Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Posted by admin at 30 April 2015

Category: Uncategorized


1. ‘Admin can’t displace Rampur Dalits’ (2)

RAMPUR: The district administration’s attempt to demolish 80 houses of Dalit residents at Valmiki Basti in Topkhana area adjacent to the newly constructed shopping mall by the municipality came to a grinding halt after various delegations of social activists and political parties joined the protest against the move here on Saturday. Police have arrested Congress leader Dr Tanveer Ahmad Khan and five of his supporters from the protest site. Dalits are protesting against the proposed demolition of their houses by the administration and have been sitting on an indefinite dharna outside their houses. On Saturday, the agitationists met with social activists Nutan Thakur and her husband Amitabh Thakur. “It’s a matter of grave concern that the local administration wants to demolish their houses without any reason. We have seen the roads of the colony and they are quite wide. The residents also showed the receipts of their house tax which they had paid to the municipality. The most important thing is that the houses were allotted by the government earlier to these safai karamcharies, as they are also the employees of the state government,” said Amitabh. He said the details about the Valmiki Basti would be submitted before the office of the principal secretary. Nutan Thakur added that, “Prior to the demolition, the administration should issue proper legal notices to the occupants .” The couple assured residents that they would also provide them legal aid. The police have arrested SP leader Azam Khan’s arch rival and Congress leader Tanveer Ahmad Khan along with his supporters for protesting against the administration on behalf of the Dalits for breach of peace. Heavy police force has been deployed into the Dalit colony and section 144 of the CrPC has been imposed in the city. Meanwhile, SP, Rampur, Sadhna Goswami suspended six policemen, including an SI, for allowing Dalits to take out a procession against the minister on Wednesday (Times of India 11/2/15)

2. Economic gap between upper castes and dalits persists (2)

Despite more access to education, better household amenities and increased incomes, the economic gap between upper castes and dalit and tribal communities continues unchanged over the years, according to latest economic data from the NSSO. A comparison of average monthly expenditure of households belonging to dalit communities with upper caste households showed that in rural areas there was a gap of about 38% in 1999-2000 which changed only marginally to 37% in 2011-12. In urban areas, upper caste households reported incomes that were 65% more than dalit households in 1999-2000. This gap reduced to a still shocking 60% in 2011-12. For tribal households, the gap in monthly expenditures increased from 49% in 1999-2000 to 53% in 2011-12 in rural areas and from 45% to 48% in urban areas. Since there is no direct survey of incomes in India, monthly household expenditure is seen as a proxy measure of monthly income for most households except the very rich. The economic stagnation of dalit and tribal communities has not prevented them from seizing the opportunities for better education, perhaps in the hope that education will pave the way for a better life. In urban areas, the proportion of graduates in the 15+ years dalit population increased from 4.6% in 1999 to 9.4% in 2011, while among tribals it increased from 8.9% to 13.4% in the same period. Current attendance rates in educational institutions of various communities are now almost at par at the elementary stage, that is, 5-14 years age group. At the secondary stage, dalit students’ attendance has shot up from 37% in 2004-05 to 57% in 2011-12 while tribal students’ attendance has increased from 36% to 54% in the same period. At the higher education stage, attendance for dalits has increased from 8% to 15% while for tribals it has increased from 9% to 13%. In all these stages, attendance of upper castes is still higher than dalits and tribals but the gaps are fast reducing. So, why does the economic chasm persist? Affirmative action to help dalits or tribals, like reservation in jobs, reaches only a small section of these communities, leaving the vast mass untouched and frozen in backward economic conditions, says Surinder S Jodhka, professor of sociology at the Jawaharlal Nehru University and a long time researcher of dalit communities. “In rural areas, most dalits do not have any assets and are the worst sufferers in the ongoing agrarian crisis. If they migrate to cities, again they enter at the lowest level of the economy, working in informal sector jobs. So it is not surprising that their economic status remains what it is,” Jodhka said. In rural areas, for five-member households, the average monthly expenditure in 1999-2000 was Rs 2,095 for dalit households, Rs1,940 for tribal households and Rs 2,370 for OBC households compared to Rs 2,885 for upper caste households. In 2011-12, the dalit households were having an average monthly expenditure of Rs 6,260, tribal households Rs 5,610, and OBC households Rs 7,195 but upper caste households were spending Rs 7,150. In urban areas, in 1999-2000, the dalits household spend was Rs 3,455, tribal household Rs 3,455 and OBC household Rs 3,675 while the upper caste household’s average spend was Rs 5,025. By 2011-12, the corresponding monthly expenditures were Rs 10,140 for dalits, Rs 10,965 for tribals, Rs 11,375 for OBC’s and Rs 16,210 for upper caste households. “Indian modernization, unlike in the west, has not produced an organized economy. We continue to have remnants of pre-modern economic relations and a huge informal or unorganized economy. Dalits and tribals largely continue to occupy this lowest rung,” Jodhka explained. (Times of India 14/2/15)

3. CPM talks of equality but denies dalits top posts (2)

VISHAKHAPATNAM: CPM’s abysmal record in giving Dalits a place in the party’s top decision-making bodies — politburo and central committee — came to haunt it on Wednesday as general secretary  Prakash Karat demanded a special session of Parliament to discuss inequality as part of commemoration BR Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary. Karat was talking about failure to implement reservation for Scheduled Castes and atrocities against them. But when asked why CPM’s politburo — a preserve of upper caste Brahmins, Nairs, Kayasthas with occasional OBCs thrown in —never had a Dalit in the past 50 years, Karat came up with an evasive reply: “You ask me this question on April 19 when the new politburo and central committee is in place.” Karat said he will check the records if there has been a Dalit in the central committee, but he couldn’t remember a single name. For now, there is no chance of a Dalit getting into the politburo since membership to this exclusive club is limited to the 85-member strong central committee. Of the few contenders to the politburo, no one is a Dalit. Among those in the running are Mohammad Salim, Madan Ghosh and Subhasini Ali. It is possible for the central committee to have a Dalit members, especially from Kerala. But even getting into CC is not so simple and needs a proven track record. “It will be a tough exercise. We have few Dalit leaders who are doing good work,” a central committee member told TOI. In its resolution on Ambedkar’s birth anniversary, CPM said the condition of Dalits had worsened with more cases of atrocities against them and many laws like Manual Scavengers Act not getting implemented. It also pointed out that Dalit Christians and Muslims are being denied benefits of reservation. (Times of India 16/4/15)

4. Budget cuts, loan problems push Dalits out of education (2)

CHENNAI: Saranya, who took a loan of Rs. 2 lakh to pursue a BE course in a self-financing college in Coimbatore will be completing the repayment of loan by the year-end. A Dalit student, she was denied loan initially. “The manager told me loans are given only to people who come in cars. A friend then helped us get the loan,” says Saranya, now an IT company employee. That was in 2010, when she also received around Rs. 3,000 as government scholarship. Many like Saranya continue to struggle to pay outstanding loans as they are uncertain about the post-matric scholarships that come from the Central government. In the last two years as many as 60,000 students from SC, ST communities have joined engineering courses, but the State government is unable to pay their tuition fee as the Central funding often is delayed. Students in self-financing colleges fret over their future as managements pressurise them to pay the fees. Activists say though recommendations were made in the Sub Plan for SCs and tribal communities for payment of tuition fees, the Union budget has been steadily reducing the funds allotted to the University Grants Commission for the purpose. Between 2012-13 and 2015-16, the allocation for UGC under SC/ST sub plan was cut by 50 per cent. Activists say this could further impact the students’ education as they could drop out for want of funds. R. Christodas Gandhi, founder of Ambedkar Kalvi Centenary Movement, says around 100 colleges that admitted over 50 per cent of the SC students are now putting pressure on the students to pay up. For the year 2014-15, the Central government had sanctioned Rs. 1204.76 crore under the scheme for BE courses. So far, the State has received only Rs. 254 crore but that money had not reached self-financing colleges. K. Srinivasan, convener of Educational Loan Task Force, says: “Every day we get grievances from across the nation and it is the poor students who suffer the most. As of March 2014, Rs. 60,000 crore has been paid out as loans to around 25 lakh beneficiaries across the countries.

Though his organisation has been helping students to get education loans, he recommends that students try to claim eligible scholarships instead of becoming debtors. (The Hindu 20/4/15)


5. Concern over atrocities against tribal girls (6)

KALPETTA: Leaders of various tribal and political organisations have expressed concern over the increasing sexual exploitation of and atrocities against tribal girls in the district. The Ambalavayal police on Friday arrested a man in connection with sexually abusing a minor tribal girl after she was forced to consume illicit liquor with the support of his wife. A few weeks ago, the Mepadi police had arrested 11 men in connection with the rape of three minor girls of a tribal colony. Ramanathan, a tribal activist at Ambalavayal, said many a time minor girls were sexually abused after anti-social elements exploited the addiction of tribesmen to alcohol. Such elements either brewed illicit liquor near tribal colonies or bought low-quality liquor from nearby towns. When such exploitation did come to light, the police tried to pin the blame on the victims, offering the accused opportunities to escape the law, Mr. Ramanathan said. C.K. Saseendran, district unit secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), said the tendency of the police to treat such incidents as trivial was the reason for the increase in atrocities against tribespeople. Surveillance of vulnerable tribal hamlets by the police was an effective solution. Active intervention of the public had a crucial role to play in curbing such incidents, he said. Kerala Adivasi Forum district president Baby Makkiyad said reconstitution of the special mobile squad of the police department by adding tribal-friendly officials was needed to curb the sexual exploitation of tribespeople. The increasing incidence of sexual exploitation of tribal girls showed the neglect of the tribal people by the police and the Tribal Development Department, Vijayan Cherukara, district secretary of the Communist Party of India said. Awareness programmes to sensitise tribespeople to alcohol abuse and regular monitoring of remote tribal colonies by the police with the support of the public could check the problem to a certain extent, he said. (The Hindu 12/4/15)

6. Indore tribals on ‘jal satyagraha’, protest rise in Omkareshwar dam height (6)

INDORE: Displaced tribals of Gopalgoan in Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh have launched a ‘jal satyagraha’ to protest against increase in height of Omkareshwar dam. At least 2,500acres of farmland was flooded after dam height was raised by 91 metre, a month ago. On second day of protest on Sunday, farmers stood in knee-deep water and carried placards urging government to give them land or adequate compensation. In 2012, farmers had organised a similar ‘jal satyagraha’, which lasted 17 days and grabbed international attention. Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Chittraroopa Palit, who is at Gogalgaon, said 500 marginal farmers, who own less than five acres of land, were worst hit. “They were given compensation at the rate of Rs 2 lakh per acre in 2006. But, they returned the money after an assurance by grievances redressal authority (GRA) that they would be given land if they returned compensation money,” said Palit. She alleged land given to farmers was either non-productive or alongside a nullah. In many cases, farmers were handed out land already encroached upon. “It’s impossible to cultivate these fields. Now, farmers have no money, no land and the land they own is getting submerged,” said Palit. Sadashiv Rajaram, a farmer, said, compensation given to them was not enough. “Government is not concerned about us. Without visiting the place, how can officials understand our plight? Our existence depends on land. We live with our farms and we will die with it,” said Rajaram. Five acres of his total nine-acre land has been submerged. “All that we are seeking is compensation as per law,” said Suku Bai. She has three children and all illiterate and dependent on farming. Where will they go if our land is submerged?  Another protester, Sukhla Bai, is faced with a threat of submergence of land. “Government fooled us. For a land worth lakhs, it offered us a paltry sum,” she said. Khandwa district collector MK Agrawal termed the protest as unjustified. “Compensation has already been paid. Water is not going to enter their houses, only fields will be submerged,” he said. Refuting allegation of allotting unproductive and encroached land to farmers, Agrawal said rise in water level in dam will help irrigate 60,000 hectares of land through 64km network of canals, which is unused at present. (Times of India 13/4/15)

7. Odisha tribal organisation threatens armed protest against Maoists (6)

BERHAMPUR: Posters against recent abductions and violence by Maoists have come up in remote pockets of Malkangiri district of Odisha in the name of a tribal organisation, Malkangiri Adivasi Sangh. In these posters in Odia, this tribal organisation has threatened to take up arms against Maoists in all tribal villages of the district if the persons abducted by the Naxalites from Mathili block were not released soon. The organisation alleged that the Naxalites were using innocent tribals as their shields during encounters with the police. The Manch has also questioned the Maoists as to if they are fighting for tribals’ cause, then why are they kidnapping and killing the tribals. The tribal organisation has threatened to unite tribals of Malkangiri for a major movement against the Naxalites if non-tribal Maoist leaders from Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh did not stop their violent activities targeting them. It may be noted that the Maoist organisation in Odisha is ruled by non-Odia Naxalites, mostly from Andhra and Chhattisgarh. Darbha division of Maoists in Chhattisgarh is suspected to be involved in recent abductions in the Malkangiri district. Till Wednesday evening, there was no information regarding the tribals allegedly kidnapped by the Maoists. The Naxalites have also not come up with any statement regarding these alleged abductions. May be due to fear of ultras, neither family members of the abducted persons nor any other villager has come out to file a complaint. “But the police on its own are continuing intense search operation with increased combing in the area where the incident took place,” said Inspector General of Police (IGP) Yeshwant Jethwa. Ambiguity also continued regarding number of tribals abducted in Malkangiri district. While most put the figure at seven, some local media reports put the number of persons abducted as nine, 10 or a dozen. The police are yet to confirm the number of persons kidnapped. “We are checking out each name of allegedly abducted persons in media to ascertain real number of missing persons and the authenticity behind suspicion of their abduction by Maoists,” said the IGP. (The Hindu 16/4/15)

8. Nallamala tribals begin march to Hyderabad (6)

MAHBUBNAGAR: Chenchus and other SC/ST communities on Saturday started a padayatra from Nallamala forest to the Telangana Secretariat in Hyderabad seeking solutions to their long-pending demands. Approximately, around 100 tribals started their march from Vatvarlapalli village in Achampet assembly constituency. Some of the participants said they had earlier conducted a padayatra to the Mahbubnagar district collectorate seeking rights over cultivating lands, construction of permanent houses, laying of BT roads, education, electrification, medical facilities, construction of check dams, recognizing of chenchu pentas as gram panchayats, employment at Srisailam left canal power generation unit and developing Mallela Thirtham and Akka Mahadevi caves as tourism centres to create jobs for the locals. Some of the Chenchus also said that the government, in the guise of protecting the Nallamala forest, is seeking to relocate them from their hamlets. C Ramulu, president of Chenchu’s Problems Solving Committee, alleged that the government is trying to force them out of their traditional homes in the name of rehabilitation. “We were not ready for vacate our homes. Instead, the government should provide basic amenities and should withdraw its proposal to relocate Chenchus from the forest area, as we have been living here for a very long time,” Ramulu said. Meanwhile Achampet divisional forest officer Venkatramana said that his department has not received any proposal or order from the government on relocating the villages. He said that if any family was interested to shift from hamlets to safer places, the government was ready to arrange better facilities. “We will never force them to vacate their villages,” he said. (Times of India 19/4/15)


9. 11,000 girls in Odisha are mothers before 15: Study (8)

BHUBANESWAR: The 2011 Census has come up with the shocking disclosure that girls below the age of 15 in Odisha have given birth to babies when they should have been going to school. The exact figure, the data shows, of girls attaining motherhood even before 15 is 11,000. The figures point a finger to the failure of social welfare programmes and campaigns to contain early marriages and pregnancies. Of the 59.09 lakh girls below the age of 15, 41,729 girls (0.7%) were already married. Around one-fourth of the married girls (10,685) in the same age group had delivered before celebrating their 15th birthday. While 3,896 (9.34% of those married) had become mothers of at least one child, 6,789 girls (16.27%) had delivered two children. Women and child development minister Usha Devi said, “We need to focus more on creating awareness among parents because that is the only way to prevent underage marriages and pregnancies.” Women’s rights campaigners attribute the early pregnancies to three factors. “Tribals have a tendency to marry off their boys and girls early. Second, economically weak sections don’t wait for 18 years for their girl’s marriage for purposes of social security,” said Namrata Chadha, a women’s rights campaigner. RD Women’s College principal Chitrangada Samanta Singhar said the findings are shocking. “The Right to Education Act envisages education for all children below 14. But it seems many girls in this age group are burdened with children,” she said. “Early pregnancy is dangerous for both the mother and child. This could be a reason behind the high infant and maternal mortality rates in the state,” said gynaecologist R K Purohit. Odisha’s maternal mortality ratio (MMR) per 1,000 women is 235 compared to the all-India figure of 178. The infant mortality rate is 57 compared to 44 at the national level (SRS-2012). In neighbouring Chhattisgarh, around 6,400 girls become mothers before 15, while in Jharkhand their number stands at over 12,000. At the national level, 18.12 lakh of the 17.80 crore girls below 15 years are married. Around 4.5 lakh in the age group (around 25% of those married) had delivered; while 1.36 lakh had delivered one child, 3.20 lakh had delivered two. In the age group of 15-19 years, there are 2.90 lakh married women in Odisha. Of them, over 65,000 (22.52%) had given birth to one child, over 12,000 (4.23%) to two children, 4,400 (1.55%) to three children and 5,500 (1.92%) to four children. Out of the total 2 crore women in Odisha reported during the census count, 1.19 crore are married (57.76%) and gave birth to on an average 2.6 children. Of the total 1.19 crore married women, 14.27% have not given birth to any child. While 17.04% delivered one child, 22.93% gave birth to two, 17.74% to three, 12.23% to four, 7.13% to five, 4.10% to six and 4.56% to seven or more. (Times of India 11/4/15)

10. Woman Locked in Room for Two Weeks Rescued (8)

BENGALURU: A 30-year-old woman, who was allegedly locked in a room for two weeks by her husband, was rescued by police from her residence in Panchasheela Nagar on Sunday. The incident was reported in Vijaynagar police station limits. Police said Shobha got married to Venugopal (45), a small-time realtor, around three years ago. The couple, who hail from K M Doddi in Mandya, settled in Panchasheela Nagar near Moodalapalya here. Police said at the time of their marriage Venugopal had claimed to be a BCom graduate who was employed in a nationalised bank. However, after the marriage, Shobha and her family realised that he had lied. He even started harassing Shobha for dowry. The family then approached Vijaynagar police,  who took the couple to a magistrate. In front of the magistrate Venugopal promised to look after Shobha, police said. But two weeks ago, he sent his parents to a relative’s house in his native town and locked Shobha in a room. He allegedly starved and assaulted her. On Sunday, Shobha managed to alert her neighbours, who informed her older brother. He rushed to the house and repeatedly knocked on the door. After a while, Venugopal came out and began to abuse him. Shobha’s brother then called the police and media, who rushed to the spot and saw a badly injured Shoba lying on the floor. They took her to a private hospital. Some of Shobha’s relatives allegedly assaulted Venugopal, who managed to flee. Later, he was admitted to a private hospital. It is said that Venugopal suspected his wife’s fidelity and used to quarrel with her. He used to frequently torture her too. The doctors found grievous injuries on her face and shoulder. Vijaynagar police have registered a complaint against Venugopal, and booked him under IPC Section 307 (attempt to murder). (New Indian Express 13/4/15)

11. Panchayat fines groom 75 paisa for cancelling engagement (8)

CHANDIGARH: A community panchayat in Haryana on Monday slapped a fine of 75 paisa on a groom for annulling his engagement nine days before the wedding. The panchayat in Fatehabad imposed the fine after both the parties approached it for compromise. The man was asked to pay the penalty at the local gaushala (cow shelter). Both the sides also decided not to pursue the case further. Police said Mansi, a resident of Ratia township in Fatehabad district, was engaged to Sanjeev Kumar, a resident of a village in Punjab’s Mansa district last January. The families had fixed April 22 as the wedding date. The woman’s uncle, Naresh Sharma, told TOI on Tuesday that after they had made all the arrangements for the wedding and distributed the invitation cards, the man’s family sought a car and other items in dowry. When the woman’s family refused to meet these demands, the man’s family cancelled the engagement. However, the man’s family members denied these allegations. They claimed the man and the woman had decided to call off the engagement during the past year. After the woman filed a complaint with the Fatehabad DSP, the case was referred to the nodal cell and the man sought more time to solve the issue with the panchayat’s help. Following this, a panchayat was convened at the police station and the two parties agreed to compromise. Fatehabad SP Sangeeta Rani said the complaint was filed by the woman and the matter was referred to the crime against women cell. She admitted the two parties later sorted out the issue with the panchayat’s help. “We don’t interfere in panchayat’s decisions, but we generally see the interest and consent of the victim is protected,” she said. “We’re also checking whether the girl was satisfied with the decision or not.” (Times of India 15/4/15)

12. Sex assault drives many teenager boys to suicide (8)

New York: Although most sex assault victims are usually girls, the boys too face such attacks and the resultant stigma, a new study reveals. One in three teenage boys attempt suicide after they’re sexually assaulted, though most incidents usually go unreported, the study found. “The stigma is often not addressed. It’s a silent issue in society,” said lead researcher Laura Anderson. “Very rarely does programming address boys. It’s often presumed to be an issue for girls,” the psychologist from the University at Buffalo added. Anderson noticed in her practice that teenage patients who attempted suicide tended to share the same histories of sexual assault and struggles with weight, media reports said. The study looked at the data of more than 31,000 teens aged 14-18 from 2009 and 2011 in the Youth and Risk Behaviour Survey. Anderson found 3.5 percent of boys with a healthy weight had attempted suicide, while 33.2 percent of boys who had been the victim of sexual assault attempted to take their life. As for girls, the study found 5.8 percent of girls with a healthy weight and no sexual assault history had attempted suicide. That rate jumped to 27.1 percent for girls who were sexually assaulted. “The results highlight the need to educate the public and develop preventive programming and support for male and female sexual assault survivors,” Anderson said. Anderson said under-reporting was common, especially among boys. The study was published in Suicide and Life Threatening Behaviour. (Business Standard 15/4/15)

