the People Living with HIV (PLHIV) community. This is the first-of-its-kind initiative ever taken by a state in the country. The volunteers were identified with the support PLHIV networks in every district. So far, the KSACS has trained 32 members from the PLHIV community, said Sunil Kumar G, Joint Director, (Information Education & Communication), KSACS. “Be it any ailment due to HIV infection or any other disease, the HIV patients without a bystander are stigmatised at hospitals. Hence, with the formulation of this ‘Treatment Care Team’, this hurdle could be crossed to a greater extent,” he said. The scheme is being implemented through seven Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) Centres situated at Thiruvananthapuram, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Palakkad, Kozhikode and Kasargod. The volunteers will get a remuneration of `300 for 12 hours and the project is financially supported by the Kerala Social Security Mission. “It has already transferred the first installment of grant to ART centres for implementing the scheme,” he said.The main duty of the volunteers is to ensure proper and timely treatment of the patients. “It mainly includes ensuring medication in proper course and also see that the patient adheres to the course. Special focus will be given to women, children, aged people, migrants and orphans in home-based and hospital-based treatment. ]The volunteers will ensure every support they required,” Anjana G, assistant director, Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV/AIDS (GIPA), said. On a psychological level, they will also have to address stigma and discrimination associated with the disease faced by an individual, family or community. “It consists of providing psycho-social support to individuals, especially the marginalised women and children affected by HIV,” she said. (New Indian Express 8/6/15)


Posted by admin at 10 June 2015

Category: Uncategorized

Vol. 17                                                   No. 13, 14 & 15                                       May 29, 2015

(From May 1 to 31, 2015)


 1. Heat in Rajya Sabha over ‘discrimination’ against dalits in Gujarat (2)

New Delhi: Heated exchanges between opposition and BJP benches were witnessed in Rajya Sabha on Thursday after a Congress member alleged discrimination against dalits in Gujarat saying they were not being allowed to enter temples in some villages there. Raising the issue during Zero Hour, P L Punia (Congress) said dalits in many Gujarat villages were being discriminated against and not allowed to enter temples. He also alleged that the dalits were also not being allowed to take water from the village well. “Dalits are migrating from villages as those associating with them are being punished. We heard of Gujarat’s progress and equality. Today the real face of the government has come out…Government is not concerned about welfare of dalits and poor. It is clear that this government is anti-dalit,” he said, urging the government to maintain equality and harmony. Strongly objecting to the allegations, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the member should not make “sweeping statements without any basis” to target a state which is a “model state” of the country. “It is a political speech. The people have given their mandate. Try to respect that. Don’t make political speeches. If there are specific complaints, government will address them. Let him not make sweeping political comments. I totally condemn such comments,” he said. As heated exchanges ensued between members from treasury benches and opposition on the issue, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien asked Punia to bring to the House if he had “any specific instance. But no sweeping allegations.” This saw some Congress members display some papers to highlight the issue, much to the dismay of Kurien, who said, “What is this nonsense…Don’t display anything”. Earlier K C Tyagi (JD-U) raised the plight of sugarcane farmers saying their problems should be addressed by the government while granting relief to sugar mills. He said though he had no objections to provision of relief to sugar mills, the pending amount of Rs 20,000 crore due to sugarcane growers should also be addressed. Tyagi lauded the role of leaders like Devi Lal and Parkash Singh Badal a few years ago to fix MSP for farm products, saying now there was no such criterion. Pointing to the relief provided to Indian Sugar Mills Association, he alleged, “it reflects the friendship between Ministry of Consumer Affairs and ISMA” but while sugar mills are being bailed out, nothing is being done for farmers. (Indian Express 1/5/15)

