Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Posted by admin at 12 October 2015

Category: Uncategorized

From September 11 to 30, 2015

 DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

1. “RSS trying to turn Dalits against reservation policy” (2)

Paramakudi: Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF) has criticised the Rahstriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for trying to turn a section of Dalits against the reservation policy. Talking to reporters after paying homage to Dalit leader Immanuel Sekaran on the occasion of his 58th death anniversary here on Friday, TNUF State general secretary K. Samuel Raj said that the recent conference addressed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah in Madurai was part of the RSS’s ploy to make Dalits “prick their eyes with their own hands”. “The conference was part of a larger conspiracy launched by the RSS to do away with reservation,” he alleged. (The Hndu 12/9/15)

2. Misuse of photographs: action sought (2)

COIMBATORE: Tamilaga Dalit Munnetra Kazhagam on Friday sought action against those who misused photographs of a few residents in the Kamarajapuram slum by pasting them on toilets. The Kazhagam leader, S.B. Nagaraj, called it a cruel joke. He said that the photographs were taken by misleading them. The residents were told that they were identified as beneficiaries for a housing scheme and therefore needed to submit their photographs. But the photographs were pasted inside Namma Toilets across the State. Mr. Nagaraj submitted a a petition to the Coimbatore Corporation officials asking the civic body to initiate criminal action by lodging a complaint with the police. He wanted the corporation to end manual scavenging, which he alleged was prevalent across the city.He said the civic body should provide regular employment opportunities to conservancy workers and not engage them on contract basis. (The Hindu 13/9/15)

3. SC summons top police officials of Baghpat in Dalit family harassment case (2)

NEW DELHI: Taking serious view of diktat passed by a khap panchayat of Baghpat district in UP against a Dalit family, the Supreme Court today summoned the top police officials of the district.  The panchayat had allegedly passed order that girls of Dalit family be raped after their brother had eloped with married girl of Jat community. The man had later on returned to the village after which he was arrested by police in a drug case. In an in-chamber proceeding, a bench of justices J Chelameswar and A M Sapre interacted with family members of the Dalit family who fled the village and now residing in national capital. The bench after hearing them decided to summon police officials of the district and directed them to appear before it tomorrow at 2 PM along with the man who is still in jail. The court was hearing a plea filed by Dalit family seeking protection from Khap. They alleged that police is trying to implicate them in false cases. (Times of India 15/9/15)

4. SC asks police to protect Dalit family (2)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Delhi police to protect a 23-year-old Dalit woman and her family who fled Baghpat in U.P. after a khap panchayat condemned her and her sister to be raped and paraded naked as punishment for their brother’s elopement with a married, dominant caste woman. The woman, represented by lawyer Rebecca John, had moved the court against the khap panchayat’s ire. (The Hindu 17/9/15)

5. Dalit Students Allegedly Denied Puja Rights, Case Registered (2)

KENDRAPADA: A case has been registered by police under Scheduled Caste and Tribe (Atrocity Prevention) Act, 1973 following complaint that dalit students were allegedly denied of their rights to offer prayer to Lord Ganesha in a government-run school in Kendrapara district. Around 25 dalit children studying in Andara Upper Primary School under Pattamundai police station limits were allegedly disallowed to break coconut shells and offer prayer to Lord Ganesha while upper caste students were allowed to do so during Ganesha Chaturthi on Thursday.  “We have registered a case. The incident is being investigated. Legal action would accordingly be initiated,” Kendrapara Superintendent of police Nitinjeet Singh said. A separate probe by Schools and Mass Education department has also been ordered into the incident, sources said. “The administration has taken serious view of the incident. Directives have been served on the School and Mass education department authorities to conduct an ‘unbiased’ inquiry into the reported denial of puja rights to dalit children,” Kendrapara Collector Debraj Senapati said.   Rabindra Nath Sethi, a rights’ activist,  sought for immediate arrest of the perpetrators of the crime. Promotion of caste bias in government-run educational institutions is in bad taste, he said. District Education Officer Sangram Sahu said, “An inquiry has been ordered into alleged caste discrimination. On the basis of inquiry findings, due action will be taken against those found guilty.” (New Indian Express 19/9/15)

6. Dalit girl of Theni village escapes from “hell”(2)

Madurai:  “I was brutally attacked by my employer” said a 15-year-old girl, hailing from a village in Theni district. Speaking to The Hindu on Saturday, the Dalit girl, (name withheld) who was still in a state of shock, said in a choked voice that no child, especially girls, should face such a torture. After hearing people saying that some spinning mills in Erode district paid “lucrative” wages, the girl convinced her father, left with hopes of helping her family fight poverty and joined a mill in the third week of August. She said, “Little did I realise that I was entering the gates of hell.” As she could not cope with the strenuous work for long hours, she pleaded with the management to let her go home from the second day. Work started at 5 a.m., and went on till 3 p.m. “When I requested that I be relieved, the employer slapped and abused me. When I refused to work or take food, another well-built man said that they would let me go home provided some one replaced me,” she said. As the place was new to the girl, her attempt to escape was not that easy. Finally, when they allowed her to speak to her family over phone, her grandmother rushed in as her replacement. Again, the mill owner refused to let her go and instead the abuse continued, the girl said. When she fainted, they ignored her. Utilising the opportunity, the girl escaped from the mill premises, only to be caught by the watchman. But, a few people came to her rescue and freed her, she added. A fact-finding team from Evidence, a Madurai-based NGO, which visited Theni district, has demanded the arrest of the mill owner and also a compensation of Rs. 3 lakh for the girl. Based on a complaint from the girl’s father, Karuppiah, Theni All Woman Police registered a case under the POCSO Act, 2012. But A. Kathir, executive director of Evidence, urged the police to book cases under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act and for illegal confinement.According to the complainant, many children in the age group of 13 to 17 years were lured into working in the mill on the promise of a lump sum payment after working for three years. (The Hindu 21/9/15)

7. Punjab and Haryana High Court seeks report on dalit families of Bhagana village (2)

The Punjab and Haryana High Court Wednesday sought a complete status report from the Haryana government about the Dalit families agitating against the alleged threat by the dominant caste in Bhagana village of Hisar district. The directions came from Justice Paramjeet Singh while hearing a petition filed by Ambedkar Welfare Samiti, Bhagana. The court has also directed the state government to inform as to whether it has filed any appeal against the acquittal of the accused in the alleged abduction and gang rape case of four Dalit minor girls of the Bhagana village. The accused were acquitted by the Hisar fast track court on August 12. The petitioner’s counsel contradicted the reply submitted by Hisar deputy commissioner Chander Shekhar Khare earlier on September 14 in the court. The court was informed that it was wrong that all the villagers who had moved out of the village earlier have returned to the village and still there are a number of villagers who are at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, in their protest. The court was also informed that there are a number of such protesting families who have converted to Islam. The petitioner’s counsel also sought directions from the court to the state government to make a rehabilitation policy for the villagers like in case of Kashmiri pandits of Jammu and Kashmir. The petitioners association had approached the high court last year seeking security and proper investigation into the FIR registered at police station Hisar Sadar on March 25 last year on account of gang rape of four minor girls on March 23 last year. It has been alleged that around 90 families had to leave the village in the night of March 25 due to lack of security and at the time of filing of petition in the high court were protesting at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi. The petitioner association has also sought rehabilitation of the villagers. In August first week this year over 100 dalit families of the village had converted to Islam in New Delhi. The court has now directed the state government to file its detailed reply in the case on October 7. (Indian Express 24/9/15)

8. Upper Caste Men in Mysuru Refuse to Give Dalit Boy His Reward (2)

MYSURU: Upper caste men of Kuruburu Village in T Narasipur Taluk near here allegedly refused to give a dalit boy his reward for winning a competition organised in the village, on Thursday night. It is also alleged that upper caste individuals assaulted the dalit boys who participated in the competition and allegedly showed disrespect to a portrait of Dr B R Ambedkar. According to sources, the upper caste residents had put up a Ganesha pandal and had organised a gundu kallu (stone lifting) competition in the village for Gowri-Ganesha festival. They had also declared that the winner will get a cash award of `2,000. Dalit boys Narayan, Chinnaiah, Rangaiah, Puttaswamy and Mahesh took part in the contest, which Narayan won. When Narayan claimed the cash prize, the men allegedly refused to hand it over. They also allegedly hit Narayan with sticks and chased him and the other boys till their locality. According to sources, the villagers even broke the drinking water pipes in the dalit area. T Narasipur police personell rushed to the spot and diffused the situation. Cases for harassment of dalits have been slapped against 14 people —Jagadish, Prashanth, Swamy, Nagaraju, Bullimara, Shivu, Anil, Karthik, Guruswamy, Babu, Yogesh, Subbu and Shantha. (New Indian Express 26/9/15)

9. Dalit couple ostracised for raising question at gram sabha (2)

Madurai: When the Dalit couple raised a question at the gram sabha meeting, they would never have imagined that they would be ostracised by the community. Narrating their woes at a public hearing organised here by an NGO, Evidence, the couple – Lakshmi (35) and Paramasivam – from Kattunayakanpatti in Theni district, said that the police and the district administration had not taken any tangible action to date. The police registered a case against the accused seven months ago, but had not arrested them. Mr. Paramasivam raised a question at the gram sabha meeting held on January 26 on the manner in which expenses were made by the organisers for a local temple festival. Angered by this, Ramesh Babu, who claimed to be close to district-level All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam functionaries, threatened the couple and also ordered the others to keep them away from their hamlet, they said. The couple lodged a complaint with Veerapandi police. After 23 days, the police booked a case against Ramesh Babu and others under different sections of the Indian Penal Code and the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. For the last seven months, the couple, along with their children, had been living in an unsafe place near a small pond outside the village. “Even for drawing potable water, I have to trek for two km. To buy grocery, I have to go to Venkatachalapuram, which is about three km away,” Ms. Lakshmi said. Like the couple, about 20 victims of caste oppression narrated their woes to the panellists who comprised P. Shanmugam, State president of Tamil Nadu Malaivaazh Makkal Sangam, advocates Nirmala Rani and Ezhil Caroline and journalists Jayarani and Sugitha. Executive director of Evidence A. Kathir, who moderated the hearing, said that it was an initiative to create an awareness among the deprived class, and such public hearings might help in preventing atrocities. (The Hindu 28/9/15)

TRIBALS

10. Uprooted by Maoists, A Generation of Tribals Torn From Their Origins (6)

Bijapur:  For half his life, 14-year-old Nagesh Kumar Chapa has been studying at a residential school in Bijpur district’s Dugaiguda village of Chhattisgarh, away from his home, parents and losing connect with his tribal roots with each passing day. He is among 500 children from tribal communities who stay and study at the Adarsh Ashram, run by the Central government for children from Maoist-affected areas. There are 30 such Ashrams in the four districts of Chhatisgarh. At the schools, they get free education, food, clothes and even Rs. 50 as pocket money every month, under the Rajiv Gandhi Shiksha Mission. “The quality of education in our village is not good and also dada (Maoists) stop us from going to school. After finishing studies here, I would like to study further in Avapalli. I do not want to go back to my village,” Nagesh says. In villages like Kamarguda, where his home is, people live in fear. Maoists have sometimes blown up school buildings to discourage children from studying. The rebels often visit the village demanding food and money and warning villagers against taking benefits from the government. If they have to send their children away from home to study, the villagers say, then that’s a price they are willing to pay. Even if it means, sending them away from home and community where the children leave behind their tribal way of life. “Two of my sons are working in Bijapur after finishing their studies. I sent them away because of our poverty and the Maoist problem. They will not come back. Even I don’t want them to return to the village,” Uika Lakhmaiya, a villager, tells NDTV. The government is proud of the initiatives to give tribal children a shot at schooling and employment. It denies that staying away from their roots sends these children further away from their rich culture and heritage. “The children stay with others who are also from Bijapur so their cultural connection is intact we ensure that. But once the child is educated and grown up it is totally up to him or her what they want to do with their life and where they want to settle,” Bijapur Collector Bijapur Jaswant Singh says. (NDTV 13/9/15)

11. Nature keeps tribal people healthy in remote places (6)

ADILABAD: Living in remote jungle habitations, like a good number of Adivasis in Adilabad district do, can throw up numerous problems but there is a brighter side to it too. Proximity to greenery keeps the inhabitants in good health in general and not many get inflicted with diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes or asthma, though consumption of tobacco is commonly prevalent in such villages. “Children who live in areas with more greenery have a lower likelihood of being obese,” says Reuben Chow as he quotes three studies on health benefits of living near greenery in the January 8, 2009 issue of Natural News , an American journal. In Adilabad, the Adivasis are not even over weight. Famous Anthropologis Christopher von Furer-Haimendorf, among the early researchers to have worked in the tribal parts of this district, does not seem to have made mention of the general health of Adivasis in his books. One of the apparent reasons is he found nothing amiss in this regard during his stay in the tribal heartland. There are about 100 to 150 habitations in the agency and Tribal Sub Plan mandals considered remote as they are located beyond 10 km from the main road in forests or whatever is left of it. The inhabitants of these villages – like Movvad in Asifabad mandal, Mangi in Tiryani, Chinna Dhoba and Pedda Dhoba in Jainoor and the 12 villages on the route to Jodeghat in Kerameri etc exhibit a lower incidence of even seasonal fevers which have become a scourge in those habitations which are accessible and not situated close to greenery. “Yes, the incidence of diseases like asthma is lower among tribals living in the interior parts of the district,” concurred Deputy District Medical and Health Officer in the agency, T. Prabhakar Reddy. “Regular monitoring of the health of these tribals however, should not be ignored,” cautioned District Immunization Officer Thodsam Chandu, who had made a study on general health of Kolams a few years back. The Gonds, Kolams, Pardhans and Thotties, subjects of the erstwhile Gond Kings of Chandrapur, settled deeper inside the thick forests of Adilabad after the kingdom was defeated by the Bhonsales about 250 centuries ago. Nothing much has changed in the far flung habitations but for some unmotorable roads connecting them to other places. (The Hindu 14/9/15)

12. Adivasi students demand quota (6)

HYDERABAD: Over 50 Adivasi students from 12 universities in Telangana on Tuesday demanded that the State government implement 9.91 per cent reservations for Adivasis in the public sector. The students said that as per the State government estimate, the percentage of Adivasi population is 9.91, and they would expect the government to give them proportionate representation in the sector. Students threatened to withdraw support for TRS in the upcoming elections in Warangal if the government fails to meet their demand. “The government has already conducted engineering and medical admissions without implementing fresh reservations. It will soon release the Public Service Commission notification. We want reservation to be implemented before the bulk appointment and admissions take place,” said K. Shiva Naik, a student leader of the All Universities Tribal Scholars and Students, an organisation established to fight for reservations. Meanwhile, the government is coming out with the Public Service Commission notification. (The Hindu 16/9/15)

13. Grant citizenship to Chakma, Hajong tribals in three months: SC (6)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has directed the Centre and Arunachal Pradesh government to grant citizenship within three months to Chakma and Hajong tribals who had migrated from Bangladesh in 1964-69, saying they cannot be discriminated in any manner, “It is well known that the Chakmas and Hajongs were displaced from the area which became part of East Pakistan (now in Bangladesh) on construction of Kaptai Dam and were allowed to be rehabilitated under the decision of the Government of India… “They could not be discriminated against in any manner pending formal conferment of rights of citizenship. Their status also stands duly acknowledged in the guidelines of the Election Commission of India,” a bench of Justices Anil R Dave and Adarsh K Goel said. The apex court said that Chakmas have a right to be granted citizenship and it is even “recognised by judicial decisions that they cannot be required to obtain any Inner Line permit as they are settled in Arunachal Pradesh.” The court passed the order on a petition filed by Committee for Citizenship Rights of the Chakmas (CCRC) seeking direction to grant citizenship to the Chakma and Hajong tribals who migrated to India in 1964-1969 and were settled in the Arunachal Pradesh. “As earlier held by this Court, the Delhi High Court and Gauhati High Court, they need to be protected and their claims of citizenship need to be considered as per applicable procedure,” the court said. (Zee News  20/9/15)

14. Protest against ‘forced’ sterilisation (6)

KALPETTA: A mob on Monday laid siege to the Community Health Centre (CHC) at Pulpally for several hours, after a local tribal youth claimed that he was forced to undergo sterilisation by local government health officials. The officials, however, claimed that he underwent vasectomy voluntarily. The alleged victim, 30-year-old Chandran of Palamoola tribal hamlet at Pulpally, complained to the police that Pradeepan, a junior health inspector of the CHC, had approached him last Friday, offering some manual work. The official advised him to take an anti-tetanus injection first since he might get cuts or nicks and took him to the local CHC. In his complaint, Mr. Chandran said at the CHC, the officials forcibly sterilised him, and gave him the incentive of Rs.1,000. He returned to the hospital on Saturday morning after he felt uneasiness and pain on the operated part, but the hospital authorities declined to admit him, the complaint said. The youth had earlier married a tribal woman who had two children from her earlier marriage, but had deserted him nearly nine years ago. The police, however, said they were probing the complaint and had yet to decide on the veracity of the complaint. V.D. Joseph, medical officer at the CHC, said that as many as six tribesmen had undergone vasectomy on the same day and Mr. Chandran had voluntarily approached them to undergo the surgery like the others, at a camp organised by the CHC at the tribal hamlet under the National Family Welfare programme recently. The youth, he said, had claimed that he had two children and had signed the consent form as well. District Collector Kesavendrakumar, who held discussions with the protesters, said action would be taken if there was anything amiss after preliminary investigation by the District Medical Officer. The medical expenses of the victim would be borne by the government and the district administration had offered to recommend the government to provide compensation to the youth. Mr. Kesavendrakumar later said that the surgery appeared to have been done with the consent of the tribal youth. But it was possible that he was either not fully aware of the surgery or the officials had failed to adequately convince him on its consequences. The Collector said steps would be taken to do a vasovasostomy (vasectomy reversal) surgery on the youth after discussing with experts at the Government Medical College Hospital. (The Hindu 22//9/15)

15. New scheme to protect people living in mining areas announced (6)

New Delhi: The government on Wednesday announced launching a new scheme named Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana (PMKKKY) which will focus on safeguarding health, environment and economic conditions of the tribals living in areas near mines. Around Rs.6,000 crore will be spent every year on the development of these regions under the scheme, an official statement said. “The objective of PMKKKY scheme will be to implement various developmental and welfare projects in mining-affected areas that complement the existing ongoing schemes/projects of state and central governments,” said the mines ministry statement. “The scheme will also look to minimize or mitigate the adverse impacts, during and after mining, on the environment, health and socio-economics of people in mining districts and ensure long-term sustainable livelihoods for the affected people in mining areas,” it added. The ministry has also released guidelines for identifying these areas, implementation and expenditure of funds under the scheme. “At least 60 percent of the funds under the PMKKKY have to be used for high priority areas such as drinking water supply, environment preservation and pollution control measures, primary/ secondary health care, education, welfare of women, children, aged and disabled people, skill development & sanitation,” it said. “Up to 40 percent of the funds can be used for infrastructure projects such as physical infrastructure, irrigation, energy and watershed development and any other measures for enhancing environmental quality in mining district,” it added. (Business Standard 23/9/15)

16. Over 2,000 title deeds since 1986, but no land yet for tribespeople (6)

Palakkad: The tribespeople of Attapadi have received over 2,000 pattayams (title deeds) for land since 1986 but they haven’t got even an inch in their possession so far. No wonder, the latest offer from chief minister Oommen Chandy to provide one acre each to all landless families in Attapadi has evoked little response. Successive governments had, since 1986, given thousands of acres for tribal rehabilitation in parts of Attapadi like Vattalukki, Bhuthivazhi, Gulikadavu, Sholayur, Kottathara, Adwanapetti and Mulagangal. “But, all these land remain only on paper and not a single tribal family has got it as the land had not been measured and handed over,” says K A Ramu of Thambu, a tribal organization. The 800-acre Vattalukki farm was created from forest land to provide five acres each to over 170 families settled there but nobody got the land till now and many families had left the farm, he said. These ‘pattayam holders’ will take out a march to Palakkad collectorate, travelling over 100km, on October 7 to meet district collector P Marykutty with a request to measure the land and hand it over to tribespeople. T R Chandran, who got the pattayam for 2.5 acres at Adwanapetti in Sholayur grama panchayat at a ‘pattayamela’ in Agali in 1999 from former chief minister E K Nayanar, said he had contacted revenue authorities for the land on numerous occasions. “The land was allotted to some other tribal people later. The latest allotment was for Chengara land agitators,” he said. Thothi Mooppan of Gulikadavu tribal hamlet said the governments had been issuing pattayam for the same land again and again. “This is just to show that the government had given land to tribal people. There should be an end to such cheating.” There are several tribesmen who got pattayam but never got the land and most of these land are now encroached by non-tribesmen, said M Sukumaran, convenor of Attapadi Samrakshana Samithy. (Times of India 25/9/15)

17. Tribal Areas Lag Behind Despite Government Funding (6)

KHAMMAM: Tribal hamlets in Maoist-affected areas are still lagging behind in terms of development in spite of government funding. There is much criticism against utilisation of funds sanctioned by the Union government under Left Wing Extremists (LWE) affected districts development schemes.By recognising the district as one of the Maoists affected areas, the ministry of home affairs had sanctioned `1,000 crore under Road Requirement Plan (RRP) phase- I in 2009. However,  political leaders and tribal associations allege that there have been irregularities in the development works. “Officials have taken up works in plain areas, rather than forest areas, where there is huge requirement” tribal leaders say. Adivasi Sankshema Parishad state convener Sonde Veeraiah pointed out that people from remote areas are suffering due to lack of facilities. He also alleged that officials did not take up any development progarmmes in remote villages of Bhadrachalam division.   BJP leader, A Subba Rao alos claimed that LWE funds have been utilised in plain areas and only a few works were taken up in agency areas. As a part of RRP phase- I, Roads and Building (R&B) department has taken 23 works for construction of roads, bridges and culverts at a cost of `576 crores and also completed them except Yellandu-Gundala road due to forest clearance problems.  Meanwhile, Integrated Tribal Agency (ITDA) had also taken up  construction of Ashram schools and other works with an outlay of `200 crores. The Union government has also sanctioned `115 crore under the Integrated Action Plan (IAP) scheme (now Additional Central Assistance (ACA) for the construction of the school buildings, Anganwadi centres, drinking water schemes, rural roads, panchayats offices and skill development programmes. Meanwhile, the R&B department has sent proposals worth `517 crores to take up 12 road works under LWE scheme. Speaking to Express, R&B chief engineer I Ganapathi Reddy said, “We have sent proposals for `2,200 crores to take up road works in four Maoist affected districts but the Centre has asked to cut it down by 1,290 crores.” (New Indian Express 28/9/15)

WOMEN      

18. Saudi Embassy faces women’s fury (8)

New Delhi: Scores of activists associated with the All-India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) descended outside the office of the Saudi Arabian Embassy demanding strict and immediate action against one of its diplomats for subjecting two Nepalese women to prolonged exploitation — both sexual and otherwise — here on Thursday. They waved placards demanding that the diplomat, who allegedly vacated his residence in Gurgaon along with his family on Thursday and was widely held to have taken refuge on the Embassy’s premises in South Delhi, not be allowed to abuse his status. They also questioned the Saudi criminal law. “Men can gang-rape and women are to be stoned?” said one placard, referring to several incidents in which women of that country have been subjected to death by being pelted with stones for alleged sexual ‘misconduct.’ The two Nepalese women, who were trafficked from Nepal on the pretext of being provided employment in the capital by placement agents from their own country, were rescued by a joint team of the Gurgaon police, a local NGO and a similar organisation from Nepal. The two women were flown back to Nepal’s capital early on Thursday morning and are understood to have undergone medical and psychological tests. (The Hindu 11/9/15)

19. Empower women to help improve child sex ratio: Activist (8)

AURANGABAD: In a bid to improve the declining female sex ratio in Aurangabad district that has plunged to 858 girls in 2011 from 890 per 1,000 boys in 2001, the Aurangabad zilla parishad organised a discussion to create public awareness on the PCPNDT Act and female foeticide under the Lek Ladki Abhiyan. On the occasion, the health officials also released a book on the PCPNDT Act. The district is among the 100 worst districts to have poor sex ratio in the country. Varsha Deshpande, a lawyer who runs the Lek Ladki Abhiyaan, an organisation that has become well-known for carrying out sting operations on clinics and doctors who indulge in sex-selective tests and abortions, said, “In 2011, Beed district in Maharashtra had a severely skewed ratio of girl child of 807 and Aurangabad had 858. But strict implementation of the PCPNDT Act has helped improve the ratio incredibly to 905 in Beed and 934 in Aurangabad.” She was speaking at a training programme organised for medical officer, health, nutrition and sanitation committee members, at the ZP office on Friday. The Lek Ladki Abhiyan has carried out 42 sting operations against diagnostic centres and maternity homes conducting sex determination and abortion. It was her team that had busted Beed’s Sudam Munde’s dubious practice last year. Deshpande, also a member of the National Inspection and Monitoring Committee to implement the PCPNDT Act, said, “There are several related social ills and larger issues concerning women that need to be addressed. Apart from strict implementation of the Act, women empowerment and provision of education and employment for women would bring in a change.” “A vllage-level campaign needs to be launched. Behavioural changes take a very long time. Sadly, very few families actively want daughters even today. Girls are born as unintended errors in the pursuit of the highly desired sons,” she said, adding that we should encourage a democratic family set-up and teach gender equality. “Why should the father of the house be revered like god? Television shows that depict women as subservient are another hurdle in the progression of society. Modern values should be instilled in people if our attitude towards women is to change,” she pointed out. “Activism doesn’t always work. You need a strong law prescribing harsh punishment to combat this evil. Sex selection of the foetus should be treated as nothing less than a crime. Only then will it stop,” she said. Among the other health officials, civil surgeon G M Gaikwad, ZP district health officer B T Jamadar, child and reproductive officer Vivek Khatgaonkar, Lek Ladki Abhiyan president Shaila Jadhav, AYUSH officer Satyanarayan Murmure and ZP epidemiologist Jayshree Lahane were also present. (Times of India 12/9/15)

20. Sexual harassment law compliance poor (8)

MUMBAI: Response to the law against sexual harassment of women has been tepid if action taken by respective state governments and private entities is anything to go by. It’s been nearly two years since the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal) Act, 2013 came into force, but only one state, Rajasthan, has managed to become fully compliant with the law. According to responses Mumbai-based consultant Complykaro Services received to its RTI applications, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh and Goa have so far only partially complied with the law. In response to a query from TOI, an official from the ministry of women & child development (MWCD) said it had issued advisories to all states/UTs in December 2013 and again in October 2014 to ensure effective implementation of the Act. Under the Act, states/UTs are required to monitor implementation and compliance of the law through the office of district officer for each district who, in turn, nominates a local complaints committee (LCC) and nodal officers. Most of the states are still in the process of ensuring all measures are taken in compliance with the Act. “The biggest challenge to implementation is ignorance of the law. It is applicable for all organizations irrespective of its size and whether they have women employees or not. The entire focus of this law is to prevent sexual harassment by bringing about a behavioural change among employees. Only when all organizations implement this law will our spouses, sisters and daughters feel safe,” said Vishal Kedia, founder & director, Complykaro Services, which is in the business of assisting companies to comply with the said law. While the Act cast an obligation upon all the employers to constitute an internal complaint committee (ICC), it also placed the responsibility on the appropriate state government to notify the district officer for setting up LCC. State governments are expected to monitor the implementation of the Act and maintain data on the number of cases filed and disposed of in respect of all cases of sexual harassment at the workplace. The LCC is required to investigate complaints received from employees in cases where an ICC has not been constituted by the employer or the complaint is against the employer himself. “The law requires the state government (through the district officer) to constitute an LCC at the district level. There is not enough information in the public domain to ascertain where such committees have been set up or whether they have prepared and submitted annual reports to the state government,” said Vikram Shroff, head-HR Law, Nishith Desai Associates, a legal and tax counselling firm. State governments are required to develop relevant information, education, communication and training material, besides organizing awareness programmes, to on the provisions of the Sexual Harassment Act providing for protection of women at the workplace. “To my knowledge, such information does not appear to have been made available for public access as yet. There is lack of clarity on any penal action taken by the state governments for non-compliance of the Sexual Harassment Act,” said Shroff. The punishment under the law is fairly stringent, especially in cases where an employer, after having been previously convicted of a punishable offence under the Act, subsequently commits and is convicted of the same offence, in which case the employer is liable to cancellation of his business licence or registrations. (Times of India 15/9/15)

21. My wife being misused for political ends: Somnath Bharti (8)

New Delhi: AAP MLA Somnath Bharti on Wednesday appeared before the police for the second time in two days offering to join the probe over allegations of attempt to murder and domestic violence even as he said that his “gullible” wife was being “misused” for meeting political ends by rival parties. However, police refused to entertain Bharti saying that the concerned investigating officer was not present while maintaining its demand for “custodial interrogation”, which was not possible in view of the Delhi High Court’s two-day reprieve to him. Bharti also accused the Delhi Police of working at the Centre’s “behest” saying it is not “responding” to his offer of joining investigation and wanted to “torture” him in custody instead. “It’s absolutely a matrimonial affair. She (Lipika Mitra) is being misused for political purposes. Political parties have ganged up against me, attempting to damage my party (AAP) through me taking advantage of her innocence and gullibility,” Bharti told PTI. He refuted the charges against him saying he was ready with a point-by-point rebuttal based on solid evidences. The Malviya Nagar legislator also questioned the sections of Indian Penal Code slapped against him. Police was after him as if he was a “terrorist”, he said after showing up at Dwarka North police station in the evening. “The police is being misused. In a case like this Section 307 or 313 cannot be applied. They have used these section as my arrest is not possible under Section 498A and 406. Police should have ideally questioned me by now,” he said. “If their intention is my arrest, who can politically benefit from it? You (police) have issued non-bailable warrant against me, have sent personnel across the country to track me as if I was a terrorist,” Bharti said. The former Delhi Law Minister, with his dog in tow, had appeared at the same station last night also. He also met DCP (Southwest) R A Sanjeev today. Joint Commissioner of Police (Southwest) Dependra Pathak said the police is looking for Bharti’s “custodial interrogation”, which is not possible till tomorrow. “Questioning him now can be counted as a coercive action which he will be considered to be a violation of the HC order,” Pathak said…….. (Zee News 17/9/15)

22. Sexual harassment case against seniors (8)

AGURGAON: A 33-year-old manager of a telecom giant accused three senior officials of sexually harassing her. Police have lodged an FIR against the three officials and also recorder her statement in a city court. According to police, the woman employee of the telecom company approached cops on Thursday after the company allegedly failed to address her complaint. In her complaint, she said she had been working for the telecom company for a long time. A co-worker had been allegedly misbehaving with her for the past two weeks. She complained to her seniors but they allegedly did not pay much attention to it. Following this, she approached the police. According to the complaint, an FIR has been lodged against the trio under sections 354A (sexual harassment), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and 34 (common intention) of IPC at the Sector 18 police station. “An FIR has been lodged. The statement of the women employee was recorded in a city court on Friday. A probe is under way,” said inspector Jaibhan Tyagi, SHO, Sector 18 police station. (Times of India 19/9/15)

23. UP village council bans jeans, mobile phones for girls (8)

MUZAFFARNAGAR: A Muslim village council in Uttar Pradesh has issued a diktat that bans girls from using mobile phones and wearing jeans and t-shirts. The ban has been implemented in more than 10 villages of Muzaffarnagar and Saharanpur districts. “The kind of clothes that unmarried girls in our community wear, for example netted or if they are semi-clothed, this is not decent according to the rules of Islam. We live in villages, it might be allowed in cities but it is not allowed in villages and our village council, our organisation has totally banned it,” said Mohammad Irfan, the president of the council. These village councils, which comprise of rich, upper-caste, elderly men wearing long white tunics, have governed the northern countryside, exerting social control through patriarchal diktats that not only clash with a country moving towards more liberal attitudes, but also challenge the law of the land. Acting as de-facto courts for millions of Indians, the councils or ‘Khap Panchayats’, settle disputes on everything from land and cattle to matrimony and murder, helping maintain social order in a country where access to justice can be difficult for the poor and uneducated. The families failing to comply with the orders of the village council are first ‘counseled’ and if they still continue to flout rules then they are boycotted. The 17-member council then takes a final call on the fate of those who do not follow their diktat. The villagers reason that providing mobile phones to unmarried girls may increase crimes against women. “We don’t think it is good for unmarried girls to use mobile phones. God forbid, if they talk to someone (men), it results in increase of crimes and mischief, so we have banned it. In fact, I think only the married men, the responsible men should carry mobile phones,” said Mohammad Akbar, a villager. Akbar suggested the mobiles should be provided to married men who can handle the gadget “with responsibility”.Meanwhile, the village council has also banned the custom of dowry and stressed on compulsory education for children. However, the councils are coming under growing scrutiny because of their brutal forms of punishment, prompting some women rights activists to label them the ‘Taliban of India’. (Times of India 21/9/15)

24. Sub-committee irked by low rate of convictions (8)

KALABURAGI: The Legislature Sub-Committee on Prevention of Violence and Sexual Abuse of Children and Women has expressed its displeasure over rising incidents of atrocities on women and children and the abysmal conviction rate of cases filed against the accused in such cases. The members of the sub-committee, including former Minister K.B. Shanappa, actor Jaimala, and Vinisha Neeru (all MLCs), conducted a review of cases of rape, sexual harassment, trafficking, child abuse, dowry, and domestic violence in Kalaburagi district at the Deputy Commissioner’s meeting hall here on Wednesday. They came down heavily on the Police and the District Administration for the low conviction rate in these cases in the past three years. Ms. Jaimala and Mr. Shanappa blamed police officials present for not registering the cases of illegal marriage of minor girls from the economically Gujjar community which had migrated from north India. While the police said that one such case has been registered and the girl rescued and sent to the State home for women, Women and Child Welfare Department officials complained to the members of the sub-committee that the police were uncooperative in registering a few other similar cases reported in Kalaburagi district. Ms. Jaimala said that the police have failed in their duty to curb such illegal marriages in the district. “While the police have mentioned one case of a minor girl marrying a Gujjar boy, two more cases have emerged in this meeting and there are complaints of non-cooperation by the police at the station level to register complaints,” she said. She said similar marriages within the Gujjar community were earlier reported in Dakshina Kannada and other south Karnataka districts and such incidents had come down to zero after officials and the police took up awareness programmes and severe penal action against agents and grooms from the Gujjar communities who targeted the poor families. “This is nothing but human trafficking. Such marriages are taking place in almost all taluks in Hyderabad Karnataka districts,” she added. The committee members also directed the district administration to issue necessary directions to end the crude methods followed while conducting physical tests of rape victims. (The Hindu 24/9/15)

25. National Women’s Panel to Recommend Minimum Wages in Unorganised Sector (8)

KOCHI: The National Women’s Commission will write to the Ministry of Women and Child Development to ensure minimum wages for women working in the unorganised sector.Commission member Sushma Sahu, who was in the city on Thursday to inaugurate the women lawyers conference, said that the Commission will take steps to bring the issues being faced by women labourers to the notice of the ministry. Sushma Sahu, who was appointed as the Commission member in August this year, said the Commission will also seek the ministry’s assistance in setting up fast track courts solely to deal with sexual harassment and domestic violence cases. “We will also seek the help of the courts to make speedy trials in such cases so that the culprits  don’t walk free,” she said. “It is high time to amend our laws which  dilute the gravity of complaints given by women by insisting for evidence which many times cant be furnished. The culprits easily get bail and don’t get punished,” Sushma said. The member from Bihar, who is in charge of the states like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu, does not have a clear-cut of the agitation led by the women tea plantation workers in Munnar or similar protests. “The women lawyers here brought to my notice such developments in the state. I was also informed on the death of three girls of Konni, Pathanamthitta,” she said. The Commission is taking steps to give job training for the victims of domestic violence to make them capable of earning themselves. “The women caught up in such situations do not get divorce even if they opt for that. They are threatened when they take bold steps,” the Commission member pointed out. “In the case of victims of sexual harassment the situation is like that their life has ended up in hell. They are often housed in shelter homes and  never welcomed back to homes. Even if the parents accept them that is by force,” she added. Another alarming incident, according to the member of the Women’s Forum, is human trafficking. “It is a stunning fact that selling and buying of women could not be checked. The incidents are highest from Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar,” she said. The Commission is forging tie-ups with NGOs and similar organisations to create awareness among women to seek legal help when required and to make them courageous to break silence in times of sufferings. (New Indian Express 25/9/15)

26. In rape cases, even filing an FIR is difficult: Dalit women (8)

MADURAI: Many of the 30-odd dalit women who attended a public hearing meeting in Arasaradi in the city said they had been subjected to sexual harassment, including rape, but had been unable to take the legal path for justice due to pressure and discrimination. The meeting was held by Madurai-based NGO Evidence so as to provide legal assistance to dalit women who had faced atrocities. Director of Evidence A Kathir presided over the meeting, called ‘Dalit Women Speak Out’. Saradha (name changed), a 47-year-old mid-day meal worker from Thirupuvanam, said she was raped by a 24-year-old man while she was returning home from the school. “Everyone asked me to settle the issue without registering a police complaint to protect the honour of the village,” she said. “On February1 2014, my 17-year-old daughter was raped by a gang of four men, who later dumped her in a garbage site in our village. It has been a year since we last went to the village, because the villagers accused my daughter of being in love with a boy outside our caste. The accused were also later released on bail,”said another dalit woman from Ottanagampatti. According to statistics given by Evidence, around 923 rape cases were registered in Tamil Nadu in 2013 and a whopping 10,565 cases were registered in 2014, of which 1,110 were cases of rape of minor girls. Of these, one of the most vulnerable groups was dalit women, who face several hindrances right from the time of filing a complaint in the police station to getting medical checkups done, they said. (Times of India 27/9/15)

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

27. Unregistered NGOs can’t run children homes, rules SC (14)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court said on Friday that no unregistered NGO would be permitted to run children homes as it expressed apprehension that some of these too may be engaged in child trafficking. Asking the central government to ensure that shutters were pulled down on the children homes being run by unregistered NGOs, the social justice bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit said that the child trafficking a very serious offence under the law and against humanity. “Some of the girls are used in trafficking and it is possible that that some of the NGOs are involved in the trafficking and if the state is not checking it then it too is complicit. “Be clear about it. Not a single unregistered NGO will have a children’s home,” the court told Additional Solicitor General P.S. Patwalia appearing for the central government. “It is better than being trafficked,” the court said as Patwalia said that in the event of asking the unregistered NGOs to shut down their children homes, these children will have to be moved out. Stressing there could be no compromise on the safety of children, the court said that “child trafficking is a very serious offence in law and trafficking is a very serious offence against humanity”. Itss observation came in the course of the hearing of a PIL by Sampurna Behura where an affidavit filed by the central government revealed that in Assam, there was a larger inflow and outflow of girls in the children homes compared to boys. Confronting the figures, the court asked Patwalia what were the corresponding figures for the boys leaving children homes. In indictment of the insensitivity of the authorities who were totally unaware of the whereabouts of a girl after she leaves children’s home, Justice Lokur observed: “Nobody knows that.” His riposte came as Patwalia told the court: “When they move out, they may have joined their families.” The court also asked the ASG as to what he meant by “When they move out”.Asking the central government to pull up its socks, the court said that “so far what you have been doing is writing letters. Much more has to be done. There are enough people to keep. There are thousands of NGOs which are genuine and willing to help children” in distress. (New Kerala 11/9/15)

28. Cops’ role to be probed in child labour rescue case (14)

NOIDA: Gautam Budh Nagar district magistrate NP Singh on Friday ordered a probe into the role of police after a 12-year-old girl tortured and starved by her employer was handed over to her family without a proper investigation. The DM deputed the district probation officer to conduct the probe and said strict action would be taken against officials found guilty. The child labour, who is from Lakhimpur Khiri in Uttar Pradesh, was rescued by NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) on Tuesday from the clutches of her employer after she jumped from his flat on the 13th floor to the balcony of one on the 12th in Exotica Fresco residential society in Noida’s Sector 137 on Monday night. TOI on Friday reported that the child welfare committee on Wednesday handed over the girl to her family on the grounds that she had come to the city on a tour, which triggered protests from the NGO on Thursday. The BBA has also alleged that initially the police had tried to hush up the case and hand over the girl to her employer. “After reading the TOI report, I have ordered a probe into the matter. I have directed the district probation officer to check the facts and the role of cops into the matter. After getting a statement from the child welfare committee, we will decide on further course of action. If cops are found guilty of not presenting the exact facts to the committee, then stringent action will be taken against officials concerned,” Singh said. The child welfare committee also tried to pass the buck on the police. “The cops have misled the committee. They did not produce the copy of the FIR before us. They only showed us the general diary entry. We will soon lodge a complaint against police officials concerned with the Gautam Budh Nagar SSP,” child welfare committee member Jaiveer Yadav said. Commenting on the development, BBA’s director (victim assistance) Rakesh Senger said, “The cops are guilty in the case. The child welfare committee should have also thoroughly investigated the matter on its part and not relied on the cops. The committee should have recorded the girl’s statement under Section 164 of CrPC. We have complained against the cops and the committee to the UP Child Rights Commission.” (Times of India 12/9/15)

29. 85% kid abuse cases pending in Delhi courts (14)

NEW DELHI: The overall average percentage of pending cases under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) in children’s courts in Delhi between April 2013 and March 2014 was 85% with the west district having the highest pendency of about 93%, reports Ambika Pandit. In a shocking finding, the average pendency in Delhi’s children’s courts during the financial year 2013-14 of cases registered under Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences Act has been revealed to be as high as 85%, with West district recording the maximum of 93%.The data, thrown up in an analysis by Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, shows gross violation of Section 35(2) of POCSO Act, which mandates completion of trials as fast as possible. The report, which describes the statistics as a “sorry picture”, also calculates the average percentage of convictions to be about 2%. Just 15% cases are disposed of. “This commission feels that such a high percentage of pendency and low percentage of conviction can be attributed to the fact that children’s courts are not fully dedicated to the cases. They handle matters related to children in addition to usual cases allotted to them. As a result, the legal requirement that the case be disposed of within a year is not being adhered to,” says the report. The DCPCR report studies trends based on data provided by police and other stakeholders since enactment of POCSO Act. The total number of cases registered by Delhi Police under the Act between December 2012 and March 2014 is 1,492. The maximum number of cases under POCSO Act was registered in the police district of Outer Delhi (226) followed by West (200) and Southeast (176). The highest percentage of sexual abuse of children by known persons was reported from Outer district again (94 cases) followed by Southeast (93 cases) and South/Central districts (91 cases). The average percentage of such crimes is 89%…. (Times of India 15/9/15)

30. Rising number of juveniles turning sexually abusive, say experts (14)

CHENNAI: In her research on 40 juvenile sex offenders in the Philippines, Zenaida S Rosales noticed a common thread – all of them had witnessed some form of violence (not necessarily sexual) in their social environment. “It could be any kind of violence – physical to quarrelling to just a chaotic home environment,” says Rosales, co-founder, Centre for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Sexual Abuse based in the Philippines. She presented her findings in the city on Tuesday at a conference on addressing sexual violence against children organised by Chennai-based Tulir -Centre for the Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse. While, so far, there are no studies documenting the behaviour and personality traits of juvenile sex abusers in Chennai, those working in the field feel the findings are relevant for India as well. According to Rosales’s findings, exposure to pornography was another big factor that contributed to their sexually abusive behavior. “In the Philippines, we get WiFi. You don’t even need money to access pornography,” says Rosales. Her study also showed that a majority of the juvenile offenders were school dropouts and were acting out because of their low self-esteem. “There has been a spike in the number of juvenile child sex offenders but there are no official statistics because it is not taken seriously. Most cases are just swept under the carpet,” says Vidya Reddy of Tulir, who spearheaded the conference. “Technology is a big contributor to sexual crimes committed by children,” she says. While the National Crime Records Bureau does not go into specifics, the 2014 statistics show that there were 12 cases of rape committed by juvenile offenders in Tamil Nadu. All India, the number of juveniles under the age of 12 booked for rape stands at 23, while there are 632 cases involving children over 12. Social workers in the city say that is nowhere near the real figures, with most cases being ignored as they involve children. Reddy recalls several incidents of schools calling her organisation in a panic – “it is always in a panic”, she says – when they come across incidents of older children sexually abusing younger children. “The school management ‘handles’ it by merely suspending the offender. Some think a good beating is enough. Real intervention is handling the problematic sexual behaviour. Otherwise the offender is back in school after a week, probably angrier and more violent than ever,” she says… (Times of India 16/9/15)

31. Unequal Access to Education Drives Child Labour in India: Study (14)

SYDNEY: Despite economic prosperity and dramatic fall in poverty levels, unequal access to education ensures hundreds of millions of children remain trapped in child labour in developing countries including India, says a new study by Indian-origin researchers. For the study, Jayanta Sarkar and Dipanwita Sarkar from Queensland University of Technology Business School in Australia compared levels of child labour and schooling across economic groups in India, Peru and Ethiopia. They developed an innovative overlapping generations economic model to explain how child labour stubbornly persists despite falling poverty in developing countries. The “fixed private cost” of schooling meant the poor had less access to education relative to the rich, a key driver in child labour among the poor, Sarkar said. “Typically schooling, even in a ‘free’ education system, imposes a large burden on the poor through the fixed costs of things like transportation to and from school and books and other materials,” he pointed out. The research found that income inequality may matter more than poverty in explaining why child labour continues. “The analysis shows that families below a level of relative income choose zero schooling and full time labour for their children because they simply can’t afford either the fixed schooling costs, or to miss out on the small income their children generate for the household,” Sarkar noted. “Instead of schooling, they invest in child health to ensure children possess physical capability to perform unskilled work,” he said. Figures from The World Bank show the number of people living on less than $1.25 per day decreased dramatically from half the citizens in the developing world in 1981 to 21 percent in 2010, despite a 59 percent increase in the developing world population. However UNICEF estimates 246 million children are still engaged in child labour. “There is a clear link between income inequality and intensity of child labour. But, more income does not always reduce child labour. In fact, as wages rise child labour rises in families who find schooling too expensive,” Sarkar said. “Only after income reaches a certain ‘threshold’ level, does schooling become affordable and child labour start to fall. The ‘threshold’ rises with the degree of income inequality,” he said. Sarkar said that simply banning child labour would actually end up hurting the poor as child income would dry up and as a result private investment in health would fall. He said a child labour ban had to be accompanied by an increase in access to education. “Two policies that could help eliminate child labour are targeted attempts to reduce schooling costs for the poor, and raising the efficacy of public health infrastructure,” Sarkar noted. (New Indian Express 21/9/15)

32. The study was published in the journal Economic Inquiry.

Satyarthi’s Nobel effort finally puts child slavery in list of UN’s sustainable development goals (14)

NEW DELHI: When global leaders gather in New York later next week to discuss and adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), child slavery will form an important part of those goals. What a difference a Nobel Peace Prize can make. In 1999, when he was just another NGO for children’s rights, Kailash Satyarthi tried to persuade the rest of the world to include child labour, in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). “I believe without eradicating child labour, we would not be able to fulfil other goals like education or adult employment. … But it was not attended properly, because five years ago it was just an emerging global idea, so it was very hard to pitch. During those years, in many UN summits, I organized side events to push the idea.” He was better prepared this time. When the world started working on the SDGs, “we very carefully and systematically started working with those involved in this discussion – governments, NGOs, everyone.” But the world had also become a slightly better place in some respect. “The number of child labourers had decreased worldwide, from 260 million to 168 million. The number of out-of-school children also declined form 130 million to 58 million. So significant progress has been made,” Satyarthi told TOI in an exclusive chat. But child slavery figures had not only stayed constant, but even increased. “That data has not changed — 5.5 million children in conditions of slavery. Non-government statistics as well as internal figures of UN agencies shows it to be even higher. The number is between 5.5 million to 8.5 million. My sense is, these numbers have increased. Modern forms of slavery, including trafficking of children, has become one of the most lucrative trades in the world. That’s why the numbers have increased.” He felt it was important to include these goals in the SDGs. But most governments were chary of talking about uncomfortable issues like child slavery. “Who will accept that slavery exists in their own countries? It was quite hard, and many governments thought it is a delicate matter. For the past year I have met many governments, special envoys, in their capitals and in NY. But it still found no mention in the drafts.” But the Nobel Peace Prize changed all that. Since then, world leaders have been beating a path to Satyarthi’s door. He has met UN secretary general Ban ki Moon twice, President of South Korea, Prime Ministers of Norway, Sweden, and a host of other countries where he used his new global fame to push the idea that the world needs to tackle child slavery with a special focus. “I met President Obama and told him, this was a request from one Nobel laureate to another. He promised to take up the cause.” So did Ban ki Moon. And all the issues he has championed – child slavery, education, violence and child labour are now part of the SDGs. Satyarthi and Modi will address the same SDG summit next week. But where is India in implementing laws to protect children from violence and slavery? Nowhere really. “I met Mr Modi a couple of times. I have requested him to ratify the International Convention on the worst forms of child labour and convention on the minimum age of employment.” India, shockingly, stands with Sudan and Eritrea as being a handful of countries to not have ratified the convention. “Modi listened to me carefully, and promised a child labour law. Many of his officers had an excuse – until we make a more clear domestic law, we cannot ratify the international convention. But that is an excuse. Most countries have synced their domestic laws to international laws, India can too.” A draft law exists, he said, but it needs a debate. “I have written to every single parliament member. Children are not going to wait, who are languishing in slavery. They are losing lungs, eyes, kidneys every day. If there is a law we have a tool to fight it.” (Times of India 23/9/15)

33. Child rights experts ask govt to review acts related to children (14)

NEW DELHI: Leading child rights experts have asked the government to review existing legal instruments and acts related to children, and more budget allocations for Right to Education (RTE) and Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS). At a two-day national consultation organised by NGO Aide-et-Action in collaboration with UNESCO and Bernard van Leer Foundation, the experts recommended setting up of a database on migrants both at source and destination, policy on portability of child related schemes, ensuring decent housing in a healthy environment at destination and access to basic facilities.”In order to improve the attendance in schools, the government is proposing a monthly scholarship of Rs 100 per child till the standard VIII to motivate them to attend the school regularly,” joint secretary of bureau of labour welfare Bipin Bihari Mallick said at the meeting. The delegates also recommended 25% reservation for children of disadvantaged groups may be extended to migrant children in the RTE, exchange of information between different ministries like the women and child development, labour, education and social welfare, formation of a national alliance of civil society organizations working on children’s rights and migration to channelize support system for advocacy mechanism. CREDAI secretary Suresh Hari stressed on the need of government to utilize the taxes paid by the public towards the welfare of migrant workers and their children. “Temporary distress migration is the major reason for high dropout and low attendance in schools. Added to this, there is a need to understand the patterns of the migrant children with the support of School Management Committees and teachers which will help evolve an inclusive policy for the migrant children in cities,” UNESCO’s section chief and programme specialist, Marina Faetanini said. On this occasion, Childhood on the Move (Lives of young Migrants in Pictures), a photo document was also released. (Times of India 26/9/15)

34. Six child labourers rescued from Ambala (14)

AMBALA: Six child labourers were on Monday rescued from a market in Ambala city by a joint team of district child protection department and NGO officials. Acting on a specific information, six children in the age group of 8 to 14 years from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, working as labourers at some shops in the grain market were rescued, district child protection officer Megha Singla said. These children had come to Ambala along with some of their relatives who had engaged them at the shops, the officer said. The rescued children were taken to the civil hospital for medical examination and later shifted to a shelter home in Ambala Cantonment, Singla said, adding their parents have been informed. (Times of India 28/9/15)

MINORITIES – GENERAL

35. Bandh against Centre’s decision on Bangla, Pakistan minorities cripple life in Assam (7)

Guwahati: Normal life was severely affected across Assam on Saturday due to a 12-hour bandh called by 12 students’ and youth organization demanding withdrawal of the Centre’s recent order to permit entry to and stay in India to members of different minority communities fleeing Bangladesh and Pakistan due to religious persecution in those countries. Shops and business establishments remained shut, public transport was mostly off the road, and educational institutions too remained closed, while bandh supporters pelted stones in several towns to enforce the bandh. Over 300 bandh supporters were also arrested in different towns. The bandh, which was originally called by the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva-Chatra Parishad (AJYCP), was subsequently backed by eleven other groups including the All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU), All Dimasa Students’ Union, All Karbi Students’ Union, All Assam Sonowal-Kachari Students’ Union, and All Moran Students’ Union. The Asom Gana Parishad too extended support to the bandh. The ministry of home affairs had on Monday issued a notification saying the Centre had decided to exempt “on humanitarian considerations” Bangladeshi and Pakistani nationals belonging to minority communities who have entered India on or before December 31, 2014 from the relevant provisions of rules and order made under the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and the Foreigners Act, 1946, in respect of their entry and stay in India without such documents or after the expiry of those documents, as the case may be. The Centre’s decision has evoked massive protests in Assam, with the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) threatening to approach the Supreme Court against it. “While Assam has been struggling to protect the indigenous communities from being outnumbered by illegal migrants from Bangladesh, the Centre’s decision will only open the floodgates for more to come,” said AASU general secretary Lurin Jyoti Gogoi. The AASU had on Friday taken out a torch-light protest march in Guwahati, while the AGP had staged a sit-in protest. Former chief minister and senior AGP leader Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said the BJP-led government at the Centre was least bothered about the indigenous communities of Assam. “The Modi government has further complicated the Bangladeshi influx problem by taking such a decision that will further reduce the indigenous people of Assam into a minority,” Mahanta said. (Indian Express 13/9/15)

36. Nepal to stay secular, proposal for a Hindu nation rejected (7)

KATHMANDU: A proposal to declare Nepal a Hindu state was overwhelmingly rejected by the constituent assembly on Monday which reaffirmed that the Hindu-majority nation will remain secular. The proposal made by pro-Hindu National Democratic Party Nepal to amend the constitution to make Nepal a Hindu state was rejected by more than two-thirds of lawmakers who declared that the country should remain secular as the constituent assembly resumed voting on individual articles of the draft constitution. After assembly chairman Subas Chandra Nembang announced that the proposal has been rejected, Kamal Thapa, leader of the National Democratic Party Nepal, demanded split voting. Thapa’s proposal for a vote received the support of only 21 lawmakers in the 601-seat constituent assembly. As the CA rules requires 61 members to begin the split voting, the voting was not done. The erstwhile Hindu state, Nepal was declared a secular state in 2007 after the success of the people’s movement of 2006 that saw the abolition of monarchy. During a public opinion collection held in July, majority of the people preferred the word “Hindu” or “religious freedom” instead of using the term “secularism”. Protesting the rejection of the proposal, a group of Hindu activists carrying yellow and saffron flags clashed with security personnel at New Baneshwar area in the capital. The clash erupted after police used force to disperse the agitating activists who tried to enter the prohibitory area near the constituent assembly building. They wanted to march towards the assembly, demanding that Nepal be acknowledged as Hindu state in the new constitution. The protesters attacked passing vehicles, including one of the United Nations. Nepal on Sunday entered the final phase of promulgating its new constitution with the three major parties going ahead with clause-wise voting on the final draft of the statute despite a boycott by Madhesi parties and violent protests that have claimed nearly 40 lives. The Madhesi parties are protesting against the seven province model of the federal structure as proposed by the major political parties. Southern Nepal has witnessed turmoil since lawmakers from major political parties struck a breakthrough deal on August 15 to divide the country into seven provinces. (Times of India 14/9/15)

37. BJP wing defends asylum to religious minorities (7)

GUWAHATI: Amid large-scale protests against the Centre’s notification on giving asylum to religious minorities from Pakistan and Bangladesh, BJP’s minority morcha came out in defence arguing that as the subcontinent was divided on the basis of religion, it’s legitimate for India to provide shelter to them. State minority morcha president Sayed Mominul Awal said here on Thursday that it is India’s responsibility to ensure that religious minorities in Pakistan and Bangladesh are protected after they were compelled to leave their countries of origin because of persecution. “The entire basis of legitimacy of giving shelter to religious minorities in India rests on the fact that India was partitioned on the basis of religion. When religious minorities in Pakistan and Bangladesh are faced with persecution, it is the duty of our country to take care if they come to India,” Awal said. At the same time, he reiterated that as the notification was for the entire country, there is no need for Assam to worry. BJP leaders, however, accused Congress and All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) of creating confusion among the people on the notification for petty politics. “An impression is being created that Assam will bear the entire burden of the migrants. This is not true. Both Congress and AIUDF are trying to create confusion by whipping up sentiments of people ahead of the assembly polls,” said BJP spokesperson Shiladitya Dev. Both Congress and AIUDF have denied the charge and accused BJP of playing politics on religious lines. On the occasion of PM Narendra Modi’s birthday, the minority morcha, which boasts of being able to make three lakh-odd Muslim members of BJP within a year, has outlined its blueprint for reaching out to minority voters ahead of the 2016 assembly polls. “The rise in Muslim members in BJP has boosted our morale to transform their support into votes. Muslims in the state have to play a crucial role to ensure the next BJP government in the state,” said Awal. As a part of its strategies, the morcha will kick off with mass sabhas from October in minority-dominated constituencies. The sabhas will explain to the electorate about Narendra Modi’s message for inclusive growth. “From December, we will focus on exposing the injustices being meted out to Muslims in the state under Congress government,” said Awal. (Times of India 18/9/15)

38. Minority rights should not act as a privilege for them: Ex-SC judge (19)

TRICHY: Minority rights are meant to ensure that minority groups are not trampled by majority. It should address their problems and should not act as a privilege for minorities, said Justice KT Thomas, former Supreme Court Judge, at Sastra University Law School in Thanjavur district on Thursday. Justice Thomas spoke on ‘minority rights and Indian constitution’ at the annual moot court competition, “tarkasastra”. He called for a change in the jurisprudential discourse on minority rights with a scientific and democratic method instead of the existing numerical method. Thomas talked about the numerical strength of Parsis, Jains, Atheists, Sikhs, Christians and Muslims in India. He said minority rights should be given to numerically small, Parsis and Jains, and not for strong Christians and Muslims. Justice Thomas said the 93rd amendment of the Indian Constitution and its last limb of Article 13 was against the spirit of the constitution. He emphasized on the importance of constitution in a diverse country like India and highlighted on the dimensions of socio-political life in a republic. “Over 20 law schools, including six National Law Schools, from across the country competed on the topic, Article 26 and the right to own and administer temples, on Thursday and Friday at the fifth edition of Tarkasastra centres,” said the student coordinator, Karthik Subramaniam, in a statement. (Times of India 19/9/15)

39. ‘Centre keen on stepping up quality education for minorities’ (7)

HYDERABAD: Emphasising on the need to make educational facilities available for minorities in the state, the Union minister for minority affairs Najma Heptullah said the Centre is keen on stepping up quality education, exclusively for minorities. Speaking at a conference on ‘Taleem ki Taquat’ (power of education) at the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (Manuu), with specific bearing on the Muslim community, Heptulla said: “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked us to implement suitable schemes for the development of minorities, especially Muslims who are pushed to extreme backwardness over a period.” She further stressed on the need of skill development among the Muslim girls and said that it is also on the priority list of the central government. Reminding the words of late President APJ Abdul Kalam, she reiterated: “You may be less in numbers but you are not inferior to others.” She called upon the youth from the Muslim community to contribute towards nation building by all means. The other speakers also dwelt at length on the urgent need for education and skill development of Muslims. Deputy chief minister Mohammed Mahmood Ali said that the state government would work along with the Centre to develop people-friendly schemes in the education sector. He said that he was in receipt of a representation from Karimnagar parliamentarian B Vinod seeking a sanction of land for Manuu study center in the latter’s constituency. Reading the verses of Quran pertaining to education, the chancellor of Manuu, Zafar Sareshwala said: “There is no difference between religious and modern education. Today, technology is educating people in remote areas through satellite connections.” He mentioned the work of the virtual education imparted to the madrassas in various parts of the Mumbai and said that it has been enabling a chunk of people to learn new things. (Times of India 21/9/15)

40. Nepal Ambassador: ‘Our Constitution better than (India’s)’  (7)

New Delhi: With India raising concerns over Nepal’s newly promulgated Constitution not taking care of the Madhesis and Janjatis, Nepal’s ambassador to India Deep Kumar Upadhyay Wednesday said his country’s Constitution was the “most progressive in South Asia”, but added that it is an “open document which can be amended”. His deputy in the Nepal embassy Krishna Prasad Dhakal, meanwhile, said, “Nepal’s Constitution is better than the Indian Constitution since it takes care of minorities as well as women.” The Indian Express reported Wednesday that India has conveyed to Nepal’s leadership the seven amendments it wants in their Constitution to ensure it is acceptable to the Madhesis and Janjatis.Speaking to The Indian Express, Upadhyay said that if the Indian side had conveyed the “suggestions or reservations or expectations, and I would have known timely (sic), this situation would have been avoided. This is not a good situation for both countries”. “If before the public statements, if we had known (about India’s reservations), then something could have changed (sic),” the envoy said. Praising Nepal’s Constitution, he said it is a “very progressive, very inclusive, participatory, gender equality and human rights friendly” document. Dhakal, meanwhile, pointed out: “Nepal’s Constitution has both first-past-the-post system as well as proportional representation. This combination of the two ensures that minorities’ representation is taken care of.” He added that the Indian Constitution only ensures the first-past-the-post system.Dhakal also said Nepal’s newly promulgated Constitution guarantees 33 per cent reservation for women, which is not the case with the Indian Constitution. “In these aspects, Nepal’s Constitution is better than the Indian Constitution, since it takes care of minorities as well as women,” Dhakal said. … (Indian Express 24/9/15)

41. Pope Francis calls for defense of religious freedom (7)

PHILADELPHIA: Pope Francis on Saturday called for a vigorous defense of religious freedom and urged ordinary Catholics, especially women, to help fortify the Church, as hundreds of thousands celebrated his visit to Philadelphia. The head of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics also made another impassioned plea for new immigrants from Latin America to be accepted in the United States, and encouraged them not to be discouraged as they build a new life. The 78-year-old Argentine pontiff landed in the City of Brotherly Love after a short flight from New York, where he spent a whirlwind 36 hours that included an emotional visit to Ground Zero and mass at Madison Square Garden. Francis is wrapping up a historic visit to Cuba and the United States this weekend in Philadelphia, with a packed schedule including two appearances at the Festival of Families, an international Catholic gathering. The city is under a security lockdown, with traffic banned downtown for the entire weekend and thousands of National Guardsmen in the streets to corral throngs of faithful hoping to see the pontiff. At Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were debated and signed, Francis told a crowd of tens of thousands that religious freedom must be protected — and be used for the greater good. “It is a fundamental right which shapes the way we interact socially and personally with our neighbors whose religious views differ from our own,” the pope said. “In a world where various forms of modern tyranny seek to suppress religious freedom… or to use religion as a pretext for hatred and brutality, it is imperative that the followers of the various religions join their voices in calling for peace, tolerance and respect for the dignity and rights of others.” A debate over the place of religious freedom in American society came to a head this month when a Kentucky county clerk was jailed after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, saying it violated her religious beliefs. The first Latin American pope also touched on another hot-button issue in US politics: how immigrants fit into American society, and how far the US should open its borders to them. Francis reminded the large contingent of Hispanics in the crowd: “You bring many gifts to your new nation. You should never be ashamed of your traditions,” while also urging them to be “responsible citizens.” “Many of you have emigrated to this country at great personal cost, but in the hope of building a new life. Do not be discouraged by whatever challenges and hardships you face,” he said, speaking in Spanish….  (Times of India 27/9/15)

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

42. Muslims criticize Saamna for ‘go to Pak’ remark, say they are part of India’s ethos (7)

MUMBAI: Muslim leaders have termed the ‘Muslims can go to Pakistan’ remark in Sena mouthpiece Saamna as provocative and derogatory.”The Shiv Sena and all other Hindutva outfits who keep saying that Muslims have an option to go to Pakistan need to re-read history. Muslims had an option in 1947 but those who remained in India did so because they preferred pluralistic India over exclusivist Islamic Pakistan. Our forefathers fought for the country’s freedom and we have contributed to its progress. Saamna should resist from raking up an outdated issue,” said Jamiatul Ulema-e-Hind (Maharashtra) president Maulana Mustaqeem Azmi. He added that calling Indian Muslims Pak sympathizers was Hindutva’s favourite pastime and sensible people laugh at this “idiocy” as Indian Muslims are completely integrated to India’s multicultural ethos. Community leaders also attacked the Sena for trying to turn a dietary issue into a communal flashpoint. “Muslims rejected Jinnah’s diabolical two-nation theory because they loved and continue to love this country. We don’t need certificate of patriotism from fascists. Instead of pitting two minorities—Muslims and Jains—against each another, Saamna should raise the issue of farmers whose distress has only accentuated due to the beef ban and will face more hardship if mutton is also banned frequently,” said MIM legislator Waris Pathan. Congress MLA Amin Patel said: “India is our motherland and no one can question our patriotism. A party which has little regard for law and order has no right to say that Muslims have Pakistan as an alternative country. Just as Hindus and Jains and others who were born here have no other country, Muslims too believe that their destiny lies in India and not Pakistan which became Islamic only in name but has nothing Islamic about it. Muslims will go nowhere and continue to contribute to India’s growth.” (Times of India 11/9/15)

43. Quran copies found burnt in Panipat (7)

KARNAL: Tension prevailed in Panipat on Tuesday as around ten copies of holy book of Quran were allegedly burnt by unidentified miscreants in the industrial city on Monday. A large number of Muslims gathered at Panipat secretariat and demanded action against those responsible for the act. While assuring a strict action against the culprits, deputy commissioner Sameer Pal Srow has appealed to all sections of the society to maintain peace. Irfan Ali, a Muslim leader from Panipat, told Hindustan Times over phone on Tuesday that 10 to12 copies of the holy book were found missing on Monday from a shop hired by Muslims living near Kutani road for community recitation of the holy book. The set was allegedly found burnt in a tandoor kept at an adjacent dhabha. He alleged that Ram Singh, a local resident, quarrelled with some Muslims on last Thursday and had threatened them. However, he clarified that Singh was in an inebriated condition and the community had not pointed a direct finger at anyone for hurting its sentiments. “We had duly registered the incident of verbal duel and it is up to the police to verify if Singh had any direct or indirect role behind the crime. But it is a matter of fact that Ram Singh was providing free water service to the Muslim gathering before our prayers,” said Ali.

He said that on Monday, it was found that holy books kept at the place of community prayers were missing and later these were traced in a burnt condition at a nearby dhabha. Police sources said as the dhabha owner came to his shop he found fire in the tandoor outside.  On sifting through the ashes, he found traces of the holy book. “The material used in the printing and binding the holy books does not get burnt completely. The quality led us to trace the book remains from a heap of ash,” said Ali. He said that some people from various communities might try to give communal colour to the unfortunate incident, but the local Muslims had made an appeal to everyone to maintain peace. Meanwhile, the Panipat DC met a Muslim delegation and assured them administration’s full support. In a statement, the DC said that a police complaint had already been registered and nobody would be allowed to disturb communal harmony in the district. “The administration urges various sections of the society to contact the district authorities for any complaint. They should not allow anyone to take political mileage out of this condemnable incident,” said the DC. (Hindustan Times 15/9/15)

44. ‘Ban-fatwa culture’ growing under Modi regime: Congress (7)

NEW DELHI: Congress on Wednesday warned that “ban-fatwa culture” was growing under the Modi government and threats to icons Rajnikanth and A R Rahman were symptomatic of the trend over the last 15 months. AICC spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said over the past few months, Indians had been told “what to wear, celebrate, eat, watch, who to walk with in the park, if they can hold hands, what religion people should follow, how to pray and what to teach”.He said there was an exponential rise in bans and fatwas, pointing to unprecedented killings of rationalists like Dabholkar and Kalburgi, and asked if this was the 21st century India that Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised countrymen. Singhvi said the blame fell squarely on the “pseudo-religiosity of RSS which sees India, the most diverse place on earth, through the prism of homogenous paradigm of religion and language”.Congress said the actions of outfits claiming to be the guardians of Islam were equally condemnable. “The threats to Rahman and Rajnikanth are two sides of the same coin — extreme intolerance which is the anti-thesis of the idea of India,” he said. Singhvi lamented that while ministers and members of the ruling BJP and shadowy outfits of the RSS had repeatedly indulged in inflammatory statements, there was not even a pro-forma admonishment from the PM, “forget about actions or punishment”. (Times of India 17/9/15)

45. Education for All, Muslims Can’t be Kept in the Dark (7)

Bihar invariably features in every discourse on education and it is usually not for the right reasons. With its glorious history and traditions of knowledge quest, institutions of global repute, enlightened luminaries like Lord Mahavira and Gautama Buddha, and rulers like Ashoka the Great, the current education scenario in Bihar saddens practically everyone, except the politicians in power! Decline and degeneration is apparent at every stage and aspect of education. On Teachers’ Day, around 600 citizens of Bihar met in a seminar on Taleem Ki Taqat, the deliberations focusing on how the Muslim community could extricate itself from backwardness, unemployment, poverty and, above all, a sense of desperation and an oft-mentioned sense of victimhood. Speakers, achievers in their own field, rather uniformly emphasised how essential it was to develop self-image and acquire self-assurance in being partners in the progress of development. It emerged prominently that the Muslim community is keen to let their children get modern education, along with the traditional Dini Taleem. Instances were cited how innovative efforts to reach mosques with proposals to teach science and mathematics in addition to religious education were accepted without any hesitation. An innovative imam from Chennai narrated how concerned he felt for the community as for decades no youth qualified in the Civil Services Examinations from Tamil Nadu. He began with a batch of 60 and every year, young Muslim boys and girls are doing well in examinations. He exhorted the community to act, not complain or expect someone else to come and solve their issues. He was greatly applauded when he exhorted the community to move out of the shackles of minority-ism and reservations. Instead, they must rise to realise their full potential as dignified Indians. Another speaker said the least they deserved from the state governments were ‘truly functional schools’! That alone could have transformed the socio-economic profile of the community within 10 years. He felt that it would have brought greater benefits to the community than what the Sachar Committee or Ranganath Misra reports could do. A functional school means qualified teachers with half of them being women, necessary infrastructure with computer education provisions in place, and working toilets for boys and girls, drinking water, regularity and punctuality, and the mother tongue as the medium. Is India not resourceful enough to provide even this much to its minorities and weaker sections? Those who shout hoarse to drive away the communal forces from Bihar and thrive on casteism and communalism in the garb of secularism must account for at least one factor: Why have they not provided even primary education of good quality to Muslims in Bihar? Has this been a deliberate political ploy to perpetuate poverty amongst a large section of Indian citizens? The audience response during the deliberations and also afterwards was indeed far different from the prevailing perceptions. Several youths appeared convinced that the first priority is universal elementary education that focuses on quality and skill orientation. It should also impart human values, and basics of all religions indicating their commonalities. That would inculcate the spirit of working together and develop respect for diversity. This is what India needs in these times of global turmoil and terror created by religious fanatics. Which other country can match the record of India in people living together and according equal respect to all religions? In Bihar, every classroom is a multi-religious ensemble and this is the strength of Bihar. A young person told one of the speakers, “Sir, we shall now ask for schools that are equipped to teach and impart skills. We feel ashamed that now we are known for fake degrees, copying in examinations and the entire education system being in a shambles. Bihar shall regain its glory and primacy in ideas, knowledge and wisdom through the doors of its primary schools!” Let everyone wish him success. There can be no better way of celebrating Teachers’ Day. (New Indian Express 19/9/15)

46. 85% of rural landowners are Hindus; Muslims account for just over 11%: Report (7)

New Delhi: An overwhelming majority of rural, landowning households in the country are Hindus — with their number growing between 2004-05 and 2011-12 — while Muslims constitute only a small minority, a new government-endorsed study has found. According to the ‘India Rural Development Report 2013-14’ by IDFC, whose foreward has been written by Rural Development Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh, nearly 85 per cent of rural, landowning households in 2011-12 were Hindus, and this percentage increased from 2004-05, while Muslim households constituted just over 11 per cent with the figure having declined in the same period. In 2006, the Rural Development Ministry under then minister Jairam Ramesh had inked an agreement for the publication of an annual India Rural Development Report by the IDFC Rural Development Network. This is the second edition of the report. In 2011-12, while Hindus accounted for 84.2 per cent of rural landowners, Muslims and other minorities constituted 11.2 per cent and 4.6 per cent respectively. The figure rose for Hindus in the period between 2004-05 and 2011-12, with a corresponding decline in the share of the other religious communities. In 2004-05, 81.8 per cent rural landowners were Hindu households. While Muslims and other minorities accounted for 12.7 and 5.4 per cent, respectively. Among social groups, data showed that over 40 per cent of rural, landowning households belonged to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), with the percentage having increased between 2004-05 and 2011-12. In 2004-05, 41.2 per cent of rural landowners were OBCs, 30.7 per cent were ‘others’, 19.7 per cent were SCs and 8.4 per cent were from the Scheduled Tribes. The share of both SCs, STs grew in 2011-12, but at a pace slower than than that of the OBCs. In 2011-12, OBCs held 44.2 per cent land in rural areas, and the figure for ‘Others’, SCs and STs was 23.7 per cent, 20.9 per cent and 11.2 per cent respectively. In terms of employment status in the farm sector in rural India (above 15 years of age), 61.5 per cent of Muslims were self-employed in 2011-12, as against 65 per cent of Hindus and 72.1 per cent of other minorities. The corresponding figures in 2004-05 were 62.7 per cent, 63.8 per cent and 68.5 per cent, respectively. The gender break-up for self employed rural people in the farm sector, however, showed a slightly different picture. In 2011-12, 65 per cent of Muslim women were self-employed, as against 63.6 per cent of Hindu women and 74.7 of those from other minorities. Among men, 60.3 per cent of Muslims belonged to this category, as against 65.8 per cent Hindus and 70.5 per cent from other minorities. In the non-farm sector, 50.8 per cent Muslims were self-employed in 2011-12 — 71.1 per cent women as against 45.8 per cent men. However, among Hindus, 37.6 per cent were self-employed, with a less stark gender variation at 37 per cent for men and 39.6 per cent for women. The high numbers for Muslim women in this category was attributed partly to their “restricted mobility” by this report. It also showed that rural poverty remained “high” among STs and SCs. (Indian Express 23/9/15)

47. Indict Muslims who wed off minor girls: Gujarat high court (7)

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat high court has held that the special law – Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA) – will prevail over the Muslim Personal Law in cases where Muslims marry off their minor daughters. Promoters of such marriages will face legal proceedings. The question was whether action can be taken against people who promote or permit marriage of a Muslim girl less than 18 years because the Sharia laws permit a girl to take decision about her marriage when she attains the age of puberty, at around 15. Justice J B Pardiwala on Wednesday ruled that all those who promote or permit such child marriages are liable to be prosecuted under the central law that bans such early nuptials. The case in question before the high court was from Gaekwad Haveli police station, where abduction and rape charges were leveled against Yunush Shaikh (28) who had eloped with a 16-year old girl living in his neighbourhood. Before elopement, they had also got married in December last year. The girl’s father lodged an FIR and sections 363, 366, 376 of the IPC, provisions of Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) were invoked apart from the PCMA. Looking at the provisions of Personal Laws and IPC, Justice Pardiwala dropped charges of abduction, luring and rape. However, the HC said that even in cases of child marriage involving Muslims, the provisions of PCMA cannot be overlooked and action must be taken against those responsible, said Shaikhs’ counsel Soeb Bhoheria. In reaching this conclusion, the judge spoke of numerous citations from other high courts, the Supreme Court as well as from laws of other countries. He also extensively cited the Islamic texts besides relying on an article written by former SC judge Markandey Katju. The HC observed about rigidity on part of Islamic authorities in interpretation of ancient laws, “Those who have not allowed to change the Muslim Personal Law have done a great disservice to the community. At the same time, it is also true that as the social condition in the nation and throughout the world continues to change. The reality of life is that even without a code on personal law of Muslim in so far as the marriage is concerned, the child marriage is going into oblivion. Education, changing pattern of the family structure, the structure of the family in the context of reality of the world, and economic necessities are on their own precipitating the situation. The members of the community have realized the evil consequences of getting a Muslim girl married at a tendered age of 16 or 17 years.” (Times of India 25/9/15)

48. Decoding the data: Bihar’s Muslim vote, oscillating between diversity and uniformity (7)

There are two features that politically distinguish the Muslims of Bihar. They participate in all kinds of political processes while retaining their socio-religious identities. Although this form of political participation is not exclusively Bihar-centric as Muslims in other parts of India, too, are actively involved in various kinds of politics, the enthusiasm with which politics as a sanctified activity is imbibed in the cultural universe of Muslim communities of Bihar is certainly unique. Secondly, the upsurge of Pasmanda politics in the 1990s, which raised the question of internal power structures among Muslims, has transformed the debate on affirmative action in the country. Thus, it is imperative to ask: do Muslims vote as a political community in Bihar? A CSDS-Lokniti survey of 2014 offers some interesting trends. It shows that over 60 per cent Muslims (including OBC Muslims) went with the Congress-RJD alliance, while 21 per cent went with the JD(U). Muslims, as was expected, overwhelmingly rejected the BJP. This is also true about the Yadav votes. The RJD again emerged as their first choice. Is it thus appropriate to say that the Yadav-Muslim alliance has resurfaced as an important configuration to counter the Modi-BJP? If that is the case, can we say that “defeating” the BJP or securing “secularism” might provoke Muslims to act as a political community in an electoral sense? bihar graphIn the 2010 assembly election, Muslim OBCs simply went with the Congress. However, it did not affect the Muslim support of the RJD as both general and OBC Muslims continued to support it. What is most interesting is the noticeable Muslim backing to the BJP, which emerged a significant choice for both categories of Muslims. However, a very different political picture comes up in 2014. Though Muslim OBCs did go with the JD(U) to a significant extent, the RJD was the first choice for most Muslims. These figures lead us to a general inference that Muslims in Bihar do act collectively as an electoral group. However, this general conclusion needs to be qualified. Two possible interpretations can be drawn. It is true that the BJP’s aggressive politics and Modi-centric campaign played a role in organising Muslims at the state level. But this reconfiguration was not unidirectional. Muslims, it seems, did not follow any active agenda in trying to defeat the BJP. The Muslim vote was divided among the political formations that offered various socially cohesive alternatives. Secondly, we must note that the big electoral ideas — development, poverty eradication and even protection of secular values — actually translate at a constituency level. Muslims voters, like other social groups, perceive these slogans in their own locally constituted political universe and respond to them accordingly. The fragmented Muslim vote share secured by various parties in 2014 demonstrates this aspect well. Modi’s anti-Muslim image or BJP’s pro-Hindu politics, in this sense, is not necessarily received by Muslims at constituency level in a homogenous way….  (Indian Express 29/9/15)

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

49. Churches Leaders’ Forum appeals (7)

Imphal, September 11 2015 : The Tribal Churches Leaders’ Forum, Manipur has appealed to all the people of Manipur irrespective of their religious affiliation, particularly all the Christians of different denominations to organise prayer and fasting sessions at their respective worship places and Churches for the healing of people’s suffering and restoration of peace and tranquillity in the State. In a statement, the forum also urged the people to resolve all the differences on the negotiating table. Stating that TCLF is neither a political forum nor a mouthpiece of any organisation, the statement said that the forum was constituted by tribal Church leaders of Manipur for the promotion of spiritual welfare of the people. The mission of the forum is to be an agent of Christian love, forgiveness, reconciliation and promotion of peace and unity among the Christian communities by transforming the Churches and society, which according to the forum is divided by tribalism, religious intolerance, hatred, injustice and violence.  The forum would continue to walk together, work together and pray together for the spiritual and social healing of the land and for the extension of God’s Kingdom on earth, the statement said. (Manipur E-Pao 11/9/15)

50. I am facing an organised attack, says John Dayal (7)

MUMBAI: Well-known human rights activist John Dayal, who is being trolled by suspected right-wing activists for his comments on the social media, says he is facing an “organised” attack and suspects it is an attempt to silence the entire Christian community. Dr. Dayal, secretary-general of the All-India Christian Council, came under a barrage of abusive comments after he tweeted on the arrest of the principal of St Xavier’s School, Mumbai, for allegedly molesting two minor students. Dr. Dayal had written that the owners of the school had connections with the ruling BJP. His views against the meat ban further enraged the trolls who resorted to a personal attack, comparing him to paedophiles. His mobile number was posted online after which he received threatening calls. Dr. Dayal said experts told him that to create a trend, a particular word or catch phrase had to be tweeted a particular number of times in a small time-frame. “Within a three-hour time frame, I was trending,” he said. “This campaign of abuse is directed not only at me but at the Christian community in general and there appears to be a deliberate and concerted attempt to prejudice religious harmony and hurt the sentiments of the Christian community and other Indians as well,” he wrote in a complaint to Delhi Commissioner of Police B.S Bassi. Mumbai-based human rights and civil activist groups have issued a joint statement expressing solidarity with Mr. Dayal and demanded that he be provided police protection immediately. They also called for the arrest of the elements that issued online threats. Mr. Dayal is no stranger to attacks on social media. During the nation-wide debate on death penalty for Yakub Memon, Bollywood singer Abhijeet had tweeted that Dr. Dayal deserved to be physically assaulted for demanding reprieve for the 1993 blasts convict. (The Hindu 16/9/15)

51. Nun found dead in convent room, marks found on body (7)

Kottayam (Kerala) : An elderly Catholic nun was found dead under mysterious circumstances at a convent in Pala near here on Thursday morning with the police suspecting it to be a case of “unnatural death”. Fellow nuns who had gone to her room after she missed the morning mass at the chapel found 69-year-old sister Amala dead in a pool of blood in her Lisieux Carmel Convent. A deep injury with a sharp edged weapon on her back and minor wounds were found on her forehead, the police said. Suspecting that it is a case of “unnatural death” the police immediately constituted a team of officials headed by Pala deputy SP Suneesh Babu to probe the case. Kottayam district police chief Satheesh Bino, who visited the convent after hearing about the incident, said the nun died as she sustained a deep injury with a sharp edged weapon on the back of her head and minor wounds on forehead. The police suspects the incident had occurred past midnight. “It is a case of unnatural death,” said Ernakulam Range IG M.R. Ajith Kumar after reviewing progress in the case. The doors of her room were not locked from inside. Sister Amala’s family belongs to Ramapuram near Pala in the district. She was suffering from fever since past couple of days, her fellow sisters said. A nurse by profession, she was leading a retired life. Teams of dog squad and forensic experts were called to collect evidence. (Asian Age 17/9/15)

52. Governor: Christian Missionaries Promoted Education in State (7)

CHENGANNUR:The valedictory function of the year-long golden jubilee celebrations of Christian College in Chengannur was conducted on Thursday, under the aegis of Kerala University. Governor P Sathasivam inaugurated the event. He said Christian missionaries in Kerala had been promoting education in the state. “We are indebted to the Christian missionaries for setting up learning centres across the state. Had it not been for them, we would not have progressed this much in any of the high potential areas. This august occasion enables us to look back with a sense of pride and look forward to specific schemes of actions aimed at holistic development,” the Governor added.  Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan, Supreme head of the Mar Thoma Church,  presided over the function. Dr Zacharias Mar Theophilus Suffragan Metropolitan, manager of the college, delivered the keynote address at the meeting. Kodikkunnil Suresh MP, P C Vishnunadh MLA, College principle Achamman Alex, College alumni association president Aby Kuriakose, professor E Daniel, college governing counsel member Rev C K Mathew and treasurer T T Thomas spoke. The college is owned by the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church and was founded in 1964. An year-long celebrations were conducted as part of the golden jubilee of the college. (New Indian Express 18/9/15)

53. Nun’s murder: police get crucial clue (7)

KOTTAYAM: In a significant development, the police retrieved the weapon believed to have been used for the murder of the Catholic nun at the Lisieux Carmelite Convent at Pala. According to the police they found a spade from under one of the staircases inside the convent. The spade used for garden work had bloodstains on it. It has been sent to the Forensic Lab in Thiruvananthapuram. It was on Thursday morning that the body of Sr Amala, 69, was found in a pool of blood in her convent room. As per the post-mortem report the deep wound, made with a blunt object found on the back of the victims head was the cause of death. The police said the object found on Sunday could be the object used for the murder.The investigation into the murder case is progressing under the special squad led by Suneesh Babu, Dy.SP (HR News 21/9/15)

54. Pope Takes Aim at Global Economic Order at UN (7)

UNITED NATIONS: Pope Francis urged a more humane global system that respects the poor and the environment, as he criticized the economic order, in an address to the United Nations today. The pontiff, whose reform-minded approach has won him a rousing global following even from non-believers, offered his vision of a better world on his latest stop of a US tour that has brought thousands to the streets to welcome him. Taking the UN rostrum, the leader of the world’s more than one billion Catholics called for reform to global bodies, including the UN Security Council and financial lenders, to “limit every kind of abuse and usury.” In a wide-ranging speech, Francis touched on an array of hot-button topics, including the persecution of Christians, the Iran nuclear deal, drug trafficking — “silently killing millions” — and the rights of girls to an education. “The international financial agencies should care for the sustainable development of countries and should ensure that they are not subjected to oppressive lending systems which, far from promoting progress, subject people to mechanisms which generate greater poverty, exclusion and dependence,” Francis said. Francis, the first Latin American pope, hails from Argentina — where economic crises have fueled criticism of the conditions set by the International Monetary Fund and other institutions. Francis also gave his latest passionate plea to protect the environment, as he voiced confidence that a high-stakes UN conference on climate change would reach a “fundamental and effective” agreement in Paris in December. Reaffirming a “right to the environment,” the pontiff, 78, said that the universe was “the fruit of a loving decision by the Creator” and that humanity “is not authorized to abuse it, much less to destroy it.” “A selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged,” he said. The poor fare worst because they are “forced to live off what is discarded and suffer unjustly from the abuse of the environment,” he said. Francis appealed for peace around the world and made his latest plea for the protection of Christians, as well as others, persecuted by extremists in Syria and Iraq. The pope offered a strong endorsement of Iran’s agreement with the United States and five other world powers to limit its nuclear program, a day after Francis spoke to the US Congress, where many lawmakers vehemently oppose the deal. The Iran agreement “is proof of the potential of political goodwill, exercised with sincerity, patience and constancy,” Francis said. “I express my hope that this agreement will be lasting and efficacious, and bring forth the desired fruits with the cooperation of all the parties involved,” he said. (New Indian Express 25/9/15)

55. Catholics in Mumbai object to upcoming play ‘Agnes of God’ (7)

Mumbai: A prominent Christian organisation here on Sunday objected to the scheduled staging of a play ‘Agnes of God’ on grounds that it mocks God and hurts religious sentiments of the community. In a statement, the Catholics Secular Forum (CSF) general secretary Joseph Dias alleged that the play is “anti-Catholic and mocks the Christian God” and attempts to target the minority (Christian) community. The play, directed by Kaizaad Kotwal with the lead role played by Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal, will premiere on October 4 at Mumbai’s Sophia Bhabha Auditorium. The posters of the play mentions how “Agnes, a young nun, gives birth and insists that the child was the result of an immaculate conception” and poses the question – “Do you believe in miracles?” Martha Livingstone, a psychiatrist, and the head of the Roman Catholic convent Mother Superior Miriam clash during the resulting investigations of the incident said to be based on a true story in which reason and faith are at loggerheads. Dias said the play by John Pielmeier — which was later adapted into a film in 1985 starring Jane Fonda, Anne Bancroft and Meg Tilly — is expected to have multiple shows in Mumbai, and later across India and abroad. “Miracles are believed to be unexplainable phenomena and is a divine concept in all religions. So why mock religion, which helps the majority of the people and why target the Christian community,” Dias asked. He said even if it is based on a true story, there are similar exceptions in other religions, too, but the Christian clergy is being picked out for the insult. Dias contended that something like this happening to some ‘maulvi’ or ‘muni’ or the women clergy of any other religion would not have been tolerated and would have led to violent reactions. “The law of the land must take its course and apply to all citizens equally. We demand that police should stop the staging of this play immediately and book the director and actors for hurting religious sentiments of the Christians,” Dias said. The CSF, a Mumbai-based NGO, has in the past protested successfully against movies lampooning Christians and also lodged complaints against individual for hurting religious sentiments. (Business Standard 27/9/15)

56. Kolkata’s St Xavier’s College to teach trafficking survivors (7)

Kolkata: In a bid to make education inclusive, the St Xavier’s College here will set aside seats for survivors of trafficking from the 2016 academic session. Plans are on to enroll around a hundred such survivors as students after careful verification and tie-up with NGOs, said Firdausul Hasan, the honorary secretary of the St Xavier’s College Calcutta Alumni Association. “A committee will be set up which will look into tie-ups with NGOs and determine deserving candidates,” Hasan told IANS on Monday. The newly established St Xavier’s College Calcutta Foundation will take up this idea as one of its causes at its fund-raisers in San Francisco and Los Angeles on October 8 and October 10. A Christian minority higher educational institution, St. Xavier’s was founded in 1860 by a Catholic minority religious body, the Society of Jesus, and was affiliated to Calcutta University in 1862. (New Kerala 28/9/15)

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

57. Germany expects 40,000 refugees over the weekend (13)

Berlin: Some 40,000 migrants could arrive in Germany over the next two days – double the number who entered the country last weekend, authorities said on Saturday. Most are expected to arrive in the southern city of Munich but there are concerns about whether the region can cope with another large influx, BBC reported. Many migrants received a warm welcome at Munich railway station last weekend, and thousands have continued to arrive in Germany throughout the week. The mayor of Munich, Dieter Reiter, has made an urgent call for other German regions to do more to process and accommodate the new arrivals. He described as “scandalous” the failure of other regions to provide more accommodation. Reports suggest the government is considering new temporary powers to take control of unoccupied rental property so it can accommodate migrants. A large processing hub is planned for northern Germany on the Luneburg Heath in Lower Saxony. Trains would take migrants there directly from Austria. Meanwhile, protests in support of migrants are expected across Europe later on Saturday. (New Kerala 12/9/15)

58. Myanmar refugees eke out a living in Chennai (13)

CHENNAI: While crossing the India-Bangladesh border in 2012, Dil Muhammad’s first wife and three children were arrested. Muhammad was not in that group of Rohingyas that tried to cross the border after reaching Dhaka from Myanmar. With the help of a broker, Muhammad later managed to flee to Chennai, where he has been living with his second wife and daughter since. What he last heard was that his first wife and children are serving a sentence in a Kolkata jail. He wants to see them, but how? “It’s difficult to move around as a refugee. I am stuck,” he said. Last week, a group of 64 Rohingyas, including children, were shifted to a community hall in suburban Kelambakkam from an adjacent makeshift camp where they had been living for two years. Police said a few Rohingyas fought with some Bangladeshi nationals living in the same area and were shifted temporarily to the community hall. As rag pickers, the livelihood of these refugees depend on the amount of scrap they collect every day. They are not allowed to move around or do any work. So the men work as rag pickers but it is not at their will. “A scrap-dealer paid 14,000 to a broker for my family. Now I collect waste for him,” said Muhammad Yusuf, a Rohingya refugee who has been living in Chennai with his wife and two children since 2012. Rohingyas are Indo-Aryan people from Rakhine state of Myanmar. They speak Rohingya language. They have been identified as one the most persecuted minorities by the UN. More than one lakh Rohingyas live as internally displaced refugees in camps in Myanmar. A sizeable section of the population has moved to Bangladesh. After the Rakshine state riots in 2012, many Rohingyas migrated to south east Asian countries. The Rohingyas living in the community hall at Kelambakkam comprise 15 men, 16 women, 24 boys and nine girls. As the men work as rag pickers and daily wagers, women take care of making food in the camp. Dil Muhammed says the group was small in the beginning and subsequently grew to 64 as refugees from various places joined. “We were only some 14 people when we first came to Chennai. But soon our people from other states of India and countries like Bangladesh joined us. We all live in an open hall with our wives and children. There is no privacy and life is becoming hectic,” he said. The problems being faced by the Rohingyas came to light after the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued notice to the TN government, responding to reports about refugees from Myanmar left “wandering on the streets” of Chennai in search of accommodation. Even though all in the group have registered with the refugee office of the UN high commission, they are not allowed to lead a free life. “I was working as a part-time driver at a private firm in Jammu and Kashmir. I don’t have a valid Indian licence, but I have one issued by the Myanmar government. I don’t have any other option but to work as a ragpicker here,” said Abdul Salam, who joined the group in Chennai a couple of months ago. … (Times of India 14/9/15)

59. Grant citizenship to Chakma refugees within 3 months: Supreme Court (13)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Centre and Arunachal Pradesh government to grant citizenship within three months to Chakmas and Hajongs refugees who migrated to India from Bangladesh in 1964-69 and settled in the state. A bench of Justices A R Dave and A K Goel said Chakmas have a right to be granted citizenship subject to the procedure being followed and they cannot be discriminated in any manner. It directed the government to take all necessary steps to protect them as they are facing hostility from the local population. “It is well known that the Chakmas and Hajongs were displaced from the area which became part of East Pakistan (now in Bangladesh) on construction of Kaptai Dam and were allowed to be rehabilitated under the decision of the Government of India…They could not be discriminated against in any manner pending formal conferment of rights of citizenship,” it said. The court passed the order on a petition filed by Committee for Citizenship Rights of the Chakmas (CCRC) alleging that they were still being treated as foreigners despite living for more than 50 years in the state and being deprived the benefits of various social welfare schemes including Public Distribution System. “We direct the Centre and Arunachal Pradesh to finalize the conferment of citizenship rights on eligible Chakmas and Hajongs and also to ensure compliance of directions in judicial decisions for protection of their life and liberty and against their discrimination in any manner. The exercise may be completed at the earliest preferably within three months from today,” it said. (Times of India 18/9/15)

60. 10,000 migrants pour into Austria as crisis deepens (13)