13. Haryana’s Harappa saluted women 5,000 years ago (8)

CHANDIGARH: Given its skewed sex ratio and long list of repressive khap diktats, it is difficult to imagine Haryana as a place which put women on a higher pedestal than men. But when the Archaeology Survey of India (ASI) dug up the Harappan Rakhigarhi site in Hisar, they found in the 5,500-year-old ruins a lifestyle that today’s women activists would have been proud of. The ASI report based on excavations between 1997 and 2003 has pointed out that “female deceased were offered more than double number of earthen wares as compared to opposite sex at the burials found at the Rakhigarhi site”.”Apart from this, to show reverence, the female deceased were invariably offered wares like dish-on-stand, bowl-onstand, beaker and medium sized vases, denoting their status over and above male counterpart” the 396-page report says. The report was submitted by retired DG (archaeology) Dr Amarendra Nath in December last year after 12 years of extensive research. At least 12 skeletons were found during that period and five more have been found last week during an ongoing separate research by Deccan College, Pune. The report also cites size of bangles, found inside burials, to support the fact that women faced no discrimination at that time while doing heavy work at home or outside. “Also, some wide heavy bangles found at different sites show battering marks on them. That means that heavy manual work was also part of the work of these particular women,” the report added. It said that these type of wide shell bangles were never found in any other burials at any Harappan site so far in Asia. A part of the report also dwells upon the “robust build of a female”. It, however, found that widows were denied these burial rites. The report has also mentioned that the people of this civilization strictly followed the Vedic tenets to cremate the dead. A majority of cemetery sites have been found located adjacent to watercourse or river front according to Vedas, it said. “Satapatha Brahmana prescribes that the cemetery be located out of sight of the village and burial be made on salt-free soil, over a level ground, closed to woods where the waters flowing from a southerly direction come to the AR east and stand still without dashing forward. This literary account was compatible geo morphological residuce particularly around mounds of area marked as RGR 7 at the site,” the report said. The report said that process of excavations further spotted sporadic remains of bones of cattle and sheep next to de ceased in consonance with animal offering references in Rigveda and Atharvaveda. The ASI report on Rakhigarhi has also declared it as the biggest Harappan site so far with 350 hectares, leaving behind Pakistan’s Mohenjo-Daro. (Times of India 19/4/15)


14. Changes to child labour law give erring parents a breather (14)

New Delhi: In an effort to provide a human touch to the Child Labour Prohibition Act, the government has proposed that a parent will not be booked for the first offence under law the in which punishment — both jail term and penalty — is being increased manifold. The proposal circulated by the labour ministry says a parent should not be booked for the first offence and action should be taken for subsequent violations. “A parent may have allowed his child to work, unaware of the law. The same rule cannot apply if he is caught again,” a senior government official said, adding that parents were being given the benefit of doubt. The reason behind the provision is that child labourers mostly hail from extremely poor families where parents are not educated enough to understand the nuances of law. The provision will also check their possible harassment. The government also believes that parents should be given a chance to correct themselves, a view child rights activists say will promote child labour rather than curb it. The amendment bill likely to be introduced in the second part of the Budget session will also increase the fine by over five times from the present Rs 10,000. For the first offence by the employer, the proposed fine is Rs 50,000 which can be increased to Rs 1 lakh for subsequent offences. The government is also proposing an increase in jail term for repeated offenders for up to two years from the present six months. There are also plans to set up a district-level fund to provide relief up to Rs 15,000 to each child labour victim. The government has also prescribed a mechanism to ensure the child secures admission to a school and is rehabilitated. However, those in the field of rehabilitation say unless a system to ensure quick transfer of funds from the state where the child was found working to his native state is worked out, the district-level fund will not do much. (Hindustan Times 12/4/15)

15. Child rights panel seeks reports (14)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala State Child Rights Commission has sought reports on the issues of parents marrying off their minor girl to a moneylender in Idukki and also on the instances of sexual harassment of minor tribal girls at Ambalavayal in Wayanad. The commission asked the Idukki District Collector to submit a report on the marriage of a minor girl to a moneylender and the Wayanad district police chief on the sexual harassment issue. They had been told to submit the reports before April 17. (The Hindu 13/4/15)

16. Millions of Middle East children out of school, UN warns (14)

BEIRUT: More than 12 million children in the Middle East are not being educated despite advances in efforts to expand schooling, the UN children’s agency Unicef said on Wednesday. The figure does not include children forced from school by the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, who would bring the total not receiving an education to 15 million, the agency said in a new report. The joint report by Unicef and UN cultural agency Unesco’s Institute for Statistics praises the “considerable resources and political capital” devoted to expanding education in the Middle East over the last decade. It notes that “out-of-school rates for primary school children have plummeted, often by as much as half.” “But in recent years, progress has stalled,” it says, with 4.3 million primary-aged children and 2.9 million lower secondary-aged children out of school. An additional 5.1 million children are not getting a year of pre-primary school education, bringing the total number of the region’s children out of school to 12.3 million, the report says. That figure represents around 15% of the children in the Middle East who should be receiving pre-primary, primary or secondary education. The report says a study of nine countries in the region revealed a range of reasons that kept children out of school, including poverty. In many cases, families could not afford costs associated with schooling, including books and uniforms, or the loss of income from a child who could be put to work. “In countries where a substantial group of children remain out of school, they are predominantly from the poorest households in rural areas,” the report says. Gender discrimination also remains a factor. “Girls are undervalued, and since they are not expected to work, their families see no need for them to learn,” the report says, adding that early marriage is also an issue in most countries in the region. Elsewhere, violence is a problem — either inside schools, or in conflict zones like Syria and Iraq, where millions of children no longer have access to education and schools have been caught up in violence. The report says keeping children in school once they enrolled was a key problem, with high drop-out rates at most levels in many countries in the region. It proposes three main recommendations, including a focus on early childhood development (ECD), noting that pre-primary education is an area where the disparity between wealthy and poor children is most stark in the region. “Levelling the playing field in terms of equal access to ECD is a matter of urgency,” it said. It also urges a cross-sector approach to helping children enter school, pointing out that factors from transportation to health can affect whether a child is enrolled or not. Finally, it suggests a focus on “retention,” ensuring that children are not pushed out of education once they enrol because of factors like corporal punishment or falling behind peers. It also notes that special attention must be paid to the situation of children caught up in war, “given the recurring character of conflicts” in the region. “The international community should ensure sufficient funding for education in emergencies and national governments in the region should adopt flexible approaches for accommodating the education needs of conflict-affected children.” (Times of India 15/4/15)

17. ‘Country has failed to protect children from sexual abuse’ (14)

Nagpur: Over the last decade, the number of child rape cases has increased by a whopping 336%, says data recorded by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). The bureau’s report for 2013 states that between 2012 and 2013, crimes against children like kidnapping, procuring minor girls and rape have doubled. The average age of sexual abuse victims in the country has been estimated to be around nine years. Despite the serious figures, there is no focus or national discussions on the subject. As a signatory of United Nations convention of Child Rights and a partner in the United Nations declaration on the Rights of the Child, 1959, India guarantees certain rights to its children. These include the rights to protection from abuse, exploitation and neglect among others. However, activists feel that the country has failed miserably in providing the promised rights to its children, who account for 40% of its population. “I believe that children’s rights are often disregarded in favour of women’s rights. The Women and Child Development ministry focuses on women only, forgetting that they are responsible to the children as well. The political leaders also chose not to intervene as children are not a part of their vote bank,” said NGO Child Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP). The organization is among the many that have together initiated a discussion on the subject in observance of the national child abuse awareness month. “As per the results of a survey conducted by the Women and Child Development ministry in 2007, more than 50% children in the country face physical, sexual and emotional abuse, neglect of girl child and several such issues,” said writer Yogesh Master, who is also a supporter of the initiative. He believes that despite the figures, there is widespread denial about the existence of child abuse in our society because no one wants to believe that anyone would do something that terrible to a child. Besides, in India, the perpetrators in many cases of child abuse are mostly people known to the children, pointed out child rights activist Sudha Rajashekar. “This means that the child abuse cases are highly underreported. As children are not aware of what inappropriate behaviour means, they don’t even know that they are being abused. Since talking about sex is taboo in our society, the victims end up feeling guilty and don’t even tell anybody about their plight in many cases,” she said. The activists want that children should be given sex education and a mechanism should be created for them to feel safe to report such cases. (Times of India 17/4/15)

18. Child rights activists call for sex education in schools (14)

NEW DELHI: Sex education should be compulsory in all high schools in the country with the focus on explaining what constitutes child abuse, child rights activists said on Sunday. They demanded the setting up of a countrywide child helpline to report cases of abuse, and to train schoolchildren how to use it without revealing the name or identity of the victim and their family. The demand comes in the wake of the Supreme Court’s April 17 castigation of the central government for being insensitive towards the protection of child rights and for its reluctance to take effective steps to recover missing children. Blaming the ministry of women and child development for its “casual and insensitive” approach, the social justice bench of the apex court comprising Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit observed that “This is clear indication of the lack of sensitivity on the part of the government and the ministry towards the missing children and its utter disregard for the laws framed by the parliament.” It also asked the Centre to take steps for the expeditious appointment of the chairman and the members of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, which posts are lying vacant for quite some time now. Bangalore-based child rights activist Kumar V. Jahgirdar told IANS that there is a need for stricter implementation of the existing laws. “There is need for strict implementation of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act of 2012 by creating awareness at the grassroots,” said Jahgirdar, who is the president of the Child Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP) that is fighting for shared parenting in case of divorce. He said there is also need to promote shared parenting as divorce and separation cases, especially in metros and cities, are on the rise. “There is also need for declaring parental alienation as a crime in the interest of children. In most of the separation cases, the fathers have been denied enough access by their estranged wives to their children. A child needs love and affection from both father and mother,” Jahgirdar said. Quoting the Women and Child Development Ministry figures on child abuse cases, he said those in the age group of 5-12 years have reported higher levels of abuse. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act defines a child as anyone below the age of 18 years and protects them from physical offences. It provides for punishment ranging from simple to rigorous imprisonment. Swarup Sarkar, founder of the Delhi chapter of NGO Save Family Foundation, said the schools — both private and government — should be made accountable for child safety. He demanded a separate union ministry for child development as they constitute more than 40 percent of the population. (Times of India 19/4/15)


19. Hindu Mahasabha leader advocates forced sterilization to restrict Muslim, Christian population

JIND: A leader of Hindu Mahasabha on Saturday stoked a controversy saying Muslims and Christians must undergo sterilization to restrict their growing population which was posing a threat to Hindus. “The population of Muslims and Christians is growing day by day. To rein in this, Centre will have to impose emergency, and Muslims and Christians will have to be forced to undergo sterilization so that they can’t increase their numbers,” vice-president of All India Hindu Mahasabha, Sadhvi Deva Thakur told reporters here. She also exhorted Hindus to have more children and increase their population so as to have an effect on the world. In another controversial remark, she said idols of Hindu gods and goddesses should be placed in mosques and churches. Thakur also came out strongly in support of installing a statue of “patriot” Nathuram Godse in Haryana. (Hindustan Times 12/4/15)

20. PM’s Vigyan Bhavan speech restored minorities’ confidence: Naqvi (7)

New Delhi: Even as the NDA government battles barbs from Opposition parties and a stricture from US President Barack Obama over its handling of minorities, Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has been on a quiet and sustained outreach to minorities—especially Muslims and Christians who are perceived to be the most embattled—across the country. Naqvi has travelled across nine states since the beginning of 2015—he has been to some states twice—and held over 25 meetings in a bid to build confidence among communities. While the government was fending off Opposition attacks over the status of minorities inside and outside the Parliament, Naqvi was meeting representatives of various communities in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Mahrashtra, Karnataka, MP, Rajasthan, Haryana and Kerala. The minister conceded that during the first few trips to Kerala and Telangana in January, he witnessed among people mistrust for the government. “There were a lot of misgivings. There were several statements from people in the government and the party and the minorities were upset. They would not open up about their issues and would simply say, ‘Let us see what work you do’. It was clear that there was a lot of insecurity,” Naqvi said. He added that things changed over the months, dramatically so after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement at a church function in Vigyan Bhawan. At a function to celebrate the sainthood of Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Mother Euphrasia, Modi had said his government would ensure people can follow the religion of his/her choice “without coercion and undue influence” and not allow any religious group to incite hatred. Naqvi said the PM’s speech started restoring minorities’ confidence. The subsequent meetings, he said, showed a change in their approach as they began talking about issues beyond security, like education, health etc. “I could see the difference between my Kerala visits in January and now. People are more confident about flagging their issues now,” Naqvi, speaking about his recent visit to Kerala where he attended a function of Jamiyathul-Ulama, said. The minister visited Karnataka where, besides holding meetings, he visited Seyyidi Madani Dargah at Mangalore, which is known as the Ajmer Dargah of south India. (Indian Express 13/4/15)

21. Rajnath assures full security, protection to minorities (7)

New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday assured full security and protection to minority communities in the country. Interacting with a three-member delegation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, the minister said strict action would be taken against those who disturb communal harmony in the country. “Strictest possible action will be taken by the central government against people who indulge in such acts,” he said in a statement. The delegation thanked the minister for providing adequate security for religious places of the minority communities. (India Today 13/4/15)


22. Shiv Sena faces flak over ‘Muslims’ rights’ remark, complaint filed with minorities panel (7)

Mumbai: A day after Shiv Sena MP and editor of party mouthpiece Saamna, Sanjay Raut, stirred controversy for his remarks that voting rights of Muslims should be revoked as the community has often been used to play vote bank politics, the party is now facing flak from various political parties on Monday. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain slammed Shiv Sena and said that the Constitution of India has given everyone the right to vote. “The BJP believes in ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’. No one can deprive anyone from casting votes. The Muslims in India consider the country their motherland,” he said. Condemning the statement, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav told ANI, “It is a habitual thing for Shiv Sena to do. They always make communal statements.” Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi also said that what Shiv Sena is demanding is against the Constitution. “Fortunately, it is not possible to do things that Shiv Sena is suggesting,” he was quoted by ANI. Senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar accused the Shiv Sena of trying to divide the nation. “India has second largest population of Muslims in the world and in couple of decades we will have highest number of Muslims in the world. We should be proud of it. Shiv Sena is trying to divide the nation, they want to break it into pieces,” Aiyar said. The NCP had also condemned Shiv Sena yesterday with spokesperson Nawab Malik alleging that the Shiv Sena wants to end democracy and bring in the rule of German dictator Adolf Hitler. “To snatch away the right of voting from the Muslims is a threat to the democracy. If voting rights of the special sections are snatched away, it only indicates that they want to end the democracy and bring in the Hitler rule and the people will not accept it,” he told the media. Meanwhile, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, has justified his party`s stand and claimed that the condition of the community would never improve as long as the vote bank politics continues in India. “If Muslims are only being used this way to play politics, then they can never develop. Muslims will have no future till they are used to play vote bank politics and thus Balasaheb had once said to withdraw Muslims voting rights. What he said is right,” an editorial in Shiv Sena mouthpiece `Saamana` said on Sunday. A complaint was on Sunday filed with the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) against Shiv Sena MP and editor of party mouthpiece Saamna, Sanjay Raut, for his remarks that voting rights of Muslims should be revoked as the community has often been used to play vote bank politics. (Zee news 14/4/15)

23. Difficult days ahead for Muslims, Azam Khan says (7)

NEW DELHI: Stating that difficult days are ahead for the Muslim community, Samjawadi Party leader Azam Khan on Wednesday said he is ready to leave India if any country offers him shelter. “The circumstances being created suggest that difficult days are ahead for the Muslim community,” Azam Khan said adding, “I honestly say that if any country agrees to shelter me, I will leave India along with my family.” (Times of India 15/4/15)

Shiv Sena wants mandatory family planning for Muslims, Christians (7)

MUMBAI: After stoking controversy with its demand that Muslims be stripped of their voting rights, Shiv Sena on Wednesday advocated compulsory family planning for Muslims and Christians to check their “rising” population. “By only increasing population, one can try and convert the country into Pakistan, but cannot give quality and healthy life to one’s family,” the BJP ally in Maharashtra said in an editorial in party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’. Sena backed the views of vice-president of All India Hindu Mahasabha Sadhvi Deva Thakur on the issue though it did say that her choice of words may have been wrong.”Sadhvi Deva says that the increasing population of Muslims and Christians is dangerous for the country and they should be, therefore, forcibly sterilized. She should have used the word family planning instead sterilization,” it said. Thakur had on Saturday said Muslims and Christians must undergo sterilization to restrict their growing population which was posing a threat to Hindus. “The population of Muslims and Christians is growing day by day. To rein in this, Centre will have to impose emergency, and Muslims and Christians will have to be forced to undergo sterilization so that they can’t increase their numbers,” Sadhvi had said. Sena today said, “Sadhvi is not as educated as the Owaisi brothers (of AIMIM), thus may have chosen wrong words to convey her message. One can ignore her sterilization words, but the fact is, their (Muslim, Christian) population and family planning remains a problem.” Sena said if All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Asaduddin Owaisi is truly concerned about the community, he should support the call for family planning and the cease of burqa-wearing tradition for Muslim women. “Family planning will ensure that one can look after his family properly and provide quality education to children,” it said. The saffron party said by advocating sterilization of Muslims, it wants ‘quality living’ for them. “When we say Muslims should undergo sterilization, our intention is that they should live happily,” Sena said. Sena had earlier courted controversy by demanding scrapping of voting rights of Muslims, saying the community has often been used for vote bank politics, evoking sharp reactions from several political parties which accused it of trying to inflame passions and divide people. (Times of India 15/4/15)

24. Muslims have drifted from faith: Modi aide Sareshwala (7)

Lucknow: A Muslim male remembers Islamic shariah only when he wants to avoid maintenance allowance to his divorcee wife or when he wants to give minimum share of parental property, Zafar Sareshwala, the  Chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) said Friday in a statement that is bound to invite sharp reactions from the minority community. “Musalman mard ko shariah ki do baar yaad aati hai ? Ek jab talaq deney key baad aurat ko maintenance na dena padey aur doosra baap key inteqal key baad behen ko kaisey kam hissa diya jaye. These are two grim realities of Muslim community. Males remember shariah on these two occasions only,” Sareshwala said while talking to The Indian Express from Aligarh. Sareshwala, who is considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was in Aligarh to attend the 76th convocation of Jamia Urdu where he conferred with a honorary doctorate. He also attended four other functions in Aligarh, including at AMU where he is President’s nominee for selection committee of teachers. “The response during these meetings was overwhelming. People here want to discuss the problems faced by the Muslim community,” he added. Sareshwala said Muslims now a days do not “adhere to Islamic principles like giving rights to his neighbours or speaking truth. Muslims have drifted from their faith and religion. A real Muslim is one who has pain for everyone in his heart”. Sareshwala also lashed out at the “demanding nature” of Muslims whether it is for reservation or various concessions. “We had come to give something to this country. We had come to give this country the teachings of Islamic faith. We have left that task of giving and are now demanding things,” Sareshwala – a member of the Tablighi Jamaat – said. (Indian Express 18/4/15)


25. Attack on churches could affect foreign investment: Kirloskar (7)

Industrialist Sanjay Kirloskar on Monday said that incidents like church attacks could affect foreign investment in India. “We are a secular nation and we always have been a tolerant nation but these kinds of things, small incidents, that might take place in Delhi or Mumbai.” “In this age of Twitter and Internet everything goes across very quickly and specially if its churches then people might get upset and we have to understand that most of the investment that we want is from Christian countries,” he told NDTV at the international trade fair in Hannover. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday inaugurated the India Pavilion at the fair in which India is a partner country. Kirloskar, the chairman and managing director of Kirloskar Brothers which is the flagship company of the Kirloskar Group, said the welcome has been very good but there has been “a slight concern that India (should) protect Indian minorities”. “I am sure that the Prime Minister is talking to his people … we have to send the right messages and make sure that this development story doesn’t get sidelined,” he said. The Prime Minister had said that his government is committed to protect the right of every individual to adopt and retain the religion of his choice. Since the beginning of December 2014, five churches have been attacked in Delhi and two convents have been broken into. The Christian community has repeatedly expressed its insecurity and apprehension. (Hindustan Times 13/4/15)

26. Eight Dalit Christians Embrace Buddhism (7)

PUDUKKOTTAI:  A group of eight Dalit Christians embraced Buddhism in Pudukai on Tuesday. They converted their faith on the occasion of 125th birth anniversary of BR Ambedkar due  of the attitude of the Keeranur parish priest Fr L Edward Raj, who had been allegedly discriminating against them for long. Puliyur, a remote sleepy village, about 12 km from Keeranur in the district, has a populations of about 500 Dalit in 125 families. They all worship at the St Xavier’s church. The group embraced Buddhism at a formal ceremony organised by Anbazhagan, a Buddhist priest. They took a pledge in front of the Ambedkar and Buddha potraits. According to Dhammabala, special invitee for the function and managing trustee of “Father of Constitution of India foundation”, told Express that the youth, of Ambedkar Youth Movement, approached Nava Bavudha Sangam, in Tiruchy, with an intention to embrace Buddhism to get self respect and social equality. Their names would be changed after fulfilling official formalities, he said. Meanwhile one of the villagers, Joseph, pointed out that their ancestors converted to Christianity for want of respect. But here, the Keeranur parish priest and other higher authorities do not treat them well. They charged that they use to call them by their caste names. Hence, our youth want to change their identity and decided to embrace Buddhism, he said. The converted youth were identified as Parithi Mozhi, Dhanabal, K Raju, Ilaiyaraja, Ilamparithi, K Pandiyan, Maria  Soosai and Alex. Commenting over the issue Fr L Edward Raj, said, a total of 23 churches have been functioning under Keeranur Vicariate. “We offer various preferences to Dalits. But recently, a few of them wanted to change their religion for want of government jobs as Dalit Christians have been placed in the list of  backward,” He also denied any discrimination against Dalits in churches. (New Indian Express 16/4/15)

27. Agra: Idols vandalised at church by miscreants, triggers outrage (7)

Lucknow: A church in the Rakabganj area of Agra city was found vandalised by unknown miscreants early on Thursday morning, triggering outrage among the members of the local Christian community. Police said two idols of Jesus and one of Mother Mary, encased within glass boxes and placed in the lawn of the St Mary’s Church, were found vandalised in the wee hours. The glass case of a fourth idol was found damaged apparently by a stone, they said. Police lodged an FIR against unidentified persons on the complaint of the church’s priest, Father Moon Lazarus. He informed the police that he came to know about the incident at around 3.30 am when he woke up on hearing some noise. The windowpanes of his car were also found damaged. Briefing about the incident on behalf of the government, IG Traffic Deepak Ratan, told reporters in Lucknow that the FIR has been lodged under relevant sections of the IPC including Sections 295(injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class), and 153A(promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race etc). According to Rakabganj police station in charge Nirmal Singh, apart from the three idols that were vandalised, the glass case of a fourth one was found broken. He said a chain tied around the neck of Mother Mary’s idol, which was found lying on the ground. Agra SSP Modak Rajesh Rao said no robbery or theft took place during the incident. “Anything can be said only after investigations are over,” he said. District and police officials reached the church in the morning to review security arrangements, police said. Meanwhile, Christian community leaders in Agra demanded firm action against the culprits within 24 hours. (Indian Express 17/4/15)