2. Punjab SC commission to meet Rajnath over incidents related to Dalits in state (2)

JALANDHAR: In the wake of rise in the number of attack on Dalits in the state, Punjab Scheduled Caste Commission has sought an appointment from Union home minister Rajnath Singh and request him for getting these issues investigated. It also plans to urge the home minister to form a policy to check the incidents targeting Dalits as these could be part of a larger conspiracy to disturb peace in Punjab. The commission also sought status reports of these incidents from Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini. Revealing this here on Saturday, commission’s chairman Rajesh Bagha said that, in the recent past, quite a few instances have hurt the sentiments of Dalit communities. “There can be a larger conspiracy to disturb the atmosphere of the state through such actions as Punjab has the highest population of Dalits in the country. There should be a thorough probe to find if there are any linkages in these events,” Bagha said while addressing a press conference to justify the reason to seek an appointment with the Union home minister. He said Punjab DGP Saini had been called to see the commission on Tuesday. The incidents include killing of a Dalit girl in Moga who was thrown off an Orbit Transport bus, thrashing of granthis by Guru Granth Sahib Satkar Committee, damage caused to a statue of B R Ambedkar in Phagwara and defiling of a picture of Guru Ravidass. Asked if the commission lacked confidence in the state government that it was going to the Union home ministry, Bagha evaded a direct reply. He said he did not want to politicize the issue. “We want some mechanism to be evolved to tackle these incidents,” he said. Before his appointment as SC commission chairman, Bagha has remained national general secretary of SC wing of the BJP. (Times of India 3/5/15)

3. Dalits’ Houses Burnt after Clash in Perambalur (2)

TIRUCHY: A dispute between the Dalits and Caste Hindus of V-Kalathur in Perambalur over Chithirai festivities took a violent turn on Sunday when the members of both the communities entered into a free-for-all, leaving many injured. Later, a group of Caste Hindus allegedly went on a rampage, torching seven huts belonging to Dalits. However, no casualty was reported in the arson. Sources said the village had a public ground (chavadi), which was used by both the communities. On Sunday, the Dalit residents decided to organise a festival to honour Moopanar Swamy and erected a digital banner at the chavadi. The very day, the members of the caste-Hindu group planned to organise Chithra Pournami festival and decided to take out a procession, followed by a pooja at chavadi. A group of Caste Hindus visited the spot and demanded that the Dalits postpone their plans and remove the banner. Opposing the demand, the Dalits entered into a heated argument with the caste-Hindus. Soon, the matter came to a head and the verbal altercation gave way to fisticuffs. Sources said that during the fight, members of both the communities began pelting each other with stones, injuring many from the two sides injured. The fight was stopped after village elders intervened. However, a few hours later, a group of Caste Hindus reached the Dalit settlement in the village and set afire seven houses. On information, Perambalur Fire and Rescue personnel rushed to the spot and doused the fire. The victims of the attack were identified as Govindhan (45), Samikannu (37), Selvamani (40), Amarthavalli (43), Ramesh (32), Raja and Ramasamy. On information, SP Sonal Chandra and sub-collector P Madusuthanan held a spot inquiry. One of the victims was sanctioned a house under the Greenhouse project while the rest were awarded a compensation of `5,000. On Monday, based on  complaints lodged by both groups, the police registered a case and arrested 40 people from both the communities. A huge posse of police was deployed to avert the incident from flaring up again. (New Indian Express 5/5/15)

4. Dalit grooms beaten, forced to get off horses (2)

AJMER: In another case of backward community people being subdued in society, two dalit grooms were thrashed by villagers after they arrived on horses for their wedding in the remote Chindaliya village of Makrana block on Thursday night. Angry villagers also forced family members of the bride to stop the music being played. Finally, the grooms had to walk out of the house of the brides. Makrana police on Friday registered a case against six villagers under Dalit Atrocity Act and are trying to arrest them. There was tension in the village after the incident with dalit organizations demanding action against the ‘samants’ of the village. According to sources, Bhomaram, a dalit of Chindaliya village, fixed marriages of his two daughters Swaroop and Bhagwati with Rajuram and Gajender, sons of Lichman of Pabupura village of Naguar district. The marriage was fixed on May 7 and relatives of Bhomaram gathered to celebrate the occasion. On Thursday evening the marriage procession reached the outskirts of the village from Pabupura village where both Rajuram and Gajender with relatives and friends prepared to reach the house of grooms. The procession started late with a musical band and the grooms climbed onto horses for the ritual of ‘toran’. When the procession reached inside the village, the Jat community got angry and gathered on the street and declared the procession as unreligious. “They brought sticks and threatened us and forced my sons to get down from the horses as they don’t allow dalits from the village to ride on horses,” said Lichman, father of grooms to police. Villagers also stopped the band and directed the procession to walk quietly to the house of the brides without looking upward. When the news broke at the house of grooms, Bhomaram along with his relatives reached the spot and tension spread in the village. Someone called the police and two constables from Makrana police station reached the spot after half-an-hour. Both sides this morning filed an FIR in the Makrana police station and demanded action against the accused. “We have registered a case against six people of the village and others under dalit atrocity and started investigation. Arrests will be made soon,” said Dilip Soni, SHO of Makrana police station. He added that police was deputed for peace and order in the village. (Times of India 8/5/15)