Vienna: Austria was bracing for an influx of 10,000 migrants as Europe’s increasingly divided countries stepped up efforts to push the wave of desperate humanity on to their neighbours. In the latest chapter in the EU’s escalating refugee crisis, Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia tussled over how to cope with the massive inflow of people passing through on their way to new lives in northern and western Europe. The European Union, meanwhile, sketched out plans to boost aid to encourage Syrians in Turkey to stay put rather than join the exodus. Hungary’s right-wing government, which has faced international criticism over violent clashes with migrants and a hastily erected fence along its frontier with Serbia, has vowed to “defend its borders” against the flood of new arrivals, most of whom are from the Middle East and Africa. But in a shift in tactics late Friday, Hungarian authorities began transporting thousands of migrants straight to the border with Austria, an apparent bid to move them through and out of their territory as quickly as possible. Austrian police said Hungary had bussed at least 6,700 people to the border, with a total of 10,000 arrivals expected in the Burgenland border region by yesterday. There was no let-up in the stream of people making the gruelling journey across the Balkans into western Europe, with Croatia saying 20,700 had entered the country since Wednesday. Croatia, which initially said it would allow migrants to pass through freely, announced it was swamped on Friday and began transporting hundreds to the Hungarian border — sparking a furious reaction from Budapest. Migrants were being transported on Friday to two border crossings with Hungary and two with Slovenia, Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic said. Both countries belong to Europe’s borderless Schengen zone. In a new hurdle aimed at stemming the influx, Hungary said it had completed a 41-kilometre barbed-wire barrier along part of its frontier with Croatia. It “was finished overnight Friday,” defence spokesman Attila Kovacs told AFP in Budapest. The remaining 330 km of the border runs roughly along the Drava river, which is difficult to cross. The new barrier adds to a barbed-wire fence that Hungary completed along its frontier with Serbia earlier this week, backed with laws threatening illegal migrants with jail, which forced the migrant flow towards neighbouring Croatia. The first migrants to have taken this diverted new route – through Croatia and Slovenia – arrived in Austria yesterday, from where many hope to travel on to elsewhere in the European Union. (Deccan Herald 20/9/15)

61. Refugees from conflict ridden areas of Pakistan also heading to Europe (13)

ISLAMABAD: Just like the people from the war ravaged regions of the Middle East fleeing their homes, heading for Europe to save their lives, people from the conflict-hit areas of Pakistan also have been fleeing and heading for Europe, Australia, America and Canada. In fact the people starting migrating from Pakistan much before the unrest started in the Middle East after the emergence of Dai’sh or the IS (Islamic State). People migrating from Pakistan fall in two different categories. First, who were initially affected by the war on terror spearheaded by the US against Al-Qaida in Afghanistan and later they got sandwiched between the militants of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Pakistan Army, when the large-scale military operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ was launched against the militants, particularly focused on the Tribal Areas of Pakistan and in general all over the country. And, the second are the religious minorities like Shia Hazara community of Baluchistan and the third is a small number of Ahmadis, a community declared non-Muslims by Pakistan constitutionally. “Both the Shias, especially the Hazara community in Baluchistan and the Ahmadis are victims of religious persecution. Though these Pakistanis are not migrating in hoards like we have been seeing from Iraq and Syria but there has been a steady trickle for many a years now,” said Mubarik Ahmed Virk, a veteran Pakistani journalist. Unable to fulfill legal requirements, very few Pakistanis believe to follow the legal process for immigration. Majority of them adopt a course, which is not only illegal but full of hazards, to reach the shores of Europe. They spend hefty amounts to smugglers and traffickers of criminal syndicates to take them to Europe. They sell them false dreams of green pastures through death-defying road to Europe. The amount they pay to their agents ranges between $8,000 and $13,000. “I spent Rs1.3 million ($13,000) to reach here after journeying for nine months. Now, I am waiting for an opportunity to cross into England. In last five months, I was caught three times while hiding in a lorry. I hope to succeed this time,” said Shoaib Afridi, a resident of Jamrud town of Khyber tribal region. “I’ve now stopped interaction with my family which sent me here with high expectations. I’ve not sent a single penny in last nine months and they ask for paying off the debt they had borrowed for sending me here,” he said. Afridi lives with six Pashto-speaking Afghan nationals in a tent in a forest in Calais, France. About 600 Pashtuns, most of them from Afghanistan, live under tarpaulins and tents in densely forested area of Calais along with about 2600 imigrants from other countries waiting for their chances to enter England, their dream world. ……. (Times of India 22/9/15)

62. NGOs for deleting Brus from voters’ list (13)

AIZAWL, Sept 24 – Mizoram’s NGO Coordination Committee, comprising five major civil societies, today urged the Election Commission to take steps to ensure that those Brus who refused to return to the State from their camps in Tripura are disfranchised in Mizoram voters lists. A statement by the Committee said the people of Mizoram had repeatedly pleaded with the Brus, who were bona- fide residents of the State, to return and the government had also made a plethora of arrangements for their repatriation. However, the Brus were not willing to return to Mizoram and wished to remain in Tripura, the statement said and demanded that their names be deleted immediately from voters’ lists of Mizoram. The EC recently decided to conduct hearing in the six Bru relief camps in Tripura for special revision of electoral rolls. The NGO Coordination Committee consists of Young Mizo Association, Mizo Hmeichhe Insuihkhawm Pawl or Mizo Women Association, Mizoram Upa Pawl or Elders Association, Mizo Zirlai Pawl or Mizo Students Federation and Mizo Students Union. – PTI (The Assam Tribune 25/9/15)

63. From Assam to Hassan in search of work (13)

Hassan: Assam may be famous for its tea gardens, but a good number of Assamese workers have found employment in the coffee estates of Chikkamagaluru and Kodagu. More than 5,000 people from Darang and neighbouring districts of Assam have come to work in plantations of Belur and Sakleshpur taluks. Many more work in estates spread over Chikkamagaluru and Kodagu districts. “We hardly find jobs in our hometown. If we get work for a week, we remain jobless for next few weeks,” said Habizur Rahman (25), who has been working in Hasurugudda Estate of IBC company near Arehalli in Belur taluk for the last four years. Both men and women are enrolled as contract workers in estates for a daily wage of Rs. 228. In Assam, women hardly get the opportunity to earn in fields, he said. The wave of migration started five years ago, when a manager of an estate in Belur taluk came in contact with planters in Kodagu, where workers from Assam had begun to arrive. “Those days we were struggling to get local people to work. We were looking for people who could work. The first batch of 25 people came from Assam five years ago. As they got work for the entire year and wages were better than what they got in their homeland, they brought more people from their State,” said Fazlur Rahman, manager with IBC estate. The manager pointed out that many planters have employed Assamese as they are hard workers, though they are not well-versed in the skill of maintaining coffee. These workers have brought their family and all of them make a trip to their homeland during elections. “Voting is significant as there is a serious issue of illegal migrant voters from Bangladesh,” said Shwahidul Islam, who always keeps his voter’s identity card in his pocket. However, the workers are unhappy with the poor facilities provided in the estates. Around two or three families are forced to settle in one house with plastic sheets to separate them. For over 80 families there is only one toilet, in one of the estates visited by The Hindu . “We repeatedly demand for proper facilities, but our cry does not reach the people concerned. If anyone falls sick, we neither get paid holiday nor medical expenses reimbursed,” said Habizur Rahman. The district administration has set up a tent school for children of migrant workers, but they find this of no use. “We need a proper school where our children can get education from teachers who know Hindi,” said Marina Khatun, one among the women workers in the estate. (The Hindu 27/9/15)

64. Arunachal CM convenes all-party meeting on Chakma-Hajong issue (13)

Itanagar: Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki today convened an all-party meet here to discuss the Chakma-Hajong refugee issue in the backdrop of the recent Supreme Court judgment with regard to grant of Indian citizenship to Chakmas and Hajongs and their permanent settlement in the state. The state government, with advice and help from legal experts, would make preparations to file a review petition objecting to the permanent settlement of Chakma and Hajongs in the state and their exclusion from the provisions of the Inner Line Permit, a press release issued by the Chief Minister’s office said. The state government would wait for a correspondence from the Union Home Ministry with regard to the Supreme Court judgment of September 17 and take necessary action as deemed fit in interest of the state and its people, the meeting resolved. The all-party meet unanimously authorised the state government to take legal and necessary steps with regard to the apex court judgment to safeguard the welfare and interest of the indigenous tribes of the state. The release said the state government and all political parties of the state are not against the grant of Indian citizenship to Chakmas and Hajongs but objects to their permanent settlement in Arunachal Pradesh and their exclusion from the ILP provisions, the meeting observed. The meeting said this would be in contradiction to in-force Acts and Regulations like the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, the Scheduled District Act, 1874, the Assam Frontier Tract Regulation, 1880, the Assam Frontier Forest Regulation, 1891, the Chin Hills Regulations, 1896 and the Assam Frontier (Administration & Justice) Regulation, 1945 (1 of 1945).  All the parties appealed to the people not to spread hatred and misconception or target any individual or community particularly through social media. (Zee News 28/9/15)

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

65. Centre spent Rs 8cr on PM’s open letter on govt 1st anniversary (1)

NEW DELHI: The government spent over Rs 8 crore on advertisements in one day to mark its first anniversary. In response to an RTI application, the I&B ministry disclosed that it spent Rs 8.29 crore on publicizing PM Narendra Modi’s open letter on May 26, 2015 to celebrate one year of the NDA government. The RTI plea was filed by Mumbai-based Anil Galgali who sought to know the amount spent on Modi’s message. In total, 4,094 advertisements were published incurring an expense of Rs 8.29 crore. The advertisements were created by the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP), a department under the I&B ministry. Interestingly, Galgali was stonewalled by the DAVP which initially said the information was available on its website without answering the specific query related to ad spend on May 26. Galgali filed an appeal to receive data on actual expenditure by the department. Asked about the criteria for the PM to address the public, the DAVP said decisions were taken on the basis of three parameters: occasion, significance of the day and requirement. “The amount spent is high and the benefits for common man are zero,” said Galgali. The PM wrote an open letter that was published in major dailies elaborating on how the NDA government had “rejuvenated” a languishing economy and had built on “stable, policy-driven proactive governance”. He talked about various issues – from setting up IITs, IIMs and AIIMS to Swachh Bharat Mission and even invited suggestions from people. (Times of India 12/9/15)

66. Batra hospital covered under RTI, rules cic (1)

New Delhi: The Central Information Commission (CIC) has said that citizens can now get information from Batra Hospital and Medical Research Centre in the national capital as it to be covered under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Information commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu said the hospital has received substantial indirect funding from the government which brings it in the definition of the public authority under the RTI Act. Mr Acharyulu directed the hospital to set up necessary mechanisms to process applications from the citizens seeking information from the hospital. The commission finds that the said Batra Hospital and Medical Research Centre is being indirectly financed for promotion of public services by the government of NCT Delhi more particularly by the DDA and hence the same is squarely covered under the definition of ‘public authority’ as defined under Section 2 (h) (ii) of the RTI Act, 2005,” said Mr Acharyulu. The commissioner said there is vast “differential” between the monthly rental being paid by Batra Hospital and the commercial rent that the premises could fetch in the open market. The commission is of the opinion that the Centre is being indirectly financed by the appropriate government. Mr Acharyulu said the Hospital is a society which obtained very highly valuable land at Mehrauli Badarpur Road as an incentive and not at the commercial rate. He said whether it is called “incentive” or “subsidy” or “concession”, to that extent of low value, compared to market rate, the respondent authority has been indirectly financed which is substantial. He noted that the Hospital admits that it is a society which has responsibility to conduct itself as per the bylaws of society and as per Societies Registration Act, 1860. Under Section 19 of Societies Registration Act, 1860, any person has “right to inspect” and ask for “certified copies”. This provision is covered by Section 2(f) of Right to Information Act, according to which the Information Commission can direct sharing of information as per the RTI Act, 2005. “In the present case the element of both substantial indirect finance and control by the appropriate government i.E. Government of NCT through DDA is established,” he added. (Asian Age 14/9/15)

67. One year on, TS lands in Rs. 61,000-crore debt (1)

Hyderabad: Telangana government has acquired close to Rs. 61,000 crore as debt during the past one year of its tenure, reveal a Right to Information (RTI) reply received on a query from Forum for Good Governance. As per data collected by the forum, the government has obtained Rs. 23,348 crore from sale of bonds, Rs 24,000 crore from the Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) and Rs 4,000 crore from Power Finance Corporation. The government has also approached the World Bank for another Rs. 10,000 crore and the matter is under negotiation. The figures were obtained from State government records. Already, at the time of Telangana State formation, the government had inherited Rs. 70,000 crore debt that was incurred before bifurcation. Going by the fact that the State generates revenue mostly by collection of taxes from its people, each person in the State with a population of 3.5 crore has a burden close to Rs. 40,000 on their shoulders, Forum members pointed out. While the sale of bonds is at 9 percent interest, loan from REC is at 11 percent interest. The World Bank loan will be at 3.3 percent interest. “The State is moving towards debt trap if it does not check its expenditure. Only financial discipline can aid the State in the long run,” said M. Padmanabha Reddy, secretary of the Forum. The loans obtained by the State will have to be paid by 2024 in some cases and 2025 in others. Usually States are not allowed to loan funds higher than 3 percent of GDP, the Forum pointed out. “In this case, the government has maintained that Telangana is a surplus State to obtain hefty loans. But pinning welfare schemes on loans is not a sustainable financial model,” Mr. Chelikani Rao of the Forum. Most loans obtained are to be spent on Thermal power plants including Yadagiri plant. The funds will also be used for schemes including Mission Kakatiya, the Forum members said. This, when close to 60 percent of the State’s annual budget is allotted for non-plan expenditure including salaries of employees, maintenance of resources and vehicles for government use. “Ideally 50 percent of any State’s budget should be plan budget for welfare schemes and the remaining 50 percent for non-plan or dead spending,” Mr. Reddy said. Telangana is the only State which charges 4 percent tax on food grains. “This even as the government doesn’t charge tax on diamonds and just one percent tax on gold,” Mr. Reddy pointed out in a media conference held in the city on Wednesday. The Forum demanded the government to produce a white paper listing a clear plan of repayment to reassure citizens. (The Hindu 17/9/15)

68. Aadhaar contracts issued without tender: RTI (1)

MUMBAI:  Contracts for Aadhaar card project undertaken by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) were given without proper tendering process by the then Congress-led UPA government at the Centre, a reply obtained under the Right to Information Act (RTI) has revealed. Mumbai-based RTI activist Anil Galgali has obtained the information from the UIDAI that was once headed by Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani. UIDAI Public Information Officer S S Bisht informed Galgali that for Aadhaar card, work has not been issued any kind of tender. “A total of 25 companies have been awarded different responsibilities. The empanelment of agencies is being done under empanelment process guidelines contained in RFE (Request for Empanelment) dated 19th May 2014,” he said. Another UIDAI Public Information Officer and Deputy Director R Harish informed Galgali that Rs 13,663.22 crore  was the approved outlay for UIDAI project and Rs 6,562.88 crore amount incurred up to date May 31, 2015, since inception. Galgali has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to personally look into the issue to bring in more transparency and get the previous contracts reviewed and investigated so that all questions are settled. “This is very unfair where the project relates with the sensitive data of 125 crore Indians  of the country and no tendering process was done,” said Galgali in a press statement on Saturday. The RTI query has revealed that a total of eight contracts was awarded to Wipro and HCL, two contracts to Tata Consultancy, 14 contracts to Mac Associates, HP (India) Sales Private Ltd, National Informatics Centre, Sagem Morpho Securities, Satyam Computer Services, L1 Identity Solutions, Totem International, Linkwel Telesystem, Sai Infosystem India, Geodesic, ID Solutions, NISG, SQTC and Telsima Communication. One contract each was awarded to Aircel, Bharati Airtel, BSNL, Railtel Corporation of India Limited, Reliance Communications and Tata Communications. (Deccan Herald 20/9/15)

69. Lokayukta urges police to protect whistleblowers (1)

Lokayukta B. Subhashan Reddy requested the State police to protect the rights of Right to Information activists. In the past, several instances of violence against RTI activists were reported, he pointed out. Whistleblowers have to be protected in a democracy, he stressed. Mr. Reddy was speaking at the Right to Information meet organised by Social and RTI Groups Confederation. The meeting was attended by close to 250 RTI activists from across the two States. At the meet, Central Information Commissioner Madabushi Sridhar said that RTI Act should not be misused to target people. “The Act in principle ensures free flow of information. But information obtained under it should be used judiciously,” he said. Authorities pointed out that often, information obtained under the RTI Act does not get used for public good. Director General of Police (DGP), Anurag Sharma said the Telangana police havr been supporting genuine activists who bring out societal evils using RTI. “Most RTI activists have to face power centres and most need protection. Several activists have been getting threats from people in power for seeking sensitive information,” said P. Veerabhadra Rao, president of the association. (The Hindu 21/9/15)

70. No information on corruption cases against Sheila ​Dikshit: ACB (1)

New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party government has not initiated any corruption case against former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, though the party had during the Assembly Election campaign alleged irregularities during her tenure as CM. Replying to an RTI query on the complaints received by it, the Delhi Government has stated that only one complaint was received from a Ludhiana-based resident against her. The application from Lucknow-based RTI applicant Sanjay Sharma was forwarded by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s office to Directorate of Vigilance to provide information on cases registered by the present government. The vigilance department forwarded it to Anti-Corruption Branch which said no such information is available in its record. AAP had raked up the issue of alleged corruption during the tenure of Dikshit as Chief Minister in the election campaign and had swept the Assembly polls early this year. (Zee News 23/9/15)

71. Denial of Info Backfires on Maha Mantris, CIC Brings Them under the Ambit of RTI (1)

MUMBAI:In a landmark ruling, the Chief Information Commissioner of Maharashtra, Ratnakar Gaikwad, has brought the offices of all ministers and ministers of state under the ambit of the Right to Information Act. Gaikwad, in an order dated September 24, has directed the Maharashtra government to appoint RTI officials and an appeals authority in the office of each minister. He has issued the order on a complaint filed by a journalist Govind Tupe. Tupe had complained that the Social Justice Department had in July this year denied him information pertaining to the purchase of a house in London, where Dr BR Ambedkar had stayed for two years in 1918. During the hearing, the commission stated, “Offices of ministers have been set up by government… these perform several duties — receiving files from various departments, applications from people and complaints from the public, and correspond with various authorities/offices…” Gaikwad has maintained that no government office can deny information under RTI. In other words, his order has brought the ministers’ actions and behaviour under public scrutiny. Anil Galgali, an RTI activist, has welcomed Gaikwad’s order. “It will help bring transparency in government functioning. It is sad that activists still need to rush to higher authorities to get the government to work,” he said. With the Commission’s order, letters written by ministers, the recommendations they make, and other details such as their daily schedule, are expected to be made available through RTI requests. (New Indian Express 26/9/15)

72. Handicapped RTI activist alleges attack for cop-bashing (1)

CUTTACK: Expressing concern over spurt in attacks on activists in the State, RTI activists under the banner ‘Youth Social Workers’ have demanded a crime branch enquiry into the brutal attack on disabled RTI activist Kesab Mahakud of Nayagarh district. Currently undergoing treatment at SCB medical college and hospital here, Mr. Mahakud on Monday alleged that the September 22 attack on him was designed by the local police. A seasoned RTI activist, Mr. Mahakud earned the ire of police when he sought information through RTI Act from Nayagarh district police on the November 2014-dacoity in Darpanarayanpur in which gold and silver ornaments weighing about 40 kg were taken away. Although, the police solved the case, it was alleged that a major chunk of recovered stolen items were pocketed by the policemen. “Soon after I made the RTI enquiry, the police turned vindictive,” Mr. Mahakud alleges adding that he was falsely booked and arrested on August 22 this year registering a case under the provision of SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. After he was released on bail in the first week of September, Mr. Mahakud had received several threatening calls and on September 22 evening, he was brutally attacked by a group of masked men near the Bolgada bus stand. Mr. Mahakud, who is handicapped, has sustained fractures in his legs and the only hand in the attack. Condemning the attack, social workers here have demanded proper protection to the RTI activists and demanded crime branch enquiry into the attack. (The Hindu 29/9/15)

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

73.  Centre to Seek View of All Stakeholders to Finalise New Education Policy: Irani (11)

KOLKATA: Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani today said the new national education policy would be finalised only after taking into account the views of all state governments, academicians and child psychologists.  “We have requested all state governments to put their views in writing to us. Only after taking a comprehensive view of all written feedback we receive from all state governments, deliberations with academicians and child psychologists, we will reach a final conclusion,” Irani said. The HRD Minister was here for a day-long meeting with education department representatives of eastern states of West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand.  Irani said recently at the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) meeting 20 state ministers had unanimously backed the need to amend the Right To Education Act to enable yearly examinations and detention of poor performers.  She said the first draft of the new education policy, upon which they will have further deliberations on, will be out by December.   “I will be visiting certain institutes across the country (in the last phase) to understand the need of the parents and students about the policy,” the minister said. West Bengal Education Minister Partho Chatterjee said education is in the concurrent list and everyone must respect the federal structure. (New Indian Express 11/9/15)

74. Vidya Bharati aims at education committed to Hindutva (11)

VARANASI: The three-day national executive meeting of Vidya Bharati, the educational wing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), began in Mehmoorganj on Friday to discuss changes in education policy and academic curriculum that suits Indian culture and nationalism. Addressing the inaugural function, vice-chancellor of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) Girish Chandra Tripathi said that culture and human values should be the basis of education for healthy development of the nation. Presiding over the function, Vidya Bharati president Govind Sharma said that along with education policy, there should also be a policy for language. The mother tongue should be the medium of education at primary level, he said, adding that effective implementation of education policy is not possible in absence of good teachers. There is a need of serious discussion on the quality of education and personality development of students, he said. Around 200 people associated with Vidya Bharati from different parts of the country are taking part in the meeting. Vidya Bharati aims at developing a national system of education that is committed to Hindutva and infused with patriotic fervor. (Times of India 12/9/15)

75. Rajasthan Assembly clears bill on education (11)

In a first in the country, the Rajasthan Assembly on Thursday cleared a bill for amendment in Right to Education Act, 2009, to improve the standards of education by removing the provision of not failing students till Class 8 and instead evaluating them on the basis of their performance. The Right of Child-ren to Free and Com-pulsory Education (Rajasthan Amen-dment) Bill 2015 was among the four bills which the House passed amid uproar by the Opposition Congress which was raising its demands in the Well. “Rajasthan is the first state in the country to do so and this will improve quality of education,” minister of state for primary and secondary education Vasudev Devnani said before the bill was passed. Mr Devnani said students up to Class 8 will be evaluated on the basis of their performance and the amendment was aimed at improving educational foundation of the students. Bills related to two private universities and amendments in Rajasthan Seco-ndary Education Act 1957 were also passed by the House, which had to be adjourned two times following uproar by the Opposition Congress. As soon as the question hour began at 11 am, Leader of the Opposition Rameshwar Dudi and other Congress members raised their issues, storming to the Well of the House, and created pandemonium. Speaker Kailash Meghwal had called the listed question before the Opposition’s demands and minister Prabhu Lal Saini also gave reply amid the din. Parliamentary affairs minister Rajendra Rathore objected to the Opposition’s demands and said they should raise their issues as per the rules of the business of the House. (Asian Age 18/9/15)

76. National education policy to be prepared with opinion of all: Irani (11)

AGARTALA: Union human resource development minister Smriti Irani has said a joint effort has been initiated from the national to the grassroots level to obtain opinion to formulate a national education policy. “This is for the first time citizen of India at large from national to grassroots level would give their opinion in preparing the national education policy. The draft of the policy would be ready by December,” Irani told reporters on Friday night after meeting Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar. She said, “The first regional meeting covering all the eight northeastern states held in Agartala Friday. The education ministers and representatives of these states gave their views on the proposed national education policy.” The minister, who left for Delhi on Saturday, said the gram panchayat level to district, state to national level consultation on the education policy already begun across the country and the response was very enlightening. On Friday, addressing the students and teachers of the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Agartala, she said to obtain experiences and expertise by the IIT and NIT students from world famous scientist, academician and technical experts, the MHRD has recently launched a scheme ‘GIAN’ (Global Initiative of Academic Network). She asked the institute to provide a list of foreign experts, who can be invited. “The travel and other cost of the guest expert would be borne by my ministry and the deliberations would be video recorded for future use by the students,” she announced. Irani also asked the all concerned to share experience among the students of various NITs and IITs of the country and requested the NIT students to share their experience, knowledge and inventions with the people living adjoining the villages of their institute. She also announced that a web portal “e-soudh-sindhu” would be launched by January next year and over 90,000 e-books and 10,000 journals of across the world would be available in the plat form. The minister accompanied by HRD Secretary V.S. Oberoi (Higher Education) and S C Khuntia (School Education) held a meeting here on Friday with the education ministers of the northeast states to discuss the proposed national education policy. Tripura education minister Tapan Chakraborty said the Friday’s meeting was held as the follow up meeting of the 63rd meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) that was held in New Delhi on August 19. He told reporters that in the CABE meeting, most northeast states wanted to remove the ‘no-detention policy’ at the elementary school level (up to class 8). Chakraborty said, “The eight northeast states along with most states of the country are not only against the ‘no-detention policy’ but are also in an awkward position due to the lack of trained teachers even though the Right to Education Act (RTE), 2009, made this mandatory.” The minister said the Left Front government strongly supported the plan for a new education policy, a process initiated by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government. (Times of India 20/9/15)

77. Goverment to close 300 private schools (11)

New Delhi: The Delhi government has initiated the process of closure of around 300 private schools running without recognition here due to their failure to meet the minimum land requirement and quality standards prescribed under the Right to Education Act. If any school does not fulfil the norms and standards specified under the act, it shall take steps to fulfil the same within a period of three years. According to a senior official of the directorate of education (DoE), the Delhi high court had in May this year directed DoE, civic-bodies and the DDA to ensure immediate closure or shifting of those unr-ecognised schools which are housed in any premises that may pose a threat to the safety of the children studying therein. “The DoE has already given provisional recognition to about 800 unrecognised schools but still about 300 schools are running unrecognised, for the fact that these schools do not meet the minimum land requirement. The file for closure of these schools is under process,” said the official. The government had issued a circular earlier this month asking all provisionally recognised and unrecognised schools to submit ‘structural stability record/certificate’ of the building in which they are housed, failing which it would be presumed they do have any such document/record and further action for closure of such school shall be started without further notice. Section 18 of the Right To Education (RTE) Act has a provision that no school can be established without obtaining certificate from the appropriate authority. The DoE has also issued a district-wise list of unrecognised schools. (Asian Age 21/9/15)

78. Teachers want no fail policy with criteria, not mass promotions (11)

PANAJI: After the directorate of education (DoE) sought suggestions on improving the no-fail policy and the continuous comprehensive evaluation system implemented under the Right to Education Act, it has received only four suggestions, most of them from teachers’ associations. The suggestions have been sought by Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) of the Union human resource development (HRD) ministry from all states, based on which amendments will be made to the act if necessary. Educationist P R Nadkarni and teachers’ associations like the All Goa Secondary School Teachers’ Association were among those who wrote to the DoE with their suggestions. All recommendations made to the directorate stressed on the need to set a criteria before the child is promoted to the higher class between Class I and Class VIII as per the no-fail policy. “The suggestions say that all students should not be promoted to Class VIII irrespective of any factors like their behaviour, attendance, academic performance etc. We will forward the suggestions to the state government, which will then decide what has to be sent to the central government as our recommendations,” director of education G P Bhat said. School teachers have conveyed to the director of education that they are in favour of the no-detention policy being implemented on a case-to-case basis depending of the student concerned rather than in a blanket manner. CABE will consider the views along with similar opinions from teachers from across the country to decide if amendments are needed to the Right to Education Act implemented in 2009. (Times of India 23/9/15)

79. Haryana Government Directs Private Schools to Reserve Seats for EWS (11)

CHANDIGARH: Private schools in Haryana will have to reserve 10 per cent seats for children belonging to Economically Weaker Sections for classes II to XII, according to a state government decision taken today. The private schools would not charge any fees or funds from such students for classes II to VIII, whereas they can charge fees or funds equivalent to that of government schools from students of classes IX to XII. The expenditure on education of these students would be reimbursed by the Haryana government according to rates fixed from time to time, according to the decision taken in a high-level meeting of the Education Department held under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. Under the Right to Education Act, there is already a provision for reservation of 25 per cent seats for students of class I belonging to Economically Weaker Sections in all private schools, Haryana Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma said after the meeting. He said this year, reimbursement of Rs 300 per month would be given for students of classes II to V studying in urban schools falling in the jurisdiction of urban local bodies, an official release said. Reimbursement of Rs 400 per month would be given for students of classes VI to VIII. Similarly, reimbursement of Rs 200 per month would be given for students of classes II to V studying in schools in rural areas, and reimbursement of Rs 300 per month would be given for students of classes VI to VIII. It was also decided in the meeting that the state government would urge the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development for release of grant-in-aid for reimbursement of financial assistance to be given to private schools for admission on 25 per cent seats under Right to Education Act. It was also decided that state government would request the Union Government to do away with no detention policy from Classes 1 to 8 under the RTE Act. (New Indian Express 26/9/15)

80. Delhi government plans to club school panels with mohalla sabhas (11)

NEW DELHI: The school management committees are likely not going to be the independent elected bodies Right to Education Act intended them to be. At the launch of a report on SMCs by Central Square Foundation, the education minister’s adviser on education, Atishi Marlena, said, “Government hopes to embed SMCs within the structure of mohalla sabhas to enhance participation.” Marlena said each constituency will be divided into several mohalla sabhas and SMCs will be accountable to the mohalla sabhas. They’ll be sub committees within the sabha, which, in turn, will be the ultimate decision making body. There was also much discussion on their funding. In theory, SMC functions are publicly funded, they are meant to draw up school development plans on the basis of which grants are released. But SMCs have not functioned quite in the way they were intended to. As the report says, “community members lack awareness regarding the roles and responsibilities of SMCs. Also, SMC members receive inadequate training for school monitoring and planning. Finally, SMC monitoring by state governments inhibits effective implementation.” National University of Educational Planning and Administration’s A K Singh said, “SMCs may be local but funding comes centrally, reducing effectiveness.” The report also argues, “There is inconclusive evidence in India on the efficacy of community participation in improving student learning” although, questions have been raised about the viability of such large-scale standardized tests in gauging learning too. (Times of India 29/9/15)

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

81. Lands Occupied by BPL Families to be Regularised (21)

VISAKHAPATNAM : Coming to terms with the reality over increasing land encroachments, the Visakhapatnam district administration has begun the process for regularisation of unobjectionable encroachments up to an extent of 100 sq.yards in the government lands free of cost. It is a dream come true for over a lakh poor residents of the Port City and majority of the lands are likely to be regularised by the year-end. The State Government had proposed to regularise government lands encroached by the Below Poverty Line (BPL) families in urban areas and issued orders to this effect. Keeping in view various types of lands and disputes over their ownership in Visakhapatnam, district collector N Yuvaraj Thursday released the guidelines for regularisation of the encroachments. A maximum area of 100 sq.yards under encroachment with dwellings/structures as on January 1, 2014, will be considered for regularisation in GVMC area, including Bheemili and Anakapalle zones along with Narsipatnam and Yelamanchili municipalities. “The issue of regularisation of the encroachments of more than 100 sq.yards lands on payment of prescribed penalty, is under consideration by the State Government and necessary orders are expected to be issued shortly,” the district collector said. The district administration has so far received 1,681 applications. The authorities are expecting to receive applications pertaining to an estimated 60,000 unobjectionable encroachments and 15,000 objectionable encroachments. As per the norms, the occupant should submit an application to the district administration on payment of `35 in Mee-Seva towards the application fee on or before December 15. They should fill the application in the prescribed format which would be forwarded to the tahsildar concerned for verification. A team of officials from the revenue and municipal administration departments will be engaged in the inspection. The report will be submitted to the district land regularisation committee through the tahsildar for final decision. The applications will be disposed of within 90 days of receipt. The BPL families should enclose a copy of the ration card or income certificate issued by the tahsildar, along with a copy of the Aadhar card or identity proof. The applicant should also submit a proof of occupation like copy of property tax receipts, electricity bills and registration document (sale deed). In case of applicants having no document to show his possession over the property, the application will be taken up on the basis of ration card/income certificate followed by field verification. The GEO tagging and GPS co-ordinates will be obtained along with a photograph of the family. The collector said that the land patta would be issued in the name of woman member of the family and in her absence, in the name of eldest male member, at a public function. “The land owner will be eligible to dispose of the land only two years after the regularisation. While priority will be given to applicants with no property, those who benefited from such land regularisation scheme earlier would not be considered under the fresh scheme,” he added. (New Indian Express 11/9/15)

82. ‘Closed Bengal tea estates a major humanitarian crisis in the making’ (21)

Kolkata : The “semi-closure” and “abandonment” of tea estates in northern West Bengal is fast becoming a major humanitarian crisis with a population of over 75,000 dependent on them forced to live in near-starvation, warns a report. Releasing the “Ignoring Hunger- Report on the Situation in Duncans’ Tea Estate in North Bengal”, Right to Food and Work Campaign’s West Bengal chapter demanded immediate intervention of the Mamata Banerjee government. The Right to Food and Work Campaign (RFWC)- a network of organisations and activists, slammed the Banerjee government for turning a blind eye to the “grim” issue and said they will be compelled to seek legal recourse if the state government failed to take measures under the Right to Food Act as mandated by the Supreme Court. “The situation is peculiar for the fact that the 15 tea estates owned by the Duncans are neither closed nor open. With the estates being in limbo since February, the population of over 75,000 directly dependant them, is living in near starvation,” said Anuradha Talwar of RFWC. “Since the gardens have not been officially closed, the state government is not extending the benefits of social schemes including financial assistance to workers of locked-out industries. “The people are not only compelled to live in near-starvation, there is no facility for drinking water, medical facilities have totally collapsed. Its near a disaster situation unless immediate steps are taken, it will soon turn into a major humanitarian crisis,” she added. The activists demanded the state government to take immediate steps like regular distribution of rations, employing the people under the rural job guarantee programme, and providing pensions under the National Social Assistance. “So far our attempts to get the state government to intervene in the matter have failed to evoke any response. If they don’t act immediately, we will be moving the Calcutta High Court with public interest litigation,” said Father S.J. Jothi of the network. According to the report, the lease of most of the estates has expired, so the company “illegally” possessed the land which belongs to the state government. It also states that total cash dues to the workers of these estates were over Rs.22.5 crore. “The state government needs to ensure that either the management runs the estates properly or search new owners and cancel the leases if necessary. The government must also ensurethat all the dues to the workers are paid,” it said. The report also includes a letter to state Chief Secretary Sanjay Mitra by Harsh Mander, special commissioner of the Supreme Court on Right to Food, who stated that “illegal and undeclared stoppage of wage payments and ration payments in the Duncan gardens has resulted in enormous food distress and livelihood distress”.  (Business Standard 14/9/15)

83. India yet to achieve U.N. Millennium Development Goals (21)

NEW DELHI: The Statistical Year Book, brought out by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) that is overseeing progress on the MDGs, shows that only six of the 18 targets adopted as part of the eight goals in 2000 have been fully met. Another report brought out by the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific shows that India has met only four of the eight MDGs. The key targets for the MDGs were halving poverty, ensuring universal primary school enrolment, attaining gender parity, cutting maternal mortality rates by three-fourths, cutting child mortality by two-thirds and reducing incidence of HIV/AIDS, among others. As per the official figures, India has managed to halve poverty rates from the 1990 levels, ensure gender parity in primary school enrolment, reversed incidence of HIV/AIDS, and reduced malaria and TB deaths. However, India continues to lag behind in checking maternal mortality and child mortality to expected levels. It has failed to address prevalence of hunger as well. As per the Census 2011 report, 89 million children in the age group 0-3 were malnourished, with 35.6 million among them underweight. The failure to improve access to sanitation, with half of the country’s households lacking a latrine, remains a major concern as well. Even in areas where India claims to be close to meeting its targets, such as reversing the incidence of malaria and TB, the disease burden continues to be high in terms of absolute numbers. As the year book shows, 1.8 million persons develop TB every year, and until recently, 3.7 lakh persons died annually, or 1,000 persons every day. Another target was to achieve a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020. But, the report says that it is not “statistically discernible” if the target was met. As per the Census 2011, a 37.14 per cent decadal growth was observed in the number of slum households, making it a significant challenge for the country. As for the other two targets of environmental sustainability and partnerships for development with other countries, official reports say India is on track. Experts, however, dispute the government’s claims and flag the absence of quality data as a challenge in monitoring the country’s progress on the targets. (The Hindu 15/9/15)

84. Narendra Modi mocks Cong’s ‘garibi hatao’ slogan, says his govt’s different (21)

VARANASI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi mocked the opposition for raising questions against his Jan Dhan Yojana and asked, “Those who kept poor away from banking facilities even after four decades of nationalisation of banks are seeking account of such a scheme which has brought Rs 30,000 crore cash in rotation in a record time.” “What these people could not do in 50 years, I will do in 50 months,” Modi retorted at a function in his parliamentary constituency on Friday. “The programme would not just change the lives of a few people, but herald a new beginning that would change the future of ‘Kashi’ and its poor,” the PM said. “Things will start moving fast and the town will get a new identity and the common man’s lives will improve,” he told the hundreds of people who had gathered to listen to him. The PM, on his first trip to his Lok Sabha constituency in over eight months, claimed poverty alleviation measures of the past lacked a proper direction. “We have been hearing about ‘garibi hatao’ for the last 40-50 years. In elections too, we hear about poverty alleviation programmes for the poor. It has become a tradition in politics to talk about the poor and their welfare. There is need to come out of this tradition,” he said. Stating that experiments for poverty elimination had failed to give desired results so far, Modi said, “I don’t want to blame any government or party, but we must make a new beginning for the welfare of the poor.” He also appealed to the poor to send their children to school as education was the best option to fight poverty. Modi also stressed on skill development and said through technology the poorest of the poor could earn more and become self-reliant. “A little support in developing skills of hardworking poor is creating confidence among them. A rickshaw-puller too has become aware about skill development and its importance in his work. This programme must be initiated on broader scale as the rickshaw pullers and auto drivers create the first impression on any tourist or visitor. Their training in behaviour with guests is vital.” (Times of India 19/9/15)

85. Poverty, infant mortality reduces in Delhi, other Millenium Development goals not achieved

New Delhi: In spite of significant reduction in ‘extreme poverty’, infant and maternal mortality, and near universal enrolment in primary education, Delhi has failed to meet few parameters set by the Millennium Development Goals, although it is “on track” to achieve them shortly. In spite of significant reduction in ‘extreme poverty’, infant and maternal mortality, and near universal enrolment in primary education, Delhi has failed to meet few parameters set by the Millennium Development Goals, although it is “on track” to achieve them shortly. The facts were put forth in a report released by the Delhi government on Tuesday ahead of the high-level Sustainable Development Summit in New York on September 25, where 17 new goals, to replace the eight MDGs, are to be adopted by world leaders. The report said that the proportion of people below the poverty line in Delhi estimated for 2011-12 was 9.9% in comparison to 15.7% during 1993-94, the base year of MDG. Releasing the report, ‘Millennium Development Goals Delhi State Report 2014′ prepared by the Institute of Human Development (IHD) in collaboration with Delhi Planning Department, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said that most of the goals have “either been attained or likely to be achieved shortly.” Sisodia said that with the current 0.3% rate of reduction in poverty, the target of halving the poverty between 1990 and 2015 as per MDG will be achieved by 2017. Terming malnourishment of children as a significant indicator of food security, the report said that the percentage of underweight children (under 3 years) in Delhi decreased from 36.2 % in 1992-93 to 24.9% in 2005-06. To halve the 1990 proportion, the required reduction for the next ten years is only 0.7%, which can be achieved easily, Sisodia said. The most notable achievement has expectedly been in the field of teledensity, i.e. telephone per 100 population, which jumped from 41.8 in 2004 to 218.9 in 2011. “There are 29.1 % of households which have personal computers comprising 17.6% households having internet facility,” the report said. On the primary education front, Sisodia said the net enrolment ratio in primary education was 97.6 % during 2012-13 and proportion of pupils completing it was 99.7% in 2010-11, “near to universal” as envisaged in MDG. “The youth literacy rate (15-24 years old) was 96.46% during 2011-12. So, Delhi is near to achieve 100% Youth Literacy Rate by 2015,” it said. Sisodia claimed that Delhi has already attained the target of eliminating gender disparity in primary education and was very close to attain the same in secondary and tertiary education. “Share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector was 17.1 in 2011-12. Proportion of seats held by women in State Assembly was 4.3% in 2013 which increased to 8.6% in 2015,” the report added. The under-5 child mortality rate during 1992 was 83.1 in Delhi which fell to 28 in 2012, while infant mortality rate was recorded at 25 in 2012 in comparison to 36 in 1998. “Both of these targets of reducing child mortality rate are likely to be achieved by 2015,” the report said. However, the city will miss the 100% target rate set for the proportion of 1-year olds to be immunised against measles. “…likely achievement by the year 2015 will be 89.05%,” it said. In the field of maternal health, which is the fifth MDG, the report says that the proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel in Delhi during 2012 was 84.7%, out of which 81.4% were institutional births, which is expected to go up to 86.4% by 2015. It claimed success in combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and other diseases in recent years. Tuberculosis prevalence rate has been reduced to 67.7 per one lakh population in 2010 as opposed to 284.5 in 2004. In ensuring environmental sustainability, it said that Delhi has appreciably widened the forest and tree cover in the city from 1.5% to 20% in 2011. “Percentage of households with sustainable access to an improved water source in Delhi as per 2011 census is 81.3%, which was 75.3% in 2001. 89.6% households had the sanitation facility in 2011 in comparison to 78% in 2001. The percentage of slum households in 2001 was 16.3 which comes to 11.3 in 2011 census,” it said. (DNA 22/9/15)

86. 10.6 million tons of food production to be affected in current year, says FICCI (21)

NEW DELHI: A study by FICCI reveals that 10.6 million tons of food production is likely to get affected in the current year due to spurious/counterfeit pesticides. The study was released Dr JS Sandhu, deputy director general, Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) and Agriculture commissioner to Government of India at a discussion organized by FICCI here on Wednesday. With 1.2 billion plus population, India requires a robust, modernized agriculture sector to ensure the food security for its population. The scope for further increasing cultivable land is limited. In order to meet the food grain requirements of the nation, the agricultural productivity and its growth needs to be sustained and further improved. India faces a challenge of non-genuine pesticides in the market, which can be counterfeit, spurious, adulterated or sub-standard. It is estimated that they constitute about 30% of the total market. The study assesses the extent of the problem and suggests ways to counter the menace. It indicates that the problem is growing 20% per year and if not addressed will reach to the level of 40% by 2019. It also states that irreversible damage to environment by use of unmonitored toxic ingredients in non-genuine due to degradation of soil through unknown illegal chemicals. India’s position as one of the leading food grain exporter in the world is fully at stake as the possibility of rumors or sabotage by other countries or rejection of Indian exports food items from developed importing countries would increase. In such a scenario, export of 29 million tons of food grains worth Rs. 1, 578 billion (USD 26 Billion) is at stake. (Times of India 23/9/15)

87. UN summit to approve 15-year blueprint to eradicate poverty (21)

UNITED NATIONS: World leaders on Friday unanimously approved an ambitious and costly 15-year blueprint to eradicate extreme poverty, combat climate change and address more than a dozen other major global issues. Presidents, prime ministers and diplomats from the UN’s 193 members stood and applauded loudly after general assembly president Mogens Lykketoft gaveled approval of the development roadmap. Discussions on how to implement the new goals — expected to cost between $3.5 trillion and $5 trillion every year until 2030 — is expected to dominate the three-day summit that will include speeches by US President Barack Obama, China’s President Xi Jinping and the leaders of Egypt, India, Iran, Germany, Britain and France. UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon told the general assembly that the test will be implementation, calling for action from all people, everywhere, and high-level political commitment. The agenda “embodies the aspirations of people everywhere for lives of peace, security and dignity on a healthy planet,” Ban said. The goals “are a to-do list for people and planet, and a blueprint for success.” The document —called “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” — sets out 17 broad goals and 169 specific targets. Its overarching aims of reducing poverty and inequality and preserving the environment got strong support from Pope Francis who addressed the general assembly immediately before the summit opened. The non-binding goals will succeed the eight Millennium Development Goals adopted by world leaders 15 years ago. Despite significant progress, however, the only one achieved before this year was halving the number of people living in extreme poverty, due primarily to economic growth in China. The broad new goals include ensuring “healthy lives,” quality education for all, clean water, sanitation and reliable modern energy — and achieving gender equality, making cities safe, reducing inequality within and among countries, and promoting economic growth. Critics say they are too broad, lack accountability and will lead to disenchantment among those in the world most in need of hope. Supporters say there is no choice but to go big in a world of expanding population, growing inequality, dwindling resources and the existential threat from global warming…. (Times of India 25/9/15)

88. Attacked poverty by using tech power: Modi (21)

San Jose (California): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said his government “attacked poverty by using power of networks and mobile phones”. Speaking at the Digital India Dinner here, Modi said: “Since my government came to office we attacked poverty by using power of networks and mobile phones to launch a new era of empowerment.” “I see technology as a means to empower and as a tool that bridges the distance between hope and opportunity,” he said, adding: “In this digital age, we have an opportunity to transform lives of people in ways that was hard to imagine just a couple of decades ago.” He also said: “The only status that now matters is not whether you are awake or asleep, but whether you are online or offline.” “California is one of the last places in the world to see the sun set. But, it is here that new ideas see the first light of the day.” On the social media frenzy, the prime minister said: “Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, they are the new neighbourhoods of our new world.” (New Kerala 27/9/15)

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

89. Don’t ask construction worker to contribute to pension schemes: SC (14)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday took exception to the central scheme that asks construction workers to contribute 50 percent of the amount for their pensions upon completing 60 years of age under the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act, 1996. “Don’t make the beneficiaries (of the pension scheme) contribute to the scheme.. the moment you do it, they are dissuaded to keep away,” said the social justice bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit. “Our idea is that a worker is not made to contribute to the pension scheme. That is the easiest way to dissuade the worker to keep away from the scheme,” said Justice Lalit, brushing aside all explanations offered by Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh appearing for the central government. Admitting that there was a “complete failure” on the part of the government in utilising the fund collected for the welfare of the construction workers as mandated under the 1996 law, Singh said that “some where a beginning” has to be made. “Where should be the beginning (made) after complete failure to implement the scheme for the benefits of the construction workers,” he said, inviting a jibe from Justice Lalit who said: “Wisdom of implementing the act has come after 11 years.” Singh shifted the blame on the state governments for not responding to the central government’s directions in the past. Trying to address the court’s queries, Labour Secretary Shankar Aggarwal said that one of the impedements in the implementation of the provision of 1996 law was that construction workers did not have an identity card. He said that same is being removed by issuing them portable Universal Access Number (UAN) that will have their bank account number and all the benefits would get channelized. While asking Aggarwal to put all that he had said in an affidavit, the court also asked him to respond to two identical orders passed by it on January 18, 2010 and December 12, 2014, asking that the construction workers working for contractors executing government projects should get the benefits of the schemes under the 1996 Act. Referring to the two orders, senior counsel Colin Gonsalves appearing for the petitioner National Campaign Committee of Construction Labourers said that 60 percent of the construction workers were engaged in government contracts. He also disputed the figures of 1.5 crore registered construction workers saying that in fact, there were about five crore construction workers. The court asked the labour secretary to address the suggestions given by the amicus curiae Vivek Tankha for the utilisation of corpus of Rs. 21,000 crore. The pension scheme is one of the several welfare measure for the utilisation of Rs.21,000 crores collected under the 1996 act. The other welfare measures include providing construction workers with low cost houses, scholarship and tuition fee of their children and maternity benefits to the women construction workers. (New Kerala 11/9/15)

90. Munnar stir called off, women tea workers secure benefits (14)

Thiruvananthapuram: The spontaneous agitation by tea estate workers in Munnar, mostly women, that began nine days ago ended on Sunday with the management yielding to their demands to increase bonus. Hours earlier, opposition leader V S Achuthanandan had joined the agitation, saying he would not leave till the workers’ demand was met. The women workers who had chased away all other political leaders and trade unions which tried to side with them, saying they had been helping the management, had allowed the veteran CPM leader to join their agitation. Following marathon discussions among stakeholders in Kochi, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the management of Kannan Devan Hills Plantations (KDHP) Limited had agreed to give 8.33 per cent bonus and 11.67 per cent ex-gratia to workers. The demand for increase in daily wages from Rs 231 to Rs 500 would be addressed by the labour commissioner later. The 5,000-odd workers had started the sit-in in Munnar last Sunday. KDHP was forced to close down all its factories after the agitation cut off supply of tea leaves. The strike was embarrassing for Tata Tea as KDHP was held up as a model for making workers feel part of the company. It was formed a decade ago following Tata Tea’s strategy to hand over a chunk of its shares to employees and managers of the estate. However, while a workers’ representative was made the board director, the operations continued to be controlled by the Tatas. Tata Global Beverages also retained the Kannan Devan tea brand and the marketing of the estate’s products. Currently, the 13,000 workers on KDHP’s rolls, most of them women engaged in plucking tea leaves, hold 68 per cent of the shares, while 18 per cent are held by Tata Tea. The remaining 14 per cent are held by a trust and others. The cover page of KDHP’s annual report for the last fiscal had noted that it “featured among the 100 best companies to work (by) its employees in India; ranked No. 1 in the category (of) best company for employees’ involvement and participation in India”. The agitation had begun after the management decided to cut workers’ bonus from 20 per cent to 10 due to the sagging fortunes of the tea industry. A statement by the company said its income had fallen by 68 per cent in 2014-15 from the previous year. The angry workers later also raised the issue of daily wages. The basic daily pay of an estate worker engaged in plucking tea leaves is Rs 80 to 85. With all benefits, it comes to Rs 231. A worker has to pluck 21 kg of leaves a day to get that pay, plus Rs 1.50 for every extra kilogram of output. On the contrary, estate supervisors get Rs 4 each, staff members Rs 6 each and managers Rs 10 each on every extra kilogram plucked by the worker. Apart from the demand to increase wages and bonus, the workers also raised the “poor conditions” in the one-room houses allotted to them. One of the protesting workers said that the claim that “the company belongs to labourers” was an “eye wash”. “We have to pay for every service offered, even Rs 100 so that our cows can graze. Ordinary workers’ children do not get admission in the school run by the company.” Achuthanandan, who was given a rousing reception by the striking workers on Sunday, said KDHP had no justification to cut the bonus from 20 to 10 per cent. The welcome was surprising given the insistence by workers, mostly women, to keep out even their own trade union leaders affiliated to the CPI’s AITUC, the Congress’s INTUC and the CPM’s CITU, as they hit the streets of Munnar. In a sector known for its well-oiled trade union system, such an agitation, without the support of trade union leaders, was unheard of. (Indian Express 14/9/15)

91. Will oppose move to deny decent wages: CITU (14)

Thiruvananthapuram: A press note issued by the Secretariat here on Tuesday pointed out that majority of workers in the traditional and unorganised sectors were getting meagre wages. It observed that the neoliberal policies of the government were making the affluent sections richer while pushing the poorer sections deeper into deprivation. It said the government had failed to bring the managements round to a fair settlement of the strike by estate workers. (The Hindu 17/9/15)

92. PF insurance amount hiked to Rs. 6 lakh (14)

HYDERABAD: A meeting of the Central Board of Trustees of Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) here on Wednesday decided to enhance the insurance benefit payable to dependents of the members of the Employees’ Provident Fund from the present Rs. 3.60 lakh to 6 lakh. The move under the Employees Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme, 1976, will benefit four crore EPF contributing members. The money will be paid to dependents on the death of subscribers to the scheme. About Rs. 180 crore was paid to 30,000 employees last year, board chairman and Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, Central Provident Fund Commissioner K.K. Jalan and top officials of the Ministry of Labour and Employment told a press conference after the meeting. Mr. Dattatreya said that it was also decided to remove the condition of continuous employment of one year under the current employer for eligibility to the insurance scheme. Even a day’s employment was enough to be eligible. All the 4.3 crore construction workers will be given universal account numbers as part of steps to enable them to access the PF amount even if they migrated to other States since they were mostly migrant people. The Centre would give the Supreme Court a roadmap on how it proposed to make the State governments spend the one per cent cess on the construction value of buildings collected from contractors for the welfare of workers. The apex court had taken a serious view of the fact that Rs. 20,000-crore collected for the purpose at the national level but it was either misused or not used. Mr. Jalan said the EPFO was looking at a 15-year horizon for investment of 5 to 15 per cent of the corpus of the EPFO in the exchange-traded fund with the aim to earn higher returns. It was seen that the Sensex grew 15 per cent in as many years. The EPFO had already invested Rs. 400 crore through six fund managers, including SBI mutual fund, since August 6. The investment will be ramped up to Rs. 4,000 to 5,000 crore in this financial year. (The Hindu 17/9/15)

93. National policy for domestic workers on anvil: Centre (14)

New Delhi: Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya on Friday said the central government was formulating a national policy for domestic workers to provide them social security. My ministry is working on a national policy for domestic workers to assure them wage security, job security and social security,” Dattatreya said while addressing a national workshop of informal workers here. He said the initiative would benefit about three crore domestic workers in the country. The minister said the government has also “initiated step” to amend the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) and Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) Acts to bring unorganised workers under its ambit and provide them benefits at par with the organised workforce. He said about Rs.16,000 crore, collected under cess funds for construction workers, is “lying vacant” with the various states’ welfare boards. “My ministry has been issuing statutory directions from time to time for proper utilisation of the cess funds for the benefit of the building and other construction workers,” he said. Under the Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess Act, realty developers are required to pay cess of 1 percent of the total cost of construction incurred by the employer. Meanwhile, the minister said all the unorganised workers would be covered with the universal minimum social security net within a year. “I am sure, within a year from now, you will see a transformed India where the entire unorganised workforce and their family comprising of 100 crore of India’s population will be covered by universal minimum social security net which will help them live a life of dignity and respect,” he said. As per census 2011, out of about 48 crore workforce in India, only eight crore come under the category of organised workers, while 40 crore are unorganised workers who contribute 50 percent of the country’s GDP. (Business Standard 18/9/15)

94. Controversial labour law amendments to come into force in a week in Gujrat (14)

GANDHINGAR: The Labour Laws (Gujarat Amendment) Bill, 2015 passed in the state assembly in February amid wide opposition from the Congress party was finally has finally been approved as an Act by the President of India on September 17, and the state government has now decided to notify the Act within a week’s time. The Labour Laws Amendment Bill aimed at amending The Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923; The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947; The Minimum Wages Act, 1948; The Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961; The Beedi and Cigar Workers Act, 1966; The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970; Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972; The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976; The Building and Other Construction Workers Act, 1996 and Unorganized Workers Social Security Act, 2008. Vijay Rupani, state labour and employment minister said: “The President of India has approved the Labour Laws Amendment Bill. As soon as the Government of India sends us the approved copy we will notify the Act. As a part of the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ efforts of the Government of India, we aims to notify it within a week and put the changes into practice.” In his statement for the objectives and reasons for these amendments, the minister said, “More and more industries are being established in Gujarat and therefore the state Government has considered it necessary to strike a balance of interests between industries and workers and create an environment which is conducive to both, the industry and the workers.” Shaktisinh Gohil, senior Congress MLA and All-India Congress party spokesperson alleged: “It’s unfortunate. The so-called amendment is just to benefit the capitalist class and take away the little security cover provided to labour. The provision of paying fines and letting employers go free from will give employers a free run to exploit labour now.” (Times of India 22/9/15)

95. ESI to cover most parts of country by year-end (14)

New Delhi: In its effort to universalise the Employees State Insurance (ESI) scheme, the Labour Ministry has rolled out a plan to bring most parts of the country under the scheme by the end of 2015. As per the plan, the health scheme will be opened to construction workers and auto-rickshaw drivers and rickshaw pullers by November 30 this year. The ministry has also decided to extend the facilities of yoga and traditional medicine (AYUSH) at every centres of the ESI by the end of the year. “We have ESI centres in 31 states or Union Territories.  At present, three states in the north-east, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Manipur are not covered. By December 31, these three states will come under the coverage. We have ESI centres in 393 districts. However, every part of these districts is not covered. They would be covered by April 1, 2016,” Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya told reporters on Tuesday after the meeting of Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC). He said that remaining districts will also be linked to nearby districts. The plan is also to bring workers of unorganised sectors under the coverage. The construction workers are being brought under the scheme by December 31. The scheme is being extended to auto-rickshaw drivers and rickshaw pullers. In select metros and urban centres (Delhi and Hyderabad), they would be brought under the ESI scheme by November 30. Dattatreya said the proposal of extending ESI facilities to scheme-workers (workers in Anganwadi, ASHA and Mid Day Meal Scheme) is under consideration. Terming it the second-generation of reforms, the labour minister announced introduction of several high-tech facilities for the subscribers of the scheme. They include e-health records (online facility for seeing prescriptions and investigations and test reports, telemedicine and upgradation of dispensaries. He said that 24 ESIS dispensaries have been identified for being upgraded to 30-beded hospital. He said that pathological and x-ray facilities  will be provided on Public Private Partnership (PPP)basis in all dispensaries in phases and the pathological services in dispensaries of Delhi will start from   November 30. “The Oncology and Cardiology facility would in place by December 31, 2015 and dialysis facility on PPP model in all ESIC Model Hospitals,” he added. According to the minister, all the ESI centres will have Yoga facility by November 30 and AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) facility by December 31. (Deccan Herald 23/9/15)

96. National Women’s Panel to Recommend Minimum Wages in Unorganised Sector (14)

KOCHI: The National Women’s Commission will write to the Ministry of Women and Child Development to ensure minimum wages for women working in the unorganised sector.Commission member Sushma Sahu, who was in the city on Thursday to inaugurate the women lawyers conference, said that the Commission will take steps to bring the issues being faced by women labourers to the notice of the ministry. Sushma Sahu, who was appointed as the Commission member in August this year, said the Commission will also seek the ministry’s assistance in setting up fast track courts solely to deal with sexual harassment and domestic violence cases. “We will also seek the help of the courts to make speedy trials in such cases so that the culprits  don’t walk free,” she said. “It is high time to amend our laws which  dilute the gravity of complaints given by women by insisting for evidence which many times cant be furnished. The culprits easily get bail and don’t get punished,” Sushma said. The member from Bihar, who is in charge of the states like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu, does not have a clear-cut of the agitation led by the women tea plantation workers in Munnar or similar protests. “The women lawyers here brought to my notice such developments in the state. I was also informed on the death of three girls of Konni, Pathanamthitta,” she said. The Commission is taking steps to give job training for the victims of domestic violence to make them capable of earning themselves. “The women caught up in such situations do not get divorce even if they opt for that. They are threatened when they take bold steps,” the Commission member pointed out. “In the case of victims of sexual harassment the situation is like that their life has ended up in hell. They are often housed in shelter homes and  never welcomed back to homes. Even if the parents accept them that is by force,” she added. Another alarming incident, according to the member of the Women’s Forum, is human trafficking. “It is a stunning fact that selling and buying of women could not be checked. The incidents are highest from Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar,” she said. The Commission is forging tie-ups with NGOs and similar organisations to create awareness among women to seek legal help when required and to make them courageous to break silence in times of sufferings. (New Indian Express 25/9/15)

97. Munnar women workers to stay away from strike (14)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Plantation workers in Kerala will go on an indefinite strike from Monday as a marathon meeting of government officials, labourers and representatives of plantation associations on Saturday failed to reach a consensus over minimum wages. The group of Kanan Devan women workers that recently went on strike in Munnar, however, said they would not join the strike and would wait for the outcome of a cabinet sub-committee meeting to be held on Tuesday. “The meeting could reach a consensus on many factors related to improving the living conditions of labourers in plantations, but a consensus on wages could not be reached,” labour minister Shibu Baby John said after the meeting. | (Times of India 27/9/15)

RESERVATION

98. Jats must unite, become a political force to win quota fight: Congress leader (25)

New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Renuka Chaudhary on Saturday called upon the Jat community, agitating for reservation under the OBC category, to campaign unitedly for their rights and suggested setting up of a core committee and formulating an action plan to meet their goals. Chaudhary, who is the women president of All India Jat Mahasabha, said the community should “make themselves a force to be reckoned with and a major force in the vote back politics which no leader can ignore”.”Till you are a force to reckon with and work unitedly, you cannot win over your rights,” she said at a meet of the Jats here, coming against the backdrop of the Supreme Court setting aside a notification to include Jats in the central list of OBC category. The apex court had in July dismissed the plea of the Centre seeking a review of its March 17 verdict quashing OBC reservation for Jats. A senior leader of the community said that though the court has struck down reservations for them, they would continue to press their demand with the government. “We should constitute a core committee immediately with representatives from different regions and prepare an action plan putting aside internal differences. The committee could work on a five-point agenda to claim their rightful demand,” Chaudhary said. She also said that the leaders should also engage constitutional lawyer following the Supreme Court order. “Unless we strengthen our voices, no government from either side would listen to our pleas,” she said. Chaudhary also stressed for increased involvement of women to take up the Jat cause and working shoulder to shoulder with others in the community. (Zee News 13/9/15)

99. Kurmis in Jharkhand demand reservation under ST category (25)

Ranchi: Taking a cue from Patidars (Patels) agitation in Gujarat, the Kurmis in Jharkhand have renewed their demand of reservation under the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category. “The Raghubar Das government back-stabbed Kurmis. The chief minister wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to maintain status quo on recommendation made by the then BJP government led by Arjun Munda in November 2004,” Sheilendra Mahto, a leader of Jharkhand Kurmi Sangarash Morcha, told IANS. “The Munda government on basis of the state cabinet decision had sent a letter to the then UPA government to include Kurmis in ST category,” said Mahto, a former Lok Sabha member. He said: “We held a meeting of our Morcha on Sunday at Bokaro and decided to step up agitation to press our demands. Kurmis were under ST till 1950 and our caste was excluded under a conspiracy.” At present Kurmis get reservation benefits under the OBC category. According to government sources, Kurmis constitute around 10 to 12 percent of the total population. However, Kurmi leaders claimed that their community constitutes up to 22 percent of the population. Mahto said the morcha would first send memorandum to the prime minister and the chief minister to include the community in the ST category and later rallies would be organised as was done by Patidars. (New Kerala 14/9/15)

100. Govt. urged to act on quota for Muslims (25)

NIZAMABAD:  District Congress Minority Cell appealed to the government to take necessary steps to appoint Backward Classes Commission and ask it to review the State reservation policy in coordination with the SC and ST Commission as with the proposed percentage of reservations for Muslims will cross 50 per cent cap. In a memorandum submitted to Joint Collector A. Ravinder Reddy, here on Monday, the Minority Cell chairman Sumeer Ahmed urged the government to take immediate action towards the implementation of reservations to Muslims in education and jobs to avoid growing distrust and despair among them. Expressing a serious concern over the issue, he said the minority communities already lost 1,242 posts through the first TSPSC notification itself. (The Hindu 15/9/15)

101. OBC leader ready to share stage with Hardik on quota for poor (25)

Ahmedabad: In what could be a significant turn in the quota agitation in Gujarat, a prominent OBC leader on Sunday said that he would be ready to work with the Patel quota movement spearhead Hardik Patel, if the latter took up the cause of reservation for poor people of all communities. “If Hardik wants to meet us then we would welcome him and I would urge him to share stage and fight on the issue of poor people of all the communities,” Alpesh Thakor, the convener of OBC Ekta Manch, which has been opposing Hardik’s quota demand for the Patel community, told PTI. The OBC Ekta Manch is an umbrella body of the 146 OBC communities in Gujarat that came up after the Patels raised the demand for inclusion within the OBC fold. “I wish Hardik’s agitation  had gone in the right direction. I would have extended my support to him had he raised the issue of reservation to the poor people of the Patel community,” Thakor said. Hardik, the 22-year-old convener of Patel Anamat Andolan Samiti, who has been spearheading the agitation for reservation to Gujarat’s Patel community under Other Backward Class (OBC) category, had yesterday said he will approach the people who are opposing his movement. “People who are opposing our movement, we will approach them to make them understand about our issue (of quota under OBC category),” Hardik had said after his release on bail following arrest for defying prohibitory orders. Thakor, the 38-year-old president of Thakor Kshatriya Samaj who claims to fight for SCs, STs and OBCs, while addressing Hardik as his “younger brother” said he should have carried on the agitation peacefully and not by disturbing law and order in Gujarat. The OBC and Patel communities have turned against each other in Gujarat following the Patel quota stir. The OBCs have threatened that they will uproot the BJP government if Patels are given reservation. The OBC community has also announced to take out a Pratikar Yatra(counter rally) against Hardik Patel’s Ekta March (from Dandi to Ahmedabad) to counter the Patel quota agitation. (Business Standard 20/9/15)

102. Rajasthan government breaches 50% bar, quota now at 68% (25)

JAIPUR: The Rajasthan assembly on Tuesday passed two bills granting 5% reservation to Gujjar-led special backward classes (SBC) and 14% to economically backward classes (EBC), taking the total quota quantum in the state to over 50% — the upper ceiling that twice felled quota laws of the state. The Vasundhra Raje government also pushed through resolutions urging the Centre to place the twin bills in the 9th schedule of the Constitution to buffer them from legal scrutiny. Interestingly, the hurried decision of the state came a day after RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat stirred a storm by suggesting that the reservation system be reviewed. The two are, however, unlikely to be linked as the bills are a result of a long process. If the Raje regime passed the legislations despite knowing the pitfalls of breaching the halfway mark and introducing quotas on economic criteria that are legally untenable, as flagged by two MLAs in the assembly, the recurring protests by Gujjars are seen as the provocation. The government hopes to prove its bona fide through its demand to the Centre that the bills be put in the 9th schedule. It, however, poses a tricky question for the Centre to heed the state’s prayer for 9th schedule as it may open the floodgates for similar pleas from other states. Given the polarization around quotas in Rajasthan society, it is anticipated that the two bills will be challenged in the high court the moment they are signed by the governor. As of now, quotas in state jobs and educational institutions stand at 49% and the fresh measures will stretch it to 68%.It is deja vu for experts and beneficiaries. Under pressure from Gujjars, the Raje government in 2008 had passed the same SBC and EBC quotas though as part of the same bill. It was stayed by the high court in 2009 when the succeeding Ashok Gehlot government tried to implement it.It was on the advice of legal experts and Gujjars that the state brought separate bills for the two categories this time around. The chequered history of quotas had another tryst with the legal process when the high court stayed 5% SBC quota introduced by the Gehlot government in 2012. While the chief minister did not introduce the EBC quota this time, the total quota still reached 54%. As a consequence, the court struck down 4% excess quota and 1% SBC quota is still in operation. Despite the uncertainty over the fate of the bills, parliamentary affairs minister Rajendra Rathore exuded confidence. “We drafted both the bills after detailed discussions with experts. Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha too have reservation beyond 50%. Also, the Constitution preamble allows policies to be framed to remove economic and social backwardness,” he said. A riled Congress questioned the government’s sincerity. “If this government is really serious about reservation on economic basis, it should first get the Constitution appropriately amended,” leader of opposition Rameshwar Dudi said, accusing the Raje government of misleading the people on EBC quota. (Times of India 23/9/15)

103. Gujarat announces EWS students package (25)

Ahmedabad: Gujarat government’s attempt to placate the agitating Patels on the quota issue by announcing a financial aid package for EWS students failed to have the intended effect as protesters rejected it as “lollypop”. Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, who announced the package on Thursday afternoon, said the state government would offer financial aid to meritorious students from the economically weaker section to help them pursue medical, engineering and other professional courses. Noting that pro-quota agitators complained about meritorious students opting for self-financing colleges AND PAY HIGHER FEES AS A RESULT OF RESERVATIONS for OBCs, SCs and STs, THE Chief Minister said: “Moving forward, 75 per cent of the seats in self-financing institutions will be reserved for meritorious students. The government would fix the fee structure and pay the fees of deserving EWS students.” Announcing that the government would provide Rs 2,00,000 in annual scholarship for EWS students pursuing medical programmes, Patel said the government would also provide free textbooks for EWS students in higher secondary and high schools. She also addressed a major bone of contention of the protestors by giving five year age relaxation for EWS candidate in government jobs, which was so far available only for the reserved category candidates. Claiming that the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) agitation has lost direction and become an anti-government stir, Patel asked her community members to encourage their wards to take up science programmes in college. “Gujarat has as many as 55 universities, yet many engineering and science seats remain vacant,” she said. PAAS convener Hardik Patel immediately rejected the package and said that they would announce further plan of action after consulting members of the movement’s core committee. PAAS supporters pelted stones at BJP workers gathered to celebrate the new EWS package in Surat’s Varachha locality, prompting police to use teargas shells to disperse the mob. (Deccan Herald 25/9/15)

104. Quota issue needs to be taken seriously, says Kalraj Mishra (25)

Lucknow: Amidst demands for reservation in the country, the NDA government has said these have to be taken “seriously” while striving for a solution to the issue through debate. “Demand for reservation is rising in many states and agitations are being held for the same. This should be taken seriously and a debate should be held on the issue to reach a solution,” senior BJP leader and Union Minister Kalraj Mishra, told PTI. Clarifying the party’s stand on reservation, he said the BJP believes it was “important” for the development of certain groups. “BJP firmly supports the constitutional reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, other backward classes and extremely backward classes. We believe that reservation is important for the social, education and economic development of these groups.” On RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s statement regarding the reservation policy that has sparked a row in political circles, Mr. Mishra said it was blown out of proportion by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who he claimed had “misinterpreted” it. “Bhagwat’s statement was in reference to Patel reservation demand in Gujarat and it was misinterpreted by Nitish and blown out of proportion for political gains. They are trying to mislead people on the issue for mileage in polls.” said the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Minister.-PTI (The Hindu 26/9/15)

105. ‘BJP will abolish quota policy if it wins in Bihar’, says Nitish Kumar (25)

Khagaria: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday alleged that the BJP-led coalition at the Centre will abolish reservation for OBCs, SC and STs if it win assembly elections in Bihar as RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had called for review of the reservation policy. “The RSS chief has publicly called for review of the reservation policy which the BJP-led coalition at the centre may scrap if NDA gets power in Bihar,” Kumar alleged at an election rally in Parbatta Assembly constituency in Khagaria district. The victory of the BJP-led alliance will embolden NDA to toe the RSS line and scrap the existing reservation policy, he alleged. Kumar promised 35 per cent reservation to women in government jobs if his alliance (JDU-RJD-Cong) comes back to power at the hustings. He also took umbrage to BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in particular for ridiculing him on his Rs 2.70 lakh crore vision for development of the state over next five years if his own alliance wins the election. “You don’t worry about how we will raise resources. We have enough sources of revenue to fulfil aspirations of the people on development front,” Kumar said. The Chief Minister said he has charted out the vision document after taking into account various sources from which revenues will be raised in coming years and not from any dole by anybody, he said referring to the Centre. The Prime Minister had ridiculed Kumar’s vision document last month and asked him from where he will raise funds to implement his development agenda. The senior JD(U) leader, who launched the secular alliance’s campaign yesterday, flayed the NDA government for “non-fulfilment” of promises, including bringing back black money from foreign shores, and asked the Prime Minister what happened to his poll promise to distribute Rs 15 to Rs 20 lakh cash into bank account of every individual. Kumar also slammed the ‘Gujarat Model’ of development, a plank on which Modi had won the Lok Sabha poll last year, and alleged the pitiable condition of women and prevalence of unemployment in the PM’s native state tell a different story compared to the claims made about development there. In all, the Chief Minister addressed five election meetings during the day. (Asian Age 28/9/15)

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

106. India covering up human rights violations in Kashmir: report (1)

The Indian government has allegedly been covering up hundreds of cases of human rights violations in Indian Kashmir, including extra judicial killings, torture and forced disappearances, Al Jazeera quoted a report on Wednesday. The 800-page report,  Structures of Violence: The Indian State in Jammu and Kashmir by the International Peoples’ Tribunal and the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, highlights the systematic violence allowed by Indian authorities in Kashmir in over two decades in the region, said Khurram Parvez, programme coordinator of Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society. Over 1,000 cases of extra judicial killings along with 172 incidents of enforced disappearances as well as the numerous cases of sexual violence dating as far as the early 1990s were recorded in the report, said Parvez, who co-authored the report which took two years to complete. Evidence by the rights groups gathered over four years includes hundreds of on-the-record testimonies from witnesses and victims, scrutiny of official records under right-to-information laws as well as lengthy litigation. “This report will be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council as well as the government of India,” added Parvez. Non-Governmental Organisations say all remedies available within the Indian justice system have been exhausted, and named 972 alleged perpetrators, including 464 army personnel, it says have gone unpunished. An emergency law in force in the region since 1990 grants security forces wide powers to raid homes and kill on suspicion of illegal actions, and forbids them from being tried in civilian courts. But rights activists say the civilian victims of abuses by soldiers often struggle to bring complaints to the military courts, which are reserved for internal disciplinary hearings, leaving them with limited legal recourse. Urging not to limit persecution only to the individuals directly involved in the abuses, Parvez said, “We acknowledge that these are individuals forming part of a structure of violence and impunity that allows a massive institutional cover-up here in the valley.”… (The Express Tribune  10/9/15)

107. Odisha Ahead in Executing NHRC Orders (1)

BHUBANESWAR: Secretary General of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Satyanarayan Mohanty on Friday said Odisha has been ahead of other States in implementing the recommendations of the rights panel. While the pendency rate has reduced to a large extent, he told mediapersons that the State administration has taken expeditious measures to address the issues raised in various cases registered with the NHRC. Mohanty interacted with Chief Secretary GC Pati, Home Secretary Asit Tripathy and DGP Sanjiv Marik on various issues including strengthening of human rights cell in Home Department, implementation of guidelines and recommendations in cases of custodial deaths, rehabilitation of child labour. Similarly, women victimised by illegal trafficking, rehabilitation of bonded labour, establishment of women police stations and fast tracking of cases were also discussed in the meeting. The State administration apprised the NHRC Secretary General of preventive and rehabilitative measures such as district child protection units, establishment of integrated anti-human trafficking units, women and child desks in police stations besides dedicated police stations for women. Childline systems, helplines, short stay homes and legal aid committees, and mental health care institutions too have been created by the State, they said. Among others, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Arati Ahuja, Secretary, Women and Child Development Department Vishal Dev and NHRC Rapporteer Damodar Sadangi were also present. (New Indian Express 12/9/15)

108. ‘Media are defenders of human rights’ (1)

Nagpur: “Media are playing a role of defender of human rights,” said former judge of Supreme Court Justice Cyriac Joseph at ‘Indian Society, Media and Challenges of Human Right: A Dialogue’ held at Nagpur University Ambedkar College of Law on Monday. Highlighting the significant role of media in preventing violation of human rights, Justice Joseph said media created awareness among people and exposed the breaches of rights. “Media not only motivate and empower victims to fight for their rights but also compel the authorities to act,” he said. He added the essence of human rights was to secure dignity of an individual and it was the work of judiciary to uphold these laws. The legislature must ensure laws were efficiently enforced, he added. Stating that 22% of the people in India were still Below Poverty Line (BPL), S C Sinha, a member of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), said, “It is unfortunate that every year, 6.3 crore people are shifting under BPL as they are deprived of basic amenities like sanitation, food, shelter and job opportunities. Basic needs should be provided to every citizen for their all-round development and enhancement of opportunities so that the prime aim of eradicating poverty can be fulfilled.” Vice-chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi University, Wardha, Girishwar Mishra, in his address explained how the media had reached and affected the common man. He stated, “There is a close relationship between media and human rights commission as media can influence the minds of the people and affect their thoughts, emotions and feelings. They have also made people aware of the wrong doings prevailing in our society.” Joint secretary of NHRC Ranjit Singh explained the three tenets of human rights. They were giving rights to self, equality among all, and respect for all humans. He also spoke about how dynamics of human rights had evolved and about collective rights that includes privacy, health, and freedom from hunger. Others present at the inaugural ceremony were SK Shukla, assistant director of NGRC, Puranchandra Meshram, registrar of Nagpur University, and principal of College Shrikant Komawar.  (Times of India 15/9/15)

109. Human rights panels should be autonomous: Rajnath (1)

New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday said maintaining the autonomy of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and state human rights panels was in the interest of the country.

He assured all possible cooperation from the Centre to make the rights panels stronger and more effective. Addressing a day-long meeting of the NHRC and state panels here, the home minister said India has a long tradition of attaching importance not only to human rights but also to the rights of all present in the universe. He said that in order to make the state panels effective, it was necessary to provide them with infrastructure, and financial and human resources. The home minister said he would look into the recommendations of the Justice G.P. Mathur committee as well as the suggestions emanating from the meeting. Vacancies in the state panels should be filled, he said. Rajnath Singh said there would be no problem in moving the recommendation before parliament for an amendment in the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 for constitution of Human Rights Commissions in the union territories also. Referring to some of the concerns on human rights, he said the Centre was seriously looking into the problem of convicted prisoners languishing in jails even after completing their sentences and would solve the problem. The minister also expressed concern over human trafficking and urged all stakeholders to sit together and prepare an elaborate Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to stop the menace. Earlier, speaking on the occasion, Justice Cyriac Joseph, NHRC’s acting chairperson, said it was the constitutional obligation of the state to protect human rights. “The NHRC and the SHRCs are recommendatory bodies but it is for the government to ensure that these do not remain toothless or paper tiger,” he said. (New Kerala 18/9/15)

110. NHRC notice to Odisha CS over negligence of displaced families (1)

Balasore: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notice and sought a detailed report from the Chief Secretary of Odisha on the plight of 469 displaced families who have been allegedly duped and are suffering from malnourishment. Acting on a petition filed by lawyer and rights activist Radhakanta Tripathy, the NHRC passed the order calling for a reply from the chief secretary. Four hundred and sixty nine families of Deo Project displacement in Mayurbhanj district have been subjected to harassment and cheating due to failure of the state officials to check corrupt practice and frauds by the unscrupulous government officials, alleged the petitioner. The amount to be paid under the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy have been siphoned and pocketed by the corrupt officials in connivance with the mafia, the petition contended. The displaced families are denied legitimate compensation. Since most of them are not educated they have been subjected to exploitation and fraud. A thorough independent probe into the incident has been demanded, however, since the government officials are involved nothing has been done so far, Tripathy pointed out. The petitioner sought the intervention of the NHRC to ensure justice to the victims. The failure of the government officials especially of the Social Justice and Empowerment, Rural Development and the Revenue Department in ensuring basic rights of the families including women and children amounts to denial of basic human rights, Tripathy alleged. He requested the NHRC to investigate the case by a team of experts and direct the state to rehabilitate the families. (The Statesman 21/9/15)

111. Rights activists to launch Janadhikar Yatra on Oct 1 (1)

RANCHI: After fighting tireleslly for legislation, activists responsible for framing of the employment guarantee scheme, Right to Information, Food and Forests Act, are now up in arms against governments at the Centre and in the state for their alleged efforts to subvert peoples’ rights in an organized manner. A congregation of various organizations will be joining the 10-day Janadhikar Yatra, which is set to start simultaneously at all the five administrative divisional headquarters from October 1. Jean Dreze, Nrega activist and a former member of National Advisory Council (NAC), shared details of the purpose of organizing the yatra here at a press meet on Monday and also criticized the efforts of the Centre and the state to deprive the people of their constitutional rights guaranteed through the people’s act. “The central government’s expense on Nrega has come down by 30%, which in terms of the share of GDP growth rate is even less,” he said, reminding that the provisions for unemployment compensation is not being honoured and the Act has also been delinked from the Minimum Wages Act. “We have received complaints from villagers that work is being refused for UID number, which is a violation of the August 11 judgement of the apex court,”Dreze said. Dayamani Barla, a leading tribal activist known for her fight against the proposed land acquisition by ArcelorMittal in Khunti, said after repeated efforts to amend the Land Acquisition Act of 2013, the Modi government is all prepared to introduce the changes through the back door. “We are told that the government will not introduce a new Act, instead amend the clause of the old Act that allows social impact assessment and environment impact assessment,” she said, citing the example of land being acquired in Seraikela for a dam project without the consent of gram sabha. Asharfi, an activist associated with the Right to Food campaign, said after repeated postponements the state government is still delaying the implementation of the National Food Security Act in Jharkhand. “We expect the government to announce its implementation by September 25. But in that case, the list of beneficiaries would leave out at least 50 lakh deserving families,” he said. Faisal Anurag, another activist spoke about over 6000 tribal and dalit youth incarcerated in different jails of the state in the pretext of being involved in Maoist activities. The Yatra beginning October 1 at all divisional headquarters would conclude on October 10 and culminate as a general assembly of masses in Ranchi on October 11. All India People’s Forum, Indigenous People Existence Protection Forum, Right to Food Campaign, Ekta Parishad, Jharkhand Jan Sanskriti Parishad, Jungle Bachao Andolan, Nrega Watch, United Milli Forum and Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan are expected to participate in the rally. (Times of India 22/9/15)

112. NHRC issues notice to Centre and Delhi government on dengue crisis (1)

NEW DELHI: The National Human Rights Commission has issued notices to centre and Delhi government on the increasing dengue menace in the national capital. NHRC has observed that despite the instructions of the Delhi government, private hospitals denied admission to two child patients of dengue due to which they died. According to reports, the city was grappling with the worst dengue crisis in 15 years. NHRC has given reference to the death of six-year old, Aman Sharma, who was denied admission in Max Hospital, Saket and Moolchand Hospital before reaching Batra Hospital, where he died on the September 13. The Commission has observed that it raises a serious issue of violation of human rights of victim children and other patients.The authorities have also been directed to specify in their reports, the action taken against the erring hospitals and nursing homes denying admission to dengue patients, besides the short term and long term measures proposed for prevention and treatment of the disease in Delhi including details on ex-gratia payment scheme formulated by the government for deaths due to such negligence by hospitals. (The Hindu 24/9/15)

113. Mentally ill teen stoned by group, NGO saves him (1)

LUDHIANA: A 17-year-old mentally ill boy was wheeled into the civil hospital here on Friday with a severely injured arm and maggots eating into his flesh, after he was reportedly stoned by a group of people. The teenager had run away from Lord Mahavira Civil Hospital here on Friday. On Saturday, a member of a city-based NGO, Ann Jal Sewa Trust, spotted a group of people attacking him with stones and came to his rescue. The NGO member, Shiv Ram Saroy, said when he met the boy, he was in a bad condition. Saroy, who is the president of the NGO, said he had written a letter to deputy commissioner Rajat Agarwal, who immediately took up the issue with the district health authorities. The patient was picked up by Saroy from Dharampura. “He is a psychiatric patient too. The injury in his arm was so severe that it had started decomposing. We had to remove the maggots crawling over his injury. He is unconscious and is undergoing treatment,” Saroy said. Meanwhile, local volunteers of the NGO said the problem of destitute minors was not new to Ludhiana and a destitute person is brought to the hospital every two weeks. Two weeks ago, a pregnant woman was handed over to the NGO for care, after she was given shelter by the civil hospital for two months. She was brought to the hospital in a critical condition by a rickshaw-puller. In fact, an NGO working for such patients and distributing food to them submitted a memorandum the DC for the care of such unknown patients. Agarwal termed the word done by the NGO as “good”. “They reached us quickly to take action. Undoubtedly, we need more destitute homes and paramedics to handle such patients. It would be good if more NGOs pool in for such kind of works and help such patients who need special attention. Hospital and administration will support them in every possible way,” he said. (Times of India 27/9/15)

JUDICIARY/ LAW

114. Unregistered NGOs can’t run children homes, rules SC (19)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court said on Friday that no unregistered NGO would be permitted to run children homes as it expressed apprehension that some of these too may be engaged in child trafficking. Asking the central government to ensure that shutters were pulled down on the children homes being run by unregistered NGOs, the social justice bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit said that the child trafficking a very serious offence under the law and against humanity. “Some of the girls are used in trafficking and it is possible that that some of the NGOs are involved in the trafficking and if the state is not checking it then it too is complicit. “Be clear about it. Not a single unregistered NGO will have a children’s home,” the court told Additional Solicitor General P.S. Patwalia appearing for the central government. “It is better than being trafficked,” the court said as Patwalia said that in the event of asking the unregistered NGOs to shut down their children homes, these children will have to be moved out. Stressing there could be no compromise on the safety of children, the court said that “child trafficking is a very serious offence in law and trafficking is a very serious offence against humanity”. Itss observation came in the course of the hearing of a PIL by Sampurna Behura where an affidavit filed by the central government revealed that in Assam, there was a larger inflow and outflow of girls in the children homes compared to boys. Confronting the figures, the court asked Patwalia what were the corresponding figures for the boys leaving children homes. In indictment of the insensitivity of the authorities who were totally unaware of the whereabouts of a girl after she leaves children’s home, Justice Lokur observed: “Nobody knows that.” His riposte came as Patwalia told the court: “When they move out, they may have joined their families.” The court also asked the ASG as to what he meant by “When they move out”.Asking the central government to pull up its socks, the court said that “so far what you have been doing is writing letters. Much more has to be done. There are enough people to keep. There are thousands of NGOs which are genuine and willing to help children” in distress. (New Kerala 11/9/15)

 

115. PIL that led to J&K beef ban filed by the state’s Deputy Advocate General (19)

Srinagar: The PIL seeking to enforce the ban on the sale of beef in J&K that has now snowballed into a major controversy, was filed by the J&K’s Deputy Advocate General, Parimoksh Seth, who was appointed as the Law Officer on the instructions of State Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Bashaarat Bukhari earlier this year. After taking an oath as Law Officer, Seth was deputed in the Jammu wing of the J&K High Court to defend the cases of the state government, however, his Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has caused an embarrassment for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Valley as its political opponents and separatists have started blaming the party for pursuing the agenda of RSS. J&K Law Secretary, Ashraf Mir told The Indian Express that Seth was not holding the post of the Law officer when he had filed this particular PIL. “We are looking into it. May be he (Seth) withdraws the petition.’’ Mir, however, said that he could not say whether any action could be initiated against the Law officer. “Any action against the Law Officer could be taken only by the J&K’s Law Minister.’’ Parimoksh Seth is the son of senior BJP leader Onkar Seth, who spearheaded the launch of Jammu State Morcha with active support of RSS, to raise the demand for a separate Jammu State. National Conference provincial president and former MoS Home, Nasir Wani said that the government should come clean on the issue that has divided the state on communal lines. “Either the Law Minister and his team of officials are incompetent or they are doing it deliberately to keep BJP and the RSS happy,’’ he said. J&K State Congress vice-president and legislator, Ghulam Nabi Monga said that state’s Law Minister owes an explanation to the people how a deputy advocate general who was supposed to defend government cases pursued the PIL against the government. “This government is working at the behest of RSS, how is it possible that it was not in the knowledge of the Law Ministry that PIL has been filed by its own Law officer,’’ he said, adding that Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed should come up with a statement on this sensitive issue. On Wednesday, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court had ordered the Director General of Police (DGP) to strictly enforce the sale of beef across the state. The directions, which came from a division bench of Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Justice Janak Raj Kotwal over a public interest litigation followed the observation that “the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, has not filed an appropriate response regarding the smuggling and slaughtering of bovine animals and subsequently their sale in Kashmir Valley’’. The slaughter of bovines and sale of beef is banned in Jammu and Kashmir since the pre-Partition era when the then princely state was ruled by the Dogra rulers. In the Dogra era, the ban was strictly enforced across the state, after elected governments took over; there was a relaxation in the sale of beef. While the slaughter of bovines and the sale of beef were strictly banned in the Hindu majority areas of Jammu, beef was sold at many places in Muslim majority Kashmir. (Indian Express 12/9/15)

116. Sexual harassment law compliance poorNamrata Singh (19)

MUMBAI: Response to the law against sexual harassment of women has been tepid if action taken by respective state governments and private entities is anything to go by. It’s been nearly two years since the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal) Act, 2013 came into force, but only one state, Rajasthan, has managed to become fully compliant with the law. According to responses Mumbai-based consultant Complykaro Services received to its RTI applications, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh and Goa have so far only partially complied with the law. In response to a query from TOI, an official from the ministry of women & child development (MWCD) said it had issued advisories to all states/UTs in December 2013 and again in October 2014 to ensure effective implementation of the Act. Under the Act, states/UTs are required to monitor implementation and compliance of the law through the office of district officer for each district who, in turn, nominates a local complaints committee (LCC) and nodal officers. Most of the states are still in the process of ensuring all measures are taken in compliance with the Act. “The biggest challenge to implementation is ignorance of the law. It is applicable for all organizations irrespective of its size and whether they have women employees or not. The entire focus of this law is to prevent sexual harassment by bringing about a behavioural change among employees. Only when all organizations implement this law will our spouses, sisters and daughters feel safe,” said Vishal Kedia, founder & director, Complykaro Services, which is in the business of assisting companies to comply with the said law. While the Act cast an obligation upon all the employers to constitute an internal complaint committee (ICC), it also placed the responsibility on the appropriate state government to notify the district officer for setting up LCC. State governments are expected to monitor the implementation of the Act and maintain data on the number of cases filed and disposed of in respect of all cases of sexual harassment at the workplace. The LCC is required to investigate complaints received from employees in cases where an ICC has not been constituted by the employer or the complaint is against the employer himself. … (Times of India 15/9/15)

117. Recovery of bribe money not enough to convict a babu: SC (19)

NEW DELHI: A government official cannot be convicted under corruption charges merely on the basis of recovery of bribe money and it is essential to prove that he had demanded money, the Supreme Court has ruled. A bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justices V Gopala Gowda and Amitava Roy said the proof of demand is an “indispensable essentiality” for establishing an offence of bribe and acquitted an assistant director of technical education department of Andhra Pradesh despite allegedly being caught red-handed for taking Rs 500 bribe in 1996. “The proof of demand of illegal gratification, thus, is the gravamen of the offence under Sections 7 and 13(1) (d)(i)&(ii) of the Act and in absence thereof, unmistakably the charge therefore, would fail. Mere acceptance of any amount allegedly by way of illegal gratification or recovery thereof … would thus not be sufficient to bring home the charge under these two sections of the Act,” it said. The court said mere recovery of money would not prove the charge and it has to be proved that the accused had demanded the bribe and had voluntarily accepted the money. “Mere possession and recovery of currency notes from an accused without proof of demand would not establish the offence. It has been propounded that in the absence of any proof of demand for illegal gratification, the use of corrupt or illegal means or abuse of position as a public servant to obtain any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage cannot be held to be proved,” the court said while referring to its verdict. “As a corollary, failure of the prosecution to prove the demand for illegal gratification would be fatal and mere recovery of the amount from the person accused of the offence under Sections 7 or 13 of the Act would not entail his conviction thereunder,” said Justice Roy, who wrote the judgement for the bench…. (Times of India 17/9/15)

118. Controversial labour law amendments to come into force in a week in Gujrat (19)

GANDHINGAR: The Labour Laws (Gujarat Amendment) Bill, 2015 passed in the state assembly in February amid wide opposition from the Congress party was finally has finally been approved as an Act by the President of India on September 17, and the state government has now decided to notify the Act within a week’s time. The Labour Laws Amendment Bill aimed at amending The Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923; The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947; The Minimum Wages Act, 1948; The Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961; The Beedi and Cigar Workers Act, 1966; The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970; Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972; The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976; The Building and Other Construction Workers Act, 1996 and Unorganized Workers Social Security Act, 2008. Vijay Rupani, state labour and employment minister said: “The President of India has approved the Labour Laws Amendment Bill. As soon as the Government of India sends us the approved copy we will notify the Act. As a part of the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ efforts of the Government of India, we aims to notify it within a week and put the changes into practice.” In his statement for the objectives and reasons for these amendments, the minister said, “More and more industries are being established in Gujarat and therefore the state Government has considered it necessary to strike a balance of interests between industries and workers and create an environment which is conducive to both, the industry and the workers.” Shaktisinh Gohil, senior Congress MLA and All-India Congress party spokesperson alleged: “It’s unfortunate. The so-called amendment is just to benefit the capitalist class and take away the little security cover provided to labour. The provision of paying fines and letting employers go free from will give employers a free run to exploit labour now.” Some key changes in labour laws: Industrial Disputes Act: 1. The government can now ban strikes in public utility services for up to one year the first time. The ban can subsequently be extended by up to two years any number of times. Earlier, the government could ban strikes for six months the first time and this ban could be extended any number of times by six months each time. 2. The time limit for workers to raise objections to industries’ decisions has been reduced to one year from the three years allowed earlier. 3. The Bill proposes to lift restrictions on sacking of workers and payment of compensation for units located in Special Investment Regions (SIR) and National Investment and Manufacturing Zones (NIMZ) like permitted in the Special Economic Zones (SEZs). Minimum Wages Act: 1. Payment of wages by cheque instead of cash has been made compulsory in establishments employing 20 persons or more. 2. The government has also revised penalty rates for violation of various labour laws for employers. 3. However, self-certification-cum-consolidated annual return scheme for employers has been allowed. This will reduce the number of inspections and interference by authorities in industrial establishments. (Times of India 22/9/15)

119. In Uphaar case, punishment limited by law: Supreme Court (19)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has said that the magnitude of the Uphaar fire tragedy may call for “higher sentence” but it could not go beyond the choices under the law while sentencing brothers and real estate barons Sushil and Gopal Ansal who own the Uphaar cinema hall. “We are conscious of the fact that matter of this magnitude may call for a higher sentence, but the court has to limit itself to the choice available under the law,” said Justice Anil R Dave, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel. Their judgment’s operative part was pronounced on August 19 but reasoning was given on September 22 and made available on Wednesday. The apex court on August 19 let off the Ansal brothers saying both would pay Rs 30 crore each coupled with the sentence they had already undergone. The three-judge bench was asked to decide on the quantum of sentence after divergent positions taken by Justice TS Thakur and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra (since retired) on the quantum of punishment. Referring to the “undisputed facts” and saying that the maximum sentence that could be awarded to Ansal brothers was two years, the court said: “We are concerned with imposition of sentence in a criminal case and not with awarding damages in a civil case. Principles for deciding both are different.” Having said that its hands were tied by law, the court said: “It hardly needs to be mentioned that an appropriate sentence has to be awarded by taking into consideration the gravity of offence, the manner of commission, the age of the accused and other mitigating and aggravating circumstances…. (Times of India 23/9/15)