28. Australia says Iran should take back failed asylum-seekers (13)

Sydney: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Saturday that Iran should take back its citizens who failed in their bids for refugee status, confirming his government will lobby Tehran on the issue. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is expected to raise the deportation of Iranian nationals when she visits Tehran next week, a move which could ease pressure on Australian immigration camps on the Pacific islands of Nauru and Papua New Guinea. “It`s important that those who are found not to be refugees go home,” Abbott told reporters in Sydney. “And this is where we will be talking to the Iranian government about taking back people who are… Iranian citizens, because they deserve to be in Iran. They belong in Iran.” Refugee advocates say Iran refuses to take back failed asylum-seekers returned against their will, and have raised questions about their safety if they are returned to their homeland. “Obviously we are looking after those who are found to be refugees,” Abbott said when asked about the possible persecution of Iranians sent home. “But those who are not found to be refugees should go back to their home country, and if their home country is Iran, that`s where they belong.” Iranians make up about 20 percent of the 1,848 people held in immigration detention centres in Australia, according to official figures from late March, and account for many of the 1,707 held on Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Several thousand more are understood to be living in the community on bridging visas but still awaiting the final assessment of their claims for refugee status. “The key point is, we have a significant number of people in immigration detention at the moment from Iran,” government MP Paul Fletcher told Sky News. “Our objective is ultimately to have those people returned to the country that they came from,” he added, acknowledging this could raise “difficulties and challenges”.The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the issue of returning failed asylum-seekers had already been a matter of diplomatic discussion between Bishop and her Iranian counterpart. “One of the biggest challenges that we are facing with failed asylum-seekers is those refusing to return home,” the unnamed diplomatic source told the newspaper. Refugee advocates say there are about 45 Iranian asylum-seekers in indefinite detention in Australia who have already had their claims for refugee status denied and are refusing to go home. Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said sending asylum-seekers back was “going to put the lives of men, women and children at high risk”. Under Canberra`s immigration policy, asylum-seekers arriving by boat are subject to mandatory detention, and since 2013 have been denied resettlement in Australia, even if found to be genuine refugees, and are instead housed on Nauru or PNG. (Zee News 11/4/15)

29. Eight lakh children forced from homes in Boko Haram violence (13)

Lagos, Nigeria: The children’s drawings show men with guns, a coffin, a car exploding. One picture has stick-like figures of eight siblings missed by their teenage sister. The disturbing images come from some of an estimated 800,000 children forced from the homes by Boko Haram extremists, according to a UNICEF report published on Monday. It says the number of refugee children has doubled in the past year, making them about half of all the 1.5 million Nigerians made homeless in the Islamic uprising. “Children have become deliberate targets, often subjected to extreme violence ,” the report says. The number of children absent from primary school in Nigeria has increased from 8 million in 2007 to 10.5 million — the highest figure in the world, it says. Boko Haram has targeted schools, destroying or severely damaging more than 300 and killing 314 students and 196 teachers, UNICEF says. The nickname of Nigeria’s home-grown Islamic extremist group, Boko Haram, means “Western education is forbidden” or sinful. Called “Missing Childhoods,” it was published ahead of the first anniversary of the mass kidnappings the night of April 14-15, 2014, of nearly 300 schoolgirls from Chibok. Dozens escaped on their own but 219 remain missing.AP (The Hindu 14/4/15)

30. Presumed deaths of 400 migrants among worst recent tragedies (13)

Milan: The UN refugee agency says the shipwreck in the Mediterranean this week, in which 400 migrants are presumed to have died, is among the deadliest single incidents in the last decade. The tragedy comes amid an unprecedented wave of migration toward Europe from Africa and the Middle East. The Italian Coast Guard said it rescued nearly 10,000 people at sea since Friday, which was an unprecedented rate in such a short period, according to spokesman, Cmdr. Filippo Marini. UNHCR Italy spokeswoman Barbara Molinario says 900 migrants have died or gone missing at sea so far this year, part of a phenomenon the agency has been tracking since 2011. In most cases, no bodies are found and the deaths are presumed based on survivor accounts or, when no boats are recovered, reports by family members whose loved ones never arrive in Europe. The UNHCR estimates 3,500 migrants died in the Mediterranean last year, up from 600 in 2013. (Zee News 15/4/15)

31. 700 migrants feared dead off Libya (13)

As many as 700 migrants were feared drowned Sunday after their packed boat capsized off Libya in what was described as the deadliest such disaster to date in the Mediterranean. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and Italy’s Coast Guard said only 28 people had survived the wreck. Their testimonies suggested there had been about 700 people on board the 20-metre (70-foot) fishing boat, officials said. “It seems we are looking at the worst massacre ever seen in the Mediterranean,” UNHCR spokeswoman Carlotta Sami said. The European Union announced an emergency meeting of foreign and interior ministers to discuss what Amnesty International blasted as an avoidable “man-made tragedy”. Coastal authorities in Italy and Malta picked up a distress signal from the stricken vessel around midnight on Saturday, when it was about 126 km off the Libyan coast and 177 km south of the Italian island of Lampedusa. The Coast Guard instructed a nearby merchant ship to go to the scene and it was when the Portuguese-registered King Jacob arrived at the scene that the fishing boat capsized, most likely as a result of the terrified passengers stampeding to one side in their desperation to get off, the UNHCR’s Sami said. A total of 17 boats scoured the area for survivors on Sunday but only 24 bodies had been recovered so far, the Coast Guard said. The disaster was the latest in a growing catalogue of mass drownings of migrants attempting to reach Europe on overcrowded, unseaworthy boats run by people smugglers who are able to operate out of Libya with impunity because of the chaos engulfing the north African state. The most serious incident prior to Sunday occurred off Malta in September 2014. An estimated 500 migrants drowned in a shipwreck caused by traffickers deliberately ramming the boat in an attempt to force the people on board onto another, smaller vessel. In October 2013, more than 360 Africans perished when the tiny fishing boat they were crammed onto caught fire within sight of the coast of Lampedusa. That horrific tragedy was described at the time as a wake-up call to the world but 18 months later there is no sign of a let-up in the numbers attempting the perilous crossing in search of a better life in Europe. The latest disaster comes after a week in which two other migrant shipwrecks left an estimated 450 people dead. If the worst fears about Sunday’s tragedy are confirmed, it will take the death toll since the start of 2015 to more than 1,600. More than 11,000 other would-be immigrants have been rescued since the middle of last week and current trends suggest last year’s total of 170,000 migrants landing in Italy is likely to be at least match in 2015. (Asian Age 20/4/15)


32. CIC Directs Government to Bring Pvt Hospitals Under RTI (1)

NEW DELHI: The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Centre and state governments to enforce the Right to Information (RTI) Act to ensure that private hospitals provide medical records of the patients on a daily basis. In a petition filed by Prabhat Kumar, Information Commissioner M Sridhar Acharyulu has asked Fortis hospital to provide all records to the applicant, whose father Kailash Prasad Singh had passed away in 2012. On the refusal of the hospital to provide the records the Information Commissioner said, “This is an undesirable example of defiance by private hospitals and of their indifference towards lives, health and rights of the patients, from whom they charge huge amounts of money.” He also made it clear that the right to medical records was the same in private as well as public hospitals. In fact, this is the second order by the CIC on providing patients their medical records since it is the right of the patients. According to the CIC’s July 23 order, “a patient has a right to his/her medical record,  which is rooted in Article 19 and 21 of the Constitution and the hospital authorities have a duty to provide the same under RTI Act, Consumer Protection Act, Medical Council Act and World Medical Ethics. The Commission said that the applicant’s plea would be looked into under the RTI Act and also under the consideration that the patient had the right to obtain his medical record based on world medical ethics and also as a consumer under the Consumer Protection Act, 1982. It is the duty of the doctor or hospital to develop a mechanism whereby a copy of the patient’s medical record — from his admission to his discharge — be provided to him or his legal representatives even without him asking as matter of routine procedure at the time of discharge as directed by Bombay High Court in the referred case,” the order said. “Forcing private hospitals to provide day to day medical records will help in keeping check on some hospitals from resorting to   extortionist, inhuman and ruthless business of prescribing unnecessary diagnostic tests, unnecessary surgical operations, caesarean section, unwarranted angioplasties, inserting stents, without need, or of substandard nature, or putting low-quality stent while charging the price of high-quality stent, and several such malpractices   amounting to medical terrorism,“ the order said. (New Indian Express 11/4/15)

33.  “It’s challenging to get response to RTI queries” (1)

ADILABAD: Many a disabled person on Monday complained of officials not responding to their pleas or applications in the desired manner. At a review of the welfare activities for the disabled chaired by Forest Minister Jogu Ramanna, they said even their queries under the Right to Information Act went unanswered. The disabled persons also complained about the government not providing the statutory 3 per cent reservation in employment for them. “We also fought for making Telangana State a reality but the government was ignoring their interests, said Madhu, Banayya and Pentaji who spoke during the meeting. Mr. Ramanna and Adilabad MP G. Nagesh asked for a list of the disabled people so that a separate housing colony for them could be built. The demand for a separate colony had come during the proceedings of the meeting. The Minister warned medical officials who delayed in giving disability certificates to the applicants. He also asked RTC officials to ensure that the disabled were able to travel on concessional fares and their seats are left open for them only. (The Hindu 14/4/15)

34. High-level panel on Official Secrets Act to meet today (1)

NEW DELHI: A high-level committee formed by the Union government to look into the provisions of the Official Secrets Act in the light of the Right to Information (RTI) Act will meet for the first time in North Block on Thursday, Home Ministry sources said here on Wednesday. The committee, comprising Home Secretary L.C. Goyal, Law Secretary P.K. Malhotra and Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training, Sanjay Kothari, was constituted in February, but notified only recently. The meeting will start a long-awaited process to do away with excessive secrecy through amendments in the Official Secrets Act, a law enacted by the British in 1923, official sources said. The RTI Act has been in force for a decade now. Officials said the exercise was aimed at making changes to the Official Secrets Act to complete the transition from the secrecy regime of the past century to a more modern, democratic and transparent regime. “The idea is to do away with excessive secrecy without compromising on national security. On the one hand, we have an act that makes seeking information a right and on the other, there is an enactment that bars sharing information. The committee will look at removing the contradictions between the two,” an official privy to the developments said. The Home Secretary, who will chair the meeting on Thursday, is expected to seek inputs from the Intelligence Bureau and security agencies. (The Hindu 16/4/15)


35. Human rights should be part of curriculum, says HC judge (11)

PATNA: Justice Birendra Prasad Verma of Patna high court on Saturday said human rights should be included as a subject in the school and college curriculum for creating awareness among the youth. Inaugurating a UGC-sponsored seminar on ‘Human rights education’ organized by Patna Training College and Suryasthali Human Welfare Society, Justice Verma said protection of human rights was essential for the existence of humanity. Chanakya National Law University ( CNLU) vice-chancellor A Lakshminath said human rights cover legal or constitutional rights of human beings. He regretted that children of Bihar are still deprived of the basic needs of food and education and their condition is worse than those in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Right to education would have no meaning in Bihar if the system of school education does not improve in the next five years, he said. Patna Training College principal Khagendra Kumar welcomed the guests. (Times of India 11/4/15)

36. SSA starts survey to find schools dropouts in Madurai district (11)

MADURAI: Under the auspices of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), a survey to find out the number of school dropouts recently began in the district, which aims to enumerate the children aged between six and 14 who have either dropped out of school or not joined at all. Over a period of 45 days, SSA officials will go from door to door enquiring about the children in the household. Once they are enumerated, officials plan to ensure that these children receive free education up to the age of 14. In connection with the survey, a meeting was held in the district collectorate under the district collector, L Subramanian. Various officials from the education department and SSA attended the meeting. The collector asked them to visit the houses in the morning and evening so family members, especially the ones who go to work, would be present in the house. The SSA works to make sure that all children aged up to 14 years receive education. Besides officials from SSA, district education department officers and 10 NGOs are engaged in the survey. Although the survey started in the beginning of April, the whole process was given a proper push after the meeting at the collectorate, said K Parvathi, chief educational officer, SSA, Madurai. All areas in the district will be covered, but places with high dropout rates would be given utmost importance. Tiruparankundram, Usilampatti, T Kallupatti, Vadipatti and Sedapatti are some of the blocks where the dropout rate is high, officials said. Specific teams have been assigned, with each team responsible for 15 taluks. Assistant education officers and deputy education officers will supervise the survey. Around 1,500 students are expected to be identified during the survey. Their education will be monitored till they become 14 years old, officials said. (Times of India 14/4/15)

37. Terror accused have right to education, says court (11)

MUMBAI: Observing that accused have a right to education, a MCOCA court recently allowed a key accused in the 2006 Aurangabad arms haul case to attend his LLB exams in Malegaon. The 35-year-old, Sharif Ahmed, a qualified Unani doctor, had applied for his LLB degree last year after the same court granted him permission. “The accused… in this circumstance is entitled to appear for the first and second semester exams,” special judge G T Kadri said in the order passed last week. The judge directed the superintendent of Central Prison, Mumbai, to transfer the accused to Nashik Central Prison well in advance to facilitate his exam attendance at 10am from April 22 to April 27. The court also ordered both authorities to take security and safety precautions and ensure that Ahmed is retransferred to Mumbai after the last exam. The court directed the local arms unit, Tardeo, to supply an escort for transferring Ahmed to Nashik and the Nashik police to provide personnel to take him for his exams and bring him back to Nashik Jail. The application was filed through Ahmed’s advocate Sharif Shaikh. Ahmed had taken admission in the Karmaveer Bhausaheb Hire Law College in Malegaon district. His bail application in the terror case is pending before the Bombay high court. In his examination application, Ahmed told the court that he had already missed the first semester exams, held in December. He said that if he missed the current exams, he would lose a valuable academic year. The first semester exams end on Saturday; the second semester ones will commence the following Wednesday (April 22). The prosecution urged the court to consider security concerns. While it did not deny that the accused was to appear for exams, it denied the date and timings of the exams as mentioned by Ahmed. (Times of India 15/4/15)

38. Alternative schools in remote areas lack facilities (11)

KANNUR: A study conducted by the District Institute of Education and Training (DIET) here has found that the majority of the alternative schools, also called Multi-Grade Learning Centres (MGLC) because of the instructional task for different grade-level students, are deprived of basic facilities. Though the MGLCs were started under the District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) in 1992 to bring all children in remote areas to school, and later undertaken by the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, they are now under the Education Department. The majority of the students come from socially, economically, and educationally backward families and each MGLC is run by a volunteer-teacher. The study, Functioning of Alternative Schools in the Context of RTE Act, finds that children studying in MGLCs are unable to avail themselves of various facilities under the Act. DIET lecturers M.O. Sunil Kumar, K. Rameshan, and K. Krishna Das randomly selected 12 MGLCs in Malappuram, Kannur, and Kasaragod for the study of over 300 MGLCs across the State with a total student strength of over 5,600. “The study sheds light on serious issues that exist in the MGLCs in the context of the RTE Act which protects child education and breaks all barriers that deny quality education to children,” says DIET Principal C.M. Balakrishnan. It highlights the importance of turning the MGLCs into full-fledged regular schools, he adds.According to the study, the majority of the MGLCs functions in sheds. While the Act prescribes 200 instructional days, half of the MGLCs cannot meet the target. The Act-prescribed facilities deprived to the children in many of the MGLCs include spacious classrooms, ventilation, fresh air, lights, drinking water, and adequate toilet facilities… (The Hindu 19/4/15)


39. 3.5 lakh well-off people have given up subsidised LPGs: Modi (21)

Paris: Around 3.5 lakh well-off people have given up subsidised LPGs, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said, noting that the money saved on this will be diverted to those who still use wood for cooking. Addressing a congregation of NRIs here, he recalled that he had casually wondered over a week ago why well-off people do not surrender subsidised LPG. “Responding to this, two lakh people voluntarily surrendered subsidised LPG within a week,” he said, adding this encouraged him. “By Thursday last, 3.5 lakh people had surrendered subsidised LPG,” Modi said. The money saved will not go to the government treasury but it will be given to those who still use wood for cooking. “We will transfer this subsidy,” he added. This will also help address the problem of climate change. “Cutting of jungles will continue till people continue cooking using wood,” he said. Referring to Jandhan scheme, the Prime Minister said it was introduced to ensure that the poorest people get a bank account each. He recalled that he made the announcement from Red Fort on Independence Day address last year and the aim was to complete the scheme by Republic Day this year. Modi said the outcome of this scheme was that 13 crore now get direct transfer of subsidy, “plugging leakage” and keeping out the middlemen. He asserted that on the basis of experience of 10 months as Prime Minister, he could say that “there is no reason why India should remain poor.” Talking about his “dream” of making India such a developed country which surpasses even developed nations like France, Modi said there are many possibilities in the country. He said eastern parts of India were still lagging and his endeavor was to make these states like Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha as developed ones. “Some things are left for me to resolve,” Modi quipped. He also said that he was applying pressure on states to develop and use funds for healthcare etc (Zee News 12/4/15)

40. Food Security Act from July 1 in Jharkhand (21)

RANCHI: From July 1, Public Distribution System (PDS) shops in Jharkhand will not only become tech savvy and IT-enabled, but they will start selling rice, wheat, sugar, salt and pulses to 85% of the rural populace and 60% of urban populace at a subsidized rate identified for the scheme by a survey. The Jharkhand government is working on a war footing to achieve the requisite infrastructure-related targets to launch the National Food Security Act (NFSA) within a couple of months. Among the basic works being carried out is physical verification of the households identified by the Government of India through socio-economic survey carried out on the basis of the 2011 Census. State food and civil supplies minister Saryu Rai, who convened a review meeting with the district-level officials engaged in the process of identification and verification of beneficiaries, said there are discrepancies in the data provided by the Centre and the situation on the ground. “While there are families who do not deserve subsidized foodgrain, there are many families running from pillar to post to get their names included as they believe that they would be out of the PDS preview forever if they miss this chance,” Rai said, explaining that the process would be rectified and fine-tuned once it takes off. “NFSA is going to include almost 85% of the rural populace and about 60% urban populace and we appeal to those who can afford to give up subsidy like many have done in case of LPGs. Those not having their names in the GOI list will be included in the future based on a local survey,” Rai said. After completing the survey through district supply officers using the administrative infrastructure up to the level of panchayat and villages, the government has the daunting task of linking all PDS shops through IT so that availability of grains, procurement from FCI, sale figures and all other details are uploaded on the departmental website immediately. “The trucks ferrying foodgrain from godowns will be fitted with GPS and electronic weighing system will be installed at the offtake source and PDS shops,”Rai said. In case of sugar, for which two packets weighing a kg each are to be given to each household, the government has invited tender. “The government has agreed to allow Rs 18.50 subsidy on each kilogram of sugar. Till date, the lower bidder has quoted price of Rs 36.75 per kg, so we are in the process of negotiation to bring it further down,” Rai said, clarifying that packaging cost can be considered, but the supplier would not be given a rate higher than the wholesale market price. The government plans to distribute ration cards to every consumer in the first week of July and has given its nod to the use of old ration card till they are replaced by new one. “Since the Centre will release funds towards NFSA only when the basic and pilferage-proof infrastructure is ready, we all are in electioneering mode to set things in order. We are satisfied with the progress made in each and every district,” Rai said. (Times of India 14/4/15)

41. Jan Dhan Yojna answer to chit fund scams: MJ Akbar (21)

KOLKATA: The Centre’s Jan Dhan Yojna, which has brought the poor into the banking network, will stop people from going to chit fund companies, BJP national spokesperson M J Akbar said here today. “Jan Dhan Yojna is the real answer to Saradha and Rose Valley. That is the answer. Why are the poor going to the chit funds? Because they have no other option,” Akbar said at an interactive session organised by ‘Friends of BJP’ here. He said if the poor are given a bank account, the chit funds will disappear. “That is the brillance of this scheme,” the BJP leader said, adding, as a result the people who support chit funds are against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Stating that it was a matter of shame that 400 million people were still below the poverty line in the country, Akbar claimed that growth during UPA’s time was in the number of ‘jobless’. Since the Modi government came to power, the manufacturing sector has increased from a negative figure to around five per cent, he said. On the issue of declassification of files relating to the disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, he said the age of truth on the issue is coming. “There has been a conspiracy to stop the truth from coming out. Now the age of truth on Netaji is coming. When it comes out, it is going to destroy a lot of reputations of people who have gone and of the people who are still alive,” Akbar said. (Times of India 16/4/15)

42. Unemployment, root cause of social unrest: trade union leader (21)

MADURAI: The root causes of social unrest in many parts of the world were acute unemployment, especially youth unemployment, and income disparity, said Noriyuki Suzuki, general secretary, International Trade Union Confederation – Asia Pacific (ITUC-AP), on Friday. Inaugurating the 33{+r}{+d}triennial convention of the Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS) here, Mr. Suzuki said that poverty eradication programmes, barring a few exceptions, had not made much impact and unemployment was assuming alarming proportions everywhere. Absence of decent work in their home countries was forcing people to go abroad in search of livelihood. India’s impressive growth rates had not translated into decent job creation. After decades of globalisation and financial meltdown in developed countries, there was no qualitative improvement and inequality was prevailing within and across countries, Mr. Suzuki said. Mr. Suzuki pointed out that trade unions were confronted with hostile attitude from governments and employers and cases of violation of trade union rights had become rampant. Employees were denied the right to work, which was fundamental to economic justice. “Employers now want a global workforce that is powerless and passive,” he said. Jaap Wienen, deputy general secretary, ITUC, felt that Indian politicians did not keep their promises to workers and the government served the employers well, allowing them to be as flexible as they wanted, ignoring workers’ rights. Unfortunately, a “happy few” benefited from India’s tag as an “emerging country” and poor people did not notice any progress. (The Hindu 20/4/15)


43. Centre Mulling Rs 20,000 Hike in Health Cover for Unorganised Labourers (14)

NEW DELHI: The Centre is mulling increasing health insurance coverage for unorganised sector labourers from the existing Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000 and a proposal in this regard will be placed before the Union Cabinet soon. The insurance cover under Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna (RSBY) will also be expanded to include tertiary care as well, according to a proposal aimed at restructuring the scheme. A senior Health Ministry official said, at present the scheme covers secondary care and hospitalisation expenses up to Rs 30,000. “Apart from that, so far this scheme was run largely through private insurance companies. The Ministry of Health intends to run it through state governments with states moving towards trust or society model. Which means state government organisations will henceforth empanel hospitals, decide packages and settle claims,” the official said. The scheme, launched by the Labour Ministry in 2008 to provide health insurance coverage to families living below poverty line, was transferred to the Union Health Ministry on April 1 this year. The official said, “Over the past decade, health care has become significantly expensive which means households have to shell out more money to access health care services. The aim is to offer a better insurance cover to the poor.” At present, the coverage is extended to five members of a family. Beneficiaries are required to pay Rs 30 as registration fee while the Centre and state governments pay the premium. The scheme has benefited over 3.85 crore families up to March 31, 2014, according to government data. As many as 10,311 hospitals – 6,093 private and 4,218 government – are providing services to the insured persons. The Centre has released its share of Rs 3,738.05 crore under the scheme in the last six years and the allocation in the 2014-15 fiscal stood at around Rs 548.20 crore, the official said. In India, out of the estimated workforce of 47 crore, only eight crore are organised workers while 39 crore are engaged in the unorganised sector, according to an official statement. (New Indian Express 12/4/15)