5. Barriers broken as Dalits brush shoulders with swamijis at Sahapankti Bhojana (2)

YADGIR: In a district like Yadgir where the caste system still rules the roost, the heads of religious mutts visiting Dalit colonies and eating the food prepared by them is unheard of. To protest against the discriminatory practise of serving food to upper castes and others in some of the temples in Dakshina Kannada district, the swamis initiated the movement of Sahapankti Bhojana — where the upper castes have food with Dalits in their colonies. The first such programme was held in Basavakalyan in Bidar district and the second at Belthangady in Dakshina Kannada district last year. This is the third Sahapankti Bhojana held in the State. Right from the morning, the Maremma Temple complexwas teeming with the people, both Dalits and curious onlookers from other localities. The local delicacy Huggi, a sweet item made out of wheat and jaggery along with ghee, was served to the swamis who sat on the floor along with Dalit families. Later they were served rice and Sambar. “This is a special day for me. I still cannot believe that the swamis had food with me,” said Susheela Melinamane, a Dalit housewife. After taking part in the programme, Sri Chennamalla Shivacharyaru of Nidumamidi Mutt, who took the lead in organising the event, said that people should adopt humanity and reject the Manu Smriti which was against the freedom of women, equality, social balance and education. Sahapankti Bhojana is a part of the struggle against untouchability, he said and added that people should organise similar programmes to bring the social equality among the people of all communities. Prominent among other swamis who participated in the event were — Sri Sarangadareshwara Mahaswamigal of Saranga Mutt in Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh, Sri Gnana Prakasha Swami of Urilinga Peddi Samastana Math of Mysuru, Sri Nanjundaswami of Urilinga Peddi Samsthana Mut at Kodla in Kalaburagi, Sidda Kabira Mahaswamigalu of Marlu Shankara Mutt at Chigarallia and Sri Shantaveera Murugarjendra Swami of Kasa Mutt in Gurmitkal in Yadgir district. Members of the Pragatipara Dalit Okkuta including Sabanna Sungalkar, Baghawanth Anwar, Veerabhadrappa Eddalli, Samsan Malikeri, Mareppa Chattarkar and Chandrakanth Motnalli participated in the Sahapankti Bhojana. (The Hindu 12/5/15)

6. Dalit Groom Wears Helmet for Marriage Procession, as Villagers Stone Him (2)

Along with the regular preparations for a barat, the wedding procession, a groom in Madhya Pradesh was forced to carry a sturdy helmet too. Reason? The groom Pawan Malviya’s father expected the villagers to hurt him as he dared to use a horse in the barat. It is reported that the Balit groom was at the receiving end of the fury by the upper cast men for breaking the norm. Dalits in the area are expected not to have a grand procession and are also not allowed to use a horse for a wedding. The incident took place late Sunday night, when the Pawan Malviya’s procession made its way through the village in Ratlam district to reach the venue. Half-way into the procession, upper caste men attacked the groom and his family members by hurling stones at them. Many from the groom family were injured in the incident. The procession was blocked for a while and resumed  with policemen on rooftops to guard against any more attacks. It was then, Pawan traded his traditional headgear to a helmet. It is also reported that Pawan’s father was worried for the safety ohf his son and had asked for police protection. The police also worked for a compromise between the two sides, following which the upper caste families is said to have agreed to shut their doors and not witness the procession. Close to 30 villagers have been arrested and scores more have been booked under a law that bans caste-based atrocities. (New Indian Express 13/5/15)