120. No-surname man wants a company, Supreme Court asks Centre (19)

NEW DELHI: Can the government force an individual to retain his surname before permitting him to start a business? The Supreme Court last week decided to examine the legality of such a stand, adopted by the ministry of corporate affairs against a Delhi entrepreneur. A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant issued notice to the Centre on the plea of Nishant, who has a passport, a PAN card and even a Direct Identification Number without a surname, but cannot form a company to do business because he does not have a surname. Challenging the rule of the ministry that a person must mention his surname to incorporate a private firm, Nishant dragged it to the apex court alleging violation of his constitutional rights. The petitioner’s lawyer, Gaurang Kanth, questioned the grounds on which the ministry and registrar of companies (ROC) can insist on information about his surname. Kanth argued that the ministry’s stand in fact reinforces the notion of caste and violates the right of his client. Nishant approached the Supreme Court after the Delhi high court refused to grant him relief, primarily on the ground that the restriction imposed by the ministry is a “reasonable one.” The HC maintained that the ministry needs surname to identify the owner of a company and differentiate it from another firm. Though sympathetic to the plea, HC had refused to issue directions to the corporate affairs ministry, pointing out that “surname is required for the purpose of identification and distinguishing a person from other people.” In his appeal Nishant pointed out that HC erred in holding that pre-condition of a surname to incorporate a company is a reasonable restriction in the interest of general public as it helps to identify the owner. Drawing attention of the SC bench to his professional and technical qualifications, Nishant argued that as long as his competence to run a company meets the requirements of the ministry, the latter is duty bound to grant him permission. The court has given six weeks time to the Centre to place its stand. (Times of India 27/9/15)

121. SC dismisses PIL challenging Aadhaar card requirement for DigiLocker scheme (19)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the mandatory requirement of Aadhaar card number for the DigiLocker scheme introduced by the government earlier. The petitioner had filed a writ petition in the light of three apex court orders which said that Aadhaar numbers could not be made compulsory for certain services like the public distribution scheme and cooking gas subsidies. A bench comprising chief justice H.L. Dattu and justice Amitava Roy said that if the authorities were not following the court’s orders, then he had to file a contempt petition. After saying so, the court dismissed the PIL. Mint reported in August that several key digital schemes introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), including biometric attendance, Jan Dhan Yojana, digital certificates, pension payments and more recently payments banks, depend on the Aadhaar number. (Live Mint 28/9/15)

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

122. CSHR decries perpetuation of AFSPA (1)

Imphal: On the 57th anniversary of the Armed Forces [Special Powers] Act of 1958 (AFSPA) that promulgated the controversial and draconian Act in Manipur and Nagaland, the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights in Manipur (CSCHR) has once again condemned the perpetuation of this law that violates the fundamental principles of democracy and human rights despite a worldwide call for its repeal. In a statement, CSCHR said that in this spiralling spread of impunity that has infected every sphere of governance in Manipur, the highly problematic implementation of this Act in Manipur ever since has not solved any of the problems it was meant to resolve. In fact, the climate of impunity and unabated use of brute force by the State to deal with any situation has repeatedly compounded and complicated the situation in Manipur. There have been reports of the divisive and partisan role played by Indian security forces in Manipur, most recently in Moreh in August this year. The observed overall lack of training, preparedness and strict adherence to existing principles and guidelines of crowd control has resulted in the tragic death of one child in Imphal East district in August and nine other innocent lives, including one child, in Churachandpur district this month, and the violent human rights violations of more than a hundred persons, mainly young persons and children in Manipur, including reported arbitrary detentions, torture and cruel or inhuman and degrading treatment, and grievous injuries perpetrated by the law enforcement agencies in different parts of the State. The State police and Central security forces have been let loose to inflict a brutally violent response by using disproportionate powers to suppress public protests in the last three months concerning a set of laws purportedly designed to address a critical issue faced by all the indigenous peoples and communities of the State. Curfew and public restrictions under Section 144 of the CrPC have been imposed repeatedly during the last three months in the districts of Imphal East, Imphal West, Senapati, Chandel and Churachandpur in the wake of public protests against the atrocities committed by the State law and order machinery. Public strikes, road blockades, market closures and public transportation shut downs have contributed to the volatile situation causing immense obstacles and restrictions in public life and Government functioning, it said. Today, Manipur is on the brink of an inter-ethnic calamity. If appropriate steps are not taken now there is every possibility of an explosion of dirty and violent ethnic hostilities that can only lead to a human and humanitarian disaster of such proportions that we have not seen before in this sub-region of South Asia. CSCHR urged the State Government and all communities living together in Manipur to desist from partisan and divisive, non-inclusive processes and activities that can lead to a serious rupture of the democratic and sovereign polity of Manipur State. The need at this critical hour is for all communities in Manipur to embrace constructive suggestions and inclusive dialogue as this is the only avenue to avoid a humanitarian disaster. Further, CSCHR has also recommended to the Governments of Manipur and India to facilitate the healing of the suffering people of Manipur by immediately embarking on just reconciliation measures of redress by removing all legislative, policy and administrative encumbrances and obstacles in the State, such as the repeal of AFSPA and repressive discriminatory laws, re-establishing a fair and compassionate rule of law that is strictly in compliance with India’s obligations to all its citizens, the supreme Constitutional provisions and international human rights and humanitarian law for the promotion of democracy and peace. ( Manipur E-Pao  12/9/15)

123. Amnesty International advocates repeal of AFSPA in North East (1)

GUWAHATI: A day after the Union Home Minister talked about a possible scaling down in central forces’ deployment in the North East, Amnesty International on Sunday said it must lead to a rethink on the use of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in NE states. “On July 11, Union Minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh discussed a possible reduction in deployment of central forces in a meeting with chief ministers of Northeastern states… (and) that the security situation has improved in the region,” Amnesty International India Media Officer Himanshi Matta said in a press statement. “Worryingly, there was no discussion on the AFSA, 1958, which is in force in several north-eastern states,” the statement claimed. The Amnesty International India stated “The Justice Verma Committee set up to review laws against sexual assault had said the AFSPA legitimises impunity for sexual violence.” “The Justice Santosh Hegde Commission set up by the Supreme Court to investigate cases of fake encounters in Manipur described the law as ‘a symbol of oppression…” it said. “Several international bodies and experts, including the UN Special Rapporteurs on violence against women, extra-judicial executions and human rights defenders, have also called for the repeal of the law,” the statement added. (Kashmir Images 13/9/15)

124. CSWs tell activists about police atrocities at Ganga Jamuna (1)

Nagpur: Residents of the city’s red light area, Ganga Jamuna, poured their hearts out to a Mumbai-based NGO member and a local activist, alleging police atrocities against them. The activists were visiting the area to collect information on the ground reality following allegations of high-handedness by police on the pretext of legal action. During the interaction, a physically-challenged woman is learnt to have complained that she was dragged away by her hair during police action. It is also learnt that teachers of the local school also said that there was a drop in numbers of students as families had fled due to fear of police action. Sources said that the senior member of NGO Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), a platform of lawyers and activists engaged in fighting for human rights issues, was asked to furnish her identity card and quizzed regarding her activities by a sub-inspector ranking officer. The NGO member, accompanied by social activist Nutan Rewatkar, was allowed to interact with commercial sex workers (CSWs) only after she was able to convince the officer of Lakadganj police station. The high court, in decision last week, had upheld police action and also ensured that no attempts were made to evict residents. The court decision had triggered tension in the locality with residents and their detractors claiming victories. Senior PI of Lakadganj police station R Mane said that vigilance has been increased in the locality to ensure that there is no clash or escalation of tension. “The officer may have checked the ID of the NGO member to ensure her credentials,” he said. (Times of India 17/9/15)

125. Fine of Rs 2 lakh on Agra cops for illegal detention, torture of 2 innocent men (1)

Agra: The Uttar Pradesh governor, acting on directions from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has imposed a fine of Rs 2 lakh on six Agra policemen who allegedly kept two innocent men in custody for more than two days. The fine was imposed after the victims approached the commission, which wrote to the governor, who then imposed the fine, and directed the policemen to give the victims the money within 10 days. Among those fined is an officer of the rank of deputy superintendent of police (DSP). According to the complaint with the NHRC, Jagdish Tyagi, resident of Silokhar village under Iradat Nagar police station was kidnapped on January 4, 2011. The matter was brought to Iradat Nagar police who logged an FIR and started investigating the case. They then arrested Ramveer Singh from Wamanpura post under Mahawan police station on February 26, 2011 on the basis of suspicion. They kept him in the police lockup for two days without any arrest warrant, and also locked up his brother Rajendra, who had visited him in the lockup. The brothers claimed custodial torture afterwards. Ramveer approached NHRC and SSP, Agra, with his complaint of illegal detention and torture by the police. Taking immediate action on the complaint, senior police officials in Agra zone ordered a probe in the matter. The investigations were handed over to the circle officer (CO) of Mathura Refinery at that time. Even CB-CID investigated the case and found Iradat Nagar police guilty. On the basis of the CB-CID report, an FIR was lodged against CO Mathura Refinery, inspector Iradat Nagar police station and four constables, Brijesh Kumar, Satya Prakash, Imtiaz Ali and Mukul Dwivedi. NHRC, too, issued notice to these policemen on April 2015. In its letter to the UP governor, NHRC sought justice for the victims who, the commission felt, were unnecessarily tortured while in custody and should be compensated for it. The governor, imposing the fine of Rs 2 lakh, has directed the UP chief secretary to ensure that the order is implemented. The state secretariat issued a letter to UP DGP and directed the official to ensure that the guilty cops deposit the fine to the victims within 10 days. The cops also have to give the payment details in writing in the presence of witnesses. The state secretariat also directed the police department to send a detailed report about the mode, manner and date of payment. (Times of India 18/9/15)

126. Six Delhi policemen to be tried for 2014 custodial death (1)

New Delhi: Following a Delhi court’s order, charges of murder and kidnapping will be framed against six policemen on Wednesday for the alleged custodial death of a man here in 2014. Additional District and Sessions Judge Sanjay Garg last week found prima facie evidence against then head constable Bhoop Singh and constables Uttam Kumar, Sudhir Singh, Rajesh Kumar, Rajesh Kumar Yadav and Arvind to be tried for kidnapping, murder, destruction of evidence and common intention under the Indian Penal Code. The six were posted in west Delhi’s Bindapur police station when the alleged custodial death occurred. “A perusal of the post-mortem report of the deceased shows asphyxia as the cause of death, a result of ante-mortem compression of the neck and chest, sufficient to cause death in ordinary course of nature,” the court said. The court said the medical opinion was sufficient for framing murder charge against the policemen. According to the prosecution, the six policemen picked up victim Manoj from J.J. Colony in Uttam Nagar on May 26, 2014, and took him to an old building in Bindapur. The man died during custodial interrogation. The accused policemen then took the body to a local hospital and left it there unattended. The accused, in their defence, contended that from the material on record, it could not be said that they had any intention to kill Manoj. They argued they could not be charged with murder. The court, however, said their contention was devoid of merit.”From the statements of witnesses and other evidence collected during investigation, it is apparent the accused, in pursuance of their common intention, abducted the deceased and took him to an old building where he was tortured as a result of which he died,” the court said. After Manoj died, the accused destroyed his belongings and left the body unattended at the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital with the intention of concealing his identity, the court noted. The court refused to grant the policemen protection of obtaining sanction from the competent authority to initiate proceedings against them, observing that the alleged act done by the public servants was not reasonably connected with the discharge of official duty. The court said the accused did not made any record entry at the police station before proceeding to pick up the victim, nor did they send any official information to the police station after finding him. It noted that no first information report was lodged against the victim at Bindapur for which he was required to be interrogated. Delhi Police charge-sheeted the men on the basis of the statements of witnesses, the post-mortem report of the deceased and call details of the accused and the deceased. The policemen are now in judicial custody. (New Kerala 22/9/15)

127. All 1,525 UP thanas to have CCTV camerasIshita (1)

MEERUT: Nearly two months after the Supreme Court directed the Centre and state governments to put police stations and interrogation rooms under surveillance of CCTV cameras, an amount of Rs 12.32 crore has been sanctioned by the UP government to set up the gadgets in all the 1,525 police stations across the state. The money was sanctioned via a government order dated September 18, which was made public on Tuesday. The move will ensure the SC’s motive in this to prevent custodial torture. Once the CCTV cameras are installed, the court has said, there should be regular and random inspection of police stations to ascertain, using CCTV footage, if any custodial violence has taken place. “An amount of Rs12.32 crore has been sanctioned for setting up of CCTV cameras in as many as 1,525 police stations of the state. This money should be used within a period of three months,” the government order issued by UP special secretary Surya Narayan Shukla said. Out of the 1,525 police stations across 75 districts of the state, 65 are those of the Government Railway Police (GRP). In a landmark verdict on July 24, an apex court bench of Justices T S Thakur and R Banumathi had directed the Centre and state governments to install CCTV cameras and appoint at least two women constables at every police station. The bench passed the order on the basis of recommendations made by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singvi and advocates Amit Bhandari and P K Mullick, who assisted the court in the matter. In 2013, Sinhgvi had moved the plea seeking implementation of 15 more guidelines to clamp down on custodial excesses, which had resulted in the death of 11,820. There were 3,532 reported cases of custodial torture between 2007 and 2012. The SC bench also expressed concern that Delhi, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland had so far not set up state human rights commissions and directed them to form the panel as soon as possible. The bench had asked states to fill up vacancies in their human rights panels within three months. According to national crime records bureau statistics of 2015, there were eight custodial deaths and 189 custodial rape incidents in Uttar Pradesh in 2014. The state had topped the country in terms of custodial deaths in 2010. Even last month, the alleged suicide of a girl in Mahmudabad police station in Sitapur district had triggered widespread violence with protesters fighting a pitched battle with cops, pelting stones at them and torching a police vehicle. (Times of India 23/9/15)

128. Unhappy Over Delay in Scrapping of AFSPA: Irom Sharmila (1)

IMPHAL: Rights activist Irom Chanu Sharmila, who has been fasting for over 15 years demanding repeal of Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA), today expressed dissatisfaction over the Centre’s delay in scrapping the law. “I am not happy with the Centre’s delay,” Sharmila, who appeared before the court of chief judicial magistrate of Imphal East this morning, told the media waiting outside. The activist, who is being nose fed, said though she has been on a hunger strike for more than one and half decades against imposition of AFSPA, her democratic agitation was not honoured. She said the government has kept her in judicial custody for all these years instead of repealing AFSPA which was against the right to live. Sharmila said she would continue her movement till the fulfilment of her demand and appealed to the people to work together till the act was scrapped. (The New Indian Express 25/9/15)

129. Families of prisoners allege torture (1)

MADURAI: Family members of suspected Al-Umma operatives Bilal Malik and ‘Police’ Fakruddin in Madurai alleged that the two were tortured by prison wardens in Chennai. According to police, a group of prisoners lodged in Puzhal Central Prison in Chennai launched a murderous attack against a few prison officials on Friday. They allegedly held two officials hostage and released them only after negotiations were conducted by higher authorities from the prisons department. While police have stated that the prisoners launched the attack after they were denied food items from outside, family members of Bilal Malik and Fakruddin said they were tortured inside the prison. Bilal Malik’s wife Asina Banu, mother of three, said her husband had complained to her about torture by prison officials. The officials used to spit on their food and force them to eat it, she said. Bilal wanted to meet his family frequently, but they could not do that because of the travel involved. ‘Police’ Fakruddin’s mother Syed Meera asked how prisoners lodged in a high-security block could join together and launch an attack. She suspected foul play by police in the attack. They were always kept in separate rooms. The television news channels were only showing the injured police personnel. Why have they not shown her son on the media, she asked. Gajhini Mohammeed, Bilal’s brother, demanded that both Fakruddin and Bilal be transferred to the Madurai Central Prison. The elderly family members are not able to travel to Chennai and visit them, he said. (Times of India 27/9/15)

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

130. Criminal defamation fetters press freedom: Law panel (1)

NEW DELHI: While the NDA government has defended criminal defamation provisions in the Indian Penal Code, the Law Commission feels the colonial statute restricts media’s freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed under Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution, and thus makes a ground for its review. “Threats of legal action with punitive damages under the laws of defamation lead to a ‘chilling effect’ on the publication of free and independent news articles and puts undue pressure on journalists and publishing houses,” the law panel said in a consultation paper in the midst of its review of criminal defamation vis-a-via protection of journalists. The panel, which has already held several rounds of consultation with eminent persons and various stakeholder groups, is yet to decide whether sections 499 and 500 of IPC, dealing with criminal defamation, should be dropped to uphold freedom of speech. It is likely to submit a report soon on the defamation laws before the term of the commission comes to an end next month. The commission observes that there have been several attempts to decriminalise the British law and provide ample safeguards to journalists to protect their constitutional rights, but since nothing has been achieved it merits a review. A journalist has no special status under defamation laws in India and faces unreasonable pressure from those in power, particularly for critical reportage. Criminal defamation is often used as a tool by people in positions of power to muzzle the press. The Centre, in an affidavit submitted before the apex court on Saturday, justified criminal defamation saying these are ‘efficacious remedies to deal with growing tendency to defame people’. Rejecting the petitioners’ argument that there was a civil remedy for filing a defamation suit, the government noted that ‘civil remedy is not an efficacious remedy’. Worldwide, several institutions, including the UN, have campaigned against criminalising defamation. The UN’s special rapporteur for freedom of expression in a report to the UN human rights council in 2010 had asserted that “any attempt to criminalise freedom of expression as a means to limiting or censuring that freedom must be resisted”.A white paper on criminal defamation by the Vienna-based International Press Institute says the “rights of critique and dissent are mandatory liberties and keystones to the freedom of expression in democratic states”.The white paper further adds that “a free society depends on an exchange of opinion and on the ability of citizens to scrutinise and judge those who rule in their name. Criminal libel laws are a hindrance to honest public discourse and have no place in a modern democracy”.Ironically, the colonial law which has been strongly defended by the Indian political class, has been dumped in its place of origin — UK. The law is rooted in England’s notorious Star Chamber in the 1500s, evolved for protecting society’s ‘best men’. (Times of India 12/9/15)

131. ‘Media are defenders of human rights’ (1)

Nagpur: “Media are playing a role of defender of human rights,” said former judge of Supreme Court Justice Cyriac Joseph at ‘Indian Society, Media and Challenges of Human Right: A Dialogue’ held at Nagpur University Ambedkar College of Law on Monday. Highlighting the significant role of media in preventing violation of human rights, Justice Joseph said media created awareness among people and exposed the breaches of rights. “Media not only motivate and empower victims to fight for their rights but also compel the authorities to act,” he said. He added the essence of human rights was to secure dignity of an individual and it was the work of judiciary to uphold these laws. The legislature must ensure laws were efficiently enforced, he added. Stating that 22% of the people in India were still Below Poverty Line (BPL), S C Sinha, a member of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), said, “It is unfortunate that every year, 6.3 crore people are shifting under BPL as they are deprived of basic amenities like sanitation, food, shelter and job opportunities. Basic needs should be provided to every citizen for their all-round development and enhancement of opportunities so that the prime aim of eradicating poverty can be fulfilled.” Vice-chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi University, Wardha, Girishwar Mishra, in his address explained how the media had reached and affected the common man. He stated, “There is a close relationship between media and human rights commission as media can influence the minds of the people and affect their thoughts, emotions and feelings. They have also made people aware of the wrong doings prevailing in our society.” Joint secretary of NHRC Ranjit Singh explained the three tenets of human rights. They were giving rights to self, equality among all, and respect for all humans. He also spoke about how dynamics of human rights had evolved and about collective rights that includes privacy, health, and freedom from hunger. Others present at the inaugural ceremony were SK Shukla, assistant director of NGRC, Puranchandra Meshram, registrar of Nagpur University, and principal of College Shrikant Komawar.  (Times of India 15/9/15)

132. Journalist alleges death threats over Twitter posts (1)

New Delhi: Mumbai-based journalist John Dayal on Wednesday filed a complaint with Delhi Police alleging that he received death threats by right-wing activists after tweeting on the arrest of St Xavier’s School’s principal for molesting two minor students. “I met police commissioner B S Bassi and handed him a copy of the complaint which was forwarded to the cyber cell of the Delhi Police. I will leave the police to investigate the rest,” said Dayal. Dayal, who is the secretary-general of the All-India Christian Council, came under a barrage of abusive comments after he tweeted that the owners of the school were connected to the ruling party. Twitter users not only trolled his views but also threatened him of dire consequences, alleged Dayal. “This campaign of vitriolic abuse, vilification and bigotry reached a crescendo on September 12, when a sudden, unprovoked and large-scale attack on me and the members of my community was launched on Twitter by a large number of people. My personal telephone number was posted on Twitter and the world at large was invited to threaten and abuse me on the phone. As soon as my number was released, I began receiving threatening and abusive phone calls. I am not being able to use my mobile phone,” he said. Senior Delhi Police officials said that Dayal has been asked to hand over screenshots of the Twitter posts according to which an FIR would be registered. (Times of India 17/9/15)

133. For media monitor, work is counting PM, Ministers on TV (1)

NEW DELHI: The Congress tracked how the media portrayed its Prime Minister discreetly, while the BJP does it aggressively and overtly. The task is carried out by the Electronic Media Monitoring Centre (EMMC) — a legacy of the British, inherited by the Congress and now the BJP — to keep a tab on all news channels to find out how much airtime is devoted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Now, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley and Minister of State Rajyavardhan Rathore have joined the list of those being tracked in the news broadcast by the electronic media. The coverage of Mr. Modi’s Mann ki Baat on All India Radio and his engagements with world leaders find a mention on the significant list of activities undertaken by the EMMC, displayed on its webpage. The Central Monitoring Service was used by the British primarily to track anti-war propaganda on radio. Its new avatar, the EMMC was set up on June 9, 2008, by the UPA government to monitor the content of television channels and report on violations of the programme and advertising code. It serves as a chilling deterrent to free speech and offers the Ministry reasons to serve show-cause notices on television channels. While the EMMC’s declared mandate is to monitor television channels for programme content and advertisement violations and report them to the Ministry, the centre, since August 2014, also lists tracking airtime given to the two Ministers as a significant activity it undertakes. Sources said no instructions were received from the Ministry to track the Prime Minister or Ministers concerned, but it is expected of the centre to do so. The violations committed by channels are interpreted along the lines of the programme code of the Cable Television Networks Rules (1994) which under Section 6 lists the several don’ts that channels have to conform to. The sweeping provisions ask channels not to offend good taste, decency or attack religions or communities. Nor should they carry anything that is likely to encourage or incite violence or anything that goes against maintenance of law and order or that promotes anti-national attitudes. Specifically, the code says programmes should not telecast anything amounting to contempt of court; they should not contain aspersions on the integrity of the President and the judiciary, criticise, malign or slander any individual in person or certain groups, segments of social, public and moral life of the country.And it is the code that EMMC follows as it looks for transgressions and airtime to ministers. In September 2014, 15 news clips were sent on the Prime Minister and 20 on Mr. Jaitely. The EMMC also sent a comparative analysis of the coverage of the Prime Minister by various news channels and the time devoted to his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ among other news.From November, Minister of State Rajyavardhan Rathore’s name appears on the list of activities by the EMMC. While 10 TV news clips are sent for Mr. Jaitely, Mr. Rathore has two to his credit. In March, Mr. Rathore pips Mr. Jaitley, with 17 news clips. Continuing through April, both Mr Jaitely and Mr. Rathore are counted for their appearances on television. ….  (The Hindu 20/9/15)

134. Media must exercise restraint: writers (1)

BENGALURU: Writers, intellectuals and media experts at a seminar here favoured “self-restraint” by the media, while fighting for “freedom of expression”, and underlined the need for the government to take steps to ensure the adoption of the anti-superstitious practices Bill in the interest of society. At the seminar on ‘freedom of expression and media’ organised by the Bengaluru Press Club on Monday, participants pointed out that many television channels projected the draft of the Bill in a misleading way by dubbing it “anti-Hindu”. Media savvy astrologers are taking gullible people for a ride and creating controversy, they said. Expressing concern over the threats received by writers and intellectuals in the State after the brutal assassination of M.M. Kalburgi and the government extending police security to some writers, Mallika Ghanti, VC of Kannada University, Hampi, described the murder of Kalburgi as a “warning bell” for those who profess “truth, based on study, research and scientific evidences”. Chandrashekar Patil said failure on part of the media to have self-restraint would result in disaster. He appealed to the media to support the movement launched to pressurise the government to ake steps to ensure adoption of the anti-superstitious practices Bill. Writers and intellectuals were worried about BJP leaders, especially the party’s State president Pralhad Joshi, taking objection to the Sahitya Academy award being given to writer K.S. Bhagavan. Chief Minister’s media adviser Dinesh Amin Mattu said the academy was an autonomous body and a experts’ panel had selected writers for the award. (The Hindu 22/9/15)

135. Country’s youth pushed back govt’s plan on encryption policy: Cong (1)

NEW DELHI: Congress on Tuesday said the Centre’s draft encryption policy was another example of Modi government’s persistent bid to suppress individual liberties and spy on citizens round the clock, adding that only a revolt by the youth had pushed back its sinister attempts. As the Centre withdrew the policy paper following a row, AICC spokesman Randeep Surjewala said, “Modi government’s hasty retreat on the contentious policy re-establishes the strength of democratic dissent over Tughlaqi firmans. The government intent stands exposed.” Surjewala said the policy would override all sense of freedom of speech and expression and encroach upon privacy of citizens, enabling government to see all the telephonic communications. “The 60 crore youth may like to keep certain communication private,” he remarked. Congress framed the controversial policy as an issue of curbing personal freedoms, in what appeared an attempt to woo the vast youth population at the vanguard of the online revolt against tinkering with internet and communication freedom. The spokesman said there was a string of examples to see a pattern, listing TRAI’s ill-fated paper on net neutrality, the Centre’s affidavit in Supreme Court that right to privacy was not a fundamental right, the gag order on an IIT group of dalits for criticizing Modi and the depriving of Gujarat’s citizens of internet and communication services. “Does Modi want to take us back to the 17th century,” he asked, adding the BJP regime over 16 months had made “systematic, sinister attempts” to quash dissent and undermine individual liberty. (Times of India 23/9/15)

136. Avoid misreporting on disasters: Rawat to journalists (1)

DEHRADUN: Chief minister Harish Rawat on Sunday urged mediapersons to avoid misreporting on any disaster or rain-related incident because, in his words “the state government has to often pay a heavy price for wrong and baseless reporting.” Addressing journalists from the print and electronic media at the Uttaranchal Press Club, Rawat said that although newspersons are allowed to report freely and fearlessly on all sorts of issues, it did not mean they should misuse their freedom of writing. Referring to alleged misreporting or blowing out of proportion by an electronic channel of a rain-related incident which was presented as the state witnessing a 2013 flash flood-like situation, Rawat said that a lot of tourist bookings were cancelled due to this “unfounded” report, causing a huge loss to tourism in the state. Rawat suggested that newsmen could give up the tendency of unnecessarily blowing out of proportion such disaster-related incidents as it often not only amounted to misinforming the people but also defeated the very purpose of information. “As viewers and readers these days keep receiving updates on developments on different incidents through social media and other means of communication, the moment things are misreported or blown out of proportion, people might be temporarily misled by your reports, but ultimately you are bound to lose your credibility,” said Rawat. The chief minister added that as journalists and politicians had a different approach to thinking and observing things, it was necessary to “respect” this difference to nurture a healthy democracy. Referring to journalists’ demand for launching an insurance scheme for them, Rawat asked them to draft the insurance scheme for themselves and their families, saying the state government would immediately implement it. “You give the draft of it and I will ensure that this insurance scheme, up to Rs 10 lakh for each policyholder, is enforced immediately,” added Rawat. He also instructed district magistrate Ravi Nath Raman to finalize the land for the construction of a guest house for journalists in Dehradun. (Times of India 27/9/15)

COMMUNAL RIOTS

137. Nagaur reeling under caste politics, clashes, unrest (7)

AJMER: For the last six months, Nagaur has remained a sensitive region of the state with incidents like fleeing of notorious criminal to Dangawas bloodshed, swelling incidents of caste unrest in this district. With this, other incidents like a carcass of cows being found at Kumhari village followed by another incident where an attack on a businessman was reported in Nagaur, added to the reasons. Centrally located district of Rajasthan, such incidents have left Nagaur reeling under the pressure of caste politics. “The Dangawas bloodshed incident in which people were killed added to the unrest within the Dalit community of this region, widening the gap between the Dalit and the Jat community for a long time,” said a local source. He added that post the incident, fear among people can still be sensed in the nearby villages as people do not want to talk about that incident. Just after the Dangawas incident in May this year, the carcass of cows found outside the Kumhari village in the end of May, created tension in Khimsar and nearby villages. The communal tension was controlled well by the state government and police but the incident created enough gap between some communities. Another incident resulting in further unrest was a call for a bandh. “Just around the same, an attack on a businessman Kamal Gangwal in Naguar was reported leading to various organizations taking to the roads and demanding a bandh. This again affected the peace of the district,” added source. The recent fleeing of criminal Anandpal Singh from judicial custody worsened the situation as panic and tension gripped the district with different groups of Jat community demanding immediate arrest of Anandpal. Following the incident, MLA Hanuman Beniwal accused the government of negligence and expressed fear of another bloodshed at Nagaur. Nagaur, otherewise, till now was believed to be a peaceful and a cultured district of Rajasthan, where Jats enjoyed a majority followed by Rajputs and other castes. While Dalits also have a majority, they have not got a prominent status yet. “With a number of cases reported of atrocity on Dalits in Nagaur, the community continues to be a downtrodden one,” said Ramesh Bansal, coordinator of Center for Dalit Rights. Congress and Jat leaders have played an important role in the politics of this area with BJP too now showing interest. While earlier, there were fewer incidents of clashes reported between Jats and Rajputs, but the incident of Didwana firing in 2006 created rifts amongst some groups. “The major reason that can be attributed to it is the fact that Rajputs are coming up with political power in this area, and With dozens of villages being led by Rajputs in Nagaur, power clash between them and other communities is natural,” said a source. Meanwhile, on the development front, Nagaur awaits industrialization, and importantly, a good drinking water supply system, as major parts of this district are facing water and fluoride affected water problems. “The major economical contribution of Nagaur is minerals and farming with cattle grazing. Still, it remains far behind as compared to other cities of Rajasthan,” added a source. ( Times of India 14/9/15)

138. Centre to states, UTs ‘Beef up security before festivals’ (7)

New Delhi: Ahead of Ganesh Chaturthi and Eid-ul-Zuha, the Centre issued an advisory to all states and Union Territories to beef up security and maintain special vigil as preventive measures to thwart any communal tension or law and order situations. According to the advisory, Ganesh Chaturthi will be celebrated throughout the country from September 17 to September 27, and “during the festival, provocative sloganeering, especially near mosques and dargahs, installation of idols and observance of the festival at disputed places, procession through non-traditional routes and forcible collection of donations, eve teasing etc., often trigger communal incidents/tension. Besides, crowded pandals and immersion processions also remain soft targets for saboteurs.” (Indian Express 15/9/15)

139. Quran copies found burnt in Panipat (7)

KARNAL: Tension prevailed in Panipat on Tuesday as around ten copies of holy book of Quran were allegedly burnt by unidentified miscreants in the industrial city on Monday. A large number of Muslims gathered at Panipat secretariat and demanded action against those responsible for the act. While assuring a strict action against the culprits, deputy commissioner Sameer Pal Srow has appealed to all sections of the society to maintain peace. Irfan Ali, a Muslim leader from Panipat, told Hindustan Times over phone on Tuesday that 10 to12 copies of the holy book were found missing on Monday from a shop hired by Muslims living near Kutani road for community recitation of the holy book. The set was allegedly found burnt in a tandoor kept at an adjacent dhabha. He alleged that Ram Singh, a local resident, quarrelled with some Muslims on last Thursday and had threatened them. However, he clarified that Singh was in an inebriated condition and the community had not pointed a direct finger at anyone for hurting its sentiments. “We had duly registered the incident of verbal duel and it is up to the police to verify if Singh had any direct or indirect role behind the crime. But it is a matter of fact that Ram Singh was providing free water service to the Muslim gathering before our prayers,” said Ali.

He said that on Monday, it was found that holy books kept at the place of community prayers were missing and later these were traced in a burnt condition at a nearby dhabha. Police sources said as the dhabha owner came to his shop he found fire in the tandoor outside.  On sifting through the ashes, he found traces of the holy book. “The material used in the printing and binding the holy books does not get burnt completely. The quality led us to trace the book remains from a heap of ash,” said Ali. He said that some people from various communities might try to give communal colour to the unfortunate incident, but the local Muslims had made an appeal to everyone to maintain peace. Meanwhile, the Panipat DC met a Muslim delegation and assured them administration’s full support. In a statement, the DC said that a police complaint had already been registered and nobody would be allowed to disturb communal harmony in the district. “The administration urges various sections of the society to contact the district authorities for any complaint. They should not allow anyone to take political mileage out of this condemnable incident,” said the DC. (Hindustan Times 15/9/15)

140. DMs, SPs to be directly responsible for communal incidents, says Akhilesh Yadav (7)

CHIEF MINISTER Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday warned district magistrates and police chiefs (SSP, SP) that they would be held directly responsible if any communal incident takes place in their respective areas. Akhilesh, who came unannounced to a law and order review meeting in Lucknow , said: “Maintaining law and order is the first priority of the government and there will be no compromise on it. In case any communal incident takes place in any district, the DM and SP will be held directly responsible.”In his 20-minute address, Akhilesh asked DMs and SSPs to keep district officials on alert ahead of upcoming festivals and panchayat elections in the state. He also told officials to take effective steps to control crime and ensure that correct facts appear in the media in cases of heinous crimes. “The image of the government depends on the performance of administrative officials. Law and order, power, health, food and civil supplies departments are directly connected with the people and hence, the working of these departments should be appropriate,” he said. Claiming that he comes to know about the working of officials across the state through his own sources, Akhilesh said he has all details of decisions taken by different state departments. “Even a common person in this modern era knows about the working of officials in his district,” he added while stressing upon the need to make tehsil, police stations and block officers free of corruption. Akhilesh further told principal secretaries and secretaries to visit districts to inspect the progress of development works and implementation of welfare schemes every two months and submit reports in this regard. “Performances of principal secretaries and secretaries will be evaluated on the basis of action taken by them while executing the government’s development agenda,” he said. The CM went on to claim that the SP government has given its officials the most favourable atmosphere to perform and execute responsibilities without any pressure and stress. A source said Akhilesh maintained that taking action against officials every time was not the solution as it delays the execution of projects. But the CM said that officials having the habit of ignoring duties will have to face consequences, he added. (Indian Express 20/9/15)

141. Damaging statues become easy way to incite communal tension (7)

MADURAI: Desecrating statues of communal leaders has become a sure-shot way of inciting trouble in the region. Without adequate protection, these statues and portraits have become easy targets for attack. In the latest incident, protests broke out in Narikkudi near Tiruchuili in Virudhunagar district on Saturday after miscreants put a garland of slippers around a portrait of Marudhu brothers, the erstwhile rulers of Sivaganga. More than 500 members of a particular community made their way to Narikkudi from neighbouring villages, raising slogans demanding action against the miscreants. Police protection had to be upped and force had to be used to disperse the angry crowd. Similar instances of damaging statues have abounded in the southern districts, which have become hot beds of caste-based violence. Every time something happens, security cover to the statues is increased and vigil is intensified. However, hardly any steps have been taken towards finding a long-term solution to this problem. Many statues are still without protection covers in Madurai and other southern districts. Nagai Thiruvalluvan of Tamil Puligal alleged that there was discrimination towards statues of dalit leaders in the state. “When B R Ambedkar’s statue in Avaniyapuram was desecrated, there was no help from the government or police. We were asked to take care of things like installing CCTV cameras and other protection measures. Even then, the statue is not protected well enough,” he said. A higher police officer said it would not be possible for police to give round-the-clock protection to all the statues. However, they were focusing on the important statues. People who come forward to establish statues of their leaders do not show the same enthusiasm when it comes to protecting it. They can always install grill gates, ensure proper lighting and install CCTV cameras to avert attempts to create damage, he said. There are 42 statues in the Madurai district police limit alone. Most of the statues are of Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar. There are three statues of Marudhu brothers and one statue each of dalit icons Kakkan, Immanuel Sekaran and B R Ambedkar. Madurai district superintendent of police Vijayendra S Bidari confirmed that security for statues in the district had been increased following the unrest in Narikkudi in Virudhunagar. (Times of India 21/9/15)

142. 13 held, 3 policemen suspended over U.P. riots (7)

Meerut: The Uttar Pradesh police arrested 13 persons in connection with the communal riots on Wednesday in Gonda, U.P. District Magistrate of Gonda, Ajay Kumar Upadhyay, suspended three policemen for their failure in controlling the violence in which several people were injured. What triggered the violence was an alleged attack on the religious procession of one community by members of another community on Wednesday. It led to stone throwing, burning of vehicles and arson. The mob chased away administrative officers when they went to control the situation. The suspended police officials include the Station House Officer of Kaudia, Alok Dubey, the station in charge of the Badgaon police station, Digvijay Nath Shahi, and head constable Ramesh Rai. Mr. Upadhyay said that the administration would consider giving financial assistance to affected people. The communal clash in Gonda is part of a series of communal violence which the State has witnessed in recent times, especially ahead of the local body polls. More than three dozen cases of communal violence have been reported from western U.P. alone in the last three months. (The Hindu 25/9/15)

143. Muzaffarnagar riot victims hail panel report (7)

MEERUT: While the BJP has slammed the Vishnu Sahai Commission, which has reportedly blamed the Muzaffarnagar communal riots of 2013 on politicians and the local administration, riot victims have hailed the reported findings of the commission and said the panel was right in indicting politicians. Saleem Shahpur was headed to his home in Kakra village on September 7, 2013 when he saw a rally with thousands of armed people. “It was a terrifying sight. A procession of thousands of people was headed from Muzaffarnagar to Budhana via Mansoorpur Road. Most of them were armed with countrymade weapons, but many had automatic weapons. A former pradhan of my village was also present in the rally, along with local politicians. I decided to hurry home. All I could think of was the safety of my wife and two sons,” he said. While the findings of the report have not been made public, Shahpur said, “I read that the report blamed the riots on politicians. I agree with it. There was a clear political character to that procession, after which there was an incident of stoning of a mosque where a young boy died. When I reached home, the night was tense. Nobody left their house and it was eerily quiet. On the morning of September 8, we decided to leave the village for good. Our fellow villagers were spared the carnage that other villages like Phugana had to witness. They destroyed our houses after we had left but I am glad that my family is safe.” Around 5,000 people had been rendered homeless after the communal riots in August and September 2013. Shahpur said the report was also right in concluding that the local administration did not do enough to control the riots. “If the police had dispersed the crowd during the rally, the carnage could have been avoided. The district administration is also to blame.” Another riot victim, on condition of anonymity, said, “There was a panchayat meeting near Kawal village, which was the flashpoint of the riots. This was at the beginning, when the clashes were in the initial stages. I saw at least three major BJP leaders, including Sardhana MLA Sangeet Som, at the panchayat. They were delivering inflammatory speeches. Shortly after that meeting, mobs used to do the rounds of our villages and shout terrifying slogans about wiping out our entire community. The report is right in claiming politicians were behind the riots.” Shahpur added that one of the main reasons why the riots spread through five districts was inflammatory videos being circulated through WhatsApp. “People from the other community, who we had lived peacefully with, used be huddled around mobile phones and would grow quiet when we approached. Those messages were being circulated at the behest of politicians.” (Times of India 26/9/15)

144. Clashes erupt in Ranchi following communal tension (7)

RANCHI: Section 144 was imposed in few parts of the state capital on Saturday morning following clashes between two groups in different places. A few people sustained minor injuries but the situation is now under control. The clashes erupted after prohibited meat was thrown outside a temple late on Friday night by unknown miscreants. The day began with protests leading to multiple clashes so far. Ranchi DC Manoj Kumar said the situation is largely under control and appealed to all sections of people not to create panic. “Over 50 people trying to spread rumours and create trouble have been detained,” Kumar said. The Hindu outfits have called day-long band and their supporters are trying to enforce it. All shops in MG Road, Doranda, Birsa chowk, Albert Ekka chowk, and in few other parts of the state capital are closed. SSP Prabhat Kumar said CRPF, SSB, SISF and district police have been deployed in sensitive places. A group of protestors however smashed windshield of the vehicle of city SP Jaya Roy but she escaped injuries. The situation continues to be grim even after many preventive arrests. A few journalists sustained injuries and dozens of bandh enforcers were injured in police lathi-charge. (Timesofindia 26/9/15)

COMMUNALISM

145. VHP ‘working on’ 1,500 Muslim families for ‘ghar vapsi’ in U.P. (26)

Meerut: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has claimed that it is in the process of preparing 1,500 Muslim families in western Uttar Pradesh for a ‘ghar vapsi’ programme. According to Ajju Chauhan, senior VHP leader in western U.P., the volunteers are “working on” 1,500 Muslim families to facilitate their “ghar vapsi,” a term used to denote conversion to Hinduism. One of the initial ways of the Hindutva volunteers include convincing these families to stop eating beef and focus instead on keeping cow and buffalo in their homes. Mr. Chauhan claimed that the “hard work” of the volunteers was paying off. Most of the 1,500 families had stopped eating meat. “I myself have been working on two villages in Mainpuri in U.P. Most of them don’t eat meat of cow and buffalo any longer,” he said. Mr. Chauhan claimed that these 1,500 Muslim families were originally Hindus. He refused to disclose the actual names of the village. “The initial target is to stop them from eating meat. That we have successfully managed to. Gradually they will have to be brought back to Hindu way of living. I am hopeful that they will finally become Hindus again,” he added. ( The Hindu 12/9/15)

 

146. Hindu values that have no scientific basis should be given up: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat

Jaipur: RSS sarsanghachalak Mohan Bhagwat on Sunday called for a reassessment of Hindu religious values, saying that values that did not conform to scientific bases should be given up. Bhagwat, who was here to participate in a columnists’ conference on “Indian perspectives on women’s issues”, said, “There is a need to assess the prevalent Hindu religion along scientific lines. Those values that do not conform to scientific standards should be given up.” Indian society, he said, had maintained a tradition of rejecting redundant traditions and accepting “good things from all over the world” based on eternal life values. All issues and problems should be viewed through the Hindu life philosophy, Bhagwat also said. “The Hindu life view looks at men and women as two expressions of a single element. It therefore lays stress on unity instead of equality.” The values and significance of the Indian family system, Bhagwat said, stood strong despite numerous challenges, which was a testimony to the power of the Hindu society. “Recognising our roots and strengthening them will empower the society to combat westernisation and numerous such attacks,” Bhagwat said. The RSS chief said only the Hindu religion had the ability to move “creation” forward in a balanced way. Bhagwat is on a nine-day tour of the desert state. The two-day columnists’ conference, that concluded on Sunday, was part of his Jaipur itinerary. He will now head to Jodhpur for the remainder of his tour, participating in Sangh meetings till September 20. (Indian Express 14/9/15)

147. J&K: HC notice to govt on PIL challenging beef ban (26)

Srinagar: The Jammu & Kashmir High Court on Wednesday issued notice to the state government on a fresh petition challenging the cow slaughter Act in the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC). The court has asked the state government to respond within seven days. The writ petition, filed by retired law professor Afzal Qadri, challenges the constitutional validity of RPC sections 298-A and 298-B, which regulate the ban on bovine slaughter and beef sale in Jammu and Kashmir. While section 298-A of the RPC makes killing of bovine animals a punishable offence, the 298-B makes “possession of any slaughtered animal” a punishable act in the state. “We have challenged the section 298 of RPC and termed it unconstitutional,” the professor’s counsel Faisal Qadri told The Indian Express. Recently, a division bench of Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Justice Janak Raj Kotwal had ordered the government to strictly enforce the ban on sale of beef across the state, leading to widespread opposition. While some separatist leaders asked people to slaughter bovines on Eid-ul-Zuha and termed the court’s order interference into their religious affairs, the Opposition National Conference asked the Mufti government to issue an ordinance repealing the said provision of the RPC before Eid. “Ordinances are meant for urgencies. It is the need of the hour to bring an ordinance to repeal the provision in the Ranbir Panel Code under which cow slaughter has been banned,” said former state finance minister and senior National Conference leader Abdul Rahim Rather. (Indian Express 17/9/15)

148. RSS: Secularism irrelevant in India (26)

New Delhi: Contending that secularism is irrelevant in India, the RSS Saturday said saffron should have been the only colour on the national flag as other colours represented a communal thought. At a seminar on secularism for columnists held in Chennai, RSS’s All India Prachar Pramukh Manmohan Vaidya said “secularism evolved along the themes of separation of the Church and State in Europe and since India doesn’t have a history of theocratic states, the concept of secularism is irrelevant in the Indian context”. Pointing at the constitutional debate, Vaidya said B R Ambedkar was against inclusion of the word secular in the preamble of the Constitution as he felt India was naturally a secular society. The seminar, organised by RSS, was attended by more than 80 columnists from south India. “The perversion of the concept of secularism in India has resulted in the terming of nationalists as communal and people with communal thinking being hailed as secular,” Vaidya said. He added that “the Bharatiya tradition has from time immemorial regarded all faiths and sects as one and that the artificial injection of secularism is not needed in a society as hospitable and assimilative as Hindu society”. He also spoke of the evolution of Indian Flag and contended that several members of the flag committee (constituted by Congress Working Committee in 1931) felt that representing different religions as colours of the national flag was a communal thought. The committee agreed that the saffron flag with a blue charka would be the best representation of the Indian ethos, Vaidya said. Other speakers at the seminar were BJP vice-president Balbir Punj and RSS mouthpiece Organiser’s editor Prafulla Ketkar. (Indian Express 20/9/15)

149. Cow slaughter ban inflames J&K regional, religious tensions (26)

The beef ban order of the Jammu and Kashmir high court has spawned clashes in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley, injuring many. Experts fear that if the ban is not tackled carefully, it may cause the worst-ever religious polarisation Tensions spike in Jammu and Kashmir in the aftermath of the state high court’s asking the police to implement a 120-year-old law that bans slaughter of cow and other bovine animals and sale of beef in the State and take “strict action” against those who violate it. The court order has since spawned a fiery discourse in the state with various local political parties, including separatists and religious groups based mainly in predominantly Muslim Kashmir Valley asking Muslims to violate the ban by slaughtering only bovine animals during the coming festival of Id-al-Azha or Bakar Id. In fact, cows and other bovine animals were publicly slaughtered at several places in the Valley last week in reaction to the court order. However, senior separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani indirectly voiced his displeasure over the act. He said, “No such activity suits to any Muslim which can trigger communal tension or hurt sentiments and emotions of any other person”. He also sought to clarify, “Our protest is not against any particular section or the religion but (against) the controversial decision of the court which has hurt the sentiments of the Muslim community and has given birth to a discussion on this sensitive issue”. Kashmir’s chief Muslim cleric and chairman of his faction of Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, however, while terming the ban on beef as “regrettable, illogical and direct intervention in the religious affairs of the Muslims who form the majority in the State”, said, “No court can violate or overrule the laws laid down by the Islamic Sharia and banning the consumption of beef, a halal (permissible) food, by courts is blatant interference in religion affairs, which will not be tolerated”. On the other hand, mainstream National Conference and Communist Party of India (Marxist) legislator Muhammad Yusuf Tarigami and Independent Sheikh Abdur Rashid have separately moved bills in the state Kashmir Assembly which is meeting here on October 3 for brief Autumn Session seeking repeal of Section 298-A, 298-B, 298-C and 298-D of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) that ban bovine slaughter and the sale of beef. But the BJP has not only vowed to oppose the move, one of its legislators Ravinder Raina has moved a resolution in the Assembly demanding capital punishment for those found slaughtering cow in the state. “Those found guilty should be awarded capital punishment”, the resolution reads. He has asked for a complete ban on cow slaughter and sale of beef as per the directions passed by the high court of Jammu and Kashmir. Some other party MLAs have publicly vowed that they would not allow any discussion in the House on the issue. Speaker of the Assembly Kavinder Gupta has said that he will not allow discussion on any bills or resolutions which have the potential of vitiating atmosphere in the state in the House. “I will not allow any bill or resolution which can create controversy and disturb peaceful atmosphere in the state,” he told Greater Kashmir newspaper, adding, “Things which can deteriorate law and order situation in the state won’t be allowed as part of proceedings of the House.”… (Asian Age 22/9/15)

150. Bakrid: VHP, Bajrang Dal caution on cow slaughter (26)

BELAGAVI: The city units of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal have alleged that a large number of cattle have been procured for slaughtering on the occasion of Bakrid in violation of laws preventing slaughter of cows. VHP and BD workers, who submitted a memorandum to the Police Commissioner on Wednesday, claimed that a large number of cows and other cattle, besides goat and sheep, would be slaughtered two to three days ahead of the festival. This, despite a complete ban on cow slaughter under Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1960, Karnataka Cow Slaughter & Cattle Prevention Act, 1964, and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1964. The two organisations have urged the police and district authorities to strictly implement the Acts. The VHP and BD have also alleged that hundreds of cows had been kept ready for slaughtering at Shahabander (near Vantamuri), Kakar Stree behind Camp Police Station, Fish Market-Kasai Galli, Khade Bazaar behind Sheetal Hotel, Chavi Market, Azam Nagar (near Anganwadi School), Nesargi Kasai Khana, behind Kabadi Wine Shop at Diamond Complex in Khade Bazaar, near Fruit Market of Azad Nagar and Zatpat Colony of Sahyadri Nagar. The workers also staged a protest in front of the Commissioner’s office before submitting the memorandum. The protest was led by VHP district joint secretary Vijay Jadhav, BD district convener Bhavakanna Lohar and North Karnataka convener Swaroop Kalkundri. (The Hindu 23/9/15)

151. Secularism Survives in India Due to Hindutva: Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu (26)

Hyderabad:  There is secularism in India because of Hindutva, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said in Hyderabad on Friday. “This country is Hindustan. Neither you nor I named it so. Secular psyche exists in the people of this country. Hindutva is secularism, which is welcoming (people from) all over the world and giving them space for debate,” he said. “Because of Hindutva, there is secularism in this country. Why there is no secularism in Pakistan? Why there is no secularism in Bangladesh? After all, they are our brethren. They got separated,” he said at an event organised on the 99th birth anniversary of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya. Unable to digest their humiliating defeat in elections as well as the growing popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress and other political rivals have indulged in a disinformation campaign against the NDA government, he alleged. “Parties and people who played communal politics and aligned with communal parties like Kerala Congress and Majlis are blaming BJP of communalism which needs to be exposed,” he said. Referring to the beef ban, he said religion and food are personal choices. “We did not impose these (ban). These bans were imposed during the Congress regime. They were imposed in Kashmir, Maharashtra and Karnataka during Congress rule. What one should eat is a personal choice. There is no party policy. Centre has not instructed anybody that beef can be banned,” he said. He said that opposition to Yoga and “surya namaskar”, which promote physical fitness, is due to “foreign influences.” Taking a swipe at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Mr Naidu said that he is now going to Bihar to canvas for those who were jailed for corruption. He expressed confidence that the BJP and its allies would get a comfortable majority after the Bihar assembly elections.    (NDTV 26/9/15)

152. RSS organ’s swipe at Rahul Gandhi: Congress’ Mr India has abandoned ship (26)

New Delhi: Taking a swipe at Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi for embarking on a foreign trip when the process of Bihar polls is underway, RSS organ Panchjanya on Sunday said the “young Mr India of the old party” has abandoned the ship leaving the task of steering it to the old guard. “The young ‘Mr India’ of the old party is as always missing from the scene (Bihar polls) without leaving any clue. The Captain has abandoned the ship and gone missing leaving the burden of steering the party on old shoulders like always,” the editorial in RSS mouthpiece Panchjanya said, in an evident jibe at Rahul Gandhi.“While some say his absence is indicative of his pre-poll fatigue, Congress apologists describe his trip as another occasion for some sort of an unknown global meet. Whatever be the reason, the fact is that the country’s oldest party, contesting merely 41 seats, and bearing the burden of a historic embarrassment, is not even in the Bihar election race and is only on the fringes,” it said. The editorial also attacked the so-called grand alliance of RJD, JD(U) and Congress, contending the secular and socialist parties in the fray are afraid on account of their internal challenges and the presence of AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi on the election scene. “Secular, socialist parties are afraid. Irrespective of who loses Bihar polls, secularism will be ultimately harmed. Communal leader (Owaisi) will cut into not the radical communal votes but the liberal secular vote. These so called secular parties are trying to tell the masses that secular votes will be cut. No wonder they share this common fear in Bihar,” the editorial said. Without naming Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, it also took a dig at him, saying he too had abandoned the Bihar election scene to put its own house in order in Delhi and to address the controversy created by a former cabinet colleague. “At least AAP has a valid reason to be absent from Bihar,” it said. About Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh’s recent twitter post showing RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and Owaisi as two sides of the same face, another article in Panchjanya said, “Digvijay Singh is commenting on a match where he is neither a player nor an umpire. In the game of Bihar elections, the Congress is camped outside the stadium.” (Indian Express 27/9/15)

TERRORISM

153. 2008 Malegaon blasts case: SC seeks Centre, NIA reply on PIL (12)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought response from the Centre and National Investigating Agency (NIA) on a plea challenging removal of Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case and alleging that Government was exerting pressure on her to “go soft” on the accused. A bench comprising Justices J Chelameswar and A M Sapre asked Centre and NIA to file their responses within one week. The bench, however, did not allow the submission of senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Indira Jaising that hearing on the bail applications of the accused persons be stayed for the time being. The bench has also issued notice to Maharashtra government in the case. Earlier, a Supreme Court Judge had recused from hearing the plea, saying that he had represented certain accused in the matter. The PIL, filed by social activist Harsh Mander, has accused NDA government of trying to interfere with the functioning of the prosecutor in the case by exerting “pressure” on her to “go soft” on the accused. It alleged that the executive was attempting to influence the judicial system. It has alleged that NIA officials had pressured erstwhile Special Public Prosecutor in case, Rohini Salian, “presumably” under instructions from their “political masters”.Salian, who was SPP in the case, had alleged that an NIA officer had told her to go soft on the accused. She also claimed the same officer had told her that she would be replaced. Salian is no longer on NIA’s panel of lawyers. The petition has sought the apex court’s intervention to ensure a fair trial as there were reasons to “credibly fear” that “executive is attempting to influence the judicial system to cave in to the pressure exerted by it in all matters, including affording protection to right-wing extremists who sympathize with its ideology”. (Zee News 11/9/15)

154. 2006 Mumbai blasts: Quantum of sentence likely to be announced today (12)

Mumbai: A Mumbai special court will begin the hearing in the 2006 Mumbai serial bomb blasts case and the arguments related to the quantum of sentence in the case is likely to be delivered on Monday. The Special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, MCOCA court on Friday convicted 12 accused in the blasts case that rattled Mumbai killing 188 people and injuring 829 others. The court held the accused guilty of many charges under IPC, Explosives Act, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and Indian Railway Act. The chargesheet filed by Anti Terrorism Squad, ATS in November 2006 had named 30 people which included 17 Indians and 13 Pakistani nationals. However, the agency could arrest only 13 Indian accused for trial. Seven RDX bombs had exploded within a span of 10 minutes in the first class coaches of Mumbai’s suburban trains on July 11th, 2006. (Asian Age 14/9/15)

155. Alleged ISIS recruiter sent to police custody (12)

 Hyderabad: A city court on Tuesday sent alleged ISIS recruiter Afsha Jabeen alias Nicky Joseph to police custody for 10 days. She was arrested by police at the airport here on September 11 after she was deported from Dubai along with her husband and three children. The 37-year-old woman, a resident of Toli Chowki area in the city, was sent to 14 days judicial custody on Sep 12. Police now look to gather more information about the youth she and another accused Salman Mohiuddin were in touch with through social media to invite them to join ISIS. While luring youth online to join the terror group, Afsha was using fictitious name Nicky Joseph and claiming to be a British national. Police came to know about her in January this year when Salman, a US returned engineer, was arrested at Hyderabad airport while leaving for Dubai. He had told police that he along with the woman planned to go to Syria to join ISIS. During the questioning after her arrest on September 11, she told police that was running Facebook groups to recruit youth. She reportedly confessed that she is a strong supporter of ISIS as the group stopped Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from committing atrocities on Sunnis and wanted to establish Sharia. (Business Standard 15/9/15)

156. NSCN(K) banned by Centre for 5 years (12)

NEW DELHI, Sept 16 – The Centre today decided to declare NSCN(K) as an unlawful organisation for a period of 5 years, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention), Act 1967 in the face of the outfit’s continued hostility and violence against the Indian security personnel from their bases in Myanmar. The decision to declare NSCN(K) an unlawful organisation was taken in a Cabinet meeting held here this morning, Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad told newsmen after the meeting of the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “In recent times, a lot of explosions and ambushes have been carried out by the organisation. The Government of India, after elaborate consideration, has decided to declare NSCN(K) an unlawful organisation for 5 years,” Prasad said. The Government of India has signed ceasefire agreement on April 25 with the newly formed NSCN (Reformation) under Wangtin Naga, and a framework agreement with NSCN(I-M) on August 3. However, the Khaplang group has since carried out a series of violent attacks on the Indian armed forces from their bases in Myanmar. (The Assam Tribune 17/9/15)

157. State governments not sharing info on terror financing: Centre (12)

NEW DELHI: Government’s efforts to deal with the menace of terror financing has hit a road block with no state government sharing information on national risk assessment on threats to various financial institutions and capital market. Following a recommendation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental body that looks after how to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats, the Centre set up a working group to asses the terror threat, its vulnerability in banking, insurance, capital market and financing institutions. The group had sent a letter on August 19 to all state governments and union territories along with the three templates on ‘terrorism threat’, ‘terrorism financing threat’ and ‘terrorism financing vulnerability’ asking them to reply by August 30. “So far, no response has been received from any of the state governments or union territories,” a senior government official said. The first template on ‘terrorism threat’ aims to determine the extent of the threat based on the sources as identified through enforcement and intelligence data on terrorism in the jurisdiction and related financing information. The template collects data on the organisations and individuals that pose terrorism threat to the jurisdiction. It requires information on terrorism cases which includes number of reported or investigated cases, number of convictions, number of international assistance requests received, sent, property damage. Qualitative information on future trends, other intelligence, the level of terrorism threat – low, medium or high, level of sophistication of operation, organisation average costs of operation, annual operational budget of operation, main income sources, main sectors or channels abused and originating jurisdiction of funds, the impact of terrorism financing threat – low, medium or high are other information which the state governments have to provide. The second template on ‘terrorism financing threat’ aims at identifying the direction of terrorism financing funds and the sources and channels that are being used for terrorism financing, using enforcement data and typology information as indicators. It seeks information on direction of funds, sources, criminal activity channels and overall terror financing threat. On terror financing cases, it requires information on number of cases investigated, prosecuted, convicted, number of persons convicted, number of case files sent to law enforcement agencies, number of international assistance requests, received, sent, amount of terror financing funds seized or frozen or confiscated…..  (Times of India 22/9/15)

158. Proposal to ban Sanatan Sanstha never reached me: Sushil Kumar Shinde (12)

NEW DELHI: Former home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has said that the file dealing with a proposal to ban Sanatan Sanstha during the UPA tenure never reached his desk while officials directly concerned with the matter said there was no “incriminating material” to justify action against the organisation in 2013. With Sanatan Sanstha under adverse spotlight over the arrest of one of its members for the killing of rationalist Govind Pansare, Shinde told TOI that the file was not put before him for consideration and rebutted former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan’s suggestion that the home ministry failed to act against the organisation. “The file never came to me. And if Chavan was so serious, he could have written to me or made a call. We are both Maharashtrians and belong to the same party… why did he not get in touch with me directly,” Shinde said on Wednesday. As it turns out, both Congress and NCP, which are demanding a ban on Sanatan Sanstha following the arrest of its member Sameer Gaikwad, had, as part of the UPA government, rejected a proposal to declare the outfit an “unlawful association” only two years ago. Officials who dealt with the matter confirmed that the ban requested by Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka was turned down in 2013 as “no incriminating material was on hand to justify a ban under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act”.The home ministry, which examined the states’ dossier citing suspected involvement of Sanatan Sanstha activists in the Margao blast in Goa in 2009 and a 2008 blast in an auditorium in Thane, Maharashtra, found there was no proper record of the outfit’s “activities in the past so many years” or any “list of its members suspected and accused in communal or violent incidents”.”Since all this is standard material based on which an organisation can be declared as unlawful under the UAPA, as was done in SIMI’s case, the idea of a ban on Sanatan Sanstha was rejected,” said an officer who was part of the deliberations. Incidentally, all accused in the Margao blast were acquitted in 2013, though one suspect, Rudra Patil, went missing. In the Thane blast case, two Sanatan Sanstha members were convicted in 2011 under provisions of the IPC and Explosives Substances Act, but acquitted of charges under the UAPA. Chavan had claimed that he urged the Centre to ban the group after two of its members were convicted in a 2008 bomb blast in a Thane auditorium. “We wanted to ban the Sanstha under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). We sent a 1,000 page dossier to the Centre in April 2011. Banning has to be done by the Union of India,” he was quoted by a news channel as saying. (Timews of India 24/9/15)

159. Centre sends tough Gujarat anti-terror bill for President nod (12)

New Delhi: The Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organi-sed Crime (GCTOC) Bill 2015 has been cleared by the Centre and sent to the President for his assent. The controversial bill was earlier passed by the Gujarat Assembly, but twice rejected by the previous UPA government. MHA sources said the anti-terror measure, hanging fire since Mr Modi, as Gujarat CM, first introduced it in 2003, was sent to President Pranab Mukherjee for his assent. The bill provides for admissibility of evidence gathered through the interception of mobile calls of an accused or through confessions before an investigating officer in a court of law. In July, the government sent back the bill to the state government seeking clarifications on certain issues raised by the information technology ministry. It objected to the bill’s provision allowing authorisation of intercepts of phone conversations and their admissibility as evidence before a court of law. The Gujarat government had strongly rebutted the IT ministry’s objections, and in its reply cited the subjects in the Concurrent List of the Constitution, under which both the Centre and states share responsibility for formulating criminal law and criminal procedure. The government gave its consent to the provision of extensions of time limit for filing of chargesheets from 90 days to 180 days after consultation with other Central ministries. The Gujarat Assembly had in March passed the stringent bill retaining controversial provisions that twice earlier had led to similar bills being rejected by the President. The bill was first rejected by then President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in 2004, demanding that the clause on interception of communications be removed. It was again rejected when Pratibha Patil was President. On both occasions, the then UPA government had advised the President to reject the bill, saying several provisions of GCTOC Bill were not in conformity with a Central law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. (Asian Age 25/9/15)

160. Rajnath Singh: India will defeat terrorism (12)

Lucknow: Terrorism is a challenge, but the country will conquer it, Home Minister Rajnath Singh asserted on Sunday, even as he dismissed fears about the Islamic State (IS) terror outfit spreading its reach to India. Talking to journalists on the sidelines of an event, he referred to the apprehension that the dreaded IS terror outfit was expanding in several States. “Do not worry about it, there is nothing like that.” The Minister did not comment on party MP R.K. Singh’s allegation that the party was giving ticket to candidates with criminal antecedents in Bihar.Earlier, in his speech at the event, Mr. Singh said the Modi government was making efforts to address social concerns and claimed that it was the first time in the country’s history that any government at the Centre was doing so. “Generally, the work of any government is related to economic and strategic issues. But for the first time, a government has come at the Centre which is fulfilling social concerns as well,” he said. With the government having taken up the ‘ Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao ’ drive, the goal was now to balance the gender ratio. “It is an irony that gender ratio is not balanced in India. In all countries that are considered prosperous, gender ratio is balanced. A country and society where gender ratio is unbalanced can never prosper,” he said. — PTI (The Hindu 28/9/15)

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

161. 58 more Maoists surrender (12)

BERHAMPUR: Fifty-eight more Maoist elements surrendered in Malkangiri district of Odisha on Saturday. They surrendered before Makangiri Superintendent of Police (SP) Mitrabhanu Mohapatra. They included 12 Maoist militants and two village committee members of Naxalite organisation. All of them were from Eralguda village under Kalimela police station. A total of 377 Maoist cadres, militias and supporters from different remote villages of Maoist-infested police station areas like Podia and Kalimela have surrendered before the police since August 31. According to the police sources, if this trend continues, then it will drastically reduce the strength of Maoist organisation in this district bordering Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The number of Odia Maoist cadres in Malkangiri district is also low. The Maoist leaders from Andhra and Chhattisgarh continue their activity in Malkangiri district with support of localites. This support base of Maoists has started to dwindle with recent continuing trend of surrenders. (The Hindu 13/9/15)

162. Major spurt in Naxal violence in Chhattisgarh in 2015 (12)

RAIPUR: With 362 Maoist related incidents of violence in Chhattisgarh in the first eight months of 2015, a whopping increase of 34% over the corresponding period in 2014, the year so far has been perhaps the most violent for the state since 2010. While there has been a marginal decrease in the total number of Maoists related incidents of violence in the 10 Left Wing Extremism affected states in these eight months, Chhattisgarh has witnessed an unprecedented spurt during the period by even surpassing the total number of 328 cases that occurred during the entire 2014. However, mercifully the numbers for people killed in these incidents in the state are marginally lesser than the previous year, as they were down from 73 in 2014 to 62 till July 15, 2015. According to latest figures, the number of Maoist related violent incidents in Chhattisgarh have shot up from 270 in 2014 (till August) to 362 in the corresponding period this year, averaging almost 45 odd incidents every month. The figures also reveal that while 264 incidents of Maoist related violence occurred in the state till July 15 this year, another 98 happened in a span on just 45 days till August 31. According to the data available with the state police, while the number of fatalities of security and government personnel witnessed a decline during this period, down from 50 in 2014 to 39, there has been an increase of 29% in civilian casualties, which went up from 24 to 31. Interestingly, while Jharkhand has been topping the list of Maoist related violence incidents among the LWE affected states since 2012, Chhattisgarh has surpassed the tally in the first six months of this year. In Jharkhand incidents of Maoist related violence fell from 217 in 2014 (till July 15) to 190 this year. The numbers of fatalities in such incidents have also declined from 54 to 35 in the corresponding period. Talking to TOI, additional director deneral of police (anti-naxal operations), RK Vij, attributed the spurt in such incidents in the state to panchayat polls held this year. He said there were attempts to disrupt polling at several places in Bastar by looting ballot boxes and firing at polling staff and security personnel. Incidentally, the last Panchayat elections in the state were held in 2010 and even then the incidents of Maoist violence had witnessed spurt, 625 during entire year. The total numbers of fatalities during 2010 were much higher at 343. Vij said the decline in the numbers of death in such violent cases this year is due to the fact that no major ambushes took place. “Killings have been confined to incidents of abduction and then execution, rather than random mass killings,” he said, adding that majority of the 39 fatalities of security personnel happened during special operations. Interestingly, these figures also reveal that the number of Maoists killed and surrendered till August 2014 and 2015, are the same at 22 and 115 respectively. However, the number of Maoists arrested this year 334, as compared to 437 in 2014. The recoveries of weapons from Maoists were also down from 120 in 2014 to 69 this year. According to the data, while there were lesser encounters (exchange of fire) this year, the incidents of IED explosion increased from 28 to 38. (Times of India 14/9/15)

163. Naxal uniform, weapons entice youth more than ideology: Study (12)

Raipur: It’s the uniforms and weapons of Maoists which attract the tribal youths more to join the outlawed movement, rather than their ideology about the fight for land, a study on Naxalism has interestingly has said. A group of research scholars headed by Dr Girish Kant Pandey, Head of the Department of Defence Studies in Government Science College here, has undertaken a special study to find the reasons which compel tribals to join the Naxal movement and then quit it. “So far we have interviewed 25 surrendered Naxals who were working with the banned organisation for 12-13 years, but surprisingly none of them understand the Maoist ideology nor they could explain their aim to join the banned outfit,” Dr Pandey, who did his PhD on the subject of Naxal insurgency in the early 90s, told PTI. As a part of the study, the research team made its first visit to the Naxal hotbed of Gadchiroli in Maharashtra and its adjoining areas in December last year where they interacted with 13 former Naxalites and some of their family members. In July this year, they visited Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region where they interviewed 12 surrendered rebels. “The study revealed that 92 per cent of rebels had joined the movement because of their attraction towards the ‘Army-like’ green uniform, guns, Maoist influence among villagers, besides obsession for dance, sloganeering and other activities of Chetna Natya Manch (a cultural outfit of Maoists),” research scholar Dr Varnika Sharma said. However, poverty, unemployment, personal/ ancestral enmity are also the reasons highlighted by rebels for joining the movement, she said. However she claimed that “none of them were influenced by the Maoist ideology to enter into guerrilla warfare.” The research also reveals that maximum cadres (about 33 per cent) deserted the movement after being impressed with the government’s surrender policy, while around 25 per cent of them left the outfit due to illness, Sharma said. Besides, 17 per cent of the Naxals dissociated with the movement due to internal rift and differences among top Naxal leaders while about 13 per cent quit the movement due to exploitation by senior cadres, she added.Throwing light on other findings of the study, another research scholar Toran Singh Thakur said according to the surrendered cadres, the Naxals have failed to recruit more youths since 2011-12 and are running short of heads. Most of those interviewed believe that the government should extensively publicise the provisions of surrender policy and the assistance being provided to those who lay down arms in remote villages so as to attract the disillusioned tribals into the mainstream, Thakur said. The preliminary findings of the study have been submitted to the state police department and soon more states will be covered under it. “Three more states, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand, will be covered under the research. The conclusions will be finally submitted to both the state police department and Ministry of Home Affairs,” Pandey said. Meanwhile, a senior police official hailed the efforts of the researchers saying that the study would help in dealing with Naxals psychologically. “We have been trying to persuade several Maoists to join mainstream through several ways. Such kind of studies help in understanding their mindset and dealing with them psychologically. The war can’t be won only by weapons,” the police officer said on the condition of anonymity. (Deccan Herald 18/9/15)

164. Maoist involved in Darbha Ghati attack killed in state (12)

KORAPUT: Security personnel here on Saturday gunned down three Maoists, one of whom was involved in the 2013 attack on a Congress leaders’ convoy at Darbha Ghati in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district. Odisha police sources said a joint team of district voluntary force (DVF) and special operation group (SOG) engaged in an encounter with the rebels on Saturday morning in Bhejaguda forest, around 30 km from Malkangiri, under Mathili police limits. “We were tipped-off about the movement of a group of 10 to 12 Maoists in the forest area and launched an operation. The gunbattle continued for half-an-hour,” said DIG (south-western range) S Shyni. The other two are Sunadhar alias Kishore Korram and Laxman Kunjami. Sunadhar, a Darbha divisional committee member, was involved in the murder of over 100 securitymen and was carrying cash rewards of Rs 5 lakh and Rs 8 lakh in Odisha and Chhattisgarh, respectively. “While coming across the crime spot we recovered the three bodies. Others managed to flee,” said Malkangiri SP Mitrabhanu Mohapatra. Police said Sunadhar was on the forefront of the attack at Darbna Ghati on May 25, 2013 in which 27 people were killed. The victims included former minister Mahendra Karma and Chhattisgarh Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel. Vidya Charan Shukla, a senior Congress leader, received grievous injuries in the ambush and succumbed a few days later. “We are in touch with our counterparts in Chhattisgarh to get more details about Sunadhar,” the DIG added. Police seized three walkie-talkies, one 9 mm pistol, two bags, few sharp-edged weapons and Maoist literature from the spot. The Dharba division of Maoists operates in the Dharba valley of Sukma district in Chhattisgarh and Mathili block of Malkangiri. “We have intensified our combing operations in Mathili,” the SP said. It may be recalled that in a major setback to the Maoist organisation over 1,000 people from different villages in Malkangiri district have surrendered before police after withdrawing their support to the Red rebels since August 31. (Times of India 20/9/15)

165. Naxal prevention cells to come up in 10 districts (12)

CHENNAI: Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Tuesday announced creation of special cells at a cost of Rs 9.48 crore in 10 border districts to prevent Naxalite activities. “The cells will be set up at Tiruvallur, Vellore, Erode, Udagamandalam, Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Dindigul, Virudunagar, Tiruvelveli and Kanyakumari districts,” she said, while replying to the demands for grants for Home Department. The Chief Minister said a total of 93 new schemes — 32 for police department and 11 for fire service — would be implemented at a cost of 136.83 crore. Ms. Jayalalithaa said ‘Q’ branch offices functioning from rented buildings in Theni, Krishnagiri, Thanjavur, Pudukottai, Tiruvarur, Perambalur and Nagapaatinam districts would get new buildings. The total allocation for the project is Rs 4.59 crore. “The government will also get closed circuit television with internet protocol cameras for 263 police stations at a cost of Rs 6.31 crore,” she said. In order to improve the efficiency of police department in maintaining law and order, 50 police stations will get a package containing 32 equipments. The cost is Rs 9.41 core. Ms. Jayalalithaa said the government would purchase non-linear junction detectors at a cost of Rs. 35 lakh for the police to unearth electronic gadgets. Police personnel involved in security arrangements for VIPs would get Explosive Vapour Detectors at a cost of Rs. one crore. “To identify the contents of suspicious packages, police will get X-Ray Baggage Scanners.” (The Hindu 23/9/15)

166. Odisha may step up anti-Maoist operations (12)

On Wednesday, Odisha Director General of Police (DGP) rushed to Malkangiri by a helicopter along with Inspector General of Police (IGP), intelligence, D.S. Kutte. The DGP reviewed the state of Maoist presence in Malkangiri district as well as preparedness of security forces to face the challenge. Speaking to newsmen after his arrival at Malkangiri district police headquarter, the DGP said focus would be on proper coordination between Central paramilitary forces and State police for successful operations against the left wing extremists. The DGP and the IGP visited the BSP camp at MV-3 to take part in a review meeting on Maoist situation in Malkangiri district that borders Naxalite-infested regions of Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. According to sources, on-going construction of Gurupriya bridge which would provide road communication to the cut-off area of Balimela reservoir was also part of discussion. (The Hindu 24/9/15)

167. 88 Maoist supporters surrender in Malkangiri (12)

BERHAMPUR: Eighty-eight Maoist supporters surrendered in Malkangiri district of Odisha while the outlawed CPI (Maoist) organisation observed a dawn-to-dusk bandh in the district on Friday to protest against continuing surrender of rural Maoist elements in the district. The Maoists supporters, who came over to district police headquarter to surrender before the Malkangiri SP, were from Badaliguda village under Kalimela police station limits. They included a dozen militias and one village committee member of Maoists. Unlike bandh calls of Naxalites in Malkangiri district in the past, this bandh call evoked very less response. Speaking to The Hindu , Malkangiri SP Mitrabhanu Mohapatra said the bandh had very little impact in most parts of the district except Kalimela region. At all other places, including Malkangiri town, normal day to day life and vehicular traffic was not affected, said the SP. Private operators continued to ply their vehicles, while the Odisha State Transport Corporation decided to keep its buses off roads. In remote interior pockets, small passenger vehicles also remained off road. Till evening no untoward incidents had been reported from any part of the district. But security remained tight all through the district, with increased combing, patrolling and checking of vehicles at sensitive points especially in areas bordering Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. (The Hindu 26/9/15)

168. Security forces vs Naxal turf war in central Gadchiroli (12)

Nagpur: The central part of the Naxal-affected Gadchiroli district has become a hotbed of action as security forces and rebel cadres are vying for supremacy in the crucial zone in the heartland of state’s guerrilla movement. A half-dozen encounters in the past few months have only underlined the fact that Naxals and security forces are in no mood to spare even an inch ground to each other. Security forces seem to have gained ground as the Gadchiroli police have opened a number of posts in the central region which was once a rebel stronghold. The Naxal domination in the region had been such in the past that police and paramilitary forces would avoid the 35 square-kilometer stretch. Threats in the form of landmine and ambushes would often take cops by surprise. The region’s forest zones, mostly uncharted by the security forces till last year, also served as resting and meeting place for the Naxal leadership converging from south and north, and also neighbouring districts of Kanker and Narayanpur of Chattisgarh. The region was earlier also labelled as the first stepping stone before venturing into the Naxal stronghold of Abujmadh which straddles Chattisgarh and Maharashtra. “The Naxal presence in the central region can be also viewed as their first line of defence before one can cross into Abujmadh,” said Ravindra Kadam, Nagpur IGP, Naxal range. The opening of the police posts, especially at Kotmi, in February this year has lent an edge to the police force. Apart from a permanent police presence, it also dented the Naxal militia base here among the traditional supporters who had been under the influence of senior Naxal cadres for long. There had been 14 surrenders from Kotmi, including its militia commander, after the post opened at Kotmi. Naxals are now also trying to instill fear among the minds of the tribal by resorting to civilian killings. One of their first target was surrendered militia commander Madhao Podao. Gadchiroli SP Sandip Patil said Naxals are desperately trying to win back domination in the region as it serves as a link to adjoining districts of Chandrapur and also the state of Chhattisgarh. “There is a plan to open more armed outposts and ensure deeper police presence on a permanent basis,” he said. (Times of India 27/9/15)

169. 24 Naxals including four women surrendered in Chhattisgarh (12)

RAIPUR: In a major success for Government in Chhattisgarh, as many as 24 Naxals, four of them women and a dozen carrying rewards ranging from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh on their head, today surrendered before the police in Kondagaon district. Twenty-four Naxals, four of them women, surrendered before senior officials, includidng Bastar inspector general (IG) SRP Kalluri, police said. The ultras, all of them hailing from Chhattisgarh, took the step as they were fed up with the harassment and discrimination meted out to them by their senior leaders based in Andhra Pradesh, Kalluri said. A dozen of these insurgents were carrying rewards of different amounts on their heads, they said. They were identified as Somori alias Kunti (28), carrying a reward of Rs 5 lakh, Badru Korram alias Jairam Korram (22), Sunita Nag (28) carrying Rs 3 lakh reward each, and Dashru Koreti, Sajontin alias Dashri Kumeti, Dashru Ram Hidko alias Sandeep (25), Bijnu alias Baijan Singh (28), Jhitku, Vedram alias Sanjay (26), Laddi alias Santer Badde (25), Raj Bedia (50) and Ramji Ram (27), all carrying Rs 1 lakh reward each. The rebels, who held different ranks in the outlawed movement, were active in Kondagaon, Bastar, Kanker and Narayangarh districts. (Times of India 29/9/15)

TRAFFICKING

170. Nepal to neutralise trafficking network active after earthquake (1)

New Delhi/Gurgaon: The Nepal police have registered a fresh case to identify, trace and apprehend the chief protagonists of what is believed to be a new module of international human traffickers which became active between Kathmandu and several SAARC nations after a devastating quake that jolted that country in April this year. Deputy Chief of the Nepal Mission in New Delhi and Minister Krishna Prasad Dhakal told The Hindu that efforts were underway to neutralise the network of human traffickers which, according to the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Delhi police, is suspected to be behind the trafficking of over a hundred Nepalese citizens — predominantly women — between April and September this year. “Yes, we have registered a fresh case which is related solely to the neutralisation of the trafficking network believed to be in existence in Nepal and have formed several dedicated teams to identify and track those who are a part of it,” said Rajendra Shreshtha, Senior Superintendent of (Nepal) Police who is posted in New Delhi. Speaking about the condition of the two rescued women, Mr. Dhakal said the duo was understood to be in a medically fit condition. “They have been repatriated and their health is improving. We hope the Gurgaon police will continue with their probe in the case with the diligence which they have exhibited so far and that justice will prevail,” he said. Meanwhile, The Hindu has learnt that the abuse and sexual exploitation that the two rescued women were being subjected to came to light when another woman, a resident of Darjeeling, sold by Anwar, a placement agent of Nepali descent, to the diplomat 10 days ago managed to escape from the house and approached Maiti Nepal India and told about the ordeal of the women. “We thought it to be a case of domestic violence and our women staff members tried to enter the house to meet the women. But they were told that it was the house of a Saudi Arabia diplomat and not allowed inside. But our staff managed to pass on a mobile phone to the two women through a security guard and established contact with them,” revealed Maiti Nepal India president Bal Krishan, who played a pivotal role in the rescue. When the police team reached the house for rescue on Monday afternoon, the family of the diplomat and some bouncers allegedly tried to stop them and roughed them up, Mr. Krishan said. “The police were not allowed inside and we had to call the two women outside and rescued them,” said Mr. Krishan. The Gurgaon police also confirmed that the diplomat’s family did not “co-operate.” (The Hindu 12/9/15)

171. Two held for human trafficking in Surguja (1)

BILASPUR: Kotwali police of Ambikapur, about 300km from here, have arrested two men on charges of human trafficking. A complaint against the accused was lodged last month. They were arrested on Sunday while trying to lure three youths from the township with promises of higher pay and better work. The accused used to sell local youths to bore-well companies operating in southern Indian states as bonded laborers. Speaking to TOI, Surguja SP RS Nayak informed that the accused had lured five local youths in January this year. Instead of better pay and work conditions, the youth went without food on many occasions. Of the five, two managed to escape and return home recently. Meanwhile, parents of the youth, who have not returned, lodged a complaint against Nanhu Das (55), a resident of Namnakala and Tasil Ghasia (25), of Maheshpur-Sitapur for taking away their sons. On Sunday Dinesh Agaria and Bindeshwar Naagwanshi informed TI Suresh Bhagat that the accused had come to their village a couple of days ago and had promised them work on a pay of Rs 8,000 per month with free lodging and boarding. The accused also told them that four others have already agreed and are going along with them. (Times of India 15/9/15)

172. Nepalese women rape case: 2 kingpin of trafficking racket held (1)

Kanthmandu: Nepal police have arrested two persons, including the daughter-in-law of one of the Nepalese maids rescued from a Saudi diplomat’s residence in Gurgaon, who allegedly ran a trafficking racket which sold the women to Indian agents on the pretext of providing them jobs. The two arrested yesterday were identified as Kalpana Pariyar, 33, a resident of Bahuni in Morang district of eastern Nepal, and Jeet Bahadur Darji, 42, who hails from Baglung district in western Nepal, police said on Thursday. Kalpana and Jeet were involved in selling the former’s mother-in-law and another woman to Indian agents on the pretext of providing them attractive jobs. The two maids were then supplied to Saudi diplomat Majed Hassan Ashoor, who allegedly kept them in confinement in his apartment in Gurgaon in Haryana where he and his “guests” allegedly raped them. On September 7, Gurgaon Police conducted a raid at the diplomat’s residence after receiving a complaint from a non-governmental organisation and rescued the two Nepalese women. The Saudi Embassy termed the allegations as “false” and protested the police “intrusion” into the diplomat’s house saying it was against “all diplomatic conventions”. The two maids have now been shifted to a women’s shelter in Nepal. The Saudi Arabian diplomat, who was charged with confinement and rape of two Nepalese women, last night left India. The Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal has filed a case in this regard in Kathmandu District Court registering a case under Human Trafficking Act. Further investigation is underway in this matter and the police is searching other people involved in the racket, police said. (Indian Express 17/9/15)

173. Floods have made Assam source, transit point of trafficking: Kailash Satyarthi (1)

New Delhi: Assam has turned out to be both a source and a transit point for human trafficking rackets, mainly due destruction caused by flood and its aftermath almost every year, Nobel Peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi said on Sunday. Assam is now a major source for human trafficking rackets based in Delhi-NCR and the children trafficked from there are mostly placed as domestic helps at residences either in the national capital region or towns in Haryana. Many, who fail to be placed anywhere, are later forced into prostitution or begging, Satyarthi told PTI. Assam is also a transit point for children who are trafficked from Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya. However, these two states are targeted particularly by human trafficking rackets based in Kolkata and Mumbai, said Satyarthi. The Nobel Peace Prize winner has urged the Assam government to adopt a three-pronged approach to check trafficking of children from the state. “I have suggested the creation of a ‘Rehabilitation and Welfare Fund’ under Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (KSCF) in Assam, in which the state government and the foundation are expected to contribute in equal proportions, for immediate relief to trafficked children,” said Satyarthi, adding that so far Assam government has contributed Rs 1 crore to the welfare fund. Satyarthi also mentioned about instances where the trafficked children managed to escape and reach Guwahati, but had no resources to go any further. Later, they were hunted down by the traffickers and taken back forcibly from the railway station. “In many cases, the children belonged to the flood-hit districts of Assam and they could not reach home because of the calamity, despite having reached the concerned region. Many of those children were held by the traffickers and taken back from places not very far away from home,” said Satyarthi. (Zee News 20/9/15)

174. New laws for trafficking victims (1)

New Delhi: Victims of trafficking may no longer have to depose in court to prove their cases as the government is considering allowing video conferencing as part of wide ranging reforms suggested by a high level committee which has given its suggestions to the Union home ministry .The definition of sexual exploitation under the law is also set to be tightened to include ‘’involuntary acts done under coercion and in absence of free will’’, extending the scope of the law to include such portrayal in the print and electronic media and Internet. Three sub-panels formed by NALSA core committee headed by Supreme Court judge Justice A.K. Sikri and consisting of joint secretary in home ministry Alok Kumar had submitted their report which is now being studied by the ministries of home and women and child development for implementation. While work has already begun in the WCD ministry to amend the Imm-oral Traffic (Prevention) Act to remove any gaps in the law, the MHA is working on other suggestions which also call for setting up an exclusive or specialised agency for investigating organised crime. Pointing out that trafficking, which includes sexual exploitation to a large extent has become one of the largest organised crime in the country, a top MHA official said that a dedicated institutional structure is in the works to act as the nodal point for coordinating with the various agencies concerned, including the police and the legal authorities. The WCD may act as the nodal body and may have its own dedicated agency to deal with such crimes, the official said adding that deliberations are going on the issue. On the legal reforms, the ministry of home is in the process of consulting the law ministry to allow video-conferencing for all victims of human trafficking to ‘’isolate them from the traffickers’’ and increase the conviction rates. “The video conferencing of all victims of human trafficking may be allowed from the nearest point made available by the probe agency and is expected to go a long way in allowing more and more victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation approach the police with their complaints and depose before the courts subsequently,” the official added. (Asian Age 20/9/15)

175. Centre wants time-bound help for victims of trafficking (1)

New Delhi: To ensure victims of trafficking get compensated in a time-bound manner, the Union government has asked states to bring such cases under the service delivery Act. The ministry of women and child development in a recently held meeting of the central advisory committee (CAC) to combat trafficking, has also asked states to explore the option of video conferencing for victims. The suggestion aims to avoid taking victims to other states for every hearing. “Some states have Right to Service Delivery Acts. They may enlist the item of services to trafficked victims in the schedule of such acts. Video conferencing facility should be provided for conducting trials, to obviate problems in transporting victims of trafficking,” read the minutes of the meeting which saw the presence of various states, including Delhi. With respect to Delhi, the union ministry has said that there is a need for enhanced coordination between Delhi Police and Delhi government so that the meetings of the advisory committee can be held very frequently. “The state government will be holding meetings with the state governments of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar from where most of the women and children are trafficked to Delhi,” said an official. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will also write to states about dearth of psychiatrists and counsellors. “In most states there is no action plan for victims. Minimum standards of care and protection must be ensured in shelter homes. Though National Plan of Action was prepared in 1998, no attempt has been made to implement it. The SOPs made by the Ministry of Women and Child Development and other departments have no legal standing and there is a need to notify them in the official gazette by the state governments,” said Ravi Kant, president of Shakti Vahini NGO, who was also present in the meeting. (Hindustan Times 21/9/15)

176. Human trafficking racket busted in Kerala (1)

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala police on Thursday busted a racket of trafficking Sri Lankan refugees from Tamil Nadu to Australia. Nine refugees from various camps in Tamil Nadu and four local agents were arrested at Munambam, from where they were to be ferried to the Australian coast by a fishing boat. Police have also seized the vessel. Police sources said the arrested refugees, all men in the 18-30 years age group, had been staying at various camps in Tamil Nadu. “Most of them don’t know one another. They reached Munambam coast a few days ago and were staying in various lodges,’’ they said.Sources said each refugee had paid Rs 1 lakh as advance to the agents — two from Kerala and two from Tamil Nadu. On boarding the boat, each refugee was supposed to hand over Rs 50,000 more to the agents. Police said the agents had selected Munambam considering the availability of fishing boats in the region. “They had chosen a boat costing Rs 7.15 lakh and had paid an advance of Rs 15,000. However, the boat owner was not involved in the racket as sale of fishing boats is normal in the region. The 55-feet-long boat has the capacity to carry more persons. Hence, we suspect the agents would have brought in more refugees if the racket was not busted,’’ sources said. Police said the refugees were told that they would reach the Australian coast after a voyage of 16 days. They were convinced that they would have to stay in jail only for a short period after which they could apply for citizenship. (Indian Express 25/9/15)

177. Fraud or trafficking: Haridwar cops in a tizzy (1)

DEHRADUN: A case of alleged human trafficking has left Haridwar police in a tizzy. A man who hails from Haryana and is presently based in Haridwar approached the police station with his “unique” application. He claimed that his friend “sold” him a bride for Rs 80,000. The woman after staying with him for four days, disappeared. Cops are in a fix as to whether they should treat it as a case of human trafficking or a fraud jointly committed by the friend and the woman. Sandeep Kumar, who is from Rohtak, Haryana, is presently based in Haridwar and works in factory in SIDCUL area. A resident of Subhash Colony, Sandeep approached the Jwalapur police station on Friday, asking them to find his “runaway bride”.In his written complaint, Sandeep said he wanted to get married and had requested his friend Bunty to find a girl for him. Bunty too is from Rohtak and works in an industrial unit of SIDCUL in Haridwar district. About a week ago, Bunty came with a woman and handed her to Sandeep for Rs 80,000. After spending four days with Sandeep, the woman vanished. Efforts to trace Bunty proved futile. Interestingly, Sandeep admitted before that he had paid the sum of Rs 80,000 for his bride-to-be and even maintained that he was going to marry the woman in court. Now, Sandeep has asked cops to search the woman and act against his friend for “cheating” him. SSP Haridwar Sweety Agarwal told TOI, “Our teams are working on the case. Selling or buying a woman is a major crime. If facts are found correct we will act strongly against anyone involved in buying or selling a woman.” She, however, maintained that there could be possibilities of Bunty and the woman being hand-in-glove in the crime. “We are looking for them to clarify whether the woman had been sold or the two did so to extract money from Sandeep,” added the SSP. (Times of India 26/9/15)

CORRUPTION

178. Take over all Vyapam cases, whatever their stage: SC asks CBI (5)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today refused to acknowledge CBI’s plea to distinguish between cases which were under probe and those pending trial in courts and asked it to take over all Vyapam scam matters irrespective of their present status. “Whatever is the stage of the case, you (CBI) will have to take over all the matters,” a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu said while allaying the apperehension of the CBI that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) and Special Task Force (STF) of state police may not co-operate with it if it takes over those cases which were on trial stage in courts. “You take over and the SIT/STF will cooperate with you, We will ask them to co-operate,” the bench, which also comprised Justices C Nagappan and Amitava Roy, said. Solicitor general Ranjit Kumar, appearing for CBI, said there were difficulties in taking over 72 cases, which were at different levels of trial, as they were being prosecuted by SIT/STF and their investigation officers (IOs) may not extend cooperation to the CBI. Rejecting the submission, the bench asked the agency to take over such cases within three weeks and also directed the SIT/STF to extend support to CBI. It also ordered the probe agency, which has shortlisted 19 persons as its prosecutors for Vyapam scam cases, to also appoint remaining 29 public prosecutors by the next date. The bench asked CBI to move applications in trial courts concerned if it feels further probe or re-investigation is needed in any case. The issue of shortfall of CBI sleuths to take over the investigation was also raised during the hearing and the bench asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, representing DoPT, to file a report detailing the steps taken or to be taken to meet the demand of the probe agency. (Times of India 11/9/15)

179. CNG Scam: Delhi Government Issues Chargesheet Against ACB Chief Meena (5)

NEW DELHI: Delhi Government on Tuesday issued a chargesheet against Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) joint commissioner of police Mukesh Kumar Meena to the Central Vigilance Commission(CVC) in the ongoing probe of the alleged Rs 100-crore CNG fitness scam in which a number of officials of the previous Sheila Dikshit Government were under the scanner. Earlier, the commission of inquiry formed by the Delhi government to probe the multi-crore CNG fitness scam, issued directions for execution of a non-bailable warrant against Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) joint commissioner of police Mukesh Kumar Meena. (New Indian Express 15/9/15)

180. Senior Rajasthan IAS officer arrested for accepting Rs 2.55 crore bribe (5)

Jaipur: Senior IAS officer and Principal Secretary (Mines) Ashok Singhvi was Thursday arrested by Rajasthan’s Anti Corruption Bureau in an alleged case of graft involving Rs 2.55 crore. He was detained here last evening after five persons including two senior officers of his department were arrested in connection with the case in Udaipur and Bhilwara yesterday. “IAS officer Ashok Singhvi was arrested at 3 AM. A search operation was launched at his residence at hospital road in Jaipur last evening and list of seizure is being prepared,” IG-ACB Dinesh MN told PTI here. A team of ACB conducted preliminary interrogation of Singhvi at his residence last night and took him to the ACB office later where he was arrested. Before his arrest, the ACB conducted three raids in Udaipur and Bhilwara yesterday and seized total illicit cash of Rs.3.82 crore. Rs. 2.55 crore (out of the total seizure) was to be delivered allegedly to Singhvi and other officers, according to ACB officials. The bribe amount of Rs. 2.55 crore was allegedly taken from a Chittorgarh-based mines owner Sher Khan for allowing him to restart operations in his mines, which were closed by the mines department, DG-ACB Navdeep Singh said. The department had cancelled lease of his six mines and the alleged bribe was taken to facilitate Khan and issue him permission to reopen the mines. “Khan did not complain about the demand of bribery to ACB and we conducted the operation on the basis of our own information,” he said. Khan allegedly sent Rs. 2.55 crore to his Chartered Accountant in Udaipur which was to be allegedly handed over to mines department’s middleman Sanjay Sethi, Singh said. Sethi was allegedly supposed to deliver this money to Additional Director-Mines (AD-M) HQ- Udaipur Pankaj Gehlot and Principal Secretary- Mines Singhvi, he said. Following information about the deal, a team of ACB raided the office of the the CA in Bhupalpura in Udaipur where the cash of Rs.2.55 crore was recovered yesterday. Sethi’s house in Udaipur was also searched during which cash of Rs.1.25 crore was allegedly recovered, he said. Simultaneously, another team of ACB raided the premises of Senior Mines Engineer (SME) – Bhilwara P R Ameta where he was present along with Sher Khan’s aide Rashid Khan….  (Zee News 17/9/15)