44. Labour Ministry proposes single Labour Code on wages (14)

NEW DELHI: The Labour Ministry has proposed to come out with a single Labour Code on Wages by amalgamating provisions of various relevant laws. “The Ministry of Labour & Employment has proposed to come out with a Labour Code on Wages by amalgamating the relevant provisions of the Minimum Wages Act 1948, The Payment of Wages Act 1936, The Payment of Bonus Act 1965, and The Equal Remuneration Act 1976,” an official statement said. The Labour Ministry yesterday had held the second tripartite consultation meeting on the draft Labour Code. The meeting was attended by the representatives from central trade unions, employers’ associations, labour department of state governments and central ministries and departments, government said in a release today. In the tripartite meeting, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya briefed the participants about the proposed Labour Code on Wages and invited suggestions from participants in this regard. The Ministry has invited suggestions and comments from the representatives on the Draft Labour Code on Wages by April 20,2015. (Times of India 14/4/15)

45. Varadhi set to be a boon for unemployed youth (14)

KARIMNAGAR: There was an overwhelming response to the awareness programme launched by the district administration under the banner of Varadhi society, a bridge between the jobseekers and employers, with the participation of several hundreds of unemployed youth from various parts of the district in Karimnagar on Wednesday. Several hundreds of unemployed have submitted their applications for the registration with the Varadhi society to secure employment in government and private sector in the district and other parts of the State. Varadhi society is a registered body and its chairman is Collector, members include DRDA project director and District Employment Officer and secretary is retired deputy collector. The Varadhi will send SMS alerts about the employment opportunities and also conduct training programmes for preparation to various competitive examinations. The society will also conduct pre-recruitment training programmes in various skills and trades to provide employment in various private sectors also. The Varadhi would help each registered candidate get maximum of five interviews and written téests opportunities. If the candidate failed to utilise the opportunity after being selected for a job, his registration would be cancelled with the society and no further opportunity would be given. The society will not collect any fees for registrations, training and securing employment from any candidate. Formally launching the programme, Karimnagar MP B Vinod Kumar was all praise for district administration for launching an ambitious programme for the benefit of unemployed youth. He said that he would extend the programme throughout the Telangana State. Calling upon the youth to utilise the opportunity, he suggested that the youth should focus on the civil services examinations and bring laurels to the new State. Collector Neetu Kumari Prasad said that they would help unemployed youth secure employment in the government and private sector and also banking sectors. She said that they would also provide outsourcing employment to the youth through Varadhi society. Superintendent of Police V Shiva Kumar, Mayor S Ravinder Singh, Additional Joint Collector Nagendra, DRDA project director Arunasri, district employment officer Ravinder, Varadhi society secretary Veeranjaneyulu, RDO Chandrashekhar and others were also present. (The Hindu 16/4/15)

46. CPI (M) demands ‘right to work’ be made a fundamental right (14)

New Delhi: The Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s congress on Friday passed a resolution to demand that that right to work be enshrined in the Constitution as a fundamental right. On Thursday, the party congress had passed a resolution that called for job reservations for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the private sector. The previous party congress, in 2012, had also demanded job reservation for SCs and STs in the private sector and expressed concern at joblessness, but stopped short of making right to work a fundamental right. The party congress, held once in three years, began on Tuesday to discuss the CPI(M)’s political and tactical as well as its draft political resolution. The congress will conclude on Sunday after finalising the two documents and with the election of a new central committee, a politburo and a successor to General Secretary Prakash Karat. On Friday, the party took up seven resolutions, including on “employment or an unemployment allowance” and making the right to work a fundamental one. It blamed economic policies of the previous 30 years for having contributed to high unemployment. The party demanded lifting of ban on recruitment by central and state governments and public enterprises, a moratorium on abolition of vacant posts and expediting filling of vacancies. It also asked for a stop to outsourcing in government and public sector enterprises, unemployment allowance to registered unemployed persons and an urban employment guarantee scheme at minimum wage. “Instead of increasing public investment to ensure the creation of jobs, the government is relying entirely on the organised private sector, and corporations, domestic and foreign, to invest in India and create jobs,” the resolution said. It said data from the 66th round of the National Sample Survey (NSS) showed a dramatic deceleration in rate of growth of employment in India — declining from 2.7 per cent in 2000-05 to an alarming low of 0.8 per cent in 2009-10. “The 2015 Economic Survey points out that, while the annual rate of growth of the labour force between 2001 and 2011 was 2.23 per cent, the annual rate of growth of employment over the same period was only 1.4 per cent,” it said, adding that a disturbing feature of unemployment was that it was much higher among youth in the age-group of 15-29 years. Another resolution criticised the Narendra Modi government for diluting the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. The CPI(M) congress said the share of SCs and STs in national resources has dwindled. It said the Modi government had further cut allocations for the Scheduled Caste Special Component Plan, with the shortfall being as high as Rs 46,385 crore. The shortfall in allocations for the Tribal Sub-Plan was equally “shocking” at Rs 20,000 crore. “Thus, while the population of Scheduled Castes and Tribes as a proportion of the total population is around 25 per cent, the share of allocations to Scheduled Castes and Tribes, which were at an all-time low this year, was just 10 per cent,” it said, demanding job reservations for SCs and STs in the private sector. (Business Standard 18/4/15)


47. ‘Can’t keep SC/ST creamy layer out of quota benefits (25)

NEW DELHI: Four years after agreeing to examine whether to bar the creamy layer among SCs/STs from getting reservation benefits, the Supreme Court on Monday refused to look into the issue and said it came within the domain of Parliament. The court, which had issued notices to the Centre and state governments in 2011, said it was not possible for the court to interfere in the matter and it was for Parliament to take a decision. “It is not possible for the court to pass direction. It is for Parliament to decide,” a bench of Justices FMI Kalifulla and V Gopala Gowda said. Senior advocate R Venkataramani, appearing for a PIL petitioner, told the bench that reservation benefits were inequitably distributed among SCs/STs in the last 64 years and only a small group had benefited from the policy. He said benefits were cornered by a handful of communities out of the 1,091 Scheduled Castes and 586 Scheduled Tribes, leaving a vast population of the reserved class out of the social welfare measure. He contended that socially and economically advanced SCs and STs be kept out the policy and referred to the Lokur Committee report which had recommended that certain castes/tribes be excluded. “Ninety nine per cent castes have not benefitted at all during the last 64 years of reservation policy. Rather, it has resulted in creation of a vested interest class among SCs and STs which are behaving like upper castes with extremely backward dalit communities,” the petition, filed by social worker O P Shulkla, said. The bench, however, was unimpressed and asked the petitioner how his fundamental rights were violated by the current reservation policy that led him to file the PIL. “Your prayer is not maintainable. You tell us how your rights are being violated,” it said. The petitioner replied that inclusion of castes/tribes without excluding socially advanced and creamy layer castes/tribes in the SCs/STs list was an abuse of reservation policy and needed to be scrapped. The bench, however, dismissed the case. (Times of India 14/4/15)

48. Haryana CM announces reservation in promotion for SCs (25)

Chandigarh: Presiding over Ambedkar Jayanti celebrations on Tuesday in Rohtak and Kurukshetra, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar announced that people belonging to Scheduled Castes would get benefit of reservation in promotions. The Chief Minister also said that cases filed against them while they staged protest for this demand in past would also be withdrawn. In another major development, he said that women police stations would be set up at every district headquarters in the state. Recommendations of the Raghavendra Rao Committee would form the basis for the reservation as the state government has accepted and decided to implement it, he said. The government has presented the data on SC population in the High Court and any doubt regarding promotions would come to end by July 2015, he said, adding, the previous government had not presented the population data gathered by Raghavendra Rao Committee when court had given its judgement regarding Reservation Policy 2013. The BJP government has gathered the data of Raghavendra Rao Committee and filed a Letters Patent Appeal (LPA) in the High Court considering which the Court had cancelled its previous judgement and people belonging to scheduled castes got benefit of reservation, he said. (Times of India 15/4/15)

49. ‘Gujjars will give up quota demand if Jats taken off OBC list’ (25)

JAIPUR: The state’s backward communities within the Other Backward Classes (OBC) group appear united against the Jats to demand their removal from the reserved category in keeping with a recent Supreme Court judgment. The Rajasthan Gujjar Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti has gone to the extent of announcing that it would give up the demand for separate quota if the Jats were taken off the state’s OBC list. The Gujjars, who belong to the OBC category that enjoys 21% reservation in government jobs and educational institutes, have held violent agitations since 2006 to demand that they be either shifted to the ST category or be given 5% separate quota along with four other communities under a Special Backward Classes (SBC) category. Following the statewide agitations and violence that resulted in the death of around 70 people, the state government had to bring in a reservation Act (currently stuck in the High Court) in 2008 to accommodate the Gujjars’ demand. “Gujjars will not demand separate quota in government jobs and educational institutes if the Jats, who were never backward, are removed from the OBC category. The Jat community is very advanced-highly educated and socially as well as financially dominant-but the BJP government clubbed it with the OBCs for purely political motives,” Samiti spokesperson Himmat Singh Gujjar said at a press conference here on Thursday. He asserted that Jats have been pocketing around 70% of the OBC share since they were far superior to the remaining communities. Calling themselves the “Mool” (original) OBCs-those who were in this category much before the Jats were added to it in 1999-these communities have formed an association called the Mool OBC Mahasangh, Rajasthan. To press for their demand against the Jats, the Mahasangh would stage a protest at the city’s Udyog Maidan on coming Saturday. The association has said it would launch a statewide ‘public awareness’ campaign, starting from Sriganganagar on April 27. “As part of the protests, we will hold ‘Raavan dahan’ to burn effigies of PM Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah,” said Daulat Ram, member of the Mahasangh’s core committee. Speaking at the press conference, he asked, “Jats have maximum number of MPs, MLAs, zila pramukhs, pradhans, up-pradhans, have dominance in bureaucracy, government and private sector jobs and own the largest share in state’s irrigated land. How can this community be called backward?” Former minister Rajendra Singh Ghuda, who too is a member of the Mahasangh’s core committee said, “If Jats are backward, no community in the state can be called well off.” Former civil judge and Mahasangh’s convener, Rajkumar Chhipa said, “The state government included Jats in the OBC category without any survey or recommendation by the OBC commission. The BJP did it and the Congress supported it, as both parties were eying political benefits.” Last month the Supreme Court quashed a union government notification that brought the Jats in the central list of so-called backward classes in eight states, including Rajasthan’s Bharatpur and Dholpur districts. The Modi-government later filed a review petition against it. (Times of India 17/4/15)

50. 30 Dalit Quota MBBS Seats Go Waste an Yr (25)

CHENNAI: The quota for Dalit students in private medical colleges could not be filled for the last four years due to the delay in providing them post-matric scholarship, charged former bureaucrat and activist Christodas Gandhi. Hailing the government’s decision to grant `334.76 crore as post-matric scholarship, he regretted that the delay by officials in granting the funds to eligible Dalit students has resulted in 30 medical seats going waste every year. “Private medical colleges are filling up these vacant seats with other students after taking hefty donations from them. Each seat would have cost `3 lakh for a Dalit student, but now they are being sold for more than `25 lakh,” Gandhi alleged at a media briefing of Dalit Panchayat Presidents Association here on Saturday. Despite having a total outlay of `696 crore, the officials did not release any amount for the post-matric scholarship last year, he said. “This has affected the studies of many poor Dalits who are dependent on the scholarship amount,” he said. The worst affected are the young ones from the community aspiring to be engineers and doctors. “We urge the State government to ensure that all those 120 seats that have not been filled up due to the scholarship issue be filled up,” said Gandhi. As the government has cleared the amount of `334.76 crore for the year 2015-16, he appealed that last year’s pending sum of `696 crore also be cleared. Hailing the role of AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalithaa for her welfare schemes to uplift the downtrodden, he blamed the officials for failing to release the amount at the right time. The federation also urged the government to ensure that the funds under Scheduled Caste sub plan are not diverted to other schemes. (New Indian Express 20/4/15)


51. Media interaction on Transgender Rights (1)

IMPHAL, April 11 – Solidarity and Action Against HIV Infection in India (SAATHI), an NGO, along with All Manipur Nupi Manbi Association, a community-based organistion (CBO) is jointly organising an interaction programme with media persons on April 15 at Manipur Press Club, Imphal pertaining to the path-breaking National Legal Service Authority (NALSA) judgement by Supreme Court of India (SCI) which had recognised various rights entitled to the transgender community. The programme is being held with an objective to spell out and discuss about the scope and specific recommendations made by the SCI and the steps taken by Central and State Governments and also to map out a strategy to expedite the steps. The SCI on April 15, 2014 had affirmed the constitutional rights and freedoms of transgender persons including those who are identified as third gender and those who are identified as opposite gender to their biological sex. By recognising diverse gender identities, the Court has broken the binary gender construct of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ that has pervaded Indian law. Filed in September, 2012 by NALSA, the writ petition had sought several directives from the SCI, including granting of equal rights and protection to transgender persons; inclusion of a third category in recording one’s sex/gender in identity documents like the election card, passport, etc., and for admission in educational institutions, hospitals, amongst others. (The Assam Tribune 12/4/15)

52. NHRC told to consider plea for Rs. 25-lakh compensation (1)

MADURAI: The Madras High Court Bench here on Wednesday directed a public interest litigation petitioner who had sought Rs.25 lakh in compensation to family members of each of the 20 Tamil woodcutters shot dead at Seshachalam forest area in Andhra Pradesh on April 7 to represent his case before the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). Disposing of the PIL petition filed by Madurai-based advocate K. Maharajan, Justices S. Manikumar and G. Chockalingam suo motu included the NHRC as one of the respondents to the case, since the petitioner had impleaded only the Centre besides State governments of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, and directed the commission to consider the petitioner’s representation. In the PIL petition, filed through his counsel W. Peter Ramesh Kumar, the litigant had urged the court to issue a series of orders which included a direction to the Chief Secretary to file a report on the steps taken by the State so far on the alleged encounter besides listing out steps taken by the police to check smuggling of red sanders from Andhra Pradesh to Tamil Nadu. The petitioner also wanted the High Court to call for all the First Information Reports registered with respect to smuggling of red sanders from Andhra Pradesh to Tamil Nadu besides ordering the Centre as well as the two State governments to conduct a combing operation to trace out 40 other woodcutters who had gone missing after the alleged encounter. (The Hindu 16/4/15)

53. With 20,000 complaints a yr, UP tops ‘human rights violations (1)

NEW DELHI: Andhra Pradesh and Telangana police may be facing charges of human rights violations after alleged fake encounters recently, but it’s UP against whose police maximum complaints are filed with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). While Andhra and Telangana face close to 200 complaints against their police every year, for UP it is over 20,000. Next on the list are Haryana and Delhi which receive 2,000-2,800 complaints a year. Curiously, police in the Jammu & Kashmir and the North-east, where alleged excesses of armed forces are regularly highlighted, fare much better with the number of complaints in single digits. However, in most states people with human rights violation complaints against police go to that state’s human rights commission. States away from Delhi are likely to have such lower figures as it cumbersome for people to travel all the way to Delhi to lodge a complaint. Thus it is natural for UP, Delhi and Haryana to be among the top three culprits as far as complaints to NHRC are concerned. However, figures for UP, which almost accounts for over 60% of all NHRC complaints against police in the country, are rather high to be explained solely by geographical reasons. UP’s figures are almost ten times higher than Haryana’s, even though both are adjacent to Delhi. “One would also have to take into account the population and size of the police force which is very big in UP,” said a UP cadre IPS officer. Curiously, in the past three years, complaints to NHRC against Jammu and Kashmir police has crossed the 100 mark only once (126 in 2011-12). Among NE states only Assam accounts for more than 100 complaints every year with all other states clocking either single digit figures or just over 10 complaints. For 2013-14, while Andhra police had 205 complaints against them, Telangana police was at the receiving end in 136 cases. In 2014-15 (up to January 31, 2015) too the states seem to maintain that average with 204 and 117 complaints respectively. (Times of India 17/4/15)

54. SC moved against making Sathasivam NHRC chief (1)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court will look into a petition alleging that the Centre is illegally considering the former Chief Justice of India and Kerala Governor, P. Sathasivam, as the sole candidate for chairperson of the National Human Right Commission. The post is due to fall vacant in May, with the exit of the incumbent, Justice K.G. Balakrishnan. The statute requires a former Chief Justice of India to hold it. The petition, filed by the Bar Association of India, was mentioned before a Bench led by Chief Justice H.L. Dattu. “Let us see,” he responded to the request to take up the petition made by senior advocates S.P. Singh and Adish C. Aggarwala on Friday. The petition said the Centre had ignored “proper procedure” while considering Justice Sathasivam to lead the top human rights body. It said the Centre had already obtained the consent of Justice Sathasivam without considering the other eligible former Chief Justices of India, including Justice R.M. Lodha, Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice S.H. Kapadia. It alleged that undue preference was being shown to one candidate, who, if selected, would bring to the fore a sense of conflict of interest as Justice Sathasivam is now part of the executive arm. “He is no longer eligible to be appointed NHRC Chairperson. It is submitted that one cannot associate with politics/politicians and still possess the purity of a judge…On the shift from the position of Governor to chairperson of the Commission, he will continue to be seen as a representative of the ruling political party. He will always owe a debt of gratitude to the government for having appointed him Governor,” the petition said. (The Hindu 18/4/15)


55. Law is equal for all religions: Man must pay maintenance to wife, kids and parents (19)

The Supreme Court on April 6 allowed a petition by a divorced Muslim woman for enhancement of maintenance from her ex-husband. The thrust of the verdict was that the quantum of maintenance should be such as to enable a divorced woman to live a life with dignity. Indians attach a great deal of significance to any judicial verdict touching Muslim personal law. A leading economic newspaper ran a report with a screaming headline: ‘All the Shah Banos get right to maintenance’. The report said right to maintenance of a woman was absolute and that it applied to divorced Muslim women as well. The Supreme Court has been consistently ruling on these lines for almost 30 years. Section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, says a man with means, irrespective of his religion, must maintain his wife, children and parents. The first major judgment defining the secular sweep of Section 125 came in Mohd Ahmed Khan vs Shah Bano Begum on April 23, 1985. It rattled the then Congress government by ruling that “a divorced Muslim wife is entitled to maintenance under Section 125″.Wilting to pressure from narrow-minded clergy, the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1986 enacted Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act and indemnified a Muslim husband from paying maintenance under Section 125 to a divorced wife if he had already paid ‘mahr’. The law stipulated that if a divorced Muslim woman was unable to maintain herself even after the husband paid her ‘mahr’, then she must seek maintenance from relatives who would inherit her parent’s property. If the relatives were not in a position to pay her maintenance, then the duty would shift to the State Wakf Board. Constitutional validity of the complicated provisions of the 1986 Act was decided by a five-judge constitution bench in Danial Latifi vs Union of India [2001 (7) SCC 740]. The court upheld the validity of the Act, but said play of Section 125 could not be erased. It said a divorced Muslim woman in a state of vagrancy could not be expected to run in search of relatives for maintenance to live with dignity. “Provisions of the 1986 Act depriving the divorced woman of such a right to maintenance from her husband and providing her maintenance to be paid by her former husband only for the period of ‘iddat’ and thereafter to make her run from pillar to post in search of her relatives one after the other and ultimately knock at the doors of the Wakf Board does not appear to be reasonable and fair substitute of the provisions of Section 125,” the court said. Four years before the Danial Latifi case, the SC in Noor Saba Khatoon vs Mohd Quasim [1997 (6) SCC 233] had ruled that all men, including Muslims, were obliged under Section 125 to pay maintenance to their children even if they lived with his divorced wife. In Shabana Bano vs Imran Khan [2010 (1) SCC 666], the court held that a Muslim divorced woman’s petition under Section 125 would be maintainable before the family court as long as she did not remarry. “The amount of maintenance to be awarded under Section 125 cannot be restricted for the ‘iddat’ period only.” The consistent ruling of the apex court since 2001 on Muslim divorced women’s right to maintenance under Section 125 was reiterated by a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Vikramjit Sen in Shamim Bano vs Asraf Khan [2014 (12) SCC 636]. The April 6, 2015 verdict in Shamima Farooqui case, also authored by Justice Misra, has followed the much treaded path. In Bhuwan Mohan Singh vs Meena, a bench headed by Justice Misra on July 15 last year had defined whether an unemployed husband was liable to pay maintenance to his divorced wife…..  (Times of India 13/4/15)

56. PIL says illegal speed breakers in Delhi damaging cars, claiming lives (19)

NEW DELHI: Illegally-designed speed breakers are claiming lives and damaging vehicles, a PIL before the Delhi High Court has complained. Recently, a bench of Justices B D Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva sought replies from the civic agencies engaged in construction of speed breakers, including the three municipal corporations, the PWD and the Delhi government. It has also asked the Delhi Traffic Police, apart from these agencies to file a detailed status report on the condition of speed breakers. HC acted while hearing the PIL filed by an NGO called Guru Hanuman Society of India raising the issue of design of speed-breakers in Delhi on the roads maintained by the Municipal Corporations of Delhi and PWD. The PIL urges the court to remove all the “ill-designed speed breakers constructed on city roads in Delhi since March 2014″ claiming that they were built in violation of the norms set by the Indian Roads Congress. The civic agencies have even disregarded the orders/directions issued by the HC since 2005, the PIL further alleged. It argues that while Indian Roads Congress has given particulars of sharpness, thickness, slope and indicated how many rumble strips must accompany a speed breaker, the civic agencies have not followed it, making it dangerous for commuters using the city roads. “Since 2014, the respondents have constructed 24 such speed breakers” the PIL claims citing RTI replies and argues that these pose a big hazard to not just daily commuters but more so to emergency vehicles. “Unavoidable humps, jerks caused by these speed breakers cause loss of the ‘golden hour’ in many emergency cases when patients need to be rushed to hospital for treatment,” the NGO has submitted, urging HC to order removal of all the unauthorized speed breakers. Even CNG-fitted vehicles sustain grave damage from the speed breakers built in ignorance of the scientific norms, the PIL adds, since the cylinder is not mounted on the chassis of the vehicle but fastened with nuts and bolts to the body of the bus. Seeing merit in the plea, HC has given time to the agencies to file status report by May 20 when it will next take up the case for further hearing. (Times of India 15/4/15)