7. Rajasthan: Dalits killed, thrashed in violence over land dispute (2)

Nagaur: A man was arrested on Saturday over the death of four people during a bloody clash in Rajasthan’s Nagaur district, where Jats used tractors to flatten the homes of Dalits and allegedly thrashed several women following a sudden flare-up over a decades-old land dispute. Officials said the situation in Dangawas village, where the Jats and Dalits clashed on Thursday, was slowly returning to normal. Twenty policemen were deployed in the village, located 250 km east of state capital Jaipur, to instill confidence among residents, Superintendent of police Raghvendra Suhasa said.Ram Kumar Jat, 40, was arrested by police at Nagaur hospital, where he was admitted for treatment, Suhasa said. State home minister Gulab Chand Kataria said all the accused would be arrested soon. After visiting Dangawas on Saturday evening, National Commission for Scheduled Castes chairman PL Punia indicted the Nagaur district administration for laxity in handling the clash. “The victims were not happy with the police inquiry. I will ask the government for a probe by an independent agency,” Punia told Hindustan Times. He said the violence began as an individual dispute but snowballed into a caste clash because the administration failed to act. A team from the Centre for Dalit Rights in Jaipur also visited the village and met people injured in the clash who are being treated in a hospital in Ajmer. The violence was sparked by a dispute over 24 bighas of land between Chimnaram Jat and a Dalit man named Ratanram Meghwal. Chimanram Jat claimed Meghwal’s ancestors had sold the plot to his family and that the Dalit family had encroached on the land. Both sides had filed cases in court.Tensions spiked on Thursday morning when Chimanram Jat’s supporters began moving towards Meghwal’s home built on the disputed land. There was a pitched battle when a group tried to occupy the land, police said. However, the Jats said they had sent two men to call the Dalits for a panchayat meeting organised to resolve the issue. The Jats alleged the Dalits fired at the two men, killing one Rampal Gosain. They added that this had triggered the clash.Three Dalits – Ratanram Meghwal, Pokaram Meghwal and Pancharam Meghwal – also died.Bhanwari Meghwal, who sustained multiple fractures in the clash, alleged the Jats thrashed the Dalits, molested women, flattened their home with tractors and even tried to crush them under the tractors.She claimed one person was crushed by a tractor but police denied this. Police officials said three Dalits were beaten to death while 13 more were injured.The injured were admitted to the government hospital in Ajmer, where doctors described the condition of one person as serious.Members of the Dalit community also alleged that the Jat men had assaulted Dalit women and tried to insert rods in their genitals. However, police officers and doctors treating the women denied this claim.Suhasa said the dead were cremated on Friday. He contended the violence was not the outcome of a caste clash.“The accused include Meghwals as well as Jats. FIRs have been registered against 12 persons, eight of them Jats and two Meghwals,” he said.Nagaur collector Vishal Rajan said all the victims would be given compensation on Monday. He said police had been deployed in the hospital in Ajmer where relatives of deceased Ratanram Meghwal are being treated.The village with a population of 15,000 is dominated by Jats but also has about 4,000 Dalit families. There are proper roads and houses and agriculture is the main occupation… (Hindustan Times 16/5/15)

8. 4 Dalits Slippered for 2 Hours in Kanchi Village (2)