181. CBI to probe Rs 1,500-crore Gurgaon land scam (5)

NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday took over the probe into alleged swindling of about Rs1,500 crore by private builders and their associates in acquiring 400 acres of prime land in Gurgaon in collusion with unknown government officials. Fearing acquisition by the then State government headed by former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Gurgaon farmers and villagers had allegedly sold off large tracts of land to builders at throwaway prices during 2004-07. After the BJP came to power in Haryana, the police registered a case in August. It has been alleged that about 400 acres – worth Rs. 4 crore per acre, totalling Rs.1,600 crore — was allegedly purchased by private builders and others for Rs.100 crore. “At the request of the State government, we have taken over the case registered under various provisions of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act,” said a CBI official. The land in question was acquired by the builders in Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhnoula in Gurgaon district. (The Hindu 18/9/15)

182. 33 govt staff booked for graft still to be suspended (5)

NAGPUR: Several government departments, instead of directly suspending their officials charged with corruption as required by rules, have opted to shield them. A government resolution (GR) issued in 2013 made it obligatory for department concerned to suspend public servants ‘immediately’ if they were booked by state anti-corruption bureau under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. As on date, data available with ACB Nagpur branch show that 33 personnel were yet to be suspended despite having been booked for various offences registered by ACB. Around 30 of these were booked this year while the were booked last year. In the current year, seven police personnel have not been suspended despite being booked, followed by another seven from revenue department and six in various Zilla Parishads. Though ACB records show constables Rajkumar Pal and Pankaj Mishra of Jaripatka are yet to be suspended, sources from police department claimed that DCP, Zone-II, Sanjay Latkar, had suspended the cops after they were taken into custody for making a demand of Rs 1 lakh from a businessman. Superintendent of police, ACB, Rajiv Jain, admitted records with his agencies may not have been updated due to lack of communication from the departments concerned. “ACB immediately writes to the departments regarding actions against public servants from their units. We also advise them to place the personnel under suspension quoting the GR that recommends such action without fail immediately,” he said. It is learnt ACB has been pushing for suspension to ensure better impact against malpractices and also to safeguard against tampering of evidence. “ACB is also issuing reminders to many departments for placing their personnel under suspension if booked on graft charges,” said Jain. (Times of India 23/9/15)

183. Minister VK Singh’s ‘graft in Army’ tweet stirs another controversy (5)

NEW DELHI: Minister of state for external affairs General V K Singh (retd) has stirred yet another controversy by asking defence minister Manohar Parrikar to crack down on corruption in the Army in light of reports that a Lt-General had been sent on compulsory leave till his retirement due to corruption charges. Responding to a tweet about the Lt-Gen (name being withheld) being “caught taking a bribe and sent on holiday till retirement”, Gen V K Singh tweeted: “Shame is too small to describe this. RM (Raksha Mantri) must come down hard to cleanse the system.” The Army HQs, on its part, has already strongly denied reports about the Lt-Gen, slated to retire on September 30, as “false and malicious”. Asked about Gen V K Singh’s tweet, defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday morning said he would be meeting the MoS soon. By the afternoon, Gen V K Singh had deleted that particular tweet. But in a letter to a publication, put in the public domain by his lawyer, he reiterated that the Army was all abuzz with the “biggest unfolding scam, where a senior officer has been sent on leave pending retirement”.Gen V K Singh, the Army chief from March 2010 to May 2012, has been no stranger to controversy. He was the first serving military chief to take the government to court, having locked horns with the then defence minister A K Antony on his date of birth issue. Just before demitting the chief’s office, Gen V K Singh had also placed a discipline and vigilance promotion ban on the present chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, who was then a Lt-Gen for “abdicating responsibility” in handling a botched operation by an intelligence and surveillance unit under him as the 3 Corps commander in Dimapur. The ban was lifted after Gen Bikram Singh took over as the Army chief. It paved the way for Gen Suhag to succeed Gen Bikram Singh as the Army chief in 2014. But not before Gen V K Singh, as a MoS government in the NDA government by then, once again had attacked Gen Suhag for protecting “criminals” in the Dimapur incident. In between, Gen V K Singh was involved in several other controversies, ranging from his remark that the Army had been regularly paying money to ministers and politicians in J&K to the controversy over the controversial intelligence unit Technical Support Division (TSD) set up by him when he was the Army chief. (Times of India 24/9/15)

184. MP HC makes CBI party in corruption case against SIT (5)

BHOPAL: Office of state Lokayukta has pleaded with Gwalior bench of MP high court to get allegations of bribery against SIT, agency that was earlier investigating the Vyapam, probed by CBI. Court has made the apex investigating agency, CBI, a party in the case. In a hearing held on Friday, CBI sought time to reply. The next hearing will be held on October 5. JD Suryavanshi, counsel of Lokayukta said after affidavits filed in court against corruption and atrocities charges against SIT probing Vyapam scam before it was handed over to CBI, petitioner wanted it to be probed by Lokayukta. “We pleaded as the case was already handed over to CBI, let it also investigate charges against SIT,” he told TOI. On Friday, a division bench of Justice UC Maheshwari and justice SK Gupta made CBI a party, he said. In July this year, two Vyapam accused had filed affidavits in the court making accusation of bribery against SIT Gwalior investigating cases of Vyapam scam in Gwalior and Chambal region. The court in turn directed Lokayukta to look into the allegations. It all started when counsel for accused, Umesh Bohre, levelled allegations in the court on May 29 this year and division bench comprising Justice Maheshwari and Justice Rathi directed Bohre to file affidavit with charges.”In both the affidavits we have explained in detail about the bribe and why it was demanded”, Bohre told TOI. The government did not file any counter affidavit. Talking to TOI, deputy advocate general Vishal Mishra had said, “There was no response from the state government so the public prosecutor did not file any affidavit to counter the allegations.” (Times of India 26/9/15)

185. Honest Officers Need Not Fear CBI, CAG: CVC (5)

NEW DELHI: Honest officers need not worry about CBI or CAG as genuine errors are differentiated from deliberate ones while deciding corruption cases, Vigilance Commissioner in CVC, T M Bhasin said here today. He said the Commission has also introduced a procedure to check malafide complaints of alleged corruption, which usually surge against an officer when he or she is being considered for a high-level appointment, by asking the complainants to “own it up” first. Bhasin said the anti-corruption watchdog is also taking measures to speed up the pending corruption cases. “Honest bureaucrats need not fear CAG, CBI or CVC. The Commission looks into the complaints of corruption in a very judicious manner. Any file that comes to us, we find vigilance or non-vigilance angle in it and only in vigilance cases we proceed with punishment,” he told PTI in an interview. Bhasin, a former Chairman and Managing Director of Indian Bank, said there is no “witch hunting”.”Wherever we see a corruption case, we refer it to the CBI for probe. There is no witch hunting,” the Vigilance Commissioner said. He said the Commission checks malafide complaints against certain bureaucrats when they are being considered for some appointments. “Only anonymous complaints are filed. In case of verifiable allegations in pseudonymous and other complaints, we first send it to the complainant to own it up. “In most of the cases, our letters return as the complainants usually give wrong address or information to misguide us or to delay vigilance clearance to a bureaucrat which is necessary for being considered for a post, appointment or empanelment. We are following a differential approach in all these cases,” Bhasin said. The Chief Vigilance Officers (CVOs), who act as distant arms of the CVC, have also been following a very careful approach while deciding on corruption cases, he said. The Commission, he said, is also taking steps to check delay in finalising corruption cases. “We are in the process of making a data bank of pending cases. We have asked our CVOs to prepare this data and wherever possible expedite pending corruption cases. There are vigilance cases as old as 10-15 years. We are meeting CVOs of all organisations one by one,” Bhasin said. A recent study by the CVC has found that it takes as many as eight years to decide a major corruption case. The anti-corruption watchdog tenders First Stage Advice (FSA) on the investigation report and Second Stage Advice (SSA) before a final decision is taken at the conclusion of the proceedings on approximately 5,000 vigilance cases every year. “On an average, it takes more than eight years for finalising a major vigilance case from the date of occurrence of irregularity, whereas detection of irregularity takes on an average more than two years,” the study has found. “The CVC will reduce this time to bare minimum and ensure that corruption cases are finalised expeditiously,” Bhasin said. (New Indian Express 27/9/15)

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

186.  ‘Focus on zero emission of greenhouse gases’ (9)

Tuticorin: The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), a global forum studying climate change, recommended that there should be zero emission of greenhouse gases by 2100 to avoid further rise in temperature, according to R.S. Sawant, Training Superintendent and Chairman, Public Awareness Committee, Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project, Nuclear Power Corporation of India limited. During his keynote address at the State-level seminar on ‘Nuclear Power- A Safe, Clean and Sustainable Option’ at Kamaraj College here on Thursday, he said currently the largest proportion of power generated in India is by burning of carbon-based fuels (fossil fuels), which emits green house gases such as carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. To reduce emission of green house gases, it was essential to have a reliable alternate source of energy, he said. In the present scenario, nuclear power was contributing only about three percent in the country’s power generation scenario, he added. By increasing the nuclear capacity gradually and also with renewable energy resources, dependency on fossil fuels could be reduced. As many as 4,57,051 million units of electricity were produced through nuclear energy technology since the beginning of commercial operation in India in 1969 and till October in 2014. About one third of the world’s thorium reserves were in India and it has the potential to provide energy security. This large scale thorium utilisation would go a long way in providing huge amounts of power on a sustainable basis, providing long term energy security for India, he said. P. Pandaram, Head of TLD Lab, KNPP, D. Nagarajan, Principal, A. Sivadhas, Head, Department of Physics, J. Poongodi, Convener of Programme and students were present. (The Hindu 11/9/15)

187. Groundwater extraction: NGT acts tough, 14 builders get notice (9)

NEW DELHI: Unauthorized harnessing of groundwater for construction purposes has caught the National Green Tribunal’s attention which has issued notice to 14 builders in Delhi-NCR for extracting water flouting rules. A bench headed by NGT chairperson justice Swatanter Kumar passed the order after perusing inspection reports filed by the local commissioners who conducted surprise visits on construction sites in Delhi-NCR and found serious impropriety in relation to use of water.The construction projects which have been issued notice include – BPTP Ltd, Sector-94, Noida; Sunshine Trade Tower Pvt Ltd; J C World Hospitality Pvt Ltd; Wish Town, Sector-128, Noida; Assotech Reality Pvt Ltd; Three C Properties Private Limited, D-107, Pancheel Enclave, New Delhi; Sikka KG One, Sector-98, Noida. Other projects include – Silicon City Pvt Ltd; Mahagun India Pvt Ltd; Gaur Sons Hitech Infrastructure Pvt Ltd Pancheel Greens-II, Greater Noida West; Kbnows Nirman Ltd JMC Projects (India) Ltd; Era Infra Engineers Ltd and ASF Insignia, SEZ, Gwal Pahari in Gurgaon. The green panel has also directed Central Ground Water Authority, Central Pollution Control Board, pollution monitoring bodies of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, Noida Authority, Haryana Development Authority and Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority to constitute different teams comprising senior officers from each organisation. “These inspecting teams shall inspect all major construction projects in Delhi, Gurgaon, NOIDA/Greater NOIDA and Faridabad and they shall report to the Tribunal,” the bench said. The tribunal was hearing the plea of Noida resident Vikrant Kumar Tongad who has alleged that real estate developers were withdrawing ground water in violation of its orders. Tongad said that the real estate developers in Noida have been extracting groundwater using borewells for construction purposes instead of using water from the sewage treatment plants. (Times of India 13/9/15)

188. Green Tribunal says no to thermal power plant at Nayachar (9)

Kolkata: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday disallowed a proposed thermal power plant at Nayachar in East Midnapore district owing to geomorphology of the island and lack of clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The Eastern Bench of NGT, presided by Justice (Retd.) Pratap Kumar Ray and Prof P. C. Mishra, directed that the coal-based thermal power plant cannot come up on the riverine island owing to its geomorphology or topographical features. Located at the confluence of the Ganges and Haldi Rivers, the 47 sq km Nayachar Island is within 10 km of Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve which is one of the world’s richest in terms of biodiversity. The NGT bench also noted that the affidavits of the Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change on Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) criteria prohibit any such construction within a specified distance from the waterline. The order declining permission for the plant was also based on an affidavit filed by the Geological Survey of India. Universal Crescent Power, a private sector company, had in 2008 sent a proposal to West Bengal government to set up a coal-based thermal power plant on Nayachar island opposite Haldia port. The State government had then signed an MoU with the company for setting up of the unit. Thirteen fishermen’s cooperative society had filed a writ petition before the Calcutta High Court seeking an order against setting up of the power plant claiming that it violated CRZ norms and that it would cause an environmental hazard. The matter was later transferred to the NGT which heard out the parties in the petition, according to the cooperative societies’ counsel Debamitra Bhardwaj. The bench further ruled that the fishermen would be allowed to continue with their livelihood and Benfish, an apex body of all primary fishermen’s co-operative societies in the State, should take steps for continuation of Integrated Brackish Water Aqua Culture Development Project at Nayachar. (The Hindu 17/9/15)

189. Study: Air pollution kills 3.3 million worldwide, may double (9)

WASHINGTON: Air pollution is killing 3.3 million people a year worldwide, according to a new study that includes this surprise: Farming plays a large role in smog and soot deaths in industrial nations. Scientists in Germany, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia and Harvard University calculated the most detailed estimates yet of the toll of air pollution, looking at what caused it. The study also projects that if trends don’t change, the yearly death total will double to about 6.6 million a year by 2050. The study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, used health statistics and computer models. About three quarters of the deaths are from strokes and heart attacks, said lead author Jos Lelieveld at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany. The findings are similar to other less detailed pollution death estimates, outside experts said. “About 6 per cent of all global deaths each occur prematurely due to exposure to ambient air pollution. This number is higher than most experts would have expected, say, 10 years ago,” said Jason West, a University of North Carolina environmental sciences professor who wasn’t part of the study but praised it. Air pollution kills more than HIV and malaria combined, Lelieveld said. With nearly 1.4 million deaths a year, China has the most air pollution fatalities, followed by India with 645,000 and Pakistan with 110,000. The United States, with 54,905 deaths in 2010 from soot and smog, ranks seventh highest for air pollution deaths. What’s unusual is that the study says that agriculture caused 16,221 of those deaths, second only to 16,929 deaths blamed on power plants. (Times of India 17/9/15)

190. Climate change: India to unveil plan on October 1 (9)

NEW DELHI: India’s nationally determined contributions to mitigate climate change are likely to be unveiled on October 1 and will promote renewable energy, enhanced energy efficiency, less carbon intensive urban centres, green transport and abatement of pollution. India’s strategy ahead of the climate summit in Paris in December will be firmly anchored in the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” and will clearly project India’s financial, technology transfer and capacity building requirements. India, along with several other developing countries, has been a vocal advocate of developed nations doing their bit to transfer mitigation technology and green innovations in keeping with their historical responsibility for global warming. The intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) are expected to reflect initiatives in agriculture, water management, health and programmes for coastal regions and islands. Disaster management, protection of ecological diversity and the Himalayan eco-system will be dealt with by the Indian announcement. The Indian plan will seek a connection with Mahatma Gandhi’s ideal of sustainable and equitable lifestyles. It believes that while poverty is a big polluter, profligate consumption is a grave threat to the environment. The approach appears to reflect the views of environmental economists who argue that nature is both a resource and a sink and replenishment and less wasteful consumption are essential to ensure balanced growth. The document will be read with interest as India is under pressure to do more to control warming as a large and rapidly developing nation. On its part, India has said that its per capita carbon imprint cannot be compared to nations like China which is the world’s largest manufacturer and emitter of greenhouse gases. The government is looking to address contributions that include adaptation, mitigation, finance, technology transfer, capacity building and balances the need for reducing pollution and GHGs while catering to the growth needs of a large population. Environment and forests minister Prakash Javadekar has stressed that India’s right to grow cannot be curtailed even as it undertakes serious initiatives to reduce its carbon dioxide production. “In fact, the more developed countries should vacate carbon space for countries like India,” he has said. Ahead of the preparation of INDCs, the government has engaged in a wide and detailed consultative process involving various departments and civil society organizations. The government also carried out GHG modeling studies with three institutions to generate projections of emissions till 2050. (Times of India 24/9/15)

191. Delhi’s air worst among 381 cities: World Bank (9)

NEW DELHI: The latest World Bank report on leveraging urbanisation in South Asia has identified “air pollution” as a big challenge for major cities in the region, including Delhi.While Delhi is the worst among 381 cities from developing countries, 19 of the 20 most polluted cities are from South Asia, the report said quoting the recent findings of World Health Organisation report on ambient air pollution. The report also mentions how for the “very poorest in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan, under-five mortality is higher in urban areas than in rural settings”.Referring to the WHO report with regard to the level of Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 in the ambient air in cities, the World Bank said that of all the sources of congestion associated with the growth of cities, one of the most serious for health and human welfare is ambient air pollution from vehicle emissions and the burning of fossil fuels by industry. High concentrations of fine particulate matter, especially that of 2.5 microns or less in diameter (PM 2.5), which can penetrate deep into the lungs, increases the likelihood of asthma, lung cancer, severe respiratory illness, and heart disease. “Delhi is far from unique in South Asia in having dangerously high concentrations of PM2.5. Among a global sample of 381 developing-country cities, 19 of the 20 with the highest annual mean concen trations are in South Asia.And the issue is not just in India -Karachi, Dhaka, and Kabul all feature in the top 20,” the World Bank report said. It said given the lack of availability of and access to clean public transport in India, one can speculate that, for any given increase in demand for mobility associated with a given increase in population density , more air pollution will occur there than elsewhere. (Times of India 25/9/15)

192. Greenpeace asks PM Modi to press Obama on solar trade, climate change issues (9)

New York/ New Delhi: Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Greenpeace published an open letter asking the Prime Minister to “urge President Obama to reconsider his administration’s actions that significantly undermine the fight against climate change.” Greenpeace also expressed support for India’s ambitious new renewable energy goals, and the hope that Modi “will secure much-needed support from global partners, civil society and investors including the United States administration to realise these renewable energy goals.” The letter also asks Prime Minister Modi to “take note of the campaign of intimidation that the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs is currently engaged in against Greenpeace India and other legitimate NGOs.” The UN Special Rapporteur has recently criticised India’s actions in suppressing civil society and ‘vilifying’ voices of dissent.” Over the last year, the Ministry of Home Affairs has frozen Greenpeace India’s bank accounts, prevented Greenpeace staff (including Indian citizens) from entering and leaving the country and cancelled the group’s license to receive donations from abroad. In fact, on the very eve of the Prime Minister’s address to the United Nations, the organisation’s primary bank account was frozen, once again denying Greenpeace access to donations received directly from its Indian supporters. These actions, the letter states, threaten to tarnish India’s international standing as a country that respects free speech and democracy. As the letter points out, when it comes to tackling climate change and meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, a healthy dialogue with civil society can significantly strengthen government’s’ efforts to hold developed countries to their climate obligations, and uphold the rights of developing nations such as India. (New Kerala 25/9/15)

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

193. State government gets into active mode (20)

HYDERABAD: Alarmed at suicide by fifteen distressed farmers in the last two days, the Telangana government on Friday tightened its machinery asking all the Assistant Directors and Agricultural Officers in the State to stay put in their headquarters to be easily accessible to the farming community and liberalised steps for renewal of crop loans. Though the government has only repaid to banks 50 per cent of the loans borrowed by farmers in the past as part of the loan waiver scheme, it has asked Mandal Revenue Officers and banks to issue separate certificates that 100 per cent of the loan amount was waived off to facilitate fresh borrowings. All the 4,900 bank branches in the State were asked to renew loans without interest up to Rs. 1 lakh and at 3 per cent for loans from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 3 lakh, said Agriculture Minister Pocharam Srinivas Reddy and Roads and Buildings Minister Tummala Nageswara Rao at a press conference here on Friday. They earlier held a video conference with Joint Directors of Agriculture of all districts to review the situation at the ground level. Agriculture Secretary C. Parthasarathi and Commissioner G.D. Priyadarshini were also present. Mr. Srinivas Reddy played down the suicide turmoil saying it was nothing new as hundreds of farmers died during the Congress regime from 2009 to 2014. The official committees set up at revenue divisional level certified suicide by only 141 farmers since the formation of Telangana State in June last year. However, there were 409 reported deaths which the panels are scrutinising, he added. The 141 farmers who died include 14 in Adilabad, 9 in Karimnagar, 8 in Mahbubnagar, 67 in Medak, 16 in Ranga Reddy and 27 in Warangal. Denying that crop had dried up due to scanty rainfall this season, he said there was no damage to crop in Warangal, Adilabad, Khammam and Nalgonda. The crop damage was a little high in Mahbubnagar and to a less extent in Nizamabad, Medak and Ranga Reddy. He admitted there was the danger of less yield because flowering of crop had suffered due to lack of rains in July. (The Hindu 12/9/15)

194. Farmers are just pawns in political games (20)

Nagpur: The Nationalist Congress Party is resorting to a ‘jail-bharo’ agitation from Monday in Marathwada where spectre of drought looms large Much before that, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, trying to relaunch himself took up a 15-km walk in sweltering April heat of Vidarbha to show solidarity with farmers. As these two incidents prove, farmers come to the rescue of any political party that is in Opposition. For over five decades farmers are being used as pawns in political games. As a result the state has achieved notoriety again as one with highest number of farmer suicides as per the National Crime Records Bureau data of last year. On September 23, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar will be touring villages in suicide-prone Yavatmal villages of Vidarhha. He has already visited Marathwada where farm suicides are on rise. Since farming community comprises over 65% of population, taking up their cause is natural for parties. Yet, it is ironical that in the otherwise progressive state, farmers are the most hapless lot. Such political pressure mounted by the Opposition tends to often change priorities of the government of the day. Last year, soon after taking over the reins chief minister Devendra Fadnavis announced he would concentrate on long-term measures to end the farm crisis instead of short term annual relief for crop losses. Yet he was forced to declare drought in over 30,000 villages in the state. There are officials who found that except soyabean, yields of other crops were not that bad last year. In current kharif season too, official are vouching for a bumper crop of cotton in Vidarhha as well as Marathwada. The opposition parties, however, are crying hoarse for urgent relief claiming all crops have suffered. The Congress is already agitating for total loan waiver of all dues of farmers and compensation as well as interest-free crop loans for next crop. They also want Rs6,000 a quintal price for cotton. Despite their numbers, farmers have never been able to decide their own political destiny in the state and have to rely on Opposition parties. In 90s Shetkari Sanghatana led by Sahard Joshi was the most powerful voice. His call would bring out farmers in lakhs for protest and rallies. Yet, when Joshi tried to form a political party of his own, he miserably failed. (Times of India 13/9/15)

195. AP tobacco farmers in distress as unsold inventory piles up (20)

The Tobacco market in Andhra Pradesh is in a crisis as there are no takers for the low grades and prices are plummeting on the auction floors for such grades. Two suicides have been reported from Prakasam district and Chief Minister N Chandra Babu Naidu has urged farmers not to lose heart and assured them that steps will be taken to address the problem. The authorised crop for the State is 172 million kg for 2014-15 and so far 141 mkg of tobacco has been sold on the floors at an average price of ₹103.64 a kg. Still, 30 mkg more of authorised crop is yet to be sold, and to make matters worse there is a surplus of at least 20 mkg. In all, 50 mkg of tobacco is lying with farmers, much of it low grade. The auctions have been sluggish from the start of the year and now in the concluding phase, the going has become very difficult. There are no takers for the low grades and low prices are being offered, making it unremunerative for the farmers. The problem is especially acute in Prakasam and Nellore districts in the southern light soils and southern black soils. The best tobacco in the State is produced in West Godavari in the northern light soils (NLS).So far, 50 mkg of tobacco has been sold in the NLS area in West Godavari district and there may be 15 mkg more left with farmers in the district including 3 mkg of surplus. The problem has not affected the region as bright grades are more prominent. Quality of the crop has dipped in Prakasam and Nellore districts and prices realised on the floors are very low. The farmers want at least ₹65 a kg for such tobacco. They also want the Tobacco Board to take steps to reactivate the market and want no punitive cess imposed on the unauthorised crop as it would accentuate the problems of farmers. (Business Line 15/9/15)

196. Suicides by tobacco growers turn spotlight on crisis (20)

GUNTUR/ONGOLE/VIJAYAWADA: Even as the Tobacco Board was grappling with carryover stocks and poor prices of low and medium grades, the suicide of two farmers — Bollineni Krishna Rao and Venkat Rao — within two days in Prakasam district, turned the spotlight on the crisis. The Flue Cured Virginia (FCV) Tobacco trade in Andhra Pradesh had been hit by a volatile global market and as prices of low and medium grade tobacco plummeted rapidly farmers began to feel the pinch. Meanwhile, the farmers’ organisation in Prakasam district welcomed the Union Minister’s decision. The inaction of the Tobacco Board under stewardship of Mr. Gopal to come to the rescue of the growers was responsible for the two farmer suicides, said CPI-led All India Kisan Sabha State general secretary Ravula Venkaiah. YSR Congress Whip in Parliament Y.V. Subba Reddy said had the Centre taken action against the Chairman earlier, the suicides could have been averted. Former MP Y. Sivaji said the Tobacco Board and the State Trading Corporation should be pressed into action to create buoyancy in the market. Minimum guaranteed price should be announced so that the farmers could make up their mind before growing tobacco in a particular year, he said. (The Hindu 17//9/15)

197. Punjab cotton growers lost Rs 3,800 crore: Farmer outfits (20)

BATHINDA: Farmers and peasant outfits continued to protest for the fifth day on Monday seeking compensation of Rs 40,000 per acre for cotton growers whose crops were destroyed by whitefly. On Monday, farmers took out a massive march to the office of Bathinda chief agriculture officer. They raised their voice against companies for providing spurious pesticides and agriculture department officials, agriculture minister Tota Singh for giving freedom to the input firms to fleece and cheat the farmers. “Cotton crop over 9 lakh acres has been damaged due to whitefly and the loss of farmers is nearly Rs 3,800 crore in Punjab, but the state government till now has sanctioned only Rs 10 crore. It is not only a cruel joke with the cotton growers, but also a step towards forcing farmers to commit suicides,” said farmer organization BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokri. He said five farmers have committed suicide in less than a month in Bathinda and Barnala districts and more may follow suit if the state government failed to compensate the farmers. “Spurious pesticides provided by companies and fake seeds are mainly responsible for the losses to cotton growers,” said BKU (Ekta Dakaunda) president Buta Singh Burjgill. BKU (Krantikari) chief Surjit Singh Phool said, “The agriculture minister is also equally responsible for the order of 92,000 litres of Oberon pesticides worth Rs 33 crore without initiating any tendering process, but action has been taken against only agriculture department director Mangal Singh Sandhu.” When contacted the agriculture minister denied the charges levelled by farm leaders. He said he had ordered investigations into purchase of pesticides without the tendering process. He also said compensation amount would be finalized after the completion of girdawari (revenue survey) later in the week. (Times of India 22/9/15)

198. Four persons commit suicide (20)

NALGONDA: Four persons committed suicide in separate incidents in the district on Wednesday. Paramesh (32), working as a field assistant with MNREGS at Dugyala village of PA Pally mandal, committed suicide by consuming pesticide. The police reportedly found a suicide note in which the field assistant held the local MPDO responsible. A case was registered. In another incident, a weaver committed suicide at Vellanki village of Rammannapet mandal. The deceased was identified as Jella Ramaswamy (50). At Chowlla Ramaram village of Mothkur mandal, a farmer committed suicide by consuming pesticide. The deceased was identified as Mettu Krupakar Reddy (41). In another incident, a 22-year-old woman committed suicide by consuming pesticide at Bariavanibanda village of Shaligouraram mandal. (The Hindu 24/9/15)

199. Farmer suicides continue unabated in Telangana (20)

SANGAREDDY: Driven to despair by mounting debts, three farmers committed suicide in Medak district in the last 24 hours while one ended his life in Khammam district. According to sources, Bheema Narayana, a farmer belonging to Singatam village in Gajwel mandal, committed suicide by hanging. According to sources, he had about Rs. 6 lakh debt, out of which about Rs. 4 lakh was with the APGVB local branch. He had about four acres of land and had dug four borewells but all of them failed. In addition, the cotton crop had completely dried up. Unable to find a way out, Bheema Narayana took the extreme step. He is survived by his wife and two sons. Gajwel police have registered a case and are investigating. In another case, G. Ramulu (45), of Munipally, committed suicide late last night at a farm, unable to bear the pressure of debt. According to S. Koteswara Rao, Sub-Inspector, Munipally, Ramulu had about eight acres of land along with his family members and leased out another three acres from others. He had invested heavily on cotton crop, which dried up. Vexed with financial problems, Ramulu hanged himself. Munipally police registered a case and are investigating. In the third case, S. Kavitha (30), a farmer of Dakur village in Andol mandal, committed suicide by self-immolation on Friday. According to Sub-Inspector P. Srinivas, Kavitha had four acres of land and committed suicide by immolation. The reasons for suicide are not known. Jogipet police registered a case and are investigating. Khammam Staff Reporter adds: A tenant farmer allegedly killed himself by drinking pesticide at Narayanapuram village on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday. According to sources, P. Bhaskar Rao, 38, a tenant farmer, had grown cotton and other crops on five acres of leased land by taking loans from private moneylenders. His efforts did not bear fruit as a major part of the crops withered due to the prolonged dry spell. The successive crop failure for the second year in a row landed him in a debt-trap. He took the drastic step after making desperate attempts to tide over the financial crisis, but in vain, sources close to the deceased farmer’s family said. (The Hindu 26/9/15)

200. Farmers to Block Roads in Protest Against Govt Apathy (20)

MYSURU: In protest against the state and Union governments’ ‘failure’ to check farmer  suicides, groups of farmers have planned to block highways on September 30 between 11 am and 3 pm. Announcing this here on Sunday, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha general secretary Nagendra said they will block the Mysuru-Nanjangud highway near Bandipalya while farmers from Chamrajnagar will block highways in Gundlupet and Kollegal. Mandya farmers will block the highway at Srirangapatna and Maddur while Hassan farmers will block the highway at Bhuvanahalli and farmers in Kodagu district will block the highway at Gonikoppa. He said, “Only ambulances or vehicles carrying those needing medical help will be allowed to pass and all other vehicles will be stopped.” He also appealed to the public to extend support to the farmers’ stir. The farmers’ leader warned that failure to check the incidents of suicides and to keep agriculture out of the World Trade Organisation’s ambit will push farmers to mass suicide. Nagendra said many farmers’ organisations from other states too have extended support to the stir. He urged the government to waive agriculture loans, fix scientific prices for farmers’ produce and introduce a new loan policy. He said the Union government, that has control over fertilisers and sugar, should also act responsibly. Demanding that the government constitute the National Agriculture Wages Commission to protect farmers’ families, he said that the KRRS would press for a national water policy. Drinking water should be a national priority and sufficient funds must be released to Karnataka to tackle the drought situation. The Prime Minister must intervene to resolve the Kalasa-Banduri issue and to stop discharge of Kabini-Cauvery waters to Tamil Nadu, he added. (New Indian Express 28/9/15)

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

201. Governor urged not to give nod to land bill (4)

BHUBANESWAR: The civil society members on Thursday urged Governor S C Jamir not to give assent to the Odisha Government Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Bill, 2015, recently passed by the assembly. On August 27, the BJD government reportedly passed the bill hurriedly in the absence of opposition. The bill has a provision which says unauthorized occupation by any person is a crime and cognizable offence and he or she can attract jail term up to seven years with a fine of Rs 20,000. “It poses a serious threat to the land rights and livelihood of dalits, tribals, daily-wage earners, slum dwellers and land-less marginal farmers of the state,” said former minister Panchanan Kanungo, who submitted a memorandum to the governor on the matter. Alleging the state government passed the bill illegally, the Congress had also moved the governor and urged him not to give nod to the bill. (Times of India 11/9/15)

202. Highest Compensation Announced for Airport Oustees (4)

VIZIANAGARAM: Deputy collector, Land Acquisition, Bhogapuram Airport R Srilatha informed that objections, if any, against the land acquisition for Green Field International Airport will be received till October 31. The notification for the same was released on September 1. Addressing a press conference here Friday along with another deputy collector K Balatripurasundari, and Vizianagaram RDO Srinivasa Murthy, Srilatha said that the State Government is acquiring a total of 5,311 acres for the airport in which the assigned land extent was 979 and government land was 646 acres. According to the new Land Acquisition Act, the oustees would be paid highest remuneration. Notices would be served from Saturday onwards to farmers in the villages. Compensation would also be paid to commercial crops and if, there were any timber trees, the forest officials would asses the value and pay accordingly. The R&B Department would asses the value of the constructions like houses etc., For land, the government would pay two-and-a-half times on the market value and for trees and constructions, two times against the assessed value will be paid. Balatripurasundari has said that the families who lost their houses for the airport would be given `2.5 lakh, financial help of `5 lakh, temporarily allowance `3,000 per month for one year. Shifting charges of `50,000 to move from the village to the rehabilitation place would be paid. A compensation amount of `25,000 would be paid for each cattle shed and small-time vendors. The government would also pay `50,000 for re-settlement in the rehabilitation colonies. (New Indian Express 12/9/15)

203. Church unhappy with rehabilitation steps (4)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The government has failed to give a convincing answer on measures planned to rehabilitate fishermen who will be displaced with the setting up of Vizhinjam International Deepwater Seaport project, Soosa Pakiam M., Thiruvananthapuram archbishop of the Latin Catholic Church, has said, Inaugurating a seminar on ‘Vizhinjam port and problems in fisheries sector,’ he said the Church from the initial stages itself was not against the port project but was only concerned about its environmental impact on coastal areas and the possible impact on the livelihood of fisherfolks.Studies had pointed towards devastating impact of the project on the coast and displacement of fishermen, he said, adding that the government had so far not able to convince the fishermen on measures put in place to rehabilitate them. (The Hindu 13/9/15)

204. CBI takes over probe of alleged irregularities in Haryana land acquisition (4)

GURGAON: The CBI on Thursday took over the probe into the alleged irregularities in purchase of land from farmers and other owners in Manesar area of Haryana. The case pertains to the government acquiring around 400 acres of land from villagers in Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhnoulaat of Gurgaon district at throwaway prices through a nexus between officials and private builders during the tenure of former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. It is alleged that the land was taken under the threat of acquisition by the government at cheap rates. The case was registered under sections 420, 465, 467, 468, 471 & 120-B of the Indian Penal Code and section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 against unknown public servants of Haryana Government and unknown private persons on the request of Haryana government and further directions of the government of India. It may be noted that the Manesar police had registered a case under the same sections on August 12 this year. The local police had sent the complete file to higher authorities. An order was passed by the competent authority i.e. the director of industries on 24.08.2007 for releasing this land from the acquisition process. The land was released in violation of the government policy, in favour of the builders, their companies and agents, instead of the original land owners, reads the CBI statement. “In this process, initially, the Haryana government had issued notification udner sections 4, 6 and 9 of Land Acquisition Act for acquisition of land measuring about 912 acres for setting up a model industrial township at Villages Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhnoula. After that, all the land was allegedly grabbed from the land owners by the private builders under the threat of acquisition at meager rates. Land measuring about 400 acres whose market value at that time was above Rs 4 crore per acre (approx) was allegedly purchased by the private builders and others from unsuspecting land owners for only about Rs 100 crores(approx). “The case has been registered against unknown public servants of the Haryana government and private persons under various sections of IPC dealing with cheating and forgery and Prevention of Corruption Act on the request of Haryana government and directions of government of India”, said RK Gaur, press information officer of CBI. (Times of India 17/9/15)

205. Odisha govt to float special unit to ease worries for steel sector (4)

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government has planned to form a special steel directorate to ease problems faced by the units with respect to land acquisition and raw material availability and also draw more investments in the sector. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik has already given his nod for the directorate. “The steel directorate will be formed on the lines of the existing mines directorate. It will address the whole gamut of problems faced by the steel industries”, said state steel & mines minister Prafulla Mallick. Industry watchers feel the move to form the steel directorate stems from ArcelorMittal’s decision to abort its mega steel project in the state and also Posco’s recent announcement to temporarily freeze its proposed $12 billion steel mill near Paradeep. The steel directorate would be headed by an officer of the rank of additional secretary. The new directorate, which will only work on issues pertaining to the steel industry, plans to appoint a Steel Consultant from the corporate sector. The consultant would advise the state government on attracting investment into the state and towards solving the issues faced by the industry. Odisha has seen a rush of investment proposals in the steel sector. The state government has signed MoUs (memorandum of understanding) with 48 players, envisaging a combined capacity of 83 million tonne with investments totaling to over Rs two lakh crore. Steel units have already grounded investments of the order of Rs 1.2 lakh crore. However, they were grappling with an array of problems like unavailability of ore at optimal prices, steep logistics cost of ore and high water cess. (Business Standard 21/9/15)

206. Land acquisition may eat up Pothepalli’s green peppers (4)

POTHEPALLI: One of the villages likely to be wiped out by the Machilipatnam port project is this tiny village 3 km from the town. Blessed with a sandy soil that is the right blend of loam, 50 farmers in this village cultivate a prized variety of green bell peppers, the vegetable we know as capsicum, on their 30 acres of land. The green bell pepper is a cultivar of the species we know as Capsicum annuum . One of the few places in the country where this vegetable of high commercial value is grown, Pothepalli now lies under the cloud of land acquisition for the Machilipatnam port project, for which 14,500 acres are being taken over. The farmers take pride in their capsicums, claiming that the cultivar they grow is not cultivated anywhere else but in Haveri in Karnataka. “Once, farmers in the neighbouring coastal villages tried to grow this variety in their sandy fields but they could not succeed. Nobody quite knows why, but this variety of green bell peppers seems to be at home in Pothepalli,”” says a senior farmer, Kagita Arjun. Horticulture officer J. Jyothi says the variety grown here is an open-pollinated seed and not the usual hybrid variety. It is prone to many diseases, and that’s the reason farmers avoid the risk. The farmers of Pothepalli have perfected the art of managing that risk and prospered for it, she says. “We have no clue on how the seed came to the village and how these farmers learnt to nurse the variety. The farmers have learnt to leave their fields fallow for one season so that the soil fertility is retained.” It’s high-cost cultivation. Just the input costs and the irrigation can go up to Rs. 50,000 per acre, says Katikela Rajesh, a tenant farmer and exporter. He is a young farmer who exports the variety to markets in Karnataka and Visakhapatnam and the Godavari districts in Andhra Pradesh. The returns are high too, if risky. The profits can range up to Rs 1 lakh per acre. The majority of these farmers are tenants, and the lease is as high as Rs. 30,000 per acre per season. Harvests are a continuing affair, something twice a week, says farmer K. Hari. (The Hindu 24/9/15)

207. Employ woman whose family lost land to MSEZ: HC (4)

Bengaluru: In a relief to a 25-year-old woman hailing from a family that lost its land to the Mangalore Special Economic Zone Ltd. (MSEZ) projects, the Karnataka High Court has directed the Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited (ISPRL) to employ her immediately. Not just that, the ISPRL has been asked to provide proper training, if necessary, to Raksha, a resident of MSEZ Colony, Thokur, near Mangaluru, and also pay her a monthly stipend of Rs. 10,000 during the training period. The ISPRL is a Special Purpose Vehicle — wholly-owned subsidiary of Oil Industry Development Board (OIDB). It is constructing 1.5 million-tonne strategic crude oil storage facilities on an area of around 105 acres at a cost of Rs. 1,227 crore near Mangaluru as part of the MSEZ projects. A Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee and Justice B.V. Nagarathna issued the directions recently while refusing to accept the claim of ISPRL that Ms. Raksha was not qualified for employment in the company and hence, she should opt for Rs. 3 lakh additional compensation offered in lieu of employment. The Bench found that terms under one MSEZ scheme makes it clear that it would be the duty of the companies, in whose favour acquired land were allotted, to give training to members of land-losing families if they were found to be not qualified for employment in the companies. Such members are also to be paid Rs. 10,000 as monthly stipend during the training period. ISPRL was supposed to accommodate 58 land losers in its company. It is an admitted position that not even a single appointment was made by the company. The ISPRL is enjoying the acquired land. Therefore, it cannot shirk from its responsibility to appoint members of such families or impart them training or pay them stipend, the Bench observed. (The Hindu 25/9/15)

208. Sector 107 Buyers’ Struggle For Justice (4)

NOIDA: Over 500 homebuyers from five different residential projects of Sector 107, which are now stalled, gathered within the sector’s premises on Sunday to protest against ‘victimisation’ by builders and Noida Authority. The buyers claim that they have been left in the lurch after a Supreme Court order quashed the land acquisition of 225 hectares in Sallarpur Village of Gautam Budh Nagar that comprises Sector 107, in 2013. There are close to 5000 apartments spread over the five stalled builder projects in the area. The buyers bought the flats in 2010-11 in Noida’s Sec107 Sallarpur Village. Noida Authority acquired land in the year 2008 -2009 under an urgency clause of the Land Acquisition Act which was challenged by the farmers, first in the Allahabad high court and then in the Supreme Court. The apex court quashed the acquisition in an order on August 5, 2013. In fact not just the 225 acre of acquired land, the SC cancelled the entire notification of Sallarpur village. But the construction continued full swing even after the order. The builders went to SC for a review petition of the order. The SC sent the case back to Allahabad high court for a review. Then an Allahabad high court order in June 2014 stopped all construction in Sector 107 and imposed status-quo. The projects have been hanging in suspended animation ever since. The next hearing of the Allahabad High court lies on September 30. The Allahabad High court is supposed to complete all review hearing and submit a report with the Supreme Court by mid-October. “Nobody thinks of the buyers’ plight when such decisions are taken. When the order was passed in 2013, most projects were close to completion. The buyers had almost paid up anything between 75-90 percent of project prices. Now for the last one year, the projects have been stalled and the buildings are slowly getting damaged due to weather exposure,” Puneet Parashar, a buyer said. “The Supreme Court in August 2013, declared the land acquisition illegal. However it was only brought to public attention when the Allahabad High Court passed a judgment in June, 2014. Construction in the housing project first slowed down and then completely stopped. Owners were kept in the dark about these developments with no notice given by either Noida Authority or the builders. RTIs filed were ignored and those answered were diverted to different departments,” Arun Kalra, another buyer mentioned. The buyers are now hoping for a position resolution of the issue. “We need clarity. Either we get our houses, or we get our full money with interest back, because the buyers had nothing to do with the acquisition,” Kalra added. The buyers sent up a hydrogen balloon in the sky with a message to draw attention to the problem of Sector 107 buyers. (Times of India 27/9/15)

RIGHT TO HEALTH

209. Government takes Siddha route to bring down MMR and IMR (3)

TRICHY: The new kit containing 11 types of Siddha medicines to be issued under the ‘Amma Magapperu Sanjeevi’ (Amma Maternity Medicines) scheme to pregnant women may reduce maternal mortality rate (MMR) and infant mortality rate (IMR) in the state. Though Tamil Nadu is claimed to be one of the best performing states in terms of health and family welfare, reducing MMR and IMR remain a challenging task for the government. The scheme was recently launched by chief minister J Jayalalithaa. The kit containing 11 Siddha medicines will make the body of a pregnant woman fit for growing a healthy foetus and undergo a normal delivery. The kit will contain madhulai manappagu, karuveppilai podi, nellikkai legiyam, nilavaagai tablet, elathy tablet, annabedhi tablet, ulundhu thailam and pinda thailam (both for external application), paavana panjakula thailam, sataavari thailam (internal) and kunthirika thailam (external). These medicines are aimed at reducing nausea, improving immunity, balancing iron deficiency and remove aches. The kit also has a medicine for the baby after delivery for modulating immune. District siddha medical officer (DSMO) Dr C Sekar, Trichy, said medicines in the kit will provide a one-stop solution to pregnant women. “The concept of providing Siddha medicine kit is to provide a complete solution to issues being faced during and after pregnancy,” he said. The department of AYUSH has circulated a government order regarding the distribution of the kit. However, officials said the scheme will be functional in a month or two. The medicines will be made available free of cost at all the state-run AYUSH centres. In Trichy, the pregnant women can avail the medicine in 52 AYUSH centres. Assistant medical officer (AMO) Dr S Vathsala termed the collection of medicines a ‘synergetic action kit’. “Regular consumption of the medicines would ensure a good result to pregnant women. We appeal to the people to make use of the opportunity to keep them fit and deliver a healthy baby through normal delivery,” Vathsala told ToI. The role of doctors in government hospitals and public health centres in prescribing the kit to patients is expected to popularize Siddha medicines among the people. The Siddha medicine kit for pregnant women was a long-term proposal of the Tamil Nadu Siddha Medical Officers Association (TANSMOA). (Times of India 12/9/15)

210. Govt calls up private doctors to help curb TB (3)

Nagpur: The government plans to tie up with private practitioners to ensure that each tuberculosis (TB) patient takes his daily medicine, minimizing the risk of multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB. As part of this, the union government launched three new initiatives on Monday from Nagpur under the Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP) to tackle the disease that kills nearly three lakh patients annually. Maharashtra alone accounts for 10% of the total TB burden of India. Union surface transport minister Nitin Gadkari and Ramtek MP Krupal Tumane launched these scheme, namely ‘Universal access to TB care or UATBC’, TB diagnosis using CBNAAT (cartridge based nucleic acid amplification test) Machine in two hours, and the ’99 DOTS project’ in the presence of senior central, state and civic body officers. Director general of health services, government of India, Dr Jagdish Prasad later told reporters that government is giving 121 CBNAAT machines across the country, including Gadchiroli, Gondia and Chandrapur medical colleges. Another 500 machines will be added in the next two years to detect TB in every patient instead of the 50% diagnosis at present. The second project, ’99 DOTS, aims to reach TB drugs to 99% of the patients, with a family member being made responsible. A missed call will lead to delivery of required medicines, and authorities will also keep track and contact patients to ensure medicine stock is picked up. The UATBC scheme will involve private practitioners in treating patients, since almost 50% patients take treatment in private set up. The physician will be expected to report each TB case to the government, and get 1,000 as remuneration. This scheme has been implemented in cities like Patna in Bihar, Mehsana in Gujarat and Mumbai in Maharashtra. The patients will also get free medicines from private chemists. Indian Medical Association as well as the Chemists and Druggists Associations will be roped in to support the programme. (Times of India 15/9/15)

211. Dengue Toll Mounts to 16, Over 2k Affected by Fever in National Capital (3)

NEW DELHI: With the dengue deaths of two more children, including a three-year-old girl in the past 24 hours, the toll due to the disease has risen to 16 in the capital city, even as the AAP government and the BJP-run civic bodies continue to grapple with fever cases. Neha, a resident of Sangam Vihar in South Delhi, died on Wednesday afternoon at the Saket City Hospital. Her distraught parents alleged that a government hospital and a private nursing home did not provide her proper treatment for dengue. Another death was of a nine-year-old girl Sabreena Fatima, who succumbed to the vector-borne disease at the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital. Data released by the Delhi government shows that in the last 24 hours, 2,519 people were admitted with fever and related complaints. Of these, 281 were dengue cases. This has been the worst outbreak of the disease in New Delhi in the past five years. Surprisingly though, the AAP government has said that there is no need for panic and appealed to the people to take preventive steps and not to pay attention to ‘rumours’.  Concerned over the rise in dengue cases, the Delhi High Court has asked the Centre and the city government to explain the steps they have taken to contain the disease. A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath also asked the three municipal corporations and the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) to explain the steps taken by them to control the disease. Terming it a serious issue, the bench issued notice to the Centre, Delhi government, municipal corporations and NDMC, directing them to file a short affidavit before September 24. The court, meanwhile, refrained from ordering an FIR against the directors of hospitals that denied treatment to a dengue-affected seven-year-old boy, who’s grieving parents committed suicide. The plea seeking lodging of an FIR was filed by a law student Gauri Grover, who contended that the boy died due to the callous attitude of the hospitals. Worried over the rapid spread of dengue and non-availability of beds in hospitals, the Home Ministry too reviewed the situation and directed the city government to take all possible steps. Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi had called Delhi Chief Secretary K K Sharma in this regard and was briefed about the steps taken by the Delhi government to tackle dengue. “Mehrishi also assured the city government of all Central assistance to handle the situation,” said a Delhi government source. (New Indian Express 18/9/15)

212.  ‘267 malnourished children under the age of six in Udupi district’ (3)

Kripa Alva, chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, said recently that there were 267 malnourished children below the age of six in Udupi district. Speaking to presspersons after holding a review meeting here, Ms. Alva said of the 267, 155 were girls. Giving the region-wise break-up of malnourished children in the district, she said there were 14 boys and 19 girls in Udupi, 20 boys and 30 girls in Brahmavar, 65 boys and 80 girls in Kundapur, and 13 boys and 26 girls in Karkala. She said nutritious food is being given to the children in the anganwadis, such as egg and milk on certain days of the week. Their parents are also being given Rs. 750 a year to buy medicines for the children. There are 492 children living with HIV in the district. For a single-parent child, the Department of Women and Child Development gives Rs. 650 a month; if the child is being looked after by relatives, they get Rs. 750 a month. For their education, the children get Rs. 500 annually. As regards child labour, as many as 14 children working as child labourers had been rescued in the district this year. On Ms. Alva’s visit to anganwadis and BCM hostels in Udupi, Padubidri and Karkala, she found the condition in the anganwadis was good. But, the hostels were not up to the mark. She had given directions to improve facilities in the BCM hostel. Answering a query on begging of children at the bus-stands in Udupi and Manipal, she said she would take action on this issue in two months. The commission will also try to popularise the children’s helpline no: 1098, and focus on providing education to children, Ms. Alva said. (The Hindu 20/9/15)

213. Nearly three-fourths of U’khand women have anaemia (3)

DEHRADUN: More than half of Indian women, including those pregnant and breastfeeding, are anaemic, according to a report from the UNICEF. In India, one woman in three between 15 and 49 years of age is malnourished and this proportion is one in two among women in the lowest wealth quintile, the report adds. Prevalence of anaemia among women in this age-group in India is 53%, whereas it is 59% among pregnant women. Among breastfeeding women, the incidence shoots up to 63%, a figure which has triggered alarm bells among health experts. The condition is even more disturbing as far as women in Uttarakhand are concerned. According to top officials of the health directorate, at least 70% of the state’s women are anemic, while among pregnant and breastfeeding women, the figure is not less than 80%. As per the latest data of the health department, pregnant women have moderate category haemoglobin (HB) deficiency, ranging from 7 to 9 in over 95% cases, which is not healthy when it comes to pregnant women. Out of 13 districts of Uttarakhand, most cases of anaemia come from Haridwar, followed by Udham Singh Nagar. Speaking about the reason behind high rate of anaemia among women in plains areas of the state rather than the hills, Archana Shrivastava, additional director of national health mission, said. “Poor family planning, such as not following the suggested norm of at least three years between pregnancies, and lack of literacy in Haridwar and plains regions of Uttarakhand is mainly responsible for this situation. Moreover, these districts have poor general health indicators. Women are married before the age of 21 and have very poor obstetrics history to begin with.” A top surgeon at Doon Women’s Hospital, requesting anonymity, said, “I can’t even recall when I last operated on a pregnant women with HB count of above 11 here. In the worst cases, we have handled ladies who had HB as low as 2 or 3 throughout their pregnancy.” Another reason behind burgeoning anaemia cases in Uttarakhand among pregnant women is their ignorance and lack of antenatal care. “Even if a woman is not anaemic, she has to consume 100 iron tablets during her pregnancy, as per WHO guidelines. This does not happen here,” said Dr Shrivastava. (Times of India 23/9/15)

214. MDG: India to miss target of reducing maternal mortality rate (3)

New Delhi: Despite progress being made on various health indicators, India will miss its target of reducing Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) and Infant Mortality Rate (IMR). With the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) reaching their December 2015 deadline, the government on Tuesday revealed that India will miss its target of reducing MMR by 31 points and IMR with a considerable margin. According to National Health Profile 2015, released by Union health minister J.P. Nadda on Tuesday, India will miss the MDG target on maternal mortality to 109 per 1,00,000 live births. “From an estimated MMR (maternal mortality rate) level of 437 per 1,00,000 live births in 1990, India is required to reduce MMR to 109 per 1,00,000 births by 2015. At this pace of decrease, India tends to reach MMR of 140 per 1,00,000 live births by 2015, falling short by 31 points,” the report published by the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI) said. It further said that in India, infant mortality rate (IMR), even though is reducing at a sharper rate in the recent years, is likely to miss the MDG target by considerable margin. As per the data, the IMR has reduced by nearly 50 per cent during 1990-2012 and the present level is at 42. However, as per the trend, the IMR is likely to reach 40 deaths per 1,000 live births, missing the MDG target of 27 with a considerable margin, it further stated. The report further revealed that Under Five Mortality Rate (U5MR) has declined from an estimated level of 125 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 52 in 2012. Given to reduce U5MR to 42 per 1,000 live births by 2015, India tends to reach 49 by 2015, missing the target by seven percentage points. “However, considering the continuance of the sharper annual rate of decline witnessed in the recent years, India is likely to achieve the target,” the executive summary of the report added. The good news is that India made a “considerable” progress in the field of basic universal education, gender equality in education, global economic growth and indicators related to health, the report further disclosed. The MDGs include eight goals and were framed to address the world’s major development challenges with health and its related areas. Union health minister J.P. Nadda said that the present data is an important source of navigation. It helps in understanding the goals, our strengths and weaknesses and it is also an important means to strategise. The health minister further said that the e-book of NHP-2015 is a step towards realising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of Digital India. (Asian Age 23/9/15)

215. Poor mortality ratio puts U’khand among worst 8 states: Survey (3)

DEHRADUN: Maternal deaths have reduced up to 45% since 1990 across the globe, according to the latest data of World Health Organization (WHO). However, every day approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. India accounts for a huge number of such maternal deaths. As per the annual health survey (AHS), second updation, maternal mortality ratio (MMR) of Uttarkhand is 165 per lakh live births. While Kumaon division has recorded an MMR of 182, Garhwal Garhwal has registered 158 MMR. With these figures, Uttarakhand has been placed among the eight worst MMR states of India. It has been categorized with Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Jharkhand for having abnormally high MMR based on Sample registration System (SRS), RGI office, 2013 & 2011-13 reports. In financial year 2014-15, against an estimate maternal deaths of 243, the department has registered 149 deaths out of which majority of deaths, nearly, one-third happened due to haemorrhage – excessive loss of blood. And surprisingly, Haridwar is among the worst MMR cities of Uttarakhand. It registered the highest (50%) maternal deaths across Uttarakhand in previous financial year as well as in the first quarter of FY 2015-16. Citing reason behind worst MMR in the holy city, director of national health mission Dr Ajeet Gairola, said, “It is due to poor family planning practices, most of the women are anaemic and already suffer from multiple ailment to be able to conceive a health child. However, state has taken the city on top priority to enhance its overall health indicators.” Speaking with TOI, chief medical superintendent of Doon Women Hospital Dr. Meenakshi Joshi said, “Now we will promote Nurses Physician concept in Doon Women Hospital on the lines of USA, and it would be taken up on mission mode so that maternal mortality can be controlled.” The nurses would be given in-house training in the hospital starting from Doppler ultrasound to various other tests studies be prepare them for the task, said the CMS. The state has a majority of Janani Suraksha Yognana beneficiaries. However, the benefits are rampantly being utilized by pregnant women from neighbouring states not Uttarkhand, she said. Another reason for bad MMR is poor antenatal, intranatal and postnatal care among women of plains in Uttarakhand. As a measure to curb poor IMR and MMR., state government has promoted various schemes for institutional deliveries wherein, pregnant women and the newborn is offered cost-free services in the state. (Times of India 26/9/15)

216. Have preventive attitude to check dengue: Delhi HC (3)

New Delhi: The Delhi high court has asked the civic agencies in the national capital to have a “preventive” attitude, and not curative, in order to contain spread of vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria. Observing that proper cleaning of drains could prevent such diseases, a bench of Justices Badar Durrez and Sanjeev Sachdeva said, “Attitude should be preventive and not curative.” The court also questioned what the civic agencies and other local authorities were doing as it had to intervene to ensure that people of the national capital get CCTV cameras for safety, proper policing, clean drains and garbage-free streets. “What are the authorities doing? We are working to provide CCTVs, police, cleaning of drains and garbage, for the people who are up in arms,” the court said. The court directed the public works department (PWD) to file a status report indicating the manner and times at which the drains are cleaned and listed the matter for further hearing on October 28. The court’s observations came during the hearing of a PIL pertaining to cleaning up of various colonies in different districts of the city. The court was also referring to another matter it was dealing with regarding the installation of CCTV cameras in the city as well as induction of additional personnel in the Delhi police. It also wondered “why does it not strike” the municipal corporations to provide proper gear to their employees engaged in cleaning of the “dhalaos” (garbage dumps). The court also suggested devising another method of cleaning the dumps, instead of people manually collecting the garbage and putting it in trucks. It noted that some of the areas in the city which were identified for more attention from civic agencies had been cleaned to some extent. It, however, said that more was needed to be done. After it had directed the South Delhi Municipal Corporation to clean up Lajpat Nagar and maintain it, the high court had told the other two municipal bodies to ensure proper cleanliness in a colony each under their jurisdiction. It had directed the East Delhi municipal body to clean up Patparganj, while north MCD was told to take up the western extension area (WEA) of Karol Bagh. The court had also directed them to file status reports with pictures, and when it perused the images on Wednesday, it noted that the people cleaning up the garbage did not have proper gear like gloves and overcoats. The PIL has been filed by NGO Nyay Bhoomi alleging that government agencies have failed to improve the conditions in the city despite the Supreme Court’s observation in 1996 that the “historical city of Delhi, the capital of India, is one of the most polluted cities in the world”. The High Court had on March 18 directed the SDMC and other civic bodies to start cleaning the entire Lajpat Nagar from the next day and maintain it that way as a “test”of their “efficiency and ability” to keep the city clean. It had issued the direction to see if the civic bodies were “capable” of maintaining cleanliness in a model area “or else we will disband the corporations”. (Asian Age 28/9/15)

HIV/AIDS

217. Aid for victim, AIDS tips for villagers (3)

Ranchi, Sept. 11: Chief minister Raghubar Das today directed principal secretary (health) K. Vidyasagar to probe the Jamtara incident, where a 51-year-old woman was mistakenly branded HIV positive, and create awareness about AIDS among rural masses. Taking a strong cognisance of the alleged medical negligence, Das also offered Rs 10,000 compensation from his relief fund for the treatment of Lakhi Hansda, who was ostracised by her family members and healthcare staff following a “wrong” diagnosis at Jamtara Sadar Hospital. The chief minister took the action after Jamtara MLA Irfan Ansari called on Das at his official residence in the capital today and told him how the victim was sent home in a cart after nurses and doctors at the hospital refused to treat her. Swinging into action, Vidyasagar sought a detailed report from Godda deputy commissioner Surendra Kumar in this case. The health department also dispatched a team of doctors from Ranchi to create awareness among villagers in Jamtara that the poor woman was not an AIDS patient and that AIDS does not spread through normal touch. Jamtara DC Kumar, on the other hand, went to the sadar hospital and the victim’s home at Sahardal village for inquiries and arranged for her readmission to the hospital. During investigation, the DC found that Lakhi Hansda was admitted to the sadar hospital on August 31 after she complained of fever and a few other ailments. The next day, her blood tests indicted tuberculosis. Later, the doctor on duty recommended an HIV test. “Lab technician Mantu Kumar Ravidas, in his report, had said that she was HIV positive. But, counsellor Sunil Kumar took Lakhi’s blood samples again and asserted that she was HIV negative. Now, how the doctor wrote that Lakhi Hansda was HIV positive on her discharge slip on September 7 is not known. I will talk to her tonight when she comes for the night shift,” said the DC. Kumar later directed the civil surgeon to thoroughly diagnose her ailments and if needed, refer her to a good hospital in Ranchi. The incident came to light yesterday when someone told MLA Ansari that the sadar hospital was sending home patients on thelas (tricycle carts). On probing, the MLA found that Lakhi was a victim of medical carelessness and mass ignorance about HIV/AIDS. The hospital, the MLA claimed, wrongly diagnosed her HIV positive and administered medicines for AIDS, which were apparently thrown at her in the days she stayed at the hospital. Her family, when learnt that their relative had AIDS, left her to the hospital’s mercy and fled. Thereafter, hospital staff, patients and their attendants started asking her many embarrassing questions, and nurses and doctors apparently refused to attend to her. (The Telegraph 12/9/15)

218. Nearly 27,000 HIV Positive Cases Detected in Thane, Palghar (3)

THANE: IEC Joint Director Vilas Deshpande announced here today that around 27,000 HIV positive cases have been detected in Thane and Palghar. While inagurating a two-day medical meet he appealed to civic bodies and NGOs to make efforts to eradicate AIDS in these districts. NGOs and private companies were asked to participate in a programme to create awareness among citizens to eradicate such cases (New Indian Express 14/9/15)

219. Natural defence against HIV discovered (3)

WASHINGTON: Scientists have discovered a new natural defence against HIV infection in the form of a protein that prevents the deadly virus from replicating. “In earlier studies, we knew that we could interfere with the spread of HIV-1, but we couldn’t identify the mechanism that was stopping the process,” said Yong-Hui Zheng, Michigan State University (MSU) associate professor and co-author of the study. “We now know that ERManI is an essential key, and that it has the potential as a antiretroviral treatment,” said Zheng. Antiretroviral treatments are not vaccines; they simply keep HIV in check in low levels in the body. While it could be decades before an ERManI-based treatment can be prescribed for HIV-1 patients, these results provide a strong path for future research involving human cells, and later, clinical tests. The next steps will be to test if HIV resistance can be promoted by increasing ERManI levels, said Zheng, who worked on the study with scientists from the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute, the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the University of Georgia. Most viruses have viral envelopes, or protective skins, that comprise similar building blocks of the host the pathogens are trying to infect. On the surface of the envelope, there are viral glycoproteins, known as Env spikes, which act as valets, leading viruses to binding sites that allow infections to spread at the molecular level. They serve as a key of sorts that gives viruses entry into the host to begin spreading. Zheng’s lab was the first to show that HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein biosynthesis can be specifically inhibited by ERManI, which is a host enzyme to add sugars to proteins. By identifying ERManI as the target that slows the spread of HIV-1, the team showed a target in which future natural therapies can be developed. More than 1.2 million people in the US have HIV. In China, doctors diagnosed 104,000 new cases of HIV/AIDS in 2014. The number of infections is rising, though overall the country still has a low rate of infection. Currently, there is no cure for HIV-1; once patients have it, they have it for life. While there are antiretroviral therapies available, they can only prolong life, albeit dramatically, but they cannot cure the disease. Current drug treatments have to be taken for a lifetime, which causes side effects and many other issues, Zheng said. “We see a way to treat this disease by helping the body protect itself,” he said. The study was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. (Times of India 17/9/15)

220. Now, an app that will help people with HIV (3)

NEW DELHI: In an attempt to increase accessibility of information and treatment of HIV, National Aids Control Organization (NACO) has rolled out a mobile app for AIDS awareness and prevention. The app, first of its kind in India, is based on various international models. The app would provide all kinds of information on AIDS, which is not easily available otherwise. For instance, it will provide information of HIV testing centres in the locality, information on availability of free testing kits and medicines etc. The app, called HELP (HIV Education and Linkage to Prevention), will also prompt users to access HIV testing from the nearest centre free of cost. The idea is to bridge the awareness and accessibility gap through digital intervention and encourage youth to know their HIV status. The move will also help the government to keep a count on the incidence and prevalence of HIV cases, which is currently a major area of contention. The national AIDS control programme is the government’s largest health intervention programme. The programme, run under NACO and implemented by states, demonstrated an overall reduction of 57 per cent in the annual new HIV infections among adult population from 2.74 lakh in 2000 to 1.16 lakh in 2011, according to NACO’s 2013-14 annual report. However, the facts were questioned by many international agencies, which said a lot of people in India are unaware of their HIV status. According to the United Nations, India has the third highest number of estimated people living with HIV in the world. “To start with, it will provide some basic information but slowly we will ramp it up to include detailed information and education as well as various services,” an official said. AIDS Healthcare Foundation, an international agency which works in the area, is working with the government to expand the use of the app across the country. AHF has also funded the app, while NACO is taking care of the operations and implementation part. According to the official, the app will ensure confidentiality and can currently be operated in two languages – English and Hindi. The health ministry is expecting to reach more than 11 crore people across urban and rural geographies through the app. The government is also planning to launch promotional advertisements for the app on television and radio. Besides, it will also use social media and you tube to popularize it. “Once the app is popular among the youth, we will update it to include more information,” the official said adding in future it can also be used to spread awareness about many other diseases and preventive healthcare measures. “There is a gap between the estimated number of people living with HIV and those who have tested and know their status. It is critical that people know their HIV status early so that they can opt for treatment,” he said. (Times of India 23/9/15)

221. Houses sans amenities allotted, say HIV-affected (3)

Bengaluru: The Upal-okayukta has directed the authorities to provide basic amenities to 97 HIV-affected backward class persons, who were allotted houses in Bengaluru Urban district without power, water and other facilities. The complaint filed an NGO said that the flats were allotted by Rajiv Gandhi Rural Housing Corporation Ltd in 2010. The allottees occupied the flats recently and have been deprived of basic amenities. The complaint stated that the Corporation had undertaken a project to provide housing facility to 160 HIV- affected persons from backward classes and other economically weaker section in 2010. Though the government released the funds, handing over of the constructed houses was delayed for want of contribution from the HIV- affected people. After several meetings, the Social Welfare Department came forward to provide matching fund on behalf of the HIV-affected persons and subsequently amount was released in respect of nearly 97 beneficiaries. “The Deputy Commissioner of Bengaluru Urban handed over the possession of 97 houses to the beneficiaries. However, the basic amenities such as light, drainage, water supply were not provided to these houses. The General Manager of the Rajiv Gandhi Rural Housing Corporation has submitted that though houses were handed over, the beneficiaries did not avail power supply by making individual payments to the Bescom. The general manager  contends that power supply was intact while handing over the houses. Subsequently, due to defect in the transformer the power was disconnected. The district authority has not distributed the hakkku patras and hence beneficiaries could not seek individual power supply,” Upalokayukta Justice Subhash B Adi said. The Upalokayukta has directed the DC (Bengaluru Urban), managing director of Bescom and managing director of Rajiv Gandhi Rural Housing Corporation to convene a meeting of the beneficiaries before October 16. (Deccan Herald 23/9/15)

222. AIDS patients to be brought under central scheme (3)

BHUBANESWAR: The Centre has asked the state government to coordinate with urban local bodies to include AIDS and HIV-infected people under the National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM). With this, around 35,000 HIV positive people in the state will have access to livelihood, housing, employment and other social protection programmes. The urban bodies will coordinate with Odisha State AIDS Control Society (OSACS) to ensure that they get the benefits. “There is prevalence of social discrimination with persons with HIV leading to loss of livelihood. Under NULM, the vulnerable persons should have access to all facilities such as housing under Rajiv Awas Yojana, which is being offered to slum dwellers,” the ministry has stated in its letter to the housing and urban development secretary G Mathivathanan. The MoHUPA has further said 86% of the HIV positive persons are between the age group of 15 and 49. “Most of them are migrants. They lose their livelihood for their HIV status. Since the components under NULM project is being extended to beggars, domestic workers, street vendors, labourers and construction workers, those with HIV shouldn’t be left out,” the letter mentioned. In Odisha, there are nearly 2,000 children, who contract the virus from their parents. Ganjam district accounts for the highest 12,017 positive cases followed by Cuttack (4409), Koraput (1848) and Sambalpur (1698). (Times of India 24/9/15)

223. Barack Obama administration to spend $300 million to fight HIV in Africa (3)

Washington: The Obama administration said on Saturday it was allotting an additional $300 million to the effort to reduce HIV infection among girls and young women in 10 sub-Saharan African countries.The Obama administration said on Saturday it was allotting an additional $300 million to the effort to reduce HIV infection among girls and young women in 10 sub-Saharan African countries. The sum would help the main U.S. program for fighting AIDS in Africa to meet goals including providing antiretroviral treatment to 12.9 million people by the end of 2017, said Susan Rice, President Barack Obama’s national security adviser. “No greater action is needed right now than empowering adolescent girls and young women to defeat HIV/AIDS. Every year, 380,000 adolescent girls and young women are infected with HIV,” she said in a statement. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, working with partner countries, now provides antiretroviral treatment for 7.7 million people worldwide, Rice said. The program, known as PEPFAR, was launched in 2003 by former President George W. Bush and has provided billions of dollars for antiretroviral drugs and treatment in Africa. By 2017, Rice said, PEPFAR also aims to “provide 13 million male circumcisions for HIV prevention, and reduce HIV incidence by 40 percent among adolescent girls and young women within the highest burdened areas of 10 sub-Saharan African countries.” The countries at the focus of the program are: Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. (DNA 26/9/15)

 

Posted by admin at 29 September 2015

Category: Uncategorized

(From August 21 to September  10, 2015)

 DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

1. Dalit group stages protest against ‘indifferent attitude’ of authorities (2)

KALABURAGI: The Dalit Sene charged the district administration of indifferent attitude in providing due compensation to Dalit victims of atrocities. It also charged the district police of weakening the cases pertaining to the atrocities on the Dalits by encouraging the offenders to file counter cases. Members of the Dalit Sena, led by senior leader Hanumanth Yelasangi, who staged a protest demonstration in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here on Saturday, said that there were many instances wherein the police have failed to produce the witnesses in the cases of atrocities against Dalits, resulting in the acquittal of the accused. There were several cases in which the police encouraged the offenders to file counter cases in the cases filed by Dalits under the Scheduled Caste and Tribe Atrocities (Prevention) Act, with an intention to intimidate Dalits who were victims of the atrocities, they said. The sene, in a memorandum addressed to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, said that the Dalits have lost all confidence in him. The memorandum pointed out a series of incidents in Kalaburagi district in which the Dalit victims were denied of the due compensation as per the Act. (The Hindu 23/8/15)

2. 30 Dalit families expelled from M’garh village  (2)

Bawana (Mahendragarh): More than 30 Dalit families belonging to ‘sapera’ (snake charmer) community were expelled from Bawana village by a group of villagers on Saturday to construct a stadium on the panchayat land where the families had been residing for over two decades. The families alleged the villagers demolished their houses with a JCB machine and tractor-trailers to get them out, while the villagers claimed no force was used against the families who had taken illegal possession over the panchayat land. Now, the expelled families have taken shelter in an open space near Majra Chungi in Mahendragarh city and demanded the district authorities to ensure the restoration of their houses in the village. Though the victim families have lodged a complaint with the police against the villagers, but no action has been taken so far. “We have been residing in Bawana village for over 30 years and the government has issued us Aadhaar, ration and voter cards. Some people also get their old-age pension, but the villagers have rendered us homeless by demolishing our houses,” said Ram Kumar Nath, head of these families. Dalip Nath, another victim, said armed villagers came to their houses and asked them to leave the village immediately. He added villagers loaded their household items and other belongings in tractor-trailers and dumped them in Mahendragarh. “The infuriated villagers also manhandled our families. They ruined us by smashing our belongings,” said Samer Nath, one of the victims. Munna Nath said the incident has also ruined the future of our 30 children who are students of Bawana village school. Now the villagers have threatened us not to send our wards to school, Munna claimed. The families said they had also approached National Commission for Scheduled Castes to get justice. Meanwhile, Bawana village sarpanch Rati Ram said the families left the village after losing a court case in this regard. They had illegally been residing on panchayat land for over two decades. “We did not use any force, instead we helped them in transporting their household items to other place,” Rati Ram said. Mahendragarh DC Atul Kumar said a criminal case had been booked against Bawana sarpanch Rati Ram and some other villagers on a complaint filed by the evicted families. “Since the families do not want to go back to the village, they are demanding rehabilitation at another place. We have started searching for another place to make them stay,” the DC said. (The Tribune 24/8/15)

3. Dalits’ killing in Bihar: PM urged to take action (2)

Patna: Some UK-based dalit organizations have expressed their shock over the silence and inaction of PM Narendra Modi over the ‘role of senior BJP leaders’ in the dalits’ massacre between 1994 and 2000 in Bihar. They alleged some senior BJP leaders were allegedly involved in the massacres of some 144 dalit men, women and children in Bihar and that PM has so far neither spoken against them and their accomplices nor taken any action against them. In a letter addressed to the PM, they said, “We are deeply shocked by the recent horrifying revelations (by a news portal) about the massacres of dalit and other oppressed-caste people in Bihar and are writing to you to express our dismay that you have so far not spoken out against the killers and their accomplices. Spokespersons of these organizations urged Modi to act because his “lack of action on this issue gives the shocking message that lives of dalits and oppressed do not matter in India”. They urged him to act urgently to ensure that the self-confessed killers are brought to justice and all the politicians, including senior BJP politicians, are dismissed from their posts, arrested and charged. Quoting the news portal, they said Ranvir Sena, the upper caste landlords’ army in Bihar, perpetrated a number of major massacres of dalits and oppressed caste people, including at Bathani Tola, Laxmanpur Bathe, Shankarbigha, Miyanpur and Ekwari, between 1994 and 2000, murdering some 144 men, women and children simply for demanding basic rights and dignity. The Amir Das Commission, which was set up in 1997 after the Laxmanpur Bathe killings, to investigate these massacres was disbanded in 2005 by the Nitish government, then in alliance with the BJP, to appease and shield his erstwhile BJP allies, they alleged. The signatories include Meena Varma (Dalit Solidarity Network), Arun Kumar (Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organization, UK), Davinder Prasad (Caste Watch, UK) Ramesh Klair (Sri Guru Ravidass Global Organisation for Human Rights), Ravi Kumar (Anti-Caste Discrimination Alliance), Amrit Wilson (South Asia Solidarity Group). (Times of India 27/8/15)

4. Safai karamcharis pour out woes at meeting (2)

RAICHUR: Hundreds of safai karmacharis and their family members poured out their grievances to M. Shivanna, Chairperson of National Commission for Safai Karamcharis, when he visited Raichur on Thursday. In a meeting held at the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Shivanna received a number of complaints and attempted to solve them on the spot by directly discussing the issue with the concerned officer. The grievances ranged from insulting the children of safai karmacharis in a school on the basis of caste and their family profession to the denial of loans by State-owned financial institutions for self-employment. “I was initially denied admission to a private school under Right to Education Act. After the then Assistant Commissioner spoke to the school authorities, I was given admission. Now, the school authorities are demanding Rs. 10,000 as fees. The school authorities also insult me before other students by calling me by my parents’ profession,” a girl complained to the NCSK chairman. Additional Deputy Commissioner H.P. Nagaraj and Mr. Shivanna immediately talked to the school authorities and warned them of dire consequences if they continued to harass the girl. They also warned that the authorities would be booked under Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. In another case, Bhaskar Babu, a safai karmachari leader, complained that the Ambedkar Development Corporation had denied loans to safai karmacharis for self-employment. S.L. Manjunath, district manager of the corporation denied the allegation by stating that 612 safai karmacharies were provided with loans in the last year. However, they countered that the loans were given to some other people in the name of safai karmahcaris. NCSK chairperson asked the corporation to conduct an enquiry into the issue and submit a report within thirty days. Mr. Shivanna said that there was no dearth of funds with the government for the development of safai karmacharis, however, the implementing agencies lacked will. “There is a stringent law in place. There is no dearth of funds. Yet, the development of safai karmacharis and rehabilitation of manual scavengers is at a snail’s pace,” he said. (The Hindu 28/8/15)

5. Dalit woman ‘stripped’ over land dispute in Chhatarpur (2)

Sagar: A 45-year-old Dalit woman was allegedly stripped and forced to consume urine by a couple belonging to the upper caste in Chhatarpur district. The victim along with a group of people belong to her caste on Tuesday met additional superintendent of police (ASP) Chhatarpur, Neeraj Pandey and lodged a complaint, accusing local police station of not taking action against the accused couple. The incident occurred at village Mudwara under Nowgong police station of the district on August 24. The Nowgong police had registered a case under section 394, 323, 506 and 34 of IPC and relevant sections of SC/ST Act against Vijay Yadav and his wife Vimla Yadav. In her complaint to ASP, victim said that few months ago she was given a ‘patta’ of a piece of government land, which was earlier in Vijay Yadav’s possession. This angered Vijay Yadav so that he started harassing her, said victim in her complaint. She further said that Yadav, on August 24, got her crops damaged by releasing his cattle in the field. When she went to Yadav’s house to lodge protest, Yadav’s wife Vimla beat her up with lathis. Later, Yadav came and stripped the victim and also forced her to consume his urine. The accused also threatened the victim with dire consequence if they would lodge complaint to police. Superintendent of police (SP), Chhatarpur, Lalit Shakyawar said that a case was registered by local police station on complaint of the victim but she didn’t inform police about any such incident. “I have instructed the sub-divisional officer of police to conduct a probe and take action against accused couple,” Shakyawar told HT over phone. He further said that the accused couple went missing from village after police registered case against them. (Hindustan Times 2/9/15)

 

6. ‘Atrocities against Dalits on the rise’ (2)

DINDIGUL: Atrocities against Dalits have been increasing in southern part of Tamil Nadu in recent times. The National Commission for Scheduled Castes has been taking measures to control it, said its Assistant Director, P. Ramasamy has said. Talking to press persons at Batlagundu near here on Wednesday, he said that the Commission will extend its total support to affected people and recommend to the government to initiate stern action against persons involved in atrocities against Dalits. Expressing concern over prevalence of twin-tumbler system in many districts, especially in southern districts, he said massive awareness against the twin tumbler system had been created among rural people to eradicate it from the society. Complaints on twin tumbler system would be viewed seriously. Earlier, Mr. Rmasamy visited Viralipatti village near Batlagundu and consoled family members M. Sivakumar (22) who died under mysterious circumstances in a snacks unit in Andhra Pradesh in July, 29. He advised revenue officials to construct a house for them under Green house scheme and issue a land patta. He also directed Nilakottai DSP P. Suriliandi to follow agents who sent the youth to snacks manufacturing unit in Andhra. Earlier, the Assistant Director enquired officials including Vice Chancellor S. Natarajan at Gandhigram Rural Institute over implementation of Adi-Dravida Welfare G.O. No.92 (Amendment), dated September 11, 2012. Vice-Chancellor S. Natarajan clarified that GRI had been collecting fees including tuition fees fully from SC/ST students and reimbursed the tuition fee to students on receipt of prescribed amount from the State Government. Mr. Ramasamy advised the GRI to scrap the existing system and not to collect tuition fees from SC/ST students. Instead, the institute could submit the list of SC and ST students to the district administration directly for reimbursement of tuition fees. Meanwhile, the VC stated that a five-member committee had been constituted to sort out the issues raised by SC/ST students regarding tuition fees. Mr. Ramasamy also enquired Oddanchatram municipal commissioner in connection with distribution of land pattas to Dalits. (The Hindu 3/9/15)

7. Dalits fume over fine on their women for entering temple in Karnataka (2)

Sigaranahalli (Hassan): The Scheduled Castes community at Sigaranahalli in Holenarsipur taluk is furious after the ‘upper caste’ people of the village imposed a penalty on four Dalit women for entering a temple. The women have refused to pay the penalty arguing that they too have rights to enter the temple as they contribute money to organise its festival. When The Hindu visited the village on Sunday, Thayamma, in her late 50s, came down heavily on the ‘upper castes’ for questioning her entry into the Sri Basaveshwara Temple, constructed in 2001. It was on August 31 that the four women entered the temple for a special puja held on behalf of Sri Basaveshwara Stree Shakti Sangha, a self-help group consisting of 20 members. “There were about nine women from the Vokkaliga community and four from Dalit families. Devaraja, a Vokkaliga, raised his voice opposing our entry into the temple. He said SCs are not allowed in the temple. I questioned him. He attempted to beat one of us,” said Thayamma, a former member of the Hariharpur Gram Panchayat. The next day, the ‘upper caste’ people held a meeting and resolved to impose a penalty of Rs. 1,000 on the self-help group, besides insisting that the sangha hold rituals meant for ‘purification’ of the temple, arguing that it had lost its ‘sanctity’ with the entry of the SC women. Sigaranahalli is about 2-km away from Haradanahalli, the native place of the former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda. A few years ago, a community hall was built here by the Hassan Zilla Panchayat. Mr. Deve Gowda also contributed funds from his MP Local Area Development Fund. But now, the community hall has been converted into Vokkaliga Bhavan, restricting the entry of Dalits. Thayamma recalled that she was denied permission to organise her daughter’s marriage in the community hall in 2001. “They did not handover the keys of the hall, though they had earlier agreed to rent it out. It was a tough time for me. I had to organise the marriage outside my house,” she said. Padmamma, another woman in the Scheduled Castes colony, said last year a teenage boy, who had gone inside the community hall to have food at a function organised by the ‘upper caste’ people, was driven out mercilessly. “The hall was built using government funds. We Dalits do not have an alternative place to hold our programmes. We need the right to enter community hall,” she added. When The Hindu brought the issue to the notice of N.R. Purushottam, district social welfare officer, said restricting the entry of Dalits into a temple or a community hall amounts to violation of laws. “I will get details from the people concerned and take appropriate action,” he said. (The Hindu 7/9/15)

8. Amid resistance, Dalit women taken inside temple (2)

Sigaranahalli (Hassan): Amidst opposition from the ‘upper caste’ people, the Hassan district administration on Tuesday took two Dalit women inside the Basaveshwara Temple at Sigaranahalli in Holenarsipur taluk. The ‘upper caste’ people refused to accept the appeal made by officers and MLA H.D. Revanna to allow Dalits into the temple and community hall, built using government funds. The officers had organised a meeting to resolve the differences between the two sections. Addressing the gathering, Mr. Revanna said it was against the law to restrict the entry of Scheduled Castes into a temple or community hall. However, the ‘upper caste’ (Vokkaligas) argued that this would be against the custom followed for years. They maintained that they would not visit the temple or the community hall if Dalits entered it. Last week, the ‘upper caste’ people had objected the entry of four Dalit women into the temple and imposed a penalty of Rs. 1,000 on the Stree Shakti Sangha, whose members had taken them there. The Scheduled Castes community, disappointed by the development, filed a complaint against those who opposed their entry into the temple. The Hindu had carried a report, following which the National Commission for Scheduled Castes directed the district administration to submit a report. Earlier, the Dalits refused to attend the meeting citing that the police had not registered their complaint. They took part in the meeting after senior officers assured them that the complaint would be registered. The officers forcibly took the temple keys and allowed two Dalit women to enter the temple and offer prayers around 9 p.m. When the policemen offered to return the keys, the caretaker of the temple refused to take it stating that no ‘upper caste’ people would visit the temple from now onwards. Bhimashankar Guled, ASP, told the Dalits that the police would be deployed in the village and they could visit the temple whenever they wanted to. (The Hindu 10/9/15)

TRIBALS

9. CRPF men help plough fields to win over tribals in Sukma (6)

Raipur: They are trained to supervise law and order operations and counter insurgency, but the CRPF personnel, in a novel initiative, are helping farmers in ploughing their fields through tractors to win the hearts of tribals in Chhattisgarh’s worst Naxal-hit Sukma district. The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the biggest force fighting Naxalism in various parts of the country, last month launched a unique programme to help tribals in ploughing their fields with the help of tractors, ahead of the crop sowing in Sukma district of South Bastar region. “The initiative was taken up not only to improve relations between the security forces and locals, but also to support the poor tribals in farming who often do not get good crop productivity due to lack of modern and efficient agricultural equipment,” a senior CRPF official told PTI. In farming, ploughing is done for initial cultivation of soil in preparation of sowing seeds or planting saplings. The idea was introduced by CRPF’s II battalion led by commandant VVN Prasanna in two-three villages for sowing paddy crops and it received a huge response, he said. The CRPF personnel themselves ploughed at least 100 acres land through tractors in Misma village on Sukma-Dornapal road during the current kharif crop season, he said. They also helped in ploughing some fields in the remote Injram and Bhejji villages of the region, he said. Initially, the farmers were hesitant in taking assistance from paramilitary forces, but gradually they were persuaded when informed about how tractors can be more fruitful for them in yielding more production, he said.  “We have started the work on demand basis. Since the demand was high in Misma village, we covered only one acre of land from each family there,” the CRPF official said. “Similarly, demands were received from other villages, but due to shortage of time as monsoon has arrived, we could not made it possible,” he said adding that in the next crop season it would be done on a large scale. As a part of the programme, the farmers were also being educated about the modern agriculture practices to increase crop production. Security is an important aspect while carrying out such activities in restive villages. Hence, the jawans are directed to maintain proper surveillance and security cover before undertaking the task, he said. Hailing the CRPF’s initiative, a Raipur-based defence expert said more such efforts are needed to change the “oppressor” image of security forces in Maoist-hit areas and win the war against the banned CPI (Maoist). “Sukma is considered a strong base of extremists where they not only have their military battalions, but also rule the hearts of people. It is necessary for security forces to strike a chord with locals to gain their confidence,” Professor Girish Kant Pandey, Head, Department of Defence Studies in Government Science College, here said. “It will also help the paramilitary forces to change their oppressor image among tribals,” he added. (Deccan Herald 21/8/15)

10. Chhattisgarh: Naxalites gun down Salwa Judum member in Bijapur (6)

Raipur: A 45-year-old man who was an active member of the now-disbanded Salwa Judum was shot dead by suspected Naxalites in Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Bijapur district, police said on ednesday. Pidu Korsa was last night killed by suspected ultras at the Nayapara relief camp under Bijapur police station, a senior police official told PTI. According to the official, villagers said that a group of armed rebels stormed the Nayapara relief camp, located around 3-km away from Bijapur town, and pumped bullets into Korsa, killing him on the spot. Security forces were this morning dispatched to the scene of the attack, the official said, adding that Korsa’s body has been sent for a post-mortem. A manhunt has been launched to nab the attackers, who escaped into the jungles after carrying out the attack, he added. Salwa Judum, an anti-naxalite civil militia, was disarmed and disbanded in the state following a Supreme Court order declaring as illegal and unconstitutional the deployment of tribal youths as Special Police Officers for combating Left- wing extremism. (Zee News 26/8/15)

11. Jharkhand tribal bodies resent Census data on religion (6)

Jamshedpur: The tribal organizations today described the latest Census data on religion published by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner as “faulty and unauthentic” claiming it left out over 20 crore adivasis in the report. “There is no mention of separate Sarna religion code and no column of 20,13,78000 adivasis, having faith in Sarna religion, and who worship nature,” Founder President of All Jharkhand Student Union (AJSU) and President of Jharkhand People’s Party (JPP) Surya Singh Besra said. Reacting sharply to the Census report published recently, Besra said it was a political conspiracy to finish the tribals in the country. The former MLA said even if two crore of the adivasis embraced Christianity, the figure would whittle down to 18 crore all over the country. “Why were they registered in the column of Hindu religion or other during the latest census report?,” he wondered claiming that adivasis worship nature and their religion is Sarna. “Why have the country been observing ‘World Indigenous Day’ on August 9 every year if there is no adivasi in the country or no separate code and column for Sarna?,” he asked. The JPP leader appealed to the tribal community across the country to unite and launch a decisive struggle in support of the separate code and column for Sarna religion. The President of Adivasi Sengel Abhiyan (ASA) and former MP Salkhan Murmu also said the census report on religion published recently was “unauthentic and faulty” in the absence of a separate code and column for Sarna religion. PTI (Zee News 27/8/15)

12. Tribals to be appointed receptionists in hospitals (6)

ADILABAD: In order to take care of language problem faced by Adivasis in urban hospitals, the government will appoint Gond and Kolam tribe receptionists temporarily to serve patients coming to those hospitals from tribal villages in Adilabad district. According to Endowments Minister A. Indrakaran Reddy, many a tribal was reluctant to access medicare in urban hospitals only because of the language barrier. Addressing the media after a visit to Utnoor, Mr. Reddy said special medical camps were being organised for the benefit of sick tribals in the agency mandals. He said so far 723 such camps have been organised in Jainoor, Sirpur (U) and Narnoor mandals where the incidence of fevers is quite high. Giving out statistics, the Minister said of the 55,917 out patients in various hospitals and primary health centres 8,542 suffered of viral fevers while 402 tested positive for malaria. He said patients being identified during the Grama Jyothi programme are also being shifted to hospitals. Collector M. Jagan Mohan also visited the Tribal Welfare high school. (The Hindu 28/8/15)

13. Prohibition of sale of tribal land mustn’t be diluted: Leaders (6)

MUMBAI: A 50-member delegation of tribal leaders, led by former NCP minister and the working president of Akhil Bhartiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad Madhukar-rao Pichad, met Maharashtra governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao today and demanded that the tribal lands be protected at all costs. The delegation also demanded that no new castes/ communities be included in the scheduled tribes and allowed to eat into the reservations for the tribal communities. Former Congress ministers and tribal leaders Shivajirao Moghe, Padmakar Valvi and former deputy speaker of Assembly Vasant Purke (NCP) were also part of the delegation. Talking to reporters later, they said the farm lands of tribals are protected (against transfer or sale to non-tribals) for long in Maharashtra. The Centre enacted a Constitutional amendment on similar lines and many other states followed the suit. However, the present BJP-led state government was planning to bring a new policy which would make sale of tribal lands to others easier, they alleged. “We strongly oppose this. The Constitutional provisions and various rulings of the Supreme Court have directed the Centre and the state governments to safeguard the lands of tribals,” Pichad said. There are pockets of native tribal communities in Mumbai, Thane and surrounding areas where the land prices are high. Pichad alleged that “there appears to be a conspiracy hatched by builders, money-lenders, corporates and land mafia to usurp the tribal lands.” (Times of India 2/9/15)

14. Shroud of superstition in Rayagada, 4 killed in 2 mnths (6)

KORAPUT: Witchcraft continues to claim lives in Odisha despite several campaigns to create awareness among people against the superstitious belief. The situation is paradoxical because the state is touted to be on the path of growth and enlightenment. In three separate incidents, at least four persons have been murdered for allegedly practising witchcraft in Rayagada district in less than two months. This is nothing new in the tribal-dominated districts of the state where industries are growing and percentage of literate people increasing. On July 12, a group of villagers murdered a 25 year-old youth of Kan village under Bissamkatak block in the district and set his body on fire on charges of practicing sorcery. Two persons were murdered on similar charges at Natham village under Rayagada block on August 19. In the latest incident, villagers hacked to death Kurma Kondagiri, 76, on chargers of practising witchcraft and eight persons were assaulted by the attackers for trying to save Kondagiri. The latest killing highlights the degree of superstition which has gripped people in the tribal-dominated district. “It’s is pathetic situation. How can people be so ignorant? What is the role of the state and society to educate them? This is not the first time that such killings took place. In the recent past, tribal-dominated districts of Rayagada, Malkangiri and Koraput have witnessed several sorcery-related murders,” said Akshay Das, a Rayagada-based campaigner. “It’s high time a massive state-level awareness programme be launched to wipe out this social evil,” he added. Ironically, Tuesday’s incident took place on the same day when the Rayagada district administration had organised a workshop to sensitise people against witchcraft. Worried over the recent killings over sorcery, the administration organised a workshop for around 200 people, including traditional healers, anganwadi workers and village-level workers in Rayagada town. “The participants were made aware that no one can be killed by witchcraft. It is only for superstition that people are being murdered on charges of practising sorcery,” said collector (Rayagada) Jagannath Mohanty. “The participants have been asked to senstisize people against witchcraft in villages and urge them not to get violent over it,” he added. According to the collector, more such workshops will be organised in panchayats to spread awareness against sorcery. (Times of India 4/9/15)

15. Four tribal MLAs resign over new bill in Manipur (6)

Guwahati: Four sitting members of the Manipur Legislative Assembly of the Naga People’s Front (NPF) have resigned from their membership of the Assembly on Saturday night as a mark of protest over the three bills passed on August 31. The passing of the bill sparked violence in Churachandpur districts last week where atleast nine people were killed and several injured. The four MLAs — L Dikho, Samuel Risom , S.T Victor Nunghlung and Dr V.Alexander Pao — all from NPF, decided to resign since they felt the Assembly could not protect the interest of the tribal people including the Nagas who dominate in the hill districts in Manipur. “Our resignations are aimed at condemning the Protection of Manipur People Bill, 2015 which treats Nagas and other tribes from Nagaland and other states in the region as non-Manipuris, compelling them to have inner line permit (ILPs) to enter Manipur thereby making them foreigners in their own land. Such a legislation is squarely contrary to the very spirit of the agenda on the table of the Naga Peace talks. This legislation is nothing but a ruse to derail the Indo-Naga peace talks and thus not only anti-Naga but anti-national” read a joint press statement issued by the four MLAs.The NPF MLAs further said that they had sought time from the Speaker of the State Legislative Assembly for detailed participation in the debate on the bills and the resolution, which was denied. “We wanted to table our amendments to the bills and resolution so that these draconian legislative measures are tamed to protect the people of the Hill districts, which were not allowed. We were also not allowed to stage a walk out as the Speaker jumped procedure and declared that these measures were passed without due deliberations and without allowing us time to register our final protest of walk out” the statement further added. (Deccan Herald 6/9/15)

16. In Adilabad, Adivasi children shun school (6)

Babejhari (telangana): Is bullying, a form of ragging in tribal welfare educational institutions, a major cause for the higher incidence of dropouts among Adivasi schoolchildren in Adilabad? As hundreds of young Adivasis continue to keep away from schools despite the good facilities being made available by the government, the issue needs a thorough examination, according to tribal educationists. As many as six Kolam tribe children, all from the same family from Shivguda hamlet of Babejhari village in Kerameri mandal of Telangana, have stayed away from schooling after one of them was allegedly bullied by his schoolmates belonging to the Lambada tribe in 2012-2013. The incident took place at the satellite Ashram primary school of Babejhari which incidentally is the village from where the legendary Gond martyr Kumram Bheem had first waged his war against the tyranny of the Nizam of Hyderabad three quarters of a century ago. Like all Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG), the Kolams are a sensitive, reserved and shy people which explains their choosing to shun school instead of complaining. “The bullies used to sink Ramu’s head in a bucket of water,” shuddered Ramesh, the eldest son of Tekam Manku as he gave reasons for himself and his siblings not going to school. “Given the customary disposition of the PVTGs, the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA), Utnoor, long back started four Ashram schools, especially for their children to facilitate learning amidst ‘familiar’ mates,” stated Mesram Manohar, a tribal educationist and a former District Educational Officer in the agency area. “The Babejhari and the Jodeghat primary schools were opened as satellite schools to facilitate tribal children of the dozen remote habitations lying on the 22-km stretch between Hatti and Jodeghat,” he recalled. The number of children of PVTGs being far less than the capacity of the schools, children from even plains tribes began to be accommodated in these schools located at Adilabad, Utnoor, Hatti and Asifabad. This aspect nonetheless, needs a relook in the light of the instance in question. Responding on the issue, the ITDA Project Officer, R.V. Karnan promised to address the issue as well as education of Manku’s children. “We will admit them in the special schools for PVTGs either at Asifabad or Adilabad,” he asserted. (The Hindu 10/9/15)