57. Artistic freedom can’t be used for abusing icons like Mahatma Gandhi: Supreme Court (19)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday said artistic freedom of expression could not be misused to use abusive language against historical figures like Mahatma Gandhi and Subhash Chandra Bose. The court said it was no offence to criticize, lampoon and make parodies of the country’s iconic figures but freedom of expression could not be stretched to allow a person to demean them by using obscene language, which was an offence under Section 292 of Indian Penal Code providing for a maximum jail term of two years. “You cannot use abusive words for historical figures under the garb of artistic freedom. There is a complete freedom for ideas but the freedom of speech and expression is not absolute. The Constitution provides restrictions and it is a regulated freedom,” a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant said. The court was hearing a petition filed by a publisher seeking quashing of criminal proceedings against him for publishing a poem on Mahatma Gandhi in 1984. Marathi poet Vasant Dattatray Gurjar’s ‘Gandhi Mala Bhetla Hota’ (I met Gandhi) depicts the Mahatma as the narrator, who uses obscene language in the poem. The bench had no disagreement with the view that boundaries of freedom of speech had been expanding with time but still could not find the artistic portrayal of Gandhi using abusive words compatible with Article 19(1) of the Constitution guaranteeing free speech. “Had it be an ordinary ‘Gandhi’ it would not have been a problem, but using Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is objectionable. Mahatma is not a mythical or imaginary character who can be abused. This work would not come under artistic freedom and would attract provisions of Section 292,” the bench said. The publisher’s counsel Gopal Subramaniam argued that the Constitution lays down impersonal proposition and the law could not be applied differently, depending on the persona of a historical or iconic figure. “Veneration is a personal matter. Constitution does not talk about veneration of historical figures. Time is changing and what was earlier considered abusive has become idiomatic in society. Society should be tolerant,” he said. The bench said it respected artistic freedom but “what troubles us is the attribution of abusive words to Mahatma Gandhi in the name of artistic freedom”.”You can write satire on Gandhi, lampoon him or criticize him but if you put abusive words in his mouth, then it is not permissible,” it said. “Is it not a collective responsibility of society to protect the name of Gandhi and other figures like Sardar Patel, Subhash Chandra Bose, Vivekananda?” it asked. Amicus curiae Fali S Nariman said using the name of historical figures by way of illusion was permissible but an artist must be prosecuted if obscene language was used for them. However, he suggested quashing of the charges against the publisher, who had apologized way back in 1994 even prior to filing of the complaint against him. The court reserved verdict and said it would pass a detailed order on the “very important” issue. (Times of India 17/4/15)

58. Lawyer faces contempt action for accusing judges without evidence (19)

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat high court has initiated contempt of court proceedings against a city-based advocate, Vinod Brahmbhatt, for levelling false and frivolous allegations against a judge. Brahmbhatt had levelled accusations against judge B S Upadhyay, who was then posted in the city civil court and is now discharging his duty in an industrial court in Rajkot. After receiving the complaint from the lawyer, the high court sought evidence to substantiate the charges. The lawyer could not furnish details and his complaint was trashed. When the lawyer could not furnish evidence, the HC issued a contempt of court notice to him for maligning the image of a judicial officer and thereby undermining the dignity of the court. Brahmbhatt appeared before the court and asked for all case papers. The lawyer never appeared before the HC later. Meanwhile, the high court’s standing committee prepared a report on advocate Brahmbhatt’s conduct. It said, “Advocate Brahmbhatt is habitual in making frequent applications containing false and frivolous allegations against judges working in Gujarat judiciary. In his many applications earlier, he has made false allegations against the said judge along with other complaints against other judges and advocates working in Gujarat judiciary.” Brahmbhatt’s action is dubbed as clear contempt of court, more particularly for scandalizing or tending to interfere with the due course of the judicial proceedings. “The statement made in the compliant (against the judge) is not made in good faith and the same is not in the nature of complaint but is a direct allegation about illegal gratification and corruption, not supported by any proof or evidence of direct or indirect nature and hence, the opponent (Brahmbhatt) has committed criminal contempt of the subordinate court,” reads the report of the committee, which recommended action against him for criminal contempt of court. The next hearing is on April 30. (Times of India 19/5/14)


59. Protests in Guwahati against Army after ‘rape’ of minor (1)

KOLKATA: Following the “rape” of a 13-year-old girl and molestation of two women of a family, an umbrella organisation of various community groups has planned a public agitation in Karbi Anglong district, 200 km west of Assam’s capital Guwahati. Local people alleged that on April 6, Army jawans raped the girl and molested the girl’s mother and grandmother when they tried to rescue the teenager. The People’s Coordination Committee (PCC) is expected to block the railway line between Dimapur in Nagaland and Guwahati on Tuesday. In the past two days, massive protests have erupted across the hilly district. The district administration and the Army set up committees for inquiries into the incident. Tens of thousands of Karbis and members of other communities of Karbi Anglong have been protesting for nearly a week, demanding the arrest of the Army personnel. The incident took place in Sarthe Tokbi, a village under the Dokmoka police station, 80 km south-west of Diphu, the Karbi Anglong district headquarters. A village-level worker of the ICDS was “roughed up” by the soldiers, while another three-year-old infant received several blows from a rifle butt. The medical and forensic test reports are awaited. While the communities observed a 24-hour bandh in Karbi Anglong on Saturday, a day before students, youths, various community groups and civil society organisations staged a protest outside the District Commissioner’s office, the local people told The Hindu. “We were shocked when the police opened fire on Friday’s demonstration, when ordinary citizens and schoolchildren were protesting against the rape of the minor and molestation of women. At least eight persons were injured, and this added fuel to the fire,” said Pankaj Teron, an official of the Karbi Human Rights Watch, a representative body of the PCC. “We have decided to block the rail line between Guwahati and Dimapur. We have called a meeting of all the organisations attached to the PCC to decide whether the blockade will continue indefinitely or for a limited period,” he said. The PCC would step up the agitation if the accused were not arrested within the next three days. District Commissioner Mukul Gogoi, however, said the administration had a meeting with civil society groups on Sunday and assured them of “prompt action.” “Citizen’s forums have agreed to call off Tuesday’s blockade as we have done everything from our side,” said Mr. Gogoi. “Additional DC Ms. Hunmili Teronpi is leading the inquiry and will look into the charges registered under The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, and Section 376 of the IPC,” Mr. Gogoi said. However, Mr. Gogoi did not deny the police firing. “The crowd burnt down the sentry post of the [Army] camp in Dokmoka. Policemen and Army personnel were also injured, and stones were hurled. So we had to resort to firing to disperse the crowd. Another inquiry by an Additional District Magistrate has been ordered into the firing,” he said. The district officials, including Ms. Teronpi, have visited the spot and recorded the statements of the victims, while Army officers, assigned to investigate the incidents, have reached Karbi Anglong. (The Hindu 13/4/15)

60. Chhattisgarh police books 25 cops for killing minor tribal girl (1)

RAIPUR: Justice seems to be finally prevailing after nearly four years, as the Chhattisgarh police on Wednesday registered cases of murder against 11 policemen in connection with the fake encounter of a minor tribal girl, Meena Khalko, who was killed in cold blood on July 12, 2011. Cases under Sec 34 of IPC (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) have also been registered against another 14 policemen. The police action comes a week after the single person judicial commission, headed by District Judge, Anita Jha, submitted its report casting serious doubts over the police’s claim Meena being killed in an encounter with Naxalites. The report was submitted to the government almost three year after the inquiry was ordered under public pressure in 2012. Confirming the action, ADG, CID, Rajeev Srivastava, told TOI that cases under Sections 302 IPC (murder) had been arrested against 11 policemen and they along with other 14 have been also charged under Section 34 of IPC. Section 34 of the IPC is invoked “when a criminal act is done by several persons in furtherance of the common intention of all, each of such persons is liable for that act in the same manner as if it were done by him alone”.Srivastava said a five-member committee, which includes the chief investigator and a DSP, has been formed for further verification and investigation of the case. In her inquiry report District Judge, Anita Jha, had confirmed that a police bullet had killed Meena but she had raised doubts about the veracity of police’s claim of an encounter. She had termed the police action as unjustified. Meena was killed in an alleged encounter by a joint team of Balrampur district police and Chhattisgarh Armed Force near Navadih village on July 12, 2011. Balrampur district police claimed that Meena was a Naxalite and had been killed in retaliation after the police party was attacked. The police had also claimed that a rifle and some other items establishing her Naxalite connections were recovered from her body. However, the police’s claim was refuted by not only Meena’s family members but many residents of the Navadih Villager who denied that any encounter had ever taken place on that day. They had accused the police of killing Meena in cold blood and then cooking up a story of an encounter. Following these allegations and protest by human rights activists, the government was forced to send the involved 25 police personnel to police lines and order a judicial probe into the incident. The government had subsequently also announced Rs 2 lakh compensation to Meena’s family. (Times of India 16/4/15)

61. Plea for SIT probe into Andhra Pradesh killings (1)

New Delhi: Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi president Thol. Thirumavalavan has moved the Supreme Court for a probe by a special investigation team headed by former CBI director R.K. Raghavan into the alleged fake encounter killings of 20 labourers from Tamil Nadu by the Andhra Pradesh police on April 7. In a writ petition, Mr Thirumavalavan, alleged that in an undeclared war innocent lives living in and around Andhra and Tamil Nadu border areas were being harassed, arrested and killed in fake encounters. He said in a recent fake encounter 20 woodcutters from the districts of Krishnagiri, Vellore and Tiruvannamalai of Tamil Nadu were killed in a most brutal manner. He said these labourers go to Andhra Pradesh to cut red sandalwood trees in the Seshachalam hill ranges spread over 350 kilometres. At least seven workers were picked up by the police and were kept in the deep forest to give the spin that they were killed in exchange of fire. The killings of poor woodcutters started one year earlier. (Asian Age 17/4/15)

62. CPI(M) passes resolution to denounce killing of five undertrails in Telangana (1)

Visakhapatnam: The CPI(M) has passed a resolution denouncing the “custodian killing” of five undertrials in Telangana’s Warangal district on April 7. The resolution was passed during the 21st Congress of the party last night, it said on . CPI(M) has also demanded a judicial inquiry into the “killings” and arrest of “guilty” police personnel, besides compensation to the families of those killed. Viqaruddin alias Viqar, along with four of his associates, suspected to be involved in various terror activities, were “shot dead by the police” while they were trying to flee from a police van. “The 21st Congress of CPI(M) denounces the cold- blooded custodial killing of the five undertrial Muslim prisoners while being taken to court from Warangal jail to Hyderabad by the police in Telangana,” the party resolution said. Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Telangana government is nothing but “a brazen attempt” to mislead the people and “protect the police” involved in these killings, the resolution further said. Warangal Inspector General of Police V Naveen Chand, hoever, has maintained that the police had to open fire at Viqar and his men due to an “unavoidable situation”.He said that the incident occurred after the terror operative allegedly snatched a weapon from one of the policemen escorting them in a van to a court in Hyderabad from Warangal Central Jail. (Zee news 18/4/15)


63. Media attack on me at behest of arms lobby, have briefed PM: VK Singh (1)

NEW DELHI: Union minister VK Singh on Sunday claimed that the media attack on him was at the behest of arms lobby. “It is only an insidious campaign in which the arms lobby is working overtime. They were not able to subdue me when I was the Army chief. They have carried on,” VK Singh said and accused a former senior Army official of being a part of the conspiracy. “I won’t go beyond saying as to what relationships he enjoys with various chaps. There are a lot of people who were paid by him. So, obviously, you have some journalists and others who will write what they are told,” he said. “I have briefed PM Narendra Modi on the orchestrated campaign against me,” he said. Asked if the arms lobby was still active against him, he said that it was very much so. “They did a lot to dole out resources when the elections took place. We know how much money was received by various people. They are active. They are very active. Their sole aim is to how to get me out,” he said. VK Singh had triggered a row by describing the media ‘presstitutes’. The remark was made in a tweet, which was followed a press briefing in Djibouti in which the former Army chief raised eyebrows for saying that visiting the Pakistani high commission was more exciting than conducting rescue operations in Yemen. On Saturday, VK Singh apologized to journalists barring a small section of mediapersons who he said were carrying out a “motivated campaign” against him. “I apologize if the 90 per cent felt bad. I used the word for the 10 per cent and they deserve that word,” VK Singh said, claiming that there have been worst terms used by others for this 10 per cent media including “bazaaru” and “paid”. (Times of India 12/1/15)

64. Chinese journalist sentenced to 7 years for leaking party policy documents (1)

Beijing: A Beijing court sentenced a veteran Chinese journalist to seven years in prison Friday for leaking a document detailing the Communist Party leadership’s resolve to aggressively target civil society and press freedom as a threat to its monopoly on power. The sentence against Gao Yu, 71, comes amid a widening clampdown on free speech that highlights the gap between China’s vision of rule of law and Western notions of civil liberties and judicial fairness. The document Gao was convicted of leaking, deemed a state secret, underpins the clampdown under the 2 {-year-old administration of Communist Party leader Xi Jinping. The court verdict appears to confirm the authenticity of the leaked document, which had been reported since June 2013 but never was discussed openly by the leadership. It verifies widely held assumptions about X’s distrust of any social organization outside party control, recently manifested in the more-than monthlong detentions of five women’s rights activists detained after planning to start a public awareness campaign about sexual harassment. Gao’s lawyer Mo Shaoping said Gao was convicted of leaking state secrets by giving the strategy paper, known as Document No. 9, to an overseas media group. The document argued for aggressive curbs on the spread of Western democracy, universal values, civil society and press freedom, which the party considers a threat to its rule. Another of Gao’s lawyers, Shang Baojun, said Gao did not speak during the verdict and sentencing, but told her brother, Gao Wei, that she could not accept the result. “We will definitely appeal,” Shang said. Police patrolled the perimeter of Beijing’s No. 3 Intermediate Court where the verdict was delivered. Journalists and foreign diplomats gathered at the court but were denied entry to the hearing. “We’re obviously disappointed with the verdict,” said U.S. Embassy First Secretary Dan Biers. Gao, who wrote about politics, economics and social issues for media in Hong Kong and overseas, has already served time in prison on state secrets charges more than two decades ago. In a statement, human rights watchdog Amnesty International said that Gao was the victim of vaguely worded and arbitrary state secrets law that is often used against activists to quell freedom of expression. “This deplorable sentence against Gao Yu is nothing more than blatant political persecution by the Chinese authorities,” William Nee, the group’s China researcher, said in the statement. (Indian Express 17/4/15)

65. Mediapersons come under attack in Kolkata civil polls (1)

Kolkata: The media was at the receiving end of abuse and violence all through Saturday during the Kolkata Municipal Corporation polls, as those resorting to unethical electoral practices targeted members of the fourth estate to keep their crimes under wraps. Trinamool Congress councillor Ranjit Seal, who is seeking re-election from a ward in Khidirpore, was heard threatening electronic media personnel if they did not ship out from near a booth. “So long I have spoken to you politely. But now go away. Otherwise consequences will not be good,” he said. Camera persons of two news channels were beaten up and their equipment damaged by youths owing allegiance to a political party when they went near a polling station after receiving allegations of booth capturing. In the southern outskirts of Jadavpur, mediapersons were prevented from going to the booths by political party activists, despite having valid identity cards given by the state election commission. A journalist and a photojournalist of a national daily were stopped allegedly by Trinamool cadres when they tried to enter a polling poll in Garfa area of south Kolkata. They were told to “go away” or to “face the consequence” and that the “reporters are not allowed to go close to polling stations”.Two bicycle-borne youths were captured on television footage of issuing a stern warning to mediapersons not to “go to troubled spots”.When mediapersons told Trinamool secretary general Partha Chatterjee of the incidents, he said with a plain face: “That is your perception. I have moved around the entire city. I have not seen any terror.” (New Kerala 18/4/15)


66. 21 booked for communal violence in Sihor (7)

RAJKOT: Twenty-one persons, including a Congress councilor, have been booked in a case in which communal violence broke out in Sihor town of Bhavnagar district on Tuesday. Sources said that cross complaints have been lodged in the matter by people from both communities. A petty tiff between two individuals had gradually turned into a communal clash in which three persons were injured. The matter was triggered by a parking row outside the Fashion Cutlery Store on Main Road. Members of the two communities had pelted stones at each other and also damaged vehicles, including those of the police. Sources said that a complaint against 10 persons including Congress councillor Hanif Radhanpura was lodged by Sajan Rabari for assault with knives and swords. Radhanpura’s son owns the store where the allegedly row began. The second complaint was lodged by Yunush Radhanpura against Ashok Rabari and nine others for ransacking shops and looting Rs 1,500. SY Zala, sub-inspector of Sihor police station also lodged a complaint against 12 persons for rioting and vandalizing public property. (Times of India 16/4/15)

67. Police averts communal clash (7)

Bijnor: Timely action by police averted a communal clash at Manjhola Billoch village on Monday evening. Tension sparked off between two communities over an eve-teasing incident at the village.According to sources, the 12-year-old daughter of Kirpal Singh, a resident, was eve-teased by Ashu Khan, 20, of the same village when she was standing outside her house. On hearing her screams, the miscreant fled and she was taken inside the house by her parents. On Tuesday morning, the incident led to an escalation of religious tensions between Hindus and Muslims of the village. Santosh Kumar, station house officer, (SHO), Shivala Kalan police station, said, “We received information about a mob gathering in the village and immediately reached the spot with a large police force. We managed to take control of things before anything untoward could happen.” He further said that a complaint has been lodged by the girl’s father and a case registered against the accused under relevant sections of IPC and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Meanwhile, a large contingent of police force has been deployed in the village as a precautionary measure. Raids to possible hideouts of the accused have been made by the police and he is currently on the run. (Times of India 16/4/15)

68. Clashes erupt in Jammu and Kashmir, 30 injured (7)

Srinagar: More than thirty people, most of them police personnel, were injured as parts of Srinagar and Tral, a township about 42 kilometres south of Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital, erupted again on Friday afternoon when irate crowds clashed with the riot police at several places, forcing the latter to fire warning shots and teargas canisters and swing bamboo sticks. Srinagar’s Nowhatta area witnessed ding-dong streets battles between stone-hurling youth and the police for hours after the Friday congregation at the nearby Grand Mosque. The police used force including tear-smoke canisters to push the surging crowds back, but in vain, witnesses said. A police statement said that 21 of its men, including a station house officer, and three civilians were injured in the clashes reported from Nowhatta, Gojwara, Malarata and Khawaja Bazaar areas of the city. “However, the situation by and large remained peaceful in the Valley,” it said. Earlier Kashmir’s chief Muslim cleric and chairman of his faction of the Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umar Farooq led a protest procession within the premises of the Jama Masjid against the killing of a local youth by the Army during an operations against militants in Tral’s Kamla Woods on April 13 and other alleged human rights violations by the security forces. He termed the youth’s killing as an “extrajudicial murder” and demanded immediate revocation of AFSPA and other “draconian laws”, release of political prisoners, and bringing to justice the Army personnel involved in the killing of the Tral youth. Before the rally, while delivering customary weekly sermon from the rostrum of Jama Masjid, the Mr Farooq said the claims of government’s “zero tolerance” towards human rights violations have proven to be an utter lie. He accused the PDP of “kneeling before BJP’s “extremist agenda on Kashmir”. Tral and its neighbourhood has been on the boil since April 13 when Army during a reported operation against militants in the region’s Kamla woods killed a 24-year-old student Khalid Muzaffar Wani whom it termed as ‘overground worker’ of Hizb-ul-Mujahedin outfit. But while police denied it saying he was a civilian not involved in any militant activities, the slain youth’s family and neighbours had alleged that he was tortured to death in Army custody as he had reportedly gone to the forest area to meet his brother Burhan Wani, the south Kasdhmir commander of the Hizb. The killing of a militant of the outfit identified as Younus during the Army operation was also claimed to be an ‘extrajudicial murder’ resulting in the flare up. The Army had said they the duo was killed in an exchange of fire between it and the militants. Amid widespread protests and violent clashes, the authorities had imposed curfew-like restrictions on Tral and some neighbouring villages which continued on Friday. Also, all roads leading to Tral and other entry and exit points were sealed by police and CRPF reinforcements at dawn on Friday ahead of a rally planned by separatists. Syed Ali Shah Geelani had given a ‘Tral Chaloo’ call but was along with several other separatist leaders and activists placed under house arrest in Srinagar and elsewhere on Thursday night to prevent them from relocating to Tral. Reports from Tral said that soon after the Friday congregations at local mosques and hospices, people came out on the streets to chant pro-freedom slogans. Soon they clashed with police which fired rife shots over their heads and also burst teargas canisters as cane-charge failed to yield desired result. Witnesses said that irate youth in the crowds started pelting rocks and other missiles on the police and CRPF personnel. The ding-dong streets battles continued till reporters last came in. “Already, some people have been injured. I also saw a couple of policemen being removed from a scene of clashes in injured condition,” a local reporter said over the phone from Tral. Reports also said that several separatist second-rung leaders and activists who had managed to reach Tral addressed people at the town’s Khankah-i-Faiz Panah during the Friday congregation. “After the prayers, people began marching towards the home of slain youth Khalid Wani but when the procession reached the Gole Masjid area armed policemen and CRPF personnel came in their way and used force to disperse them which led to the clashes,” a resident said. Meanwhile, Syed Geelani has called for a shutdown in Kashmir Valley on Saturday to protest against what he alleged was ‘cold – blooded’ murder of Tral youth. He also condemned Massarat Aalam Bhat’s arrest and placing him and others under house arrest saying the move was “unjustified and inhuman”. Several separatist outfits and like-minded groups have endorsed the strike call. (Asian Age 18/4/15)