CHENNAI: Four Dalit youth, including two Class 12 students, were allegedly tied to an electric pole and beaten with slippers for nearly two hours in public view in a Vanniyar-dominated village about 25 km from Kancheepuram town, on February 28. A fact finding team, comprising human rights activists, which conducted an inquiry into the shocking episode blamed the police for biased attitude as the cops had arrested two of the victims. The Kancheepuram Taluk police, after a delay of 18 days, filed an FIR on the persons from the Vanniyar community based on the complaint of the victim Dalits. But no arrest was made since the accused persons was granted anticipatory bail in the meantime. The incident is said to have taken place in the Purisai village in which about 50 families live, and is otherwise dominated by Vanniyar community. Narrating the incident, M Alexander, a Class XII student and one of the victims, said he and his friend G Prasanth were visiting a shop in the village in the evening to recharge a cell phone when a group of bike-borne youth surrounded their cycles and started assaulting them. “They then took us forcibly to a ground nearby and asked us to kneel down. I asked why we should do that. Then they started severely beating us and forced us to the ground,” said Alexander. They were made to call their two elder brothers — D Saravanan and M Govendhan over phone, asking them to come to the place. Soon after the two reached the spot, all four were tied to an electric pole and the men in the village took turns to beat them with slippers. “We were all tied in four different directions and about 20 members were assaulting us when a huge crowd of the villagers gathered around us hurling abuses,” says Prasanth, another victim and a Class 12 student. The reason for the abuse of the four youth is the alleged misbehaviour towards a 14-year-old girl of the Vanniyar community by a group of unidentified men. “When we enquired with the Vanniyar community members, they confessed to having assaulted the four youth for misbehaving with the girl by sprinkling powder on her face when she was walking alone and giving her abusive letters. But nobody, even the girl concerned, does not know who those persons were as they had covered their faces with kerchieves,” said A Marx, a noted human rights activist who was part of the fact-finding team. The four Dalit youth say they were assaulted initially asking them to reveal names of the persons who misbehaved with the girl. “They assumed that we knew those persons and wanted us to tell their names. But we pleaded them we had no idea about the incident. But after the incident, now they have filed a police complaint that we misbehaved with the girl,” said Alexander. The Kanchi Taluk police had on the same day registered a women harassment case and remanded D Saravanan and M Govendan, who managed to come out on bail after 18 days in jail. (New Indian Express 17/5/15)

9. Dalit youth killed for keeping Ambedkar song as ringtone (2)

Shirdi (Maharashtra): A Dalit youth was brutally assaulted and killed in the temple town of Shirdi in Maharashtra allegedly over his mobile ringtone of a song on Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar. Four assailants have been arrested while four others are absconding. Sagar Shejwal, a nursing student , had come home to Shirdi to attend a wedding. On May 16 around 1.30 p.m., he went to a local beer shop with two of his cousins. According to Vivek Patil, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Sagar was assaulted by eight youths over his ringtone. Mr Patil said: “Eight youths were sitting at a table at the shop. When Sagar’s mobile rang with the Ambedkar song as its ringtone, the youths told him to switch it off. In a police statement, the cousin has described the song as Tumhi kara re kitihi halla / Mazbut Bhimacha quilla [Shout all you want / Bhim’s fortress is strong]. An altercation ensued and the assailants hit Sagar with a beer bottle and started kicking and punching him. Then they dragged him out, put him on a motorbike and took him away to a nearby forest. They crushed him under the bike. Sagar’s body was found around 6.30 p.m. in a naked state near Rui village. The cause of death was multiple fractures. The autopsy says Sagar sustained around 25 injuries. He died between 2 and 4 p.m.” The perpetrators, a group of local youths from the dominant Maratha and OBC communities, ran their bike repeatedly over Sagar’s body mutilating it . “I can understand that they hit him. Quarrels can happen anytime, but look at the brutality of the act. Why would they do this on such a trivial matter?” Sagar’s father Subhash Shejwal asked, unable to comprehend the horror of the assault. The initial assault was captured on the CCTV cameras at the beer shop. The 21-minute footage, in which the faces of the assailants are clearly seen, provides strong electronic evidence to the police. The shop itself is within a stone’s throw from the Shirdi police station, raising serious questions about police inaction. “I called the police at 1.45 p.m. when the youths were beating up Sagar, but for a long time they did not come,” said Sandeep Ghorpade, manager of the beer shop. Sagar’s cousins, who managed to escape, also alerted the police, but in vain. The family alleged that the officers on duty demanded an air-conditioned vehicle to look for Sagar. The police said a departmental inquiry would be initiated against Inspector Pramod Wagh and constable Sharad Kadam. “Only our relatives were looking for Sagar. No police vehicle was in sight. The body was also discovered by family members,” said complainant and Sagar’s cousin Satish Gaikwad. The police arrested Vishal Kote, Somnath and Rupesh Wadekar, who are historysheeters and Sunil Jadhav. They have been booked under the Sections 302 (murder), 395 (punishment for dacoity), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence), 109 (punishment of abetment) of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 3 (2) (v) and 3 (1) (x) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. (The Hindu 22/5/15)