WOMEN

17. NCW report exposes Chhattisgarh’s torture cells (8)

NEW DELHI: No food and water for two days while being produced in courts, no doctor to treat sick inmates, no possibility of meeting or speaking to family members. These are some of the observations made by former National Commission for Women (NCW) member Shamina Shafiq on the condition of women prisoners lodged in Central Jail in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, in December 2012. The report, accessed exclusively by The Hindu , kept hidden from the public until recently, was released in response to RTI queries from women’s rights groups working in the State. Adivasi schoolteacher and political leader Soni Sori says that since nothing much has changed in Chhattisgarh’s prisons over the past few years, the findings of the NCW report remain relevant. The NCW team found a total of 140 women prisoners lodged in Central Jail, Raipur, against a capacity of 80. They also found no female doctor in the jail, no armed guards to accompany the undertrials to court leading to inordinate delays in settling cases, and poor access to legal aid for the mostly illiterate prisoners. The NCW report also notes with concern that in the absence of a magistrate, despite video conferencing facilities in Raipur prison, tribal women feared to depose before jail authorities, and that “such an atmosphere was not conducive for holding trials.” The women prisoners are not even provided soap or sanitary napkins, the report says. The statement of 22-year-old Kawasi Hidme, released from Jagdalpur prison in Chhattisgarh earlier this year, after a seven-year illegal detention, offers a glimpse into the lives of adivasi prisoners here. Narrating her experiences in Delhi on Tuesday, Hidme recalled being only 15 years old when she was picked up by the police on charges of being a “Naxal”. Beaten and raped by the police in custody, she developed severe abdomen pain and vaginal bleeding. But during her time in Jagdalpur prison, when she sought medical care for this, prison authorities denied it initially. She was later moved to a hospital and an operation was performed on her, although details of the nature of the surgery remain unknown, as per Hidme’s testimony. After being shunted between Jagdalpur and Raipur prisons, in March this year, the Sessions Court in Dantewada released her when no charges were found against her. The latest 2014 National Crime Records Bureau statistics puts Chhattisgarh among the States with the highest number of complaints – 3,105 — against the police for human rights abuses. However, only in 924 cases have judicial or magisterial inquiries been instituted…..  (The Hindu 21/8/15)

18. Delhi Commission for Women chief spends grim night in ‘hell’ (8)

NEW DELHI: Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal spent Friday night at a Delhi government-run NGO and was horrified by what she saw there. Maliwal described the inside view of Nirmal Chhaya Nari Niketan as “situation grim, extreme suffocation” and said it was nothing short of “hell” where women lived in jail-like conditions even though a significant number of them were mentally challenged and needed specialized care. Maliwal also blamed police for serious lapses in dealing with cases requiring rehabilitation. “DCW conducted a surprise check at 8 PM, spent entire night there. Situation grim. Extreme suffocation. Many infrastructural problems. Unfortunate mentally challenged n (sic) normal women are being forced to live together in the same place,” Maliwal said in a series of tweets. DCW officials said that she spent the night to interact with the inmates as she felt they would not open up in the presence of other officials. Maliwal went for another check on Saturday afternoon, which officials said was primarily for meeting officials and discussing administrative and infrastructural issues with them. She said the commission would be submitting a report to Delhi government. She was accompanied by DCW members Sarika Chaudhury and Promila Gupta. “I spoke to each girl individually. Everyone has gone through hell in life before landing up here. Victims of system and society,” she said, adding, “Found women in Nari Niketan who want to leave and claim to have court orders to that effect. Serious lapses seem to be there on police’s end.” The DCW chief assured that the commission will work with women and child development ministry to improve the situation. “It’s almost like living in a cage where you have nothing to do. There is no activity or work to keep them engaged. All that they have is television. Moreover, many of these girls know their addresses and want to return but despite correspondence between the Nari Niketan and police, the latter have not shown up to facilitate the rehabilitation. All this needs to be dealt with,” she said. Maliwal cited cases of girls from West Bengal and Assam who managed to escape from the clutches of traffickers, but who were still waiting to be reunited with their families. (Times of India 23/8/15)

19. Common issues of gender bias in India, US: American activist (8)

Kolkata:   ’India’s abortion law should be changed to save women’ Gurdaspur acid attack case: No fear of law in India, says Godara LexisNexis India takes over Universal Law Publishing Law Commission of India Submits Report on Guardianship and Custody Laws India’s abortion law stirs concern for women: US study American gender activist and lawyer Vivian Huelgo on Wednesday drew attention to similar issues of gender bias in India and the US, saying that female victims of sexual violence face hostile questions from law enforcers in the US. “If my husband walks in and says that ‘my car has been stolen’, they will look for the person who stole the car… they will look for the car.” “If I walk into a police station and say I was sexually assaulted, they may ask me what I was wearing, whether I was drinking, whether I had sex with the person before,” Huelgo told the media here, adding she was informed about the existing gender bias and “negative experiences” of victims in India. Huelgo is chief counsel to the Task Force on Human Trafficking and Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence of the American Bar Association. She was speaking at a round-table discussion at the American Centre here. She said: “The most difficult change to implement is to change mindsets and to raise awareness. Changing gender bias is a lot harder than drafting and passing legislations.” Enlightening the media about challenges of cyber crimes against women and labour trafficking in the US, she stressed on co-ordinated services as being “crucial” to address the issues. “I definitely think that the idea of co-ordinated services is a knowledge point we (India and US) should share,” she said. (Business standard 26/8/15)

20. ‘PM, CM making false claims on women empowerment’ (8)

VISAKHAPATNAM: Congress has played a vital role in empowerment of women and is committed to their welfare. The Telugu Desam government in the State and the Modi government at the Centre which came to power by making ‘false promises’ on women empowerment were actually withdrawing the benefits to women, said All India Mahila Congress president Shobha Ojha. Addressing at State-level Mahila Congress meeting on women empowerment which was attended by workers from several districts here on Thursday, she recalled that it was former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who had advocated 33 per cent reservation for women in local bodies as he had envisioned that women in decision-making bodies, could provide clean administration and bring down corruption. She said the Congress gave voting rights to women, in the first general elections in 1950 ahead of many countries and introduced the concept of Self Help Group but this was watered down by the Telugu Desam government. Ms. Shobha hoped the AP Mahila Congress workers could revive the lost sheen of the party in Andhra Pradesh. The UPA government had brought the Right To Education (RTE) Act with the objective of empowering girls and women through education. The Modi government, which made tall claims of Beti Padhao–Beti Bachao scrapped the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. She said the AP Chief Minister and the Prime Minister were making contradictory statements on the granting of special category status and misleading the people. Former Union Ministers M.M. Pallam Raju and Killi Kruparani, former Ministers P. Balaraju and Vatti Vasanta Kumar, former Government Whip Dronamraju Srinivasa Rao spoke. (The Hindu 28/8/15)

21. After ‘selfie with daughter’, Bibipur to raise awareness on women rights (8)

Jind (Haryana): Bibipur village panchayat, which was in news recently for its ‘selfie with daughter’ contest, has again come up with a novel way to raise awareness among women about their rights and to help them check crime against them by organising a written contest over the issue. In the ‘women only’ 40 minute written contest named ‘Jagruk Lado, Surakshit Lado’, the date of which was yet to be decided, the participants would be asked 60 marks questions on various laws relating to crime against women. These include Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013, Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Preevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 among others. The winner of the contest would get a reward of Rs 5,100, while the second the third spot winners would get Rs 3,100 and Rs 2,100 respectively. Also a trophy and certificate would be given to them, while 20 other participants would get consolation prizes. The praticipants can take help from a guide book from where 70% question would be asked. (Business Standard 2/9/15)

22.  ‘Kerala records five rapes a day’ (8)

KOLLAM: The police registered 886 rape cases across the State during the first half of this year, in which 322 of the rape victims were minors. On an average five rapes a day took place in the first half of this year, including of a large number of minors, according to the data on crimes against women and children released by the State police on FridayThe police registered 886 rape cases across the State during the period, in which 322 of the rape victims were minors. While the district-wise figures of minors raped were not provided, when it came to women, Thiruvananthapuram district topped with 85 cases. Malappuram followed with 64 cases. In 2014, the number of rape cases registered in the State was 1,283. Two dowry deaths were also reported during the period. Nineteen dowry deaths cases were registered last year. Six cases under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act were registered till June this year. While 69 minors were abducted in the State, 76 women were kidnapped. (The Hindu 5/9/15)

23. No fund records for women schemes (8)

Ranchi: Women empowerment schemes in the state have remained hollow promises thanks to the state’s inability to submit utilization certificates to the Centre, accoding to audit reports submitted during the monsoon session of the assembly. Two central schemes — Kishori Shakti Yojna (KSY) and Rajiv Gandhi scheme for empowering of adolescent girls (SABLA) — failed to yield desired results because the state neither prepared an annual action plan (KSY) for 2009-10 and 2012-13 nor furnished utilization certificate (SABLA). The report by the Comptroller and Auditor General submitted in the assembly stated that the funds were stopped because the state failed to furnish utilization details of the preceding years. But a senior official in the department of women and child welfare said the action plan was not prepared because the Centre did not release funds for 2009-10 and 2012-13. Social welfare, women and child development Louis Marandi, when asked whether the government has started preparing the necessary reports after the audit statement, said she was “not in a position” to comment. During 2009-14, the state spent only 66% of the central funds on women-related schemes. The state also submitted incorrect utilization certificates, as a result of which the Centre stopped further release of funds. The audit report, which covers the period 2009 and 2014, further said populist schemes like the Mukhyamantri Kanyadan Yojana (MKY) and Mukhyamantri Laxmi Ladli Yojana (MLLY) were used by successive governments to distribute money arbitrarily to beneficiaries without following any selection criteria. Under the SABLA scheme, take home ration (THR) were to be provided to out-of-school girls in the age group of 11-14 years and both out-of school and school-going girls aged 14-18 years for 300 days a year. The state government decided to provide THR to girls through anganwadi centres at a cost of Rs 4.95 per day per girl for 300 days during 2010-14. But the audit conducted by the office of the Principal Accountant General (audit) Jharkhand in Ranchi and Hazaribag districts revealed that the fund allotted for THR was not sufficient. The money was suitable for THR for 51 and 152 days in 2011-12 and 2013-14, respectively, as against the norm of 300 days. Also, schemes like MKY and MLLY were riddled with discrepancies. MKY launched with initial support of Rs 10,000 to each BPL girl at the time of marriage which was later increased to Rs.15,000 in October 2011 did not have any guidelines for its implementation. Between 2009-10 and 2013-14 financial assistance of Rs.54.97 crore was given to 42,955 girls. The anganwadi centres or office of child development project officer (CDPO) did not maintain records of applications received or rejected. In absence of records, the audit failed to verify if all eligible girls were covered under the schemes. Similar was the fate of MLLY, which was launched in 2011-12. Offered to all BPL families, for every girl child (maximum two in a family) National Saving Certificate of Rs 6000 was to be purchased annually till the child turned five. On certain conditions like adoption of family planning and sending the girl child to school, she was supposed to get Rs.1.17 lakh at various stages till she turned 21 years. The anganwadi centres were supposed to maintain a receipt register of applications but in the test checked 100 AWCs audit found no record was maintained, making it difficult to verify whether the BPL girls once included in the scheme continued getting the financial support. More over due to lack of institutional delivery among BPL families, for which no effort was made on part of the government, as against annual target of covering 1.81 lakh girls only 0.32 lakh to 0.51 lakh girls were covered till March 2014. (Times of India 7/9/15)

24. Women get more starting salaries than men in IT: Survey (8)

MUMBAI: Even as IT sector stands male-dominated, when it comes to initial salaries, women earn at par or more than their male counterparts, according to a recent survey. In Delhi, women (Rs 9.8 lakh per annum) earn more than males (Rs 9.5 lakh per annum) with experience between 0-3 years. However, as the experience increases, i.e. more than 4 years, men start earning more than women, ‘Salary Survey 2015′ by iimjobs, an online recruitment platform for management positions in the country stated. Hyderabad is another city where women earn more (Rs 9.7 lakh per annum) than their male counterparts (Rs 9.4 lakh per annum) with experience between 0-3 years, which becomes equal at Rs 17.7 lakh per annum when the experience increases to 7-10 years, the report added. In Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore both genders begin with equal salary. However, when the experience increases men more or less overtake women, it said. “The survey gives an in-depth insight into salaries of working professionals across various job sectors in all Indian metropolitan cities, a vital information for both employees and employers. It gives a macro view of the salary trends across different cities and is valuable to those who would like to benchmark their salaries vis-a-vis their peers in the industry,” iimjobs founder Tarun Matta said. The ‘Salary Survey 2015′ was administered on approximately one lakh registered users on the website. In the Accounting and Taxation sector, the pay gap between both genders is huge with men earning almost double than women in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. While there is more than 50% increase in salary of men with experience between 7-10 compared to that of women in Delhi. In Mumbai, males earn Rs 54.7 lakh per annum (11-15 years experience) opposed to Rs 22.5 lakh per annum earned by their female counterparts, the report revealed. Similarly, in the ITES-BPO and Customer Service the pay gap is huge with men earning 45.5% more than women with over 15 years of experience in Bangalore. In Delhi too there is disparity as women earn Rs 17.6 lakh per annum with experience of 11-15 years, while men get Rs 38.6 lakh per annum with similar work experience, it said. The report further revealed that both the genders earn almost in similar range in starting salary, in the banking and finance sector, in Hyderabad. However, in Chennai the initial salary of women is more than men in the sector. In Human Resource sector, men with over 15 years of experience earn almost 1.5 times more than women. (Times of India 9/9/15)

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

25. Officials Turning Blind Eye to Illegal Migration of Child Workers? (14)

SRIKAKULAM:  The delayed reaction of the district officials in cracking down on the illegal migration of children for labour work to other states is turning the bane of thousands of children. The concerned authorities have remained silent over the issue for years, though such incidents have been happening for a while. Officials mostly concentrated on arresting child labour in the district, while transportation of kids continued unabated. Since October 2011, the district officials have rescued just 75 children, out of which almost 60 were rescued this year. Sources said that after a local private NGO complained about the trade to the district collector recently, action has been initiated this year. But already, thousands of children are working and the alarming activity has become a common practice in the rural areas of the district. Lack of awareness campaigns against such sort of activities is said to be the major reason behind their occurrence. Also, lack of employment opportunities is also another important aspect. On Monday, parents of the rescued children staged a protest demanding that the authorities return the children to them. Out of the 75 children rescued, only 25 children have been reunited with their parents so far. The disturbing aspect here is that the parents wanted the release of their children so that they can be sent to other states for work, even against their will. A fisherman from Badivanipeta, M Sri Ramulu, said, “There are no jobs here and the government has never bothered about us. We are not sending our children for child labour, but their work over there is helping us clear our debts and lead our lives here.” Helping Hands Association, Srikakulam, vice president D Venkateswarlu said that the officials are maintaining a blind eye over the issue, leading to such a situation. “The officials need to conduct more awareness programmes in village and mandal levels to stop this. Moreover, literate people in fishermen villages should come forward and educate others,” he added. Since this illegal trade came to light, officials in Srikakulam district have intensified vigilance at Railway Stations and bus stations, apart from rescuing around 197 kids working in shops, restaurants and other offices. Apart from the child migration issues, 89 school dropouts have been rescued and counselled to return to their education. Six street children and 51 child beggars were rescued and sent to Child Welfare Houses. Officials also stopped 314 child marriages, and got written bonds from parents of 219 children, and sent the others to homes. They have also booked 14 cases of sexual harassment. (New Indian Express 21/8/15)

26. Over 13k girls became mothers before turning 15: Census (14)

JAIPUR: As many as 13,868 girls in the state who have not attained 15 years of age have given birth to not one but two children. At a tender age of under-15, the girls have given birth to two children. According to health experts, giving birth to babies before 18 years of age could be a risky affair for mothers and their infants. According to recently released Census 2011, the figures show that once the mistake was done, it was repeated. As per the figures of Census 2011, 1.66 lakh girls were married before they attained the age of 15 years. The figure is a cause for concern for those involved in spreading awareness about child marriages and maternal health. “Teen pregnancies happen due to child marriages. The pregnancies in early age are quite risky as there are chances of complications due to various factors,” said Dr Suman Mittal, president, Jaipur Obstetrics and Gynaecology Society (JOGS). Despite various government programmes spreading awareness about the ill-effects of early marriages and adolescent pregnancies, the situation is not rosy. The Census shows that in an age group of 15-19, as many as 17,793 girls have given birth to four children. It is contrary to the health department’s appeal which says that girls should not get married before 18 years of age, and after marriage, a couple should not bear a child for the first two years. The Census shows that before attaining the age of 20 years, more than 17,793 women gave birth to four children and 13,988 gave birth to three children. There are various surveys conducted by NGOs in different parts of the state which show high prevalence of anaemia among adolescent girls which becomes a risk factor for maternal and infant mortality. The health department allocates funds to reduce maternal mortality ratio and infant mortality rate, but early marriages and adolescent pregnancies are still a cause for concern for the health authorities. (Times of India 22/8/15)

27. Alarming spurt in crimes against kids (14)

BHUBANESWAR: A sharp spike in violent crimes such as rape, murder and abduction against children in the state has been seen in latest findings of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). In 2013, the number of such cases was 1,123, which nearly doubled to 2,196 last year. Although the state did not report any case relating to purchase or sale of girl children for prostitution last year, cases of rape and abduction were high. About 755 minor girls were raped in Odisha last year up from 509 in 2013. A total of 802 children were kidnapped in 2014 while the figure stood at 366 in 2013. “Almost all the rapes and abductions were committed by close acquaintances or relatives of the rape survivors. Most of the cases were reported from slum areas,” said a police officer. “The abduction cases relate to elopement by minor girls,” the officer said. Crimes against children occurred unabated in Odisha’s capital city as well. Official statistics said 43 minor girls were allegedly raped in Bhubaneswar last year compared to 27 in 2013 and two in 2012, indicating the vulnerability of minor girls to crimes. The arrest of an auto-rickshaw driver here on December 10, 2014, on charges of molesting a minor girl was the most sensational. The 17-year-old girl from Jajpur had come to a private university near Jatni to take admission for a vocational course on tailoring when the driver gave her lift and molested her. She jumped off the auto-rickshaw and was rescued by some locals. On December 28, 2014, the parents of a 10-year-old girl from Saliasahi lodged a complaint with Mahila police station alleging that some men forcibly engaged her in prostitution. Police arrested seven persons. “In many cases, the accused got a clean chit in court due to poor investigation by the police. And in some cases, victims and their families turned hostile, leading to the acquittal of the accused. The government should strengthen the Mahila and Sishu desks at police stations and improve infrastructure in courts to ensure speedy trials,” said Anuradha Mohanty, a child rights sactivist. (Times of India 25/8/15)

28. Protect rights of kids below 6: Law panel (14)

NEW DELHI: The Law Commission of India has recommended amendments to the Constitution to ensure an enforceable right to basic care, protection, health and education for children below six years of age. While the government has a policy on early childhood care and education in 2013, it is not enforceable under law. The commission said that early childhood is the phase of “maximum vulnerability” and deprivation can seriously impact a child’s health and learning potential. In its report to the law ministry the commission has also sought amendments to ensure maternity leave for up to 180 days and creation of a statutory authority for early childhood development to ensure “proper emphasis” on the promotion of early childhood development. It has also suggested that government formulate policy for laying down minimum specifications of paid maternity leave for private sector companies. The recommendations come in response to demands made by child rights activists including representatives of Alliance for Right to Early Childhood Care & Development and Mobile Creches, who highlighted the issue relating to the rights of children under the age of six years. The law panel suggested that as per the recommendation of the National Commission for Review of Constitution, a new Article, 24A, be inserted to Part III of the Constitution to ensure that the child’s right to basic care and assistance becomes an enforceable right. “The Article should read as follows: ’24A. Every child shall have the right to care and assistance in basic needs and protection from all forms of neglect, harm and exploitation’,” the report said. To extend the Right to Education to children in the under-6 age group as well, Article 21A of the Constitution should be amended, it said and recommended that the amended Article should read as: “The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children in such a manner as the State may by law determine.” It pointed out that as of now, issues relating to interests and welfare of young children “remain locked” in Part IV of the Constitution that incorporates Directive Principles of State Policy. The Commission has also suggested that Right to Education be made mandatory and children are provided access to pre-school education, services like creche and day care. (Times of India 28/8/15)

29. NGOs fear new bill will perpetuate child labour (14)

PANAJI: Pro Child Network, an umbrella organization of various groups working for children’s rights, has raised concerns about the proposed amendment to the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act by the government of India. The proposed amendment allows children below 14 years of age to work in family enterprises, agriculture, artisanship, entertainment industry (except circus) “after school hours”. The amendment is likely to drag more children into unregulated conditions of work. The Pro Child Network further observes that this law is not in line with the Right to Education Act that entitles children between 6 to 14 years of age to free and compulsory education. The parliamentary standing committee examining the 2012 bill, which already proposed a similar amendment bill, states: “The ministry is itself providing loopholes by inserting this proviso since it would be very difficult to make out whether children are merely helping their parents or are working to supplement the family income. Further, allowing children to work after school is detrimental to their health as rest and recreation is important for their physical and cognitive development.” More children are likely to be trafficked to work in ‘home-based’ environments as nobody will check whether they belong to the same family or not. Since most family-based occupations in India are caste-based, this bill will only keep the caste system intact and not give children an opportunity to learn new, employable trades. The network has anticipated that the amendment will only perpetuate invisible forms of child labour and exploitation of children. (Times of India 2/9/15)

30. 566 petitions related to child rights’ disposed off in three years (14)

NAMAKKAL: The Tamil Nadu State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has disposed off 566 petitions related to child rights in the past three years, said it’s Commissioner Saraswathi Rangasamy. Addressing reporters here, she said that since the inception of the Commission in 2013, it has received 716 petitions of which action were taken against 566 petitions and disposed off. She said that the balance petitions were sent to the departments concerned for necessary actions. As many as nine children who were sexually harassed were given compensation of Rs. 18 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. It includes, two children from Namakkal district, she added. The Commissioner added that schools in 20 districts were inspected for verifying whether 25 per cent admissions were made under the Right to Education Act. Earlier, she inspected children homes in Velagoundampatti, Elanagar and Varadarajapuram and verified the records and interacted with the students. Also, the maintenance of the homes, drinking water facility, food quality, toilet facilities was inspected. District Child Protection Officer M. Selvam was present. (The Hindu 5/9/15)

31. Officials to monitor child workers employed in cotton fields (14)

SALEM: With cross-pollination in hybrid seed production expected to commence from September-end in the district, officials are gearing up to prevent migrant child workers being employed by the farmers. Children below 14 years, particularly girls, are employed in BT cotton seed production in Attur, Thalaivasal and Pethanaickenpalayam blocks for cross pollination activities that has to be carried out from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. everyday till December. Children are the most preferred as they have nimble fingers, ability to work for longer hours and considered as cheap labour. They are mostly from Javadu Hills in Tiruvannamalai, Vellimalai in Villupuram, Kalvarayan Hills in Salem and from Kolli Hills in Namakkal districts. Despite warning by officials of Society for Monitoring and Implementation of Child Labour Elimination, Unicef and other departments, farmers continue to engage children less than 18 years. Last year, officials conducted raids in cotton fields in the blocks and rescued child workers less than 14 years. Cases were also registered against farmers and the police arrested them. Sources said that advance amount for children have already been paid by the farmers and they would start coming from other districts by September-end. They said that by first week of October cross-pollination activity would begin in the fields. District Child Protection Officer A. Devagi told The Hindu that surprise checks would be conducted in the agricultural fields from next week and farmers who have cultivated BT-cotton crops would be monitored. She said that children below 14 years would be rescued and action will be taken against the farmers. Also, children below 18 years would be sent home and rehabilitation measures would be worked out for them. (The Hindu 6/9/15)

32. 1.10 lakh child labourers work on Gujarat’s fields: NGO report (14)

Ahmedabad: Gujarat accounts for 55 per cent of the country’s child labour working in cottonseed production and the total number of children working in such fields has reached 1.10 lakh, according to an NGO study report released here on Wednesday. The study report was released by two city-based NGOs, namely Prayas and Majur Adhikar Manch. “Gujarat, which has the largest cottonseed production area in the country accounts for nearly 55 per cent of total children employed in this sector (1.10 lakh),” reads a study ‘Cotton’s Forgotten Children’ conducted by social rights activist Davuluri Venkateswarlu for the NGO India Committee of the Netherlands. Research data for 2014-15 showed that children under 14 years still account for nearly 25 per cent of the total workforce in cottonseed farms in India, the report stated. In 2014-15, around two lakh children below 14 years were employed in cottonseed fields in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Rajasthan, the report stated. Citing findings of the report that the caste factor plays a huge role in child labour, a city-based rights activist Ramesh Shrivastava said that “Around 70 per cent of child labourers are from tribal communities and 4.5 per cent of these children hail from Schedules Castes, while 18.6 per cent of such child labourers of Other Backward Class (OBC) and 6.7 per cent are from other castes”.Most child labourers hail from the tribal belt of Gujarat namely Dahod, Chhota Udaipur and Sabarkantha districts, he said.  In Gujarat, around 56.7 per cent of child labourers had to drop out of schools while 34.3 per cent of them continued to go to school but w ork during the peak season, he said. (Zee News 9/10/15)

MINORITIES – GENERAL

33. Government committed to freedom of religion: Najma Heptulla (7)

New Delhi: Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla Sunday reiterated the government’s commitment to freedom of religion as guaranteed by the Constitution and decried communal and sectarian violence as conspiracies of vested interests that exploit vulnerable people. “Our Constitution guarantees freedom of religion… It also provides an atmosphere for our diversities to co-exist. In spite of the formidable challenges posed by a complex society with a large population, we have emerged successfully as a vibrant democracy with a robust framework of governance. It is a testimony to our collective conscience and resilience,” she said at a seminar of the All India Catholic Union. “Our government is fully committed to retain this character. Our PM has reiterated this point repeatedly during the last one year.” Among those present at the event were Archbishop of Delhi Vincent M Concessao, Rabbi Ezekkiel Isaac Malekar, Acharya Dr Lokesh Muni, Dadi E Mistry, member of National Commission for Minorities and Maulana Mahmood Madani, of Jamiat Ulama i Hind. (Indian Express 24/8/15)

34. Hindu population declined; Muslims increased: 2011 census (7)

New Delhi: The Muslim community has registered a moderate 0.8 per cent growth to touch 17.22 crore in the 10 year period between 2001 and 2011, up from 13.8 crore, while Hindus population showed a decline by 0.7 per cent at 96.63 crore during the period, according to the latest census data on religion. While the census figure on religion was released today, more than four years after compilation of the data, the caste data is yet to be made public. RJD, JD(U), SP, DMK and  some other parties have been asking the government to release the caste census figure. The data on socio economic status of the population was released on July 3. As per the religious census data of 2011, released by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner today, the total population in the country in 2011 was 121.09 crore. Hindu population is 96.63 crores (79.8 per cent); Muslim 17.22 crores (14.2 per cent); Christian 2.78 crores (2.3 per cent); Sikh 2.08 crores (1.7 per cent); Buddhist 0.84 crores (0.7 per cent); Jain 0.45 crores (0.4 per cent), Other religions and persuasions (ORP) 0.79 crores (0.7 per cent) and religion not stated 0.29 crores (0.2 per cent). The proportion of Muslim population to total population has increased by 0.8 percentage point (PP) in 2011, the census data said. The proportion of Hindu population to total population in 2011 has declined by 0.7 PP; the proportion of Sikh population has declined by 0.2 PP and the Buddhist population has declined by 0.1 PP during the decade 2001-2011. There has been no significant change in the proportion of Christians and Jains.   As per 2001 census, India’s total population was 102 crores of which Hindu population comprised of 82.75 crore (80.45 per cent) and Muslims were 13.8 crore (13.4 per cent). The growth rate of population in the decade 2001-2011 was 17.7 per cent. The growth rate of population of the different religious communities in the same period was as Hindus: 16.8 per cent; Muslim: 24.6 per cent; Christian: 15.5 per cent; Sikh: 8.4 per cent; Buddhist: 6.1 per cent and Jain: 5.4 per cent. The distribution is total population by six major religious communities namely, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain besides ‘Other Religions and Persuasions’ and ‘Religion not stated’. (Pioneer 25/8/15)

35. Sikhs Have Worst Male-female Ratio; Christians Best (7)

NEW DELHI: Sikhs have the worst sex ratio while the Christians have the best with women outnumbering males in the community, latest Census figures show. According to Census 2011, Sikh community has a population of 2,08,33,116, of which 47.4 per cent are females while 52.55 per cent are males as compared to Christians where women constitute 50.5 per cent and males are 49.4 per cent of the total 2,78,19,588 persons belonging to the community. Hindus, which have a population of 96,62,57,353, have 48.4 per cent women and 51.5 per cent men. The percentage is similar in Muslims which are second largest religious group in the country with 48.7 per cent women and 51.2 per cent men of the population of 17,22,45,156. Buddhists, which have a population of 84,42,972, have 50.8 per cent males and 49.11 per cent females while Jains have a population of 44,51,753 with 51.1 per cent males and 48.8 per cent females. The male female ratio among Sikhs has seen little change since 2001 Census figures which show that females were 47.1 per cent of the total 1.92 crore population as compared to 52.8 per cent males. (New Indian Express 26/8/15)

36. Minorities panel notice to Sant Kabir Nagar DM, SP (7)

FAIZABAD: Taking suo motto cognizance of news item published in The Times of India on Wednesday reporting the ban imposed by Sant Kabir Nagar district administration on ‘qurbani’ (sacrifice) ritual on the occasion of Eid ul Zuha, the Uttar Pradesh Minorities Commission issued notice to Sant Kabir Nagar district magistrate and superintendent of police terming the ban unconstitutional and directed administration for immediate removal of ban on qurbani ritual performed by Muslims on Eid Ul Azha (Baqreed). A group of Muslims from Sant Kabir Nagar district alleged the local administration was not safeguarding their right to perform Eid ul Zuha ‘qurbani’ under pressure of the Hindu activists. Community members alleged that in Musahra village of Mehdawal tehsil in Dharamsinghva police station area of Sant Kabir Nagar district, on all three days of the festival, local administration deployed PAC and heavy police force to snatch away the goats from Muslims and locked up the livestock and return it only after the festival was over. Talking to TOI, Uttar Pradesh Minorities Commission senior member and spokesman Shafi Azmi said, “It came to our notice through news published in TOI that local administration of Sant Kabir Nagar is imposing a strange and unconstitutional ban on religious rights of Muslims, so the commission has directed the DM and SP for immediate removal of the ban.” (Times of India 3/9/15)

37.  ‘Minorities integral part of PM’s vision’ (7)

Mumbai:: Union minister of minority affairs, Dr Najma Heptulla on Friday said that minorities would be an integral part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of making India the skill capital of the world. Dr Heptulla was speaking at the closing ceremony of a skill development training programme under Maulana Azad National Academy For Skills (MANAS) held at Kurla. She awarded certificates to students and gave away loans to candidates preferring self-employment. Referring to the first education minister of India, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Dr Heptulla said that he always considered education as the basis of human development and hence wanted each and every citizen of India to get educated. “He always emphasised on creating a uniform education system so that the intellectual class of the country will have a balanced thought and concerns,” he said. (Asian Age 5/9/15)

38. 12 social workers challenge beef ban (7)

Mumbai: A group of 12 social workers has filed a writ petition in the Bombay high court challenging the ban on slaughter of bulls and bullocks and possession of their meat in Maharashtra. The petitioners have also requested the court to stay the ban pending hearing of the petition and allow slaughter of bulls and bullocks during Bakri Id, which will be celebrated this month. The petition has been filed by a bunch of social workers, including South Mumbai NCP yuvak adhyaksh Huzaifa Electricwala. The petition has termed the ban illegal and an infringement upon the fundamental rights of citizens provided under the Constitution of India.“It is an act of atrocity against the people who prefer their choice of food and eat meat,” said the petition. It also said that in several cases the Supreme Court’s majority of judges have decided that basic structure of our Constitution cannot be altered or changed and this decision is in violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed in Part III of Constitution of India. According to petitioners, criminalisation of beef eating violates human rights and is unconstitutional. The petition said the Act directly affects farmers, Harijans, Dalits, Muslim minorities, Christian tribes and even the husbandry agriculture and fisheries department, as the livestock of farmers have no utility after the ban. The petitioners alleged that the ban is nothing but a political stunt by the current government. The petition charged that the new government is creating communal hatred and disharmony among peace-loving citizen by such acts. It also referred to the controversial advertisement published by government on Republic Day, which had reproduced Preamble of Indian Constitution but it did not have the words “Secular and Social”. According to petitioner, it was a deliberate mischievous attempt to undermine Indian Constitution. The petitioners have also requested the court to declare the amendment violative (sic), irrational and unconstitutional and, pending the hearing and final disposal of the petition, direct the respondents to allow sacrifice of bulls and bullocks during Bakri Id. The petition is likely to be heard in due course. (Asian Age 7/9/15)

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

39. AIMPLB to hold all-India meet of Imams against ‘imposition’ of yoga, surya namaskar (7)

LUCKNOW: The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) will ask Imams of mosques to educate Muslims about attacks on Islamic beliefs and how to counter them by taking up such issues in their sermons before Friday prayers. The Board will take up the proposal at a clerics’ meet scheduled to be held in Amroha in UP in September. The AIMPLB considers yoga and surya namaskar as issues that are against Islamic beliefs. “The idea behind the move is to inform the community about the attempts being made to attack the Islamic beliefs, what is wrong about such attempts, and how a Muslim should resist such moves in a peaceful, democratic and lawful manner,” said Kamaal Farooqui, AIMPLB office-bearer and head of the organising committee for the event. Farooqui, who is a native of Amroha, said, “The event will be attended by Imams from all over India.” The Amroha event will implement the agenda of the AIMPLB working committee meeting held in Jaipur earlier this year, which called for an awareness campaign among Muslims on issues related to Sharia and attempts to attack Islamic beliefs. “Muslims should always remain cautious as there are organisations that are attacking Islamic beliefs and trying to impose Brahmin dharma. All this yoga, surya namaskar and Vedic culture are part of Brahmin dharma and totally against Islamic beliefs,” AIMPLB working secretary Maulana Wali Rehmani had said in a letter to the Board members after the Jaipur meet. Elaborating on some issues which are against Sharia, AIMPLB executive committee member Zafaryab Jilani said, “Muslims should know why surya namaskar and yoga are being opposed, what does Islam say about such issues and how one should counter attempts to force Muslims to perform surya namaskar in a lawful and peaceful manner.” “By incorporating such issues in the khutba (sermons) that are delivered before the Friday afternoon prayers, common Muslims will take them seriously,” said Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali, another member of the Board’s executive committee. (Times of India 21/8/15)

40. 92% of Muslim women in India want oral triple talaq to go: Study (7)

NEW DELHI: Should unilateral, triple talaq be banned? An overwhelming number of Muslim women in the country think so. In a first of its kind study, the women have unequivocally voiced their dissent against the discriminatory practice of triple talaq with 92.1% seeking its ban. Oral talaq delivered through new media platforms like Skype, text messages, email and Whatsapp have become an increasing cause of worry for the community. A study conducted across 10 states by NGO Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) — working for reforms in Muslim personal law — found that a majority of the women were economically and socially disadvantaged, over half had been married before the age of 18 and had faced domestic violence.The study, which interviewed 4,710 women between July and December 2013, reveals that 91.7% of the respondents opposed a second marriage by their husbands. About 73% women surveyed were from families that earned less than Rs 50,000 annually and 55% were married before they reached 18. An overwhelming 82% had no property in their name and 78% were homemakers, indicating absence of income. Over 53% reported having faced domestic violence in their lives while a majority was poorly educated. In 2014, of the 235 cases that came to women Sharia adalats that we run, 80% were of oral talaq,” author of the study Zakia Soman said, adding that women were forced to bear the brunt of the practice. Most women (93%) were in favour of an arbitration process before divorce and 83.3% believed that codification of Muslim family law would help get justice. Codification of Muslim personal law has been resisted by the community citing religious interference. Responding to this, Soman said, “Government has molly-coddled and appeased those groups which have taken upon themselves to speak for the community. It is our constitutional right. For groups that cite religious freedom as an argument, it is at the expense of women’s rights.”Co-author Noorjehan Safia Niaz said, “An overwhelming number of women demands reforms in Muslim personal law. They want an elaborate codified law based on the Quranic justice framework to cover matters such as age of marriage, divorce procedures, polygamy, maintenance and custody of children.”BMMA plans to take the issue up with the government, Law Commission and the National Commission for Women (NCW). (Times of India 21/8/15)

41. Bengal beats India in Muslim growth rate (7)

KOLKATA: In three districts of Bengal, Murshidabad, Malda and North Dinajpur, the Muslim population has surpassed the Hindu population, the Census 2011 data on Population by Religious Communities released on Tuesday, reveals. Moreover, if in India the Hindu population has dipped by 0.7 per cent, in Bengal it is much higher at 1.94 per cent. Correspondingly, if the Muslim population has increased by 0.8 per cent, in Bengal the growth has a higher rate – 1.77 per cent. In Bengal’s 9.12 crore population, Hindus still comprise 6.4 crore people or 70.53 per cent of the population. Muslims comprise 2.4 crore population or 27.01 per cent. Compared to the 2001 Census data, this is slightly higher. For a decade earlier, the Hindu population in Bengal was 5.8 crore and Muslim population was 2 crore. Bengal’s population then, too was far lesser, at 8.01 crore. The only thing constant then and now is the asymmetrical spread of Bengal’s population by religion. Three districts which the Muslims have overshot the Hindus at Murshidabad (47 lakh Muslims; 23 lakh Hindus), Malda (20 lakh Muslims; 19 lakh Hindus) and North Dinajpur (15 lakh Muslims; 14 lakh Hindus). For Adhir Chowdhury, Berhampore’s Congress MLA and state Congress president, it doesn’t pack a punch here. “If Anatanag district is highest in number of Muslims by percentage; Murshidabad is the highest by headcount. Infact, history says in Murshidabad the national tricolor was unfurled two days after August 15, 1947, for they had all but taken it that they would cede to East Pakistan. So I am not much surprised by the outcome,” he says. Trinamool Congress MP Sultan Ahmed reasons, “I would like to interpret this due to the proximity of these districts to the Muslim-dominated districts of Kishangunj, Purnia and Katihar in Bihar. The BJP may cry itself hoarse raising the Bangladeshi immigrant bogey but had it been true, this would have been the picture in Nadia and North 24-Parganas, too.” In North 24-Parganas, the country’s most populous district with 10,009,781 people, Hindus account for over 73-lakhs and Muslims over 25-lakhs. In Nadia, Hindus account for 37 lakhs while Muslims 13 lakhs. “The incremental increase, which is in sync with the growth of population in Bengal buries the illegal migration theory, once for all,” Ahmed asserted… (Times of India 26/8/15)

42. Muslims grow 10% more than Hindus and Christians in Kerala (7)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Muslim population in Kerala has been growing at a faster rate compared with the Hindu and the Christian population. A TOI analysis of the 2001 and 2011 religion-based census data showed the state’s Muslim population grew by 12.23% while the other two communities (Hindus up by 2.23%, Christians by 1.38%) lagged far behind. The Muslim population rose from 78.63 lakh to 88.73 lakh. The Hindu population went up from 1.78 crore in 2001 to 1.82 crore in 2011. The Christians in the state had a marginal rise, from 60.57 lakh to 61.41 lakh in the last decade. Experts attribute the Muslim proclivity for a bigger family to a spectrum of factors, including affluence, early marriage, adherence to joint-family system and strong religious belief. International population expert P Arokiasamy said the corresponding fall in proportion of the Christians may be due to fall in fertility rate. “The fertility rate of the Christians started falling much earlier than other religions and thus the population growth is minimal or has declined in some parts of the country. The delayed marriage and adherence two-child norm are the other reasons,” he said. The largest Muslim population is in Malappuram district. Ernakulam district has the largest number of Christians while the highest concentration of Hindus is in Thiruvananthapuram district. (Times of India 27/8/15)

43. Muslims want education, jobs and development (7)

BHAGALPUR: The tone and tenor of minority community members present in good number at the PM Narendra Modi’s rally was different. They talked about education, enhancing technical skill, employment opportunities and development in Bihar. At the same time, they didn’t feel comfortable talking about infamous 1989 Bhagalpur riots after nearly 26 years. They, instead, dismissed the riots as a non-issue which the political parties should not raise to bully any community. Communal harmony and peaceful coexistence with state’s development was the buzz word for them, now. They were seen discussing ‘vikas, vishwash, vichar aur pradesh mey kaisi sarkar (development, trust, understanding and what kind of government in the state needed). TOI talked to a cross-section of the minorities to elicit their points of view vis-a-vis assembly election in the state. Md Manjoor Ali, a Bhagalpur local, said “aman-chaain aur vikas hi mudda hai aur hum log bacchon ko acchi shiksha dena chahte hain (communal harmony and development are the issues and we want good education for our children)”. MBA graduate Syed Zeejah Hussain, who works in a private company and is a social activist, said development is very important for every section of the society, including minorities. Communal feeling fades away with education and development. It is a heartwarming situation that every politician now talks about development, he added. Dr Imtiyazur Rehman, a leading neurosurgeon, said 1989 riots memories have faded away and new generation has come up. “We all want development and education. We want quality education for our children, he said. Md Arif said earlier people used to vote on different counts, but now the focus is on development, employment, electricity, roads, law and order, etc. It is for sure that developmental issues are on the forefront and other issues have taken a back seat, echoed Hasnain Ali. Md Jumman, an old man sitting at the meeting ground, said, “Hum gareeb hain kya bolen, lekin tarakki hogi, aman chain hoga toh sabka bhala hoga. Abhi tak toh sirf log bewakoof banatey aaye hain.” (Times of India 1/9/15)

44. Ansari’s words have weight, govt must plumb depths of Muslim exclusion (7)

Addressing a jubilee meeting of the All India Majlis-e-Mushawarat, the vice-president offered an eloquent assessment of the condition of Indian Muslims. He referred to the “shadow of physical and psychological insecurity” that they experienced at the time of Independence — and spelt out the deprivations they endure today. Mr Ansari carefully referenced governmental assessments like the Sachar Committee report which said that on most socio-economic indicators, Muslims were on the “margins of structures of political, economic and social relevance” and, in many cases, their condition was worse than that of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.Mr Ansari said their principal problems related to identity and security, education and empowerment, equitable share of the largesse of the state and a fair share in decision-making. Reiterating social democratic principles, he said the default by the State in terms of exclusion ought to be corrected by the State and argued that affirmative action is a prerequisite for achieving the objective of sab ka saath sab ka vikas. This proposition may not materialise anytime soon, particularly since the ongoing Patidar agitation intends on doing away with reservations altogether. That said, the Centre must heed Mr Ansari and ensure that Muslims are accorded the full measure of their rights as citizens. The Post Sachar Evaluation Committee noted in 2014 that Muslims continue to ‘live in areas that are denied public services of any kind and have considerably lower incomes than their counterparts among all socio-economic groups’. The State is regrettably yet to plumb the extent of Muslim exclusion. There is, for instance, no religion-specific data about public service recruitment. All we know is that the share of minorities as a whole in 37 central government ministries and departments increased from 4.49% in 2006-07 to 7.74% in 2012-13, far lower than the share of the Muslim population, which was close to 14% during the period. Mr Ansari spoke also about internal factors constraining Muslim development and about the need to be anchored in modernity and yet critically engaging it. But his primary point about State responsibility remains, which should take the first step by gathering and publicising religion-based data in order to improve services. Most social sector programmes do not identify beneficiaries by socio-religious categories. Schemes meant for minorities will not be effective unless that changes. (Hindustan Times 3/9/15)

45. Muslim Board to campaign against imposition of Brahminical culture (7)

Hyderabad:  The All India Muslim Personal Law Board, the apex body of Indian Muslims, has decided to launch a nationwide campaign against attempts by the government to impose Brahminical culture and vedic dharam. Voicing concern over the threats posed to the religious and cultural identity of minorities and other groups, the board announced the launch of the ‘deen aur dastur bachao’ (save religion and constitution) campaign. The board has also involved other minority groups and organisations from the depressed classes in the campaign. Stating that an “alarming” situation was prevailing in the country, AIMPB general secretary Moulana Sajjad Naomani told a news conference here on Saturday that the attempts to impose a Brahminical social order and rituals like yoga, surya namaskar and Vande Mataram were against the Indian Constitution. “This is not bothering just Muslims but also all other social and religious units. As the largest minority, the board took up the responsibility to take all along and launch a movement to save our faith and constitution,” he said. As part of the campaign public meetings, seminars and symposiums would be organised to bring about public awareness and to demand implementation of the constitution in letter and spirit. The board also plans to wage a legal battle by challenging the imposition of Brahminical rituals. It will also challenge in the Supreme Court the orders of the Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan high courts, which ruled that rituals like surya namaskar should be optional. “Even optional is against the constitution. Imposing culture of a particular community on all is not fair,” he said. When asked if the board would also make a representation to the prime minister or home minister, he said this was not on their agenda for now. Naomani said it is shameful that Prime Minister Narendra Modi says one thing and then does something else. “We have no objection to what he is saying. What all he is saying is good but there is so much difference in what he says and what he is doing. Our movement is against his actions not his statements,” he said. The Muslim leader said minorities can’t be deprived of their religious and social identity in the same of development. “On one side you talk of development and on the other you want to deprive minorities of religious and social identity and you take actions and make legislations for this,” he said. He also took strong exception to the prime minister’s meetings with the RSS leaders and said this was a government of India and not a government of Hindus and Brahmins. “Muslims can never compromise on their faith come what may. The community is disturbed with the developments,” he said while pointing out that India is a secular democratic country and the constitution guarantees religious freedom. Naomani said some forces were bent upon distracting the community from its fundamental faith and way of life. He cited examples of large scale changes in the education system and changes in the syllabus of schools and colleges. The board leaders claimed that efforts were being made to amend the laws, which may affect Muslim personal laws. “The communal forces are upbeat with the support of people at the helm of affairs. The growing communalism is not only a danger to the Muslim community but also to other religious, cultural and social groups. This communalism will hamper the growth and well being of the people,” the board said. AIMPB secretary Moulana Vali Rehmani and other key figures including AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi, Abdul Raheem Qureshi and Moulana Khalid Saifullah Rehmani were also present. (Business Standard 5/9/15)

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

46. 1 in 2 Christians lives in five southern states (7)

CHENNAI: Nearly half of the country’s Christian population lives in south India, shows the Census 2011 data released on Tuesday. The five southern states — Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana — account for 1.28 crore (46%) of India’s 2.78 crore-strong Christian community. With seven northeastern states accounting for 28.1% of the Christian population and Goa for another 1.3%, the rest of the country is home to less than 25% of the total Christians in the country. The proportion of Christians in the total population has, however, dipped slightly from 2.34% in 2001 to 2.29% in 2011. Kerala alone is home to 22.07% of the total Christians in the country, followed by Tamil Nadu with 15.88%. Hindus are the overwhelming majority in the country, making up 79.8% of the population, but the south accounts for just 21.47% of the community in the country. The southern states also account for just 16.87% of the total number of Indian Muslims. Other communities like Buddhist, Jains and Sikhs constitute only a minuscule portion of the population of the five states. Analysts say there are many reasons why the Christian population is concentrated in the south. “The first apostle, St Thomas, arrived in Kerala and travelled to Tamil Nadu. Christians have always considered the southern states as their own and they are one with the culture of these states,” said analyst Bernard Samy. A Christian in Tamil Nadu speaks the local language and has adopted the local culture, thereby living in harmony with all other religions, he said. Education also plays a major role in Christians making south their home, he said. “There are several educational institutions managed by the church and individuals from the community. These institutions employ many from the community and they form part of the state’s population,” Samy said. International population expert P Arokiasamy said there are historical reasons for high number of Christians in the south. “The presence of centuries-old Christian institutions in education and health sectors is a big factor. All the southern states have their share of centuries-old Christian institutions,” said Arokiasamy. Migration from other states is another reason, he said. Christians from other states come down to south for jobs and marriage, and then settled down. The fall in proportion of Christians in the total population is attributed to fall in fertility rate. “The fertility rate of Christians started falling much earlier than other religions and thus the population growth is minimal or has declined in some parts of the country,” Arokiasamy said. The main reason is delayed marriage, he said. Except for Kerala, the Hindu population is above 80% in the other southern states. While in Tamil Nadu, 87.58% of the population consists of Hindus, it is 88.82% in Andhra Pradesh (including Telangana) and 83.99% in Karnataka. In Kerala, Hindus constitute only 54.72% of the population and the next dominant community is Muslims, who make up 26.56% of the population. Nearly 7.74% of the Muslim population of the country lives in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. This is followed by Tamil Nadu, which is home to 6.53% of the Muslims in the country. (Times of India 26/8/15)

47. New data disproves allegations of conversions: Indian Christians (7)

Delhi: India’s Christian community has grown more slowly in the last decade than the country’s overall population, according to new government data, disproving allegations that there have been widespread forced Christian conversions. The coalition federal government, led by the pro-Hindu Bharatatiya Janata Party (BJP), on Aug. 25 released religion-based data collected for the 2011 decennial national census. The data shows the percentage of Hindus fell marginally while Islam grew faster than any other religion during the 10 years between 2001-2011. The Muslim population grew by 0.8 percent against the overall population, while Hinduism declined by 0.7 percentage points. Muslims still make up a mere 14.2 percent of the population compared with Hinduism’s 79.8 percent. “There has been no significant change in the proportion of Christians and Jains,” added an official statement. The data “exposes the sham and hollowness of the Hindu fanatic charge against conversion,” said John Dayal, a Catholic lay leader in India. Christian and Muslim leaders say the BJP and fanatic Hindu groups have made politically motivated statements that increasing Christian and Muslim populations threaten to end the Hindu majority in India and destroy their culture. “While Muslims are presented as pro-Pakistan and terrorists, Christians are said to be secessionists and devouring Indian cultural values,” said Dayal, who is also a member of ucanews.com’s board of directors. “As part of this, various Hindu groups have been calling for the disenfranchisement of Christians, curbs on Muslims and are exhorting Hindu women to have more children in this demographic war.” India has only 27.8 million Christians in a population of 1.21 billion people, but they are the second-largest religious minority, after Muslims, who number at least 170 million. Among minorities, there are 20 million Sikhs, 8.4 million Buddhists and 4.5 million Jains, data shows.  In the past decade, Christian missioners, especially in BJP-ruled states like Madhya Pradesh, have been accused of converting tribal people and those from the beleaguered “untouchable” caste. Laws were enacted to end conversion, police cases were filed and missioners attacked in the name of conversion activities. Church leaders like Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal, based in the capital of Madhya Pradesh state, said the data proves otherwise. “I want to ask all those who accused us of converting gullible people to Christianity: where are those whom we converted,” Archbishop Cornelio said. The Hindus are the huge majority — close to 80 percent or 966.3 million — but data shows they declined by 0.7 percent in overall population compared to the previous decade. The Indian population grew 17.7 percent during the time, but Muslims recorded a higher growth rate of 24.6 percent. All other followers grew less than the national average: Hindus, 16.8 percent; Christians, 15.5 percent; Sikhs, 8.4 percent; Buddhists, 6.1 percent; and Jains, 5.4 percent. Statistics show that Hindus increased by 140 million between 2001 and 2011, which is more than the total Muslim population of the country in 2001 — 138 million. In 2001, Hindus numbered 827 million while the Muslim population in the country the same year was 138.8 million. Current data shows that in 2011, Hindus grew to 966.3 million and the Muslim population was 172.2 million. Archbishop Cornelio said the allegations of conversion come from “vested interests connected to certain political groups. Their objective is to create rifts and communal discord among people.” The prelate said these people pretend Christians and Muslims are a threat for political gains. “They will not hesitate even to disown the census and still continue to create communal discord. The basic problem with them is that they don’t want to know truth and hence, truth cannot make them free,” the prelate said. (UCANEWS 26/8/15)

48. Christian Growth Rate High in State (7)

BHUBANESWAR:Christian community has witnessed the highest population growth among religious communities in the State, as per the latest Census on Population by Religious Communities. From 8.97 lakh in 2001, the Christian population has jumped to 11.61 lakh, registering a sharp 29.38 per cent growth. Similarly, Muslim population has risen by 25.7 per cent, next only to Christians. The census report says that Muslim population rose to 9.11 lakh from 7.61 lakh in 2001. However, Hindus have shown the slowest growth rate. From 3.47 crore in 2001, their number has risen by 13 per cent to 3.93 crore. On the other hand, population of Sikh communities has grown by close to 20 per cent – from 17,492 in 2001 to 21,991 in 2011. (New Indian Express 27/8/15)

49. Villagers storm church, assault Father (7)

Oriyur (Ramanathapuram): A day after parish council vice president S Charles, a Dalit Christian, attempted to immolate himself following a dispute with the priests of the St Arulanadar Church here, villagers staged a protest on Tuesday and assaulted a Father after barging into the church premises. Tension started mounting from Tuesday morning as people from eleven parish villages attached to the church sat on either side of the road in front of the church and staged a protest raising doubts over the death of Charles. Despite the presence of police, trouble broke out in the afternoon when a section of agitating youths entered the church premises through the side entrance to paste posters condemning the Sivaganga Diocese, the Church Superior and Parish priest. As two constables posted in the church prevented them from pasting the posters on the church wall, a large number of men and women trooped in and pasted posters all over the premises. Fr Lawrence Cabriel, a retired Church assistant who was sitting in his room, was pulled out by the crowd and assaulted. A police team, led by Additional Superintendent of Police S Vellaidurai, reached the spot and rescued Fr Cabriel. As he suffered a bleeding head injury, he was taken to a hospital. Villagers demanded that the police book the Bishop of Sivaganga Diocese, the Church Superior and Parish Priest for murder. They wanted the police register cases against Bishop Most Rev Susai Manickam, Superior YS Yagu and Parish Priest I Vedanayagam under Section 302 IPC. C Arul Sabastian (31) son of Charles, presented a complaint to the Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) Rama Pratheepan and Additional Superintendent of Police S Vellaidurai, alleging that the Bishop, Fr Yagu and Fr Vedanayagam were responsible for his father’s death. Sivaganga Diocese Spokesperson S Michael Raj and Superior Y S Yogu could not be contacted for their comments. Meanwhile, the ten-day birthday festival of Lady of Velankanni, which began on August 29, came to an abrupt halt. The agitators told the police and revenue officials that they would not allow the function to continue till justice was done with respect to death of Charles. (The Hindu 2/9/15)

50. Pardon women who have abortions: Pope (7)

Vatican City: Pope Francis on Tuesday called on priests to pardon women who have abortions, and the doctors who perform them, during the upcoming Jubilee year — overruling hardline traditionalists within the Catholic Church. “I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it,” he said. In a message outlining special measures for the Jubilee, Francis said he knew that while “the tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness… many others… believe that they have no other option.” The Argentine pontiff said he was “well aware of the pressure” that some women were under to abort, adding that he had “met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonising and painful decision”. — AFP (The Hindu 2/9/15)

51. BPCA writes Modi to give refuge to oppressed Christians of Pak (7)

AMRITSAR: Notwithstanding the bitterness in the relations between India and Pakistan which recently led to the cancellation of national security advisor level talks, the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) has urged India to help Pakistani Christians who are being allegedly persecuted in Pakistan and give them refuge in India. Chairman ,BPCA, Wilson Chowdhry has sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a copy of which is e-mailed to TOI on Sunday urging Modi to open India’s borders for oppressed Christians who are fleeing Pakistan and desperately looking for refuge in other countries by endangering their lives in taking out desperate travels. “I realize that your nation naturally has many grave security concerns about Pakistan, but I would like to draw your attention to the desperate and worsening plight of Pakistani Christians, who alongside Hindus in Pakistan are so terribly and badly treated,” writes Wilson to Modi. Presently, he said, the Christians were forced to flee the nation by air or sea route to Western or Asian nations including Sri Lanka and Thailand where they were also treated badly. “The present situation in Pakistan with regards to persecution of minority communities especially Christians and Hindus can create another major refugee crisis in this part of world also,” said Wilson while talking to TOI. He said Christians along with Hindus in Pakistan had very little scope to escape. “There is a tiny border with China, a nation with a completely foreign culture for Pakistanis, and then there are lengthy borders with Muslim fundamentalist countries like Iran and Afghanistan, which are even worse in their treatment to religious minorities, however India share history, culture and language to a considerable degree which means the migrants can easily integrate into Indian society and can also contribute to the Indian economy,” he said adding that India had already given shelter to thousands of Hindu’s and Sikh’s who had fled from Pakistan for a better life. “I urge you to welcome oppressed Hindus and Christians from Pakistan to in your country and give them refuge in your country,” writes BPCA Chairman to Indian prime minister. (Times of India 6/9/15)

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

52. Refugees guarded in reaction to Sri Lankan poll results (13)

Mandapam (Ramanathapuram district): The Sri Lankan Tamils at the Mandapam camp reacted to the election of United National Party (UNP) leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister with cautious optimism. The refugees heaved a sigh of relief that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa suffered yet another debacle but at the same time were not elated at the victory of Mr. Wickremesinghe. The return of Mr. Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister may not make a substantial difference in addressing the long-pending issues faced by the Tamils in the island nation, the refugees felt. A cross section of the refugees, especially women, felt that the composition of new government would still have a Sinhalese majority and remained sceptical about the new dispensation meeting the genuine demand for devolution of power and equal rights to the Tamils. “He is also a Sinhala but his election has given a ray of hope to the Tamils in the island,” P. Thushe (35), a native of Savacheri in Jaffna, who had arrived here as refugee in 2010 said. She came with her husband, leaving behind her two children with her mother in Savacheri. After her husband went to Switzerland, she has been eking out a living running a fancy store outside the camp. She was worried that she was living alone but happy as she enjoyed freedom. “This is the kind of freedom the Tamils in the island nation are yearning for,” she told The Hindu on Thursday. Even six years after the end of the war, the Tamils were not happy in the island. The much-hyped devolution of powers, resettlement of the displaced Tamils and the dismantlement of army were still a distant dream for the Tamils, she said. (The Hindu 21/8/15)

53. 19 Myanmar refugees moved to Kerala (13)

TUTICORIN: After ten days in asylum here, 19 Myanmar refugees moved to Wayanad, Kerala on Saturday evening. Amidst security, the refugees, who had fled Myanmar in the wake of violent attacks on them, were taken to the railway station from where they boarded the Mysuru Express at 4.40 p.m. A three-member team from Wayanad Muslim Orphanage (WMO), Muttil, came forward to offer asylum to the refugees at Wayanad and based on the assurance members of jamaath attached to Tuticorin Jamia Mosque took care of them since their landing. Iliyas (50), chairman of Maungdaw township, one of the refugees, said that they reached Kolkata from Bangladesh by boat and later went to New Delhi, where identity cards were provided from the office of UNHCR. They later moved to Tuticorin in search of employment in industrial units that offered jobs for migrant workers. Speaking to The Hindu , Mohammed Iliyas (22), thanked the officials and the jamaath members for their hospitality. “The extremists’ relentless attacks drove us to leave our properties and cattle and seek safe asylum”, he said. Abdur Rehman (37) said the WMO team had promised to offer agriculture-based jobs. Among the refugees were six men, six women, five girls and two boys. M. Shahul Hameed, president, Jamia Mosque, said that the jamaath members donated Rs.30,000 to the refugees as humanitarian aid. Superintendent of Police Ashwin M. Kotnis said that all of them were legal refugees and the UNHCR allowed them to stay till October. (The Hindu 24/8/15)

54. UNHCR urges countries to work together to help refugees (13)

Geneva: The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Tuesday called for refugees to be treated humanely and for the authorities to work together as thousands of people continued to head into the Western Balkans from Greece. UNHCR officials told a press briefing here on Tuesday that people had been continuing to cross in groups of up to 300-400 at the Greece-Macedonia border and then travelling onwards by train or bus to Serbia, Xinhua reported. Melissa Fleming, an official for the Office of the UNHCR, anticipated arrivals over the next few days would be at a rate of up to 3,000 people per day. The official said that in Serbia the UN refugee agency and the Serb authorities are now working to respond to the humanitarian needs of more than 10,000 refugees. According to UNHCR, many of those migrants were from countries affected by violence and conflict such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and they were often physically exhausted and psychologically traumatized. They were in need of humanitarian and medical assistance, especially the sick, pregnant women and elderly persons. Fleming appealed to the governments involved to implement border management measures with humanity and in accordance with their international obligations, adding that family unity and protection of persons with specific needs must be upheld. (Business Standard 25/8/15)

55. PoK refugees meet Rahul, seek his help over Rs 25 lakh package (13)

Jammu: Accusing the Modi government of “scuttling” their ‘one-time settlement’ funds, PoK refugees met with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, urging him to put pressure on the Centre to release the Rs 25 lakhs per PoK family grant. A delegation of refugees and displaced persons of 1947, 1965 and 1971 from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) areas met Gandhi during his visit here last night and discussed the issue of ‘one time settlement’ of Pok refugees, a release said here. The delegation apprised about the latest status of the package worked out by the previous Congress-NC government on the intervention of the UPA leadership in 2012. The state government in consultation with representatives of PoK refugees had worked out a package of Rs 25 lakhs to each family as one time settlement, besides recommending reservations and concessions to the wards of these displaced people. The refugees complained that the present BJP led Centre returned the package on lame excuse, just to “scuttle” the same, the release said. The delegation urged the Congress leadership to pressurize the Centre to release the package without any delay, as the people are getting restless. They apprised the Congress leader that any further delay in the matter would force them to come on the streets to get the package implemented. (Zee News 27/8/15)

56. 5 killed in Manipur violence, indefinite curfew in some areas (13)

The fear of losing ancestral land due to migration of “outsiders” from neighbouring countries and north and east Indian States has prompted fresh agitation in the southern district of Manipur. The recent flare-up is triggered by the passage of the Protection of Manipur Peoples Bill, 2015, and two amendments — one on land and land revenue and the other on shops and establishments. While the ethnic population was demanding imposition of an Inner Line Permit (ILP), the government hastily introduced and passed the Bills on Monday. The passage has angered the tribal population and set-off a new round of agitation. The All Tribal Students Union Manipur (ATSUM) and the All Naga Student’s Association of Manipur (ANSAM) led the protests demanding immediate withdrawal of the Bills. The organisations were supported by the Kuki Students’ Organisation (KSO). The KSO also imposed an indefinite blockade on the legalised border trade at Moreh in Chandel district on south bordering Myanmar, from Tuesday. Chief spokesperson of the government M. Okendro said the Bills would not hurt the interests of the indigenous community.Noted human rights activist of Manipur Babloo Loitongbam says the Bill and the amendments have “nothing against the security or interest of the tribals” in the State. Rather, the process of buying land by outsiders has been made more stringent by the new laws. “Earlier the permission to buy land had to be sought from a section or subsidiary of the Cabinet, but now the entire Cabinet needs to approve land-buying by an outsider. The tribal areas — being Scheduled areas — remain protected and are not disturbed under the new amendments,” Mr. Loitongbam told The Hindu from Imphal. However, the indigenous community got an impression that the cut-off year remains 1951 in the new Bills, when the first post-independence Census was conducted and indigenous people who arrived after 1951 will be deported to respective States or countries. “This was a wrong idea and it was not properly explained by the authorities that tribal interests will not be affected. The government should have explained the content in greater detail as the relationship between the ethnic community and the valley people is always sensitive in Manipur. As a result local MLAs were targeted by the people,” Mr Loitongbam said. (The Hindu 2/6/15)

57. Crisis is bigger than European Union’s refugee problem (13)

The European Union is facing an existential threat. The refugee crisis of today hits not so much at the economic framework of the EU as it does its raison d’être and moral fibre as a civilisation, which are under siege from an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. A large arc of disquiet has been building up over the years in the Middle East, northern Africa and southern Mediterranean, leading to this exodus of hapless humanity fleeing wars and repressive regimes. The only direction they can go is towards western Europe now because there are no safe places for them in the decolonised world around them that dissolved mostly into tinpot dictator regimes. The picture of the Syrian toddler washing up on a Turkish beach went digitally viral to uniquely touch the conscience of the world, but the issue goes far beyond the sealing of borders and the formal calculations of how many refugees each European nation is willing to take. What we are seeing today is a stark failure of the politics of the West. Dragged into one of West Asia’s many versions of the Sunni versus Shia wars by George Bush, the US is to blame the most for poking its nose in other people’s business or civil wars. And the major European powers were standing alongside the Americans as they bombed the daylights out of Saddam Hussain’s Iraq. America’s Syria policy, its arming of the opposition moderates ranged against Bashar al-Assad only to see those weapons go on to the Al Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda associate, and the startling growth of the IS, possibly masterminded by remnants of Saddam’s Army and which fights on the other side of the Syrian civil war now, has led to a boiling point that is challenging the world. The destabilising policies of the West caused this problem whose dire consequences the world is experiencing. To offer sanctuary to a few millions is not beyond Europe’s economic and social capacity, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has given voice to the call of conscience to invoke the defining ideals of respect for universal human rights. If a percentage of the refugees also comprises people looking for a better life rather than strict sanctuary, their plight also forms part of the larger human experience. While the refugee crisis is for Europe to solve, the bigger issue is a reminder that the United Nations must wake up to the wider meaning. The US cannot remain a silent spectator either. If the world must find some solution, the Russians would have to cooperate too. If Syria is not tackled, the world will pay a bigger price. What we are seeing now in terms of the dispossessed knocking on their neighbours’ doors is only the tip of the iceberg. (Asian Ahe 4/9/15)

58. Over 3,500 Syrian Refugees Arrive in Munich (13)

MUNICH: Over 3,500 refugees, a majority of them from conflict-ridden Syria, have arrived at Munich from Hungary via Austria, and another 3,000 are expected to arrive on Sunday. According to German police, three special trains with refugees are expected to arrive on Sunday, Xinhua news agency reported. “We prepare ourselves for 5,000 to 7,000 refugees,” said Christoph Hillenbrand, head of district government of Upper Bavaria. Hungary decided on Friday night to bring refugees stuck at Budapest by bus to the Austrian border. Austria and Germany then declared their willingness to accept them. Volunteers, police and staff members from German railway company Deutsche Bahn (DB) were present at the central railway station to keep order. Some people originally from Syria but who have lived in Germany for a long time brought candies and slogans to welcome the refugees. (New Indian Express 6/9/15)

59. Thousands of refugees arrive in Germany after journey from Hungary (13)

Thousands of refugees and migrants streamed into Germany on Sunday, many travelling through Austria from Hungary where they had been stranded against their will for days, while European Union governments argue over how to respond. A convoy of around 140 cars and vans filled with food and water left Vienna to collect exhausted migrants, many from Syria, who had set out to walk the 170 km (110-mile) stretch through the rain from Hungary’s capital Budapest to the Austrian border, from where many would continue onto Germany. Onlookers clapped and chanted: “Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here,” as volunteers loaded their vehicles with food, water and soft toys. However, the EU is deeply divided over how to cope with the influx of people from the Middle East, Africa and Asia, making the 28-nation bloc look ineffective and heartless as member states blame each other, fuelling political populism and anti-Muslim sentiment. Germany has said it expects 800,000 refugees and migrants this year and urged other EU members to open their doors. But others say the focus should be on tackling the violence in the Middle East that has caused them to flee their homes. (Business Standard 7/9/15)

60. NHRC notice to TN over plight of Myanmar refugees (13)

CHENNAI: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notice to Tamil Nadu government, responding to reports about refugees from Myanmar left “wandering on the streets” of Chennai, looking for accommodation. Tamil Nadu government and Chennai city police commissioner have been given four weeks to respond to the notices. NHRC member justice D Murugesan, taking notice of a report in media, said refugees including women and children, were made to wander in “utter disregard to their human rights.” “The state authorities have the duty to protect the human rights of the refugees and to provide shelter to them…the report, if true, raises a serious issue of violation of human rights,” the commission said. The 64 refugees belonging to 14 Rohingya Muslim families had arrived in Chennai three years ago and were staying in a private accommodation at Koman Nagar in Thaiyur and were working as daily wage labourers and rag pickers. On September 3, an agent took them to Manali for some work, but when local people there objected to the presence of refugees in large numbers, police shifted them to a place at Kovalam on the East Coast Road. They were subsequently shifted to a community hall at Kelambakkam on September 5 after the district administration intervened. They have been provided food and security, said Chengelpet RDO Paneerselvam. Police have been drafted for duty at the community hall, he said. The refugees including 15 women had to move out of Thaiyur because the owner of the place where they were staying wanted them to vacate the place. As they approached some local Muslim leaders, one Kabir Bai took the initiative to take them to Manali, inquiries revealed. Kancheepuram district collector V K Shanmugam said the government had identified a poromboke land at Thaiyur where the refugees could be relocated. “We are yet to take a final decision on this,” Shanmugam said. Abdul Salam (39), one of the refugees who arrived two months ago with wife and a child, is a driver. He paid Rs 6,000 to a broker in Kolkata, who sent him to Jammu and Kashmir. From there he moved to Chennai. But without a licence, he is unable to work, he said. K Yousuf (35) came to Chennai with his wife and two kids. He paid money to multiple brokers in Bangladesh and Kolkata, he said, and added that he was keen on returning to Myanmar. Rohingyas are Indo-Aryan people from Rakshine state of Myanmar. They speak Rohingya language. Some historians say they had migrated to Myanmar from Bangladesh, some during the British rule, some after the Burmese independence in 1948 and some after the Bangladesh liberation war in 1971. They have been seen as one of the most persecuted minorities by the United Nations. More than one lakh Rohingyas live as internally displaced refugees in camps in Myanmar. A sizeable section of the population has moved over to Bangladesh. After the Rakshine state riots in 2012, many Rohingyas migrated to Southeast Asian countries. (Times of India 8/9/15)

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

61. Woman files RTI to know husband’s caste (1)

Lucknow: In a seemingly bizarre move, a woman has filed an RTI query with the UP State Information Commission (UPSIC), seeking to know the caste of her husband. The woman decided to take the RTI route after her husband’s employers refused to divulge details about his caste. For UPSIC too, it was a unique request from a woman who had been married for almost 15 years. The story doesn’t end here. Moving a step ahead the woman has also requested the UPSIC to let her know the number of leaves he availed throughout his working years. Sources revealed the woman is seeking divorce alleging that her husband was from a lower caste and it had been suppressed at the time of their marriage. The woman’s plea, hence, particularly mentions to give information whether her husband is a low caster Muslim. His belonging to a lower caste may affect the future of their two children, she added. State information commissioner Hafiz Usman said, “Since it was an arranged marriage, I asked her father if he had inquired about the man’s caste at the time of the marriage, but he had no answer”. The husband, a resident of Bareilly and a government employee, on the other hand, has a different story to tell. According to him, his wife is doing all this only drive his sister away from their house, which he doesn’t want. The information commission has started counselling her in a bid to save her marriage. The SIC said, “The woman has agreed to live with her husband only if he transfers his house in her name and is even taking half of his salary. The husband went to jail based on her complaint in past , but is still ready to settle the case and save their marriage”. The information commission said a woman may seek personal details about husband without being treated as third party. “But the role of RTI is not limited to ensuring passage of information. It is actually to bring a positive change in lives of people,” he said. (Asian Age 22/8/15)

62. Centre to Supreme Court: Parties must not be brought under RTI (1)

New Delhi: The Centre on Monday informed the Supreme Court that political parties which are not public authorities ought not to be brought under the ambit of the Right to Information Act so as to disclose the political funds received by them. In its response to the notice issued on a writ petition filed by the Association for Democratic Reforms and others, the Centre said during the process of enactment of the RTI Act, it was never visualised or considered to bring political parties within the ambit of RTI. If political parties are held to be public authorities under the RTI Act, it would hamper their smooth internal working. The Centre said it was also apprehended that political rivals might file RTI applications without malicious intentions thereby adversely affecting their political functioning, which is not the objective of RTI. It there are already adequate provisions in the Representation of the People Act which lead to transparency regarding financial aspects of political parties and they are mandated to disclose donations received. The RP Act also provides for filing of a report by the treasurer of each political party with the Election Commission of India and there is a mandate to declare of assets and liabilities by each candidate. Referring to the order passed by the Central Information Commission last year bringing all political parties under RTI, the Centre said a bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha by the previous UPA government to amend the RTI Act so as to exclude political parties from the definition of “public authority”. The bill was referred to a parliamentary standing committee in September 2013 and it has submitted its report. The bill could not be taken up for consideration by Parliament and the bill has lapsed, it said and prayed for appropriate orders. (Asian Age 25/8/15)

63. 21.4% of Indians consume alcohol, 3% hooked to cannabis, says RTI reply (1)

NEW DELHI: Punjab, Maharashtra, Manipur, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are among the top 10 states where consumption of alcohol and narcotic drugs is higher than the rest of the country, according to a RTI response from home ministry. Quoting a survey conducted by the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), the National Institute of Social Defence, a wing of MHA, has submitted that 21.4% Indians consume alcohol while 3% consume cannabis. The RTI was filed by a Delhi resident Ved Pal following recent cases of lives lost due to consumption of illicit alcohol in the country. The RTI reply also mentions the list of 19 states and Union Territories that are in “major grasp” of alcohol and drugs. Seven of these states are from north India including Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Except Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura, all other states from the North East are in the list. “Governments take the credit that they have earned crores of rupees through taxes and excise duty from the sale of alcohol. But governments should not be into this money making business. The entire amount that they have earned so far should be spent on creating awareness against consumption of alcohol and the rehabilitation of the addicts,” Ved Pal said. The UNODC study on “National Survey on Extent, Pattern and Trends of Drug Abuse in India” that was released in 2004 had found that alcohol, cannabis and opiates are the major substances of abuse in India and the prevalence of drug abuse among males is significant. It had also found how women face the worst and are under huge burden if any member in their families is addicted to alcohol or drugs. It had recommended the need to have schemes to attract drug users for treatment and developing programmes for vulnerable groups such as youth, street children, women and prisons. (Times of India 27/8/15)

64. Will not disclose Subhas Chandra Bose’s files: PMO (1)

New Delhi: In a major U-turn within three months of claiming to the family of the freedom fighter Subhas Chandra Bose that it was the nation’s “responsibility” to declassify the files related to him, the Narendra Modi Government has now told the Central Information Commission (CIC) that it cannot do so as it will adversely affect relations with foreign countries. During the hearing before the CIC on August 26, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) admitted that it has files related to Mr Bose but did not give any specifics and submitted that they cannot be declassified keeping in mind the relations with foreign countries. The top office cited section 8(1) (a) which allows the Government to withhold information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence. Mr Bose’s family had met PM on May 9 this year in Kolkata, during which grandnephew of the freedom fighter Chandra Kumar Bose recalled that the PM had told him that it was the nation’s responsibility to disclose the truth. RTI activist Subhash Agrawal, who had sought the declassification, made a strong plea before the CIC citing section 8 (2) of the RTI Act which allows exempted records to be disclosed in public interest. “Notwithstanding anything in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 nor any of the exemptions permissible in accordance with sub-section (1), a public authority may allow access to information, if public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests,” the Act says. Mr Agrawal said foreign relations cannot be affected as Mr Bose allegedly went missing 70 years ago. Chief Information Commissioner Vijai Sharma has reserved his order in the matter. Mr Agrawal urged the CIC to seek written submission on rejection of declassification plea from the PMO but it was turned down by Mr Sharma. (Asian Age 28/8/15)

65. RTI activist fighting land scams poisoned to death, claims viscera report (1)

DEHARDUN: Controversy around the suspicious death of RTI activist Rajesh Suri took a serious turn on Tuesday when the viscera report confirmed that he had been poisoned. Taking the seriousness of the matter into account, DGP BS Sidhu immediately constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT), to be headed by SP (city) Ajay Singh, to probe the case and furnish the findings at the earliest. Suri, who was also an advocate, had taken up several alleged land scam cases in Uttarakhand. It was after attending a related hearing on November 30, 2014 in the Nainital high court, when he was returning to Dehradun by train, that he felt some sort of uneasiness. He died soon after. In 2012, Suri had prepared a video clip featuring himself in which he claimed there was threat to his life. He had even revealed some names “who were to be held responsible” if he was indeed murdered. After his death, his campaign was taken forward by his sister Rita Suri, who contacted all senior police officials and lodged a complaint at Kotwali police station against four persons – Divya Jain, Sudhir Jain, Ravikant Kiryana and Satendra. In her complaint on December 5, 2014, she had accused the four of murdering her brother. As Rita pursued the matter, the viscera was sent to a forensic lab in Rudrapur for a detailed examination. The report, now out, confirmed her worst fears and said Suri had been administered poison. “On September 9, 2014, Suri had received a threat call. The callers told him to withdraw all the cases of land fraud that he was fighting,” Rita told TOI. “They said that he would be eliminated if he failed to do as he was told. Some days later my brother was killed. When I said this earlier, no one believed me.” Rita added that it was due to the efforts of her brother that some important cases connected to land fraud in Uttarakhand were right now in the Nainital high court. “He was the man who exposed the 7,000-bigha Angelia House land scam and the 700-bigha fraud of Daulat Ram Trust. Suri had been threatened on several occasions but he did not care about it and continued his crusade against corruption. After him, I have taken up that responsibility and will not give up till the time justice is done and the accused are placed behind bars,” she added. DGP Sidhu said, “It has become an extremely serious matter after the viscera report confirmed that Suri had indeed been poisoned.” He pointed out that a high-level SIT unit to be headed by SP Ajay Singh would probe the matter. “The other members of the team would soon be decided. This is a very important matter for us and instructions have been given to work out the case at the earliest,” added the top police officer. (Times of India 1/9/15)

66. Most RTI activists killed in Maharashtra since law came about; Gujarat, UP come second

Maharashtra, which was among the first states to come up with a law on right to information, has seen the highest number of attacks on RTI activists, ten years after the central law came into place. This has been revealed in data compiled by NGO Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI). The data, which has been compiled from news media reports over a decade, reveals that Maharashtra saw ten RTI activists being killed in as many years. Maharashtra also has the highest total number of such attacks, with 60 of attacks in the state. Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh have the next highest number of deaths of RTI activists, with six such instances in both states. There have been as many as 289 attacks on RTI activists in all, including instances of murder, assault, kidnapping and them receiving threat calls. In a report on attacks on RTI activists by CHRI, the organization mentions a wide variety of causes alleged to be behind the attacks, most notably including illegal mining, the construction industry and police inaction. Speaking to Firstpost, Venkatesh Nayak, the co-ordinator of the organization’s Access to Information programme, says, “One reason behind the large number of incidences of attacks on RTI activists in Maharashtra is that the highest number of RTI applications has been filed in the state. However, it is also a reflection of the poor security situation in the state. Ideally, the state should provide security to RTI activists against whom there is a threat perception.” Nayak also recalled the case of the murder of activist Satish Shetty and pointed out that in that case, the case had been closed, and had to be reopened after the Bombay High Court suo motu took up the case. The report by CHRI on the issue has suggested that the National Human Rights Commission should “tasked with taking action on complaints of attacks on RTI users and seeking reports from the concerned police.” It also suggests that the relevant information commission should also take cognizance of such attacks and ensure that the information sought is made public according to the rules. (First Post 7/9/15)

67. Modi’s foreign visits cost Rs 47 cr: RTI (1)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to 20 countries in one year has cost the exchequer at least Rs 47.42 crore. Some of his spendings include: Rs 1,048 for buying and another Rs 451 for dry-cleaning his silk cloth pieces during his Mongolia visit besides a spending of Rs 60,027 on iPhone charge and gift-wraps in New York.  The details were collected by activist Commodore Lokesh Batra through an RTI application. The amount could rise as some bills are yet to be settled while Indian missions in France, Japan, Sri Lanka and South Korea are refusing to provide details citing various reasons like collection of “scattered” and “voluminous” details would require “disproportionate” allocation of resources. “While the benefits of Prime Minister’s frequent visits abroad will be known in time to come, the information I sought was supposed to be in public domain by now. Here transparency is the casualty,” Batra told Deccan Herald from the United States where he is on a visit.  One of the highest expenses incurred was in Australia where the whole trip cost around Rs 13 crore with hotel bills running into Rs 5.65 crore in Canberra and hiring of cars at Rs 2.48 crore. The least expense was in Bhutan, Modi’s first destination after assuming power, at Rs 41.33 lakh.  During Modi’s New York visit, the Permanent Mission of India in New York Indian mission there spent Rs 6.13 crore with the Consulate General spending another Rs 91 lakh. The Indian Embassy in Washington did not provide details saying it was not readily available with them. The break up of expenditure by Permanent Mission showed that National Security Advisor Ajit Doval was paid Rs 48,912 as DA during the visit. In this, Rs 18,342 was given for his extended stay in the US from October 1 to 3.  The room rent for the Prime Minister, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and other members of the VIP delegation at New York Palace Hotel cost Rs 11.51 lakh. In China, India spend around Rs 2.34 crore with hotel bills coming to Rs 1.06 crore and hiring of vehicles at Rs 60.88 lakh. For interpreters, the bill ran into Rs 24.26 lakh.  Though most of the missions did not provide the nitty-gritty of the spending, a close reading of some of them showed interesting details. The Mongolian mission said they spend Rs 6,396 for “hiring a temporary photographer” while another Rs 76,154 was billed for “special dinner and drinks during VIP visit”. The Indian mission also paid Rs 12,876 as penalty for the leakage of fuel from IL-76. (Deccan Herald 8/9/15)

68. Centre invites applications for CIC appointments (1)

New Delhi: The Centre today invited applications for appointment as Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commisioners in CIC. The term of Chief Information Commissioner Vijai Sharma ends in December. There is a vacancy of three Information Commissioners (ICs) in the transparency watchdog against its strength of ten. “It is proposed to appoint Chief Information Commissioner and more Information Commissioners in the Commission,” an order issued by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), which acts as nodal authority for implementation of Right to Information Act, said. The Act provides that the Chief Information Commissioner and ICs shall be person of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass-media and governance, it said. “There has been a convention of appointing senior-most Information Commissioner in the CIC as its chief. However, government has been seeking nominations of the eligible candidates for the top post in the transparency watchdog to give level-playing field to all,” a DoPT official said. The applications have to be sent by October 12. The Chief Information Commissioner and ICs shall hold the office for a term of five years or till attaining the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. The salary and allowances payable to the Chief Information Commissioner and ICs shall be the same as that of the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioner respectively, the DoPT order said. Further, the Chief and ICs shall not be a Member of Parliament or Member of Legislative Assembly of any state or Union territory, as the case may be, or hold any other office of profit or connected with any political party or carrying on any business or pursuing any profession. “It is clarified that cessation or termination of holding of office of profit, pursuing any profession or carrying any business is a condition precedent to the appointment of a person as Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioner,” it said. Persons fulfilling the criteria and interested for appointment to the post of Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioner may send their particular to the DoPT by October 12, 2015. Persons who are serving under the state or central government or any other organisation should send their particulars through proper channel (administrative ministry or department), the DoPT said. “In case and advance copy of the application is sent before the due date the applications through proper channel should be furnished as soon as possible to be considered for further processing,” it said. Incumbent Vijai Sharma was appointed as CIC chief in June this year. There are also vacancies of three Information Commissioners in the CIC,  which is mandated to resolve appeals and complaints filed against government departments or public authorities by information seekers under the RTI Act. The seven Information Commissioners working in the Commission are Basant Seth, Yashovardhan Azad, Sharat Sabharwal, Manjula Prasher, M A Khan Yusufi, Madabhushanam Sridhar Acharyulu and Sudhir Bhargava. (Deccan Herald 10/9/15)

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

69. Will UP babus send kids to primary schools sans fans or teachers?  (11)

AGRA: The Allahabad high court order that all government employees must send their children to state-run schools is being called impractical in bureaucratic circles. They have a point. With no fans, furniture, a building or even teachers, primary schools in UP — many of which are often one-room structures — are no place for any children. The condition is no different across the state which has 26,379 primary schools. According to statistics, 11% of the primary schools (classes I to VIII) in UP run from a single room, 10% from two rooms and 10% from three. Agra, for instance, has more than 3,000 government primary schools which are run by 5,293 teachers, not even 2 teachers for each school. While many of them have a single teacher, others do not exist as there is no building fund sanctioned for them. According to data provided by education department authorities in Agra, the city has 2086 primary schools and additional 871 upper primary schools. The total number of students enrolled in these primary schools are 2,29,128, while 60,105 students are in various upper primary schools. The government schools have 5,293 primary teachers while the upper primary schools have 1,900 teachers. “There are more than a dozen schools in the city which actually do not exist. No funds were allotted for their buildings, so the students are forced to study in gardens and even on roads. We have raised this matter several times with senior authorities, but no action has been taken so far,” said Brajeesh Dixit, district president, UP primary teachers’ association. Some 172 upper primary schools do not have a single teacher while 281 upper primary schools make do with just one teacher each. There are no teachers in 271 upper primary schools too. Neither are there toilets in 340 primary schools; 635 schools do not have portable water facility. A total of 212 primary schools in the city are running from dilapidated buildings. It’s the same story across UP. According to a State Collective for Right to Education (SCoRE) report, around 11% of the primary schools, from class I to V, work out of one room; 91.2% students of class II in UP are unable to read a single sentence in English. Binod Kumar Sinha, co-convener of SCoRE, a collective of civil society working for effective implementation of Right To Education (RTE) across India, said that the organization strongly supports the high court’s call. “This will serve as panacea for our education system,” he added. “Our 2014 report came out with some shocking facts. For example, 75% of students of class V in primary schools of UP were unable to solve simple addition and subtraction.” The SCoRE report also said 38.6% of government primary schools across the state have no toilets for girls. (Times of India 21/8/15)

70. ‘Repeal no-detention policy at schools’ (11)

Agartala: Most northeastern states want to remove the ‘no-detention policy’ at the elementary school level (up to class eight), Tripura Education Minister Tapan Chakraborty said here on Monday. “The demand to withdraw the ‘no-detention policy’ at the elementary school level was raised at the 63rd meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) held in New Delhi,” Chakraborty told reporters. He said: “The eight north-eastern states along with most states of the country are not only against the ‘no-detention policy’ but are also in a awkward position due to the lack of trained teachers even though the Right to Education Act (RTE), 2009, made this mandatory.” These issues were discussed at the CABE meeting which was held under the chairpersonship of Union Human Resource Minister Smriti Irani in New Delhi on Wednesday. Chakraborty said that the CABE meeting decided that the states would formally provide their views to the central government on ‘no-detention policy’, in writing, within 15 days. “We would send our views against the ‘no-detention policy’ within this week. However, we (Tripura) and most of the other states want to continue the CCE (Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation). The CCE system should continue up to class ten standard,” he added. CCE refers to a system of school-based assessment that covers all aspects of students’ development. The minister said that the Left Front government strongly supported the plan for a new education policy, a process initiated by the Bharatiya Janata Party led National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre. “It was decided in the CABE meeting that the proposed new education policy would be discussed from gram panchayat level to national level to evolve a consensus by involving all stakeholders. This consultation process would be completed by September,” he said. According to the minister, the Left Front government wants universalisation of education. “Without universalisation of education, how would digital India be implemented in the country?” he asked. Education ministers and representatives of states and union territories were present in the CABE meeting along with senior officials of the central and state governments. (Business Standard 24/8/15)

71. In state of 7.26 cr people, 40% illiterates: Census (11)

BHOPAL: More than 40% people in a state with a population of 7.26 crore are illiterates, according to Census 2011 data. And the shocker is 15.4 lakh children in age group of 6-14 years cannot read or write among almost 3 crore illiterate people in Madhya Pradesh. According to Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE), children between 6-14 years of age should go to school compulsorily. In the state, females outnumber males in illiteracy showing entrenched gender bias. Compared to 1.73 crore uneducated females, number of uneducated males stands at 1.24 crore. More than 80% illiterate population is concentrated in rural areas of the state. Census 2011 data shows that around 46% rural population as illiterate. According to Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 too, 44.19% of people in rural areas were illiterate. Besides, MP is second to Rajasthan where 47.58% of its population fell in that category as per SECC. Tribals in MP are way behind with around 59% or 90 lakh of 1.53 crore STs constituting population of illiterates. Members from Schedule Caste (SC) are better off as there are 44.2% or 50 lakh unschooled of 1.13 crore among them. In terms of absolute numbers, Dhar had maximum number of illiterates – 11 lakh, comprising 54% of district’s population. Among cities, more than one-third population of Ujjain and Gwalior did not know how to read or write. After Dhar, Indore had second largest number of illiterates at 9.67 lakh or 30% of the population. State capital Bhopal, Jabalpur and Gwalior had more than 7 lakh such people, who were unlettered. Data also shows barely 10% of population is college pass-out and of them one third are females. (Times of India 27/8/15)

72. ‘Make education for under-6 fundamental right’ (11)

New Delhi: The Law Commission has recommended an amendment in the Constitution that will provide every child the fundamental right of care and protection. The Commission has also recommended constitutional provision for pre-school education to under-6 children. The Commission has also recommended that every under-6 child should have the unconditional right to crèche and day care. It should be the responsibility of the state, the Commission said.  It also wants statutory provision for extending maternity leave for 180 days.  “A new Article 24A be inserted to Part III of the Constitution to ensure that the child’s right to basic care and assistance becomes an enforceable right,” the panel said. “The Article should read as follows: ‘24A. Every child shall have the right to care and assistance in basic needs and protection from all forms of neglect, harm and exploitation’.” Part III of the Constitution contains fundamental rights of the citizen. “In order to extend the right to education to children in the under-6 age group as well, Article 21A of the Constitution should be amended to read as follows: ‘The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children in such a manner as the State may by law determine’,” the Commission said. Article 21 of the Constitution gives Right to Education to children between 6 and 14. Similarly, it has recommended that the fundamental duty of the parent or guardian to provide education should not be applicable only to children between the ages of six and fourteen. It has suggested that Article 51 A (k) of the Constitution be amended so that the duty is placed on every citizen. The Commission said that the Maternity Benefit Act should also be amended to increase maternity benefits from twelve weeks to 180 days. It has recommended that provision of maternity benefits should be made obligatory on the State and not left to the will of the employers and should cover all women, including women working in the unorganised sector. The panel also wants the government to formulate policy or guidelines laying down minimum specifications of paid maternity leave to women employed in the private sector. (Deccan Herald 28/8/15)

73. Advocacy group demands RTE reforms (11)

AURANGABAD: The Akhil Bharatiya Samajwadi Adhyapak Sabha, an advocacy group in the field of education, has announced a state-wide ‘satyagraha’ to press for its demand for bringing in radical reforms in the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009. Alleging that the Act has ‘serious flaws’ in its existing form defeating its whole purpose, the leaders have urged the government to make necessary amendments to bring disadvantaged children into mainstream education. “The government has messed up with the RTE Act to such an extent that an unprecedented disorder can be observed in implementation of such an important legislation. While the Act in its original form is riddled with serious flaws, further confusion has been created by the government by bringing in confusing orders from time to time,” Sabha president Jayawant Thakare said. Stressing that the fundamental reforms could alone make the RTE Act an efficient legislation, the group has announced a state-level agitation to mobilise masses and create necessary pressure on the government. “We have planned a state-level agitation from November 28 to December 6, during which an agitation will be staged in every district of Maharashtra. Real beneficiaries of the Act reside in rural areas and therefore we will reach out to them during our agitation,” Vishakha Khaire, general secretary the Sabha said. Appealing to masses to become part of the proposed movement, group vice-president Ajmal Khan underlined the need for strengthening the RTE Act to help India emerge as a developed country. Group organiser Sharad Javadekar said the movement for educational reforms undertaken by the Akhil Bharatiya Adhyapak Sabha would bear desired fruits. “The education sector along with the other sector is suffering due to ill effects of globalisation. With support from the masses, we will ensure necessary reforms take place to benefit all,” he said. (Times of India 2/9/15)

74. Cabinet clears IT policy, amendment in RTE (11)

JAIPUR: The state cabinet on Thursday cleared the information technology policy, Rajasthan Laws Repealing Bill-2015 and a bill to amend the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. The state would end the policy of not failing students up to Class VIII. The decision to abolish posts of lecturers and senior teachers in Urdu would be reviewed. In the council of ministers meeting held after the cabinet meet, the issues pertaining to going back to a six-day working week and increasing the water tariff were discussed. It was decided that the employees’ unions should be convinced before reverting to six-day week, while properly functional meters should be ensured at all households before raising the water tariff. The IT policy aims to turn Rajasthan into an IT hub by digitalizing and developing seven of its cities (including Jaipur) as ‘smart’ by 2020, providing 5 lakh employments in the IT sector by 2025, taking the state’s IT turnover to Rs 50,000 crore and the IT exports to 5,000 crore. The policy also aims to increase transparency in government functioning by emphasizing on e-governance and e-educating at least two persons, including a woman, from every household in the state. Provisions have been made to provide investment subsidy and employment generation subsidy to IT manufacturing units as per their investments and VAT/CST paid in past seven years. In the assembly session commencing from September 16, the state government would revoke 60 principal Laws and 187 amendment Laws, as these had become obsolete. These Laws were identified by a committee headed by the chief secretary. “The state government would be revoking obsolete Laws for the first time after 1997,” said parliamentary affairs minister Rajendra Rathore. The government would amend the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, that provisions that the schools cannot fail students in examinations up to Class VIII. “The provision led to deterioration of quality school education, so the amendment bill has been drafted. The bill would be sent to the President for approval once the assembly passes it,” minister Rathore said. The bill proposes to amend sections 8, 16, 21 and 24 of the RTE Act, 2009. “Provisions have been made in the amendment bill that if a child has not attained the appropriate level of education as per the particular Class, he/she may be held back in the same Class,” said Rathore. Provision has also been made to ensure that the teachers perform their duties. The amendment in section 21(2) of the RTE Act, 2009 would enable School Management Committees to monitor teachers’ performances. The cabinet gave nod to amending section 60 of Rajasthan Police Act, 2007, so that persons found drunk in public places could be fined Rs 500 on first offence, Rs 5000 for subsequent two offences and Rs 10,000 for every offence thereafter. A provision of imprisonment not exceeding 8 days has also been cleared. (Times of India 4/9/15)