69. Drunken brawl sparks rumours of communal tension (26)

NEW DELHI: A drunken brawl between two youths, followed by rumours and stone pelting between two groups, sparked fears of communal tension in east Delhi’s Trilokpuri on Saturday night. However, cops swiftly brought the situation under control. No one was injured in the clash. Around 10.30pm, a youth, Rahul, got into an argument with a few others at Block 27 over buying chicken. A scuffle ensued and soon turned into a full-fledged brawl when other youths from Rahul’s Block 26 joined in and started pelting stones and bottles at each other. Locals said a few residents informed the Aman Committee members who called the police. “I found a few men from the other side gathering stones from a construction site and asked the youths from our block to stop retaliating,” said Chand Mohammand, a member of the committee from the block. He said that the cops arrived within a few minutes and controlled the youth from both the sides. “When we had reached the spot there was no one except the members of the Aman Committee who told us about the incident,” said a police officer. Joint commissioner eastern range, Sanjay Beniwal and DCP Ajay Kumar reached the spot and held a meeting with both the groups. “We could not find anyone from the clashing groups and cordoned off the area. The situation was brought under control within six minutes,” said DCP east Ajay Kumar. Raj Kumar, member of the resident welfare committee at Block 27 said that the incident had the potential of turning into a communal clash but was prevented by them. “Several such incidents have taken place since October last year and we remain careful that they do not flare up due to such petty reasons,” he said. A youth suspected to be involved in the stone pelting was detained by cops on Sunday morning. “We have been able to identify the others as well and have launched a lookout for them in the area,” said a police officer. “All the youths who were involved in the clash were local ruffians and usually got into regular fights. We have requested the police to arrest them as well,” said Raj Kumar, a member of the RWA. A case under sections of rioting, causing damage to public property and criminal conspiracy has been registered against 8-10 youths. (Times of India 20/4/15)


70. Hindu Mahasabha leader advocates forced sterilization to restrict Muslim, Christian population

JIND: A leader of Hindu Mahasabha on Saturday stoked a controversy saying Muslims and Christians must undergo sterilization to restrict their growing population which was posing a threat to Hindus. “The population of Muslims and Christians is growing day by day. To rein in this, Centre will have to impose emergency, and Muslims and Christians will have to be forced to undergo sterilization so that they can’t increase their numbers,” vice-president of All India Hindu Mahasabha, Sadhvi Deva Thakur told reporters here. She also exhorted Hindus to have more children and increase their population so as to have an effect on the world. In another controversial remark, she said idols of Hindu gods and goddesses should be placed in mosques and churches. Thakur also came out strongly in support of installing a statue of “patriot” Nathuram Godse in Haryana. (Hindustan Times 12/4/15)

71. Sakshi Adds Fuel to Raut Fire on Voting Rights (26)

NEW DELHI: He has done it again. Controversial BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj, who had earlier asked Hindu women to have at least four children, has now advocated a stringent law for family planning to check population and those who do not follow it should be stripped of their voting right. Maintaining that one cannot discriminate between women of different communities, the BJP MP from Unnao said, “Unless we have a common law for everyone, the country will not benefit. So both the government and the Opposition should come together to bring a strict law and those who do not follow it should be stripped of their voting right”. Known for making controversial statements, Maharaj said, “When the Hindus go for sterilisation, Muslims should also opt for it. There should be one law for everyone. There will be no appeasement of any section in our regime.” “I don’t say Muslims and Christians should be sterilised. But there should be family planning and a uniform law for all. When we talk about four child issue, there is a lot of hue and cry and when they have 40 children from four wives no one says anything,” he said. Maharaj had got the ire of the Opposition when he had asked Hindu women to have at least four children and the ruling BJP not only distanced itself from his statement, they also served a show cause notice to him. The party also asked all its public representatives to refrain from making such statements. Earlier, Maharaj had courted controversy by describing Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse as a “patriot”. He was later forced to apologise in Parliament. (The New Indian Express 14/4/15)

72. Centre, state should take Kashmiri Pandits into confidence: VHP (26)

Jammu: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) here Tuesday slammed both the Centre and the state government for not taking into confidence migrant Kashmiri Pandits before finalising any plan for their return and rehabilitation in the Valley. Patron of the VHP state unit Rama Kant Dubey accused the separatists and other Kashmir-based organisations of not being interested in the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley and also slammed them for making contradictory statements in Jammu, Valley and Delhi. He added that their return was not possible unless  the migrant community was taken into confidence by both the governments while taking any decision about them. He termed separatists as “unholy people’’ who had become “power centre’’ in the Valley. They are neither religious nor political, but pro-Pakistan people acting as “sub-agency of Pakistan’’ in the Valley, he said. (Indian Express 15/4/15)

73. VHP demands probe against Swami Agnivesh (26)

JAMMU: Claiming that social activist Swami Agnivesh’s antecedents were “doubtful”, VHP on Saturday demanded a probe into his activities and asked Arya Samaj to clarify whether he is its leader or not. “We demand a probe by the government into the circumstances in which Agnivesh landed in Kashmir and took part in protests …,” VHP state patron Rama Kant Dubey told reporters here on Saturday. Agnivesh was today detained, along with JKLF chairman Yaseen Malik, when they tried to lead a march towards Narbal in central Kashmir’s Budgam where a youth was killed in firing by security forces during a protest. Agnivesh had joined Malik this morning in a hunger strike against the proposal to create separate settlements for displaced Kashmiri Pandits. The VHP leader said Agnivesh’s identity and antecedents “are doubtful” and a probe must be conducted to expose on whose behest he is working with those who “are triggering anti-Indian violence in Kashmir”.Dubey also asked the “Arya Samaj to clarify whether he is their leader or not. They need to expose this man, who is using a swami’s image to serve his masters”.Earlier in the day, Agnivesh asked Kashmiri Pandits to refuse living in such colonies. “Composite and separate colonies are opposite terms. How can such colonies remain composite? We do not want a division here and Pandits should live together with their Muslim brethren. They will be trapped in these colonies,” he said. The activist said the Pandits should refuse the “fake security” and trust the security provided by their Muslim brothers. (Times of India 18/4/15)


74. No country should shelter terrorists: PM Modi (12)

On a day Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi was released, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday gave a veiled message to Pakistan, saying no country should provide shelter to terrorists but should punish them. “There is a need for global action to deal with terrorism. All nations should commit that they will not provide shelter to terrorists but punish them,” Mr Modi said at a joint press interaction with French President Francois Hollande after their talks here. Mr Hollande said he understands anger in India over the release of a person who is responsible for such a reprehensible act, a reference to Lakhvi who was behind the attack in Mumbai in November 2008 that claimed 166 lives. Mr Modi and Mr Hollande discussed the issue of terrorism in the context of recent attack in Paris and release of Lakhvi and decided to intensify cooperation against the menace. “The world is facing many challenges. There is an upheaval in the world and all are affected… Terror is spreading in new forms in various countries,” the Prime Minister said. (Asian Age 12/4/15)

75. Pak. High Court sets deadline for trial court to conclude Mumbai attack case (12)

Islamabad: The Islamabad High Court on Monday set a two-month deadline for the trial court to conclude the 2008 Mumbai attack case, warning that it would accede to Pakistan government’s plea to cancel the bail granted to LeT operations commander Zaki-ur-Rehman if it failed to do so. A two-member Bench of the IHC headed by Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi gave the “two-month deadline” to the Islamabad Anti-Terrorism Court to conclude the case against Mumbai attack mastermind Lakhvi and six others going on since 2009. The Bench was hearing the government’s plea for cancellation of 55-year-old Lakhvi’s bail. After the arguments from the prosecution and defence lawyers, the Bench said: “This court gives two months to the trial court to conclude the Mumbai case and adjourns this case [a plea to cancellation of bail to Lakhvi] till then.” Prosecution chief Chaudhry Azhar told PTI after the hearing here that the judge also said in his order that the court would cancel Lakhvi’s bail if there was a delay on the part of his lawyers. “The court is pending this case for a period of two months till the conclusion of the Mumbai case. If it is reported that the Mumbai case could not be concluded [in two months] because of delaying tactics of the defence lawyers this court will cancel Lakhvi’s bail,” the judge remarked. He was responding to the arguments of the prosecution that the Mumbai case had been inordinately delayed because of the delaying tactics of the defence lawyers. Justice Muhammad Anwarul Haq of Lahore High Court on April 9 suspended the detention of Lakhvi under Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) as the government failed to present “sensitive evidence” against him in the court. The government managed to keep Lakhvi behind the bars under the MPO for nearly four months since the trial court granted him bail on December 19 last year. On April 10, Lakhvi was released from the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi after the Lahore High Court suspended his detention under a security act. India lodged a strong protest over the release, saying the “negative development” reinforced the perception that Pakistan has a dual policy on dealing with terrorists. Lakhvi, a close relative of LeT founder and JuD chief Hafiz Saeed, was arrested in December 2008 and was indicted along with the six others on November 25, 2009 in connection with the case. He and six others — Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum — have been charged with planning and executing the Mumbai attack in November, 2008 that left 166 people dead. (The Hindu 13/4/15)

76. ’2014 saw militants use of rape, sexual slavery’ (12)

UNITED NATIONS: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said 2014 was marked by harrowing accounts of rape, sexual slavery and forced marriage being used by militants, including the Islamic State and Boko Haram. In a report released on Monday, the U.N. chief expressed “grave concern” over sexual violence perpetrated by armed groups, including those promoting extremist ideologies in Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Nigeria, Mali, Libya and Yemen. “The confluence of crises wrought by violent extremism has revealed a shocking trend of sexual violence employed as a tactic of terror by radical groups,” Mr. Ban said. The Secretary-General said efforts “to degrade or destroy” the Islamic State group, Boko Haram, al-Shabab, Ansar Dine and al-Qaeda affiliates “are an essential part of the fight against conflict-related sexual violence.” The report focuses on 19 countries engulfed in conflict or trying to recover from fighting where sexual violence including rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution and forced pregnancy occurs, mainly against women and girls but also against boys and men. It lists 45 groups in Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Congo, Iraq, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria as well as Boko Haram in Nigeria that are “credibly suspected of committing or being responsible for patterns of rape” in conflict 13 of them for the first time. “Forced marriage, enslavement and the ‘sale’ of kidnapped women and girls are central to Boko Haram’s modus operandi and ideology,” it said. “Abducted girls who refuse marriage or sexual contact within marriage have faced violence and death threats.” Since mid-2014, the report said, “There has been a significant increase in the number of reported cases of sexual violence perpetrated by terrorist groups,” especially the Islamic State group which “uses sexual violence to spread terror, persecute ethnic and religious minorities and suppress communities that oppose its ideology.” It singled out that group’s abduction of hundreds of Yazidi women and girls in Iraq, some of whom were taken into Syria and “sold” in markets to be used as sex slaves. It said “three cases of forced abortion perpetrated because of the ethnicity of the victim were documented by the government” of Iraq. In Colombia, the report said, “Women working with displaced communities and calling for land restitution have been targeted by armed groups and subjected to repeated sexual assault.” In the Central African Republic, the report said 2,527 cases of conflict-related sexual violence were documented in 2014, adding that “all parties have used sexual violence to subjugate and humiliate opponents.” In Sudan’s western Darfur region, it said the number of displaced civilians has increased over the past year and so have reports of sexual violence. And in South Sudan, it said sexual violence remains prevalent including gang rape, castration, forced nudity and forced abortion, which is “exacerbated by impunity and a militarised society in which gender inequality is pronounced.” On a positive note, the report said Congo’s government took “unprecedented steps”, including prosecuting high-ranking officers for sexual violence and paying reparations to survivors. But at the same time it said 2014 saw a resurgence of violence by armed groups, including an increase in rape. (The Hindu 14/4/15)

77. Burdwan blast: Key suspect Ibrahim Sheikh arrested in Jharkhand (12)

RANCHI: A top Jamat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) terrorist Ibrahim Sheikh alias Lal Mohammad (30) wanted in October 2014 Burdwan blast was arrested from Jharkhand’s Pakur district, state police chief DK Pandey revealed on Sunday. A special Pakur police team nabbed Ibrahim on Saturday night when he was coming out of Tilbhitta railway station near Jharkhand-West Bengal-Bangladesh border in the district.Police recovered a revolver, six live cartridges, four crude bombs and an electronic chip which contains JMB supplied Jehadi materials. “He was the right hand man of Sajid Sheikh, the chief of JMB operations in India. He was sharing a significant part of Sajid’s responsibility after his arrest in November 2014 in connection with Burdwan blast,” Pakur SP Anoop Birthary told TOI. A police officer said Ibrahim used to work as chief recruiter for JMB (in Jharkhand), coordinator in West Bengal and Jharkhand and one of the key links with JMB bosses from Bangladesh. “He was working as the chief of a local madrasa Fatima-ul-Zahra at Musimnagar area of Murshidabad district in West Bengal. He has accepted that many recruits for JMB were trained and radicalized at the madarsa,” Birthary said. Ibrahim hails from Shahebnagar village under Nabagram police station of Murshidabad district and used to frequently visit Pakur and Sahebganj districts of Jharkhand to find recruits. “He has accepted that he has so far recruited over a dozen boys from Jharkhand into JMB,” Birthary said. The National Investigation Agency has been looking for Ibrahim after Burdwan blast after which he was on the run. NIA had in January arrested one Burdwan blast accused Rejaul Karim, 27, from a railway station in Sahebganj district on Jharkhand-West Bengal border. An explosion had occurred in the first week of October (2014) in a house in Burdwan when two suspected terrorists were killed and a third injured. The blast had led to the revelation of an IED manufacturing unit allegedly of JMB and subsequently police recovered 39 powerful bombs from the same place. A total of 11 persons, some of whom are Bangladeshi citizens, have so far been arrested in connection with the case. (Times of India 19/4/15)


78. 2nd Naxal attack in Chhattisgarh in 24 hours, 17 trucks carrying ores torched (12)

NEW DELHI: There has been a second Naxal attack in Chhattisgarh, a day after seven personnel of Special Task Force (STF) were killed in an ambush. According to Times Now, Naxalites have set 17 vehicles ablaze in Baqrsapur, Bastar. However, there are no reports of casualty in the second attack. On Saturday, seven personnel of Chhattisgarh Special Task Force (STF) were killed and 11 injured in a Maoist ambush at a village near Dornapal in Sukma district of tribal Bastar. (Times of India 12/4/15)

79. 5 security personnel killed, 8 injured as Maoists blow up security vehicle … (12)

RAIPUR: Five security personnel were killed and eight others were injured as Maoists blew up a mine protected vehicle (MPV)near Cholnar in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district on Monday. The blast occurred on Cholnar-Kirandul road under Kirandul police station limits when the security personnel were patrolling along a road construction route in the region this afternoon, Inspector General of Police, Bastar Range, SRP Kalluri was quoted as saying by PTI. The mine-protected vehicle, with 11 state police jawans aboard, was dispatched from Cholnar camp to ensure security for the construction work underway in the region, located around 450 kms away from state capital Raipur, when the rebels triggered the blast leaving four personnel dead and seven others injured, Kalluri said.  ”Of the injured, two are said to be in a serious condition,” he said. Soon after the incident, reinforcement was rushed to the spot and the injured personnel were admitted to a local hospital, he said. A combing operation has been launched in the region to nab the attackers, the IG added. This is the fourth major attack by Naxals in the insurgency-hit state in three days. Earlier, seven STF personnel were killed and ten others injured on Saturday when Naxals ambushed them in the forests of Pidmel village in Sukma district. The Naxals yesterday set ablaze at least 17 vehicles engaged in mining work in Kanker district. No one was hurt in the incident, police said. A BSF jawan was killed when a group of ultras opened indiscriminate firing on security personnel, who were carrying out patrolling in the proximity of Chhote Baithiya Border Security Force camp in Kanker district late last night. (Times of India 13/4/15)

80. Maoists abduct seven tribals in Odisha (12)

BERHAMPUR: Maoists allegedly abducted seven tribals, including a former panchayat samiti chairperson, from two remote villages under Mathili police station in Malkangiri district of Odisha near Chhatisgarh border. According to sources, six persons from Kartanpalli including Trinath Bhumia, the former panchyat samiti chairperson of Mathili block and another from adjoining Bara village were abducted by the ultras at around midnight on Monday. But no complaint regarding it from their family members or any one else had been filed with the police till Tuesday evening. Speaking to The Hindu , Inspector General of Police (IGP) Yeshwant Jethwa said security forces had been rushed to the area for combing operations and investigation was on. Security forces are taking utmost precautions as there are chances of ambush in this remote jungle and hilly terrain. Maoists have also not come up with any statement regarding these abductions till evening. Kartanpalli and Bara villages of Malkangiri district are located at a distance of around 10 kilometres from Maoist-infested Sukma district of Chhattisgarh. According to the local people, the armed abductors who were around 20 in number were speaking in Hindi. It hints that they may be part of Darbha division of outlawed CPI (Maoist) organisation, which is active in Chhattisgarh and bordering areas of Odisha. The six persons abducted from Kartanpalli included the former panchayat samiti chairperson of Mathili block, Trinath and village head Sanyasi Bhumia, whose wife is an elected panchayat ward member. Apart from these six, another person was taken away by the Naxalites from nearby Bara village. According to Manjula Bhumia, wife of abducted Trinath, the armed ultras had reached Kartanpalli village at around midnight and forced these seven persons to go inside the jungle along with them to attend a meeting. The Maoists had told villagers that they would release these seven on Tuesday morning. But till Tuesday evening no news of these abducted persons had reached Kartanpalli or Bara. There were no reports of Maoist abductions from Malkangiri district in 2014. On December 4, 2013, the Naxalites had abducted three persons from Gomphakunda of Kalimela police station area. One of them had escaped during an exchange of fire between ultras and police, while the other two had been released after a few days. On December 12, 2013, Maoists had kidnapped six persons including a panchayat ward member in the same police station area and later killed three of them. In April 2013 three tribals had been abducted from Mahupada village under Mathili police station by the Maoists and two of them had been killed. In September 2012, nine persons including a former sarpanch, a naib sarpanch and two village guards had been kidnapped by ultras from cut off area of Chitrakonda reservoir in Malkangiri district. The two village guards were murdered while the rest were freed by the Maoists. (The Hindu 15/4/15)

81. 4 Naxal attacks in 72 hrs: The inside story (12)

DANTEWADA: Fear is the key: This dictum is used by Naxals to hold on to their `territory’ in Bastar whenever they find the ground slipping from beneath their feet. Therefore, it was not without reason that the Reds unleashed a spate of violence through four attacks in 72 hours, killing 13 combat personnel and injuring scores of others. The last of the four attacks, at Kirandul-Cholnar in Dantewada district in which Naxals used 100 kg of explosives and an under barrel grenade launcher (UPGL) to blow up an armoured anti-landmine vehicle on Monday -was intended to send a singular message both to the forces and villagers. Revenge. The reason was the setting up of a police post at Cholnar just two months ago. “The Maoists were agitated ever since the police post was set up in February. This barred them from entering 100 villages which they ruled earlier. They coaxed the locals to take out rallies in protest of the police camp. But in vain,” Dantewada SP Kamalochan Kashyap told TOI. Analysts in Bastar said that while the attacks appeared sudden, they were meticulously planned and executed to the T. “Spot investigations showed that the IED that triggered the KirandulCholnar blast was planted long back but Maoists took their own time to analyse and observe movement of police vehicles. They do their homework well,” said a police official at Dantewada. He added that Maoists took time to dig large crater very near to spot of the blast, hid behind bushes and also selected a small bridge as target, where usually the vehicles slow down. “The slowing down of vehicles gave time to rebels to trigger the blast,” he said. In fact, the KirandulCholnar blast was intended to send a bigger message as SP Kashyap himself could have been the target, according to intelligence inputs.He confirmed to TOI that he had crossed the route and was on his way to Bacheli town to alert forces following an attack on a BSF patrol less than 24 hours ago.He returned within minutes when he heard about the blast. “I returned to the spot in 15 minutes while the firing was still on,” he said. A senior police officer who was earlier posted as IG, Bastar, said that the sudden surge of Maoist violence could be attributed to surrender by a large number of cadres in recent times. “Of late, the Maoists were on backfoot. The surge in violence is meant to boost the cadre’s morale,” he said. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Naxals’ annual Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC), characterised by massive bloodletting from April to early July, kicked off much earlier this year. Additional DGP (Naxalite Operations) Rajinder Kumar Vij told TOI that this time, Naxal violence began in February, much before the summer months. “Certainly, the sudden surge in Naxal violence coincides with the TCOC,” he said. Significantly, the Naxal violence, unleashed just a couple of days before the inauguration of Raman Singh government’s Lok Suraj Abhiyan, was clearly intended to jeopardise government’s mass contact programme in the Naxal-hit areas…. (Times of India 16/4/15)


82. NHRC Seeks Report from State Govt on Child Trafficking (1)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has said that it has ordered the State Government to submit a report on trafficking of children to the state to admit them in orphanages within four weeks and about the circular issued by the Social Justice Department to the orphanages on following the guidelines in this regard, and whether these were being complied with. Addressing a news conference here on Friday,  at the conclusion of the three-day camp sitting, Commission chairperson Justice K G Balakrishnan, members Justices Cyriac Joseph and Justice D Murugesan said that it also had sought to know whether all the children in the orphanages were orphans and, if not, whether they had the consent letters from their parents. Asked what was the underlying motive behind the massive trafficking of children, the Commission said, in the police investigation, it was found that the children were brought in large numbers to the orphanages to offset the shortage of children and to avoid the loss of foreign funding and government grant. The Commission said it had expressed dissatisfaction over the tardy progress in the setting up of a tribunal to settle the claims of endosulfan victims and asked the government   to expedite it. The Chief Secretary should file a report within 8 weeks on the progress  on the issue along with details of payment of  the remaining amount of relief to the victims as recommended by the Commission. But the government officials during the camp sitting told the Commission that the setting up of the tribunal was awaiting Cabinet clearance. On the migration of tribal women from Wayanad to Karnataka to work in ginger fields, the NHRC said that it had found that the government had failed to provide menial jobs  under various schemes. It asked the State Labour Department to submit a report in two weeks on the steps taken by it for providing menial jobs to the people in Wayanad district. In three of the five cases of custodial deaths – two in Thiruvananthapuram and one each in Kollam, Kasargod and Thrissur – the Commission awarded Rs 2,50,000 each. In one case, not satisfied with the police version, it issued show cause notice asking why monetary relief should not be recommended for the negligence.  (New Indian Express 11/4/15)

83. Neighbour saves girl from being pushed into trafficking (1)

BENGALURU: An alert neighbour helped the police rescue a 17-year-old girl on Tuesday from being pushed into the flesh trade. The victim, a student of Class 10 in a government school, is the daughter of a man with physical disabilities who makes agarbattis in Valmiki Nagar. She was allegedly lured by a woman from New Delhi. The accused, Farhana (47), is a resident of New Delhi. A widow, she had been married to a man from Valmiki Nagar and used to visit her relatives once a year, the police said. She was on a visit to Bengaluru and staying in the neighbourhood of the victim. She befriended the victim and lured her with the promise of a job in New Delhi. Excited about the offer, the victim agreed to go with her following which Farhana took her to city railway station without informing her parents. However, a neighbour of the victim noticed her and alerted her parents. (The Hindu 15/4/15)