10. Dalits in Madhya Pradesh Village Allegedly Not Allowed to Use Public Borewell (2)

Alirajpur, Madhya Pradesh:  Dalit residents of Ghatwani village in Alirajpur district of Madhya Pradesh — some 400 km from Bhopal — have alleged that they are not allowed to use a public borewell and have to drink dirty water of a disused well. Ironically, the Bhilala community in the village, which allegedly does not allow Dalits to use the lone hand-operated borewell, is itself a scheduled tribe. Over 200 Dalit residents of the village recently met Collector Shekhar Verma and demanded that a separate borewell be dug for them. Mr Verma told PTI that he was going to send a team of officials of social justice and revenue departments to the village to stop the discrimination. “Untouchability won’t be tolerated at any cost,” the collector said. Also, as demanded by the Dalits, another hand-operated borewell would be provided in the village, he said. RS Chouhan, Executive Engineer of Public Health and Engineering Department, said, “A complaint has come that Bhilalas don’t allow Dalits to fetch water. We will install a new hand-pump for the Dalit community in the village.” Mehtab Mandor and Mukesh, both Dalits, said the existing borewell is just 100 metres from their houses, but they are not allowed to use it. They fetch water from an old well. “Our children frequently fall ill due to its contaminated water,” they said. Pinki Mandor, a Dalit woman, said there were instances where members of her community were thrashed for daring to use the only borewell in the village. The village has a population of about 930, over 200 of them Dalits. Majority are Bhilalas, a sub-community of Bhils, who consider themselves descendants of Rajput chiefs who married daughters of Bhil chieftains. (NDTV 24/5/15)

11. Dalits Attacked for Tea Shop Entry; 8 Booked (2)

THANJAVUR:Days after four Dalits were allegedly assaulted by a group of caste-Hindu members at a tea stall here, the Tiruchitrambalam police on Sunday booked eight persons from the intermediate caste. Police said K Mathimurugan (44), a Dalit from Vellaiyan street in Navakollaikadu, along with his relatives Vignesh (22), Madhavan (22), Aravind and a  few locals had gone to a tea stall at Ottankadu bazaar on Friday night. However, a group of caste-Hindu persons allegedly prevented them from entering the shop and verbally abused them. To prevent the fight from snowballing into a caste clash, Mathimurugan asked his friends to return. However, his friends picked up some logs from roadside as a precaution. On seeing the Dalits arming themselves, the caste-Hindu people allegedly started attacking them with clubs, iron rods and aruval, police said. (Indian Express 26/5/12)

12. Dalit villager set afire for fetching water at hand-pump in MP’s Sagar dist (2)

Sagar: A Dalit villager was allegedly set on fire by an upper caste man in Madhya Pradesh’s Sagar district for collecting water from a hand-pump, police said on Wednesday, highlighting the social divide in the caste-ridden state. The incident took place May 23 at the remote Belai village near Bina town, around 160 km from Bhopal, but came to light only on Wednesday after the injured person was referred to the Sagar district hospital. The incident came barely days after a Dalit groom was assaulted in neighbouring Damoh district by a group of people, also from an upper caste, for riding a horse on his way to the bride’s house.Bina police station officer Anil Gupta said a case under the SC/ST Act has been registered against the accused Ramsahay Richariya, who was absconding.The victim Samrat Ahirwar, 31, said that Richariya had tried to stop him from fetching water from a government-installed hand-pump before him. “When I objected, he abused and thrashed me,” said Ahirwar. “Later, when I was passing by his house he threw a burning kerosene oil lamp at me resulting in burn injuries in the lower part of my body.”Dalits, considered among the lower strata of society by the so-called high castes, regularly face discrimination across many parts of the country where the social divide is strictly enforced. Activists say that divisive politics by different parties have nullified efforts by successive governments to create awareness and bring in legislations to end the discrimination. (Hindustan Times 28/5/15)