75. 15,210 children aged 6 to 14 out of school in Goa: Census 2011 (12)

PANAJI: Almost 27% of Goa’s population is enrolled in an educational institute and is pursuing studies of some nature, according to the latest data of Census 2011 released this week. But despite the Right to Education Act making schooling mandatory, 15,210 children in the state between the ages of 6 to 14 are out of school and have never attended one, as per the data. Nearly an equal number of girls and boys aged 6 to 14 are out of school, the statistics indicate, but their social background is not clear from the data. This number of out of school children is huge in comparison to the state’s data which runs only in a couple of thousands, though the education department has often accepted problems in enrolling children in Goa’s floating migrant population in schools. The Census 2011 data shows that altogether 17.42% of the state’s population is illiterate and has never attended school in their lifetime. The number of total illiterate females is higher at over 1.50 lakh than illiterate males whose number is around 1 lakh. But Goa also has a population of over 45,000 who are past their 20s and are yet pursuing their education while between the ages of 30 to 60-plus. Of the 3.85 lakh in Goa attending educational institutes in Goa, over 2.96 lakh are studying in schools, more than 76,000 in colleges, 7,070 are enrolled in vocational education institutes, 616 in literacy centres and around another 3,000 in unspecified educational institutions. In addition, there are 1,342 students – 752 males and 590 females – studying in special schools for the disabled. According to the new data, Goa’s literacy rate has marginally grown from 82.01% in 2001 to 82.59% in 2001. Of the state’s population of 14.59 lakh, around 3.85 are presently attending an educational institute and 8.20 lakh have attended an educational institute before, putting the figure of literate at over 12 lakh. (Times of India 7/9/15)

76. Batra moots education panel on the lines of EC (11)

NEW DELHI: The new education policy, to be debated and finalised this year, has received many suggestions for inclusion, but none would be as influential as those forwarded by Dinanath Batra, chairman of the Shiksha Bachao Andolan and member of the new committee on education advising the Government of Haryana. Mr. Batra, who earlier headed the RSS’ school education wing, Vidya Bharati, and successfully litigated against Wendy Doniger’s book On Hinduism, envisages sweeping changes to the education system, including the setting up of an education commission, on the lines of the Election Commission. “An education commission, just like the Election Commission will be responsible for the organisation of education in India. This will include education in values, of how to be a part of and raise a good family,” he told The Hindu in an interview. Mr. Batra said that setting up of a commission like this would insulate education policy from political regime changes. “The idea is to integrate life lessons with academics. For example, our young people must be taught how to be good mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters. What food to eat as expecting mothers, what books to read,” Mr. Batra said. He termed it family education as opposed to sex education to which he was against. It was on his advice that the Madhya Pradesh government had discontinued sex education from its State curriculum. “Just as I have advised the Haryana government, the Centre too should re-introduce examinations up to Class VIII which they had discontinued earlier. That system has only encouraged children not to apply themselves as there is no fear of evaluation,” he said. “It would be unpopular but necessary,” he added. Mr. Batra also spoke in favour of not binding university students to a fixed course, but allow students the freedom to pick and choose courses and subjects from various departments in a college or even within a university. “At least 6% of the GDP should be set aside for education by the government and a Bharatiya Education Service should be created to administer the education commission and schools and colleges. Teacher education should be increased to five years, straight after Class 12,” he said. “The final year of the training should be at a village school for rural students or a slum-based school for urban students,” he said. Mr. Batra’s suggestions were part of the presentation made by Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani at the RSS-BJP co-ordination meet. The RSS had expressed the view that an education commission was not really feasible but that “Leftist influence” on India’s education policy and its textbooks be weeded out. Mr. Batra is considered a formidable influence on matters pertaining to education in the Sangh Parivar. Textbooks written by him are compulsory in Gujarat, and he formally and informally shaped education policies in Madhya Pradesh and Haryana. (The Hindu 8/9/15)

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

77. Education antidote to poverty, Kejriwal says at sons school (21)

NOIDA: The Delhi Public School, Noida, had a special guest on Friday. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal came calling, as a parent and as the chief guest. Kejriwal visited the school to honour students who had won sports awards at the district, state and national levels. He also awarded students who performed nukkad natak (street theatre) at the inter-school event, Mukhote, where they highlighted social, political and environmental issues. The CM was accompanied by wife Sunita. His son Pulkit is a student of Class IX of the school. In his address, the Delhi CM emphasized the need for education for all to achieve wholesome growth of the country. Kejriwal said education is the antidote to poverty, and that the Delhi government is dedicated to improving the quality of education in government schools. “If we provide quality education to one generation, poverty will automatically be eradicated from society. The Delhi government has raised its education budget this year. The quality will also improve. Education is the antidote to poverty,” he said. On his relationship with DPS Noida, Kejriwal said he felt he was part of the DPS family, and that he has been visiting the school for the past 13 years as a parent. Like Pulkit, his daughter Harshita, too, studied in DPS Noida, from Nursery to Class XII. He said DPS Noida is one of the country’s best schools that focuses on holistic development of students. “When we moved from Ghaziabad to Delhi, I asked Pulkit to get admission in a Delhi school, as travelling would be an issue. But he said he wanted to continue in his old school and refused the offer,” said Kejriwal. (Times of India 22/8/15)

78. Mah govt distributes 4500 tonnes of grain to farmers (21)

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government has distributed 4500 metric tonnes of grains to farmers in 14 suicide prone districts in the state under the Food Security Act, officials said. The grains have been distributed to eligible farmers in 140 talukas. The grains have been provided at the rate of Rs 3 per kg of rice and Rs 2 per kg of wheat. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had made an announcement on the inclusion of farmers in the suicide belt of the state under the scheme in the state assembly. The distribution of grains began on Independence Day. (Times of India 26/8/15)

79. Centre to begin cash transfers for 1.5 lakh families entitled to PDS grains (21)

NEW DELHI: From next Tuesday, at least 1.5 lakh families in Chandigarh, Puducherry and Dadra and Nagar Haveli will get cash in the bank accounts of their family members in place of getting subsidized wheat and rice. The direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme for PDS foodgrains is being rolled out on a pilot basis from September 1 and government expects this can prove to be the solution to pilferage of subsidized grains under the present public distribution system. Sources in the food ministry said the Centre would transfer cash equivalent of five kilograms of grain to each beneficiary as provisioned in the National Food Security Act. They added the cash transfer would be around Rs 22 per kg for rice and Rs 16 per kg for wheat each month. The calculation has been done on a formula based on the minimum support price of food grains and what the beneficiaries are paying now to get subsidized food grains. As per the scheme, the beneficiaries can use the amount paid by the government to buy foodgrains from the open market. The three Union Territories are among the 26 states and UTs where 100% digitization of ration cards has been achieved. Moreover, these cards have been linked to the bank accounts of beneficiaries and the UT administrations are close to completing their seeding with Aadhar. “Once the scheme is rolled out we will find how we much are saving in the food subsidy,” said a food ministry official. TOI had first reported this proposal on May 16 and a government official had claimed that pan-India roll out can reduce government’s food subsidy bill by close to Rs 20,000 crore as Food Corporation of India will have to carry less stocks. While sources said the outcomes of these pilots would pave the way for expanding the DBT, they added it would be a tough decision. “Once you provide cash to beneficiaries then what are you going to do with the huge what and rice you procure from farmers? Can government take the bold step to stop procurement, which ensures minimum support price to farmers?” asked a government official. He added that leaving the foodgrain price to market forces for the poor and needy may create a new crisis. For example, while a beneficiary can get rice at Rs 22 per kg in a rice growing state the price of wheat may be higher than Rs 14 that the government offers. “This is because the traders will have to get wheat from another part of the country and they will add transportation cost and profit while fixing price,” the official pointed out. (Times of India 27/8/15)

80. Exclude bureaucrats, MLAs, MPs, rich from reservations: JP (21)

HYDERABAD: The ongoing agitation by ‘Gujarat Patels’ for the status of ‘Other Backward Castes’ should lay the ground for a nation-wide comprehensive discussion on rationalisation of reservations, said Lok Satta Party founder president Jayaprakash Narayan. The issue needed a creative response and not confrontation. The time had come to reform reservations and a fair system of reservatison that would positively impact the lives of all was needed, he said in a statement here on Wednesday. Dr.JP said that reservation benefits reached only those privileged few who were well educated and countless poor among SCs and OBCs were struggling for opportunities. On the other hand, the poor and despondent among OCs developed hatred towards those garnering reservations. Except those well-to-do sections who were enjoying reservation benefits, others feel they had been given a raw deal by successive governments. The crisis could only be resolved by making some changes in the reservation policy, he said. Proposing some changes, Dr.JP said IAS, IPS and other officers, MLAs, MPs, doctors and the rich should be removed from the purview of reservations to give the benefit to the eligible poor. For the poor students among OCs if their parents were not literate, then such students should be given additional marks to compete with other students, facilities be put in place so that no merit and talented poor student was deprived of access to higher studies due to poverty and a system be evolved to provide guaranteed quality school education, he said. The Lok Satta leader said that with the above proposals the reservations could be brought down gradually and in 25 years, one could do away with reservations. B. R. Ambedkar hoped that rulers would provide quality education to all without any discrimination and create a system which did not require reservations. But the political system in the country had failed to provide proper education and perpetuated poverty and used reservations to divide people and garner votes, he said. (The Hindu 28/8/15)

81. India criticises UNDP for ignoring developing countries (21)

UNITED NATIONS: India has criticised the UN Development Programme for ignoring concerns of developing countries, saying “deliberate neglect” by the UN body towards views of developing nations does not augur well for the future of the implementation of the 2030 development agenda. “The way in which UNDP, which remains primarily a development agency, has chosen to ignore the concerns of its primary constituents, i.e. developing countries, does not augur well for the future of the implementation of the Agenda 2030,” counsellor in the Permanent Mission of India to the UN Prakash Gupta said at the Second Regular Session of the Executive Board of UNDP here on Tuesday. He said developing countries look up to UNDP with immense hope and aspirations to make sure that their common development objectives are fulfilled. “This continuing, consistent and deliberate neglect by UNDP Management towards views of developing countries is not leading to a desirable situation and needs to be addressed sooner than later. “We hope that UNDP will take necessary steps to ensure that its increasing perception of being against developing country interests is corrected at the earliest,” he added. Gupta said that since the last year’s June Session in Geneva, the Group of 77 and China has sent three official submissions to the UNDP and not one of the requests has been acted upon. “It is therefore most unfortunate that even on the question of scheduling sessions in Geneva, another issue that could well have been decided in the previous Board, or even this one, the Group is being forced to move for a decision in the UN General Assembly later next week,” he said. He said India along with G-77 has been requesting for deletion of just three indicators from a set of 100 in the integrated Results and Resources Framework since the last one year, but while thirty others have been pruned by UNDP Management, those three remain un-altered. He said for India, and for the entire developing world, the vision for the future cannot but have the eradication of poverty as its overarching goal. “We are gratified that there has been no compromise on the ambition of the Agenda 2030 either. Its fulfillment, in our view, can allow poverty to be eradicated within the span of a single generation,” he said. (Times of India 2/9/15)

82. AP SHG women to become e-literate (21)

HYDERABAD: Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, who was credited with launching self-help groups in the country, has now embarked on a bigger mission to make every woman in the state e-literate or skilled in computers. Directing the rural development ministry, Naidu aims at equipping 2.2 crore women in 84 lakh self-help groups across AP with computer knowledge so that their services can be utilized in all sectors. The government will ask search engine Google to provide the necessary assistance to women to gain computer skills and also improvise the marketability of products, made by women’s groups. Naidu is also planning to involve online players, such as Flipkart, Amazon and e-Bay for directly selling products online. The mission will see complete makeover of rural and semi-literate women as e-literate and self-made entrepreneurs. In order to reach the target, Naidu has asked his officials to provide Rs 14,000 crore as corpus fund that would be utilized in the next four years. “The target is to make every woman who is a part of the self-help group, capable of earning at least Rs 10,000 per month which is at present is Rs 5,000 per month. The government decided to open several other service sectors to these women so that they could spread their wings to newer businesses,” said a senior official in the government. The society for elimination of rural poverty (SERP) that looks after the self-help women movement in AP, is now planning series of programmes for groups such as food enterprises, Anna Sanjivani, Dwacra bazaars, city livelihood centres, lamb-rearing, sanitation contracts, creation of textile parks, poultry, sea-food and meat-processing centres. Naidu has issued orders to pave way for the lucrative sand auctioning business to self-help groups and ensure more than Rs 500 crore worth sand is sold by these groups. SERP chief executive officer Solomon Arokiaraj suggested creation of clusters in each village which will be responsible for creating revenue out of these facilities by engaging women involved in tailoring. “They can feed fodder, carry out milking of animals and can be paid for the services at the common centre. The same can be carried out for fisheries as well,” said an official in the rural development ministry. Similarly, for city livelihood centres, these groups will identify service providers such as plumbers, carpenters, cooks and house-keeping personnel. To give big push to products of these groups, AP government is hosting the national dwacra fair at Vizag from October 15 to 24. (Times of India 8/9/15)

83. Protect fleeing refugees, says Jolie (21)

London, Sept. 7 (Reuters): As thousands of desperate people stream into Europe seeking refuge, a distinction must be made between those fleeing extreme poverty and those fleeing war, actress and human rights activist Angelina Jolie wrote in an editorial in The Times paper today. Refugees fleeing conflict face an immediate need to be saved from persecution and danger, and effective screening could give them needed protection, wrote the actress, a special UNHCR envoy. “We should be conscious of the distinction between economic migrants, who are trying to escape extreme poverty, and refugees who are fleeing an immediate threat to their lives,” Jolie wrote in the editorial published in The Times, London. In particular, they wrote, “Syrians are fleeing barrel bombs, chemical weapons, rape and massacres.” (The Telegraph 8/9/15)

84. Malnourished kids found in villages adopted by district officials (21)

AGRA: Several children suffering from malnutrition have been found in villages adopted by government officials. The fact came to the fore as children were examined as part of the Weighing Day drive on Monday. Following directions from the state government, officials such as the district magistrate and chief development officers (CDO) had adopted two villages each under the State Nutrition Mission. Sources said 13 malnourished kids were found in Chuharpur village under Etmadpur Block, which has been adopted by the district magistrate. Likewise, Barhan village adopted by the district probation officer has 135 malnourished kids. In Manikpura, which is adopted by executive engineer (minor irrigation department), 10 such kids were found, while the figure stood at 10 in Nagla Bhari, adopted by a minority officer. The government, in November 2014, had directed the district magistrates and CDOs of the state to adopt two villages each where a majority of children were malnourished. The officials were also asked not to change the names of their adopted villages until they became malnutrition-free. Agra chief development officer Deepak Meena, who is also the nodal office for nutrition mission in the district, said, “Once the children are properly identified, the department will ensure that they get proper treatment and nutrition.” (Times of India 9/9/15)

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

85. ‘Centre trying to usurp hard-fought labour rights’ (14)

HYDERABAD: Left parties have announced their support for the all-India strike called by 11 central trade unions on September 2. Ten Communist parties, including CPI, CPI(M), CPI(ML)-New Democracy, CPML-Liberation, MCPI(U), and SUCI held a meeting on Friday, and announced their solidarity with the strike. Speaking at a media conference after the meeting, Vemulapalli Venkatramaiah from CPI(ML)-New Democracy said the Central government has announced a war on the country’s labour class by trying to usurp its hard-fought rights. Severely castigating the amendments proposed to labour laws, namely to exempt companies employing fewer than 300 workers, to increase the duration for strike notice from three weeks to six weeks, to authorise the employers to take stringent measures against those striking work during talks, and to limit the number of outside office bearers in the unions, Mr. Venkatramaiah accused the government of sacrificing the country’s labour force at the altar of foreign companies. “Apart from the subjective demands, the unions are also asking for price control measures, strengthening of public sector and revoking of Land Acquisition ordinance,” he said. S. Venkateshwar Rao of CPI said demonstrations and protest programmes will be organised widely by all the 10 Communist parties in support of the strike. The fact that even BMS is participating in the strike speaks for the severity of the situation, he said. (The Hindu 22/8/15)

86. 5 million jobs lost during high-growth years, says study (14)

LUCKNOW: Nearly 5 million jobs were lost between 2004-05 and 2009-10, paradoxically during the time, when India and its economy witnessed the highest and consistent 8% growth, throwing a big question whether growth should be linked to employment generation. According to a study conducted by Assocham, on one hand, about 1.3 crore youth are entering the labour force every year, while on the other hand, the gap for the employment and growth got only widened during the period of study, which noted that over-emphasis on services and neglect of the manufacturing were mainly responsible for this “jobless growth” phenomenon. The Indian economy went through a period of “jobless growth” when 5 million jobs were lost between 2004-05 and 2009-10, while the economy continued to grow at an impressive rate of more than 8% annually. According to the Census India data, the number of people seeking jobs grew annually at 2.23% between 2001 and 2011, but growth in actual employment during the same period was only 1.4%, leaving a huge gap in the form of unemployment. The study also observed that it may seem, India’s “demographic dividend” is also a “demographic cross” as the new generation youth is more demanding and aspirational. “This large work force needs to be productively engaged to avoid socio-economic conflicts,” Assocham secretary general DS Rawat said. He further stated that the changing demographic patterns suggest that today’s youth is better educated, is probably more skilled than the previous generation and also is highly aspirational. Experts argue that the growth of manufacturing will be the key for growth in income and employment for multiple reasons. For every job created in the manufacturing sector, three additional jobs are created in related activities. The other is that manufacturing in India is scalable and has higher labour absorption in comparison to services. In a services-driven economy, which contributed 67.3% (at constant price) to the GDP, but employed only 27% of the total working population in 2013-14, enough jobs will not be created to absorb the burgeoning workforce. In 2013-14, the manufacturing contributed 15% to the GDP and employed about the same percentage of total workforce, demonstrating that the sector has a better labour absorption ability as compared to services. (Times of India 23/8/15)

87. 5 million Indians lost their jobs during high-growth years: Assocham (14)

New Delhi: As many as five million jobs were lost between 2004-05 and 2009-10 — paradoxically during the time when India’s economy grew at a fast clip — an Assocham study said. This has put a question mark on whether economic expansion should be linked to job creation, according to the study. Moreover, it observed that an over-emphasis on services and a neglect of the manufacturing sector are mainly responsible for this “jobless growth” phenomenon. Even as about 13 million youth are entering labour force every year, the gap between employment and growth widened during the period, the study noted. “The Indian economy went through a period of jobless growth when five million jobs were lost between 2004-05 and 2009-10, while the economy was growing at an impressive rate,” Assocham said. Quoting Census data, it said the number of people seeking jobs grew annually at 2.23% between 2001 and 2011, but growth in actual employment during the same period was only 1.4%.”This large workforce needs to be productively engaged to avoid socio-economic conflicts,” Assocham Secretary General D S Rawat said. The changing demographic patterns, he said, suggest that today’s youth is better educated, probably more skilled than the previous generation and highly aspirational. “In a service-driven economy, which contributed 67.3% (at constant price) to GDP but employed only 27% of total workforce in 2013-14, enough jobs will not be created to absorb the burgeoning workforce,” Assocham added. Experts argue that the growth of manufacturing will be key for growth in income and employment for multiple reasons. For every job created in the manufacturing sector, three additional jobs are created in related activities. In 2013-14, manufacturing contributed 15% to GDP and employed about the same percentage of total workforce, a sign that the sector has a better labour absorption compared with services. (DNA 24/8/15)

88. Govt eases labour norms for industry, quietly (14)

Nagpur: Strange are the ways of the state government, which is trying hard to become industry friendly. One would expect it to inform the industrialists about the steps it was taking to make their life easier. However, this is not the case. Self-certification scheme was launched on June 23 by the labour ministry but industrialists across the state are not aware of it. Apurva Chandra, principal secretary (industry), is also clueless about this scheme. The industries and labour ministry just uploaded the government resolution (GR) in this regard on state government website www.maharashtra.gov.in and apparently forgot all about it. It did not bother to send a copy of the GR to the industrial associations, which has usually been the practice. Commenting on the lack of coordination, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “All these are new schemes and are taking shape. It will take some time to disseminate the information. It may take at least three months to set the ball rolling.” The lack of publicity apart, the self-certification scheme has received a thumbs up from industrialists. They told TOI it would greatly help in reducing red tape and allow them to devote more time to productive activities. TOI talked to office-bearers of number of industrial associations on the self-certification scheme. All of them were not aware of it. Atul Pande, president of Vidarbha Industries Association (VIA), said he had heard about the self-certification scheme but had no idea that the government had already issued a notification. Pravin Tapadia, ex-president of VIA, was also not aware of it. However, after going through it he termed it an excellent step to increase ease of doing business. “I feel there is no need for random inspection. If the labour department gets any complaint, it should conduct an enquiry and punish the erring factory owner,” he told TOI. Mayank Shukla, president of MIDC Industries Association (MIA), said while he was not aware whether a GR on self-certification had been issued or not but the concept was a welcome one. “It is good that the government has reposed trust in the industry. It will help the industries and avoid inspector raj. At the same time, there will be a continuous watch and surveillance over industry so rules are not violated,” he said. It is not industrialists of Vidarbha alone who are unaware of the GR. Ashish Garg, president of Chamber of Marathwada Industries and Agriculture (CMIA), expressed surprise when told about it. Same was the case with Thane Belapur Industries Association (TBIA). A spokesperson, after going through it, welcomed the step. The state government has claimed that Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) too has ushered a self-certification regime. However, the local MPCB officers were not aware whether the notification about it had been issued. Industrialists too were not aware of any notification. An industrialist preferring anonymity said that while CM Fadnavis was trying to reduce red tape, officials who did not want to give up their powers were resisting it and many were actively trying to scuttle it. “Fadnavis should take strong steps against such officers,” he said…. (Times of India 27/8/15)

89. Old Age Pension scheme: HC seeks Delhi govt respone on plea (14)

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday sought the Delhi government’s response on a plea alleging that over 1.5 lakh old aged destitute have not been paid pension of Rs 1000 per month by the municipal bodies here. A bench of justices B D Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva issued notice to the city government directing it to file reply within two weeks. The notice was issued after NGO Social Jurist moved an application seeking to implead Delhi government as party in the matter saying North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) due to financial crunch has decided to discontinue an old-age pension scheme since July last year. Advocate Ashok Agarwal, appearing for the NGO, contended that in the circumstance, the only option was that Delhi government should take upon the liability to pay the pension to these 1.5 lakh old aged destitute of the city. NDMC had said that they have written to Delhi government to consider merging the Old Age Pension scheme with a similar one run by its Social Welfare Department. The NGO had claimed the municipal bodies had stopped paying the pension under the old-age/widow/disabled persons pension and stipend scheme. South Delhi Municipal Corporation, however, had informed the court that over 73,000 people were eligible to receive the benefit under its Old Age Pension scheme, but it had paid the amount to only 63,914 till September 30, 2014, and the rest would be paid as soon as they provided details of Electronic Clearance Service or real-time gross settlement systems. On whether it intended to continue the scheme, South DMC had said the matter has been placed before the standing committee of the corporation for taking a policy decision. Earlier, the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) had told the court it has decided to continue its pension scheme covering over 30,600 disabled, widowed and elderly persons, subject to availability of funds. It had also told the court that pension funds to the tune of Rs 107.52 crore has not been paid for the last 24 months due to lack of funds. (Zee news 28/8/15)

90. 150 days of work to be provided under MNREGA (14)

BENGALURU: With most of Karnataka reeling under severe drought, the government has increased the number of days of work from 100 to 150 days under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) in 135 drought-hit taluks. Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj H.K. Patil on Wednesday reviewed the progress of various departmental schemes and said the number of days of work a year has been increased to each rural household to prevent migration of people. The beneficiary would get daily wages of Rs. 204 a day under the job scheme. The State is expected to get Rs. 2,587.35 crore during 2015-16 for taking up various works under the scheme. Each gram panchayat has been asked to provide jobs from a minimum of 20 to a maximum of 100 people per day. Gram panchayats across the State would take up nearly 10,000 works related to roads, bridges, lakes and playgrounds in the next few months. Rs. 369 crore had been released to gram panchayats under the 14th Finance Commission, he told presspersons. Mr. Patil discussed the preparation of action plans with Zilla Panchayat Chief Executive Officers, who attended the meeting, and said ZP CEOs and engineers have been told to follow 77 guidelines while preparing action plans. To tackle drinking water in villages, the ZP and GPs have been told to supply water in tankers and energise borewells. Rs. 49 crore had been released to provide power connections to borewell pumpsets. Rs. 75 crore had been released to Task Forces headed by legislators to mitigate drought. Under the ‘Open Defecation Free’ campaign, which is a part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, 10 lakh toilets would be constructed. In the last five months, 2.65 lakh toilets were constructed, he said. (The Hindu 2/9/15)

91. Trade unions eyed Rs 15,000 per month minimum wage as national baseline (19)

One of the key issues on which the negotiations between the government and the 10 central trade unions that had called for a general strike on Wednesday broke down was that of minimum wages. A labour ministry document circulated amongst the trade unions days before the strike, argued that by current norms, prices and calorific needs, Rs.6330 per month is the monthly wage adequate for an unskilled worker with a wife and two small children. The trade unions and various other federations that represent 15 cr workers had demanded Rs.15,000 per month minimum wage as a national level floor wage. Striking a generous posture, the government modestly increased its proposal to Rs.7098 per month. What the government had proposed was less than half of what was demanded. This was one of the contributory factors to the breakdown of negotiations. Other demands of the workers included social security coverage, non-interference with existing labour laws, etc. How did the government calculate their proposal? A look at the fine print shows a slew of gross under-estimations and the use of an archaic formula first spelled out way back in 1957. Some of the food items’ prices are far from reality. For instance dal is costed at Rs.65 but only one of the various dals in the market – chana or gram dal – comes in this range. Arhar (tur) is Rs.135 per kg, urad is Rs.117.5, masur is Rs.95. All these current retail prices are from the consumer affairs ministry’s price monitoring data spanning 81 cities and towns…. (Times of India 4/9/15)

92. SC slams govt for ‘casual’ approach towards labourers’ welfare (14)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday slammed the Centre for its “callous and casual” approach towards welfare of urban labourers and asked the labour secretary to personally appear before it to explain how the government intends to spend over Rs 27,000 crore collected as construction cess for the benefit of construction workers. A social justice bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit expressed displeasure over the Centre neglecting its direction to frame policy for spending the amount for providing basic facilities to daily wage earners in urban areas. The court noted that the government machinery had failed to take a decision on the issue despite its explixit orders that collection of cess would be stayed as there was no proposal on how to spend the amount. “Our order is being taken in a casual manner and we are left with no option but to ask the secretary, ministry of labour to appear in court. He will be present in court with possible action plan,” the bench said. “We indicated in our earlier order it is not appropriate to be casual. We hoped that it would have salutary effect on officers but nothing happened,” it said directing the top bureaucrat to appear in court on September 11. The Centre said some proposal is under consideration but there was nothing concrete so far to place before the court and sought one week’s time to come out with a policy. The bench, however, turned down the plea saying it would send a wrong signal and no one would take its orders seriously. The Building and other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess Rule provides for levy and collection of cess on the cost of construction incurred by employers and the amount is deposited with the Building and Other Constructions Workers Welfare Boards. Under the Act, every state is required to constitute a state welfare board to provide financial assistance for children’s education, medical treatment etc. The board is also supposed to give financial help in case of accidents and provide pensions, loans and group insurance to workers. Thousand of crores have been collected by government authorities but only a minuscule amount has been spent for the benefits of daily wage earners and most had been spent on administrative purposes and advertisements. “We are extremely disturbed. Governments are sitting over Rs 27,000 crore but laboures are not getting any benefits. It is a shameful and amazing situation as the amount is not spent on labourers,” the bench had said during the last hearing. According to the data placed before the SC, around Rs 4,179 crore cess was collected by eight states in the last three years and only Rs 361 crore was spent for the welfare of construction workers. Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Delhi, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Jharkhand and Himachal Pradesh have collected Rs 868 crore in 2011-12, Rs 1,606 crore in 2012-13 and Rs 1,705 crore in the last financial year. The SC is monitoring the implementation of the social welfare act and it had earlier directed all the states to set up the board to frame and implement welfare schemes for the benefit of construction workers. The court took the task of ensuring implementation of the welfare law after a PIL was filed by an NGO, National Campaign Committee for Central Legislation on Construction Labour, alleging that the state governments which collected the cess were not passing on the amount to the welfare boards. (Times of India 5/9/15)

93. OROP announced, ex-servicemen start counting the gains (14)

NEW DELHI: Even as the fine-print of the ‘one rank, one pension’ (OROP) formula decided by the government is still awaited, back-of-the-envelope calculations show retired military officers will get a pension hike ranging from Rs 8,000 to Rs 22,000 per month, while jawans and junior commissioned officers will get Rs 2,200 to Rs 9,000. After 42 years of battle, OROP is finally on, but hiccups stay Govt has worked since PM took oath to resolve OROP, Amit Shah says These figures factor in the existing 113% dearness allowance. “But they are very complex calculations depending on when an officer retired, at what rank and what length of service … the situation will be much clearer after the detailed government order comes out. The devil will be in the details,” said an officer. While figures will vary from one retired personnel to another, here are three illustrative examples:— Havildar Major Singh, who is among the veterans protesting at Jantar Mantar for the last 84 days. Discharged from the Sikh Light Infantry in 1991, he currently gets Rs 5,595 as his monthly pension. “With OROP, he will get an additional Rs 4,000 every month,” said one of his colleagues.— A Colonel who retired in 2001 gets Rs 44,000 as pension now. After OROP, it will increase by around Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 per month.— A Brigadier who retired in April 1996 after almost 33 years of service, gets Rs 62,300 as monthly pension in his hand as of now. “I have been told I will get at least Rs 9,000 to Rs 10,000 more after OROP,” he said. (Times of India 6/9/15)

RESERVATION

94. UP Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe staff to be demoted (25)

Lucknow : Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe employees who had been promoted under the reservation in promotion policy will now be demoted after the Akhilesh government was pulled up by the Supreme Court. The move will affect the employees in different cadres who were promoted through the reservation provisions after November 15, 1997 and before April 28, 2012. The Akhilesh government, which had been delaying the implementation of the Supreme Court order of April 2012 in this regard, has now been asked by the top court to comply and report by September 15. The SC order came in response to a contempt petition filed by some government employees. The SC order which has already led to the demotion of 64 engineers of the irrigation and water resources department in the state is bound to take on political overtones in a state that is drive by caste politics. BSP president Mayawati has already accused the Akhilesh government of wrongly interpreting the SC order. “The Supreme Court had not disapproved of reservation in promotion. It had only laid down stringent conditions for it. Instead of following the condition, the Samajwadi Party government has completely done away with it,” she had said when the 64 engineers were demoted in June. Mr Shailendra Dubey, president of the Sarvjan Hitaye Sanrakshan Samiti that has been fighting against the reservation in promotion policy, meanwhile, said, “The Supreme Court order is historic. One cannot be allowed to take the advantage of reservation twice — once at the time of getting the job and then in getting promotions. We welcome the court order and are confident that the state government would ensure its compliance at the earliest.” The government spokesman said the government would ensure implementation of the order but considering the fact that UP is a vast state, the government may need some more time to complete the process of demotion. Meanwhile, an executive engineer in a government department , who had benefited from the reservation in promotion policy, said that demoting officers at this stage would lead to a lot of problems and also lead to bad blood which would affect the working of the state machinery. “We will take legal opinion and then appeal to the court to make the policy effective from the present date so that demotions can be prevented,” he said. (Asian Age 21/8/15)

95. Quota row: Gujarat Govt invites Patel leaders for talks, meeting likely on Sunday (25)

Ahmedabad: Ahead of the Patel community’s rally here on August 25 to seek reservation under OBC quota, the Gujarat Government has invited the community leaders, including Hardik Patel who is spearheading the agitation, for a meeting which is likely to be held on Sunday. “We today invited Patel leaders including Hardik Patel (convener of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti) to hold talks with us,” Gujarat government spokesperson and Health Minister Nitin Patel told PTI. When asked about response from the Patel leaders, the minister said, “they (Patel leaders) told us over telephone that they will decide about the meeting by tonight and will let us know. The meeting is likely to be held tomorrow.” Patel is heading the seven-member ministerial panel set up by government to negotiate with the communities agitating for reservations. Earlier in the day, the government sent a written invitation to the core committee members of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti and its convener Hardik Patel for meeting. Hardik had earlier said that he will not hold any talks with government at this juncture ahead of the rally in which around 25 lakh people are likely to participate. Members of Patel community have been holding protests and organising rallies in various parts of the state demanding reservation in government jobs and education under OBC quota. (Zee news 23/8/15)

96. SC/ST protest govt decision to scrap reservation in promotion (25)

MEERUT: Members of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) on Wednesday protested outside the collectorate against the government order abolishing benefits of reservation in promotions. The protesters also accused the state government of grabbing agricultural land from people belonging to SC/ST. In a letter to the district magistrate, the protesters also claimed that with the 85th amendment, provision of reservation in promotion was added in the Constitution and a Constitutional bench of Supreme Court also supported the amendment. But later on the order was dismissed. “This is equal to insulting the parliamentary democracy system. Why is the state government doing such a thing? Have the SC/ST people gained more than their due?,” read the letter. Dr Satish Prakash, a physics teacher at the Meerut College, said, “Representatives of the reserved category in the Parliament and the state assembly are not loyal to their own people. The SP led state government not only wants to stop our people from getting promotion in state services but also wants to snatch agriculture land from us. The state government wants to make our people landless and jobless.” The Supreme Court, in April 2012 had upheld the Allahabad high court’s decision to scrap the policy of reservations in promotions introduced by the Mayawati government. The Allahabad high court on January 4, 2011, had dubbed it “unconstitutional” and struck it down following at least 50 petitions by employees associations from across the state. Following this, a special leave petition was filed in the Supreme Court against the order by the BSP government and some organizations. Supreme Court also set aside rule 8A introduced by the Mayawati government to provide consequential seniority to the SC/ST officers. Hence, there will be one seniority list and the promotion will be given according to the seniority list, the SC had observed. (Times of India 26/8/15)

97. Gujarat stir: Uneasy calm prevails, Hardik to up intensity (25)

After two days of violence, an uneasy calm prevailed in Gujarat during the OBC quota stir of the Patel community, even as the death toll rose to 10 and a defiant Hardik Patel vowed to intensify the agitation. Despite appeals for maintaining peace and amity by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Anandiben Patel, 22-year-old Mr Patel, who is spearheading the agitation, on Thursday upped the ante, asking farmers of his community not to supply essential commodities like vegetables and milk to cities and support the demand for reservation in jobs and education under OBC quota. He also demanded a compensation of `35 lakh each for the families of his community members who died in the violence. The issue rocked the Gujarat Assembly, with the Speaker suspending 54 Congress MLAs amid the bedlam over it. Three Congress MLAs were absent while Leader of the Opposition Shankarsinh Vaghela remained seated. The Congress has 58 MLAs in the 182-member Assembly. The Army, which has been deployed since Wednesday, conducted flag marches in Ahmedabad to instil confidence among the people in the wake of the violence. The Army has been also deployed in Surat and Mehsana. Rail traffic remained totally disrupted during the day as protesters had uprooted tracks in at least eight places, a senior official said. Curfew has been lifted from Surat city after no untoward incident was reported from there since Wednesday night. “We have withdrawn curfew from two areas in Surat from 8 am. There is normalcy and peace in the city. Shops are open, people went for their businesses, factories are open. Our officials are present in various areas and police patrolling is continuing,” police commissioner Rakesh Asthana said. , who was injured during the violence on Wednesday, died on Thursday in a private hospital, police officials said, taking the toll to 10. Ahmedabad has recorded five deaths in the Patel quota agitation, one each was reported from Surat (where a police constable was killed) and Patan districts and three persons lost their lives in Banaskantha district. Curfew was also lifted from Rajkot and Patan districts, where the situation is becoming normal after witnessing widespread violence for two days which had paralysed life. At least 55 trains, including the Rajdhani Express from Ahmedabad to Delhi, were cancelled on Thursday due to the agitation, while the operation of 26 others was partially affected, a statement from Western Railways PRO said. Besides, 15 trains were diverted out of the state due to the Patel agitation, it added. Meanwhile, the Gujarat high court issued notices to the police and state government after taking strong note of CCTV footage showing policemen in uniform vandalising cars in one of the housing societies of Sola area during violence on August 25. The court on Thursday ordered the police commissioner to conduct a probe and submit a report within two weeks into allegations that policemen opened fire in the air and damaged property to create terror during the stir. “First, suspend those policemen who were involved in atrocities on our people and give a compensation of `35 lakh to our children who have become martyrs in this movement,” Mr Hardik Patel told reporters while replying to a query on his demand from the state government. “I will urge my farmer brothers not to supply vegetables and milk and not to come out to provide essential items in cities,” Mr Patel said, adding that they will intensify their movement till their OBC quota demand is accepted. (Asian Age 28/8/15)

98. ‘Of 12 million Patels, 10 million are poor’: Hardik Patel (25)

Ahmedabad: Reservation cannot be abolished, says 22-year-old Hardik Patel, the man who galvanised Gujarat’s economically, socially and politically powerful Patel community. The youth from a political landscape completely dominated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for over a decade has created ripples in the calm waters of the state and national politics by seeking OBC status for the forward community. “It will have an adverse impact on others and they will stand up. We want to work with everyone for nation’s development and play an active role in an environment of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’,” he told Deccan Herald in an interview. “In the last 10 years, over 10,000 farmers have committed suicide. People with 90 per cent marks do not get admission. A person with an MBA is selling undergarments. Of the 11.8 million Patels, 10 million are poor. This is their fight,” he said. On being asked who he thought could have ordered his arrest at GMDC grounds, where he was on a fast, he said, “Like a General Dyer in Jallianwala Bagh, there definitely is a General Dyer behind this. From police, government or anti-social elements, I don’t know,” said Hardik. He said the establishment was resorting to “goondagardi” (hooliganism) as it was rattled. “It is the public power, the Patel public power. Over 7 million Patels have come out in 55 days and this has unnerved the establishment,” he asserted. Hardik also hit out at legislators and ministers from the Patel community, whom he blamed for “ditching” their people. “If they were real Patels, they would not have allowed police assault on women and children. They would simply resign,” he added. He reiterated that the police action of entering houses, beat women and children mercilessly and using abusive language stoked violence. “If someone dares to touch our women, we do not wait for father’s permission. We just hit back,” he said. On being asked how he felt when someone called him the second Modi, he shot back: “Who is saying this? I am no Modi. I am Sardar (referring to Vallabhbhai Patel). Sardar united the country without hitting anyone with a lathi or shedding blood. He even left the PM’s post and I am part of that proud lineage.” To a query on whether Patels would have come out in such large numbers if Modi was around, he said: “Lakhs would still come. Modi is no god.” When asked if the movement that he is trying to take national, by aligning with Gujjars and 27 crore Patidars, would eventually turn into the second Mandal-Kamandal movement, he said: “The politicians may try but public knows everything.” (Deccan Herald 30/8/15)

99. SC: Differently abled can’t claim quota in promotion (25)

NEW DELHI: Differently abled persons can claim benefit of reservation in government jobs only at the time of appointment and cannot get the benefit of the affirmative policy in promotion, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday while clarifying its earlier verdict. A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N V Ramana said the apex court’s 2013 verdict did not hold that the reservation policy could also be extended to promotion in jobs and stressed that the disabled could claim benefits only at the time of recruitment. The SC had in 2013 directed the Centre and all state governments to provide three per cent job reservation to disabled persons in all their departments, companies and institutions under Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act which came into force in 1995. The Centre submitted that the court had not, while passing order for three percent reservation, dealt with the issue of reservation in promotion and the disabled could not be allowed to claim the benefits. Although the Court had directed that all vacancies under 3% reservation be filled up within three months, the governments failed to comply with the order in the last two years and there are still 10,000 vacant posts in central government. Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar assured the court that all vacancies would be filled up by the end of this financial year. The bench directed the government to take necessary steps for recruitment of disabled persons and asked it to honour the deadline set for complying with the 2013 order. (Times of India 2/9/15)

100.  “Patels can’t be included in OBC list” (25)

HYDERABAD: The National OBC Commission Chairman Vangala Eashwaraiah has said that no caste can be included in the OBC list without the permission of the Backward Classes Commission. He was speaking at a programme organised by BC Udyama Vedika at the Osmania University in the backdrop of the Patels agitation for including them on the OBC list for the purpose of reservation. He said Patels, who are economically and socially way ahead of others cannot be included in the OBC list and reminded that the Supreme Court upheld the decision to remove Jats from the OBC category. Deshagoni Sambasiva Goud, who presided over the meeting, said the Patels agitation was unfortunate and the effort seems to rake up an issue unnecessarily. “If we don’t get it no one should get it” seems to be the motto of the Patels agitation, he said. Leaders from various organisations participated in the meeting. (The Hindu 6/9/15)

101. HC rules out quota benefits for SC migrants (25)

CHENNAI: Reiterating the legal position that when a Scheduled Caste individual migrates from one State or Union Territory to another, he can only claim to belong to the community in relation to the State or Union Territory from which he has migrated, the Madras High Court on Friday upheld a single judge order on the issue. Dismissing an appeal against a single judge order, which had rejected pleas to allow migrant SC candidates in Puducherry for reservation in institutions meant for the community, a Division Bench comprising Justices Satish Kumar Agnihotri and K.K. Sasidharan said the appellants had not produced any material to prove that the Puducherry government had framed a policy to extend the benefits in the field of education to the migrants. Maintaining that the appellants were entitled to benefits of reservation only in the State from where they migrated, the Bench said, “There is no question of considering them as Scheduled Caste in relation to the Union Territory of Puducherry in view of their migration after the cut-off date.” “Even if the government of Puducherry wanted to extend other benefits to those who have migrated to the Union Territory from other States, it would be possible only by way of passing appropriate legislation as indicated in Marri Chandra Shekhar Rao (a similar case),” the Bench said, adding that no one could compel the government to initiate such legislation. (The Hindu 7/9/15)

102. 27% quota for OBCs in civic polls (25)

Panaji: The cabinet on Monday, by circulation (agenda circulated among ministers), approved the directorate of municipal administration’s proposal to provide 27% reservations to the OBC community in municipal bodies in the state. The cabinet also approved a draft ordinance, The Goa Municipalities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015. Sources said that since elections to the state’s 11 municipal bodies are scheduled for October 25, the government took the ordinance route to push through the upped reservation. Under the proposal, Sections 9(2) (b) and (c) of the Goa Municipalities Act have been sought to be amended to facilitate the OBC reservation which was earlier 19.5%.Governor Mridula Sinha’s approval to the amendment is expected to be sought at the earliest. The directorate relied on a survey conducted by the centre for development planning and research (CDPR), Pune, to propose the reservation. But since the survey lacks municipality-wise OBC data, the government is likely to follow the caste-based reservation adopted for the 2010 municipal elections. In 2006, the government through a circular increased the percentage of reservation for OBCs from 19.5% to 27%.This was in general, pertaining to education, jobs, etc. A source said the government has based its current amendment to the Goa Municipalities Act on this nine-year-old circular. Seats will also be reserved for SC and ST communities in the October civic polls. Unlike the panchayat elections earlier this year, which were on party lines, the government has made it clear that candidates will not be allowed to contest municipal elections on party symbols. The election schedule will commence from September 30 and conclude with the counting of votes on October 27. (Times of India 8/9/15)

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

103. NHRC notice to UP DGP to explain Noida police’ alleged victimisation of people (1)

LUCKNOW: Based on media reports alleging NOIDA police victimised a samaritan, who saved the lives of two road accident victims, the National Human Rights Commission has issued a notice to the Director General of Police, Uttar Pradesh calling for a detailed report within four weeks. The Commission has observed that the contents of the media report, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of human rights of Ritesh Gupta, who helped the road accident victims. Reportedly, on the 9th August, 2015, Ritesh Gupta, an HR manager of a leading automotive engineering firm in Manesar, Haryana, saw a Maruti Swift car hit two young boys on a motorcycle near NOIDA Phase-II Police Station and sped away. As a good citizen, he picked up the injured duo – Yogendra (aged 21) and Tarun (aged 11) of Greater NOIDA and drove them, in his car, to the Yatharth Hospital in NOIDA for treatment. According to the media report, after admitting the injured in the hospital, he also dutifully informed the family of the victims and also the police. Ritesh was reportedly harassed by the NOIDA police, which reached the hospital. He was detained nearly ten hours by the police after branding him as the one who caused the accident and fled from the spot. The police allegedly, cooked up a story that he was chased down by them. His pleas went unheeded. He was detained in NOIDA Phase – II Police Station from 02:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. and forced to strike a deal with the victims’ family by paying them ten thousand rupees. The cops also allegedly extorted two thousand rupees from Ritesh. (Times of India 22/8/15)

104. NHRC issues notice to Jharkhand DGP over Deoghar stampede (1)

RANCHI: Two weeks after the tragic stampede at Baba Baidyanath Dham temple in Deoghar, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday issues show cause notice to Jharkhand Director General of Police, DK Pandey seeking a detailed report within four weeks. The commission has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that 10 devotees were killed and 70 injured in a stampede at the temple when thousands of pilgrims had queued up to offer water on the Shivalinga on second somvar-cum-ekadashi in the early hours August 10. “Reportedly, a group of kanwariyas tried to force themselves forward and a policeman used his stick to disperse them resulting in a stampede,” the notice reads. The Commission has observed that the incident, if true, raises serious questions of violation of human rights of the victims and shows ineptness of the police force. “A notice has been issued to the DGP calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks,” official communique of the NHRC read. The release further points that in media report the eyewitnesses alleged that erratic behaviour of security personnel controlling the crowd and darkness were factors behind the tragedy. Meanwhile chief minister Raghubar Das on the same day announced that on the lines of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, the Baidyanath Dham temple will have its own temple authority, to manage the affairs of the temple and plan its annual shravani mela. (Times of India 26/8/15)

105. Hyderabad Police admits cops violated NRIs’ rights (1)

HYDERABAD: City police commissioner M Mahender Reddy has admitted that there was “gross violations of the human rights: by the police in the infamous NRIs’ assault case in June. The commissioner submitted a written report to the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) admitting the transgressions and promised to “ensure no such violations occur in future”.However, the police chief gave a clean chit to the Musheerabad police personnel on the charge of demanding Rs 3 lakh bribe from the three victims. “Disciplinary action has been taken against the police personnel for the gross violation of the human rights … The commission may dispose the petition on the grounds that no further investigation or inquiry is required in the matter,” the commissioner said in his report (a copy of which is in possession of TOI) submitted to the SHRC in the last week of July. Three Ireland-based Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) — M Vasu, Preetam, and Nirish — were brutally assaulted by the Musheerabad police while they were returning home after a late-night party on June 25. The cops allegedly demanded Rs 3 lakh bribe to free them and not implicate them in a criminal case. In response to a complaint lodged by Vasu, the SHRC then directed the Hyderabad police commissioner to file his reply. On the June 25 night, NRIs Vasu, Nirish, Preetam and a Hyderabadi, Nitin, stopped their vehicle on the road in Musheerabad after a late-night party. A few policemen suddenly landed there and started abusing them in filthy language. Later, a patrol vehicle reached the spot. Cops dragged them into the car and took them to the police station, where they were beaten up black and blue by 12 to 15 persons. Subsequently, sub-inspector V Sampath and other policemen allegedly demanded Rs 3 lakh bribe to free them. “As alleged by the petitioner (Vasu), regarding demand of Rs 3 lakh bribe from the complainant, no other victim corroborated it. In his statement recorded during the course of inquiry, Vasu stated that in the police station one person negotiated with him and his friends Nitin and Nirish, and demanded a bribe of Rs 3 lakh for not implicating him and his friend Nitin in the case and threatened dire consequences if the matter was brought to the notice of the officials and also threatened to impound their passports,” the commissioner said in his report. After the bitter experience with the Hyderabad police, one of the victims returned to Ireland and vowed never to visit India. The top cop’s report was based on the investigation by deputy commissioner of police (Central Zone) VB Kamalasan Reddy into the assault case. However, nowhere it mentions about who that ‘mysterious’ plainclothes person who allegedly negotiated the Rs three lakh bribe deal was. Three constables__ K Rajender, M Hanumantha Rao, K Narayana__were suspended, home guard K Suresh Kumar was dismissed, a charge memo was issued to inspector B Mohan Kumar and sub-inspector V Sampath was just transferred out of the police station. Also, the DCP’s probe failed to identify the other policemen involved in the assault. (Times of India 30/8/15)

106. Khap panchayat’s rape order of 2 UP sisters echoes in UK (1)

MEERUT: After a khap panchayat in Baghpat district allegedly ordered that two sisters be raped and paraded naked as punishment after their brother eloped with a married woman from another caste, members of the British Parliament called on their government to intervene and ensure safety of the sisters, aged 23 and 15 years. Baghpat superintendent of police Sharad Sachan, however, denied that such an order was passed but added that the two Dalit girls from Sankrod village and their family had been provided security. Nadhim Zahawi, a Conservative MP of the UK foreign affairs select panel , said, “I am revolted. No culture or religion, no human being with any humanity would condone this.” Hilary Benn, the shadow foreign secretary, added, “I urge Philip Hammond (UK secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs) to make immediate representations to Indian authorities for action to be taken to protect the two sisters.” A spokesperson for the foreign office said, “We are committed to work with the Indian government on this important issue.” The incident, denied by locals and Baghpat police, gained traction in the international media after human rights organization, Amnesty International, made a petition demanding action in the case, which garnered more than 16,000 signatures until Friday. ” Nothing could justify this abhorrent punishment. It’s not fair. It’s not right. And it’s against the law,” the petition said, seeking immediate intervention by local authorities. UP CM Akhilesh Yadav too has taken cognizance of the alleged matter and instructed local administration to ensure full protection to family, a government statement said. (Times of India 31/8/15)

107. NHRC asks Gujarat govt to ‘arrest’ Ahmedabad district SP (1)

AHMEDABAD: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday directed the Gujarat government to arrest an Ahmedabad district superintendent of police for “wilful disobedience” of its order to submit a report. Nirlipt Rai, the officer, took over as Ahmedabad district (rural) SP in July 2014. As per the notice sent by NHRC to the Chief Secretary G R Aloria, Rai is to be arrested and released on a bail of Rs 500. The commission also asked the Chief secretary “to bring the said SP rural-Ahmedabad before the Commission on September 24 at 3 pm”.In 2012, Temubha Narsang, resident of Kamiyala village in Dhandhuka tehsil, had approached NHRC alleging that a DySP-rank police officer (now retired) threatened to kill him and his family in a fake encounter over a land dispute. The commission directed the erstwhile SP Gagandeep Gambhir to conduct an inquiry and send a report. In July 2014, Gambhir was replaced by Rai. The NHRC issued Rai several reminders about submitting the report and related documents but the SP failed to respond. The NHRC then asked Rai to remain present with all the reports on June 30 this year, but he didn’t comply even then, the notice says. Terming this as “wilful disobedience of the orders of the commission”, the NHRC today ordered that the SP be arrested and produced before it on September 24 after releasing him on bail. When contacted, Aloria described it as “a small matter”.”This is a small matter. It is about non-receipt of some report by NHRC…There won’t be any need to arrest the SP. It is just that the commission uses such harsh language. The SP is just asked to remain present before Commission,” he said. The SP himself pleaded innocence, saying his office never received any reminder from NHRC in the last two years. “I have checked our registry branch and records of past two years. No such letters were received in past two years. As a result, no rural SP went to NHRC….I will send my clarification to NHRC….I will also request the Commission to cancel the arrest warrant,” said Rai. (Times of India 2/9/15)

108. Human rights panel summons GMC dean, health secretary (1)

Panaji: The Goa Human Rights Commission on September 4 issued notices to the dean of Goa Medical College and secretary (health) to appear before the commission in person or through an advocate on September 24 in connection with patients found sleeping on the floor in and around neurology ward 139. The order was issued after a petition was submitted by human rights activist Satish Sonak, concerned citizen Arturo Dsouza and AAP secretary Valmiki Naik. The petitioners suggested that the patients sleeping on the floor be shifted to other wards where occupancy is available or even housed in private wards and rooms meant for VIPs at GMC. Patients with influence should not be given preference over needy patients. They asked for a centralized communication system so that a patient can be immediately sent to a hospital in the state where a bed is available. They have also asked for an inquiry committee to be constituted consisting of eminent doctors to report on possibilities of cross-infection and other health hazards caused due to patients sleeping on the floor. (Times of India 6/9/15)

109. NHRC notice to TN over plight of Myanmar refugees (13)

CHENNAI: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notice to Tamil Nadu government, responding to reports about refugees from Myanmar left “wandering on the streets” of Chennai, looking for accommodation. Tamil Nadu government and Chennai city police commissioner have been given four weeks to respond to the notices. NHRC member justice D Murugesan, taking notice of a report in media, said refugees including women and children, were made to wander in “utter disregard to their human rights.” “The state authorities have the duty to protect the human rights of the refugees and to provide shelter to them…the report, if true, raises a serious issue of violation of human rights,” the commission said. The 64 refugees belonging to 14 Rohingya Muslim families had arrived in Chennai three years ago and were staying in a private accommodation at Koman Nagar in Thaiyur and were working as daily wage labourers and rag pickers. On September 3, an agent took them to Manali for some work, but when local people there objected to the presence of refugees in large numbers, police shifted them to a place at Kovalam on the East Coast Road. They were subsequently shifted to a community hall at Kelambakkam on September 5 after the district administration intervened. They have been provided food and security, said Chengelpet RDO Paneerselvam. Police have been drafted for duty at the community hall, he said. The refugees including 15 women had to move out of Thaiyur because the owner of the place where they were staying wanted them to vacate the place. As they approached some local Muslim leaders, one Kabir Bai took the initiative to take them to Manali, inquiries revealed. Kancheepuram district collector V K Shanmugam said the government had identified a poromboke land at Thaiyur where the refugees could be relocated. “We are yet to take a final decision on this,” Shanmugam said. Abdul Salam (39), one of the refugees who arrived two months ago with wife and a child, is a driver. He paid Rs 6,000 to a broker in Kolkata, who sent him to Jammu and Kashmir. From there he moved to Chennai. But without a licence, he is unable to work, he said. K Yousuf (35) came to Chennai with his wife and two kids. He paid money to multiple brokers in Bangladesh and Kolkata, he said, and added that he was keen on returning to Myanmar. Rohingyas are Indo-Aryan people from Rakshine state of Myanmar. They speak Rohingya language. Some historians say they had migrated to Myanmar from Bangladesh, some during the British rule, some after the Burmese independence in 1948 and some after the Bangladesh liberation war in 1971. They have been seen as one of the most persecuted minorities by the United Nations. More than one lakh Rohingyas live as internally displaced refugees in camps in Myanmar. A sizeable section of the population has moved over to Bangladesh. After the Rakshine state riots in 2012, many Rohingyas migrated to Southeast Asian countries. (Times of India 8/9/15)

JUDICIARY/ LAW

110. ‘India is the worst in implementing laws’ (19)

HYDERABAD: The right to freedom of expression is more precious than other rights, as its violation will lead to other violations of the Constitution, said Lokayukta Justice B. Subhashan Reddy here on Saturday. “So when the right to freedom is violated, we protest and file cases,” Justice Reddy said during the Prof. Bashiruddin Memorial lecture here at the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI), which was conducted by the Department of Communication and Journalism, Osmania University. ‘People should know what is discussed’Justice Reddy also stated that people should know what is being discussed in the Judiciary. “That is why the Supreme Court allowed the media to report on proceedings in the court, on the condition that is not a ‘trial by media’,” he further said. Unlike in the US, where the Bill of Rights includes press freedom, India does not have such a provision in its fundamental rights, Justice Reddy said.“The law has evolved through judgments of the Supreme Court. The Right to Information (RTI) and Right to Education (RTE) laws are a part of the fundamental right to freedom of expression,” he said. While replying to a question, Justice Reddy said that India is the best in enacting laws, but the worst in implementing them. (The Hindu 24/8/15)

111. Bombay HC keeps PIL against dams alive; dismisses plea by a contractor (19)

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Friday dismissed a plea seeking dismissal of a PIL that had raised questions over contracts given out by the state for over 15 dams in Konkan region. The court said, “This court will have to time and again look into the matter and the steps taken by the ACB. We do not think any prejudice would be caused if the petition is kept pending.” The HC said the PIL filed by former AAP member Anjali Damania and others raised “serious question” in public interest and needs to be kept alive and monitored. The bench refused to dismiss the PIL that has alleged irregularities in the tendering process for 15 dam projects in Maharashtra and alleged substandard construction. The plea seeking dismissal of the PIL was made by F K Enterprises and F K Constructions. Senior counsel Amit Desai and Anil Sakhare appearing for a contractor said that the PIL was not maintainable as the anti- corruption bureau had already initiated inquiry into the allegations. The PIL had been filed by private vested interests, said Desai. Anil Singh, the additional solicitor general who also holds additional charge as the state advocate general also said that the PIL by Damania, Mayank Gandhi and others may be dismissed since the Anyi corruption bureau (ACB) has initiated an inquiry and even submitted reports to the court regarding Kondhane dam. He said it not essential thus for the court to monitor the probe. “The present petition does not deal with the issue of Kondhane dam in Raigad district but about 15 other dams,” said the HC. The judges also said that the PIL filed in 2012 has seen an inquiry started now in 2015. (Times of India 28/8/15)

112. Law ministry wants action against officials who fail to file replies in court (19)

NEW DELHI: Embarrassed by repeated court raps for delays on part of union ministries in filing their replies and affidavits, the law ministry has sought “appropriate action” against officials of departments who are negligent in handling such matters. In a strongly-worded letter to all Union secretaries, law secretary PK Malhotra has said that he has been informed by his field officers and government counsels appearing on behalf of Union of India before courts and tribunals that “many a time” replies and counteraffidavits are not filed in the court within the time granted. He said it causes inconvenience to the courts, delays proceedings and leads to “unnecessary embarrassment” to the government. “Of late, courts have been taking serious view of delay in filing replies and counteraffidavits and imposing heavy cost to be recovered from the officer concerned,” he said in his letter, copies of which have also been marked to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet secretary. Malhotra pointed out that recently the chief justice of the Madras high court took a serious view of the failure on part of the environment ministry to file its reply on time. Quoting from the court order, he said when an additional solicitor general sought more time to file a counteraffidavit, the high court pointed out that “despite the time period being granted as requested … whether it is six or eight weeks … in every case there is a second request made for filing counteraffidavit … this issue needs to be set right.” He said the court has asked him to ensure a better coordination “and put the officers concerned to notice that this court would have no other option but to impose exemplary costs for the delay in filing counteraffidavits and that the costs would be recovered from the officer concerned.” The law secretary said the department of legal affairs has been issuing instructions from time to time that nodal officers of ministries and departments should stay in touch with the government counsel for proper handling of court matters. “I shall be grateful if you can sensitize your officers that court cases are properly monitored and replies are filed on time to avoid passing of such orders in future. If any officer is found negligent in handling court matters, the administrative ministry may consider taking appropriate action against him in accordance with the rules,” the letter said. In a bid to shed the tag of being the biggest litigant, the Narendra Modi government is working on a “national litigation policy” as part of its efforts to streamline governance and reduce burden on courts. The policy will help various Union ministries and departments define types of cases to be pursued in courts and those which need to be dropped after review. Though there are no concrete figures, law ministry believes government is party to at least 46 per cent of the court cases ranging from service matters to indirect taxes. (Times of India 30/8/15)

113. Work hard to retain common man’s faith in judiciary, says CJ (19)

HYDERABAD: Acting Chief Justice Dilip B Bhosale of the Hyderabad High Court appealed to judicial employees to strive towards retaining the common man’s faith in the judiciary. Speaking at the all-India judicial employees confederation meet here on Sunday, CJ Bhosale said, “flooding of petitions and pending cases means the abundant faith the common has in us as an institution. The day he loses faith in us, that is the beginning of anarchy.” The CJ also assured that the problems of the judicial employees would be resolved and their working conditions would be improved soon. “There is no instance of Supreme Court striking down any of our judgments so far on the ground of wrong drafting of decrees and this goes to show the efficiency of our judicial employees who work long hours even beyond their regular working hours,” he said. Senior judges Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice G Chandraiah also took part in the event. Speaking on the occasion, Justice Subhash Reddy said that an overwhelming majority of judiciary comprise judicial employees and judicial officers. (Times of India 31/8/15)

114. PIL seeks probe, action against Hardik Patel, his associates (19)

AHMEDABAD: A PIL has now demanded investigation into the roles of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) and its leader including Hardik Patel for creating the situation that led to widespread rioting and loss of lives and properties. The PIL has sought investigation by a judicial commission and action against Hardik for inciting people to take law in their hands during the peaceful gathering at the GMDC ground on August 25, when Patidars gathered to push their demand further for inclusion in OBC quota. Petitioner Charudatt Vyas has demanded appointment of judicial commission to investigate the role of PAAS, Hardik and his associates Chirag Patel and Dinesh Patel for the damages caused to public and private properties on account of their call for Gujarat Bandh on August 26, a day after the huge gathering at GMDC ground to demand OBC reservation for Patidars. The petitioner has contended that call of “bandh” and its enforcement is illegal, but Hardik and his associates went ahead with this illegality and jeopardized the tranquility of the state. The PIL has held them responsible for the loss of lives and damage to properties during the riots. “Hardik Patel had addressed a meeting of the Patidars and also had let the rally from GMDC Ground…had provoked the members of the meeting by explosive speech and instigated the members to take the law in hand if the State do not go down to their demand,” the petition reads. It was on account of this provocative speech and unwarranted action by police, the peaceful meeting turned out to be violent and members of Patidar community caused damages to public and private properties. The PIL also demands appointment of a judicial commission for assessment of damages to properties and to fix compensation. It has also sought action against the perpetrators of violence. This PIL may come up for hearing later this week. (Times of india 1/9/15)

115. Wife’s alimony can’t be stopped even if she secures a job: HC (19)

Nagpur: Coming to a wife’s rescue, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court delivered an important ruling that alimony granted to her can’t be stopped even if she secures a job. While rejecting an Akola-based man’s appeal for cancellation of maintenance to his wife since she had secured a job, the court observed that a wife had every right to live a dignified life by searching for a suitable job, if alimony is not enough for her survival. “The wife has a right to lead a life with dignity. If it’s noticed by her that maintenance is insufficient to lead a dignified life, then surely she can search for a suitable job. If she secures a job, it will not give any cause in husband’s favour to move an application under Section 127 of Code of Criminal Procedure to recall order of maintenance,” a single-judge bench comprising justice Vinay Deshpande ruled. The man had challenged Akola Family Court’s order of October 22, 2010, that dismissed his application opposing alimony to his wife. He prayed for cancellation of maintenance of 1,500 per month to her granted by the court. The 31-year-old contended that his wife had received an appointment order on December 26, 2008, for joining the ITI at Amravati from February 7, 2009, and now she is getting substantial salary, which is sufficient for her maintenance. He had not challenged the maintenance of 1,500 granted to his four-year-old son. The wife opposed his prayer, arguing that she is working in Buldhana, about 150km away from her maternal hometown Akola. She was residing in rented premises that increased her expenditure. She also cited medical expenses on their minor son, who is suffering from asthma. She presented her salary certificate, which shows she is getting 13,003, and after deductions she gets 11,359 in hand. On the other hand the husband’s salary certificate shows that he is getting 27,158 and after deductions, the net salary is 21,763. Even his parents were also getting handsome pension being retired teachers. “The nature of the wife’s job is purely temporary and at any point of time her employment can cease to exist. 1,500 is not enough for her to lead a decent life and, therefore, she was required to search for a suitable job. There is nobody dependent on the husband. In that view of matter, the order of maintenance of 1500 to wife can’t be recalled since her job is temporary in nature,” justice Deshpande stated while upholding the lower court’s verdict. (Times of India 2/9/15)

116. Long separation no reason for divorce: Family Court (19)

Nagpur: Can long separation of a couple be a ground for divorce? The Nagpur Family Court settled dispute by categorically ruling that it can’t be. Citing Section 13 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the court denied divorce to a 50-year-old man from Nagpur from his 44-year-old wife. “It’s the matter of record that the parties are staying separate since 13-14 years. However, only long separation of parties is not a ground to dissolve their marriage. Irretrievable breakdown of marriage is not a ground under Section 13 of Hindu Marriage Act to dissolve the marriage,” judge Subhash Kafre held. Interestingly, the husband, who had made second attempt to get divorce, candidly admitted to having an extra marital affair with another women and even birth of a son from their relationship in August 2013. “The husband has not made serious attempts to resume cohabitation with wife. It has come on record that he has a son from another woman. In such circumstances, it’s safe to hold that the husband himself created circumstances so that wife was constrained to live separate. It can’t be accepted that she deserted him with an intention to bring cohabitation to an end permanently,” the judge observed. The couple entered into wedlock on December 2, 1991, but trouble started between them just after two months. They carried on till May 19, 2000, and had a daughter in the period. The husband then filed a first plea in family court for divorce on the grounds of ill-treatment that was dismissed on May 4, 2006. However, the wife and daughter were granted maintenance. On February 18, 2009, the husband filed another plea for divorce citing new ground of desertion for a long period of about nine years. He claimed he was suffering from tongue cancer and there is no one to look after him. He said he had visited wife’s maternal home to bring her back on February 12, 2009, but she refused. Denying the allegations, the wife claimed that husband was not taking care of her and their daughter, and used to abuse her. While praying for dismissal of case, she charged him of maintaining adulterous relationship with another woman and deserting them for her. The court observed that during subsistence of marriage, the husband maintained illicit relations with another woman who gave birth to a son. “The husband can’t be allowed to take advantage of his own wrong to get a decree of divorce as per Section 23 of the Act. He has miserably failed to prove that he is entitled to decree of divorce on the ground of desertion under Section 13(1)(i-b) of the Act,” the judge observed before dismissing his plea. (Times of India 6/9/15)

117. Law ministry commissions studies to evolve efficient justice delivery mechanism (19)

NEW DELHI: The law ministry has engaged Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, Indian Institute of Management, Kashipur and the law university of Kolkata among five leading institutions to study court management system and bottlenecks affecting expeditious conclusion of criminal trials. In the last six months, the government has sanctioned at least five projects related to judicial reforms to suggest new performance indicators for subordinate judiciary and redesigning of the country’s legal education system. IIT, Kharagpur has been tasked to study “designing the legal education system in India” for evolving a better and efficient justice delivery system. While the judicial academy in Jharkhand has been sanctioned a project to study major bottlenecks in procedural laws that delay criminal trials, IIM, Kashipur, is studying performance indicators for subordinate courts. As part of its study, IIM, Kashipur, has been asked to suggest policy changes for reducing pendency of civil cases. Despite several amendments in Criminal Procedure Code and Civil Procedure Code, pendency in subordinate courts remains alarmingly high at 2.3 crore cases. The NALSAR law university in Hydrabad has been asked to study court management techniques for improving the efficiency of subordinate courts. The National University of Juridical Sciences in Kolkata is engaged in studying the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism and legal aid in settlement of disputes. Though the Kolkata law university study will be restricted to cases in West Bengal, a policy recommendation could be used for appropriate changes in the national policy on ADR. The government has proposed to promote ADR mechanism such as mediation, conciliation, arbitration and Lok Adalats as an effective means of settling disputes without resorting to the formal litigation process. ADR is expected to help ease the burden of courts, reduce pendency and ensure speedy delivery of justice. Lok Adalats have been designed for settlement of disputes in a timely and cost effective manner. (Times of India 8/9/15)

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

118. Assam Tribal Youth Dies in Army Custody (1)

GUWAHATI: Angry locals on Wednesday blocked a National Highway at Gohpur in northern Assam’s Sonitpur district to protest against the alleged torture and death of an Adivasi youth in Army custody. The protesters alleged that Sonagadi Nag of New Ghaghra village, who was picked up by Army personnel from his house on Tuesday morning, died following custodial torture. “The Armymen picked him up suspecting that he was an insurgent of the Birsa Commando Force. But he had no connection with any insurgent group,” a local resident said. The locals described as a “cooked-up story” the Army’s claim that the Adivasi youth had led a patrol party to a hideout from where a 9-mm pistol, one magazine and five live cartridges had been recovered. They demanded a high-level inquiry into the incident and action. (New Indian Express 21/8/15)

119. Custodial death: seven policemen suspended (1)

HYDERABAD: City Police Commissioner M. Mahender Reddy on Sunday suspended seven policemen, including the Station House Officer of Asifnagar police station, K. Srikanth, for dereliction of duty. In a press release, Mr. Reddy stated that the policemen were placed under suspension in the interest of fair enquiry and investigation for exhibiting gross negligence and dereliction of duty in keeping a woman N. Padma at the station at odd hours which led to severe health complications and her subsequent death. During the suspension period, their headquarters will be the City Armed Reserve at Petlaburz and they will not be allowed to leave the headquarters without the prior permission of the Joint Commissioner of Police – CAR Headquarters. (The Hindu 24/8/15)

120. Families of AFSPA victims speak of helplessness (1)

IMPHAL August 27: The North East Dialogue Forum held a one day consultation programme on Armed Forces Special Power Act 1958 and International Humanitarian Law at Classic hotel today. Family members of victims of AFSPA narrated several testimonies of rights violation under the Act including death of minor in a landmine blast, kidnapping by militants, torture of minors by both State and non-State actors, shot death for un-established suspicions. During their narratives, the families talk about the helplessness of a common man during times of conflict situation when a person`™s life is reduced to collateral damage. The narratives of the families that were mainly from the very poor sections of the society were full of helplessness, injustice and trauma which have lingered on for even years after the incidents. The families also highlighted their sadness against the apathy of the State government towards them and their desperation in seeking justice. The speakers also highlighted several cases of high handedness of the Army under the guise of the AFSPA and the police who people wrongly conceive to be under the Act. Advocates Nando Elangbam and Laimayum Serananda deliberated on the background context of the AFSPA. They also cited several reports and observations which points to the illegal imposition and extension of the Act and how it contradicts the International Human Rights frameworks. The advocates also lucidly explained how the AFSPA 1958 devalues the International Bill of Human Rights. The International Bill of Human Rights includes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Optional Protocols to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights- which are all legally binding for the member States under the United Nations even in conflict situations, said Serananda. NEDF convenor U Nobokishore explained the relation between AFSPA and the IHL. He observed both the State and the non-State actors are violating the provisions of the IHL in Manipur. He further cited several incidents in support of his observation. He also talked about the attitudes of the Army exercising excess power within the protection of AFSPA 1958. All such experiences amounts to not merely violation of our rights but also absence of any humanitarian safeguard in our conflict situation, he remarked. During the convention some well-known personalities like Priyadarsni Gangte, Radhepriya, W Jamini and Sitaram Begum also spoke. (Kangla Online 27/8/15)

121. Police reform a must to stop State from misusing power (1)

Independence day is an interesting time to reflect on our strange fealty to institutions that the British left us, including those that were explicitly set up to be used against us. Take the police. The police in India is still governed, in the main, by the Police Act of 1861. Promulgated just four years after the events of 1857, and almost surely heavily influenced by it, it is an act for an internal army of occupation, designed with the aim, very clearly, of forestalling all possibilities of another revolt. The police dress like the army, down to the colourful little medals on their chest. Like the apocryphal boy scouts, they are meant to be always prepared; they have no off-days and can be called to duty at any hour, which is why you see many men sleeping on string beds when you enter a police compound. And most importantly, they are supposed to inspire fear in the civilian population. And they do. Fifty-three per cent of almost 6,000 randomly chosen households in Rajasthan who were asked this question, believe that law-abiding citizens fear the police. A corollary to this is that people do not expect the police to help them with their problems; less than one  in three crime victims ever bother to report the crime, and of those who report, 39% are satisfied with their experience. The rest are unsatisfied. However the fraction of those who are satisfied goes up to nearly 60% when the police station staff is trained to be responsive. Given that the training was very basic at best and lasted just three days, this suggests that they had simply never been told that being nice to their clients is a priority. The dissatisfaction with this aspect of Indian policing is not new. The Police Commission of 1903 already identifies this as a problem. Subsequent committees tasked with looking into police reforms, including the 2005 Soli Sorabjee Committee, have reiterated the need for a new police law, and Pakistan, which started with the same law, has long changed it. We, on the other hand, seem to be stuck with it. As we are with so many of our laws; the bizarre defamation law that allowed the actress Kushboo to be arrested for defaming Tamil womanhood (yes all of them!) for her suggestion that pre-marital sex might be okay as long as the parties take protection, goes back to the Indian Penal Code of 1860. The law against homosexuality also dates from 1860, and proscribes any form of sex that is “against the order of nature”. It is rarely invoked, thankfully, but it offers almost infinite possibilities of abuse. The Supreme Court’s judgment while reinstating Article 377 invokes the same “order of nature”, much to the delight of conservatives from all religions, but its worth emphasising that those words come from the mind of a British Victorian law maker and not, say, our vaishnav tradition, where men are supposed to imagine themselves as gopis in love with Krishna. A part of the reason that the law does not change is opposition from sections of the police itself; it allows the police authorities a wide range of more or less arbitrary powers to act in the name of protecting “public peace”. For example, Article 110 of the Bombay Police Act of 1951, which, earlier this month, allowed the police to go into hotel rooms and arrest and publicly humiliate couples in Madh Island near Mumbai for the crime of sharing a hotel bed, directly borrows its definition of what can be interpreted as a threat to public peace from the Bombay Police Act of 1902. This law, brought in to make sure that the police could essentially go in almost anywhere without a warrant to ensure that no conspiracy, nationalist or criminal, was being hatched, allows a degree of impunity that some policemen clearly enjoy. I have a strong suspicion that it was less over-zealousness that inspired the raid (as a senior police official suggested) than glee at the possibility of being able to barge in on young couples in various stages of intimacy. But it is not at all the fault of the police. We also don’t care enough. Our democratic culture does not prioritise protecting an individual’s right to live life her way, especially if that is not our way or the way of the community. Mass protests often get books or films banned, but very few people take to the streets to challenge the right of the State to decide what we can read or watch — it’s still someone else’s problem. Yet every time we see State power being used with impunity, every occasion when a policeman walks into a teashop and leaves without paying, diminishes the State and breeds cynicism. We all pay the cost of that. (Hindustan Times 28/8/15)

122. 3 killed in police firing, Manipur violence toll up to 8 (1)

IMPHAL: Three persons were killed today when police opened fire on protesters in Manipur’s Churachandpur district taking the overnight toll to eight as fresh violence erupted there, forcing the authorities to continue the indefinite curfew imposed last night. The police said that they opened fire on a mob which attacked Churachandpur police station, leaving three of the agitators dead. Two of the killed were in their 30s while another was 10 years old, police sources said. Four persons were injured in the police firing, taking the total number of the injured to 31. They were admitted to Churachandpur district hospital this evening, a hospital source said. Five persons were kille during a general strike called by the tribal student organisations called a bandh yesterday protesting against the passage of three bills – Protection of Manipur People Bill, 2015, Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (Seventh amendment) Bill, 2015, and Manipur Shops and Establishments (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015 – in the state assembly to protect the indigenous people. The tribals feared that the passage of the laws would allow “outsiders” to have rights over tribal land. While three bullet-riddled bodies were found in Churachandpur town yesterday, a charred body was recovered from under the debris at the residence of Henglep MLA Manga Vaiphei this morning in the town, a police officer said, adding that another body was also found. According to the police, the houses of MP of Outer Manipur Lok Sabha seat Thangso Baite, Manipur family welfare minister Phungzaphang Tonsimg, and that of five MLAs, including Manga Vaiphei and Vungzagin Valte of Thanlom, were set on fire in Churachandpur town during the bandh called by the students last evening. (Times of India 1/9/15)

123. Custodial death: Political parties want cops booked for murder (1)

CHENNAI: Members of several political parties, including MDMK and VCK, and a few Tamil activists staged a protest in front of Government Royapettah Hospital on Saturday, demanding that the inspector responsible for the death of a 45-year-old Sri Lankan at Pallikaranai police station be charged with murder. Police said K Mohan of Medavakkam, who was handed over to the Pallikaranai police by Central Crime Branch sleuths in a fake passport case, collapsed during interrogation and died at a private hospital on Friday. On Saturday, a magistrate, P Vidhya, began a probe into whether Mohan died due to torture by the Pallikaranai police. She visited Government Royapettah Hospital (GRH) where postmortem was done on Mohan’s body was done. The whole process was video-graphed. Earlier, the magistrate spent about two hours with Mohan’s family members, recording their statements and claims in the case. Some of them, sources said, told police that the magistrate patiently recorded the minutest of details pertaining to Mohan. Just before the magistrate’s arrival at the GRH morgue, members of VCK and MDMK resorted to a road roko and blocked traffic for about 10 minutes before police talked to them and dispersed them. Several members of a few pro-Tamil outfits attempted to gherao the Pallikaranai police station, seeking action against the police personnel responsible for Mohan’s death. Police nabbed the protesters and detained them in a marriage hall before releasing them in the evening. Some CPM cadres also staged a protest over the death of Mohan, who they said had been living in the city for about 15 years. (Times of India 6/9/15)

124. In Pathribal, verdict ‘like rubbing salt on wounds’ (1)

Srinagar: As the families the Machil fake encounter victims welcomed the confirmation of life sentence to six Army personnel for luring three civilians to the Line of Control (LoC) and killing them, the mood is Pathribal stood in stark contrast. “This (Machil verdict) is just for show,” said Abdul Rashid Khan, whose father, 38-year-old Juma Khan, was one of the five men killed in an alleged fake encounter in Pathribal and buried after being dubbed a “foreign militant” by the Army. “For us, it cannot get sadder than this. It is like rubbing salt on our wounds,” Rashid said. On March 24, 2000, five civilians from south Kashmir, including a 50-year-old man, were killed by the Army in an alleged fake encounter in Pathribal. The Army dubbed the victims foreign militants belonging to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, and said they were responsible for the killing of 35 Sikhs in Chattisinghpora. The Army made this announcement before the then Union home minister L K Advani, who was on a visit to the Sikh village. However, subsequently allegations emerged that the men were civilians picked up from different parts of south Kashmir and killed in a fake encounter, following which their bodies were charred beyond recognition. In January 2014, the Army gave itself a clean chit in the Pathribal encounter case and decided not to court martial its seven top officers, saying there was no evidence to proceed against them. Following widespread protests, the Jammu and Kashmir government ordered the exhumation of bodies and DNA tests to ascertain the identity of the men killed by the Army. Investigations confirmed that the men were civilians who had gone missing from south Kashmir. The case was handed over to the CBI, which charged five Army officers — Ajay Saxena, Brijendra Pratap Singh, Sourabh Sharma, Amit Saxena and Idress Khan, all belonging to the 7 Rashtriya Rifles — with abduction, murder, criminal conspiracy and destruction of evidence. While the CBI filed a chargesheet against the Army officers before the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Srinagar, the Army objected on the grounds that prior sanction under AFSPA is needed for prosecuting Army officials. The objection, however, was turned down by the court. After failing to get reprieve from the local court and the J&K High Court, the Army moved the Supreme Court which, in 2012, gave the Army full discretion to choose between a court martial and a criminal trial for accused officers. The Army chose court martial, but later exonerated all five officers for want of evidence. The victims, however, said they were denied justice because the accused officers had reached top positions in the Army by the time the court martial started. “There was clear evidence that they (the Army officers) killed civilians. We identified the bodies and the DNA tests confirmed it,” claimed Shakoor Ahmad Khan, whose father Juam Khan (50) was the oldest victim. “The Army acquitted its men because they were high-ranking officers, like Brigadiers, by that time. In the Machil case, they sentenced them because they were low-ranking officers,” he added. The families said they will continue to press for justice. “As long as we are alive, we will raise our voice against this injustice,” said Rashid. “When the Army verdict came, we had appealed to the government to reopen the case. We haven’t heard from them yet. But if they don’t reopen it, we will approach the court ourselves,” he added. (Indian Express 8/9/15)

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

125. Media should ‘self-regulate’, says Rawat (1)

Dehradun: Chief minister Harish Rawat on Sunday advocated self-regulation of media to carry out “unbiased and correct reporting”.He was speaking during the inauguration of a new Hindi daily. “Journalism not only plays a great role in strengthening democracy but it is also a powerful tool in the world of information. That is why I always hold the media in high esteem. But at the same time, it is also necessary for journalists to respect the dignity of the profession by adhering to norms of professional ethics while reporting on controversial and sensitive issues,” said Rawat. The CM also appealed to journalists to contribute in upcoming development projects by filing development- related stories to boost the morale of those engaged in these activities. “If it is done, it will definitely come as a major morale boost to a small hill state like Uttarakhand,” said a senior government functionary. Rawat added that he was in favour of media reporting freely and fearlessly on different issues, including those related to corruption and misgovernance. He said he appreciated those offering constructive criticism in their stories as it will “help the government to improve its working”.”Any state government which encourages corruption or irregularities deserves to be exposed and only journalists can do it,” added Rawat. Nearly a month ago, a journalist, Ashok Pandey, had carried out a sting operation allegedly showing state excise secretary Mohammad Shahid, who was also CM’s private secretary, seeking bribe from a liquor baron to change the liquor policy. The sting operation had created a storm in Delhi and Uttarakhand, with BJP cornering the Congress government on corruption and demanding a CBI probe into the matter. The Union government had later issued an order to the department of training and personnel (DOPT) in the home ministry to cancel Shahid’s inter-state cadre deputation to Uttarakhand and asked him to report to his parent cadre of Gujarat. (Times of India 23/8/15)

126. Egypt verdict a `deliberate attack on press freedom`: Al-Jazeera (1)

Doha: Al-Jazeera condemned the decision by an Egyptian court on Saturday to sentence three of its journalists to three years in prison as a “deliberate attack on press freedom”.The Qatar-based broadcaster also said in a statement released just minutes after the decision was announced in a Cairo court that the verdict “defies logic and freedom” and it would not rest until its staff “are freed”.”Today`s verdict is yet another deliberate attack on press freedom,” it said. “It is a dark day for the Egyptian judiciary; rather than defend liberties and a free and fair media they have compromised their independence for political reasons.” It added: “The whole case has been politicised and has not been conducted in a free and fair manner.” The acting managing director of Al-Jazeera English, Giles Trendle, speaking on air on Saturday morning added that the verdict was “disgraceful, disgusting and we are shocked”.Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed were present in court to hear the verdict. Australian journalist Peter Greste was tried in absentia after his deportation early this year. At least three other co-defendants, accused of working with Al-Jazeera, received similar sentences. Their retrial was ordered after an appeals court overturned an initial sentence of seven years in prison, saying the prosecution had presented scant evidence against them. Fahmy and Greste were arrested in December 2013, six months after the overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. The three were accused of having supported the Brotherhood in their coverage. However, during the trial, the prosecution failed to find fault in their reporting. Relations between Egypt and Qatar remain tense with Cairo accusing Doha of supporting the Brotherhood. (Zee News 29/8/15)

127. ‘Provocative’ comments on social media come under police lens (1)

HYDERABAD: With too much of provocative ‘activism’ seen on social media, Telangana police have finally woken up to zero down on those local elements, crossing the line and triggering tension. Both Cyberabad and Hyderabad police have taken an initiative to track developments on Facebook and other social media, along with the state intelligence, who are already engaged in it. This ongoing activism has been leading to severe ‘unrest’ in the virtual medium, which is only worsening. Several groups, mostly operated by students and other youngsters, get hyperactive on web whenever controversial issues are discussed, especially ones with religion and caste overtones. In some instances, provocative comments in the virtual world have resulted into conflict in the physical world. Earlier in the month, two student groups in University of Hyderabad (UoH) having contradictory views on the controversial hanging of Yakub Memon went on a rampage on social media, before it led to a clash. Similarly, there are several other communal issues on which extemporaneous comments were made, leading to serious trouble. Now in Cyberabad and Hyderabad, the cops are keeping track of the trends in social group conversations and checking antecedents of persons who are crossing the line by making statements which hurt other sentiments. Special focus will be given on these elements and they will be kept under surveillance for some time before they are zeroed down and punished, a top official said. State intelligence officials are also being alerted, especially when there are instances of persons showing signs of allegiance to any extremist groups. “Already warning was given to some persons that they will be booked under 153 A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth and others) of IPC. As of now no one was booked but in some time action will be taken against netizens, who upload provocative content,” a senior officer in Telangana police told TOI. However police officers privately admitted that it is impossible to track all the groups, without improving surveillance techniques. While it is important to keep a vigil on social media comments that can cause communal tension, authorities must ensure they do not curb freedom of speech. Often, people are targeted for harmless comments, citing religious overtones. (Times of India 30/8/15)

128. Internet ban in Gujarat upsets people, business (1)

Ahmedabad: The ban on mobile-based internet services in Ahmedabad almost a week after the two day unrest triggerd by a mammoth rally organised by the Patel community to press for their demand of OBC status and quota benefits in the education and government jobs, is upsetting citizens who feel the government’s crackdown on the internet is “illogical and an attack on their freedom of speech.” On Monday, government lifted the ban on the internet services on mobile across the State, but continued it in Ahmedabad and Surat, two largest cities with more than one crore population, and both economic and business power house of the State. Police felt that “some miscreants can create problems while circulating video clips of clashes between the police and the citizens during the two day violence” that had forced the authorities to call in army and paramilitary forces. “The mobile-based internet services would remain suspended for two more days in Ahmedabad and Surat,” a police official said on Monday. However, the government’s online curfew is frustrating citizens, businessmen, students and others. “This is pathetic that the government, which claimed that normalcy has returned to Gujarat continues the internet blockage on mobiles,” said a 35-year-old businessman in Navarangpura area of Ahmedabad. “No Whatsapp, no Facebook, no SMS or MMS and no Twitter. Everything is shut by the police. I just can’t believe that it’s happening in a state like Gujarat,” said Neha Shah, a student in Gujarat university. The week-long blockage by the government has affected online businesses and banking transactions, which are increasingly done on mobile-based applications on smartphones. “It’s been very difficult to work for last one week without internet on mobile. We have taken a huge hit in the online transactions,” said an angry executive of a private bank. “The government is not realising the damage the internet blockage has done to the businesses in the state. Mobile internet has become a basic of all your businesses, trading and other activities. It’s ridiculous that they still continue the ban. Booking online tickets or airlines or trains, using credit cards or online shopping have halted without internet,” a mobile company executive told The Hindu, disclosing that “the mobile services providers have lost around Rs. 25 crore in revenue due to online blockage.” Meanwhile, according to sources in the government, the police authorities fear that violence could flare up again as using the social media platforms, some people would circulate video clips showing the police allegedly breaking in the Patel-dominated societies, beating women and smashing cars. The Gujarat government has suspended mobile-based internet services on August 25 midnight after violence broke out engulfing the state when the police briefly arrested Hardik Patel, a 22-year-old leader of the Patel agitation. During the two-day unrest, 10 people were killed while several hundred government-owned buses were torched, public properties vandalised, and several police set ups were set on fire by mobs that had gone berserk with the police force. (The Hindu 1/9/15)

129. Editors’ body demands strict laws to check attacks on journalists (1)

New Delhi: The All India Newspaper Editors’ Conference (AINEC) has demanded strict laws with “stiff and deterrent” punishment to deal with rising incidents of attacks on journalists in the country and said any case of fatality should automatically be referred to CBI or any other national-level probe agency. Expressing deep concern over targeting of journalists, AINEC strongly supported Press Council of India’s demand that all cases of such attacks be investigated by a special task force under the supervision of the press watchdog or court and investigation completed within a month. At a Standing Committee meeting of AINEC under chairmanship of Vishwa Bandhu Gupta, the members said whenever a journalist is murdered, the case should automatically go to CBI or any other national level probe agency and the investigation should be completed within three months. AINEC – dedicated to the promotion and protection of press freedom – said about 115 incidents of attacks on journalists were reported in 2014 with highest being in Uttar Pradesh. In the meeting on Monday, the members backed PCI’s demand for enactment of strict laws to make any attack, verbal or physical, on a journalist a cognisable offence with “stiff and deterrent punishment”. They said all cases of attacks on journalists, fatal or otherwise, should be referred to Special Courts which may conduct day-to-day hearings and that trial may be completed within a year of filing of charge sheet. “They have also supported PCI recommendation that PCI may direct Army and Paramilitary Commanders to appoint a Nodal Officer at state headquarters where they are operating against militants, so that there is better coordination between the media and the forces,” a statement issued by AINEC Secretary A.K. Wanchoo said. (Business Line 2/9/15)

130. TN channel moves HC against I&B notice for airing news critical of PM (1)

NEW DELHI: A Tamil news channel has moved Delhi high court challenging a notice slapped on it by the I&B ministry because it aired content critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Sathiyam TV has alleged that the warning by the ministry amounts to censorship and sought its quashing. In May this year the ministry cited two programmes aired by the channel in December 2014. In the first titled “Ungal Aseervatha Neram – Your Blessing Time” a Christian preacher allegedly called PM Modi a “dreadful man” who is a threat to Christianity. In the second program “Paarthathum Padithathum – What you saw and what you read” a journalist targeted the PM for being a good speaker because he can make people believe in false statements. “Such statements being broadcast from a religious preacher appeared to be targeting a political leader and could potentially give rise to a communally sensitive situation and incite the public to violent tendencies which would not be conducive to law and order situation,” the ministry warning stated. Refuting the charges, the channel strongly denied airing any such content and claimed the ministry had mis- interpreted the contents from Tamil to English as reflected in the show cause notice. Admitting the petition, Justice V P Vaish on Wednesday sought a response from the Centre and asked the Ministry to reply to the plea within four weeks, fixing the case for further hearing on January 15 next year. The Ministry had passed an order holding the news channel in violation of certain provisions of Programme Code prescribed under the Cable Television Network (Cable) Act, 1995, the Cable Television Networks (Regulations) Rules. Questioning the ministry’s ‘warning’ as an “act of political censorship”, the Tamil channel claimed that no such statement against the Prime Minster as alleged have been made and said the order of the Ministry was contrary to the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression under the Constitution. It claimed that the Ministry’s order amounts to “political censorship” and “prevents the free and frank discussion on political matters, which are otherwise legal.” Terming the charges unsubstantiated, the channel said nothing was aired that can cause law and order disturbance. It also pointed out that without being given a chance to present its stand, the government had escalated matters. (Times of India 4/9/15)

131.  Sena slams Hindu radicals, says don’t stifle dissent (1)

MUMBAI: Saamna, the Shiv Sena’s newspaper, has sharply criticized the radical Hindu outfits for stifling the voice of dissent in the country, as evidenced by the latest assassination of Karnataka scholar M M Kalburgi. In a signed article on Sunday, Saamna executive editor Sanjay Raut stated that, Kalburgi, Dr Narendra Dabholkar and Communist activist Govind Pansare had every right to air their views. The article mentioned that an attack on freedom of speech is akin to destroying the “soul of the country’s freedom”. However, the new-found stance of Saamna on the issue of freedom of speech is in sharp contrast with the party’s numerous assaults on writers and media personalities during the heady Bal Thackeray era, said political experts. Stating that Pakistan, Bangladesh and Iraq have for long been witnessing such killings, Saamna said if elimination of dissidents is carried out in the country in the name of Hindutva, then India will forfeit its right to criticize Talibani excesses. Using venomous language and killing old and unarmed individuals should be seen as the defeat of the Bhagwat ‘dharma’ and Hindu religion…It’s an act of cowardice. The Hindu religion says that those without weapons should not be attacked, said the saffron morninger. Recalling the “noble” service rendered to Hindu religion by social reformers such as Shripad Amrit Dange, Gadge Baba, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and Prabodhankar K S Thackeray, Saamna reminded its readers that the quartet had from time to time launched blistering attacks on casteism and social inequalities, which were rampant in Hindu religion. Saamna slammed the NCP, without referring to the Sharad Pawar-led party by name, for rupturing the social harmony in Maharashtra in the wake of the row over James Laine’s controversial tome on Shivaji. “Some political forces, have been backing these extremist outfits…They think that they have proprietorial rights over Shivaji and Sambhaji. Up until now these groups were content issuing statements. Now, they have become fearsome,” Saamna said and urged the Hindu radicals to vent their spleen on Hafeez Sayed in Pakistan and Owaisi brothers in the state. (Times of India 7/9/15)

COMMUNAL RIOTS

132. Political riots deadlier than communal ones: NCRB (7)

NEW DELHI: More people get injured or killed in political riots than in communal conflagration. According to latest data released by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), in 2014, there were over 2,400 victims of political violence, while 2000 people were injured or killed in communal riots. According to the data, most communal incidents were reported from Jharkhand (349) followed by Haryana (201). West Bengal and Tamil Nadu had over 100 incidents each while Maharashtra recorded 99 cases. UP, which witnessed one of the worst communal riots in 2013, recorded only 51 cases last year but had maximum number of victims at 356. Maharashtra followed UP closely with 355 victims followed by Jharkhand with 349 victims. Caste clashes were the third biggest reason for conflicts with over 1,800 people either getting injured or killed in riots on caste lines. Curiously, however, conflicts of Dalits and tribals with upper caste resulted in far lesser injuries and deaths as compared to other inter-caste conflicts. According to the data, 507 people became victims of riots caused by clashes between people belonging to scheduled castes and tribes and those not from the category. On the other hand, 1,346 people became victims of other caste conflicts. Most conflicts between Dalits and non-Dalits were reported from Maharashtra with 147 riots and 183 victims. It was followed by UP with 66 cases and 101 victims. Bihar, curiously, recorded no such cases. Maharashtra again led the pack with 241 cases in other caste conflicts category followed by Tamil Nadu with 182 such cases. UP and Bihar had just nine and six such cases respectively. In the category of all riots (including all categories), Bihar led the pack with 13,566 incidents and 16,810 victims despite recording very few communal and political riots or even caste conflicts. The year also saw 170 industrial riots with 283 victims and 628 agrarian agitations that ended up in riots and injured or killed 1,319 victims. (Times of India 21/8/15)