84. Convict Receives Longest Sentence Ever in West Bengal Sex Trafficking Case (1)

KOLKATA: A Haldia court made history on Friday by sentencing Naru Gopal Shaw to 13 years rigorous imprisonment for multiple sex trafficking related crimes – the maximum punishment and longest sentencing ever in a sex trafficking case in West Bengal. On April 10, Shaw was convicted under five sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA) by the Additional District and Sessions Court, Haldia, Purba Mednipore. What made history, though, is that Shaw was additionally convicted for abetting, or assisting, an already imprisoned brothel owner, for all of these charges. “This case is very significant because he was not the principal accused, but was charged for abetment,” said Amal Ojha, the special public prosecutor assigned to the case. “This proves that even men who are not directly involved, but are helping as accomplices, can also be punished,” added Saptarshi Biswas, advocate for International Justice Mission (IJM), who provided legal counsel to the victims. Shaw was also ordered to pay a fine of 1.53 lakh to be divided between the four victims. This case dates back to an operation in February 2009 in which West Bengal Criminal Investigations Department (CID) together with NGOs IJM and Sanlaap raided a brothel cum hotel in Haldia. The operation was tipped off seven times before finally resulting in the rescue of four victims and the arrest of three perpetrators. Police wrote an arrest warrant for Shaw, and in August 2010, he surrendered before the court. In January 2011, Shaw was granted bail by the High Court, but one of the rescued victims Maya filed a bail cancellation petition, which was granted. Shaw disregarded the judge’s order for surrender and for two years, evaded arrest. The case was divided into two trials, and the first ended in 10-year imprisonments for his accomplices in March 2013. It was only after this that police were able to arrest Shaw. Three of the rescued victims returned to court to identify Shaw and testify about the abuse he inflicted upon them. One victim Meena made the four-hour journey from her home six months pregnant to stand before the court. Another victim Maya testified that Shaw forced them to drink alcohol, stripped them naked, raped, and tortured them. She said he threatened that if they didn’t obey the brothel owner they would face dire consequences. Maya’s hope is that these convictions will send a message to other criminals. “This will bring terror to people who are running brothels or abusing girls,” she said. “When people hear that these men who were very powerful are behind bars they will think twice about doing this kind of work.” (Times of India 17/4/15)


85. 1,764 cops were booked in bribery cases (5)

Mumbai: The Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) trapped as many as 1,764 police officials and constabulary from the state police department between 2000 and 2014 i.e. in 15 years. However, they have so far succeeded in convicting only 177 of them while 573 have been acquitted, reveals a RTI reply accessed by The Asian Age. Reacting to it, ACB’s director general Praveen Dixit said, “The conviction rate depends on after how many years a particular case has been heard in the court.” In the past, Mr Dixit had cited the long pending cases in courts as one of the major factors for low conviction rate. Out of the 1,764 cases against the police, 734 are pending in courts. Apart from conviction, acquittal and pending court cases, the rest of the cases never reached teh court due to lack of evidence besides a handful of them that are either being probed or haven’t received prosecution sanction from the concerned government departments. The ACB website states that the police and revenue departments have undisputedly topped the infamous list of allegedly being the most corrupt departments since 2009. Another glaring factor is that the conviction rate for the police department within the same time period is lesser than that of the revenue department, except in Nagpur and Nashik range. Going by the method adopted by the ACB to calculate the conviction rate, which considers only those cases that have completed trial, conviction rate of revenue department is 26 per cent while for the police it is 23.3 per cent. When asked if the conviction rate was comparatively low because the ACB comprises of men who also belong to Maharashtra police force, Mr Dixit said, “Accused from all departments are probed impartially and thoroughly.” Interestingly, about 1,594 officials from the revenue department have been trapped for accepting bribes, which is lesser than those trapped from police. However, the number of accused who have been convicted from the revenue department are more than the conviction rate in the police department. About 609 accused from the revenue department have been acquitted, while cases pertaining to 692 of them are pending in courts. The Washim ACB unit of Amravati range started in 2009 and hence is not included in the given table. Since 2009, the unit has trapped 14 policemen and 13 officials from the revenue department, and from each department nine cases are pending in courts. (Asian Age 12/4/15)

86. Rights panel orders probe into alleged corruption in KWA (5)

ALAPPUZHA: The Kerala State Human Rights Commission has directed the police to probe into allegations of corruption relating to appointment to the post of pump operators in the Kerala Water Authority (KWA). The directive was issued by Commission member (Judicial) R. Natarajan on the basis of a complaint submitted by C.V. Rajan of Nooranad. In his complaint, Mr. Rajan alleged that M.N. Vasukuttan, a retired police official, and K. Ramachandran Unni, an advocate, had collected money from more than 13 candidates promising permanent jobs in the KWA. The complainant also claimed that no action has been taken in the case so far, despite a complaint being submitted to the State police chief. After examining the related documents, the Commission noted that the police investigation in the case, which was registered at the Alappuzha North police station in 2009, was not undertaken in the right direction. It has also been pointed out that the delay in ensuring justice, owing to the influence exerted by the accused persons, was a disgrace for the police force. The District police chief has been ordered to launch an enquiry in the case under the leadership of a DySP. The Commission has also sought a report on the progress of the investigation within a month. The Commission noted that the police investigation in the case, which was registered at the Alappuzha North police station in 2009, was not undertaken in the right direction. (The Hindu 13/4/15)

87. AAP to aid government’s anti-graft battle (5)

New Delhi: In its bid to implement its poll promise of transforming the national capital into first corruption-free city in the country, the Aam Aadmi Party has decided to work in tandem with the Delhi government to weed out graft from the city. Days after the AAP government launched the anti-corruption helpline, the party said it is working towards preparing a blueprint and a comprehensive strategy to tackle corruption, one of the prominent issues on the AAP’s agenda. “We are in the process of preparing the blueprint after launching the 1031 helpline. The war against corruption has started. To give it a more robust shape and to decide on the extent of party’s involvement, a strategy is being worked out,” party’s Delhi unit convenor Ashutosh said. Implementing the measures will give the crusade against corruption “the face of a movement”, he said, adding, “Our commitment is to make Delhi the first corruption-free city and we will take all possible steps in this regard.” The party also took a jibe on the saffron outfit a day after Rohini MLA Vijender Gupta was named the Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Assembly, saying that the BJP did not confer the same on any party in the Lok Sabha. “The Aam Aadmi Party believes that all political parties should respect each other and respect the Opposition without whom the government won’t be accountable. We gave the post to the BJP despite having an overwhelming majority in the House. But strangely, the BJP has not taken any step towards this direction even after 11 months of assuming office. They should learn from us and consider our decision as an example otherwise we would wonder whether the BJP has less trust in democratic norms,” Ashutosh said. On the upcoming municipal elections, the Aam Aadmi Party said it was yet to decide on whether its MLAs would take part in electing the mayor or not. (Asian Age 18/4/15)


88. NGT seeks pollution report from landfill sites (9)

NEW DELHI: Centre for Wildlife and Environmental Litigation, an NGO, has approached NGT over large- scale methane emissions from the three landfill sites in the capital. On Friday, NGT directed the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to take samples of air quality and groundwater from near the three landfill sites of Okhla, Ghazipur and Bhalswa and submit a report on the next date of hearing. It also issued notices to ministry of environment, forests and climate change, DPCC and the three municipal corporations, asking why further dumping in the three landfill sites should not be banned. The petition alleged that the condition of the sites was pathetic, especially since they were way past their capacity and yet continued to be used for dumping of Delhi’s waste. “None of the three is a sanitary landfill site. Waste is lying in the open because of which leachate is generated during rain and as the waste presses down. We have also learnt from various case studies that the soil around the landfill sites is highly contaminated and toxic,” said the NGO. According to the study quoted by the applicant, the leachate at all three sites has a high concentration of chlorides, and heavy metals like nickel, copper and zinc. Quoting further from the study, the applicant said rotting waste was emitting massive amount of green house gases. (Times of India 11/4/15)

89. Delhi panel denies forest clearance to dams (9)

Itanagar, April 14: Over 2,000 hectares of forestland in Arunachal Pradesh’s West Siang district have received temporary respite from destruction after the forest advisory committee (FAC) of the Union ministry of environment and forest denied clearance for two proposed hydropower projects. The committee had received proposals seeking forest clearances for construction of two 1,000MMW projects on the tributaries of the Siang River. While the project proponent of the Siyom Hydro Electric Project had sought clearance for diversion of 1502.30 hectares of forestland, the developer of the Naying Hydro Electric Project had sought clearance for diversion of 644 hectares of forestland. According to the minutes of the meeting held on March 17, the committee noted that the “proposal will be considered after acceptance of the cumulative environment impact assessment study and its acceptance by the ministry of environment, forest and climate change”.The regional chief conservator of forest in its recommendations to the FAC had noted that the Siyom project would be located close to several biodiversity hotspots, including the Yarde Rabe Supse wildlife sanctuary 30km and around “5km to 7km from Mouling National Park”. It said that “removal of trees, shrubs and ground vegetation will affect the surrounding eco-system” and that the “lower downstream water level will be gradually reduced which will affect aqua species”.Listing its concerns over the large area of possible submergence, it also advised that the flora of the area “will have to be removed completely so that it will not be left to decompose leading to greenhouse effect”.The committee in its concluding remarks demanded that a catchment area treatment plan be prepared and submitted along with detailed resettlement and rehabilitation plan for affected families. It also noted that “there was an issue with a high court order with reference to the forest clearance” and has sought a declaration from the state government. The committee also turned down the proposal for clearance for the Naying project on similar grounds. The Siyom is a major tributary of the Siang river in West Siang district. There are six hydropower projects planned for the Siyom with total installed capacity of 3,346MW. The largest are the Siyom and Naying projects with installed capacity of 1,000MW each while the smallest is the 56MW Taiyong project. (The Telegraph 15/4/15)

90. Yamuna a dead river, says report, even as focus on Clean Ganga (9)

New Delhi: The Yamuna is almost dead, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has said, even as the government single-mindedly pushes to clean the Ganga and overlooks the filthy river at its doorstep. It’s not just the Yamuna, whose water quality is as bad as sewage, but many rivers across the country are reeling under an unprecedented load of urban waste and industrial effluents, says a CPCB report. “These rivers are getting polluted because of the increasing flow of untreated waste water from cities,” said Shashi Shekhar, pollution board chairman and special secretary in the environment ministry. About 66% of stretches monitored during a three-year study of water in 290 rivers have high organic pollution, measured in terms of biological oxygen demand (BOD). The decline in the quantity and quality of water flow has reduced the productivity of many terrestrial, aquatic, and coastal zone ecosystems and led to loss of biodiversity, the report says. This means, 8,400km of these rivers are badly polluted and not fit to support aquatic life. The bad news goes much beyond that: the number of polluted water zones in India has increased manifold over the past two decades. In addition, the pollution load on rivers has been rising constantly. The report says over 370 major towns and cities are contributing to river pollution as the country has the wherewithal to treat only 30% of its urban water waste. The Yamuna is choking to death primarily because untreated waste is flowing into it from several cities along its banks in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The river’s contamination starts in Haryana and continues in Delhi, ultimately making it almost invisible in Uttar Pradesh where it merges with the Ganga in Allahabad. No freshwater flows into the river, though millions of rupees have been spent on sewage and effluent treatment plants without any visible impact so far. Yamuna is not the lone black spot. The Mithi in Mumbai is treading the same path with organic pollution increasing from Powai to Dharavi while the Hindon river is getting the same treatment from industrial waste between Saharanpur and Ghaziabad. The CPCB has put these two along with Sabarmati, Gaggar in Punjab and Umkhrah in Shillong as the most-polluted river stretches in India. “There may not be even a single river in India which is clean throughout its length and the recent years have seen pollution increasing because municipal bodies do not have any plan to clean waste water flowing into the rivers,” a senior CPCB scientist said.India has less than 2% of the world’s freshwater sources, sustaining 5% of the world’s population. The rising pollution has reduced the capacity of rivers to provide water for drinking and irrigation. The CPCB report warns of far-reaching consequences if India fails to enhance its capacity to treat urban waste — which stands at 38,000 million tonnes a day. (Hindustan Times 18/4/15)

91. Bastar crusader’s wand triggers green revolution (9)

BAKAWAND, Bastar: A 67-year-old former sarpanch, who served for 35 years at Sandhkarmari village of Bastar region, has been running a campaign to conserve forests, wildlife and environment in surrounding areas to provide abundance of greenery and forest produce for future generations. Damodar Kashyap has invented ‘thengapalli’ — a stick symbolizing devoutness — which villagers receive for a day to spread awareness. On recommendations of Bastar’s Legal and Environmental Action Foundation (LEAF), he was recently awarded by Switzerland-based Paul K Feyerabad Foundation for promoting cultural and biological diversity. Kashyap hails from Bhatra community in Bastar and was elected sarpanch at the age of 22 when he returned to his native Sandhkarmari village after his schooling in the city. Kashyap refused to travel to Switzerland when he was invited to receive the award. “I told the Swiss foundation they should honour me in my native village and among my people. This would have motivated them further to conserve environment,” Kashyap told TOI. He’s still fondly called ‘siyan sarpanch’ (old sarpanch) among locals and gave up his post after the seat was reserved for women. “While education remains my priority in the village of 3000, I was saddened to see continuing deforestation in the region which has largest number of salphie (local beer) trees. I was worried the next generation wouldn’t see forests,” he said. The movement wasn’t a cakewalk for him. “I seized large tracts of land undergoing deforestation and fought with industrialists, government and contractors.” Kashyap nurtured a village community and launched a tradition of ‘thengapalli’. Holding aloft the stick, locals patrol forests and spread awareness on environment. They take turns to keep vigil and act against those chopping trees. He also deployed guards in seven zones of the village and pays them in form of forest produce. And it’s become a sacred tradition and nobody dares violates rules against conservation. Slowly and steadily, ‘thengapalli’ tradition has become a movement among locals and gained momentum in 15 neighbouring villagers. Talking to TOI, villagers Tilakram and Nandoram said, “The ‘thenga’ gives us a feeling of empowerment. We send out a message that every villager should feel responsible for each tree and punish those destroying forests.” Kashyap managed to convert 370 acres of grove plantation into a forest that can compete with parameters of a reserve forest. He also conserved dense forest of thousands of medicinal plants and salphie trees on 100 acres, linking it to religion by building a temple of a local deity, ‘Maouli mata’. Clad in white dhoti and kurta, Kashyap said villagers now have abundant forest produce for their livelihood. “Demonstrating agility in dealing with pressures from forest department, smugglers and villagers, Kashyap also sought assistance from LEAF. In seventies, he would slap Rs 500 fine for cutting trees and reward Rs 200 to those who would keep vigil,” Arjun Nag, president and founder member of LEAF told TOI. Kashyap, who has been interviewed by journalists from Indonesia, France, Belgium, Holland and England, has planted around 1 lakh trees till date and moves with an air of authority in the forests he nurtured. (Times of India 19/4/15)


92. Crop loss claims 8 more farmers’ lives (20)

NEW DELHI: Distressed over crop damage due to the recent unseasonal rain, four farmers committed suicide and four others died of ‘shock’ in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab in the past two days. In Usmanpur village in Agra district, Radha lost her husband, 38-year-old Madanlal, who set himself on fire on Monday after incurring losses due to the rain. “We had taken a loan and mortgaged my jewellery for farming 10 bighas of land,” Radha (33) said. “Now I’m left with nothing.” Another distressed farmer, Manavendra Singh (27) from Firozabad, hanged himself from a ceiling fan. His relatives said he had suffered heavy losses after the frequent spells of rain in the past one month. In Punjab, a 70-year-old debt-ridden farmer, whose wheat crop was ruined by the recent spell of untimely rain, committed suicide in Sangrur district on Sunday. Family members said Sukhdev Singh, who had run up a debt of Rs 4.5 lakh, hanged himself at his house in Chatha Nanhera village, near Sunam town. Also in Punjab, Paramjit Singh (50) of Mansa district, who had grown vegetables on his five-acre land holding, was found dead on the railway track near his village, Jawahrke. Family members told police that Paramjit, a father of three, was under Rs 8 lakh debt. “The freak weather continuing since February, especially last week’s rain, badly damaged his vegetable crop, triggering this step,” said Ram Singh Bhainbagha, peasant leader of BKU (Ekta) of Mansa district. Sources said Paramjit was missing from home since Sunday. Four farmers died in Agra and Firozabad after they saw their flooded fields after Sunday’s rain. Relatives of the victims claimed they died of shock. These farmers had taken loans for the crops that now stand damaged in waterlogged farms. According to reports, Padam Singh (56) and Ganpat Singh (60) from Kherda Hajipur village in Agra died of shock on Monday. Kallu Singh (60) from Kesarpura village in Firozabad and Shree Krishna (50) from Shikohabad died of cardiac arrest after taking stock of their damaged crops on Monday. More than 40 farmers have died or committed suicide in the Braj region — including Agra, Mathura, Firozabad, Etah and Hathras — over the past 40 days after unseasonal rain destroyed thousands of hectares of fields before harvest. (Times of India 14/4/15)

93. Farmer deaths in Haryana a non-issue: Ambala MP (20)

YAMUNANAGAR: At a time Haryana has seen five shock deaths of farmers in over a week due to widespread crop damage in the aftermath of the recent spell of unseasonal rains, BJP’s Ambala MP Ratan Lal Kataria dismissed these deaths as a non-issue. Defending the BJP government, Kataria said, “The issue has been blown out of proportion.” He compared the plight of farmers in the state to that of land owners in Vidharbha region of Maharashtra which has seen many farmer suicides. He said, “Congress ke raj me Maharashtra me itne kisano ne suicide kar liya. Aur na jane kitne state hain jaha Congress raj me kisano ki suicide hua hain. Haryana me ika duka mamla hai, yaha to abhi chidiya ko jukam bhi nahi hua (So many farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra under the Congress regime. In many other Congress-ruled states farmers had ended their lives. In Haryana, there are barely one or two cases, so it’s hardly a issue here.” Speaking at a press conference on the birth anniversary of BR Ambedkar on Tuesday, Kataria said, “Government is doing its job seriously and the crop loss as well as the condition of farmers who suffered losses is on our agenda.” He chose to skirt the contentious issue after a few questions and promised to make the Ambala Cantonment railway station into a world-class one with the collaboration of French government. He also listed having a Rail Coach factory in Jagadhri as one of his top priorities. A few days ago, AAP’s Yogendra Yadav had led party workers and farmers to the house of Ambala BJP MP Rattan Lal Kataria in Panchkula to hand over a packet of salt to remind him that he owes the farmers. (Times of India 15/4/15)

94. Farmers’ suicide bid rocks Upper House (20)

Patna: The issue of the starving farmers attempting suicide in districts rocked the Bihar legislative council on Thursday when the BJP members sought special debate on government’s failure to provide compensation to those farmers whose rabbi crops were badly damaged due to the untimely rains accompanied by hailstorm. As soon as the House assembled for the day, BJP member Rajnish Kumar, while moving an adjournment motion, said the government has stopped buying paddy from farmers which has resulted in further damaging the paddy crops. Amid shouting of slogans by BJP members, Kumar said that reports of aggrieved farmers attempting suicide has come to light in various districts due to the non-payment of adequate compensation to these farmers. Displaying placards several BJP members, including Nawal Kishore Yadav, Sanjay Mayukh, Lal Babu Prasad, Suraj Nandan Prasad, Baidyanath Prasad and Krishna Kumar Singh (2) trooped into the well of the House. Despite chairman Awadhesh Narain Singh’s repeated request to raise the issue during question hour, BJP members continued shouting antigovernment slogans. Rejecting the adjournment motion, chairman adjourned the House till lunch break without transacting any scheduled business. Later talking to reporters, leader of the opposition in the council Sushil Kumar Modi said that for the first time aggrieved farmers have attempted suicide in Jehanabad. Quoting a report, Modi said a farmer, in a bid to commit suicide, jumped into “havan kund” (fire pond) in Jehanabad. Modi also said despite Centre’s decision to extend paddy procurement date till April 15, Bihar government has failed to buy paddy from farmers. Despite damage to rabbi crops by untimely rains, Bihar government is yet to provide adequate compensation to farmers, Modi said and added the Centre has increased the compensation amount by one and half time to those farmers whose 33% crops were damaged. Earlier, the percentage of damage was 50% covered under the compensation package. Talking about Centre’s revised relief package to the state, Modi said now the Centre’s share is 90% and the remaining 10% would be given by the state. This has been made applicable from the current financial year. (Times of India 16/4/15)

95. ‘Andhra, Telangana Governments Neglecting Farmers’ (20)

KARIMNAGAR: YSRCP leader and Khammam MP Ponguleti Srinivas Reddy criticised both TS and AP governments for adopting anti-farmer policies and neglecting the welfare of farmers. Addressing the district party meeting here on Sunday, he said Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and AP chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu forgot their poll promises. During the last 10 months about 600 farmers committed suicide in Telangana but the government did not address their families’ grievances so far, he said. Over crop loss and ex gratia he said that he would raise the issue in the Parliament scheduled to be held from April 20. Speaking about paramarsa yatra, about 30 people died after former chief minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy died in a helicopter crash and to console their family members YSRCP leader YS Sharmila will tour Karimnagar in May, he said. The party meeting passed some resolutions stating that the district has to be declared  drought-hit and  the project design of Pranahita Chevella  should not be changed. He said that they would ask the Centre to grant Rs 10,000 ex gratia to paddy and maize farmers per acre and Rs 50,000 for commercial crop farmers. ‘‘We will request the Centre to grant funds for the completion of all pending projects in state,’’ he said. (The New Indian Express 19/4/15)