13, Two Mega Projects’ MoU to be Inked During Modi’s Chhattisgarh Visit (6)

RAIPUR: In order to fuel the development process in tribal-dominated Bastar region of Chhattisgarh, an MoU for two mega projects will be inked during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the state on May 9. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi will gift two major projects to tribal-dominated Bastar region during his visit to Chhattisgarh on May 9,” an official statement issued here said today. The two projects are – one of setting up of an ultra-mega steel plant at village Dilmili in naxal-sensitive Dantewada and another, extension of second phase of Rowghat-Jagdalpur 140 km railway line. Both the projects will come up in insurgency-hit areas and the state government officials claim the projects would accelerate the pace of development in vastly-populated tribal regions. The total investment on the two major projects will be around Rs 24,000 crore and it would help in a rapid socio-economic transformation of sprawling Bastar, it said. Dallirajhara-Rowghat-Jagdalpur broad-gauge railway project will cover a length of 235 km. The laying of railway line of 95 km in the first phase from Dallirajhara to Rowghat is currently underway at a rapid pace. An MoU on the second phase Rowghat-Jagdalpur line was signed earlier but it was shelved due to lack of funds. Now, the Centre has given consent to the state’s proposal to lay the railway line through SPV (special purpose vehicle) and a fresh MoU will be inked on May 9, the statement said. (New Indian Express 3/5/15)

14. Tribals Triumph as Mining Lease on Temple Hill is Scrapped (6)

VISAKHAPATNAM: In a major victory to the tribals, Srikakulam district collector P Lakshmi Nrusimham Sunday cancelled the No Objection Certificate (NOC) issued over the mining lease of the Kannedhara hill, the ancient home of the three sacred temples worshipped by tribals, in Seethampeta agency area. The orders were issued a day before the meeting of the Cabinet sub-committee scheduled to be held Monday. The Cabinet sub-committee, which observed that the NOC was issued in violation of revenue norms, asked the officials concerned to take immediate action during its previous meeting held on April 23. Soon after learning about the orders, tribals of Patharegulapadu, Kantamanugooda, Regulapadu and neighbouring villages broke into celebrations. They distributed sweets and congratulated each other over the victory. Savara Subbudu and other petitioners claimed the orders as the victory of tribals and thanked the government for respecting their sentiments and protecting their livelihood. In the wake of cancellation of the NOC by the district administration, the Mines and Geology department is expected to issue orders cancelling the mining lease. During the Congress regime, the then tahsildar of Seethampeta mandal issued an NOC for an extent of 15 hectare in survey no. 289 of Puliputti village for extraction of granite mineral in June 2010. Based on the NOC and recommendation of the then assistant director of Mines and Geology Department, the then director of Mines and Geology granted a mining lease in favour of Virgin Rocks Private Limited for a period of 20 years in an extent of 10 hectare. The tribals, along with environmentalists, strongly opposed the decision and alleged that former minister Dharmana Prasada Rao used his influence to get the mining lease sanctioned for the benefit of his son. They tribals launched state-wide agitations and a few of them approached the Lokayukta alleging that though the land was in possession of tribals with pattas the tahsildar overrode them and issued the NOC. They also pointed out that despite the presence of three dieties and temples worshipped by the locals in the area, the tahsildar issued the NOC. Based on the Lokayukta’s orders, the district administration launched a probe into the issue. Simultaneously, the Mines and Geology department too, investigated the lease. After assuming power, Telugu Desam Party which supported the tribals on the issue during their fight, formed a Cabinet sub-committee to look into the issue and was informed that the lease was given to former revenue minister Dharmana Prasada Rao’s son against the interests of tribals living in the hilly region. During the last meeting on April 23, the ministers were informed about the manner in which the NOC was issued, prompting them to order immediate action and subsequently scrap the deal altogether. New Indian Express 4/5/15)