133. NCRB data: Maharashtra tops arrests in caste conflicts (7)

Mumbai: Maharashtra had the highest number of arrests in communal and caste-related conflicts in 2014, reveals National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data. The state also made the most arrests in riots that pitted members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes against others. According to data released by the NCRB, 2415 individuals, 2274 men and 141 women, were arrested in 2014 in caste conflicts in Maharashtra. Madhya Pradesh followed with 1124 arrests. The data showed that 58 members of Scheduled Tribe were victims in 42 riots targeting them. Further, there were 224 riot incidents aimed at Scheduled Castes, in which there were 293 victims, and only Uttar Pradesh recorded a higher number of incidents, 266, in 2014. The data also shows that in the past year, there were 902 arrests made by the police in riots that pitted members of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe against others. Of those put behind bars, 858 were men and 44 women. Advocate Irfan Engineer has attributed the high numbers to relatively higher level of education and awareness among members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Maharashtra, compared to other states. “Dalit movement has always been strong in Maharashtra. Awareness of rights is also relatively higher. There exists a strong network of NGOs that puts pressure on police to arrest the culprits,” he said. Engineer added that while filing of cases did not reflect the atrocities, laws were being utilised better. “The atrocities faced by Scheduled Castes are in the form of boycott, parading women naked, and denying access to sources of drinking water. There is a lot of pressure on victims to not file complaints. At times, police do not file cases under the Atrocities Act,” he said. In 2014, all cases of riots in the state in which Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe members were targeted were registered under the Atrocities Act, data shows. According to the NCRB, Maharashtra recorded the most number of arrests last year in communal riots, apprehending 850 men and 11 women. Professor Abdul Shaban, the Deputy Director of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences’ Tuljapur campus attributed these numbers to communal violence spreading southwards after independence. “Until 1952, communal riots took place mostly in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and West Bengal. In the last few years, regional patterns have changed. Gujarat and Maharashtra have emerged as leading figures,” he said. According to Engineer, communal violence has been spreading to rural areas from urban areas. “There is also a lot of low-intensity violence, and slow polarisation along communal lines there. Small-time extremist Hindutva elements behave with impunity. There are a large number of small incidents rather than a few large incidents,” he said. A senior IPS officer said the number of arrests reflected cases of rioting registered in the state. “Maharashtra has been registering cases of rioting, and making arrests without any issues. A procedure is in place and arrests are made only after complaints are verified,” he said. (Indian Express  25/8/15)

134. Supreme Court hears state liability on riot damages relief (7)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday decided to examine whether courts can direct a state government to pay compensation for damage caused to places of worship like temples, mosques and churches during riots due to failure of law and order. A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C. Pant is hearing an appeal filed by Gujarat against the Gujarat high court order passed on a writ petition by Islamic Relief Committee of Gujarat (IRCG) to pay compensation for the damage and destruction caused to religious places during the 2002 communal riots. The high court directed Gujarat to pay compensation for religious structures. If the structures are already restored by now, the government should reimburse the amount spent on their restoration. Senior counsel Yusuf Muchala, appearing for the IRCG, submitted that the 2002 communal riots was a result of constitutional breakdown and if the state failed, then it is obliged to pay compensation. (Asian Age 27/8/15)

135. Communal conflagration breaks out in Muzaffarnagar (7)

Muzaffarnagar: Two years after a series of communal clashes ripped the region apart, the fragile peace in Muzaffarnagar and its vicinity has again become vulnerable. Communal conflagration broke out on Friday, seemingly a mere coincidence, on the second anniversary of the riots, making people apprehend another cycle of violence in a reminder of the deadly violence of 2013. The incidents include attack on an influential cleric of the area and alleged attack on riot victims when they went to the Jat-dominated Kutba village to take the bricks of their abandoned houses. Exactly two years ago, in the first week of September, violent clashes started between Jats and Muslims which went on for a week or so, killing 62 people and displacing 50,000 Muslims in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts of Uttar Pradesh. What triggered the tension is the attack on the vehicle of Nazeer Ahmad Qasmi, a popular cleric of Muzaffarnagar by some workers of Bajrang Dal on Thursday nightwhen he was on his way home from Delhi. The news of the attack on the cleric, who belongs to Jansath block of Muzaffarnagar, soon spiralled into a series of rumours in the city. Muslims in Jansath gathered after Friday prayer and demanded stern action against the Bajrang Dal activists. Muslims in Jansath called for a mahapanchayat on September 1 at a prominent madarssa in the region if the attackers of the cleric are not arrested in the next two days. It is to be noted that Maulana Nazeer was called by the Samajwadi Party government during the time of the riots to Lucknow through a helicopter when the party supremo was consulting leaders of several religious communities. Later, the Akhilesh Government provided Qasmi ‘Y’ security category claiming that he faced threats to his life based on the input of intelligence agencies. “The State patronage given to Nazeer Qasmi is nothing but ridiculous appeasement of Muslims. Why should the State government give something to Muslims if not for vote bank politics,” said Virendar Singh, a local BJP leader. Asked about security to the riot accused MLA Sangeet Som, Mr. Singh justified it saying he is an elected public representative. Meanwhile, clashes broke out once again in Kutba village which was one of the worst affected villages during the riots. Muslim victims of the 2013 riots who fled Kutba were allegedly beaten by Jats on Friday when some of them came back to the village to get bricks from their homes they abandoned in 2013 to build new houses in other villages where they have settled. The move was allegedly opposed by the Jat residents of Kutba and who later allegedly attacked the victims. Angry victims went to the police and when nothing worked they blocked the main road which resulted in them getting involved in violent clashes with Jat youths. (The Hindu 30/8/15)

136. Old insecurities and new fears in Manipur violence that killed eight (7)

The Churachandpur violence that killed eight people this week was a reaction to three Bills passed unanimously by the Manipur Assembly on August 31. The Protection of Manipur People Bill, 2015, the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2015, and the Manipur Shops and Establishments (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015, were brought in as substitutes to introducing the Inner Line Permit, or ILP. (Explained below) The day before the special House session, tribal organisations across the state came together for the first time in years to call a strike across the five Hill districts. On August 31, highways, schools and businesses were closed and, around 6 pm, within hours of the Bills being passed, protesters clashed with police on the streets of Churachandpur town. Churachandpur is the headquarters of the tribal Churachandpur district, which is dominated by the Kuki tribe, but is also home to Paiteis, Zomis and Hmars. According to tribal bodies, the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms amendment has been brought by the “communal Manipur government” to acquire tribal land in the Hill districts. Land in the Hill districts is protected by Article 371C of the Constitution, under which the land and its resources are controlled by its tribal inhabitants. No non-tribal can buy land in Manipur’s tribal areas. The Protection of Manipur People Bill, 2015, has identified original inhabitants of Manipur as those who settled in the state before 1951. Churachandpur is especially affected because the Kuki and Zomi peoples belong to the same Indo-Chin racial stock as the Burmese people — and many Burmese families are believed to have entered the state and settled in Churachandpur. For the past three months, Imphal valley has been gripped by agitations under the umbrella of Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit, demanding that ILP be introduced to prevent or restrict the entry and movement of non-Manipuris in the state. The ILP, introduced by the British to protect their interests in tea, oil, etc. in the Northeast, is still applicable in Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh. Manipur and Meghalaya have seen sporadic demands for its implementation. The agitation in Manipur escalated after 17-year-old Robinhood Sapam was killed by a teargas shell fired by the police at protesters on July 8. The government gave assurances, and withdrew the Manipur Regulation of Visitors, Tenants and Migrant Workers Bill, 2015, which the JCILP had strongly opposed on the grounds that it didn’t fulfill the demand for the ILP. But the protesters were not pacified. While Manipur is yet to make public the contents of the Bills that have been passed, a government source said the contentious amendment in the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Bill, 2015, simply puts strong restrictions on the sale of land to outsiders. According to the amendment, an application must be made to the Commissioner of the district, which must then by passed by the Manipur Assembly. The Bill does not, however, specify whether the law will be limited to the four districts of the Imphal valley, or will be applicable to the entire state, the source said. Tribal organisations maintain that as long as Article 371C exists, no land Bill brought by the Manipur government can be applicable in any of the five Hill districts. An assurance by Manipur Education Minister and spokesperson M Okendro that the law will be applicable only to the four valley districts has failed to convince the tribal bodies. …. (Indian Express 3/9/15)

137. Justice continues to elude Kandhamal (7)

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It is a matter of shame and sorrow that the Christian community in Kandhamal is subdued not because of its lack of courage but on account of the failure of the Centre and the State, the investigative agencies and the criminal justice system, including courts, to ensure it justiceIt is seven years since the horrific communal violence against the Christian community engulfed the district of Kandhamal in Odisha, in August 2008. Recently, thousands of survivors gathered at the panchayat headquarter town of Raikia under the banner of the Kandhamal Peace and Solidarity Committee. It was not to relive the past. Survivors of communal violence rarely want to experience the trauma and the pain which rises to the surface of their hearts and minds with every retelling of those dark and terror-filled days. On the surface, things look better. In the 2014 Odisha Assembly election, the Hindutva forces suffered a resounding defeat in this district, losing in all the three Scheduled Tribe reserved Assembly segments. In the previous elections in 2009, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had put up Manoj Kumar Pradhan, a man accused in two cases of murder of Christians and another 10 cases of arson and violence. He won from G. Udaygiri despite being in jail. The BJP reaped the harvest of the blood of innocents. Pradhan came out of jail within weeks of his election and it was an open secret that he used his clout to sabotage the processes of justice — by intimidating witnesses and instructing the police to go slow in the cases. But this changed in 2014, when the Congress and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) emerged victorious. The Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat, which was won by the BJD candidate, comprises the Phulbani, G.Udaygiri and Baliguda Assembly segments in the district. The BJP candidate was relegated to third place. In the Assembly elections, the Baliguda seat was won by the BJD candidate. In G.Udaygiri, the Congress candidate won, while in Phulbani, the BJD emerged victorious. But it would be quite wrong to assume that the agenda of communal polarisation has weakened in any way following the electoral defeats. Leaders of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-led organisations were freed within months of their arrests and have since resumed their toxic agenda of dividing equally poor communities, the majority of whom are below the poverty line, as they had done earlier, mobilising the largely tribal Kui community against the Dalit Pana community. This is ostensibly against the latter’s demand for inclusion in the list of Scheduled Tribes, but when in reality it is targeting Dalits on a communal agenda as around 20 per cent of them are Christians. Tribals from the Kui Samaj who are Christians are also targets. An important aim of the BJP and the RSS and its front organisations was to ensure that their people who had led and instigated the mobs in 2008 would be saved from punishment, and be available in order to further the communal agenda. In this they have largely succeeded; they have literally got away with murder.The facts speak for themselves. First, let’s take the issue of compensation. It was said at the time that over 6,000 houses were burnt. The government revised this and brought the figure down to 4,818. Surveys of the extent of damage were made, much like in Gujarat, when the inmates were not present. How could they be present when they were displaced and living in the squalor of 14 relief camps that had been set up? It was estimated at the time that there were over 56,000 men,women and children, all Christians, who had to flee their homes. They lost all their belongings and the compensation package did not take stock of the goods burnt. The belongings of the poor are assumed to have no value. For a house partially damaged, the compensation fixed was just Rs.20,000 from the State government and another Rs.10,000 from the Central government. For a fully damaged home, the compensation was Rs.50,000 from the State and Rs.30,000 from the Centre. The price of building materials is so high, that with this measly amount, it would be strange if one thought that the victim survivors could rebuild their homes. In reality, they could manage only makeshift structures. Today, these are there for all to see, dotting the landscape of this beautiful region, as asbestos or tin roofs over unplastered, half brick walls. None has a window or a door frame, no grills for security — the evidence of callousness. In all these years, the State government has disbursed only Rs.13 crore as compensation for damaged houses. A petition filed on behalf of the survivors is pending before the Supreme Court. In the violence in 2008, scores of churches and educational institutions were destroyed. The only positive aspect is that while the Gujarat government is still fighting a case in the Supreme Court against giving compensation to rebuild the large number of mosques that were destroyed across that State following the 2002 riots, in Odisha, the BJD government, in principle, has accepted the Supreme Court suggestion for compensation for damage in Kandhamal, though the amount disbursed was negligible — Rs.70 lakh. .. (The Hindu 4/9/15)

138. Caste violence in Haryana: Mirchpur probe panel blames police .. (7)

Chndigarh: The Justice Iqbal Singh Commission of Inquiry which probed the Mirchpur violence in Haryana’s Hisar district has blamed the cops for acting as “mute spectator” and “failing” to act on time to prevent the horrific incident. The one-man Justice Iqbal Singh Commission pointed out that police acted as “mute spectator” and “failed” to control the situation. On April 21, 2010, 70-year-old Tara Chand and his physically challenged daughter Suman (16) got burnt alive in their house while several other people were injured when a mob went on rampage torching several houses. Fifty two persons were injured in the incident, in which 18 houses were also damaged by the mob. The Commission in its report noted that the “duty magistrate and the police failed to prevent the (Mirchpur violence) incident..” The report, submitted to the State government nearly a year back, but tabled in the ongoing session of the Haryana Assembly here on Friday, has noted that tension had build up between Dalits and the members of the pre-dominant Jat community after the altercation between them, but the police “failed” to understand the gravity of the situation in the village and take appropriate action. A spat between some youths of village Mirchpur belonging to the Jat community with a Dalit family over a trivial matter erupted into a major row later. The inquiry report was based on spot visits and the statements of many people, including the victims, witnesses and the local villagers. The incident was reported in media and was also raised in Parliament. Committee on the welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes visited the village after the incident. “Police did not act properly rather acted very casually and allowed the situation to go out of control,” the report tabled in the Assembly, said.”The police personnel who were requisitioned some of whom were armed with self loading rifles ran away from the spot which further gave an opportunity to the mob to burn the houses. Had the police officials of the police station Narnaud (Hisar district) deployed adequate force and took preventive action this unfortunate incident could have been prevented. “It failed to understand the gravity of the situation and took it lightly in the initial stage and further failed to take appropriate action which resulted into incident on April 21, 2010,” the report said. (DNA 6/9/15)

139. Shamshabad limps back to normalcy after communal violence (7)

Agra: Shamshabad tried hard to regain normalcy on Saturday. Locals moved out for work and Janmashtami celebrations. After several requests by the police, traders too opened shops and worked till the late afternoon. Police held several peace meetings and banners with appeals to maintain calm were pasted across the block to gain the confidence of people who were afraid of a riot-like situation. The festivities, fun and fervour were missing from the area as people were afraid of anti-social elements who tried their best to create a riot-like situation in the area after Thursday’s violence. Police managed to convince locals to leave their homes during the day but the roads were again deserted after sunset. A huge police presence was seen at every nook and corner of Shamshabad. Special force was deployed in the villages attached to the block to avoid any untoward situation. SSP Agra Rajesh Modak camped in the locality since the wee hours of Saturday. Modak made several rounds of inspection in the locality and requested people to join work and traders to open their shops. “People were afraid of each other till Friday, but police teams worked hard to gain their confidence. Senior police officials held several peace meetings and appealed to people to maintain law and order. We expect that the situation will be normal by Sunday,” added SSP Modak. The policemen were seen pasting peace appeal banners outside homes, shops and in busy market areas. Phone numbers of all the senior police officials were shared with residents. Communal violence occurred in Shamshabad on Thursday when a group of people from a particular community forced shops to shut after some men from other community thrashed a boy over an “offensive” post he had put up on Facebook. The mob got angry when the other community’s men tried to hang the boy in public by putting a rope around his neck. The mob that forced shops to shut also went about setting fire to some makeshift structures. On Friday, the communal violence took a turn for the worse as miscreants attacked mosques and tombs of saints in the area. Stone pelting occurred even as police and administrative officials, including the DIG, SSP and the DM camped in the area and conducted flag marches to control the situation. The person who was thrashed was Akash Sharma (24), owner of a jewellery shop in Namak Ki Mandi locality who made an offensive Facebook comment in a group made by him on the social networking site. The boy was being tracked by a group of Muslim men who caught him passing through Shamshabad on Thursday afternoon. The locals informed that the group of Muslim men started beating the boy and later put a rope around his neck. The public claimed that the Muslim group actually wanted to hang the boy as punishment. The shopkeepers who was watching all this happening stopped the accused, who ran away. When Sharma told the shopkeepers why had been beaten bloody, they got annoyed and forced the market to shut. Miscreants then started pelting stones and firing on each other. Five persons were injured by gunshot and were admitted in SN Medical College, while several others were injured by stones. (Times of India 7/9/15)

COMMUNALISM

140. HC should reconsider ban on Santhara: VHP (26)

JAIPUR: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Thursday announced to support the Jain community’s ‘silent protest’ against the ban on Santhara/Sanlekhna practice. The national leaders of VHP have urged the Rajasthan High Court to take a suo motu cognizance to revise the ban on Santhara. Talking to TOI over phone from New Delhi, Surendra Jain, national joint general secretary, VHP, said, “Respecting the sentiments of Jain community, the Rajasthan High Court should take suo motu cognizance of the matter and revise the ban on Santhara (centuries old ritual of voluntary fast unto death).” He added the VHP workers across the country would support the Jain community during its ‘silent protest’ on August 24. Even the Rajasthan unit of VHP declared that it will support the rally of Jain community. “We will request the Rajasthan High Court to reconsider its decision of banning the practice,” said state VHP president Narpat Singh Shekhawat at a press conference. Shekhawat added, “It appears that the decision (to ban Santhara) was taken in absence of proper defence, evidences and justification by Jain community; hence it should be reconsidered.” He claimed, “In Sanatan Dharma, a rebirth through Santhara existed. One can find its mention in ancient scripts and Jain religion.” It may be recalled that the Rajasthan High Court on August 10 had declared the practice of Santhara or Sanlekhna as illegal and held that any person supporting it would be prosecuted for abetment of suicide. On Monday, the members of Jain community in Madhya Pradesh had submitted a memorandum addressed to the President of India to lift the ban on Santhara, a centuries old Jain practice of starving oneself to death to attain salvation. Meanwhile, Jain community in Jaipur gathered for a meeting at Bhatarak ji ki Nasiyan here to make the ‘Silent protest’ a successful affair. “Men during the protest will have to wear white cloths while women will wear saffron cloths and will wear a black band in protest of the high court’s ban on Santhara,” said Rajendra Godha, coordinator, Sakal Jain society. August 10 – The Rajasthan HC declares the Jain starvation ritual ‘Santhara’ as illegal, making it punishable under section 309 IPC (attempt to commit suicide) and 306 IPC (abetment of suicide) August, 17 – Jain community in Madhya Pradesh urges the President of India to intervene and lift the HC’s ban on SantharaAugust 18 – Jain community in Rajasthan forms a core committee and says it will hold a silent protest on August 24 to protest against the HC ban on Santhara  August 19 – Dhawal Jeevan Mehta appeals in the Supreme Court challenging the Rajasthan High Court’s verdict of banning Santhara August 20 – VHP urges the HC to reconsider its ban on Santhara and says it will lend support to the Jain community’s protest (Times of India 21/8/15)

141. Muslim youth beaten up in Mangalore by Hindutva activists (26)

Mangaluru: In a suspected case of moral policing, a 28-year-old Muslim man was assaulted by a group of people, suspected of belonging to a Hindutva group, for talking to a Hindu girl, police said. The victim, Shakir, is a resident of Kulur and he worked in a supermarket at Attavar in the city, they said. The group allegedly almost stripped him and tied him to an electric pole last evening before publicly flogging him for talking to the girl, who also worked with him in the same supermarket. Shakir has been hospitalised, police added. Cases of assault and attempt to murder have been registered against unidentified assailants, they said. Investigations are ongoing, and four people belonging to a right-wing HIndu organisation have been detained for questioning, police said. Sporadic incidents of moral policing, particularly cases involving different communities have been reported in Dakshina Kannada district, raising concerns over growing intolerance in the state. (Business Standard 25/8/15)

142. India’s population at 1.21 billion; Hindus 79.8%, Muslims 14.2% (26)

New Delhi: The growth rate of the Muslim population has consistently declined or remained constant since 1971 till 2011, with the only exception being the 10-year period ended 1991. Experts believe the population growth will fall further with rising education levels among Muslims. However, the proportion of Muslims to the total population of India rose over the decades, while that of Hindus declined, showed the Census data released on Tuesday. India’s total population stood at 1.21 billion in 2011. Of this, Hindus constituted less than 80 per cent for the first time in 2011. Their proportion to total population fell to 79.8 per cent in 2011, against 80.5 per cent in 2001 and 82.4 per cent in 1991. On the other hand, the proportion of Muslims in the total population rose to 14.2 per cent in 2011 from 13.4 per cent in a decade before and 11.7 per cent in 1991. The proportion of Christians in the country’s population remained constant at 2.3 per cent in all these years. In absolute terms, there were 966.3 million Hindus in 2011, while there were 172.2 million Muslims, 27.8 million Christians, 20.8 million Sikhs (1.7 per cent of the country’s total population), 8.4 million Buddhist (0.7 per cent), and 4.5 million Jains (0.4 per cent). The population of Muslims rose at the rate of 2.5 per cent a year between 2001 and 2011, which is a 0.4 percentage points lower than 2.9 per cent witnessed during 1991-2001. On the other hand, the population of Hindus grew 1.5 per cent a year during 2001-11, which is 0.3 percentage points lower than two per cent in the previous decade. While the population of Muslims grew faster than Hindus during 2001-2011, in the previous decade, the pace of growth declined faster than that in the former than the latter. The rate of growth in the Muslims population declined 0.4 percentage points between 1991 and 2001 over that between 1981 and 1991. The rate of growth in Hindu population declined by 0.3 percentage points over this period. In fact, the growth rate of Muslims population never rose except in 1981-91 period. It remained constant in the 1971-1981 period. According to sociologists, the dip in the growth rate of Muslim population over the decades was the result of elementary education among them. “The impact of primary education on fertility decline is quite high in Muslims. The whole fear that Muslim populations will overtake Hindu population is nonsense. This is because fertility decline is taking place due to the impact of primary education,” said Amitabh Kundu, senior fellow at Delhi Policy Group. Why, then, was the rate of growth in Muslims at 2.5 per cent was still higher than Hindus at 1.7 per cent in 2011? “A large proportion of Muslim women are still not literate, which explains this trend. With inclusive growth, education level will go up and fertility level will drastically go down over the years,” says Kundu. The release of the Census data by the National Democratic Alliance assumes significance as it was supposed to be out early last year, but was delayed. There were allegations that the previous United Progressive Alliance government did not release the data as elections were round the corner. (Business Standard 26/8/15)

143. Growth of Muslim population a matter of concern: VHP (26)

NEW DELHI: Describing the growth in Muslim population as a threat to the existence and identity of India, the VHP on Thursday appealed to the government to work towards curbing this “demographic imbalance”. The organization claimed Muslims were carrying out a demographic aggression by producing more children which, it said, was evident from the newly released census data on religion. “A large group of Muslims sees it as its mission to enhance its numbers. In the name of Darul Islam, some hardliners of the Muslim community are provoking Muslims to make India a Muslim nation,” said VHP joint general secretary Surendra Jain. He said apart from Kashmir, three districts of Bihar and West Bengal and nine of Assam were giving what he described as a ‘red signal’ for Hindu existence. Speaking on behalf of VHP, Preofessor Rakesh Sinha of India Policy Foundation said the rise in Muslim population was primarily because of three reasons – religious conversion, infiltration and demographic aggression in the form of high fertility. “From 84 per cent in 1951, the Hindu population has dropped to 79 per cent. This is the first time that the Hindu population has gone down below the psychological mark of 80 per cent,” said Sinha. He claimed the figure of 80 per cent was significant for Hindus as it showed India’s predominantly Hindu character. Both Jain and Sinha said the Muslim population was not growing through natural means. They said Muslims needed to change themselves internally in national interest. “All civilized communities throughout the world recognize family planning. Muslims should be followers of uncle APJ Abdul Kalam but not Babur or Mohammed Ghori,” said Jain. Jain said it was the moral and constitutional duty of the government to deport Muslim infiltrators from Bangladesh and Myanmar. “VHP appeals to all state and central governments to form and adhere to common population policy applicable to all communities,” said Jain. (Times of India 28/8/15)

144. In another corner of Delhi, an old stretch renamed Aurangzeb Road (26)

New Delhi: As the controversy over renaming Aurangzeb Road, after late President APJ Abdul Kalam, rages on, the capital now has another road named after the Mughal emperor. Former Congress MLA from Okhla Asif Mohammad Khan has ‘named’ a road — which connects Kalindi Kunj to Jamia Nagar in the Okhla assembly segment — Aurangzeb Road. The road is colloquially referred to as the pushta road and is about 3-km long. Now, with a green sign bearing its new name in Hindi, Urdu and English, this road is at the centre of Asif Mohammad Khan’s campaign against “Hindutva ideology”. “I am not saying Aurangzeb is a great man. I am not saying that APJ Abdul Kalam was not a great man. That is not the point. But we can’t deny that Aurangzeb was a part of our history and we can’t change that. This is a blatant attempt by the BJP and RSS to rewrite history, instead what they want our children to consume is the Hindutva ideology,” he said. Admitting that his attempt to rename the road was illegal, Khan said, “But that’s exactly what the BJP government has done. Rajnath Singh, our home minister, had said in Parliament that the name of historical buildings and places can’t be changed. Then how can the name of Aurangzeb Road be changed? What is worse is that there is no space for dissent. The minute I say that changing the name of the road was wrong, I am an anti-national,” he said. The former Congress legislator is even planning to hold an “inauguration ceremony” on Friday to mark the renaming of the road. “I am sure the municipal corporation of Delhi, which is run by the BJP, will protest and try to take off the board. We won’t let them. There are many who feel that renaming Aurangzeb Road was wrong. I put the photograph of the board on social media and it has gone viral. Thousands of people have written in and said that they also agree that was an attempt to stamp the ideology of Hindutva on us all. We have invited them all to be there on Friday for the inauguration,” said Khan. He argued that changing the name of Aurangzeb Road to APJ Abdul Kalam Road had little to do with remembering the former President, and more to do with the “Hindutva ideology” of the central government. “The question really isn’t about the name, but the ideology of Hindutva that is constantly looking to rewrite our country’s history, bereft of its true context. How exactly does naming a road after Kalam truly honour the great man? Why not name Rajpath after him, or an airport or a science museum for children,” he said. Mukesh Yadav, a spokesperson for South Delhi Municipal Corporation, said that though no complaint had been received about the ‘naming’ of the road, the move was illegal. “If the area is under our purview, then this is completely illegal. There is a due process to be followed in such matters and action will be taken,” he said. (Indian Express 3/9/15)

145. Muslim scholar forced to stop column on Ramayana (26)

KOZHIKODE: In yet another instance of growing religious intolerance, abusive calls from ultra-right wing Hindu group have forced 75- year old literary critic M M Basheer to call off his column on Ramayana published in a Malayalam daily partway through the series. Basheer, a retired professor of Calicut University and a critic of repute, stopped his six- part series in Mathrubhumi daily after the fifth column was published on August 7, following a barrage of abusive telephone calls he received from unidentified callers who said that he had no right to write about Ramayana as he was a Muslim.  Also fringe Hindutva outfit, Hanuman Sena put up posters near the daily’s headquarters here and even called for a boycott of the newspaper for allowing a Muslim to write about Ramayana. Also they took out a protest march to the office of the newspaper. Basheer has been writing a column on Ramayana in the daily during the last three years coinciding the Malayalam month of Karkidakam which is observed as `Ramayana month’. Last year, he had written on Adhyatma Ramayana (Spiritual Ramayana) with the focus on the spiritual aspects of the text and about Rama the God. This year the series was titled `Ramayanam- Jeevithasaramritham’ in which he tried to analyse how Valmiki had tried to depict Rama’s human qualities in the epic. But Basheer started getting many abusive telephone calls from the first day the column appeared in print on August 3 from people who said that he was trying to show Rama in a bad light and that he was attributing human qualities to Rama. Many callers took Valmiki’s critique of Rama, which was given in quotes in the article as an affront. Sources in Mathrubhumi newspaper said that even their offices received dozens of calls daily asking them to stop the column of Basheer and rebuking them for `allowing a Muslim to write about Ramayana’Editor of Mathrubhumi daily, M Kesava Menon said that though the column was originally planned as a series in 6 or 7 issues, it was discontinued after the unsavoury incidents. “Dr. Basheer has been writing on Ramayana in our daily for the last three years. Likewise, we had published columns written by Hindus and Christians about the Muslim holy month of Ramzan. Basheer is a scholar in Malayalam and is more knowledgeable on the topic than many of those who had raised objections,” Kesava Menon said. Noted critic and scholar in performing arts of Kerala, Dr. M V Narayanan said that the incident was yet another manifestation of religious right wing groups seeking to snuff out all multiplicity of voices and all forms of constructive discourse from the society. “What is even more shocking is that they are trying to erase the tradition of critique which is so fundamental and ingrained in the text of Ramayana. The idea of plurality, dissent, disagreement and counter voices are central to the very text of Ramayana itself. What these fascist forces have failed to understand is that Ramayana is not a singular text but one which evolved over the millennia to become a shared heritage of humanity. We have Mappila Ramayana in Kerala and in Indonesia there is the Islamic Ramayana Wayangkulit as part of the country’s puppet play tradition,” Narayanan said. Meanwhile A M Bhaktavalsalan, chairman of the fringe Hindutva outfit Hamunan Sena, alleged that there has been a deliberate attempt to denigrate Ramayana and Lord Rama through the column. “Why did they assign a Muslim to write about Ramayana during the holy month when there were so many Hindu spiritual leaders around who could have given an authoritative account of the subject,” he said. M M Basheer, however, was not available for comment. (Times of India 4/9/15)

146. VHP’s appeal to Muslims: Undergo ‘internal reform’ to control population (26)

Lucknow: Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has appealed to Muslims to undergo an “internal reform” for controlling their population growth and follow family planning “like other communities in India”. The VHP central “margdarshak mandal” passed a resolution in this regard at a meeting at Kumbh Mela in Nasik Saturday. The resolution came after discussing a proposal moved on recently released Census data that showed growth rate of Muslim population as 24.6 per cent between 2001 and 2011. Muslims were the only community to register a growth in terms of their share in the total population. Contacted, VHP central secretary Rajendra Singh Pankaj told The Indian Express the “internal reform” meant Muslims should understand their focus on increasing population would affect the society and “they should distance themselves from the practice of having several wives and producing more children, in the interest of the nation”. The VHP leaders resolved, “A major section of the Muslim community has taken population growth as a mission and some hardliners too are misguiding innocent Muslims to increase their population by showing them dreams of Darul Islam.” The leaders stated the Hindu community would be affected by this “population imbalance”, but Muslims too would have to face backwardness because of their “population growth campaign”. “So it is an appeal to the Muslim community to undergo an internal reform to avoid ill-effects of their campaign. When various Arab countries and decent sections of society across the world have adopted family planning, then why are Indian Muslims not adopting it?” the Hindu religious leaders resolved at the meet. The VHP members also claimed infiltration from Bangladesh and Myanmar was a factor in rise in Muslim population. Participants expressed concern that population share of Hindus had for the first time decreased below 80 per cent, and claimed such a trend could be a threat to the secular and harmonious identity of the nation. The VHP leaders claimed communal harmony had been disturbed in districts of Kashmir valley, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam where Muslims were in a majority, and “non-Muslims were finding it tough to maintain their existence there”. “Central and state governments, both, seemed to have failed in controlling the situation at these places. And, probably, this is the reason that certain Muslim leaders are warning that Hindus will have to survive on their terms when Muslim population crosses 20 per cent share in the country,” the leaders remarked at the meet. The ‘margdarshak mandal’ members also pitched for a common national population policy. The VHP also passed a resolution on “social harmony” for its religious heads to take out padyatras in areas with substantial Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and hold religious discourses to foster feelings of equality. (Indian Express 6/9/15)

147. RSS Remote-controlling Modi Government: Mayawati (26)

LUCKNOW: The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) was remote-controlling the Narendra Modi government, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati has said. The fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to an RSS meeting and attended its deliberations did not augur well for Indian democracy, she said in a statement issued late on Sunday. “These developments prove that our apprehensions about the control of RSS headquarters at Nagpur over the union government were true,” the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister said. She also took on the RSS for patting the Modi government and asked if the Sangh did not see any failures of the central government on issues like price rise, poverty and unemployment. The BSP leader accused the Modi government of U-turn on its own stand, pointing out how the Bharatiya Janata Party over the years had accused the then Manmohan Singh-led UPA government of being remote-controlled by 10 Janpath, the residence of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Mayawati also took on the prime minister for calling Bodh Gaya the ‘spiritual capital’ of the world and said that offering mere lip service on the issue would not suffice. She said that Modi should instead work on developing the Buddhist centre in Bihar as an international tourist spot. BJP state spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak, however, ridiculed Mayawati’s statement and said that the Dalit leader was “desperate” and was doing all this to “find political space in the polity”. “Behen-ji has lost face after defeat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and her captive vote bank has broken ranks with her. Now, she is left with nothing but to make wild, unsubstantiated charges,” he told IANS. He said that in a democracy the governments were “answerable to nationalistic forces” and the party saw nothing wrong in union ministers’ presence at the RSS meet. (New Indian Express 7/9/15)

TERRORISM

148. Manipur records 65% UAPA cases (12)

Manipur, which accounts to only 0.2 per cent of the country’s population, has registered nearly 65 per cent of cases under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, (UAPA). Out of the 975 cases of UAPA registered in the country in 2014, 630 are from the small north-eastern State of Manipur. 659 people from the State are charged under UAPA in these 630 cases. Altogether 974 people are charged under UAPA in the country, according to the latest figures released by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Commenting on the high number of UAPA cases, Babloo Loitongbam, a human rights activist based in Manipur said that the figures clearly point that there are “serious political issues concerning the people of Manipur and instead of addressing these issues the State is suppressing them”. “It is an attempt of criminalising the political struggle of the people,” Mr Loitongbam added. Six Manipur-based organisations are banned by Union Home Ministry under the UAPA Act. “Not only the cases but the number of organisations banned in Manipur is also highest,” said Mr Loitongbam. These are, People’s Liberation Army (PLA), United National Liberation Front (UNLF), People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK), Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP), Kanglei Yaol Kanba Lup (KYKL) and Manipur People’s Liberation Front (MPLF). Describing UAPA as a “draconian act” Kolkata-based rights activist Sujato Bhadra said that UAPA, is “worse than the Rowlatt Act”. (The Hindu 21/8/15)

149. 800 Islamists Preparing for Attacks in Europe: Report (12)

LONDON: About 800 Islamist extremists recruited by Islamic State or groups affiliated to the al-Qaeda are preparing to launch attacks in Europe, according to a media report. The Islamist fighters who have returned from Syria or Iraq are preparing to launch attacks in Europe, The Times reported citing Spanish counterterrorism officers. The Spanish officers referred to the number of jihadists residing on the continent who have been recruited by Islamic State or groups affiliated to al-Qaeda. Another 350 or so Britons have returned from fighting in the war zone, with security sources acknowledging that some are plotting attacks in the UK specifically. The warnings come after Ayoub El Khazzani, 25, a Moroccan gunman, was overpowered on a high-speed train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris on Friday. He was said to be an “Islamist returner,” apparently having left France for Syria last year. Counterterrorism sources quoted by Cadena Ser, a Spanish radio station, said about 800 extremists on the continent had been recruited by Islamic State or al-Qaeda-affiliated groups. They said they were waiting for instructions from support networks to commit atrocities when the opportunities arose. The sources were quoted as saying that they believed El Khazzani had been armed and given instructions by others before boarding the train, and discounted his claim that he was trying to carry out a robbery and was not a terrorist. Anti-terrorist sources said they were tracking the movements of some of the 800 “returners”, but did not know the whereabouts of all of them. All have returned from conflict zones and are awaiting their opportunities to carry out an attack, they said. “These people are not well trained, but they are poised and prepared to do anything. Once they have been indoctrinated, they receive the minimum training,” the radio station’s unnamed source said. More than 700 Britons are thought to have travelled to Syria and Iraq to support or fight for jihadist organisations. According to Scotland Yard, half of them have returned. Police and the security services are monitoring a fraction of the returnees, while others have been referred for action under Prevent, the counter-extremism strategy. Some are thought to be planning attacks in the UK, while some have encouraged others to go to the war zone, or raised funds for them. The number of people arrested for Syria-linked terrorism offences rose by 560 per cent in 12 months. A total of 165 arrests were made across the country last year, compared with 25 in 2013. The terrorist threat level remains severe, meaning that an attack is highly likely. Francisco Martínez, Spain’s security minister, said last week: “These young men are so quickly converted to support Islamic State, and in a few weeks they become fanatics. They go to war zones or they stay where they live and act like lone wolves.” (New Indian Express 25/8/15)

150. Naved Yakub makes confessional statement before a court (12)

Jammu: LeT terrorist Mohammed Naved Yakub, a resident of Pakistan, made a confessional statement before a magistrate here today regarding the role of the terror outfit in carrying out strikes like the Udhampur attack in Jammu and Kashmir. Under tight security, Naved, in his early 20s, was brought before a magistrate here this morning where the judge asked him whether he was giving the confessional statement under any duress or voluntarily, official sources said. After receiving answers in affirmative that he was willingly giving the state, the judge sent him back to jail and asked him to come after lunch, they said. He was produced before the judge at 1 PM and the recording of his statement continued till 4.30 PM during which he is understood to have given his family background, role of Lashker-e-Taiba terror group, his handlers in the Kashmir valley and execution of August five attack on BSF convoy in which two personnel were killed. Naved had given a written consent in Urdu before Chief Judicial Magistrate on August 24 that he wanted to give a confessional statement before a court. The confessional statement under 164 criminal procedure code. Naved along with his accomplice Mohammed Noman alias Momin had carried out a terror strike on a BSF convoy on August five in Udhampur killing two personnel of the border guarding force. Momin was killed in retaliatory fire while Naved was foxed and nabbed by two villagers whom he wanted to kidnap. Ahead of recording of his statement, the accused was kept in judicial custody away from the NIA and other sleuths for a mandatory 48 hours for him to get an opportunity to rethink whether or not he wanted to give a confessional statement suo-motu. Naved was extensively questioned for over a fortnight by NIA and sleuths of intelligence agencies during which he identified the truck driver Khursheed Ahmed Bhat, who had since been arrested. The Lashker terrorist also provided a picture of Abu Qassim, terror outfit’s South Kashmir-based commander, on whom the agency has announced a cash reward of Rs 10 lakh to any information leading to his arrest. NIA has released a photograph of one of the accused identified as Abu Okasha, a resident of Khyber Paktukhwa in Pakistan. The agency also announced a cash reward of Rs five lakh on information leading to his arrest. A similar cash reward has been announced for the fourth accomplice Zhargham who infiltrated into India with Naved and others from Gulmarg sector in the valley. (Business Standard 26/8/15)

151. Another Pakistan militant captured alive in J&K (12)

Srinagar : Within three weeks of the arrest of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba operative Muhammad Naved Yakub, a second Pakistani militant was captured alive by security forces after a fierce firefight in which three other militants were killed in the hills of Rafiabad area of Jammu and Kashmir’s Baramulla district on Thursday. Earlier, a fifth militant who was part of the same group of infiltrators, was killed in an encounter with the security forces in neighbouring Uri sector. One Army jawan was injured in the second clash, the police and Army officials said. The Army flew helicopters to bring in reinforcements from 17 JAK Rifles and 4 PARA besides 32 and 47 Rashtriya Rifles and also used tracking dogs to locate militants who reportedly hid themselves inside a natural cave in the hills at Vij Top, Daniwar (Rafiabad). Officials said that the Army which was joined by the Jammu and Kashmir police’s counter-insurgency Special Operations Group (SOG) lobbed teargas canisters, smoke bombs and chilly grenades inside the cave to force the holed up militants to come out. While three of them were killed in ensuing exchange of gunfire, the fourth “panicked and begged for mercy”. He was taken alive and quickly removed to a makeshift interrogation centre away from the encounter side, officials added. DIG police (north Kashmir) Garib Das confirmed the captured militant is a Pakistani from Muzaffarnagar area of Baluchistan province. “He gave out his name as Sajjad Ahmed, alias Abu Obaidullah, and is about 22 years old,” he said and confirmed that three of his accomplices were killed in the encounter with the security forces at Vip Top, Daniwar whereas a fourth militant had died earlier at Qazinag Dhar of Uri. “He says he is from Pakistan and is associated with the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba. We already had his code-name. We will put him to sustained interrogation and details will follow,” the police officer said. Defence spokesperson Lt. Col. N.N. Joshi said, “The efficacy of a robust counter-infiltration grid has manifested in successful elimination of four terrorists and capture of one terrorist over a four days’ joint operation by the Army and the J&K police.” Meanwhile, Union minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju said on Thursday that Pakistan involvement in terrorism has been proved with the capture and arrest of the terrorist in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rafiabad area after an encounter with the security forces. “It will be great effort on our part to really move and make it categorically very clear that Pakistan’s involvement is not an allegation, but a reality” said Mr Rijiju. Mr Rijiju further added that the capturing of a terrorist alive was a great effort by the security agencies. He said the operation was launched following intelligence inputs about presence of militants in woods of Rafiabad. “A search operation was launched by the Army on August 24 which forced the terrorists to move towards the higher reaches of the ridge,” he said adding, “An effective cordon was established by the Army, including Special Forces, which were inducted by helicopters to prevent the escape of terrorists.” The spokesman also said that first contact with the militants was established in the morning of August 26 resulting in killing of one militant. “In a slow and systematic operation owing to the difficult terrain and thick foliage, the forces re-established contact with the balance of the terrorists who had taken shelter inside a natural cave in the afternoon of August 26. After a deliberate operation by the Army and J&K police which lasted till today (Thursday) afternoon, three more terrorists were eliminated while one terrorist was captured alive,” he said. The recoveries from the scene of the encounter included five AK- 47 Rifles and two UBGLs. He further said that the preliminary interrogation reveals that the captured militant is a 22-year old LeT operative who is from Pakistan. “The captured terrorist is now being taken for joint interrogation,” the spokesperson said. Police and Army sources said that the alleged Pakistani militant has since been flown to Srinagar in an Army helicopter. This is the second such capture in August. Muhammad Naved Yakub, a Pakistani militant of the LeT, was captured alive by a group of villagers following a sneak attack on Border Security Force (BSF) convoy outside the garrison town of Udhampur on August 5 in which two of its jawans were killed. Naved’s accomplice Muhammad Noaman was also killed in the retaliatory fire of the security forces. Though the encounter at Vij Top Danivar has ended with the killing and arrest of LeT militants, reports received here said that gun fights between militants and security forces are raging at a couple of other places near the LoC in Baramulla and neighbouring Kupwara districts. One such encounter has been reported from Toot Mar Gali (pass) area of Kupwara’s Nowgam sector. Army is reportedly using helicopters and an unmanned aircraft for the surveillance of the areas surrounded by woods. (Asian Age 28/8/15)

152. One more arrested in Udhampur attack case (12)

SRINAGAR: In yet another arrest in the Udhampur attack, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) today booked an alleged overground worker of banned Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) outfit who had transported four terrorists from one place in Kashmir to another after they infiltrated into Valley. The NIA took custody of Showkat Ahmed Bhat, a resident of Pulwama about 31 km from Srinagar, after he was detained by Jammu and Kashmir police. The NIA said 36-year-old Bhat was allegedly involved in transporting a group of four LeT terrorists – Mohammad Naved Yakub, Zhargham alias Mohammed Bhai, Abu Okasa and Noman – from Baba Reshi in Baramulla district to south Kashmir soon after they infiltrated into India from PoK. The group split into two. One group attacked BSF convoy in Udhampur on August 5, during which Naved was arrested and his associate Mohammed Noman alias Momin was killed. Showkat will be produced before the Special NIA Judge, Jammu for obtaining his custody for further investigation. This is the third arrest made by NIA in this case, so far. Earlier, besides Naved, Khursheed Ahmed, who ferried the terrorists to Jammu on two occasions, have been arrested in this case. Naved has given his confessional statement before a judge in Jammu while Khursheed would be produced soon with a request to shift him to Delhi for scientific investigations including a lie detector test. (Times of India 2/9/15)

153. UAE detains 11 Indians for planning to join, finance IS (12)

NEW DELHI: As many as 11 Indian nationals are under detention in the UAE since early August on charges of planning to join the Islamic State (IS) and recruiting, financing and providing logistics to those willing to joining the terror outfit. This is after two Indians hailing from northern Kerala, detained as part of the same group, were deported from the UAE a couple of days ago and landed separately at the Kochi and Karipur (Malappuram) international airports. According to intelligence sources, the UAE security services came across two groups of people hailing from India, based in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, who were involved in sharing and discussing issues pertaining to IS on social media. They were also reportedly trying to establish online contact with IS leaders. The groups on watch, though dominated by Indians, included a couple of Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals. Of those detained, eight were in Abu Dhabi and five in Dubai. A Pakistani and a Bangladeshi national were also held. The charges cited for the detentions included recruiting, funding and providing logistics to those interested in being part of IS. According to intelligence reports, the UAE authorities suspect that the 13 Indians were planning to travel, one by one, to Syria, possibly via Yemen or Turkey, and were in the process of organizing funds and logistics. The identification of 13 new IS recruits of Indian origin adds to the 17 Indians already known to have joined the jihadi outfit. The two persons deported were educated in the UAE and had spent a good part of their lives there. The rising numbers of Indians gravitating towards ISIS will re-ignite the debate on how to deal with those returning after a dalliance with the outfit. The government and the security establishment will have to consider whether to prosecute them or treat them as misguided youth and de-radicalize them. Given how seriously the UAE views any attempts by its residents to associate with terror outfits like IS, Indian authorities were worried about the fate of its 13 citizens. Fortunately, two of the detainees, both hailing from Malabar region of Kerala, were deported on Tuesday, ostensibly after being “cleared” by the UAE authorities. New Delhi, however, is awaiting the fate of the 11 Indians still in UAE’s custody. They have not being charged as yet. (Times of India 4/9/15)

154. Ghani to consider revival of talks with Taliban (12)

Islamabad: Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani will consider Pakistan’s proposal for reviving the stalled peace talks with the Taliban. “Ghani will discuss our proposal with his allies,” Dawn online quoted a senior Pakistani official as saying. Sartaj Aziz, the national security advisor to the Pakistan prime minister, talked about resuming the reconciliation process during a visit to Kabul on Friday. The dialogue with the Taliban was suspended on the eve of the July 31 following the disclosure of Taliban leader Mullah Omar’s death. The Afghan president promised to respond to Aziz’s proposals after consulting his advisers. Afghanistan alleges that there was evidence that the leadership, command and control centre of the Haqqani network and other terrorist outfits were inside Pakistani territory. Hours after meeting Aziz, Ghani spoke of “elements in Pakistan that wanted to keep his country (Afghanistan) weak”. (Business Standard 6/9/15)

155. Over 1000 Indian Islamic scholars issue world’s biggest fatwa against ISIS (12)

New Delhi: For the first time ever, over 1000 (1050 to be exact), including muftis and imams of India, have issued a 15-volume fatwa against the leader, fighters and followers of the self-declared Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as the Islamic State (IS). In a letter to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sent last month, these scholars described themselves as believers and followers of Islam, and strongly condemned the actions of the IS. They appealed to the international community to have a better understanding of what it means to be a Muslim and a follower of Islam, and not to abuse it by associating it with terrorist outfits like the IS or ISIS. They said that more than a thousand years before the so-called ISIS “Khilafat Rule”, Prophet Mohammad’s Islam had ordained that followers must not kill children, women or the aged, nor should they cut trees, trouble priests or harm places of worship. Referring specifically to the ISIS reign of terror and horror, these Islamic scholars, through their fatwa, said the latter is guilty of committing heinous murders of innocent human beings, clicking images of their horrific misdeeds and showing them to the world through live videos and Internet posts, and at the same time, wrongly claiming these to be “Islamic Acts done lawfully as per the Sharia (Islamic Law). The over one thousand scholars emphatically stated that the IS or ISIS actions were “absolutely inhuman and added that Islam never permits such unlawful acts under any circumstances.” They said described the Khilafat Rule of IS or ISIS as “absolutely absurd and accursed” and their actions as not having any relation with Islam or its teachings. They urged the UN Secretary General to uphold their fatwa as an example to the world, and denounce terror organisations like the IS or ISIS for the sake of global harmony and peace. Among the signatories to the fatwa, which has been forwarded to heads of state and government across the world, were the Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid, key representatives of the Ajmer Dargah, Nizamuddin Aulia dargah, the Raza Academy, the Ulema Council of India, the Jamiatul Ulema Maharashtra, the Moin Ashraf Sahab Kachocha Dargah, the Sayed Zahir Abbas Rizvi Zainabya, the Aamil Sahab Dawoodi Bohra, the Jamiat Ahle Hadees Mumbai, the All India Tanzeem Anmay-e-Masjid and the Darul Uloom Mohammadiya. The letter was sent by Dr. Abdur Rahman Anjaria, the president of the Islamic Defence Cyber Cell. (New Kerala 9/9/15)

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

156. STF assistant platoon commandant killed in Bastar Maoist ambush (12)

RAIPUR: Outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) ambushed a team of Special Task Force (STF), killing one personnel in Darbha region in tribal Bastar district of Chhattisgarh. Police said the attack occurred in the wee hours when a contingent of STF out for an operational task on NH 30 under Darbha area, where the rebels have been hyper active. Today’s attack took place close Jheeram Valley where Maoists unleashed a major attack killing frontline leaders of the Congress in May 2013. “STF’s assistant platoon commandant Krishnapal Singh was killed in the ambush while constable Santosh Yadav sustained minor injuries,” a senior police official confirmed. The STF team was carrying out an operation in Darbha region following an information that Maoists had blocked national highway-30 which connects Jagdalpur to Sukma by felling trees and digging roads near Totapara village. As security personnel reached near the village, Maoists unleashed an attack and opened indiscriminate fire at the security forces who retaliated and engaged the rebels in an encounter for about two hours. Later, the rebels retreated into the forests. The injured constable has been admitted to a government hospital at Jagdalpur, divisional headquarters of Bastar. (Times of India 22/8/15)

157. Chhattisgarh: Naxalites gun down Salwa Judum member in Bijapur (12)

Raipur: A 45-year-old man who was an active member of the now-disbanded Salwa Judum was shot dead by suspected Naxalites in Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Bijapur district, police said on ednesday. Pidu Korsa was last night killed by suspected ultras at the Nayapara relief camp under Bijapur police station, a senior police official told PTI. According to the official, villagers said that a group of armed rebels stormed the Nayapara relief camp, located around 3-km away from Bijapur town, and pumped bullets into Korsa, killing him on the spot. Security forces were this morning dispatched to the scene of the attack, the official said, adding that Korsa’s body has been sent for a post-mortem. A manhunt has been launched to nab the attackers, who escaped into the jungles after carrying out the attack, he added. Salwa Judum, an anti-naxalite civil militia, was disarmed and disbanded in the state following a Supreme Court order declaring as illegal and unconstitutional the deployment of tribal youths as Special Police Officers for combating Left- wing extremism. (Zee News 26/8/15)

158. PM pushes for mobile services in Naxalism-affected areas (12)

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today pushed for provision of mobile services in Naxal-affected areas and directed the Department of Posts to improve its delivery services as these are vital for the poorest sections of the society. Chairing the meeting of PRAGATI — the ICT-based, multi-modal platform for Pro-Active Governance And Timely Implementation here, he reviewed the scheme for provision of mobile services in Left Wing Extremism affected areas. Modi emphasised that mobile connectivity is extremely essential for the common man, particularly in backward areas, and urged all the states concerned to accelerate implementation of the scheme, a PMO statement said. In course of his review done through video conferencing with top officials of states, he also expressed concern at the grievances relating to post offices. Noting that postal services are vital for the poorest sections of society, he directed the Department of Posts to work towards improvement in service delivery, especially in areas such as payment of policy benefits, money orders, postal savings accounts, and delay in delivery of post, the statement said. He also reviewed the progress of key infrastructure projects in the Railway, Road, Power, Telecommunication and Agri-Infrastructure sectors, spread over several states including Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The projects reviewed also included the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor and Chennai Metro Rail. “The Prime Minister urged speeding up of work for early completion of the projects,” the statement said. Modi was also given a demonstration of the progress of the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) scheme, through live video conferencing with three police stations in Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka.He called for enhancing both the level of sophistication and the speed of implementation of this scheme across the country. (Times of India 26/8/15)

159. Former Maoist among five arrested by police (12)

NALGONDA: A five-member armed gang, including a former Maoist was apprehended by the Choutuppal police here on Friday on the charges of conspiring to loot a petrol bank. The police seized a country-made weapon from them. Speaking to news reporters, Superintendent of Police Vikram Jeet Duggal said the accused earlier made a futile attempt to rob the cash from the cashier of a petrol bank, while he was proceeding to deposit the cash in bank on August 24. Later, the accused hatched another plan to rob the cash from another petrol bank when the police nabbed them. The accused were identified as Kathula Naresh, resident of Choutuppal and former Maoist, Macharla Isthari, resident of Jibblakpally of Pochampally mandal, Meesala Krishna, native of Jibblak Pally, Goruganti Srinivas, native of Vankamamidi and Valigonda Janaiah, native of Epoor of Chityal mandal. The SP appreciated Inspector Bhupathi Gattu Mallu, Sub-Inspector of Police Haribabu and other policemen. The accused were produced before a court. (The Hindu 29/8/15)

160. Maoists hack tribal youth to death in Visakha Agency (12)

Munchingput (Visakhapatnam): CPI Maoists hacked a tribal to death at Busiput on Sunday night by branding him a police informer. The deceased was identified as 22-year old Pangi Ramanna. According to sources, Ramanna was a hardcore militant of the banned outfit and one of the accused in the incident related to stealing of ballot boxes at Busiput during the panchayat elections last year. He is survived by his wife and two children. Sources said Pangi Ramanna had been staying away from the village for the past few months and suspecting him of being a police informer, the Maoists reportedly warned his relatives. However, he returned to his village recently. After learning of his return, a group of Maoists led by commander Naveen came to the village at night, dragged him out of his house and took him to the forest where he was hacked to death. The Maoists then warned the villagers with dire consequences if they tried to act as police informants. Fear gripped villages in the border areas of Visakhapatnam in AP and Malkangiri and Koraput in Odisha following the incident that comes close on the heels of the Palagarevu ambush in Rallagedda panchayat of Malkangiri district where the naxals killed three BSF jawans and left six others injured. Sources said that even the police are scared of venturing into these border villages that are located in the interiors of the Maoist territory. However, cops denied the Maoists’ allegations and said that Ramanna was an active militia member. Visakha Rural SP Koya Praveen said Munchingput cops had been on the lookout for Ramanna in connection with the panchayat elections case, but he never contacted them. (Times of India 1/9/15)

161. Bihar’s coalition politics puts Maoists in a spot (12)

RANCHI: Changing political equations in Bihar has left the CPI (Maoist) confused about whom to support during the coming assembly election in the neighbouring state. Though they have been against parliamentary democracy and electoral politics, the tacit support to political parties is by now an open secret. The red outfit and RJD have shared a symbiotic relation in the past. As a result of this, when JD (U) came to power in Bihar during the last election in alliance with the BJP, several RJD leaders were categorically targeted by the state machinery for having a close association with the Maoists. Way back in November 2012, CPI (Maoist) madhya zonal committee issued a long list of the RJD leaders and supporters in Dumaria and Gaya districts of Bihar, bordering Jharkhand who were targeted by the state police on allegations of being Maoist supporters. The then inspector general, Magadh Range of the Bihar Police Nayyar Hasnain Khan, had admitted that after receiving complaints from the villagers over the past couple of months, he went for a personal review of the cases and found at least five of them were false. “In the course of review, I was convinced that certain sections of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) or 17 Criminal Law Amendment Act (CLA) should not have been clamped in some of them and in the others there was lack of evidence,” he had said. No wonder then, Maoists had made up their mind to teach a lesson to JD (U) local MLA and speaker of Bihar assembly, Uday Narayan Choudhary, a lesson in the next election in 2015. Three years down the line, political equations changed — RJD, known to be enjoying the tacit support of the Maoists joined hands with their identified enemy — the JD (U) creating a catch-22 situation for the red brigade. (Times of India 3/9/15)

162. Naxals’ new game plan to terrorise locals – murder enemies in full public view (12)

Raipur: After a brief lull, Chhattisgarh is witnessing an upsurge in Maoist-organised ‘Jan Adalat’ (people’s court or Kangaroo court) where persons suspected to be loyal to the state are murdered in full public view. Experts view the increasing trend of ‘Jan Adalat’ as an act of Naxals to terrorise the people, as they are frustrated with security forces making inroads in their bastion and befriending locals. The Naxals held 13 jan adalats till July this year in different parts of the Bastar region, while the number was four last year, as per police statistics. Atleast 25 civilians have been killed in Naxal-related incidents this year in the state and most of them were executed in a jan adalat, according to police. “People should not be under an illusion that Naxals are entirely driven by concern for the innocent tribals and that by killing villagers at Jan Adalat they are doing a noble job,” Professor Girish Kant Pandey, Head of Department of Defence Studies in Government Science College here, told PTI. The extremists, miffed at their squeezing base and losing support among locals, are frustrated and afraid of the entry of security forces in Sukma and Narayanpur districts, which were once their ‘safe havens’, he said. They kill villagers branding them as police informers at Kangaroo court just to keep the population in awe of their power, Pandey said. The worst Naxal-hit Sukma district witnessed the highest six Jan Adalats, while there were three such courts each organised by the rebels in Narayanpur and Bastar districts. A jan adalat was also held in Kanker district this year, according to police figures. A senior police official described the jan adalat as nothing but a “brutal act to terrorise the villagers”. “Maoist hold people’s court to spread terror so that villagers do not even dream of being loyal to the government and obey their orders,” the official said. More incidents of people’s court were reported this year which clearly shows how they are using violence as a tool to threaten the people to garner their support, he added. (Zee news 4/9/15)

163. 150 Maoist Supporters Surrender in Odisha’s Malkangiri District (12)

Malkangiri:  About 150 Maoist supporters, including four members of the ultra-outfit and two village committee members, today surrendered before the police in Odisha’s worst Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-hit district of Malkangiri in Odisha today, the police said. Irked over the unabated Maoist violence in their localities, the villagers preferred to surrender before the police, Malkangiri SP Mitrabhanu Mohapatra told reporters. The people belonging to Gumkaguda and Intaguda villages of Chitragapalli gram panchayat under Kalimela police station came to the district police headquarters here and surrendered, SP Mohapatra said adding he would examine whether these people could be covered under any rehabilitation scheme. Living in remote and hilly terrain, the surrendered people said they were sandwiched between the police and the Maoists. “While Maoists suspect us as police informers, the security personnel hold us responsible for any violence in the area,” said Tula Carbami, a ward member of Intaguda village and one of the two village committee members of the CPI (Maoist) in Kalimela area. The four ultras, who worked for the Maoists for a long time, said they were forced to do the job. “Otherwise, they would have killed us,” they said. Lauding the people who abandoned the Maoists, SP Mohapatra said he was expecting other villagers to follow the suit adding, the residents of Silakota under Padia block had on August 31 also surrendered before the Police. (NDTV 9/9/15)

TRAFFICKING

164. Bombay High Court asks for measures against human trafficking (1)

Mumbai: Bombay high court on Friday asked Maharashtra government to inform it what kind of mechanism it currently has to prevent human trafficking. The division bench headed by Justice V.M. Kanade on Friday, while hearing public interest litigation filed against high number of cases of trafficking of minor girls and women. Senior counsel Gayatri Singh contended before the court that there is no coordination between the government agencies due to which rescue operations suffer a setback and many minor girls and women have been suffering due to this. The court was informed that the Union government has already framed rules and regulations to handle such kind of cases. The bench asked the government what steps have been taken to implement those rules. The judges also asked that apart from the rules but what steps are being taken by the government to prevent human trafficking. The bench directed that the concerned government official should remain present on the next date of hearing and inform the court if there is a mechanism in place or not to prevent human trafficking. Justice Kanade posted the matter for further hearing after two weeks.Another PIL is also pending before the high court that has raised various issues regarding the proceedings under the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act and offences under the Indian Penal Code, proposing certain guidelines for speedier trial of such cases. The petition further contended that several cases registered under human trafficking law remain pending for many years due to various reasons but the victims, many of whom, are minors at the time of the offence, remain in children’s homes and are not released as the criminal case concerned remain pending. (Asian Age 22/8/15)

165. Anti human-trafficking cell rescues 8 women from flesh trade (1)

THANE: Eight women have been rescued from flesh trade in separate raids at Thane and Dombivli by the anti-human trafficking cell (AHTC) of the crime branch. In the first incident, based on a tip-off that a 37-year-old woman from Mulund would be coming to the service road near Korum mall, the sleuths sent a decoy to approach the suspect, who promised to provide him with call girls at Rs 5,000. The decoy made the payment and asked the woman to fetch the girls who arrived in two autorickshaws. They were caught and rescued while the woman was arrested. “The woman, identified as Chandrika Panchal, used to be a real estate agent, who took to prostitution after her husband passed away two years ago,” said Shakil Shaikh, senior inspector of the cell. In the second incident in Dombivli, three women from West Bengal were rescued and a women and pimp were arrested. Shaikh said that the women were forced into prostitution by one Khatija Khatun. “Khatun would send the girls on receiving calls through a trusted network,” he added. (Times of India 23/8/15)

166. SC to Centre: Prepare action plan on girl trafficking (1)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to come out with an action plan to prevent trafficking of girls for sexual exploitation, their rescue and rehabilitation after holding discussions with all States. It asked the Centre to discuss the report of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) on prevention, rescue and rehabilitation of the victims of trafficking for commercial and sexual exploitation at this meeting. The Bench headed by Justice A.R. Dave gave the directions after hearing senior advocate Dushyant Dave, who sought urgent directions for the authorities saying that the problem is grave. “We need to do something urgently,” he told the bench which also comprised Justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph. Mr. Dave, representing NGO ‘Prajwala’, which had moved the court against the trafficking of girls and women for commercial sexual exploitation, also lauded the NALSA for its recommendations. The court noted that the Central Advisory Committee was scheduled to deliberate on NALSA’s recommendations on September three and directed that the Chief Secretaries of all States and UTs. It also directed the Centre to place before it the minutes of the meeting and file an affidavit within three weeks after September 3 meeting elaborating the steps likely to be taken by it on each recommendation of NALSA. The NALSA, in its report filed with the apex court, has suggested roles of various stakeholders in the prevention, rescue and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking for commercial and sexual exploitation. “The court may direct the setting up of a committee by the Central government to work out the modalities of setting up such a specialised agency,” it said. (The Hindu 25/8/15)

167. Goa police get rap for poor handling of human trafficking (1)

PANAJI: Goa Human Rights Commission has given a number of recommendations to the police to curtail human trafficking of women and children. The commission issued the recommendations in two matters— a suo motu petition and a complaint by a Delhi NGO alleging human trafficking in the tourism industry— heard together. Taking cognizance of the report ‘Tourist was offered child for sex for 50′ published in TOI’s October 27, 2013, edition and a complaint by R S Chaurasia, chairperson of Bachpan Bachao Andolan, a New Delhi-based NGO, a three-member commission headed by Justice P K Misra issued several directions to check human trafficking in the state. Police, in its report to the commission submitted after an inquiry, stated that the incident reported in the newspaper had not taken place. The Delhi-based NGO in its complaint had alleged that victims from across the country as well as from other countries are forced into the sex trade in Goa. The human rights commission felt that there is no effective control by the state police to curtail crimes against human trafficking of children and women though police informed the commission about its various measures to control trafficking. The commission has suggested that in case a missing child is not traced or found within four months from the date of filing FIR, the matter may be forwarded to the anti-trafficking unit in order to conduct a more intensive investigation in the case. Police have to conduct a further investigation once the missing child is traced to rule out any possibility of trafficking. If the incident of the missing child was indeed a human trafficking attempt, police must take appropriate steps. A police official not below the rank of director inspector of general (DIG) should be deployed as nodal officer for the state handling cases of missing children. In case the mssing child or woman is not traced within four weeks, police should register an FIR and conduct an investigation and take it to its logical end. (Times of India 29/8/15)

168. DCW chief meets Delhi chief secretary on trafficking (1)

NEW DELHI: Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal on Wednesday met Delhi chief secretary K K Sharma and urged him to reconstitute the state-level coordination committee to combat trafficking of women. According to a DCW official, Sharma agreed to reconstitute the committee and would hold a meeting as soon as possible in this regard. He further said that all issues raised by the DCW would be sorted out soon. Last week, Maliwal wrote to union Women and Child Development minister Maneka Gandhi and the Delhi chief secretary, urging them to convene a meeting of the Central Advisory Committee to combat trafficking of women. “It has been brought to the notice of the DCW that the state-level coordination committee to combat trafficking and rehabilitate sex workers was constituted as per the Supreme Court orders in 2012. But the committee meeting has not been convened even once in the last three years,” the DCW chief said in the letter. “The committee consists of over 25 senior officers and probably that is why the committee never met, considering the fact that it will be difficult to get all 25 officers to meet every month,” she further said. “…kindly reconstitute this committee with lesser number of officers and convene its meeting at the earliest so that effective steps can be taken to combat trafficking and rehabilitate sex workers,” Maliwal said. (Times of India 2/9/15)

169. Child trafficking: phase II of CBI probe from Monday (1)

Palakkad: Hardly a fortnight after the Supreme Court refused to stay a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe ordered by the Kerala High Court into the alleged trafficking of children to orphanages in Kerala from West Bengal, Bihar, and Jharkhand, a special investigation team of the central agency will land in Palakkad on Monday to begin the second phase of collecting evidence. The team led by Superintendent of Police Subhash Kund will take statements of child rights activists in Palakkad and revenue and police officials who rescued and rehabilitated the children before sending them back to their respective States. The CBI team will also visit Mukkam Muslim Orphanage in Kozhikode and Vettathur Anwarul Orphanage in Malappuram to collect evidence. It was at the behest of these two orphanages that the children were taken to Kerala. The second phase of investigation is happening after the Supreme Court had refused to entertain the request of the two orphanages to stay the CBI investigation. A month ago, CBI inspectors Ranjith Pandey and A. Vinod had come to Palakkad as part of the first phase probe and collected evidence from the District Crime Branch Police which probed the issue. The special team would travel across Palakkad, Malappuram, and Kozhikode districts in the next three weeks. It was in the last week of May 2014 that the Railway Police in Palakkad had detained 589 children in the suspected trafficking case. The children had arrived in two trains at the Palakkad Junction railway station from Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal. Most of the children were below the age of 12. Many of them had gone without food and water for hours and were travelling ticketless. Though eight persons were arrested in connection with the incident, the probe failed to take much headway. (The Hindu 4/9/15)

170. ‘Our Statutes Not Effective in Protecting Kids’ (1)

KOCHI: Expressing concern over the recent increase in child trafficking cases, Kerala High Court Chief Justice Ashok Bhushan observed that there has been no single comprehensive legislation till date that deals with the issue of trafficking, especially with respect to women and children. He also pointed out that Indian statutes were not sufficient to provide protection to those who are forced into bonded labour. Bhushan was speaking in the inaugural session of the workshop on ‘Child Trafficking’ organised by the Kerala State Legal Service Authority and the Human Rights Law Network here on Saturday. According to Justice Bhushan, child trafficking involves recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receiving of children for the purpose of exploitation. Children are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation, child labour, bonded labour, domestic work, forced marriage, drug trafficking, adoption  begging, organ transplantation and for running orphanages. Children who are trafficked for domestic labour, without legal right, do not get  protection under the Indian legislation. “As a result, victims of trafficking, either children or women, are unable to avail themselves of the legal protection they are entitled to. The traffickers are often let off due to lack of effective prosecution, which explains the reason behind the substantial increase in trafficking cases in the country,” he said, and pointed out that in recent years, human trafficking in India, especially in Kerala, had assumed different forms at various levels – local, inter-district, interstate and even cross-border. The victims of trafficking are mostly minor children. Despite efforts by governmental and non-governmental agencies over the last two decades, there have not been signs of improvement with regard to safe migration and human trafficking. According to Justice Bhushan, the majority of the traffickers are men. Trafficking networks are well organised and have links both within and outside the country. “If a child goes wrong for want of proper attention, training and guidance, it is indeed a deficiency of society and the government of the day. Every society should devote full attention to ensure that children are properly cared for and brought up in a proper atmosphere. All the links in the Juvenile Justice System, including the police, courts, Child Welfare Committees, District Legal Services Authorities and the Social Justice Department should work together to curb the growing menace of child trafficking,” he added. Supreme Court Judge Justice Kurian Joseph inaugurated the workshop. KELSA executive chairman Justice Thottathil B Radhakrishnan, Juvenile Justice Committee chairman Justice Antony Dominic, KELSA member secretary C Jayachandran and Sandhya Raju of the Human Rights Law Network -Kerala spoke. In the academic session, Reproductive Rights Initiative, New Delhi, director  Sarita Barapanda; Child Rights Initiative, Mumbai, director Mahender; and Meena Kuruvila of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Thiruvananthapuram, presented papers on child trafficking. (New Indian Express 6/9/15)

171. 14 minors rescued from jacket factory (1)

LUDHIANA: Fourteen minors employed illegally at a jacket-manufacturing unit in Basti Jodhewal were rescued by the district task force against child labour on Tuesday. The children are aged between seven and 16 years. One of the youngest of the children, a seven-year-old boy, had been working at the factory for two years on a weekly wage of Rs 50 and a 14-hour shift starting at 8am. The rescued children hail from Nepal and Sarihi district in Bihar and are victims of human trafficking. After a three-hour delay during the medical check-up at civil hospital, the children were taken to the child welfare committee and referred to Kurali by the day’s end. “Even according to labour laws, a man can work for about 8 hours a day and has to get a wage of at least Rs 6,775 per month. But here the condition was so inhumane, these children worked for about 14 hours a day,” told Dinesh Kumar, volunteer of Bachpan Bachao Andolan. An FIR has been registered under Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code and the relevant sections of Child Protection Act against the two owners of the factory, said Didar Singh, the investigating officer. NGO working along CWC have always stated that lack of infrastructure and guidance from higher authorities have impacted child rescue operations in Ludhiana. Rescued children aged between seven and 16 years One of the youngest of the children, a seven-year-old boy, had been working at the factory for two years on a weekly wage of Rs 50 and a 14-hour shift starting at 8am Case registered against the two owners of jacket-manufacturing unit in Basti JodhewalThe rescued children hail from Nepal and Sarihi district in Bihar and are victims of human trafficking (Times of India 9/9/15)

CORRUPTION

172. Centre trying to save the corrupt in CNG fitness scam: AAP (5)

New Delhi: Stung over the arrest of its legislator Surinder Singh and the Ministry of Home Affairs declaring the Delhi government constituted commission to probe the alleged CNG fitness scam as legally invalid and void the AAP on Saturday accused the Centre of targeting the state government and saving the corrupt. Attacking the BJP, AAP leader Ashutosh said the Home Ministry terming the commission to probe the scam as “legally invalid and void” is a clear constitutional impropriety and questioned the Centre’s move to “snatch” the state government’s power to set up an inquiry panel. He alleged the Centre was trying to “protect” the politicians and bureaucrats involved in the scam. “The move is a direct compromise with corruption and a desperate move to shield the Lt Governor of Delhi (Najeeb Jung) whose role in CNG scam is suspect. “It is beyond reasonable understanding as to why the Narendra Modi government is trying to bury the multi-crore scam which continued during the Sheila Dixit regime in which many ministers, bureaucrats are under the scanner,” Ashutosh said. He said it is intriguing that Jung “overlooked” the key findings of two probe agencies, the Anti Corruption Branch (ACB) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) instead of recusing himself from any further deliberation in any matter. “The desperate attempt by the Modi government to stonewall the probe into the CNG fitness scam, in which at least Rs 100 crore of the taxpayers money was looted by a political-bureaucrat-corporate nexus, completely exposes the BJP’s attempts to cover-up the Congress corruption,” AAP’s Delhi unit secretary Saurabh Bharadwaj said. Defending AAP MLA Surinder Singh, the party said the legislator was resisting the alleged attempt of NDMC officials taking bribe from a vendor, but he did not assault him. Ashutosh also expressed surprise over booking Singh under the sections of ST/SC Act as he was not even aware that the NDMC official belonged to a particular caste, leave alone abusing him. (Asian Age 22/8/15)

173. 2 Cops Booked, Filmed Taking Rs 1.10 Lakh Bribe in Thane (5)

THANE: Two policemen have been booked for allegedly taking Rs 1.10 lakh as bribe from a complainant, police said. A police inspector and a constable, both attached to Bazarpeth police station in Kalyan, had allegedly sought a bribe of Rs 1.10 lakhs from a local builder in November-December 2014, for not registering an offence in connection with a complaint against him, an official release from Thane police said. Out of fear, the builder allegedly paid the bribe to the two policemen, it said. The builder in his complaint also claimed to have filmed the incident and later sent the recording to senior police officials. The release also mentioned that after receiving the bribe, the inspector kept Rs 1 lakh for himself and gave Rs 10,000 to the constable. The duo additionally demanded Rs 50 lakh from the complainant, it was alleged. Subsequently, the builder approached the police which registered a case against the accused yesterday under relevant sections of Prevention of Corruption Act. The investigation in the case was being carried out by Assistant Commissioner of Police Chandrakant Joshi of Bhiwandi division, the release added. (New Indian Express 24/8/15)

174. Draft bill moots jail for foreign public officials who bribe (5)

New Delhi: The Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials and Officials of Public International Organisations Bill also suggests rationalising certain payments made in the course of routine functions of foreign officials, such as for issuing permits or licenses, processing official documents, and similar services. File photo. For representation purpose A foreign public official offering or accepting bribe would be considered a criminal offence attracting a jail term of up to seven years, the draft anti-corruption bill prepared by the Law Commission stated. The Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials and Officials of Public International Organisations Bill also suggests rationalising certain payments made in the course of routine functions of foreign officials, such as for issuing permits or licenses, processing official documents, and similar services. The Bill also sought to differentiate between offences of abetment and attempt to commit “passive and active” bribery contending that the ingredients for these offences differ and ought to carry different penalties. It has proposed jail term of a minimum of three years and extending up to seven years for abetment of the offence, while people who “attempt” to commit an offence shall get a prison term of a minimum of one year and extending up to three years.  In both the situations, the person shall also be liable to pay a fine. The Bill is a revised version of the one introduced in Parliament in 2011 which lapsed with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha. Law Commission Chairman A P Shah presented a report on the Bill to the government on Thursday. The draft law also criminalises passive bribery, which deals with the acceptance of bribes by foreign officials. Few countries, including Malaysia and Switzerland, have criminalised the offence. The commission has suggested deletion of a provision that sought to unilaterally amend all extradition treaties signed by India to deem offences under this law as extraditable offences. It pointed out that such a provision would be in violation of the Vienna Convention of Law on Treaties. Based on suggestions made by the law minister, the commission has also recommended that the proposed law must provide a specific provision that details the defences and exceptions available against the offences under the law. “This includes an exception for payments made in the course of routine duties or functions of foreign officials, such as for issuing permits or licenses, processing official documents, and similar services,” it said. The report said such defences and exceptions are routinely provided in all other jurisdictions, and it is appropriate that India follows this norm. Such a provision was not present in the original Bill. It also stated that the law must be applicable “only” to instances of bribery that occur wholly or partly within India or on an Indian aircraft or ship; or where the bribery takes place abroad, to persons who are citizens or permanent residents of India or bodies that are incorporated in India. India is one of 176 countries that is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, 2003, under which all signatories must enact a law that penalises bribery of foreign public officials as well as officials of public international organisations. (Deccan Herald 28/8/15)

175. Anti-Corruption Branch probing govt. employees’ LTC scam (5)

New Delhi: The Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) is investigating an alleged scam related to the purported manipulation of official procedures, large scale forgery of documents and the inflation of financial figures pertaining to travel allowances granted to government employees on a routine basis. Dubbed the Leave Travel Concession (LTC) scam by a whistle-blower, who happens to be a government employee himself, the alleged swindle is feared to have been in motion across the country for several decades and is understood to have been kept under wraps by government officials in collusion with dubious travel agents. According to the complaint, the scam entails the purchase of cheap air tickets from government-run carrier Air India by travel agents well in advance of a trip, enticing government employees with packages including hotel accommodation and sightseeing at probable tourist destinations across India and making his or her parent department pay for both travel and accommodation expenses with the help of forged air tickets. Government employees are entitled only to the first, not the second. “Government employees – both at the Centre and State levels – are entitled to LTC-80 and LTC allowances every two to three years; LTC-80 tickets, if procured directly from Air India, are relatively more expensive than fixed normal tickets because they are valid for a year,” the whistle-blower, whose identity is being withheld deliberately, stated in his complaint. “That is where the agents come in. They entice government employees not to buy their tickets directly from the carrier, but settle for the tickets that they have already procured in advance, usually in electronic format, in lieu of which the agent provides freebies such as accommodation, and other add-ons which the employee should ideally pay instead of the tax payer or the exchequer,” the complainant further stated. What follows, according to the complainant, is the manipulation of the price of the air ticket – which is refundable to the government employee under LTC by his or her parent department – to include both the travelling and accommodation expenditure incurred with the help of basic editing software over a computer. The amount so arrived at, the complainant said, is more or less similar to the amount that would have been generated in the course of purchasing bona fide travel tickets under the LTC or LTC-80 schemes. An ACB source said the department had written to several public sector undertakings and government units requesting them to get the travel bills claimed by their employees verified from Air India. An Air India source confirmed the carrier had received several such requests from government departments seeking details about the veracity of the ticket fares claimed by their employees over the last three months. (The Hindu 30/8/15)

176. 223 ‘Red’ posters threaten BDO in Ganjam (5)

Berhampur: Hand-written ‘Maoist’ posters, found pasted at different places under Adava police limits in Gajapati district on Monday, have warned the BDO and the junior engineer of Mohana block against indulging in corruption. Posters found near panchayat offices at Raipanka and Khariaguda said the praja court (kangaroo court of Red rebels) would decide their fate. “We have come to know about the posters and asked the local police to inquire into the matter,” said SP (Gajapati) Satyajit Nayak. He suspected it might be the handiwork of miscreants. “It will be known after the inquiry,” he said. “We are trying to find out who pasted the posters,” said IIC of Adava police station Anam Lakra. Some persons might have done this in the name of extremists to threaten the block staff to expedite passing of bills under various projects, he said. Police are yet to seize the posters. Block development officer (Mohana) Manoranjan Das said he was not aware of the posters. “I am doing my work sincerely,” he added. He said there was no pending bill under any project. Raipanka, Khariaguda and Paniganda are known to be the Maoist hotbed with several violent incidents taking place in the past. On Wednesday, security personnel recovered two powerful tiffin bombs weighing 27 kg and 24 kg from the roadside at Telengapadara, two km from the OSAP camp at Paniganda. (Times of India 1/9/15)

177. CWG street-light scam: 6 get jail (5)

New Delhi: Six persons, including four MCD officials and two directors of a private firm, earlier convicted by a Delhi court in connection with 2010 Commonwealth Ga-mes street-lighting scam, were on Wednesday awarded different jail terms by a special CBI court. The court had on Monday held the accused guilty for conspiring to cause a loss of Rs 1.4 crore to the exchequer in the scam. MCD superintendent engineer D.K. Sugan, executive engineer O.P. Mahla, accountant Raju V. and the civic body’s tender clerk Gurcharan Singh were sentenced to four years in jail. Sweska Powertech Engineering Pvt. Ltd managing director T.P. Singh and director J.P. Singh, who were illegally favoured in the award of street-lighting contract during the Games, were sentenced to six years in jail. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 30,000 each on the MCD officials, Rs 42,000 on Mr T.P. Singh, Rs 22,000 on J.P. Singh and fined the private firm `70,000. These convicts were sentenced for various offences under IPC, including criminal conspiracy, cheating and using forged documents as genuine and Section 13(1)(d) (criminal misconduct by public servant by corrupt means and abusing position) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. T.P. Singh was jailed for the offences of cheating, criminal conspiracy, forgery of valuable security, forgery for purpose of cheating, using forged documents as genuine under IPC and Section 13(1)(d)(criminal misconduct by public servant by corrupt means and abusing position) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. “In this case, the allegations proved against the convicts are quite serious in nature. They had conspired together and had cheated the MCD/GNCTD for forging the tender documents, a valuable security, and have also forged the tender opening register,” the judge said. All the six convicted persons were present in the court at the time of pronouncement of the order. During the arguments on the quantum of sentence, CBI prosecutor Praneet Sharma had contended that the convicts had caused a loss of over Rs 1.42 crore to the MCD and maximum punishment of seven years should be awarded to them. (Asian Age 3/9/15)

178. Saradha scam: CBI nabs Bengal media baron (5)

Kolkata: The CBI on Monday arrested media baron Ramesh Gandhi in connection with the multi-crore rupee Saradha scam here, an official said. The chairman and managing director of Rainbow Productions – known for its hugely popular news programme “Khaash Khabor” – was nabbed for his association with Saradha chief and scam kingpin Sudipta Sen. “Gandhi has been arrested for his involvement in the Saradha Scam Case. He was allegedly associated with Saradha Group boss Sudipta Sen. Huge funds were allegedly transferred in his own and his company bank accounts,” said a CBI official. (Business Standard 7/9/15)

179. No mercy for the corrupt, says SC (5)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday called for ‘zero tolerance’ approach towards corruption and advised the courts not to get swayed by mercy and forgiveness while awarding punishment to the corrupt. Asking the courts to impose stringent punishment in corruption cases, a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant said courts must deal with corrupt people with an iron hand, particularly when the country is witnessing cancerous growth of corruption which had polluted moral standards of people and administration. Ordering termination of services of a conductor in UP State Road Transport Corporation for indulging in corrupt practices in 1992 to allow 25 passengers to travel ticketless, the bench said the degree of corruption was immaterial while awarding punishment to an accused. It quashed concurrent findings of a labour court and the Allahabad High Court, which had ordered reinstatement of the conductor. The bench said the HC and labour court appeared to have been swayed by the concept of forgiveness and mercy while remaining oblivious to the great harm caused to the institution, the transport corporation, through the corrupt act which had the potential to hit at the root of the faith of employer in the employee. “Does he deserve leniency,” the bench asked. It said: “When such kind of indiscipline causes financial loss to the Corporation, adequate punishment has to be imposed and in our view such misconduct does not stand on a lesser footing than embezzlement and more importantly results in loss of faith and breaches the trust.” The bench held that HC order granting the erring conductor a chance for reformation and to make him disciplined was wrong and terminated his services 23 years after he was caught red-handed for allowing the passengers to travel without ticket. “The delinquent employee has harboured the notion that when the cancerous growth has affected the system, he can further allow it to grow by covering it like an octopus, with its tentacles disallowing any kind of surgical operation or treatment so that the lesion continues. The whole act is reprehensible and such a situation does not even remotely commend any lenience,” it said. The bench said the approach of the HC and labour court showing leniency towards the conductor is not judicially maintainable. (Times of India 8/9/15)

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

180. ‘Let’s fight climate change unitedly’ (9)

NEW DELHI: Having reached out to the Pacific Island Countries to support its bid for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council, India also wants to collaborate with them for combating the challenge of climate change, ahead of the UN Climate Summit in Paris later this year. On Friday, addressing the second summit of the Forum for India Pacific Island Countries (FIPIC), Prime Minister Narendra Modi said climate change is clearly a pressing concern for all and combating it is India’s national priority. His statement comes a day after the EU Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete asked India to immediately submit its emissions reductions targets for the UN climate summit. The Prime Minister said India and the Pacific Island Countries can enrich each other through bilateral and regional cooperation, and suggested they work together for UN reforms. He sought their support for the quick adoption of the draft presented by the President of the General Assembly as the negotiating text to conclude negotiations during the 70th Session of the General Assembly and promised that India would stand by them at international forum. “Your voice of support for India’s permanent membership of UNSC will give UN the global character and balance that mirrors our age,” he said. India, which has been trying to match China’s growing influence in the region, assured the PICs that India stands shoulder to shoulder with them for a dedicated seat for SIDS (Small Island Developing States) in an expanded and reformed UN Security Council in both categories. Rich in seabed resources, the Pacific Island Countries (PIC) are keen to partner with India in the area of exploration of minerals. China, which has made staggering investment in the region, is also eyeing to be a part of the venture. The PICs are also eager to give tourism a fillip using the Hindi film industry. Fiji, for instance, offers a close to 50 per cent tax rebate to overseas film-makers to encourage film producers to shoot in their country. (The Hindu 22/8/15)

181. 25 Air Quality Systems for Pollution Watch Across TN (9)

CHENNAI:  In a first-of-its kind initiative in the country, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Thursday announced that 25 Continuous Air Quality Monitoring Systems will be installed in urban and industrial areas across the State. Making a suo motu statement under Rule 110 in the Assembly, she said Tamil Nadu was one of the most urbanised and industrialised State in the country and that the smoke emanating from vehicles and factories had been a key factor for air pollution. As such, monitoring the quality of the air and taking appropriate steps to set it right became necessary. By setting up these Continuous Air Quality Monitoring Systems across the State, complete details about the quality of air could be gathered. The Chief Minister also announced that five Rapid Action Teams would be formed to tackle man-animal conflicts and a sum of `8.64 crore would be allocated for the purpose this year. Stating that the National Tiger Conservation Authority had accepted the proposal to constitute these teams, she said that during the current financial year, these teams would be formed in Coimbatore, Krishnagiri, Ooty, Gudalur and Tirunelveli. Special training would be given to these personnel to handle tough situations arising out of man-animal conflicts, when animals like big cats, elephants, gaurs, wild boars and bears stray into farmlands. The Chief Minister also announced that a sum of Rs 10 crore would be allocated for growing sandalwood trees in reserve forest areas and patta lands in the five districts of Vellore, Salem, Erode, Dharmapuri and Tiruchy. This scheme would provide employment opportunities to tribals and would yield revenue to the State government by tapping the sandalwood resource. Besides, in due course, this scheme would prevent migration of tribal community to other States in search of employment. This would be implemented for a period of 10 years at a total cost of Rs 100 crore. (New Indian Express 28/8/15)

182. Green activists demand action against top officials (9)

SHIMLA: Illicit felling of over 1,800 trees in Ahlami forest beat of Chamba district has brought the top functionaries in Himachal Pradesh forest department under scanner. While the state government has initiated action against lower-rung officials, virtual clean chit has been given to those at the top. Moreover, green activists are demanding implementation of Forest Rights Act in the state. Earlier, the BJP had submitted a memorandum to governor demanding the dismissal of forest minister Thakur Singh Bharmauri, but now they want to fix the responsibility of other senior officials, including additional chief secretary (forests) and principal chief conservator of forests. Raising the issue of illicit felling in the state assembly on August 26, leader of opposition, Prem Kumar Dhumal, too had said that as inquiry report had been submitted to the government, same should be tabled in the House and action should be taken against the officials at the top. “The marked trees were not felled. Of the total 1,843 trees, only 402 were marked and felled legally while 1,405 trees were axed illegally,” he added. Even chief minister Virbhadra Singh had informed the House that inquiry report submitted to the government had prima facie found unauthorised felling of 1,807 trees. Virbhadra said that three officials of forest department and four officials of Himachal Pradesh forest development corporation have been arrested and also placed under suspension. Former IAS officer and convener of Him Lokjagriti Manch Kinnaur, R S Negi, said that illicit felling results due to the administrative negligence of the top-level officials. “Be it the forest minister, additional chief secretary (forests) and principal chief conservator of forests or the range officer or forest guard, all are equally responsible for this,” he added. He said that making lower-rung officials scapegoat would not serve the purpose until action is taken against the high-ranking officials. “Those at the top level cannot shrug off their responsibility. If lower-rung officials were not dispensing off their jobs properly and not visiting the area where over 1,800 trees were felled illegally, then what monitoring forest minister, additional chief secretary (forests) and principal chief conservator of forests were doing. Massive green felling shows their administrative failure so action should be initiated against them too,” said Guman Singh, national convener of Himalaya Niti Abhiyan. He said that issue of illicit green felling in the forests holds importance as in Himachal Pradesh, high court has banned the felling of trees in the private land. “An individual cannot cut a tree at his/her own land for the construction of house while in the forests thousands of trees are being felled who would take the responsibility for this gross negligence putting the precious forest wealth at the mercy of mafia,” Singh added. Kulbushan Upmanyu, a noted environment activist from Chamba, said that forest wealth of Himachal Pradesh was facing threat and to save the forests from illegal felling, the government should take strict action against the top functionaries too. (Times of India 31/8/15)

183. 25,000 people participate in TOI Green Drive at Tilpath Valley in Delhi (9)

The turnout on the concluding day of the TOI Green Drive exceeded expectations, with about 25,000 people turning up on Sunday at Tilpath Valley near Sainik Farms with to plant one lakh saplings in a day. Delhiites from different corners of the city came to make sure they do their bit in making the capital greener and the city’s air purer. They planted saplings of native Aravalli species and wrote messages on the pledge board saying that they would continually make efforts to conserve the environment. “It’s wonderful to see so many kids and youngsters participating in this initiative. They play a pivotal role in making sure pollution is controlled and we have quality air to breathe,” said Jitendra Sharma, a businessman from Sangam Vihar. “Though Delhi is hotter than Ladakh, I am happy to see Delhi is much greener as well,” said Chemath, a school student, who came all the way from Ladakh along with her classmates to be part of the drive. The drive, conducted between 7am and 4pm, was attended by deputy CM Manish Sisodia, environment and forest minister Asim Ahmad Khan and heads of religious and spiritual groups. They all urged the participants to not only plant trees, but also take good care of them. “It’s a wonderful initiative and many such drives should be organised by private entities. The Delhi government had planned to plant 12 lakh saplings across the city this year and we have already completed 70% of the job,” said Khan. The drive was an initiative of the Times of India along with Hero Motocorp and the Delhi Development Authority. (Times of India 1/9/15)

184. National emissions plans too weak to limit climate change: Study (9)

Bonn, Germany: National plans for limiting greenhouse gas emissions fall short of tough action needed to slow climate change under a United Nations agreement due in Paris in December, European researchers said on Wednesday. The plans submitted so far to the U.N. by about 50 nations representing 70 percent of world emissions are too weak to keep temperatures below an agreed ceiling of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times needed to avoid the worst effects of warming, they said. The Climate Action Tracker (CAT), produced by four European research organisations, assessed 15 major nations` strategies for the period beyond 2020 and found seven were “inadequate”, including those of Japan, Australia and Canada. Six were “medium”, including those submitted by top emitters China, the United States and the European Union. Only Ethiopia and Morocco put forward plans that were rated “sufficient” contributions to limit warming to 2C. The national plans are meant as the building blocks of a Paris accord due to be reached at a summit from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11. Many countries, including India, have not yet submitted plans. “It is clear that if the Paris meeting locks in present climate commitments for 2030, holding warming below 2C could essentially become unfeasible, and 1.5C beyond reach,” said Bill Hare, of Climate Analytics, one of the groups. Senior government officials are meeting in Bonn this week for the second-to-last session of talks before Paris, struggling to cut an unwieldy draft 83-page text. Almost 200 governments agreed in 2010 that a 2C rise was the maximum allowable to avert the heaviest impact of climate change, including floods, droughts and rising sea levels. About 100 developing nations favour a tougher ceiling of 1.5 degrees. Tony de Brum, Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, said that weak national plans would have disastrous impacts on people living in low-lying islands because of a rise in sea levels. “Our islands cannot survive in a world in which the temperature rises more than 1.5 degrees Celsius,” he said in a speech in Fiji. David Waskow of the World Resources Institute think-tank, which is not part of CAT, said there were some recent encouraging signs for stronger action such as a cooperation agreement reached between Brazil and Germany last month. Both he and CAT said Paris should include a mechanism to oblige nations to review their pledges at regular intervals, with a view to strengthening them. (Zee News 2/9/15)

185. Climate deal: India seeks debate on ‘lifestyles’ (9)

NEW DELHI: India on Monday appealed to countries across the globe to include a debate on “lifestyles” while arriving at a climate deal when they assemble in Paris later this year. This followed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech last week when he sought to change the discourse on the issue from “climate change to climate justice”.India also hit out at rich nations for their extravagant consumption and asked them to seriously look at the needs of developing and poor countries which have a right to emerge out of poverty.New Delhi’s statement is a clear indication that India is more keen to keep the focus on ‘adaptation’ (sustainable practices) to deal with the climate change as against the developed countries’ formulation of ‘mitigation’ (emission cuts) to save the world from disastrous consequences of global warming. India’s stand was articulated by the country’s environment minister Prakash Javadekar while making his intervention during a meeting on climate change negotiations in Paris on Monday. He said, “Lifestyle adopted in developed countries is unsustainable” and it will require five earths to fulfill their lifestyle demands. On the other hand, Indian lifestyle is sustainable where one earth is sufficient. “This is not because of poverty, but because of Indian value systems. We believe in need-based consumption and our lifestyle is against extravagant consumption. We have ingrained sense of responsibility where wasteful consumption is abhorred”.Javadekar quoted the latest ‘Earth Overshoot Report’ to substantiate his points. The report is brought every year by the Global Footprint Network (GFN) – an international sustainability think tank – which presents objective analysis on ‘ecological footprint’, mapping consumption and requirement of natural resources to sustain it. “The latest ‘Earth Overshoot Report’ is an eye-opener”, said the minister while emphasizing that the “world must debate seriously the sustainable lifestyle issue, as only sustainable lifestyle can mitigate the challenge of climate change”.Hitting out at rich nations, he said, “Greed and unsustainable lifestyle should have no place in a new world regime to fight climate change and its ill-effects”.His remarks came just four days after Prime Minister Modi emphasized that poor and downtrodden are “most adversely” affected by climate change. “The issue is not merely about climate change. It is about climate justice. Again I repeat (it) is not the issue of climate change, it is about climate justice,” Modi had said last Thursday while speaking here at ‘Samvad-Global Hindu Buddhist Initiative on Conflict Avoidance and Environment Consciousness’. Making his intervention during the meeting in Paris, Javadekar also noted that India and other developing countries have priority of eradicating poverty. “They (developing countries) cannot be asked to compromise on that goal in the name of Climate Change. Every poor of the World has the right to emerge out of poverty, and poor and developing countries need sufficient carbon space to ensure sustainable development. As climate change impacts the poorer and vulnerable sections severely, we must ensure climate justice”, he said. Javadekar visited Paris for “informal” round of meeting ahead of the crucial climate conference (COP21) in the French capital from November 30 to December 11. It is expected that the countries will arrive at a climate deal in Paris in December which may guide the countries’ post-2020 action to fight climate change by taking specific actions. (Times of India 7/9/15)