96. Farmers at rally claim land bill pushing up suicides (20)

New Delhi: Accusing the Modi government at the Centre of “betrayal,” most farmers who on Sunday attended the Congress rally against the proposed Land Acquisition Bill said the community was being pushed to suicides as there was lack of empathy towards their plight. According to 52-year-old Jai Bhagwan, a farmer from Haryana’s Rohtak district, recent unseasonal rains had destroyed about 70-80 per cent of his wheat crop. Despite repeated attempts to seek adequate compensation for his loss, Mr Bhagwan said he was denied any financial assistance. “After repeated appeals, when patwaris turn up to take stock of loss, they grant a menial financial help without any proper survey. They seem to be totally disinterested,” he said. Stressing that there was a complete “apathy” towards the plight of farmers, many of whom have also been forced to sell their lands to corporates, another farmer from Rohtak in Haryana said many farmers were now being pushed to commit suicide. “There has been couple of suicides from my village already.” Many farmers claimed that both the Centre and state governments were making anti-famer decisions and alleged that there seem no intention on part of the government to improve the conditions of the country’s agriculture community. Describing Prime Minister Narendra Modi as “anti-farmer” and “anti-poor,” 46-year old Madan Singh from Punjab said that rather than improving irrigation, financial and educational facilities, the Prime Minister was appeasing the corporates. “Mr Modi recently talked about the menace of drug addiction, but it is this BJP-Akali collation that is rendering farmer unemployed by their anti-farmer moves. What else would they do if they are not in a position to farm?” Echoing similar views, some farmers, including those from rural areas of Delhi, claimed that despite losing 80-90 per cent of their crops this year, they have not received adequate compensation for their losses. Manoj Gujjar, a wheat and mustard farmer from Rajasthan’s Alwar district, accused the Vasundra Raje government of providing less compensation to farmers who had lost most of their agricultural yield this year. “The government is providing compensation to those who have lost more than 50 per cent of their crop. But for even those, the financial assistance is very low — almost a cruel joke.” Subhedar Mahinder Singh Gait from Rajastan’s Chiru district also accused the BJP government of pushing farmers to the brink. The 55-year-old wheat and maithi farmer said that the community has been forced to live in a perpetual fear of banks and mpney-lenders, which is forcing many to contemplate suicides to avoid humiliation. (Asian Age 20/4/15)


97. AAP slams Centre’s land ordinance as anti-farmer and anti-tribal (4)

New Delhi: The ordinance would not only diminish the compensation for farmers but also divert vast farm land to non-agricultural activities in future, said Singh, who is also member of AAP’s Political Affairs Committee. Dubbing the BJP-led NDA government’s ordinance for amending Land Acquisition Act as anti-farmer and anti-tribal, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) today said it seeks to benefit big companies, harming the interest of the people. “In its bid to favour big corporate houses, the NDA government opted for ordinance route which seeks to bring anti-farmer and anti-tribal amendments in the land law, ignoring the Parliament,” AAP’s national spokesperson Sanjay Singh said. Stating that the acquisition of land in a forcible manner without conducting proper social impact study to placate big companies would be a severe blow to agriculture, Singh said, adding, measures taken by the Narendra Modi government would destroy farming as well as the environment. The ordinance would not only diminish the compensation for farmers but also divert vast farm land to non-agricultural activities in future, said Singh, who is also member of AAP’s Political Affairs Committee. Referring to farmer-friendly measures taken by AAP government in Delhi, he said the decision to give Rs 50,000 compensation per crop loss per hectare of land was historic. In a bid to safeguard the interests of farmers and tribals and protect their right over land, AAP is organising a rally on April 22 in Delhi in which many workers and activists from across the country would participate, he said. Coming down heavily on BJD government in Odisha, Singh said now people have no alternative as they find the Congress hopeless and BJP unacceptable because of its communal agenda. “However, within a year AAP will strengthen its base in Odisha to emerge as a viable alternative.” On rift in AAP, Singh said it is a democratic party where majority opinion prevailed in its national council. The national council has decided that all differences would be resolved within the party, he said. The AAP leader said the party would strengthen its organisation in states like Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Punjab, Odisha, Haryana and Gujarat. Singh also inaugurated the state party mouthpiece ‘Ama Kranti’ a weekly political news letter, and led a protest march against the land ordinance.  (DNA 12/4/15)

98. Medha Patkar criticizes new land acquisition bill (4)

MYSURU: Social activist Medha Patkar on Tuesday describing “Make In India” slogan as “graze in India” said proposed land acquisition bill is intended to help corporate bodies and deprive the farmers their sustainable livelihood . Talking to reporters here, she said if the present land acquisition bill is implemented in its present form corporate houses like Adani, Ambani and Birla can buy not only farmers land, even they can go on a buying spree of entire districts and even a state . “Bane of our system is government till today has not considered agriculture and its produces as natural resources” she said ,adding that NDA government is determined to deny farmers of their sustainable livelihood and living by snatching their land which has got a value of gold. ” Delhi Mumbai Infrastructure Corridor(DMIC) is the best example where government reserves 150 kms of land on the side of this corridor for industrialists and they can buy the land without seeking any consent from land owners or farmers” she added. She said the present land acquisition bill brought by NDA is nothing but a worsened version of the land acquisition bill being implemented by previous UPA government . Present bill has given more powers to government and buyers with total disregard for farmers opinion. ” Consent of farmer should be made mandatory” she suggested. When pointed out that farmers in many places are ready to hand over their lands if they are provided with a lucrative value for their land , she said it is not the case with all farmers .UPA government . Present bill has given more powers to government and buyers with total disregard for farmers opinion. ” Consent of farmer should be made mandatory” she suggested. When pointed out that farmers in many places are ready to hand over their lands if they are provided with a lucrative value for their land , she said it is not the case with all farmers . In reply she said it was the result of their struggle 1100 farmers got back their land in Narmada dam project . Still 45000 farmers have not got their land , she pointed out and said Narmada valley project has helped only Coco-cola and car producers by assuring them water supply round the clock. It was because of our struggle , government came out with alternative land policy for land losers, she claimed and said they have sustained their struggle because of the support given by farmers,labourers and middle class people. Patkar said corporate bodies and rich are exploiting natural resources and land at their will and wish and they are not bothered about protecting these resources for next generations. At one point of time Patkar lost her cool when a reporter pointed out about she questioning the perfection of politicians and political parties on issues. When a reporter pointed out that activists like her seems to have no clarity and perfection in their thinking on political system and parties in particular and suddenly they find a Messiah in AAP, Patkar seething in anger turned silent on the issue. It may be recalled here that Patkar joined AAP to contest the 2014 parliament elections. (Times of India 14/4/15)

99. NEEPCO hydel project facing opposition (4)

SHILLONG, April 16 – A 240 MW hydel power project of North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) proposed to be set up along the Assam-Meghalaya border is facing strong opposition from locals who claim it would affect 1,000 families. Both the State Governments have issued no objection certificates to NEEPCO for the 100 metre high dam on Umiam river near Lamalong. Local villagers said the dam will submerge 600 sq km and in the process over 20 inhabited villages will be hit directly affecting over 1,000 families residing there. Besides human displacement, the dam will also submerge agricultural land, heritage sites and flora and fauna, they said. Last week, over 5000 villagers from both States attended a protest rally at a remote village in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district and demanded that the two governments scrap the contract. Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and his Assam counterpart Tarun Gogoi were also petitioned by the activists on the need to consider scrapping off the project. Meghalaya MLA Julius K Dorphang and Assam MLA Mansingh Rongpi have lent support to the anti-dam protests. Rongpi expressed apprehension that the dam will pose a threat to the survival of small tribes comprising Khasis, Lalungs and Mikirs who depend wholely on Umiam river for their livelihood. Dorphang said people residing in the areas need development but not at the cost of their homes and livelihood. – PTI (The Assam Tribune 17/4/15)

100. Thousand of Farmers Protest Government’s Proposal to Ease Land Acquisition (4)

NEW DELHI: Tens of thousands of flag-waving farmers rallied in India’s capital Sunday to protest a government plan to ease rules for obtaining land for industry and development projects. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said existing rules, established in 2013 to protect land owners from land grabbing and forced relocation, were creating obstacles that were spooking investors. He and industrial leaders say the rules should be simplified to entice foreign business and boost manufacturing in India. Modi passed an executive order in December doing away with some of the rules. The unilateral move upset opposition parties and rights groups that had long fought for legal safeguards on land acquisition, and they vowed to fight any effort to make the changes permanent after the order expired earlier this month. Rights activists, labor unions and many among India’s hundreds of millions of farmers say the changes effectively trample the rights of the poor. They accuse Modi of catering to corporate interests, and worry changing the law will leave them vulnerable to poor compensation packages or forced relocation from ancestral lands. “With the single-minded agenda of kneeling before the corporates … this government has shown that it simply does not care for the poor and toiling people, for our land, agriculture and nature,” the National Alliance of People’s Movements said in a statement. The opposition Congress party — in power when the 2013 law was passed — has seized on the issue as it struggles to repair its political image following its stunning election defeat last year to Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. Both Gandhi family scion Rahul and his mother, party leader Sonia, addressed the rallying farmers at a protest park in central New Delhi on Sunday. Rahul accused Modi of winning the election with funding from industrialists he now needs to pay back. “How will he pay back the loan now? He will do it by giving your lands to those top industrialists. He wants to weaken the farmers, then snatch their land and give it to his industrialist friends,” Rahul Gandhi, speaking Hindi, told more than 50,000 cheering farmers who came to the rally from all over India. Many have questioned how the Congress party planned to counter Modi’s election-winning promise of rapid economic growth. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Modi’s order was intended to hurt farmers’ interests, and Sonia Gandhi accused the government of being against farmers, the helpless and the poor. Just an hour earlier, however, Modi pre-empted the rally by telling lawmakers from his party, “Lies are being spread on the land bill by perverted minds. Some people have decided not to speak, see or hear anything good about our government.” In comments spoken in Hindi and broadcast widely on Indian TV, he said, “All decisions I am taking are for the welfare of the poor.” Meanwhile, in Germany days after Modi visited the country, Indian corporate leaders reportedly urged their foreign counterparts to be patient. “The government has undertaken a number of policy initiatives in the last few months,” Tata Group Chairman Cyrus Mistry said at the Hannover Fair, according to Press Trust of India. “We are very positive about the future, but it will take time.” Critics are most upset about proposed changes eliminating the requirement of land owners’ approval for acquisitions sought for projects in defense, infrastructure, affordable housing or industrial corridors. The changes would also remove the need for assessing the social impact of such projects. Restrictions on buying fertile agricultural land would be removed. Abuses by government employees, now answerable by law, would be exempt from prosecution unless ordered by the government. “The rights which we had before, this present government has taken them away, which is wrong. Now the farmers have to pay the price,” said 47-year-old Babulal, one of a crowd of farmers who came to the rally from the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. (New Indian Express 19/4/15)


101. Survey of tribal women shows up breast abnormalities (3)

ADILABAD: The high incidence of breast lumps among Adivasi women of Adilabad in Telangana has created apprehension of more serious health impacts for this remote population. Health workers conducting a survey in 10 mandals in the district have so far identified 100 women out of the 6,000 respondents. “Leave alone breast cancer or any other type of carcinoma, even routine mammarian infections were unknown among indigenous people belonging to the Gond, Pardhan, Kolam and Thotti,” points out Dr. Thodsam Chandu, the District Immunisation Officer, himself a Gond. “Such cases certainly warrant a proper study into the phenomenon,” he says. The Telangana Mahila Samatha Society (TMSS), an NGO based at Bellampalli town, is conducting the pilot project of the Breast Cancer Screening Programme in association with Ushalakshmi Breast Cancer Foundation, Hyderabad. The study is being done in the mandals of Sirpur (U), Jainoor, Narnoor, Tiryani, Kerameri, Wankidi which have a sizeable population of aboriginal tribes and Bheemini, Nennel, Kotapalli and Asifabad, the last one having a good number of Adivasis. “We have already found 100 women with abnormal breast conditions, though the survey is not yet complete,” reveals Vangapalli Suvarna, the district coordinator of TMSS. (The Hindu 13/3/15)

102. NDA fund cuts put healthcare on the sickbed (3)

MUMBAI: A truncated health budget, recent bureaucratic decisions of shelving the free drugs and diagnostics scheme (under National Health Assurance Mission) and spending cuts in major social sector programmes have ensured that ‘acche din’ in healthcare are still elusive. To make it worse the government has also delayed the implementation of large pictorial warnings on tobacco product packs. The PM, ironically, said on World Health Day on April 7 that his government is working tirelessly to realize the dream of a ‘healthy’ India where everyone has access to affordable healthcare. For a party which gave a big priority to healthcare in its manifesto saying, ‘Health Assurance to all Indians to reduce out-of-pocket (OOP) spending on healthcare,’ the promises have remained just that. “The current situation calls for radical reforms in the healthcare system with regards to national healthcare programmes and delivery, medical education and training and financing of healthcare. The government will initiate the ‘National Health Assurance Mission’ to provide universal healthcare that is not only accessible and affordable, but also effective, and reduce the OOP spending for the common man.” Nearly a year later, not much of a beginning has been made. In fact, the government’s healthcare outlay is stagnant at around Rs 33,000 crore and has not translated to the increase from 1.2% of GDP to 2-2.5% as suggested in the draft national health policy. Public health spending in India at around 1% of the GDP is the lowest when compared to China’s 3% and Brazil’s 4.1%, and well below the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 5%.K Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India, says: “The low level of budgetary allocation to health has been extremely disappointing. It appears the states have to take up more responsibility for adequately resourcing and effectively delivering health services. Health requires commitment and coordination across all sectors of the central government as well as a shared vision that creates synergy between state and central initiatives. That level of commitment and clarity has not emerged. Perhaps the new National Health Policy will provide the platform for articulating that vision. We have to wait for that to emerge, before we can deliver a definitive comment on the government’s record.” An article in the British Medical Journal recently said: “Deep cuts in health spending by the Indian government will lead to continued inadequate health services and delays in achieving universal access to healthcare.” The BMJ says that expenditure on the National Health Mission which supports a network of accredited social health activists (ASHAs) to provide basic services is down by 20%, a similar reduction in budgets for state governments, while the Integrated Child Development Services scheme, which provides nutrition and other services to pregnant and lactating mothers, and infants, received around 10% less than expected. Even the government’s AIDS programme will receive Rs 300 crore less funds next year. The slash in the budget will imply the persistence of huge shortfall of healthcare workers. India has among the worst ratio of doctors and hospital beds population-wise in the world. Leena Menghaney, a lawyer working on public health policy said: “India has a huge burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases. Millions of people in India each year are driven into poverty and debt as they seek high-cost treatment in the private sector.” (Times of India 15/4/15)

103. Move to bring down IMR from 44 to 20 by 2020 (3)

KOCHI: The Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) will be joining hands with the Centre in implementing various child health activities aiming at bringing down the Infant Mortality Rate from the present 44 to 20 by 2020. The country has already missed the Millennium Development Goals of 2015 and with the present pace of improving health care, the goals could perhaps be achievable by 2025-27, said Dr. S. Sachidananda Kamath, national president of the IAP. “The task on hands is large and difficult but not impossible if expertise, policies and funds converge”, said Dr. Kamath. According to the plan drawn up by the IAP that was submitted to President Pranab Mukherjee, each IAP branch in the country will adopt a village according to the capacity of the branch and will take leadership role in making model villages for child survival. The project will be taken up in association with Members of Parliament in the region. The government has identified 183 high priority districts and 201 high focus districts for interventions. Malappuram and Wayanad are among the districts from Kerala for focus intervention for universal immunisation, said Dr. Kamath. Since there is no single solution to ensure child survival, a holistic approach that focuses on education, clean water, sanitation, food security, health care and community participation will be evolved. The thrust of the project is to look for local solutions and build on community’s practices to deal with problems in child’s survival. Hence the project has been named Gaaon ki baat, IAP ke Saath, Dr. Kamath said. The key thrust areas that IAP is going to focus towards implementing the project are universal immunisation, newborn survival and health, child survival and health, nutrition aiming to address malnutrition and anaemia, adolescent health, HIV/AIDS, childhood tuberculosis, environment health, quality facilities in hospitals and quality services rendered. (The Hindu 18/4/15)

104. Centre to screen kids for anaemia (3)

Guwahati, April 18: The Union tribal affairs ministry, with the help of the health department, is planning to cover at least six lakh tribal children in Assam, including those of tea garden workers, under its sickle-cell anaemia screening programme this year. Sickle-cell anaemia is a blood disorder characterised by an abnormality in haemoglobin that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body parts. It is highest among malaria patients. “Fifty per cent of the malaria cases in the country have been found among tribals, who constitute only eight per cent of our total population. So we decided to launch a campaign against the disease among the tribal population. We will try to screen six lakh children among the 60-lakh tribal population in Assam. It is a simple test that costs Rs 2-3,” Hrusikesh Panda, the secretary of the Union tribal affairs ministry, said here today. The ministry had organised health workshops in six states of the Northeast. Meghalaya and Nagaland will be included later. Panda said they would give health cards to those tested. This would help prevent the disease to some extent, as they would be able to keep track of and advise those afflicted. He said if two persons having sickle-cell trait marry, the probability of their children having the same disease increases. “We must prevent the disease as it has no treatment yet,” he added. He said teams comprising doctors, auxiliary nurses and midwives (ANMs) and Anganwadi workers would conduct the tests in schools. Dropouts will also be covered to ensure that 100 per cent tribal children between three and 13 years are covered. The programme has also been launched in Gujarat, Odisha, Bengal and other states. Panda said as part of its employment generation effort, the ministry would launch a project for identification of water bodies with the use of space technology, including satellite imagery. Government engineers and officials of minor irrigation, soil conservation and fisheries the departments will then identify the water bodies where fishery projects can be taken up by the indigenous population under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. The workshop was organised here today and representatives from six northeastern states took part.Panda today said reports of the task force constituted for ST status had revealed “historical injustices meted out to tea garden workers in Assam”.Panda, who headed the task force, submitted its report to the Centre in May last year. “They (tea garden workers) were brought from parts of the country to work in tea gardens in Assam, but they had not yet been given tribal status. I don’t want to comment on whether they deserve it or not, but we found historical injustice done to them,” he said. Panda, however, did not elaborate on the injustices as revealed in the task force report. “The report is with the ministry,” he said. Apart from tea garden workers, five other communities in Assam – Tai Ahom, Moran, Muttock, Chutia and Koch Rajbongshi – have been demanding ST status for a long time. The Union tribal affairs minister Jual Oram on April 6 said in Kokrajhar that the six communities would be given ST status within six months. (The Telegraph 19/4/15)


105. Failed by government, HIV-hit on hunger strike (3)

They came from far and wide. From Muzaffarpur, Saran, Bhojpur, Sitamarhi, Siwan, Vaishali, Sheohar, Madhubani, Patna, Gaya and Begusarai. Some 600 men, women and transgenders affected by HIV. They gathered at Kargil Chowk in Patna, and sat on a daylong hunger strike to draw attention towards the indifference and fiscal mismanagement within the government system. The Bihar State Human Rights Network last Tuesday used the fasting route to tell us that the state government, after announcing grand schemes for PLHA (people affected by HIV/AIDS) such as Antodaya Yojana, Parvarish Yojana and Bihar Shatabdi AIDS Pidit Yojana almost two years ago, has not delivered on those promises. Moreover, official letters issued by departments concerned following the Patna high court directives on essential services to PLHA such as short stay home, care centres, provision of medical services etc, appear to have been ignored. “All these schemes came into effect in 2013-14. According to a reply to our RTI query, the government received applications from 6220 people till February 2015, but not a single person has so far actually received the benefit of the scheme,” spokesperson Sanjit Singh said and added the baseline examination facility as per the NACO guidelines is not available at any ART (antiretroviral therapy) centre in Bihar. Rambabu Ram from Sitamarhi says, “The CD4 count has not been done for PLHA for the past nine months at Sitamarhi. The employees at the centre are sometimes very rude and even throw our ART cards.” A rickshaw-puller from Riga block in Sitamarhi spoke about how ever since his HIV status was disclosed, he isn’t allowed to draw water from the public water source in his locality. Several people from Hajipur and Vaishali district called for a social audit of the state of the ART centres. Facilities meant for patients are misused or nonexistent. “For three months, the water purifier is empty.” “The ART centre employees are indifferent.” “We have to travel to the ART centre, but the centre employees shut down all the facilities by noon.” “The toilets are pathetic, unhygienic.” These were the voices from Vaishali. The stories told by participants are too many to recount here. Shortage of essential medicines; nexus between doctors and local suppliers; refusal by doctors to treat patients; blatant discrimination and disrespect at government run facilities… and so on. “We demand that the government should implement the commitment given to the high court; that short stay facilities be opened at all ART Centres; that the NACO guidelines be adhered to by all ART centres which stipulate that all tests should be free of charge; that all government hospitals be supplied adequate number of universal precaution kits and HIV kits regularly; and that all ART staffers be paid their salary regularly,” Sanjit Singh said, adding one reason for the apathy of the ART centre staff is that they haven’t been paid for three months. “A daylong hunger strike is no big deal for us widows who are facing hunger every day! If the government doesn’t pay heed, it will have to face the next level of protest. We will leave no stone unturned. We will use the court, the RTI and every known method of struggle for our rights,” said Sushila Devi from Ara. (Times of India 11/3/15)

106. Society to adopt 35 HIV- affected children for a year (3)

BELAGAVI: Belagavi city-based Shree Tirupati Multipurpose Souhard Sahakari Ltd. has come forward to adopt HIV-affected children looked after by Nandan Makkal Dham, a non-governmental charitable organisation at Sadashiv Nagar here. Manjunath Bhute, chairman of the cooperative society, said here on Monday that there were 35 HIV-affected children under the care of the organisation, which was finding it difficult to provide adequate food and nutrition to them due to paucity of funds. The board of the society would adopt all the children for a year from Tuesday. He said foodgrains, vegetables, biscuits, edible oil, hair oil, fruits, eggs, chicken and soaps and detergents would be provided. A function would be held at Dhashabhuja Vinayak Mandir at Ansurkar Galli to mark the adoption ceremony. Nandan Makkal Dham president Mahantesh Mali has thanked the cooperative society. (The Hindu 14/4/15)

107. Mentally Challenged HIV Posstive Woman Rescued, Hospitalised (3)

DINDIGUL:An HIV positive 25-year-old mentally challenged woman rescued by the health department officials from the streets of the pilgrim centre of Palani, was sent to the Institute of Mental health at Kilpauk in Chennai on Tuesday. She was found in a corner of the temple town, before being handed over to the health officials. Family members of the young woman on seeing a change in her activities took her to a local hospital in Palani where she underwent treatment for mental illness. However, she turned ferocious seven years ago. As the woman’s father and other members of the family had found it difficult to keep her at home, she started roaming on the streets without dress. She was preyed upon by anti-socials and was declared HIV positive a few months ago to the utter shock of the family, sources said. Meanwhile, Ravikala, Joint Director of Dindigul government hospital, on inspection at Palani government hospital, was approached by the hapless woman’s father to save his daughter. Upon Ravikala’s advice, the father lodged a complaint with the police, who then asked him bring the mentally ill woman home. After a frenetic search, he found her in a corner of the town and pleaded with her to come home for lunch to which she agreed. Woman constable, Renuga, waiting there took her to the Dindigul hospital in a van on Monday. Superintendent of Police Saravanan and DSP Vanitha extended assistance and the health officials admitted her in a private home that night. In the morning she was taken to Kilpauk in a van with police security. (New Indian Express 15/4/15)