15. Left Front wins all 28 Tribal Council seats (6)

Aizawl: The ruling Left Front in Tripura has won all 28 elected seats in polls to the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) and grabbed 54.21 percent of all the votes polled, the state’s Election Commission said Wednesday. The Left Front’s vote percentage has, however, dropped by 9 percent compared to the 2010 polls when it won the same number of seats. Polls for the 30-seat TTAADC, two of which are filled up by nominations by the Governor, were held on Sunday with 83 percent turn-out. The state’s main opposition Congress, meanwhile, polled the least percentage of votes at just 5.49 percent, with the BJP polling only slightly better by polling 7.87 percent of the total votes. Its successes were mainly restricted to areas close to the state’s border with Assam, however. Two tribal parties performed better than both the other national parties active in the state with the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) polling 18.6 percent of the votes with many tribal youth believed to be backing its call for a separate state for tribals. The Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra (INPT), meanwhile, polled 10.77 percent of the votes, taking third place as regards to votes polled. The IPFT’s relative success in the polls has caused some worry even in the Left Front with CPM’s general secretary for the state Bijan Dhar admitting in a press conference at Agartala that the support the rallying cry has mustered especially among tribal youth might have repercussions in the near future. The CPM led by CM Manik Sarkar has long dismissed the idea of a separate state for tribals in the North-East’s smallest state. Tripura has seen ethnic riots and armed tribal groups demanding autonomy since the 1970s, although much of it has greatly diminished in the past decade. The TTAADC — established by the Left Front in the early 1980s — covers two-thirds of the state’s territory, most of it hills and forests. (Indian Express 6/5/15)

16. Protest against ‘police threat’ to Chhattisgarh legal aid group (6)

RAIPUR; The People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) has condemned Chhattisgarh police’s “threat” of taking sever action against “certain” NGOs in Chhattisgarh for allegedly aiding and abetting the Maoists under guise of helping tribal people.“At a recent press conference in Bastar, Inspector General of Police S.R. Kalluri said that many such organisations were under surveillance. The IGP’s list of suspicions activities included providing legal assistance to Naxalites — a thinly veiled reference to the Jagdalpur Legal Aid group, a small NGO working in Bastar to provide free legal aid to the Tribal people, many of whom are falsely implicated in cases of Naxal activities,” a PUDR statement said. “This warning [by police] comes on the heels of two recent incidents of illegal detention of tribal people in Bastar in which the Jagdalpur Legal Aid group actively intervened on behalf of the victims and highlighted police violations,” claimed the PUDR. Highlighting the need for free legal aid to Bastar tribal people, the PUDR said that most of the tribal people arrested for alleged Maoist activities in Bastar , are victims of government’s false successes and fake surrenders. The organisations such as the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group are making their presence felt in a situation in Bastar in which on the one hand, a war is being waged by the state in the interests of large scale industry and the everyday persecution of local tribal people on the other, it added. . “The State’s reaction of clamping down on all resistance by the tribal people as well as targeting activists and people’s lawyers in the name of fighting Naxalim, indicates the lengths to which it is prepared to go to silence all constitutional freedoms in Bastar,” the statement added. (The Hindu 8/5/15)

17. 430 individual titles ready for distribution to forest dwellers on Sathy hills (6)

Erode: A total of 430 individual titles for land ownership will be granted to forest-dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers on Sathy hills under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, once a court case against such granting of pattas is settled, official sources said. The Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs is keen on early conversion of forest villages into revenue villages as a vital component of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, called FRA in short. According to the Ministry, the Act that makes officials of Forest Department part of committees constituted at different levels for recognition and vesting of forest rights is under implementation in various States. The Ministry has observed a significant increase in community rights title distribution: As on February 28, 2015 as many as 15,32,555 individual titles and 29,898 community titles had been issued. Tamil Nadu, however, has not kept pace with the implementation of