186. Centre for better implementation of law meant to insure people near hazardous industries

NEW DELHI: Sensitizing the country’s pollution watchdog to the vulnerability of general public in areas around hazardous industries, the Union environment ministry has asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to ensure better implementation of the existing ‘Public Liability Insurance’ law that had come into force seven years after the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy. The ministry also issued direction that the pollution watchdogs at state level (state pollution control boards) should not renew the periodic ‘Consent to Operate’ (CTO) certificate to any such hazardous chemical industry which do not comply with the obligation under Public Liability Insurance (PLI) Act, 1991. “The CPCB is required to submit its first compliance report to the ministry within 60 days. It will, thereafter, have to submit quarterly progress report”, said an official. The missive had gone to the CPCB on September 1 after the ministry found that many owners of the hazardous chemical industries failed to subscribe to policies under the PLI Act which makes it obligatory for them to cover the liabilities in case of any disaster or accident. Under the law, the user industries, handling 179 types of chemicals, are required to subscribe a special insurance policy to cover the liabilities likely to arise on account of any chemical (industrial) disaster/accident and payable to those affected people who are not the workers. While workers and employees of hazardous installations are protected under separate laws, the PLI Act is meant to provide relief to general public living in the vicinity of such industries. The government had established an environment relief fund (ERF), under the act, which is subscribed by all such user industries by paying an amount equal to the annual premium amount of such insurance policies. “The directions have also been issued to ensure that all the liable industries, subscribe to the PLI insurance policy, deposit the prescribed amount in the ERF”, said the official. He said, “The CPCB will, in turn, direct the state pollution control boards to include PLI insurance policy as one of the check points before issuing any renewal certificates”. (Times of India 8/9/15)

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

187. Farmer suicides must end: Supreme Court (20)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday picked holes in the government’s submission that there was a considerable dip in farmers’ suicides in the country. The Social Justice Bench headed by Justice Madan B. Lokur countered the claim by asking why there were suicide by farmers at all. The apex court also sought the government’s response on revisiting its eight-year-old policy on farmers. “Decrease in number [of suicides] is not enough, there should be no case of farmer suicide in the country,” Justice Lokur observed, asking the government to respond on the issue on re-visiting its eight-year-old policy on farmers. The court indicated that suicides may be linked to certain inherent deficiencies in the National Policy for Farmers 2007. It also questioned about the conduct of annual meetings of a committee headed by renowned agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan.The Bench, which was hearing a Public Interest Litigation petition asking the government to take steps to prevent farmer suicides, asked the Centre to file an affidavit within six weeks, making clear its stand on revisiting the policy. (The Hindu 22/8/15)

188. Farmers decry lip sympathy by government (20)

BELAGAVI: Various Kannada organisations took the State government and district administration to task for shedding crocodile tears under the pretext of instilling confidence among farmers instead of providing the much-needed relief to rescue them from debt traps and suicide. Despite confidence-instilling programmes, there was no let-up in farmers’ suicides, which was a clear indication that mere lip sympathy was not a solution to their burning problems, said farmers’ leaders at a meeting organised by the taluk administration in the city on Monday. The farmers’ leaders reiterated their demand for waiver of all crop loans in view of the prevailing drought conditions. They also pointed out that though the Chief Minister had promised to clear sugarcane dues from the mills by July 31, it was not fully implemented. Bharatiya Krishik Samaj district president Sidgouda Modgi said the government should immediately launch relief measures in drought affected areas of the district and announce a compensation of Rs. 25,000 per acre for crop loss. Chandragouda Patil, a farmer, gave a clarion call to the growers to unite and fix scientific prices for their produce like a manufacturer, because “the government would never ensure scientific prices to farmers”. The Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha staged a protest in front of Hubballi Electricity Supply Company office and demanded fixed schedule of power supply to irrigation pumpsets. (The Hindu 25/8/15)

189. Mah govt distributes 4500 tonnes of grain to farmers (20)

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government has distributed 4500 metric tonnes of grains to farmers in 14 suicide prone districts in the state under the Food Security Act, officials said. The grains have been distributed to eligible farmers in 140 talukas. The grains have been provided at the rate of Rs 3 per kg of rice and Rs 2 per kg of wheat. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had made an announcement on the inclusion of farmers in the suicide belt of the state under the scheme in the state assembly. The distribution of grains began on Independence Day. (Times of India 26/8/15)

190. 1 lakh farmers quit agriculture in 5 years in Maharashtra (20)

KOLHAPUR: As many as one lakh families of farmers in the state opted out of agriculture, their sole profession, in the last five years, according to the latest agriculture Census figures. Experts expressed fears that the trend might continue with the availability of other income sources and tolerance level of the farmers reaching its peak. The final figures of agricultural land holdings for 2015-16 will be released later. According to the agriculture Census of 2010-11, there were 136 lakh agricultural land holdings in the state. State agriculture and revenue minister Eknath Khadse said the figure has now shrunk to 135 lakh. The minister said land acquisition for industrialization, road widening and creation of new roads have eaten up the agricultural land. As per the agriculture Census of 2005-06, there were 137 lakh farmers’ families in Maharashtra. It means that the number of farmers quitting agricultural activities between 2005-6 and 2010-11 reduced by one lakh. Similarly, another one lakh farmers opted out of the profession from 2011-12 till today. Speaking to TOI, Khadse said, “There are 135 lakh land holding families in the state at present. As may 90 lakh of them are marginal farmers, who own less than one hectare land. The fact is alarming as agricultural land is getting divided further into small pieces, which directly affects production. Remaining 45 lakh people are small, medium and large farmers, who actually have the capacity of producing foodgrains at large scale, which can be traded. The marginal farmers are mostly into vegetable or small scale foodgrain production, which has little role in the trade.” Over the last five-six decades, the state has witnessed a successive trend of increase in the number of farmers in terms of land division and population growth. However, the number of farmers in the state started shrinking from 2010-11. The number was 1.37 crore in the state in 2010-11, but went down to 1.36 crore by 2013-14. During the same period, the area of operational holding and average size of operational holding also went down. In 2010-11, altogether 2,00,05,000 hectares of land was under cultivation in the state, which has now declined to 1,97,67,000 hectares. The average size of operational land holding also dipped from 1.46 hectares to 1.44 hectares. Sangeeta Shroff, associate professor at Pune-based Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, said the situation is far more serious. “Of the total labour force in the state, 52.7% are in the agriculture sector. Further division shows that 25.4% are cultivators (land owners), while 27.3% are agricultural labourers. It means that there are more labourers in the state than land owners. If labour force figures from Mumbai, Thane, Raigad, Pune, Nagpur, Nashik and Aurangabad are removed, the employment number through agriculture sector stands at 81.36%. It means there are hardly any means of employment in the rural areas barring agriculture,” she said. She said encouraging agro-processing industries in the rural areas and infrastructure development should be undertaken on priority to control the overall downfall in the sector. “The biggest factor behind farmers being discouraged to leave agriculture is poor irrigation facilities. The irrigation cover in the state is not more than 18%, of which a huge area is used for sugarcane cultivation. A cash crop like cotton is largely rainfed putting pressure on the farmers for making irrigation arrangements. Besides, foodgrain cultivation is also largely dependent on monsoon, which is adding to farmers’ frustration. Unless these issues are tackled, the sector will continue to remain in poor light,” Shroff added. (Times of India 29/8/15)

191. Vedike to stage dharna seeking compensation (20)

KALABURAGI: The Shrama Jeevigala Karmika Vedike has condemned the State government’s alleged failure to release compensation for the families of farmers who have committed suicide. Chandraekhar Hiremath, president of the vedike, told presspersons on Sunday that the government was yet to pay the compensation to the families of two of the three farmers who committed suicide in Aland taluk in Kalaburagi district. While a compensation of Rs. 2 lakh had been paid to the family of Shankar Maindaragi of Sarasamba village, the family members of Dhulappa Gundappa and Hanumanth Sajjan were yet to be paid the money. Mr. Hiremath said that the State government should not wash of its responsibility by paying the compensation and should also provide government jobs to any one of their family members on compassionate grounds. Raising these demands, Vedike activists would stage a dharna in Aland town in Kalaburagi district on September 4 along with the family members of the farmers who had committed suicide, he added. (The Hindu 31/8/15)

192. One Farmer A Day, Telangana Dubious Record of Suicides (20)

HYDERABAD:At least one farmer is committing suicide every day in Bangaru Telangana. This has been officially admitted on Wednesday by agriculture minister P Srinivas Reddy. Between June 2, 2014 and June 25, 2015, 409 farmers ended their lives in the state. On Wednesday itself, four farmers committed suicide, one of them in Chief Minister’s pocket borough Gajwel. These suicides were reported from Khammam (2) and one each in Karimnagar and Medak. This number is well below the 900 suicides number being touted by Opposition parties. A majority of the farmers who have ended their lives blame either crop failure, power crisis or absence of an agricultural policy. Of the 409 suicides, the government has extended compensation to only 141 people as per GO 421. “Ex gratia will be extended to other farmers’ families also,’’ he said. Farmer Nalla Kistaiah, who ended his life by hanging himself to a tree in Gajwel, had two-acre land and cultivated cotton in one acre, which failed due to the dry spell. This is the second consecutive year that his crop failed and he was burdened with loans. Kistaiah had borrowed Rs 3 lakh and invested on cultivation and also for his daughter’s marriage. “He was distressed since one week as there was no way to he could repay the debt,’’ family members of Kistaiah said. Kishtaiah is survived by wife and four children. Ambati Narayana (44) of Chinnabonala village in Sircilla mandal ended his life by consuming pesticide in his fields. According to reports, Narayana cultivated cotton in his two-acre land and also took another five acres on lease for cultivation by borrowing Rs 2 lakh from private money lenders. The crop withered due to the dry spell and the four borewells dug up by him could not come to his rescue. Narayana is survived by wife and a daughter. At Porandla village in Thimmapur mandal, Musku Nagi Reddy (47) committed suicide due to mounting debts. He consumed pesticide at his residence. He borrowed Rs 3 lakh and invested on cultivating paddy, maize and vegetables in his three-and-half acre land. Due to lack of irrigation facility, the crops withered. On the other hand, he had financial difficulties as he performed his daughter’s marriage last year. In Khammam, a tribal farmer consumed pesticide in Krishnapuram village of Madhira mandal. Police said Tejavath Mangya (36) cultivated chilly in one acre and cotton in two-cre land. Due to deficit rainfall, the crops have not registered good growth. He suffered a loss of nearly Rs 2 lakhs last year also. On Wednesday, he went to his fields and got depressed over the withering crops and after returning from fields, he consumed pesticide at his home Mangya’s wife Jyothi shifted him to Madhira government hospital but he died on the way to hospital. (New Indian Express 3/9/15)

193. Chief Minister hands over cheques to families of dead farmers (20)

RAICHUR: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Thursday met the families of two farmers, who committed suicide last month, at Lakkamdinni village in Manvi taluk and handed over compensation cheques worth Rs. 2.25 lakh each to them. He consoled the grieving family members and assured them of free education to the children of the dead farmers in Navodaya schools. Mareppa (35), a resident of Lakkamdinni village, committed suicide on July 14 by consuming pesticides at his house. He had a loan of around Rs. 3 lakh. He owned one-and-a-half acres of land and cultivating another 20 acres that he had taken on lease. As cotton seeds died in the soil due to heat stress, his hopes of repaying loans were shattered. A day before, Venkataratnam (48), a resident of Buddinni village in Manvi taluk, committed suicide. He owned three acres of land and had a loan of Rs. 2 lakh. He committed suicide due to crop loss caused by drought. Speaking to presspersons at the village, Mr. Siddaramaiah said that farm loan waiver by the State government would help only 20 per cent of the farmers. “Most of the farmers would benefit only when the Union Government intervenes and waives farm loans taken from nationalised banks. The Union government should intervene immediately so that we too can join hands,” he said. When asked, the Chief Minister clarified that the Cabinet would be expanded soon after the election of Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Bengaluru. Public Works Department Minister H.C. Mahadevappa, Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda and Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president G. Parameshwar were present. (The Hindu 4/9/15)

194. Govt. urged to pay Rs. 5 lakh ex gratia (20)

NIZAMABAD: CPI (M) former MLA Julakanti Ranga Reddy has urged the Government to pay Rs.5 lakh ex gratia to each bereaved family of farmers, who committed suicide unable to bear the burden of debt. At a joint press meet on the sidelines of the valedictory of the party’s three-day State conference here on Sunday, he said that even though the farming community had been in dire straits and dozens of farmers were ending their life every day, the Government had kept silent. Neither elected representatives nor bureaucrats are trying to instil a sense of security among farmers, he said. Though the State has been reeling under severe drought conditions, no alternative measures have been initiated; and farmers, coolies and other oppressed sections are left in the lurch, he said. The former MLA also said that the Government had failed to control seasonal fever, resulting in public health taking a hit. The Rythu Sangham all-India vice-president, S. Malla Reddy, appealed to the leaders not to redesign the ongoing irrigation projects as they were in various stages of completion. An amount of Rs.10,000 crore was spent on the Pranahitha-Chevella and other ongoing projects and if their designs are changed at this stage, water for irrigation cannot be given even after another ten years, he said. Instead of amending the designs and postponing their completion, it would be better to make efforts to complete the projects as early as possible, he said. Rythu Sangham State president D. Chandra Reddy, secretary N. Nageswar Rao and CPI (M) district secretary Dandi Venkat were also present. (The Hindu 7/9/15)

195. Strife due to agrarian crisis worsens (20)

NEW DELHI: Incidents of unrest caused by the agrarian crisis doubled to 74 till June this year from 37 in the corresponding period of 2014, a rise attributed to factors such as demand for higher minimum support price, land acquisition law and inadequate supply of seeds and fertilizers. One farmer in Gujarat lost his life and nine others were injured across the country in the 74 incidents of violence reported by the intelligence agencies until June this year. Maharashtra accounted for the highest incidents at 17, followed by 12 in Haryana, 8 in Bihar, 7 in West Bengal, 6 in Punjab and 5 each in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. In 2014, the first six months saw a total of 37 incidents of violence caused by farm distress in which one farmer had died in Punjab, while 82 others were injured in different places. As many as 26 policemen were also injured in these violence-related incidents due to agrarian crisis.Incidents of unrest on account of farm crisis, according to an intelligence report, may have shown a rise due to opposition to the land acquisition ordinance that lapsed recently for want of parliamentary approval, besides other factors such as low minimum support price and inadequate supply of fertilizers and seeds. (Times of India 9/9/15)

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

196. Capital Issue: Andhra Moves to Acquire Land; Farmers Protest (4)

VIJAYWADA: Amid protests by Opposition parties and farmer groups, Andhra Pradesh government today issued a notification for land acquisition in the Vijayawada- Guntur region where the state capital is coming up. Guntur District Collector Kantilal Dande issued acquisition notification for 904 acres of land under 29 villages. The government already has 33,000 acres in 29 villages in its kitty under its “land pooling scheme” that ended on February 28. In addition, the state is preparing to acquire another 2,500 acres under the Land Acquisition Act, said Municipal Administration Minister P Narayana. The government did not initiate land acquisition till now as “land pooling” is more beneficial option, said Narayana who s also Chairman of Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority (APCRDA). Hundreds of farmers from villages across the capital region of Andhra Pradesh today staged a protest in Vijayawadaagainst the proposed acquisition of their land. They protested outside the office of APCRDA and questioned the TDP-led government’s decision, citing livelihood reasons among others. Some farmers from these 29 villages willingly handed over their land under the pooling scheme, under which the government will return a part of the acquired estate after developing it, to the owner. However, many other agriculturists are opposing the move. The farmers, apart from expressing concerns about their livelihood, argued whether the capital under construction actually requires such huge tracts. The government is planning to acquire the most fertile lands in the state which cost about Rs 2 crore an acre, they claimed. Congress, YSR Congress, CPI and CPI(M) also joined the farmers and participated in the protest.  (New Indian Express 21/8/15)

197. Govt may again go in for ordinance on land bill (4)

New Delhi: Government today indicated it may go in for promulgation of the land ordinance for a record fourth time to maintain its “continunity” as there is no possiblity of the passage of a bill in Parliament to replace it before August 31, when the executive measure expires. “Let us see. The time is till 31 August. Same is the case with the The Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015. Some decision will have to be taken in time. The problem in land bill is that if if we do not reissue the ordinance, the 13 other Acts under which land will be acquired will lapse. “There will be damage. Those who have to get jobs will not get it as it not in the old law. This will have to be done keeping in mind all the aspects,” Naidu told reporters here. The Land Acquisition Act, 2013 had exempted 13 Acts from its purview with the condition that they would be included under the purview of the Act within one year. The NDA’s Ordinance brought these 13 Acts under the new land law. If the Ordinance lapses on August 31, provisions of the new land law will no longer be applicable to land acquisition being done under these 13 laws and hence Modi government has been claiming that the ordinance was repromulgated thrice to maintain continuity. The Joint Committee of Parliament headed by BJP MP SS Ahluwalia that looked into the land bill issue evolved a consensus on key issues including consent clause and social impact assessment provisions but differences remained on some. The Committee has decided to give its report by Winter Session. So the govenrment has to take a call  on the land ordinace issue this week. “We do not want to take a unilateral decision because we do not have majority in Rajya Sabha. It is a fact. So we are trying to talk to other parties. The Committee has done some good work and I hope they are able to progress and come with some satsifactory solution,” Naidu said. While BJP has 11 members in the panel, its ally LJP, TDP and Shiv Sena have one member each. In the Opposition while Congress has five members, TMC has two, BJD, CPI-M, JD-U, TRS, NCP, SP and BSP have one member each. The decision by the panel chairman Ahluwalia to seek further extension till the Winter session came on August 10 after a sharp exchange of words between BJP and Congress members in panel meeting over some provisions. Following demand by Congress and TMC for more time, Ahluwalia decided to seek yet another extension from Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan as he wanted to submit a consensus report. This meant the controversial land acquisition bill likely to be brought in the Winter session of Parliament after Bihar polls with opposition digging its heels on certain key provisions and the ruling side wanting to avoid a vote in the joint panel examining the contentious measure. BJP was trying hard to replace the incumbent Nitish Kumar government in Bihar while JD(U), RJD and Congress are using the NDA bill to paint the Modi government as “anti-farmer”.”Since the bill is not coming before Parliament in the Monsoon Session due to lack of consensus. Hence the only likely probability is its repromulgation,” sources said. Sources in the government have been maintaining that there have been precedents of at least 15 ordinances have been promulgated twice or more, a fact to which Naidu also referred today. An ordinance, which has a life span of six months otherwise, has to be re-promulgated if it does not get the endorsement of Parliament within six weeks of the start of a session. Monsoon Session started on July 21 and ended on August 13. The government has so far maintained that re-promulgation was necessary for maintaining its continuity and providing a framework to compensate people whose land was acquired. Government has earlier cited that at least six ordinances have been promulgated thrice during various governments including UPA-II. (Deccan Herald 25/8/15)

198. Land Bill: NDA may favour withdrawal of contentious amendments (4)

New Delhi: Apparently keen to shed the “anti-farmer” tag ahead of assembly polls in Bihar, the NDA government is likely to favour withdrawal of all major contentious amendments in the land acquisition act of 2013 that it had brought through an ordinance last December. Its decision to allow the executive measure to lapse is part of the larger plan as it is not keen to push for the changes in the UPA law, sources said. However, Rural Development Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh, does not treat it as “defeat” for the government. “It was never a matter of ego for us. We still believe that both the interests of farmers as well as the development should go hand in hand. The bill is still before the Parliamentary Committee. We will wait for its final report,” Singh told PTI. He said that the government has already agreed to accept whatever unanimous recommendations the committee gives. “The committee unanimously recommended that they are not in favour of removing consent clause and SIA (social impact assessment). Moreover, our purpose that farmers whose land are acquired under the other 13 laws continue to get the benefits of compensation, relief and rehabilitation is served by this government order,” the Union minister said. He was asked why the government did not promulgate the ordinance for the fourth time to maintain “continuity” as it did on previous two occasions after bringing the 13 other central acts under the purview of land bill through an ordinance in December 2013. “The prime consideration behind our bringing ordinance was to ensure the compensation and relief and rehabilitation provisions of the 2013 land Act are also applicable to farmers, whose land is acquired under the 13 other central Acts and that their interest must be protected. “From January 1 till now, our efforts have been in that direction. The previous government did not do it. Hence we had to do it,” Singh said when asked why the government brought the ordinance at the first place if it had to finally dump the changes like removal of consent clause and SIA that were brought through the ordinance last December. Giving up the ordinance route, the government yesterday issued an ‘order’ to include 13 central Acts like National Highway and Railways Acts to extend benefits to those whose land is acquired under land law. The ordinance also made significant changes in the Land Acquisition Act including removal of consent clause for acquiring land for five areas – industrial corridors, PPP projects, rural infrastructure, affordable housing and defence. With the quiet burial given to the executive measure and the Joint Committee of Parliament headed by BJP MP S S Ahluwalia already favouring bringing back consent and SIA clauses in land bill, the NDA is unlikely to bring them back even in Winter session when the panel will submit a report, the sources said. They said the realisation that changes introduced in UPA’s law will be difficult to implement for it had dawned on it by May when the issue saw a consolidation of non-BJP parties so much so that even allies of NDA joined the issue opposing the clauses of removal of consent clause of social impact survey through the ordinance. “This is not a matter of life or death for me. And neither was it the agenda of my party or the government,” the Prime Minister said in last week of May summing up the mood of the government. With NDA allies like Shiv Sena, Akali Dal and Swabhimani Paksha as well as four RSS bodies opposing the changes in 2013 land bill, the realization within the government was complete that continuing with the changes won’t be possible……  (Zee News 30/8/15)

199. Riverfront villagers to continue fight against LA (4)

UNDAVALLI (Guntur Dt.): The villagers are apparently not happy with the State government’s announcement that it would withdraw the notices served under the Land Acquisition Act 2013. They vowed to fight until the government withdrew its plans to acquire lands– be it under LA Act or Land Pooling Scheme (LPS). Addressing a meeting organised by the 10 Left parties here on Sunday, the villagers Usharani and Polemma from Undavalli said that they don’t have any faith in the government promises. The government had miserably failed in keeping its promises made to farmers who had parted with their lands for the capital. The identification of “pensioners” who had parted with their lands was not scientific and comprehensive. Even those, who were lucky enough to find their names in the list, were not receiving any annuity or pension. The Government was making tall claims that it was paying pension to every farmer but it was far from reality. The same trick is being played here (Undavalli) as farmers haven’t agreed to LPS, they said. “We will not give away our lands either under the LPS or LA Act. If needed, we will approach the court.” CPI(M) State Secretary P. Madhu said. (The Hindu 31/8/15)

200. Gates of Narmada dam jammed by 3 saffron states (4)

GANDHINAGAR: The Gujarat government may be ahead of schedule in raising the height of Sardar Sarovar dam but it will still have to wait for the crucial, final permission from the Supreme Court for installing the dam’s erected gates as Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, the two BJP-governed states, are yet to rehabilitate and resettle more than 1000 displaced families. At current pace, the rehabilitation and resettlement is likely to take at least three to five years. Soon after the BJP-led NDA government took charge at the Centre in May 2014, the new dispensation had given the nod to raise the height of Sardar Sarovar dam from the existing 121.92 metres to 138.68 metres. The work of installing the gates is likely to be completed by January 2017 by Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL), which will have to wait for the permission from the apex court. At present height, available water is 1.27 million acre feet (MAF). Once the gates are installed and the SC gives the nod to close the gates, the total storage capacity will be 4.75 MAF (four times the present capacity). The Gujarat government, however, does not seem to be in any hurry to get the final resettlement and rehabilitation work done. Highly placed sources in the state Narmada department said, “We are at present dealing with some cases filed by Medha Patkar. Once the SSNNL completes the work of raising the dam height, we will apply before the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) and other agencies for the required permission to close the gates. A physical survey of the area going under submergence and of affected families has to be undertaken. Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra will have to resettle and rehabilitate around 1000 families. Both the states have been given tentative intimation but no process has been initiated. We may need to request the Centre to ask MP and Maharashtra to expedite the process.” Gujarat government and NCA have not yet started the survey process of Projected Affected Families (PAF) which will be required to get nod from the Supreme Court for closing the erected gates. Around 1000 families will have to be shifted from Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Activist Medha Patkar has already filed a fresh petition in the Supreme Court claiming that the relief and rehabilitation of several families has not been done satisfactorily. Though the apex court has not taken any stand, but if the state government lags in giving proper relief and rehabilitation even after raising the dam height, Gujarat will not be able to close the gate for several years. (Times of India 1/9/15)

201. Dam oustees claim ownership of acquired land under Land Act 2013 (4)

INDORE: Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement that there will be no fresh ‘Land Acquisition Ordinance’ and Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Act 2013 will be implemented with few changes, farmers, labourers and fishermen gathered at collector’s office in Barwani on Wednesday asserting that they have become owners of their properties which were acquired 10-15 years ago for Sardar Sarovar Dam. Medha Patkar of Narmada Bachao Andolan said that the Supreme Court in 2014 and 2015 has rightly interpreted that under the section 24(2) of Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Act 2013, the oustees, whose land were acquired but not used for years, will become the owner of the land from January 2014. On the 22nd day of Jeevan Adhikar Satyagraha, protestors claimed that acquisition of land stands cancelled since January 2014, as per section 24(2) of the New Land Acquisition Act 2013. Dam oustees demanded that the name of Narmada Valley Develoment Authority (NVDA) should be deleted and their names should be entered through mutation on the said property. Patkar said the said section is indeed a relief to the affected people whose lands, houses etc were acquired decades ago in lieu of meager compensation. “Lack of rehabilitation planning and land resources derails the policy, plans and promises. Oustees eventually become losers as they cannot start a new life at that time,” she said. She went on to say that 40,000 families residing in the submergence area of SSD in Madhya Pradesh have now becomes the owner of the land under the Act “Unless and until these lands are reacquired, no government can submerge the land or properties,” she said. (Times of India 3/9/15)

202. Maharashtra land Act, model for states : State Government (4)

Mumbai: With the highest compensation in the country on offer for land acquisition, the Maharashtra government is promoting its Land Acquisition Act as a ‘model Act’ and one that is better than the central Act. The state government has written to the Centre to adopt the state’s Land Acquisition Act to be implemented in other states too. The Act offers five times the compensation for the acquisition and approval is given only after the owners’ consent. The move from the state government came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announced the Land Acquisition Ordinance would be lapsed. It has also asked the state governments to implement the Act on their own. Earlier, there was ambiguity over the implementation of the Act, as the Centre’s Act was pending before Parliament for approval. However, the Opposition did not allow the amendments to pass and the Centre was left with no option but to leave the decision to the states. “Ours is the best Land Acquisition Act, as we are offering the highest compensation to land owners. We have asked the state government to replicate our Act for other states too,” revenue minister Eknath Khadse said. With the Centre’s decision, major infrastructure projects in the state such as Metro III, Trans-Harbour Link, coastal roads will get a boost. Also some minor projects of roads, irrigation, railway and airports will be revived. “The uncertainty is over. We have our own guidelines for land acquisition. It is true that a few projects were stuck due to the uncertainty about implementation of the law,” an official from the revenue department said. To a query on whether the state would come up with a new law, he said it was not decided. “There is no such discussion about bringing a new law for land acquisition. Maharashtra is the only state offering five times the compensation for land acquisition,” he added.  (Asian Age 7/9/15)

203. Govt. wins case over prime land in Chennai (4)

CHENNAI: After several rounds of litigations in various courts, the State government has finally won a case over a 1.62-acre prime land located opposite Raj Bhavan, which was acquired over 45 years ago for Rs. 33,941. Several orders in the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court had favoured the owners of the land, who had sought for re-conveyance of the property under Land Acquisition Act, 1894, inserted by way of Tamil Nadu Amendment Act 16 of 1997 on the ground that the lands were never put to use for the purpose for which they were acquired. Hearing three writ appeals, a review petition and a contempt petition, a Division Bench comprising Justices V. Ramasubramanian and K. Ravichandrabaabu recalled a Division Bench order delivered on January 23, 2013 on the matter. “Neither the learned single judge nor the Division Bench was apprised of the fact that what the respondents were seeking by way of re-conveyance of a prime property in the heart of the city of Chennai, now valued even as per the government guidelines, at more than Rs.100 crore..,” the Bench said. Noting that the 1.62 acre land is located on Sardar Patel Road, just opposite to the Raj Bhavan and adjoining the Anna University, the Bench said sustaining the order for re-conveyance of the land “would make justice, a casualty and allow Section 48B to be used as a weapon that could cause serious damage to public interest.” The State government had acquired the land in 1960 for constructing a hostel and buildings for the Central Co-operative Institute by invoking the emergency provision under Section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and later fixed a compensation of Rs.33,941 to the owner — Manali Ramakrishna Mudaliar. About 45 years after the transaction, the wife and son of Mr. Mudaliar made representations seeking re-conveyance of the land. Hearing their writ petition, the High Court had in 2006 directed the government to consider their representation. A similar order was passed again a year later on another petition, after which the government rejected the request for re-conveyance, contending the land was already vested with it for more than 47 years. Since then, there have been several rounds of litigation in the High Court and in the Supreme Court on the issue. (Times of India 9/9/15)

RIGHT TO HEALTH

204. Slum women show the way, ensure safe pregnancies (3)

New Delhi: Most women in slums deliver at home, with or without a skilled midwife or nurse. They risk bleeding to death during childbirth, something that can be easily prevented. A 34 year-old unlettered Shazda Khatoon took upon herself to make sure no woman dies due to medical negligence in Zakhira slum in central Delhi. With the help of an NGO, she got an opportunity to work as a ward assistant in Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital. Many women in her slum have now been following in her footsteps spreading awareness in jhuggis as community health volunteers. For 11 years, Shazda has been working to meet the medical emergencies in the slum. “A key way to spread the word is to ensure every woman has access to quality care throughout her pregnancy. When something goes wrong during labour or delivery, the presence of a skilled medical attendant can make the difference between life and death. Yet, many women, especially in our slums, still give birth without skilled assistance. This is the gap I wanted to close by being a health volunteer,” said Shazda. She works as a compounder for a private clinic in the evening and a ward assistant in the hospital during the day to support her family of six. “A decade ago, we couldn’t dream of having a fully furnished medical centre literally in the courtyard of our community. For an illiterate community like ours, working as a ward assistant and being a primary person of contact in case of any medical assistance is a huge thing,” said Shazda. Gyanwati, a resident of a slum in Kalkaji, is also associated with the same NGO, Asha Society which has a presence in 60 city slums. She lost her 18-month-old son to diarrhoea two years ago. Asha Society taught her how it could have been prevented. “At that time, I pledged not to let another child die in my community. Today, I can say that no child has died under my watch since 2013 in my area,” said Gyanwati. “I used to offer public classes at water pumps, queues at the grocer’s shop and wherever I got an opportunity to raise awareness among young mothers.” For the last 27 years, Asha Society’s healthcare programme has been addressing these issues. “The healthcare programme not only provides services but also empowers slum dwellers to act as agents of change in their communities. The work of empowerment means to mobilise the inhabitants to help them understand their rights and responsibilities. Thousands of women have been empowered and subsequently they have been able to transform entire communities,” said Dr Kiran Martin, founder of Asha Society. (Deccan Herald 22/8/15)

205. Unicef team visits Aurangabad district to review maternal, infant health (3)

AURANGABAD: In the backdrop of the ‘Call to Action Summit 2015′ aimed at ending preventing child and maternal deaths to be held on August 27-28, at New Delhi, a team from the Unicef visited three places in Aurangabad district including Patoda, Abdi Mandi and Daulatabad, to review the situation of mother and child care. Aurangabad district reproductive and child health officer Vivek Khatgaonkar said, “The team visited three places in Aurangabad district on Tuesday to review the situation of Janani Suraksha Yojana as well infant mortality.” “They visited Patoda gram panchayat (GP), which is an ISO-certified GP and also recognised as a model village. They visited anganwadis and also took stock of the mother and child care centre. They visited the flour mill, solar water heater plant and mineral water plant, which provides free services to the villagers. Patoda is the only village in the country to provide free hot water supply and mineral water to its villagers,” said Khatgaonkar. “The UNICEF team also visited health centres and anganwadis at Abdi Mandi and Daulatabad. They also asked the health workers to demonstrate various treatment methods such as handling high risk pregnant woman and use of HIV kits,” he said. The summit in Delhi will be co-hosted by the ministry of health and family welfare, Government of India, along with the ministry of health government of Ethiopia, USAID, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Tata Trust. The two-day summit will be a confluence of health ministers from 24 priority countries committed to the Global Call to Action for Child Survival. State health ministers from India, international academic experts, health practitioners, and global leaders from diverse sectors will attend the summit. The summit will be a prelude to the United Nations Summit for the adoption of post-2015 development agenda that will be held as a high-level plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly in September 2015. (Times of India 27/8/15)

206. 51 babies die in 11 days – Central team and health minister revisit Sishu Bhavan (3)

Bhubaneswar, Aug. 30: The number of infant deaths at Sishu Bhavan, touched 51 in 11 days today, coinciding with Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing concern over the current infant mortality rate in the country. Nearly 13 lakh children die in the country every year with Odisha standing third in the list of states with high infant mortality rate, according to a report of the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef). The Unicef’s ranking means in Odisha the infant mortality rate is 51 per 1,000 live births. The situation in Assam and Madhya Pradesh is even worse. With efforts on to ascertain the reasons for the deaths at Cuttack’s Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Post Graduate Institute of Paediatrics, popularly known as Sishu Bhavan, the only referral paediatric hospital in the state, health minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak today rushed there for the second time to take stock of the situation. “The issue should not be politicised. We are doing our best,” said the minister. The central team that arrived in the state yesterday visited the premier institute for the second time today to ascertain the reasons for casualties taking place almost every day. On the other hand, the BJP, which has been demanding resignation of the health minister over the issue, today announced its plan to organise a statewide agitation on September 2. Dr Arabinda Mohanty, who happens to be president of Paediatric Association of Eastern India (PAEI), said premature and low-weight births, neonatal infections such as neonatal sepsis (a blood infection that occurs in babies younger than 90 days) and birth asphyxia appear to be the main factors causing the deaths. Mohanty had led an eight-member delegation of doctors to Sishu Bhavan last Friday. Mentioning that PAEI was preparing a report on ways to check the deaths at Sishu Bhavan, Mohanty said a major problem at the hospital was infants being brought there in a critical condition from far-off areas without any life support. He suggested that a life support mechanism be installed in all ambulances carrying babies to hospitals. He also suggested that instead of rushing to only Sishu Bhavan for all kinds of cases, people should also go to the three government medical college and hospitals and other district hospitals that were well equipped. Paediatric specialist Arijeet Mohapatra, who was part of the delegation, said: “Being the only referral hospital for children, Sishu Bhavan receives a large number of patients in their terminal stages. Such cases are hard to tackle for any doctor.” He also pointed out that the patient flow at the hospital has gone up by around 50 per cent from 1,000 a day in 2012-13 to 1,500 now despite nearly no improvement in the infrastructure. The two intensive care units at Sishu Bhavan have 21 beds and there are 240 beds in the wards. This is too less considering the massive flow of patients. (The Telegraph 31/8/15)

207. 154 infants die in 4 months in Kandhamal hospitals (3)

Berhampur (Odisha): As many as 154 infants died in different hospitals in Kandhamal between April and July, reflecting the abysmal state of infant and child health care in the tribal-dominated district, which did not have even one paediatrician till last month. Of the 154 infants who died in different hospitals in the district during the four-month period, 62 were admitted to Special Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) at the district headquarters hospital in Phulbani, an official said today.  In 2014-15, the SNCU saw 142 deaths. Altogether 1,069 infants were treated at the unit, the official said. The deaths were attributed to low birth weight, lack of pre- and post-natal care, premature delivery, and reluctance among some tribal communities to go for institutional delivery. Infant mortality rate (IMR) in the district stood at 58 per 1,000 live births as against the state average of 51. Despite the abysmal IMR, the district did not have a single paediatrician till last month. Three paediatricians joined Phulbani hospital recently after Kandhamal Collector Yamini Sarangi wrote to the state government, requesting for doctors after 26 infants died in SNCU in May.  Chief District Medical Officer (CDMO) Sapaneswar Gadanayak admitted to the sorry state of affairs. There are no paediatricians in 12 community health centres, two area and sub-divisional hospitals in Baliguda. The district needs at least 19 to ensure proper child care, he said. The critical cases are referred to the 12-bed SNCU at Phulbani. It has a warmer, oxygen cylinder and a few other essential equipment, the official said. “We are trying to convince the tribals to go for institutional delivery. Last month, a tribal woman near Daringbadi refused to go to hospital even after being provided an ambulance. She delivered a baby at home. She was then taken to the hospital due to excessive bleeding, but the child died on the way,” the CDMO said. (Deccan Herald 3/9/15)

208. Government: Tests by private labs not reliable (3)

New Delhi: With the situation of dengue worsening recently, the city administration has said that many private hospitals and pathological labs were using test methods, which in most cases do not give reliable results, and directed people to choose the most reliable diagnostic test. Officials asserted that of the two types of antigen test kits — NS1 Elisa and NS1 rapid antigen test — the former is reliable, but the latter, being used in most private facilities, is questionable. Stating that due to panic, private hospitals were luring people with quick diagnostic of dengue using rapid dengue antigen test or on-the-spot test which gives result in an hour, the officials noted that the Elisa method for detection of dengue infection was sensitive, specific and reliable, while NS1 test sometimes gives false result which in turn may lead to inaccurate treatment. “NS1 rapid test in some hospitals is also costlier than Elisa.” According to municipal officials, there is a panic amongst people which private establishments are exploiting by offering faster diagnostics even though it is unreliable. “Whosoever contracts fever, thinks it to be dengue and rushes to get the tests done. They also want to know the results at the earliest. The city’s private hospitals are cashing in on this rush by offering faster diagnostics even though it is unreliable.” The Union health ministry is providing IgM ELISA kits to all the 33 sentinel surveillance hospitals and one diagnostic centre designated by the Delhi government in the national capital where one can undergo free tests for detection of dengue. Delhi has reported 831 dengue cases till August 29. Asking people not to panic, the civic officials said the management of dengue cases will not depend upon confirmation of diagnosis, irrespective of test method. (Asian Age 4/9/15)

209. New rapid TB tests could reduce mortality (3)

New York: Researchers have documented the accuracy of three new tests for more rapidly diagnosing drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis (TB) which could ultimately make treatments more effective and reduce mortality. “Our study shows that TB testing that once took two to three months can now be done in as little as a day,” said study co-author Richard Garfein, professor University of California, San Diego School of Medicine in the US. “This means we can put people on the right medications sooner, spare them the toxic effects of drugs that are ineffective and prevent the development of drug resistant forms of TB that can occur when the wrong medications are given,” Garfein noted. TB remains one of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases, causing an estimated 1.5 million deaths in 2013, according to the World Health Organisation. TB is also the leading killer of people who have HIV. For the study, sputum (a mixture of saliva and mucus coughed up from the lungs) from 1,128 study participants at TB clinics in India, Moldova and South Africa were examined using three rapid tests for detecting drug-resistant forms of TB. Two of these tests use molecular techniques to look for genetic mutations in the pathogen’s DNA that confer resistance to antibiotics. The third test employs a low-cost and easy-to-use version of the standard bacterial culture technique, making it suitable for resource-limited community clinics and hospitals. Results from the rapid tests were then compared to the reference standard technique for detecting resistance to seven of the most important anti-TB drugs. These comparisons showed that all three rapid assays accurately identified resistance to first- and second-line oral antibiotic treatments (isoniazid, rifampin, moxifloxacin and ofloxacin). They were less accurate but still very good at detecting resistance to injectable antibiotics (amikacin and capreomycin) typically administered to those with multi-drug resistant TB. The study was published online in the current issue of PLOS ONE. (New Kerala 4/9/15)

210. Over 500 complaints of medical negligence pending in Bengal (3)

Kolkata: Nearly ten months after his 12- year- old daughter Suhana Yasmin died at a State-run SSKM Hospital and he filed a police complaint of medical negligence, Ruhul Amin Mondal got a letter from Director of Medical Education (DME), Government of West Bengal. The letter signed by DME Sushanta Banerjee warns eight doctors and nine nurses of State run super specialty hospital of severe punishment if the negligence is repeated in future. The letter clearly states that the “patient died only for negligence of duty lack of imitativeness and inhuman behaviour of doctors and sisters involved in her treatment” “I had arranged blood but the doctors did not transfuse it for 24 hours. I lost my daughter and they have been left off lightly with only a warning,” Mr. Mondal told The Hindu from his residence at Swaroopnagar in State’s North 24 Parganas district. Suhana’s case is just one of the many cases where patients have alleged medical negligence. The website of West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) lists 376 cases of medical negligence in Bengal till May 2015, which are at various stages of investigation. However, when approached Dilip Kumar Ghosh, the registrar of WBMC said that the number of complaints have crossed 500. “We are receiving more complaints and soon we will publish an updated list on website,” Mr Ghosh said. Meanwhile, in a recent reply to information sought under Right to Information, Act, 2005 it has been revealed that the WBMC has taken action against just four doctors in the past four years. Since 2000, action has been taken against 25 doctors, the RTI query filed by an organisation People for Better Treatment ( PBT) has revealed. Interestingly, in a note, members of the Medical Council of India have referred to three State Medical Councils including WBMC of not deciding the complains filed to them in a timely manner resulting in complainants directly approaching MCI directly. Commenting of the developments Kunal Saha, a doctor based in Ohio, US, who fought a long legal battle before Supreme Court in October 2013 directed a private Kolkata Hospital to pay highest ever compensation of Rs 11.5 crore for death of his wife said that it is important that statistics related to complaints made to the State Medical Councils come out. Dr. Saha said the complaints of medical negligence are not seriously looked by the State medical council as the appointments to these bodies most of the time are political in nature. (The Hindu 6/9/15)

211. Government plans to ban sale of dengue test kits (3)

New Delhi: The government plans to ban the sale of rapid diagnostic test kits used for “quick” detection of dengue infection as it does not provide accurate results, an official said on Tuesday. “Talks are going on with experts of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). We may ban the sale of rapid diagnostic kits, which are believed not to be reliable,” Director General of Health Services (DGHS) Jagdish Prasad told reporters here. The union health ministry has also decided to seek reports from individual hospitals in Delhi — including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and Safdarjung Hospital — to ensure that there is no fudging of dengue numbers reported in the national capital. Prasad said the ministry only recommends ELISA-based kits, which are provided by the National Institute of Virology (NIV) at 499 sentinel surveillance hospitals and 15 apex referral laboratories to facilitate free diagnosis. The decision comes a day after the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) said the city has witnessed 1,259 dengue cases with two deaths till September 5 — 38 times higher than 2014 during when, only 33 cases were recorded in the corresponding period. The number was 255 in 2013, 17 in 2012 and 104 in 2011. In 2010, however, the number was 1,512 till September 5. (Business Standard 8/9/15)

HIV/AIDS

212. Palakkad First HIV/Aids Literate Dist in Country (3)

PALAKKAD:  Palakkad will be declared the first total HIV/ Aids literate district in the country on Monday. T N Kandamuthan, district panchayat president, said that in the last nine months a scheme titled ‘Jyothirgamaya’ was implemented under the district panchayat and a voluntary organisation KESS-HAPPI, towards making the district HIV/AIDS literate. He said that the programme was implemented with the co-operation of 91 grama panchayats and 4 municipalities. The aim of Jyothirgamaya was to educate people about AIDS in reducing stigma and discrimination, protecting and bringing the affected to the mainstream of life and rehabilitating them. Under Jyothirgamaya, Asha, anganwadi and Kudumbasree workers distributed notices in every household, conducted awareness classes, quiz competitions and rallies at the school and college level. Boards and wall writings were put up at all vantage points. A steering committee was constituted at the district panchayat, grama panchayat and block panchayat level to take forward the activities of Jyothirgamaya. He said that these activities were undertaken in the district from January 2015 to April 2015. (New Indian Express 22/8/15)

213. They help HIV patients lead dignified lives (3)

MYSURU: Self-confidence and moral support can beat all odds in life. A classic example is that of Keshava (name changed). The 42-year-old has been an HIV positive since 2004 and initially he was in a bad condition. Doctors too had given up on him. But today, Keshava is leading a dignified life. He could walk over 3km a day without any support. “I did not think I could live. It’s only because of self-confidence and moral support that I could survive,” says Keshava. Initially, he did not take treatment due to financial constraints. He owned a petty shop to sustain his family. In 2011, his health deteriorated and he was bedridden, unable to even move his hands. Doctors sent him back home losing all hope, he added. His mother Sathyavathi says she owes it all to the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM). “If my son is alive, it’s only because of SVYM and its volunteers’ moral support,” she says. Despite his failing health, he did small jobs like starting a mobile recharge shop to support his family. Thanks to the palliative care facility of SVYM, the bedridden patients and their families get support. The facility, apart from taking care of patients, also helps their family members to avail governmental benefits. “Now, I am receiving widow pension and my son is getting pension from the government. Palliative care volunteers helped me get these benefits,” said Sathyavathi. The CD4 count in HIV patients should be above 350 but if the count falls below that, patients may become bedridden and the risks are very high, says district AIDS controller Dr T Raghu Kumar. Keshava had CD4 count below 50 when palliative care volunteers visited him in 2012. Like him, more than 300 bedridden needy patients have availed palliative care. Today, some of them are leading a dignified life. “The goal is to improve the quality of life for patients and their families. The need of palliative care is essential in terminal and chronic diseases as they are incurable and result in physical, psychological, socio-economic strain to individuals and their families,” says palliative care volunteer Dr Deepak Murthy. The palliative care facility has served 345 bedridden patients suffering from cancer, paralysis, spinal cord injury, severe neurological disorders, hypertension, gangrene, kidney failure, cerebral palsy and other illnesses since 2011. Initially, 88 patients were inducted into the programme. Palliative care operates with a team approach consisting of doctors, nurses, counsellors, social workers and volunteers visiting each patient’s home and providing a holistic care for patients to improve the quality of life by using an array of skills at their doorstep. (Times of India 24/8/15)

214. Maharashtra: Tribal-dominated Melghat in the grip of dreaded HIV (3)

Mumbai: Notorious for its malnutrition deaths, this tribal-dominated district has now come face to face with another monster – HIV. Doctors and social activists attribute the rise in HIV positive cases among the adivasis to work-related migration and their lack of awareness of safe sex Thirty-year-old Naga Bedekar (name changed to protect identity) has abstained from sexual contact with his wife of 12 years. Four years back, the Bodu village farmer was told by a doctor in Amravati that he has a dreadful disease which can be passed on to his wife if he has sexual intercourse with her. He was asked to visit Amravati’s anti-retroviral therapy (ART) centre every month to collect his medicines, which he will have to take all his life. The father of two, who has studied till class IV, is unaware that he is suffering from HIV infection. In the last four years, he has lost 30kg. “I had fever, severe body ache and was unable to eat anything when I approached doctors at Churni four years ago. They conducted a few tests and then I was referred to Amravati’s Irwan Hospital. There, the doctor told me that I have to take medicines all my life. He also has asked me not to have sexual contact with my wife to ensure she doesn’t get the disease,” said Bedekar. Two months back, Bedekar stopped going to Irwin Hospital to get his monthly medicines. He claims to have got into a fight with the doctor as there was no improvement in his condition. “I threw all the medicines and case papers. Taking the medicines made no difference to my deteriorating health condition,” said Bedekar. Like other Melghat tribals, Bedekar then began relying on people coming from Madhya Pradesh, who claim to be doctors. “In the last one year, I have spent Rs 60,000-75,000 on private doctors, who administered IV fluids and injections to me. I felt better for a week and then I was back to square one. Now I only visit Bhagat Bomka (village priest) and offer prayers,” said Bedekar. He had taken a Rs50,000 loan for his treatment and is now worried about how to clear the debt. “I have to pay a monthly EMI of Rs1,500. I have 2.5-acre land, but no energy to do farming. My parents and brothers have disowned me. It is only because of my wife that I am alive,” said Bedekar. According to social activists working in Melghat, HIV/AIDS has come to the region in the last decade. They say there is an urgent need to carry out intensive screening and an awareness programme in Melghat as people here have no knowledge of it and that is making many prone to the dreaded disease. Rameshwar Phad, a social worker attached to NGO Maitri and someone who has been working for Melghat adivasis since 1998, said: “HIV was never a problem among Melghat adivasis. In the last ten years, we have started seeing HIV cases, which is worrisome. People like Bedekar suffer and go unnoticed due to lack of health facilities and awareness.” According to NGO MAHAN, which has been working in Melghat’s Dharni taluka, 20 people have died of HIV in the last four-five years. “When we talk about Melghat, we talk only of malnourished children. The tribal belt is synonymous with malnourishment cases. Adult health has got ignored. HIV cases are definitely on the rise. We had alerted the government 10 years ago, after which it started the first HIV detection centre in Dharni. Most of these cases are in the productive age group of 20-40 years,” said Dr Ashish Satav, president of NGO MAHAN. He said most of the HIV cases are detected late and come to the limelight due to secondary ailments/infection. “Recently, I had a 23-year-old woman who came with a severe TB infection. On testing, we found her positive for HIV. There was severe weight loss and she was not aware of her HIV status. She died on the second day of hospitalisation,” said Dr Satav. He said it was a known fact that tuberculosis and HIV go hand in hand. “Seventeen percent of the deaths in the 16-60 age group are happening due to TB,” said Dr Satav, who is presently treating three HIV patients….. (DNA 31.8.15)

215. Good news for HIV infected foreigners: Singapore revokes ban on short term visit (3)

Authorities in Singapore have now decided to partially revoke a decade old ban on entering HIV positive foreigners in the country. According to new rule, HIV positive foreigners can make a maximum of three months visit to the country. Singapore no more No Go Zone for HIV+ According to media reports, the ban was revoked on April 1. The ban will continue to be in force for long-term visit, reported The Straitstimes. “The policy on the repatriation and permanent blacklisting of HIV-positive foreigners was recommended in the late 1980s when the disease was new, fatal and no effective treatment was available,” a spokesman of Ministry of Health was quoted as saying. But the ban was lifted “given the current context with more than 5,000 Singapore residents living with HIV and the availability of effective treatment for the disease”. “Lifting the short-term travel restrictions… poses very low additional risk of HIV transmission to the local population,” added the spokesman. Read More: UP launches mobile application for HIV awareness “However, the public health risk posed by long-stayers is not insignificant, hence the restriction on long-term visits has been retained.” HIV, or the human immunodeficiency virus, attacks the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight infections. (One India 1/9/15)

216. HIV-positive, and now happily married (3)

PUNE: Arranging 500 marriages in seven years may not sound like a great achievement for a matrimonial website. But for PositiveSaathi.com it is no mean feat. Seven years ago, when city-based Regional Transport Office inspector Anil Valiv launched this matrimonial website dedicated to matchmaking of HIV-positive people, he never thought his initiative would get such a huge response. “We do not have the resources to follow up on our registered users, but we conservatively estimate that at least 500 marriages have been fixed among our users. The number can even be double of that,” Valiv said. Valiv was posted in Latur in 2006 when he heard about an HIV positive man looking for a bride and thought of starting a website that connects HIV positive people. Operating out of a small office in Mangalwar Peth, PositiveSaathi.com has emerged as a relative success story. It registers bride and groom-seekers for free, regularly organises matrimonial meets and has quite a few success stories to its credit. One such matrimonial meet was held in Mumbai on Saturday in association with the State AIDS Control Society. “We have had to convince potential users that we verify the users’ background regularly, and that their identities shall be secured to all possible extents,” Valiv said. Among the first marriages the website forged was that of an HIV-positive boy from Hyderabad, who was working in Singapore, with a London-based Indian girl who had divorced her husband after she found she had contracted the infection from him. She also had a daughter. Both had registered themselves on the website and after meeting and talking to each other, they decided to tie the knot. Administrators of the website say that the matrimonial process is fairly arduous and one that requires them to stay alert. There are many fake profiles and profiles of married people too, which is why they have to frequently revisit their databases and carry out background checks of users…. (Times of India 6/9/15)

217. Ostracised HIV Positive Couple Approaches Police (3)

JAGATSINGHPUR: An HIV positive couple of a village in the district has approached police for being ostracised by the villagers. They have also threatened to commit suicide, if remedial steps are not taken soon. Reports stated that a 48-year-old man of Khurant village in Kunjakothi panchayat under Erasama police limits, who was working in a cotton mill in Hyderabad for past seven years, contracted the disease from his wife after she developed an illicit relationship with a truck driver. Leaving her, he returned to the village and married a girl of Jajpur in February. She too has been affected with HIV now and is pregnant. Both of them said they have been ostracised by their families as well as villagers and are not allowed to draw water from tube well and use common pathways. The woman said they have not received any help either from the district administration or the Health department. A social activist, Prafulla Pattnaik, said it is unfortunate and disheartening that despite several awareness campaigns on AIDS, there has been hardly any change in the mindset of people. Instead of psycho-social support, the couple has been deserted by the family, he rued. Sarpanch of Kunjakothi panchayat Gadadhar Samanta said the family members of the couple are being counselled so that the issue can be resolved at the earliest. “Steps have been taken to provide pension and other benefits to them,” the Sarpanch added. IIC of Erasama police station Laxmidhar Swain said a case has been registered against the accused persons under Section 107 of the CrPC and further investigation is on. While nobody has been arrested in this connection, the village head has been requested to sort out the issue amicably, Samanta added. (New Indian Express 8/9/15)

218. New breakthrough? HIV pill protects 100% of participants in new study (3)

San Francisco: “Tremendously good news,” University of California-San Francisco researchers Kimberly A Koester and Robert M Grant said in a commentary accompanying the study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. Researchers following over 600 people who took an HIV prevention pill for more than two years have found that 100% of them remained free from the virus even in high-risk environments. The study conducted at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco involved more than 600 high-risk individuals, most of whom were men who have sex with men. These individuals were healthy at the time of enrolment and were put on a daily regimen of a blue pill called Truvada as a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). The study is “the first to extend the understanding of the use of PrEP in a real-world setting and suggests that the treatment may prevent new HIV infections even in a high-risk setting,” said lead author Jonathan Volk, a physician and epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Centre. In the study, 100% of the participants remained HIV-free. Not a single person in the study became infected while on the drug during the study period that included 2.5 years of observation, the Washington Post reported. “Tremendously good news,” University of California-San Francisco researchers Kimberly A Koester and Robert M Grant said in a commentary accompanying the study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. They said it was not clear from the study if the reported rate of sexually transmitted infections in the study is an increase or not and that further investigation is needed. They recommended that Truvada be combined with a parallel plan to prevent other STIs which may include the use of condoms, more frequent testing and discussions with prospective partners. There are several dozen other ongoing clinical trials worldwide using Truvada in different populations. (DNA 9/9/15)

 

 

Posted by admin at 10 September 2015

Category: Uncategorized

(From August 1 to 20 2015)

 DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

1. Dalits attacked for deciding to boycott panchayat polls (2)

MUMBAI: Eleven Scheduled Caste Buddhist families at Ansurda village in Osmanabad district of Maharashtra have been attacked by upper caste men as they decided to boycott the August 4 gram panchayat elections in protest a social boycott on them. In a report headlined “Dalit families in Maharashtra want to relocate” in The Hindu, June 5, the families had demanded that they be relocated because of the social boycott and threat of physical violence. The social boycott started after they took out a procession to mark the birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar on April 28 and played songs dedicated to the Dalit icon. A few weeks after the police protection given to them was lifted, the Dalit households were attacked on Friday night. Six of the injured have been admitted to a hospital in Osmanabad for treatment. District Collector Prashant Narnaware and Superintendent of Police A.B. Trimukhe have sought a report on the attack. The police have registered a complaint against the upper caste villagers. The first information report, however, does not invoke sections of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. “I have asked for a detailed report and posted a special officer to see that social harmony remains intact in the village,” Mr. Narnaware said. The sarpanch’s post is reserved for the Scheduled Caste category, and each of the two panels contesting the elections has chosen a candidate from the Chambhar caste for the post. “Despite the police protection, the social boycott continued. As a mark of protest, we decided to boycott the gram panchayat election and that angered the upper caste households,” Babasaheb Gharbudwe of one of the families told The Hindu on the phone. Another person, Anita Humbe, said: “They started beating us without provocation. We were secure till a police van was parked in the village. Their [upper caste] activities have begun as the police left here,” she said. “We know that this is a sensitive village. We will ensure that no untoward incident takes place,” Mr. Trimukhe said. (The Hindu 2/8/15)

2. SCs to be allowed to sell small piece of land to non-Dalits (2)

LUCKNOW: In a major change in the land law in the state, the UP government is likely to allow members of scheduled caste to sell their land to non-Dalits even if their holding is less than 3.5 acre. According to highly placed sources, the state cabinet in its meeting on Tuesday is likely to accept a recommendation to this effect made by a committee set up to present the Revenue Code Bill 2015. This recommendation is a key feature of the bill. As per the existing rules, a Dalit can’t sell his land to a non-Dalit if his holding is less than 3.5 acre. If the cabinet accepts the recommendation made by the committee formed under additional advocate general RBS Yadav, members of scheduled caste with smaller holdings would be able to sell their land to non-dalits. Subsequent governments in the state have been trying to effect this change, but have not been able to do so. Even SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav as cooperative minister in 1977 had initiated this move couldn’t be successful. A fresh attempt in this regard was made in 2012 when the SP came to power with full majority and set up a committee under Yadav for presenting the revenue code bill having many provisions for land reforms in the state. The committee strongly recommended for repealing the existing provision in favour of the non-Dalits and had met the chief minister last month who had asked the members of the committee to take feedback from different political parties and other sections of the society. Speaking to TOI, RBS Yadav confirmed that he has recommended for the same on the ground that in many cases members of the SCs need money for urgent matters like treatment of deadly diseases, but they don’t get buyers as their choice is restricted to selling it to the members of their own community only. “So, they have to go for distress sale and get peanuts for their land which is an injustice for them,” he said, adding “that’s why the committee has asked that the SCs should be allowed to sell their land to anyone whenever needed.” When asked about taking opinion of the major political parties as desired by the chief minister, the he said except BSP, most of the parties have agreed to his recommendations. Speaking to TOI, Leader of Opposition and BSP leader Swami Prasad Maurya retaliated that it was an onslaught on the rights of the SCs who are already socially, economically and politically weak and depriving them of their land would amount to snatching their livelihood and weakening them further. (Time of India 4/8/15)

3.  ‘Chalo Pathapally’ by Dalits today (2)

HYDERABAD:  ‘Chalo Pathapally’, the agitation programme called by the Struggle Committee for Caste Annihilation, protesting against the ‘atrocities’ of a section of society against Dalits in Pathapally of Pebbair mandal in Mahbubnbagar district is on. On Thursday morning, Anand Teltumbde, the grandson of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the champion of the weaker sections, will reach the dharna camp that has been on for over three weeks now. He will be accompanied by social activists from the University of Hyderabad — Profs. K.Y. Ratnam and K. Lakshminarayana and General Secretary of the Struggle Committee, Bandari Laxmaiah. It all started this May 6, when members of the dominant ‘Boya’ community in the village forced themselves into the huts belonging to the minority ‘Madiga’ community and allegedly went on the rampage, throwing things out and pulling the huts down. The feeling among the Dalits is that the ‘Boyas’ did not like the scheduled castes being given land that was obviously prime, located as 16 plots are, in Survey No. 4 right next to the main road leading from Pebbair to Kollapur. Following this, the SCs were denied temple entry too and they stepped up the pressure launching an agitation, capping it off with a ‘Chalo Pathapally’ call. Efforts by the district administration to stave off the ‘Chalo Pathapally’ till late on Wednesday evening failed, with Mr. Laxmaiah and others unrelenting. On Tuesday evening, District Collector T.K. Sreedevi told them that having got a re-survey done nearby they would get them ‘pattas’ together with the 2 BHK houses announced by Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao. But Mr. Laxmaiah pointed out that part of the land that she promised to give them originally belonged to another dalit by name Parmanna, to whom 2 acres was allocated in the year 2007. When contacted, Superintendent of Police, P. Vishwa Prasad said they were all for an amicable solution to be thrashed out on Thursday, but added that they would be prepared if trouble broke out. “Additional SP D.V. Srinivasa Rao will be at the dharna camp,” he said. The district Collector Ms. Sreedevi later told The Hindu that she had imposed prohibitory order under Section 144 Cr. Pc. around the site of the dharna camp starting from the NH 44 at Pebbair and at the village too. (The Hindu 6/8/15)

4. Dalit families on dharna ‘convert’ to Islam, VHP protests (2)

New Delhi: Families from Hisar’s Bhagana village, who have been protesting at Jantar Mantar for the past two years over alleged atrocities and rapes by the upper-caste Jats, claimed to have converted to Islam at Jantar Mantar on Saturday. However, the VHP alleged that the conversion was an instance of “exploitation” of Dalit families and said they were able to “intervene in time” to stop it. The protesting families had been threatening to convert to Islam for the past week. “We have given up Hinduism. We are tired of waiting. We have met chief ministers and police and all we have received in return are empty promises. Not one person has done anything. What is the point of staying within this community when no one comes to you at the time of your need? We are treated like animals and that has not changed despite our protests,” said Jagdish Kajla, convener of Bhagana Kand Sangharsh Samiti. Countering the villagers’ claims, VHP Delhi spokesperson Vinod Bansal said, “Some of our workers reached Jantar Mantar after receiving information that certain individuals were exploiting the helplessness of these people and forcing them to convert to Islam. What is shocking is that this was happening virtually next to the Parliament. When our workers arrived at the spot and called police, they detained the workers. Later, more protesters arrived and we were able to intervene in time and stop the conversion.” The families explained that in February 2012, members of the Jat community had initially claimed a playground that the Dalit families used. This was followed by a period of routine sexual harassment and molestation. In May, Dalit families began protesting outside the district magistrate’s office in Hisar. In retaliation, the khap panchayat declared a social and economic boycott against the Dalits. On March 23, four girls were allegedly picked up and raped in the village, after which 80 Dalit families fled to the capital. Their conversion to Islam, the families said, was a mark of their protest. “We have been humiliated and tortured in ways which aren’t human. Our women have been raped and harassed. We no longer want to belong to this community. For two years, we have been waiting for and demanding justice, but to no avail,” said a woman, who claimed to have been molested. The VHP, however, maintained that the real issue at hand was the continued exploitation of the Dalit families by those who wanted to convert them. “The VHP demands action against the culprits, irrespective of who they are. But the real issue at hand is the fact that the agony of these suffering families is being exploited by those who want to make this a religious issue. The VHP will take action against this and ensure that at least in Delhi, this can’t happen,” said Bansal. A senior police officer of New Delhi district maintained that the protest was peaceful and no one was detained. “We have deployed adequate police personnel at Jantar Mantar as the organisers of the protest took prior permission. A PCR call was made, but we weren’t able to find anything,” the officer added. (Indian Express 9/8/15)

5. Dalit girl cremated, police arrest 3 more accused (2)

SANGRUR: The 16-year-old dalit girl, who had immolated herself after being harassed by four youths, was cremated on Wednesday after police nabbed the remaining three accused. The victim’s family had refused to cremate her earlier, demanding that all the accused youths be arrested. The victim’s body reached her village in Sangrur district around 11.30am and was taken for cremation soon after. However, once at the crematorium, some youths and representatives of several organizations carried the body outside to start a protest on the Lehra-Patran road. They demanded that police arrest all the accused in the case and threatened not to cremate the girl unless it was done. As her family remained firm on not cremating the body till police took action against the remaining three youths, Sangrur police announced their arrest around 2pm. The victim was cremated around an hour later. “We have arrested the other three accused on the basis of supplementary statement given by the victim’s brother. All of them are school students and have been charged under similar sections under which the first accused was arrested,” said Lehragaga deputy superintendent of police Bimal Sharma. The three accused were arrested and charged under sections 306 (abetment to suicide), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354D (follows a woman and contacts, or attempts to contact such woman) and 511 of the IPC, and Section 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012. Police had arrested one accused in the case on Tuesday, saying the victim had mentioned only his name in her statement to the magistrate. However, the victim’s brother had claimed that three other boys had also harassed her and demanded that they too should be arrested. In a video clip recorded by the victim’s family a day before the girl died, she had named four youths in her statement. Police took Sanjeev Mintu, president of Krantikari Pendu Mazdoor Union, the victim’s brother and some other protesters to the police station to show them the arrested three youths. Barring chief parliamentary secretary Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu, no other senior leader visited the family. Dr Sidhu and former MLA and senior CPI leader Hardev Arshi were present during the cremation. BJP leader Navjot Kaur, who joined the family in staging a protest, said she would urge the state government to install CCTV cameras in every police station so that there is a visual record of visitors and of police response to their complaint. She added that she would request the government to pay compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the victim’s family. “If the government fails to do so, I will provide financial help of Rs 10 lakh to the family from my MLA fund,” she added. If need be, she added, she would hold a protest in front of the office of the Punjab education minister to demand upgradation of the village school so that girls can pursue their studies easily. (Times of India 13/8/15)

6. Two Dalit habitations denied town bus facility (2)

NAGERCOIL: Two Dalit habitations – Kakkanpudur and Kattetri – situated 3 km from Parakkai panchayat in Rajakkamangalam Panchayat Union in Kanyakumari district were denied town bus facility for over three months, lamented the residents. Thanks to a big hole that has formed in a small culvert on the way to Kakkanpudur from Parakkai village three months ago. Repeated pleas fell on the deaf ears of the officials, the residents said. Due to this, the town bus operated by TNSTC on route 50 from Nagercoil to Kattetri was stopped for over three months forcing the students, officegoers to walk up to three km to catch a town bus to reach Nagercoil and other destinations. Over 300 dalit families residing in Kakkanpudur and Kattetri were depending on this bus service, as they have no other option of travel. The bus was operated on three return singles daily in the morning, afternoon and evening to cater to the needs of school going children, office goers and the general public. A road for a length of one km from Parakkai junction to Kakkanpudur was laid under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) at a cost of Rs. 69.96 in 2014. A hole had developed on the culvert near the Valikoli Amman temple and was left unattended by the officials, said a social activist. Farmers were unable to take their agriculture engineering equipment on this route. If the authorities set right the damage, buses can plied via Parakkai village, and it will benefit the students, he added. S. Sundar, President, Parakkai Panchayat could not be contacted for his comment. (The Hindu 16/8/15)

7. Tamil Nadu: Vanniyars attack Dalit procession, torch huts (2)

Chennai: At least 10 Dalit huts were torched and 15 people, including a SP and six other policemen, were injured when upper-caste Vanniyars attacked a procession of Dalits in Seshasamuthiram village of Tamil Nadu’s Villupuram district late on Saturday evening. Police said that the attack was a fallout of long-pending dispute over Dalits’ right to bring out a temple car procession through the village’s main road, which passes through a Vanniyar-dominated area. According to a police report, Seshasamuthiram has over 3,000 Vanniyars and only 400 Dalits.“The dispute has been pending for the past four years. Vanniyars had objected to the procession and the government, too, had been denying permission, citing law and order problems. But this year, the administration decided to allow Dalits to take out the procession. The Vanniyars responded by attacking the Dalits and torching the temple car. They set their huts on fire and also hurled petrol bombs at police,” said a senior police officer. Immediately after the violence broke out, large number of police teams rushed to the spot. “SP K S Narendran Nair rushed to the village with a police team, but they were not able to enter the area as the Vanniyars started pelting stones. The SP and six other policemen were injured. We had to fire several rounds in the air before we could enter the Dalit localities where huts had been set on fire. Even fire tenders were not allowed entry by the Vanniyar groups. They also disconnected power supply to the entire area,” said the officer. He added that tension is still prevailing in the area and over 400 armed personnel have been deployed to prevent untoward incidents. The officer further said that many of the attackers are supporters of the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and were returning from a demonstration organised by PMK leader and former Union minister Anbumani Ramadoss. Vanniyars are a core voter base of the PMK. (Indian Express 17/8/15)

8. Dalit girl sexually assaulted, her eyes and private parts stabbed in UP (2)

Hardoi: A day after Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav made shocking comments on rape, a 13-year-old Dalit girl was killed after being allegedly sexually assaulted, with the attackers brutally stabbing her eyes and private parts while she had gone out of her house here, police said on Thursday. The girl had stepped out of her house to buy medicine for her father when the incident happened, police said. Her body with stab marks on her eyes and private parts was found yesterday from a field under Sursa police station area, they said. The body has been sent for post-mortem examination, police added. The SP supremo had yesterday kicked a fresh controversy with his comments on rape, saying while one man commits rape, four are named to “settle scores” and that rape by four persons was not “practical”.This was not the first time that the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister has made shocking comments on rape. While opposing capital punishment for rape last year, he had sparked outrage by saying “ladke, ladke hain…Galti ho jati hai (boys will be boys…They commit mistakes).” Speaking on the law and order situation in the state at a function here, Yadav had said considering UP’s population, the crime rate was “very low”. (Zee News 20/8/15)

TRIBALS

9. ‘Allow tribal people to cultivate forest lands’ (6)

WARANGAL : The State and Central governments should implement the Forest Act-2005 and allow tribal people to cultivate forest lands, which they have been doing so for over a decade, said retired High Court Judge B. Chandra Kumar. Addressing a convention organised by the Podu Land Farmers’ Samithi here on Friday, the retired judge said it was not proper to evict the tribal people from the forest lands in the name of ‘Haritha Haram’. The State government could promote greenery on either side of road, encroached lands and private lands. Former Minister D. Sridhar Babu said with a view to protect the interests of poor tribal people, the Congress regime brought the Forest Act. The present State and Central governments were not implementing the law and working against the interests of tribal people in the name of development. “As a responsible Opposition party, we will continue to play our role in support of tribal people,” he said. Samithi advisor Prof. K. Venkatanarayana, leader K. Lachanna, Azmeera Jampaiah and Peerla Srinivas said the State government had promised that it would distribute lands to poor tribal people in every district. According to government estimates, it was decided to allocate 80,000 hectares of forest land to poor in Karimnagar district, 1.20 lakh hectares in Khammam district and 17,000 hectares in Warangal district. However, it was not implemented so far. Congress leader G. Vivek, G. Venkata Ramana Reddy and others attended the convention. (The Hindu 1/8/15)

10. Tribal leaders oppose ST status for Dhangars (6)

MUMBAI: Tribal leaders and the Dhangar (shepherd) community in Maharashtra are locked in a fight over the latter’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.The Dhangar community is currently included in the OBC category in the State. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), prior to the Assembly elections, had promised to fulfil the community’s demand for inclusion in the ST category. However, nine months into assuming power, the BJP has not acted on the demand and is now coming under fire from the community which stood behind the party and its allies during the elections. Meanwhile, tribal leaders of the State, cutting across party lines have written a letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, reminding him that inclusion of Dhangars in the ST category would go against the Constitution. “Dhangar is a caste and not a tribe. Some of their leaders are falsely claiming that Dhangad tribe and Dhangar are similar. This claim has not been proved since Independence,” said advocate K.C. Padvi, also a Congress MLA from Nandurbar district, in a letter to the Chief Minister. The letter is signed by all tribal MLAs belonging to the BJP, the Congress, the NCP, the Shiv Sena and the CPI(M). Dhangar representatives do not buy the argument. “A small mistake in nomenclature has deprived us of benefits given to the STs. We supported the BJP as it promised to fulfil our demand. We are confident that it will do it,” said Mahadev Janakr, a Dhangar leader and MLC from Rashtriya Samaj Paksha, an ally of the BJP. (The Hindu 3/8/15)

11. Tribals charge Modi with supporting corporate (6)

NEW DELHI: About 1,000 Adivasis (tribals) from across the country converged here on Wednesday to launch a unified campaign — Adivasi Adhikar Sangharsh Sammelan — against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pro-industry policies. The general sense in the crowd was that since Mr. Modi came to power last year, they have been losing their land and legal entitlements at a faster pace. According to them, Mr. Modi was muscling through a constitutional amendment that will help private companies take over their land and resources and eventually push them into a social apartheid. Several Adivasi activists shared anecdotes about how private companies had already “captured” large swathes of their land. An 11-member delegation of Adivasi activists also met President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday. The delegation led by Brinda Karat, a senior leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), told the President that all the State Governors, who are constitutionally obligated to safeguard tribal rights, are instead “conniving” with the private companies. Mr. Mukherjee, according to Ms. Karat, recognised the significance of all the constitutional entitlements that shield the land and resources of India’s tribal population from harmful business interests and “promised” the delegation that he would shortly call a meeting of all the Governors to address the issue. Before meeting Mr. Mukherjee, Ms. Karat spoke at the convention, criticising the BJP-led Union government for “crudely eliminating” the legally-guaranteed role of gram sabhas. “The Modi government is destroying the Gram Sabha,” Ms. Karat told The Hindu on the sidelines of the convention. “PESA, 5th and 6th Schedule and Service Rights Act, all say that you have to get the consent of the gram sabha for any project in tribal-dominated areas.” Dr. Hrushikesh Panda, former secretary at the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, a whistleblower who vehemently criticised the UPA government’s attempts to tamper with the tribal rights, appealed to the Adivasi community to attend workshops that will inform them about their rights and prepare them to deal with the government’s land-grabbing moves. Several speakers criticised the budget cuts and said the lack of funds has resulted in failure of public infrastructure and led to high dropout rates in schools. “The student hostels are in a bad shape,” said G. Selvan, an Advasi activist from Tirpur district of Tamil Nadu. “The stipend is meagre and there is no outside coaching available for the students who want to compete for professional colleges.” “As per the rules,” said Parse Ushindi, an Adivasi activist from Maharashtra, “Rs.40,000 crore should have been allocated to the Adivasi community, but we got only Rs. 20,536 crore.” (The Hindu 6/8/15)

12. Tribal people demand protection of their rights (6)

Ramanagaram: Urging the Union and all State governments to protect the constitutional rights of the tribal people, members of the tribal and indigenous communities passed a resolution listing out their various demands at Ramanagaram on Sunday. The Karnataka Adivasi Rakshana Parishad, a tribal welfare organisation, had organised a meet of tribals near the Government College on Bengaluru-Mysuru highway in the town in connection with 21st World Adivasi Day. Members of 50 tribal communities from across the State, owing allegiance to the parishad, attended the meet. The meet strongly opposed the alleged outright assault on the constitutional rights given to the tribal people, while it urged the State government to take measures to make the Western Ghats a naxal-free region. As per the 2011 Census, though at least 42.49 lakh tribal people are living in Karnataka, they are deprived of their constitutionally guaranteed rights. And, a majority of them are even today leading nomadic life, the speakers at the meet lamented. The State government should honour the achievers in the tribal communities with ‘Adivasi Siri’ award and constitute a board/corporation for the welfare of tribal people, was one of their demands. The others included launch of special schemes to uplift the primitive tribes ‘Jenu Kuruba’ and ‘Koraga’, announcing support price for forest goods, and construction of ‘Adivasi Bhavan’ in all the taluks and district centres. The meet also urged the Union government to accord the status of ‘Primitive Tribe’ to Chenchu (residing in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana), Irular (Tamil Nadu), Kathodi/Kathakari (Gujarat and Maharashtra), Kattunayakan (Kerala and Tamil Nadu), Thoda (Tamil Nadu) and some other tribes.One other major demand the participants put forward was that the government should establish a varsity at Kodagu or Chamarajanagar to study the tribal people and their lives. The government should withdraw all cases filed against tribal people, and issue them caste certificates, the participants added.Members of the Siddi, Jodugatte Irulaiga, Pardi, Malekudiya and some other communities mesmerised the audience with their scintillating performances of various forms of art. A rally depicting tribal culture was taken out from the KSRTC bus stand to the programme venue.Energy Minister D.K. Shivakumar inaugurated the meet and urged the tribal people to make use of the State government-sponsored programmes. The government is committed to working for the uplift of the tribal communities, he added. Malavalli MLA, P.M. Narendra Swamy, lauded Chief Minister Siddaramaiah for allocating Rs. 15,000 crore in the budget for the welfare of SC and ST communities. Professor K.M. Metry of Hampi Kannada University and parishad president M. Krishnaiah were among those present. (The Hindu 10/8/15)

13. Odisha inks MoU for sustainable livelihood of tribals (6)

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on Friday signed an agreement with the Asian Heritage Foundation (AHF) to initiate a project aimed at creating employment and sustainable livelihood opportunities for the unemployed and other marginalised sections of tribal communities. The state’s handloom, textiles and handicrafts department and the Asian Heritage Foundation, a Delhi-based organisation, signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the project which is aimed at creating employment and sustainable livelihood opportunities for reducing poverty amongst the unemployed people and other marginalised communities. Observing that the project would be implemented in Mayurbhanj and Koraput districts for a three-year period from 2015 to 2018, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said: “It will cover 1,600 vulnerable tribal artisan families, of which 70 percent will be women, and seek to improve their skill, earning capacity and number of days of employment.” The project would be implemented at an estimated cost of Rs.2.72 crore. He said the project would involve Primary Weavers Cooperative Societies, Primary Handicraft Cooperative and self-help groups in the process. It would set up clusters, conduct skill development workshops and train youth entrepreneurs to operate mobile kiosks while the government would provide all necessary support for the success of the project, said the chief minister. The project “Creating Inclusive Business Models for Marginalized Tribal Communities” is being implemented in the three tribal dominated states of Odisha, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh under a four-year World Bank and Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) -supported programme, said a release from the Chief Minister’s Office. The Asian Heritage Foundation is implementing the project. Earlier, the organisation successfully implemented similar projects for the rural poor in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. (Business Standard 14/8/15)

14. Maharashtra ST Bus Scrap to Serve as Classrooms in Tribal Areas (6)

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) will donate the scrap of its buses to be used as classrooms at schools in tribal areas. Not an ounce of scrap of ST buses will be wasted. The MSRTC will fulfil its social responsibility towards the society and transform the ST Bus Corporation into a responsible social centre, Transport Minister Diwakar Raote said here. The corporation till now used to sell its scrap that added to the coffers of the Corporation. Now, Raote has decided to donate or sell the scrap at cheap rates to tribals as a part of social responsibility. “When a bus has no use left and is converted into scrap, we will give it in remote areas to be used as classroom for tribal students,” Raote said. “The tyres will be removed from the bus, some facilities will be provided inside the bus to make it suitable to conduct a classroom and it will be given a look which does not make it look like scrap,” he said. The minister said at least two such buses will be provided for each school in tribal areas. The tyres of such buses can also be used to build walls of dams (nullah bandh), in place of cement walls, he said. “The tyres will be used in place of the cement wall of a dam by putting one tyre over the other and the gap will be filled by mud. Later, the whole wall be covered by plastic so that water does not leak from the wall,” the minister said. He said Minister of State for Finance Deepak Kesarkar was inspired by one such dam wall built by Dr Vikas Amte in Varora of Chandrapur district. “Kesarkar has himself got constructed such type of a bandh on a nullah. This scheme will be promoted across the Konkan region by providing number of tyres from MSRTC. This kind of bandh will be cheaper than cement walls,” Raote said. “The corporation is already delivering its social responsibility by allowing concessions in fare to freedom fighters, senior citizens, physically disabled, journalists and legislators,” he said elaborating on the initiatives taken by his department. The transport department is changing its face and becoming more commuter-friendly Raote said, adding that STbuses are the only reliable mode of transport that reach even the remote areas of the state and offer services 24X7. (New Indian Express 16/8/15)

15. ST status eludes this tribal community (6)

Tribal chieftain Chinnaraj of Chandramala located deep inside the plantation country of Nelliyampathy has reasons to believe that his Gods have stopped smiling on him.Now in his late seventies, Chinnaraj has been waging a unique kind of war for the last two decades by knocking at every possible door to get Scheduled Tribe status for all the 107 families who consider him as their respected leader. On their part, the State government and the Kerala Institute for Research Training and Development Studies of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (KIRTADS) have found his demand just and written to the Union government several years ago to provide them Scheduled Tribe status. But the files are gathering dust in New Delhi and the most backward Malayali community to which Chinnaraj belong remains deprived of all benefits meant for them. “It may be a paradox of sorts that our Tamil speaking community is known as Malayalis. We are landless poor living at the mercy of powerful estate lobbies in Nelliyampathy, where our forefathers were brought by British planters more than a century ago from Kolli Hills, Klavarayan Hills and Vattal Hills in Western Tamil Nadu,” says Palanivel Murugan, one among the community members. Interestingly, Tamil Nadu has granted them Scheduled Tribe status long ago following recommendations of tribal research centre of Tamil university, Thanjavur. “In the past, we worked in tea plantations of Nelliyampathy where we felt easiness as climate and topography looked similar to that of Kolli Hills. The estates have allowed us to live in their quarters though not allotted any land. To avoid eviction after retirement at the age of 58 from quarters, we discouraged our children from going for higher education and forced them to work in the same estates with meagre salaries. Now the estates are in crisis and our children wish to have better education availing benefits our community enjoy in Tamil Nadu,” explains S Geetha, mother of two Plus Two students. Chinnaraj holds a huge file comprising letters from the State government and KIRTADS saying that their request was just and it was under final scrutiny of the union government. Though KIRTADS gave them status of other eligible community (OEC), it fails to provide educational and employment benefits to community members. “Our children learnt Malayalam in schools and we have not even vague memories of Kolli Hills. We all have been born and brought up here. Only the Scheduled Tribe status and small patches of land to construct houses can help us survive in the changed situation. As a primitive tribal group, these are our rights,” says K. Kamaraj, a community member. It was the estate lobby that spoiled an earlier attempt of the community to occupy a stretch of vacant land in Nelliyampathy to build houses. (The Hindu 17/8/15)

16. NHRC team in Kandhamal to check FRA implementation (6)

BHUBANESWAR: With the forest dwellers, especially tribals, complaining about apathetic approach of government machinery in recognising their rights under the Forest Rights Act, two special rapporteurs of the National Human Rights Commission have begun their field visits in Odisha’s Kandhamal district . NHRC special rapporteur (tribal issues) P. P. Mathur and special rapporteur (West Bengal, Odisha and Andaman Nicobar Islands) Damodar Sarangi started interacting with villagers to get first hand information about FRA implementation. The team is also scheduled to meet district administration to know reason behind weak implementation of the FRA. The Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), which had spearheaded campaign for enactment of FRA, alleged that district level committees regularly ignored proposals forwarded by Gram Sahbas. As per the report of the State Level Monitoring Committee, by May 2015, as many as 60,346 Individual Forest Right (IFR) claims have been filed at the Gram Sabha level and 57,657 IFR titles issued over 87,227 acres of forest land. According to the CSD, Odisha, 49,096 IFR titles have been issued over revenue forest land and 8,561 have been issued over reserve forest land. “Most IFR titles have been distributed without proper demarcation of land,” alleged Manohar Chauhan, member of CSD, Odisha. In a serious violation of existing norm, massive teak plantation was taken up by forest department on 49 plots allotted to persons belonging to Kutia Kandh community at Burlubaru village in Kandhamal district, he said, adding it exhibited as to how people were made to suffer after distribution of final titles. “The Kandhamal district administration has failed to recognise habitat rights of Kutia Kandh, a particularly vulnerable tribal group. Moreover, 1,697 IFR titles were said to have been distributed to the PVTG without undertaking proper ground verification,” said CSD activist. (The Hindu 19/8/15)

17. Land for Tribal Folks of Attappadi in 3 Months (6)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said on Wednesday that the landless adivasis in Attappadi will get land within three months. The officials have been asked to expedite steps so that the land could be distributed on Kerala Piravi Day on November 1. The Chief Minister gave the directions at a meeting held here to discuss various issues related to the region. Applications will soon be invited from landless adivasis, he said. More staff, if needed, will also be provided to complete the proceedings at the earliest, he said. Meanwhile, Ottapalam sub-collector told the meeting that 2,700 acres of land was ready for distribution. Apart from the land issue,  education of adivasi children was also discussed at the meeting. Through a special government order, the Chief Minister gave directions to give admission to those students who failed to get admission to Plus One course. The meeting also decided to entrust a sub-committee to look into ‘Zero Hunger in Tribal Habitat’ project prepared by M S Swaminathan Research Foundation. Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Tribes P K Jayalakshmi, N Shamsudeen MLA, Planning board vice-chairman K M Chandrashekar and others were present at the meeting. (New Indian Express 20/8/15)

WOMEN

18. DCW to study ‘increasing’ crimes against women, writes to Bassi (8)

New Delhi: Stating that the law and order situation in Delhi is deteriorating at an alarming rate, new Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal on Saturday asked Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi to furnish information about increasing complaints of crimes against women.  In her two letters, Maliwal, who was handpicked by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for the post, raised the issue of the brutal murder of a teenager girl Meenakshi in Anand Parbat area last month and said the incident which has “shamed” Delhi is not just the murder of an individual but reflects on the failure of entire system and society. “In light of the Meenakshi murder case and the increasing rate of crime against women in the state, we wish to undertake a study on women safety in Delhi and come up with recommendations for the central, state governments and Delhi police. “For this we will be taking Anand Parbat as a pilot area and would request you to the provide us with the details of all complaints received by the police station here,” it said. Maliwal also sought information on the number of complaints of crime against women and girls including rape, molestation and sexual harassment the city. She also sought information on total strength (rank-wise) of the police force in Delhi, out of this, number of women in police and list of police stations in which highest number of complaints of crime against women were reported in 2014-15. “The law and order situation in Delhi is deteriorating at an alarming rate. According to the latest figures of the National Crime Records Bureau, everyday Delhi is witnessing over five cases of rape and 12 cases of molestation,” the DCW chief noted. “Women security has become one of the most important issues in today’s time,” she said and asked the Delhi police chief to furnish the list of spots in the city where highest number of complaints of crime against women were reported in 2014-15. “Out of these, list of spots which are near schools, colleges and Universities,” the letter said. “We are conducting a study on women safety in Delhi. This data is crucial for the same and will assist in fulfilling our statutory mandate of giving recommendations to the Central and State government on the issue of women safety,” said DCW chief Maliwal in her letter. The DSW Chairperson also stressed on the need for cooperation between DCW and Delhi Police on the various functions of DCW and said she hoped to have a strong working relationship with the Delhi Police. The missives by Maliwal came amid an ongoing war of words between Kejriwal and the Police Commissioner. The Delhi Police comes under the Union Home Ministry and the Kejriwal Government has been demanding that it should have control over the force as it was not working effectively to check crime in the national capital. (Asian Age 1/8/15)

19. Panel to probe Delhi police inaction in crimes against women (8)

New Delhi: The Delhi assembly on Monday adopted a resolution to set up a three-member panel to probe the alleged police inaction in cases of crime against women. The moves comes in the wake of the brutal murder of a 19-year-old girl, Meenakshi, in broad daylight in Anand Parbat area of the city. The AAP government accused Delhi Police of “inaction” in the case. The resolution was tabled by Delhi Women and Child Minister Sandeep Kumar. The commission of inquiry will be chaired by a retired judge. The resolution will add to the acrimony between the Delhi Police and the AAP government of Delhi. (New Kerala 3/8/15)

20. ‘Non-institution rehabs needed for women’ (8)

PANAJI: There is a need for non-institutional rehabs in the state and besides rescuing them, attention must be paid to empowering victims of sexual exploitation. The suggestion was made at a public panel discussion on violence against women – role and responses from state and the civil society that was co-organized by the International Centre Goa and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, India Office, held on Tuesday. “Most organisations are imposing their ideals on rescued victims,” said Arunendra Pandey, director, ARZ Goa. “Not all of those women wish to stay in an institution and follow a timetable,” he said. Pandey added that ARZ has drafted schemes for the rehabilitation of victims wherein they are entitled to a monthly allowance as soon as they exit commercial sexual exploitation. Thus, by being financially supported by the government, they are less likely to succumb to poverty or get lured into commercial sexual exploitation again. He further insisted that this scheme needs to be implemented so that the victims can live according to their own terms instead of following a hostel-like system. The panel comprised of experts from different walks of life who discussed crucial women’s issues. Bailancho Saad president Sabina Martins shed light on how despite various efforts to raise awareness, the Goa government has still not made any significant move to rectify violence and discrimination against women. “Till date, we are grappling to put sexual harassment committees in place,” she said.Vibhuti Patel, head of department, economics, SNDT women’s university, pointed out how cyber crime is also prevalent in rural areas of the country. She insisted that lack of awareness and social stigma associated with the repercussions often lead to victimisation in both, urban and rural India. Damyanty Sridharan, senior advisor, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, insisted how we need to look at all aspects of violence and not only how it is manifested. “We have to be open-minded and look at a much larger canvas if we have to address issues of violence against women,” she said. The panel resolved that the state can strengthen its justice delivery system by allocating resources towards the rehabilitation and empowerment of victims of violence and abuse. Funds that have been allocated should be judiciously used. The state needs to ensure that all its units designated to help abused women are actively functioning and protection officers, counsellors etc are emphatic towards the victim. (Times of India 5/8/15)

21. DDC seeks opinion on women’s rights Bill (8)

NEW DELHI: Delhi Dialogue Commission (DDC) on Wednesday released a draft Charter of Women’s Rights Bill, 2015 for public consultation. The draft incorporates recommendations made by Justice J S Verma committee in the wake of the Nirbhaya rape case and has identified specific areas for women’s safety and empowerment that will be given priority. DDC, an advisory body to the AAP government, also proposed to strengthen Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) by giving it more administrative and judicial powers. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal informed the assembly of the proposed bill during the special session held on Monday. The draft bill was uploaded on DDC’s website to get comments and suggestions from the public over the next four weeks. “People can also visit the DDC office to give suggestions and DDC will organize a round-table at the commission where each and every section of the proposed bill will be discussed,” DDC vice-chairman Ashish Khetan said. He added: “The bill was drafted after a round of consultations with all stakeholders. This is a first-of-its-kind law, which the state government will propose before the people intending that soon it will be made law. We have incorporated all the recommendations of Justice J S Verma committee, along with some expanded rights.” According to officials, the bill proposes to provide a comprehensive framework for women residing in Delhi to effectively enforce their fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution and various existing statutes, including protection against all forms of violence, the right to appropriate healthcare, the right to education, right to privacy and the right to equality. To enforce this bill, DDC also proposed that DCW will work as a single window to work and enforce women-related matters. “It is easy to frame a law but the government could not implement it. In the draft bill, we have identified 29 such acts for women’s security, which could not be implemented properly so we will have a public consultation on implementation of these,” Khetan said. DCW chief Swati Maliwal supported the initiative and said other governments could follow the module adopted by the Delhi government. “The bill guarantees implementation of rights of women. There are certain rights enshrined in the Constitution but in specific terms. This draft addresses the issue of implementation,” she said. DDC will take comments, suggestions from people, judiciary, civil society and government officials before completing and presenting the draft bill before the cabinet. “The draft bill enables a woman to seek redressal of legal grievances in a time-bound and effective manner against private individuals and the state,” Khetan added. (Times of India 6/8/15)

22. 28 arrested for harassing women at railway stations (8)

NEW DELHI: Mukesh, Ravi and Shiva had reached Delhi by train and while waiting at a platform at New Delhi railway station, they could not resist passing a lewd comment at a woman. They thought they would get away with it but were caught by Delhi Police on Saturday. The railway police have launched a massive drive against miscreants who indulge in sexual harassment on platforms and on trains. Flying squads have been formed to apprehend men ogling at women and passing lewd comments. In the past two days, 68 people have been detained and 28 arrested for groping and indulging in other cognizable offences. The drive has been intensified in all local and express trains, including Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains. DCP Sanjay Bhatia said most of the people arrested were found ogling at women at the railway stations or touching them in crowded trains. Police officials said these miscreants would usually stand near the exit doors of trains and grope women while deboarding. Some of them were caught red-handed during the drive. Two men arrested during the drive were found to be taxi drivers waiting at the Nizamuddin Railway station for passengers. Police said most of them were not even aware of their crimes as they had been doing it for a long time. They were detained under Section 65 of the DP Act and were counselled by religious leaders and experts after this. (Times of India 10/8/15)

23. Karnataka Panel Against Atrocities on Women Urged to Submit Report (8)

BENGALURU:  Members of an expert committee on sexual violence against women have complained to committee chairman V S Ugrappa about the delay in finalising the report. The panel was constituted in November 2014 by the Legislative Council to suggest measures for prevention of such atrocities. At its meeting held at Vikasa Soudha on Wednesday, at least three members said the committee has already taken a long time to study various facets of the issue. “We should not take any more time to visit schools, colleges or any other institutions. We have already taken enough time and we should submit our report without any further delay,” they said and urged Ugrappa to take an appropriate decision in this regard. Ugrappa, who assumed office after the committee’s earlier chairman M C Nanaiah quit the post three months ago, said the draft report was ready. A few members expressed displeasure at Ugrappa for taking the media along during his recent surprise visits to girls’ hostels to understand the plight of the inmates. The meeting decided not to conduct such visits under media glare in future. It would also take measures to ensure that the identity of the victim and the family is not revealed to the media whenever cases of sexual assault on students in schools or colleges are reported. (New Indian Express 13/8/15)

24. With trishul in hand, Radhe Maa turns up before police in dowry harassment case (8)

Mumbai: With a trishul in hand, self-styled godwoman Radhe Maa on Friday turned up at the Kandivali Police Station here in response to the summons issued by the Mumbai Police for questioning with regard to a dowry harassment case. Senior inspector Mukund Pawar said, “Presently I will not be able to tell anything with regard to the case and the statement of the accused as well as of Radhe Maa.” Her statement will be recorded today by police in response to allegations levelled by a 32-year-old woman that Radhe Maa instigated her in-laws, who are her followers, Radhe Maa instigated her in-laws, police said. The Kandivali police had last week issued summons to Radhe Maa and other six others in connection with the case filed on August 5 in which the woman alleged that she was physically and mentally harassed by her in-laws for dowry. A local court had yesterday denied pre-arrest bail to Sukhvinder Kaur alias Radhe Maa in connection with the case. Also, BJP MLA in Gujarat